It begins in the synapses. Jesus, does it ever. First half a pill, and then a whole one, and I am floating in a twilight I remember from my early 20s of sad holidays with a boy who I loved and who hurt me, pills and a rumpled bed and drawn blinds and a flashing blue television.
Now, this time, the pills are to quell my anxiety and hopefully, in turn, an immune system that lashes out indiscriminately, eating away the bone in my pelvis. There’s not supposed to be a gap there, the doctor says, pointing to the blackness on a screen. You’re lucky. Most women don’t come in until their spines have started fusing. And I am doing this to myself, or more precisely, my immune system is doing this, attacking every healthy thing it can find, first my intestines which it eats to ulcers, and once I have convinced it otherwise, my hips.
I am 33 and I walk with a limp. I cannot get out of the car. My he of now has to move me in and out of bed. Can you roll me over? I’m just trying to roll over. In the morning I cannot walk until I figure out how I can, carefully, with my knee locked, if I come down straight on top of the bone, perfectly straight, because otherwise, my God, otherwise. I do not sleep and I do not sleep and I do not sleep and then a migraine. At the hospital the next day the doctor twists my leg gently, innocently, and I am immediately hysterical with the most exquisite (is that the word?), most excruciating pain. But how could the doctor have known? (Most women don’t come in until their spines have started fusing.) She says I’m sorry, I’m sorry, my God I’m sorry, and carefully asks, what about this? Does this hurt? Or this? Or here?
Yes, there are injections to kill my immune system and, yes, this in dangerous. But such a small risk, the doctor says kindly. Of lymphoma, such a small risk. Of fungal infection, a risk, yes, in the Mississippi River basin, and we are in the Mississippi River basin, but still. If you encounter a fever or infection: do you have a primary care doctor? The injections will fix everything by completely destroying what keeps you well. It will take a number of months for this to work.
But I want to talk about the pills for the anxiety, which seems to be the eternal cause of all this, for the anxiety has indeed been eternal, as…