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"The normal human consciousness is not equipped to deal with the pillars and suspension cables of the universe."

Message to Readers

Is there anything that could make this piece more effective? Should I spend more time on the second half than the first? I appreciate suggestions ;)


December 5, 2017

Last Christmas I got a bike.
        It wasn’t a wake-up-in-the-morning-and-there-it-is present. Instead, my dad and I went a few days before Christmas to a bike shop in town, so that I could choose for myself. I was fourteen, and had been riding my mum’s bike, when I’d had occasion to ride one. In the last few years I’d shot up in a rush and tangle of limbs, and my old bike sat abandoned in the back shed.
        Rain cascaded down on my me and my dad when we got out of our car; the kind of misty rain that’s like standing near a waterfall. It had been like that for days; grey, wet, dreary, and monotonous.
        Two cats patrolled the bike shop. Standoffish cats who glared disdainfully at customers invading their home, who slouched off to curl up in corners where they could avoid disturbance. They say that people are often like their pets. It was true of the woman working behind the counter. My dad and I were a source of irritation. We tried bike after bike, and she watched us, sighing and wrinkling her nose. Customers or not, she seemed to consider us invasive. When I asked to try out one of the bikes on the sidewalk in front of the store, she shook her head, crisp white bob swishing, nose wrinkled like a prune.
        “No. Too wet.”
        Tired of wrinkled glares, we decided to try another store. On the way out, my elbow brushed at line of bikes. I tried to catch the first one, but it slipped through my fingers, and one by one the bikes toppled like dominos. The cats yowled. The woman looked as if she wanted to, but she only puckered up her reddening face, and helped us fix the bikes. My cheeks burned hot, and I bit my lip. I felt like a five-year-old under her accusatory stare; like a guilty child. I didn’t mean to knock over the bikes. But she looked at me with a glint of certainty in her eyes, certainty that I had done it on purpose. I wanted to sink through the floor, but it was hard and unyielding, like the woman’s eyes. We left quickly, heads dipped by guilt.
        We found a bike at the next store. It shone with electric beauty, black and purple, sleek and streamlined, built for speed and efficiency. Expensive, too, but it was my Christmas gift, so that was alright. At this store, they were more than willing to let me try out the bike outside, and I whizzed down the sidewalk, water streaming behind me. We bought the bike, and stayed to chat a while with the man at the counter, whose eyes were friendly, and welcoming. He hoped I’d enjoy my bike.
        I haven’t gotten to, yet.
        It’s safe to say that things began to get worse after that Christmas. Before it had been fatigue, dizziness, vertigo, and the constant headaches. Other symptoms started after that, like the nausea, my constant companion, the grey mass of cement I carry around with me. The nausea has stolen my joy in eating with my family, because I know eating will only make it worse.
        I got up in the middle of the night once, heading to the bathroom, sure I was going to be sick, and fainted on the dining room floor. My mum heard the crash, and came running. She found me sprawled on the floor, still, my flashlight shining in my face.  
        The tachycardia increased, and the heart palpitations; I felt like my chest would bust open at any moment. I was kept awake at night by the throb of my own pulse. My balance disappeared; I began crashing into things, misjudging doorways and hitting into walls. My brain filled with fog; thick, cloying fog that has barely lifted since.
        And then the pain began. The joint pain, the wobbling looseness, the popping out of place. The pain so terrible I can’t sleep at night, the pain that makes it impossible to sit in any position for long. The nerve pain snaking through my fingers, destroying my dexterity. The chronic, unforgiving, unforgettable pain that is my reality.
        That bike is still brand new, and I’ve been sick now for over a year. Doctors didn’t know what to do with me. Bloodwork came back normal; I was misdiagnosed, referred to psych, and ignored. I lived in my own personal little hell.
        And then we found someone. A doctor who listened, believed, and had an answer. My diagnoses are Chronic Lyme Disease and Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, a disorder of the autonomic nervous system.
        Knowing what’s wrong with me is an incredible relief, but it doesn’t change the fact that my life has turned upside-down. I’ve spent most of this past year in bed. Struggling through each day, trying to live despite the pain, looking only as far as tomorrow because I can’t see much further. That’s the way I’ve learned to cope.
        I just have to make it to tomorrow.
        And I do. It hurts and it’s messy, but I always make it to tomorrow.
        I know what I want for Christmas this year. I want to be normal again. I want to snap my fingers and have my life back.
        It isn’t that easy.
        Every day is a battle, but I’m finally starting to feel like it’s a war I can win. I’ve decided that it’s a war I have to win. Win or go mad. Get my life back or sit, passive, as it is wasted. I can’t let that happen. There’s so much I want to do.
        I’m on a path to recovery now. I’m in treatment, and things are looking more hopeful than they have in a long time. I no longer spend every day in bed. I’m walking, reading, writing. I’m starting to live again.
        Every day it gets a little easier to make it to tomorrow.
        Maybe next Christmas I’ll be riding that bike.      

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  • Ashleigh2403

    wow this is a really powerful story, and I really enjoyed reading it

    about 2 years ago
  • Deleted User

    Wow. This really gives me hope in my own life and struggles, since I can actually relate to your pain, being that I'm also going through difficult pain and illness, though not quite like yours. It is very inspiring to read from people who are going through the same thing as me! You're really giving me hope that I can make it through this awful pain. Thank you for sharing your story!

    about 2 years ago
  • JadeAndSerpentine

    This piece is so inspiring! Congratulations on winning! You 100% deserve it. Stay strong!

    about 3 years ago
  • lillywrites

    The "little things" always feel so much more important when you can't participate in them, like biking. This is a wonderful work, and I hope your recovery continues well.

    about 3 years ago
  • lucy.liora

    This is a beautiful piece!!

    about 3 years ago
  • Unapologetic Regret

    This piece just shines with emotion, and it's easy to see you chose your words carefully. You definitely deserve first place. Keep up the beautiful work!

    about 3 years ago
  • LackingASocialLife

    Wow. The last sentence gave me chills!

    about 3 years ago
  • Loves2Write

    I'm so sorry about everything you've gone through! I hope you get better soon, sending prayers. :) I slightly understand how you've been feeling. Starting early 2017 I started getting unexplained severe stomachaches. It was horrible! There was one time where my parents considered taking me to the ER but a nurse friend said there was nothing they could really do but do a CT scan. I got blood tests done, an endoscopy, a ultrasound (No, there was no chance I was pregnant, so nobody ask please! :) ). Nothing showed up! My parents thought it was anxiety or I just wasn't eating enough. ( I was doing year-round competitive swimming and my Mom had went overseas for almost two weeks so they thought maybe I was nervous or something.)The doctor I got prescribed me a pain medication called Levsin and then I reacted to that with trouble breathing and just feeling like 'fuzzy' I suppose. I ended up going to the ER early the next morning. My brother wasn't helping even though he slept in my room that night just in case I had a really hard time breathing in the middle of the night because he wasn't waking up *sigh*. ( I took the medication at night. ) I got a chest x-ray done and my oxygen levels checked, both came back normal. They thought maybe it was anxiety. I was told not to take the medicine again and they sent me home telling me to rest. Then, when I got the endoscopy done, they had to pump Bendaryl in me because I was starting to get what appeared to be an allergic reaction. The nurse said it might be an egg allergy. Plus, I was asleep for awhile before I woke up. I ended up staying at the hospital for a few hours afterwards even though it was supposed to be an outpatient surgery and by the time we left it was in the evening. Like, the one thing the gastroenterologist didn't test for, allergies, the pediatrician tested me for. Came back allergic to peanuts, shellfish, eggs, milk, wheat, soy, dust mites, and cockroaches. When I first saw my mom writing down the results, I thought she was writing a grocery list. ( Not the cockroaches part. :) ) XD I can now eat ( in reasonable amounts ) milk and wheat and soy. A small amount of eggs in something once in awhile, I recently learned, is okay too. Shellfish I'm not quite sure how it will turn out if I accidentally eat some. I can't be in the room with a large amount of peanuts in the air. I also can't be around when vacuum cleaners when they're on and where they just vacuumed or I have to wear a mask and I have an air filter in my room. So, that's my story! It's been awesome to be able to eat food without pain now. I really hope you get better, too! Congratulations on winning Best Entry for the December competition!!!

    about 3 years ago
  • Kaitlyn ❄

    :') Happy to spread the love.

    about 3 years ago
  • Vin

    Thank you all so much for the love and support! <3

    about 3 years ago
  • Kaitlyn ❄

    I'm so sorry that you have to go through this. My mom is on the Well Trained Mind and she knows a little about this :( You'll be in my prayers.

    about 3 years ago
  • paperbird

    Love this piece!

    about 3 years ago
  • AbigailSauble

    I love the hopeful twist you set at the end. :) I agree with +izagrace04.
    Jesus loves you! I'll be praying for you!
    God bless! Hope you have a really good day!

    about 3 years ago
  • izagrace04

    This is an amazing essay, it's very sad. I wish I could say I know what your going through, but I don't. I'm praying for you! Know that God will always be with you if you just call to him. :)

    about 3 years ago