I WATCHED AS THE LIQUID DRIPPED FROM THE PLASTIC bag hanging above me from the tube, through the needle, and into my veins. It left a cold achiness behind as it navigated the subtleties of my blood, finding where to best fix my body.
The Juice, they call it. The Good Stuff. Now I know why.
Once they unplugged my tube and removed my needle, the ache in my arm began to fade. The deep blackberry smudges began to surface. The remnants of the intrusion were covered with folded cotton, a Band-Aid, then brightly colored purple gauze.
I took my yoga class, bending, stretching, balancing with ease. I pressed further. I did one armed push-ups. I killed my downward dog. I felt muscles bulging in my arms, tendons pulsing in my thighs. I reached past my furthest point. I twisted beyond my comfortable boundaries. I kept going. I felt no pain, experienced no weakness. Sweat dripped from my forehead, between my shoulders and down my back. The high of it was better than The Juice, but ironically, because of it.
I slept three hours the first night. It was a sound sleep, one that I wouldn’t have been woken from easily, until I was. The clock read 3:30am. But I wasn’t tired. I was awake, alive, ready to embrace the day. I made breakfast, showered, and took time to shave my legs, a luxury I’d usually skip from feeling drained. Tired. That’s what the disease had left me with, a more tired version of who I’d been, of who I wanted to be. The Juice gave her back. The old me was making breakfast, the old me was showering, the old me was at work before the lights were on, writing this piece.
This me felt much sharper, more focused. This me regained a lost confidence in her body and mind. The pieces of me were coming back together, as The Juice restored the me I’d lost.
But the crash was inevitable. The nausea, the headache. It was coming. The second night might bring five hours of sleep, heartburn, mood swings. Get out of my way, I would think two to five times in any given car ride. Move, said its rage.
The pain in my back and neck would soon flare, pulsing, aching, burning again. The knots in my stomach would grow. I’d fill them with sweets and sugar. Anything green or healthy tasted like aluminum or like sucking on a rusty silver chain. In about a week that taste might go away. Maybe then I’d start craving salads or hummus. Until then, hide the chocolate, the bagels, the ice cream, the pasta.
But the high is high enough. High enough to fix me, to fix me for enough time. High enough to make me feel like that old me is still in there, layers and layers deep. Like an onion. She’s in there, pacing herself, calculating when to expend energy and when to hoard it. She’s alive, if not well. She’s waiting for the next fix, for the fix that will end all of these temporary ones, and leave her fixed for good.
Lori M. Hawks is wanted by her public library for overdue book fines. She has loved writing ever since she began drawing in Crayon on the walls above her crib. Her childhood summers were spent enjoying classic texts such as Word Bird. Her favorite TV show was Reading Rainbow. As a grown-up, Lori has taught English and composition for twelve years. She enjoys attempting yoga, spoiling her two cats & husband when she is not too busy battling M.S. or infertility.