Cover Photo: Weapons of Cerebral Destruction by Linda Chavers

Weapons of Cerebral Destruction

It starts when the ring and pinky fingers on the left hand have stopped cooperating with the rest of the body. It tends to happen during drunken nights or long walks from the store. A bag just slips out of the hand or that time in the bathroom stall when she couldn't button her pants. She wasn't that inebriated, she was seeing single not double but her fingers would not cooperate the right way, they wouldn't do that thing they do when you push the button on one side as you pull the slit over from the other side. It started to happen with blouses, too. The buttoning up of things became an odd and strange experiment. Will it be today, right now? And it's frustrating when it occurs but it becomes just as frustrating when it does not. There's no calendar to keep, no planner to inform her this is will be good or bad hand day. There was that other afternoon when she fell in her apartment. It was slow and silent just when she'd been expecting her world to suddenly and finally make sense again.  She didn't fall without any apparent disruption to her stance, gait or stead. Just standing and then on the floor. It moves from the finger to her hand. In showers there are struggles to hold the soap, to wash hair. It starts to take a while to put on eye makeup. Bruises begin to appear in places she cannot account for. It is strange and infrequent enough for her to decide to wait and see. She decides this is a decision and less than a submission to forces beyond her control. Such as not having any medical insurance until the coming fall when she will be a full-time student. She tells herself she will address it then. By August she types with her left hand curled up. Like her fall it takes her by surprise. She's typing an email at work and happens to glance at her hands on the keyboard. She sees how her left hand is clawed up and she's typing with her knuckles. The body will always know before the self. The fall comes and she can see doctors so she does. One tells her to see a surgeon. The surgeon tells her to see a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist tells her to see her physician because she's in the wrong place. In the winter she sees a physical therapist. The physical therapist tells her that she is not crazy but to see a neurologist because something was still surely wrong with her head. She sees the neurologist's resident and the neurologist comes in after she's answered some questions and they as her to do a lot of things with her fingers and her face and she feels sort of like a horse or a slave at an auction block. The neurologist and his resident talk to each other and the neurologist tells her she needs an MRI and then returns to his resident. She has never heard of an MRI and is afraid to ask. When she's getting dressed she overhears the resident saying he'll print out the MRI order. When she walks out no one is present, it is dark, she sees the printer by the front desk and quickly swipes the paper on her way out. It has now come to the head, the brain. Several lesions are found including one the size of a half dollar on her right brain. They are old. They could be strokes, cancer, auto-immune disease, HIV. It is now at the arm, the inside crook to be exact. This is where dozens and dozens of vials of blood are taken for tests. She is not afraid of needles but she is afraid. She does not show this, she just started school and wants to do well. She has impressions to make. She does not like the doctors and staff who never look at her but look at parts of her. It is now at the back where it will remain. She is curled up in a ball on a cold examining table while her best friend smiles and the resident sticks a 3.5-inch needle into her spine to collect fluid. This will be the final test they say. And it is. A week later the resident calls her and lets her know that she has Multiple Sclerosis and that a nurse will be by her residence in the coming days to teach her how to do weekly injections. She takes the news quietly and asks to call back later. She has a final presentation in her class to attend to. It does not end at the spine but that is where it resides. Occasionally it extends to the legs, the left foot, particularly the left toe. It pays visits to the face sometimes, with little taps at the eye. It's always an unwelcome visitor to the bladder. All too frequently it grows fat and weighs the entire body down. It is the best most efficient weapon of singular destruction.

Essays. Memoir. Musings. Pajamas.