The sensation took me by surprise.
In a cold basement conference room, I adjusted myself in my rolling chair when the sensation started. I continued taking notes as to not terrify my colleague during our weekly one-on-one meeting.
An unknown fuse dangling from my skin and connected to my vertebrae ignited. The spark traveled slowly down my spine, spreading to the width of my hips before transcending parallel down my legs, breathing fire with every inch. My toenails’ edge acted like a trampoline, causing the flame to bounce back and change its momentum.
Terror consumed me as the flame inched back up my body. The fire demon crawled vertebrae by vertebrae until it reached the base of my skull, and as fast as it ignited, the flame is gone.
Its destruction is soon known to me. A fierce tingle blanketed my legs. It takes great concentration to wiggle my toes. My legs are weighted as I adjust them, but I’m relieved to learn I’m not paralyzed.
The clock read forty past the hour. I conversed with my colleague for twenty more minutes, remaining composed all while anxiously strategizing my exit.
The hour ends, and to my surprise, I was able to stand on my legs. But each step sent a million small, vibrating needles into the bottom of my feet. The sensation resembles the return of circulation after a body part falls asleep, only it was a year-long slumber followed by severe pain. I bit down to push through the pain and made it to my office.
The rest of the day is a blur. The event warned me that something was wrong and queued me to go to urgent care. But I hid my fear and continued working like all was normal, a practice I perfected in the years to come.
I didn’t seek medical help for two days.
That’s weird, right? The rational response when your legs randomly go numb is probably to go to the emergency room. My choice was to push forward and cross my fingers that it would clear up on its own because I wasn’t emotionally read to hear the truth.
I knew something serious happened to me, that my life changed the moment fire spread throughout my spine. The symptoms I’ve had years leading up to that day compounded on themselves all of the other signs.
The episode a year prior when my left leg felt lite on fire for a few weeks made sense. The decreased control I had of my right toes accompanied by numbness made sense. The unexplained fatigue I chalked up to stress and my over-packed schedule made sense. The countless times common words escaped my vocabulary, or when I couldn’t remember what I was doing, those moments made sense. The dozens of glasses I randomly threw and shattered finally made sense.
I knew my fate.
But I didn’t want to hear a doctor tell me my truth. That made it real, made it permanent. I soaked up every hour left in my “normal” life instead.
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