"Never run again."
It had taken me an extra two weeks since the MRI scan to get a followup visit. I was being shown pictures of my spine, both X-ray, and MRI. First, there was my spine's shape -- all wrong. Most people's curved backwards at the top. Mine curved forwards, a legacy of being an out of shape non-athletic nerdy kid my whole life, and sitting with crappy posture.
Then, came the details.
See that nice bulge?
How 'bout from a different angle? Let's look at slices of your spine!
Here's a healthy slice:
See that white Y-shaped stuff in the middle? The white stuff is happy cerebro-spinal fluid! It cushions your spinal cord! And as the main nerve trunks branch off between the vertebrae, there's happy white fluid cushioning them too!
And here's your special problem, Jon!
See that big dark area on the left? Well, that would be the reason you've had two months of pain in your arm, and why your left thumb currently has no sensation in the fingertip, and why your left arm is so weak that you can't even lift a pitcher of water out of the fridge!
So... I guess I'll be in some kind of therapy for this?
No no no, to fix this, you need surgery! See, we slice open your throat, push aside your esophagus, then slice out the disk from your spine, stick in a chunk of bone from your hip to keep the vertebrae apart, then bolt it in place until the bone grows together!
Uhhh. And after I get the surgery, can I start physical activity again?
"Not unless you want more surgeries."
This ... hit me like a ton of bricks. Running was the one thing that I had been doing that I really enjoyed, instead of being the slow fat kid who couldn't run across the gym back and forth as the rest of the class, I was actually a capable (amateur) athlete. I was going to run in the Bolder Boulder this year. Hell, I was even going to start playing soccer with my friends. Nuh-uh.
I was still in a numb kind of shock when I left the hospital. I ended up calling in a sick day to work. I went to call someone, to have a shoulder to cry on. That's when something else really hit me.
I don't have anyone I'm that close to.
I don't want to be rational about it. I don't want to go "Well, I guess I can at least be thankful I'm not Christopher Reeve. I can still go swimming for exercise." I want to shout. I want to say meaningless things. I want to bitch about it. I want to complain about how un-fucking-fair it is that when I finally slough off the shitty physique that's dogged me my whole fucking life, it end up biting me in the heel like a snake, and leaving me a cripple. (Yes, that's an exaggeration. Fuck. You.)
So ... I was reeling for a bit. It brought me back to when my shrink asked me "Who are you close to?", or "Who do you love?". There's really nobody I can turn to with this, without having to also reassure them that "Oh, but I'm OK. I know I'll make it. Don't worry." That sucks.