Chapter 6: Denial

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From the Stages of Grief, In No Particular Order


Nothing to see here! Just move along! Everything’s fine!

It all started with these strange muscle movements, in my arms and legs, not twitches exactly, just muscles pulsing, like they’re being flexed and then relaxed, gently, over and over and over again. No pain, no discomfort even. Just this subtle involuntary thing, barely detectable upon observation, especially when they were at their mildest, as they mostly were at this time…

Nothing to see here! Just move along! Everything’s fine!

By my early 50s, a physically active person with my share of injuries, and a few other health blips – deep tissue skin cancer caught early, with no recurrence; gall stones and gall bladder removal; very mild high blood pressure – I’d had more run-ins with the medical industrial complex, that soul-sucking, rabbit hole of convoluted bureaucracy, tower of Babel conflicting opinions, and cash-draining expenses than I cared for.

And so, I thought, what’s a little seemingly benign muscle movement? It’s probably just some vitamin or mineral deficiency. I’ll take some supplements, cut down on coffee, I’ll be fine.

Nothing to see here! Just move along! Everything’s fine! I’ll simply ignore it!

Oh, but the pulsing muscles continued, I learned that they are called fasciculations, and that they are, in the vast majority of cases, completely benign. In fact, there’s actually a condition called Benign Fasciculation Syndrome, nothing to be done about it really, but nothing major to worry about.

Then came the cramps.

Every once in a while, after a particularly strenuous day, perhaps a hike with a lot of elevation gain, or heavy yard work, like weeding and spreading yards of mulch, the fasciculations would intensify, so much so that even a casual observer could see it happening in my bare arms and legs, and even, on occasion, through a thin shirt.

And one night, I was lying on the sofa with my feet up on the arm rest, hanging out with the Mrs. reading, I attempted to move, to get up to use the bathroom, when suddenly, without any warning, my hamstrings, quads, and calves seized up violently, muscles clenched up as tight as was possible, with an accompanying pain so sharp that, though I’d never actually been stabbed, felt like I imagined it would feel if someone plunged a chef’s knife into my leg. Indeed, the pain had been so severe that I fainted, and I came to and discovered my wife on an urgent 9-1-1 call, and the crotch of my pants wet from the contents of my bladder.

Nothing to see here! Just move along! Everything’s fine! No need to bounce around from doctor to doctor, all those blood tests, x-rays, MRIs, all those bills!

Then came the weakness in my fingers and hands.

Denial nearly over.


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