I watch my town shrink away backwards through the ambulance window. The ER doctor had blown off the needs of my extreme motion sensitivity saying "People with CFS, they're just a bit tired all the time." I hadn't recognized her at first. The married surname and 20 years tripped me up. She is the oldest sister of a childhood friend. But she ordered the MRI I'd been trying to get for months. I can only fault her so much.
I'll make it over the mountain pass, to the trauma center in the valley, but I don't know what the consequences will be. I feel the beginnings of the pull in my gut and along my spine. The entire length of my digestive feeling as if it is trying to compact itself and force an escape up my spinal cord and out the base of my skull. I sneak a stash of chemo-grade anti-emetics and benzodiazepines out of my coat just ahead of all my muscles contracting and weakening in agony.
I wouldn't code or have a seizure. By the time it progresses to something the paramedics would recognize as distress, it would be an all-out, high-pressure cascade of bodily fluids and excruciating muscle contractions. And they wouldn't know what to do, except drive faster and turn on sirens, the worst thing for someone already having a massive, as-yet-unclassified autonomic reaction to sensory overload. I wait until they're not paying attention and shove the pills in my mouth.
It's a bandaid. The medication won't stop the episode, but hopefully with it I can minimize the damage. I'll still lose irreplaceable function. I just have no idea how much. 60 miles: one mountain pass, 7000 vertical feet, 30 miles up the valley. A little over an hour. I can survive anything for an hour. Knowing this is a one-way trip: whatever has happened to my health is in no state to be coped with on that medically forsaken mountain, I open my eyes and take a last glimpse of my town, bleak and empty on an off-season Sunday night. Then I steel myself against the pain and clear my mind as I throw all my focus into the now-instinctual exercises, coping mechanisms, and mental tricks to keep my body in order and my concentration from breaking. Life is two seconds: this one and the next. Everything becomes about getting from one to the other, forcing the seconds falling behind and the seconds ahead to cease to exist.