It is amazing how life changes when you are relegated to crawling.
The nerve pain down my right leg had made it impossible to walk in any capacity. As soon as I lengthened my leg by standing, it was like someone was slicing open the entire side of my leg and then twisting the knife in the right side of my calf. Sometimes lying on my side would relieve the pain but not always. All fours was usually my best option, but since I had been crawling for a week now, my knees were sore, and I had blisters on my toes.
It was a great day to be alive.
The challenge was to get to the MRI facility with a minimum of pain. The good news is the Stand up MRI facility was only one long city block away from my apartment. Thank the stars.
My appointment was at 4:15 pm. I started to get ready at 2:30 p.m by crawling into a hot bath. The water felt good, nourishing, calming, yet I knew from my week of hot baths the curative effects were minimal. Yet I prayed that miraculously this bath might fix me.
It didn’t work.
I crawled out of the tub to be greeted by my little MORKIE Roma. Throughout this week, she had been my protector watching over me, kissing me as I cried, and just being there. Now, she wanted to play.
“No, baby. Not now. Daddy’s gotta go get better. Daddy’s gotta go get better.” I threw her “Birthday Cake” toy down by her crate, and tricked her into going inside, and closed the door. “I am sorry baby, Daddy’s gotta go get better.”
I crawled to the closet. “Man, this sucks.” I pulled down a black T shirt and black exercise pants with no zippers or metal of any kind - you needed to have no metal on you in an MRI. As ever, it was difficult to get dressed, stupidly painful, but I kept smiling.
“Daddy’s gotta go get better.”
It was 3:45 p.m., dressed in my exercise clothes, I crawled to the closet for the crutches. Got them, pulled myself up slowly.
“OH shit, it hurts!! DAMN DAMN DAMN DAMN - come on DADDY’s GOTTA GO GET BETTER!!”
I exited my apartment. Locked the door. The pain was strong, but I was stronger. “You will be fine, Ken. You will be fine. It is not so bad. Let’s go.”
Got to the elevator. Then ground floor. Took the side exit. Didn’t want anyone to see me or help me. I needed to be an anonymous cripple. Anonymous, unknown, unacknowledged, then maybe all of this wouldn’t be real.
It was cool when I opened the side exit door. Cool. It felt good. There was a winter storm coming. Maybe the cold would heal me, freeze the god damn fucking pain away. Make it go away somehow.
There was a cab. Should I take it? It is just a block away this facility, but it was rush hour and because of the traffic patterns it would have to go two blocks up and then back and I might never make it to my salvation on time.
So I crutched it. As people walked by I realized how blessed they were to be able to walk and how I will never take my walking for granted when I am healed. Never. It is a gift, walking, movement, our bodies, we need to take care or them and cherish them. People looked so happy. I looked so old and crutch-idy, and sick and in pain, and god damnit this is not fair this is so not fair why the fuck did this happen to me and HOW DO I HEAL??? PLEASE GOD HOW DO I HEAL?
I arrived. Bit of a problem with the front door and the crutches, but I made it. The pain was nasty. I quickly moved to the counter, got the paper work and then crossed to a big soft leather couch. I fell into it, on my side, so soft, so nice, and no pain, no pain on my side here on this blessed couch thank you God. I quickly filled out the paperwork, and then lay on my side with my Iphone returning emails, being busy, not thinking about what lay ahead.
“Mr. Wolf? Please come with me?” It was a strange little Russian woman with a very thick accent. Brown hair, overweight, glasses.
“Sure. Can’t wait.”
“Do you need help?”
“No I am fine. Just fine.”
“My name is Mira.”
She walked me through a large door and then down a corridor where they were doing construction.
PLEASE EXCUSE OUR APPEARANCE AS WE RENOVATE.
I needed the renovation.
She took me to a small locker room.
“You have any zippers or metal on you? Make sure you don’t. Leave things here, lock them up and then bring key with you to me down corridor for MRI.”
I felt like I was in some sort of foreign concentration camp.
I locked my stuff up and then hobbled down the corridor to the STAND UP MRI ROOM.
It was 2 huge white monoliths….with a chair in the middle. Rounded edges, and so so big, with this bizarre little amusement park strap-in-seat placed in the middle. There was a flat screen TV in front of it televising JUDGE JUDY. The volume was on super loud. Judge Judy was yelling at some sycophant as the Russian attendant gave me directions.
“Now I am going to place you in 4 different positions. You cannot move.”
“Can you turn off the TV please?”
She simply turned down the volume - language difference I presume.
“Now you cannot move. Are you going to be alright?
“Yes, I am a big boy. I can deal.”
“Ok let me strap you in, and please remember you cannot move.”
“I will be fine.” But I wasn’t sure. What if I couldn’t stand the pain and had to move? Would it ruin the MRI? Or would I have to keep doing it again and again and again all night until I got it right?
“OK, let’s do this.”
My Russian guard left the room. I waited. Nothing. No sound. No noise. Nothing. I glanced up at the silent TV and there was a Papa John’s Pizza commercial with the most unappetizing pizza one could ever imagine. It looked like barf on bread.
BAM! WHIRL! BAM! WHIRL!
What the fuck is happening? The strap-in-seat started to move up and back as the walls squeezed in against my body entrapping me. And then it lifted me up, up, up, up and then over onto my back, as if I was being lifted by THE HAND OF GOD.
BAM! BAM! WHIRL! BAM!
It was surreal. Scary. Wild!
I sat - on my back - frozen as the sounds multiplied around me.
BAM. BAM. BAM! GOTCHA! GOTCHA! GOTCHA! BAM!
Tears started to fall from my eyes. No I can’t go into drama or emotion, I can’t I can’t have The People in my Hips return, I can’t shake I have to be still be quiet be still I can’t shake! NO. NO. NO!
BAM! BAM! WHIRL! GOTCHA! GOTCHA! GOTCHA! BAM.
Mantra. Use a mantra. Use a Mantra, Ken!
I started to repeat in my head. I AM HEALED. I AM STRONG. I AM HEALED. I AM STRONG. I AM HEALED. I AM STRONG.
“GOTCHA! BAM! GOTCHA! GOTCHA NOW!” the machine screamed.
“Don’t move. Don’t move. I am healed. I am strong. I am healed. Please don’t move.”
And on it went.
“Are you alright?” whined the Russian Guard from the other room
“Yes, I’m fine. Never been better.” I was lying.
“Ok now we are going to change position.”
The HAND OF GOD lifted me again, slowly squeezing me down to an upright position. My Russian captor entered.
“Now move like this. Yes, move back like this. Now don’t move.”
She left. I looked up at Judge Judy. She was railing about something.
The walls again squeezed in on me as I was pulled back into the machine by divine intervention, and then it stopped.
Then a clicking sound.
And then again, a short clicking sound, and then……
Oh shit. It was so loud. Hammering at me. My ears. My body. Aren’t they supposed to give me earplugs?
BAMMMMMMMMMM BAMMMMMM BAMMMMMMMM BAMMMMMMMM BAMMMMMMM!!
I am strong. I am healed. I am strong. I am healed. I AM STRONG! I AM HEALED!!!!
The machine wailed. I looked up at a silent Judge Judy wishing I could actually hear her astringent batterings.
BAM BAMMMMMMMMMM BAMMMMMMM BAMMMMM!
I am strong. I am strong. I am strong. I AM STRONG!
I looked up at the TV. Oh fuck, Papa John’s BARF on BREAD!
BAMMMMMMMMM BAMMMMMMM BAMMMMMMMM!!!
I AM STRONG! I AM STRONG!!!
everything went black.
“Are you alright? You fell asleep.”
No, I passed out - I wanted to say.
“Ok now I need you to sit two more ways. You Ok.”
“Yes. I’m OK.”
“Bend your shoulders forward and sit like this.”
I hunch forward in the strap-in-seat.
THE PAIN. THE KNIFE IN THE CALF. OH SHIT!
“Now don’t move. Here we go. Almost done.”
The monolith slides me back into it’s magnetic embrace. The nerve pain is slicing my leg.
DON’T MOVE KEN, DON’T MOVE!
WHAMMMMM! WHIRLLLLLL! BAM! BAM! BAM!!! BAM!!!
I AM STRONG GOD DAMMIT! I AM HEALED! OH GOD PLEASE HELP ME PLEASE!
My body starts to shake from the pain. I can’t move. Focus on your Mantra, Ken. Focus on the Mantra. I look forward. Papa John’s again. BARF ON FUCKING BREAD! I am going to vomit cry shit myself kill myself oh God make it go away this is so not fair please god please…
BAM! WHAM! BAM! WHAM! BAM! BAM!!!!!!!
It all blurs together. Tears from my eyes like piss. Knife in my leg and the shaking. NO NO NO people in my hips you can’t come back you can’t. GO AWAY PLEASE NOT NOW NOT EVER. I AM STRONG. I AM STRONG. I AM HEALED! I AM FUCKING STRONG!
“Now second position. Almost done. Can you lift back and arch like this?”
“Here we go now.”
One last time into God’s WOMB of death, the monolith pulls me in, so much pain, so much pain, don’t move, please don’t move. YOU are strong Ken, Never give up. Never give up. It is all in you. YOU CAN DO IT. YOU WILL PERSEVERE! YOU WILL PERSEVERE!!!!!
OHHHHHHHHHHHHH GOD PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!
It was over.
“Ok finished. Go change. I will get you CD for doctor. Wait 15 minutes.”
Still shaking, I hobble to the locker room. I survived.
I escaped the chamber of death, God’s monolith womb of healing.
I am lost.
Nothing is the same.
The world has changed...
...and I am reborn.