Jilly D.

It didn’t hurt anymore walking than not walking past the Unabomber’s place

In Off-The-Grid Memoir, Uncategorized on January 27, 2014 at 5:58 pm

My physician diagnosed me with fibrositits: a chronic condition of connective tissue (fascia). He put me on a medical leave for fall semester 1997. I’d just delivered my portfolio for tenure and promotion review and finished the first week of classes. Ugh. Instead I spent that autumn different than any other. I’d been in a classroom every September since 1963.

462577-R1-09-10A_010Doing nothing wasn’t as easy as it sounded. Resting and reassessing how I would manage the pain and fatigue now part of my everyday life and consider my future prognosis kept me distracted from the symptoms. Thinking I’d never be able to dance again, swim for miles, or hike the hills in the Finger Lakes made me determined not to be defined by my  illness.

The day I got my diagnosis from my doctor I came home to the house I rented on the edge of the Tompkins county line. I laid down on the floor. I stretched my legs longer another couple inches. I put my arms out to my sides. I sighed. Tears ran from the corners of my eyes onto the floor beneath my head.

I laid there. The tears kept coming. I didn’t sob. My breathing remained calm. I breathed in. I breathed out.

My hair and ears got wet. I laid there on the floor and wept. Everything hurt. It hurt for a reason and now I knew why. I found too little relief in that fact. The doc told me the diagnosis was not terminal; although I was going to have days when I wished it was. For me, it was the morning brain fog, loss of night vision, the butterfly rash, swelling of joints, and dysfunction of digestive organs. But the worst of it: the inability to follow my own train of thought suddenly in mid-sentence, the short term memory lapses, the wixing of mords and overall irritability. My brain farts finally had a reason.

My bones sank deep into the floor and salty water poured from the corners of my eyes. I stared at the beautiful pine boards above and merged with their knots and grains and golden beams. The tears streamed down my temples, into my scalp, down my neck and onto the floor. I laid there.

And cried. I woke up the next morning; lying on the floor, on my back, with my eyelids sealed shut from the Sandman. I cleared the sleep from my face.

I walked the country roads near my rented house every day to give myself and my dog, Bob, some exercise. Even when I hurt like hell, it didn’t hurt any more exercising.  So I walked. I walked through the pain. The more I walked, the less it hurt. Putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward was its own reward.

One day while out walking I noticed a new barricade appeared across the end of an unpaved driveway on Buck Hill Road, around the corner. “No Trespassing” signs went up and a couple sawhorses blocked vehicular traffic from turning down this lane I had never even noticed before.

I was a news junkie and suspicious this could be where a Unabomber could be staked out and hiding. I lived alone with my ragamuffin mutt, Bob, as my sole source of protection. We kept our eyes open for suspicious activity. Nobody went in or out; the snow piled up in the long drive.


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