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Going numb
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I woke with a slight tingling sensation in my feet. By the afternoon, it was on my legs. Maybe I brushed by a nettle on my hike yesterday. We had such fun with the kids. I love hiking through the salmon berry bushes and grazing as we go. I don’t remember the sting and I have no blisters, so it must be my imagination. by lunch time, my knees were tingling and I started to stumble a bit. My husband asked me if I had been drinking because my feet were just not walking normally. I did feel a bit drunk or something odd I can’t describe. I also noticed that the tingling was up to my thighs. I found it hard to get out of the chair. My feet no longer had any feeling in them and I couldn’t get them to work in any reasonable manner. My husband decided to take me to the doctor. It was odd, but I thought it would get better. Maybe I was sitting with my legs crossed too long and it just caused them to go to sleep. It had always resolved when I did this, but it’s now been several hours and they aren’t better, in fact a bit worse. So, I agreed to go. On the way there, I noticed that I no longer had any feeling at all in my feet and my knees were acting as though they did not belong on my body. I felt like a puppet. I moved my legs with my hands, but I could not get them to pay attention to me when I tried to move them with my mind. My husband had to get a wheelchair to get me out of the car. This is odd. I’m a healthy 30 year old woman. I’m not having a stroke, I don’t even have cardiac disease in my family. I take vitamins and I work out three times a week. I make healthy meals for my family. I have never had a problem with my health. Even all my pregnancies and births were normal. But, here I am, unable to move my legs. In the clinic, I started to get scared. It seems to be moving still. My stomach felt funny, a bit tingly and a bit numb. The doctor examined me and sent for an ambulance. He didn’t say what was wrong but when I got to the ER, they started asking all kinds of questions. No, I don’t use drugs. No, I didn’t fall. No, I don’t have a neurological disease. No MS or connective tissue diseases in my family, that I know of. No, it doesn’t hurt. It’s more of a numb feeling and I’m getting scared. They asked if I had chest pain but so far pain is not the problem, it’s no sensation at all! They asked if I had been sick recently or around anyone who was sick. Well, I had the flu, but I got over that a few days ago. I’m not sick at all now. What about my legs??? I was starting to feel panicky. The doctor was very nice and explained that they were going to take some blood and look for evidence of a particular virus that may have caused my flu symptoms. They were also going to admit me. They hooked me up to a machine that took my blood, “washed it”, and sent it back. Are you kidding me? You are removing my blood? Well, not really, it’s just going through this machine that is pulling out the particles that are causing my body to go numb. Then, they told me the worst news of all. I had a syndrome that was caused by a virus but only affected some people. (Why me?). It causes the body to become paralyzed, starting with the feet and going up the body. When it gets to my diaphragm, I will no longer be able to move my lungs and would die if not hooked up to a ventilator. (Oh my God!). I’ve heard of those machines. I also won’t be able to feed myself or swallow. After a few days or a week, it starts to recede and go away. But, I will need rehab. This is unbelievable. In fact I don’t believe it, except that my tingling and numbness is now affecting my hands….


I like how you walk us into the situation gradually, looking at obvious minor sources to grasp at controllable ordinary sources of an utterly frightening helplessness. I hope we get to read the rest of this story. Well graduated sequences that raise the stakes almost imperceptibly from annoyance to alarm to terror; from the ordinary to the profoundly incomprehensible.

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