Day Of Reckoning Excerpt from My M.S. Journey: How M.S. Stole My Body; How My Spirit Got It Back
It was Monday, April 13th, 1997 at 6:30 a.m. when the alarm sounded. After a late night jamming at the loft with Rick and the boys, slamming bongs, smoking joints, downing tequila and beer until I was thoroughly saturated, I had to get to work on four hours of sleep. I cursed the blurred lines and the surly beeping staring me in the face. The red lights flashed, flashed, flashed, and the clock beeped, beeped, beeped.
“Shut up!” I mumbled through the pasty taste of sensimilla and Cuervo, like my tongue was coated with ashes. I reached my left arm out to turn off the clock, but my arm didn’t move. Bent in an L over my head with the palm open and facing up, it was locked in the same position as when I went to bed. My palm tightened like it was being pulled by an invisible string from the center of it. I thought I had a pinched nerve.
I tried to move my arm again, but the arm remained pressed above my head.
I wiggled fingers that felt as if they had been dipped in hot wax and then dried. Suddenly, pins and needles bolted like lightning up and down the entire left side of my body. I winced as I lifted my right hand over my head and grabbed my left wrist. I pulled my left hand down slowly when a white-hot railroad iron cauterized my left shoulder.
Intense hot spots — like a scorching sun under a magnifying glass on my skin — seared and sizzled on my left forearm while a line of fire ants crawled underneath my skin. I looked at my arm and expected to see a mass of roiling boiling skin, but my arm looked like the other one except that the need to scratch it was overpowering. As soon as my fingers touched my left arm, the hot spots converged and engulfed in flames!
The burning sensation would not cease. The skin on my forearm, from wrist to shoulder, felt like it had been scored, pulled back to expose the layer of dermis and hot oil poured on it. I grimaced in pain. I raised myself up, but my left shoulder caved in with a dull crash when I put weight on it.
What is the hell is going on?
I looked at the clock: 6:45 a.m.
I had to be out of the apartment by 7:15 if I wanted to get to my job as a sub at the school by 8:00. A shower had to fix this. I propped myself up with my right hand and swung my right foot to the ground. But when I pitched my left leg to follow, it slid to the ground like spaghetti slipping off a plate. I had no control of my leg. I looked in horror while my left appendages jerked and twitched uncontrollably.
WHAT THE #^&* IS GOING ON!?
I took a deep breath and was ready to stand when a new hot spot burned up my neck, lodging itself in the back of my head. I tried lifting my left arm to scratch my head, but a bolt of ancient heat rippled through my left forearm muscles, forcing my fingers into a deep cramp. It felt like all of my tendons, arteries, veins, and muscles were being drawn in a medieval rack. I bit down on some nails as another explosion of heat tore down the back of my left tricep.
“Everything ok in there?” It was one of my roommates.
I wanted to scream: hell no! But it wouldn’t pass my lips. Instead, I said, “Yup, just ripped my pants.”
“It’s not the end of the world, is it?” she cheerily suggested. I could see her %@*$ing smiling. I didn’t have time for any %@*$ing smiles.
I had to get to the shower.
I had to unpinch this nerve.
I had to get to work.
I needed this job!
But the left side of my body wasn’t working! It was burning, itching, and not doing what I wanted it to do, what I trained it to do, what I took for granted it could do!
I lie in bed. 7:00 came; no change. 7:15 passed; still no change.
It was 7:30 a.m. when I heard the front door of the apartment close. The girls were gone for the day when I faced the ugly fact I wasn’t leaving my bed anytime soon. I’m screwed! I’m so screwed! I panicked and picked up the phone, held the receiver in my hand, and shook my head in anger, dread, and fear that the plans for my life were being controlled by something other than me.
They were my plans that I had hatched over the last decade. Plans I was forced to deal with now since I had been forced to leave the C.P.D. because of my habitual drug use. My life had, up to this time, been all about time and timing. Right now, I was ready to start building my new career as a High School English teacher, and I was in the fourth month of my transition.
I was going to make positive changes in kids’ lives instead of locking up their asses and letting them fester in jail. After seven years as a Chicago Police Officer, five which of were spent as an undercover narcotics officer, operating as a foot soldier in the War on Drugs, I was prepared to wage a new war. Fighting that bogus War on Drugs had left me disillusioned, and I altered my sights on educating the youth of tomorrow and used my city-paid-for education by becoming an English teacher. My sights were tightly honed.