David took my photo at 11 o’clock this morning. I’m standing beneath a paper “Happy Birthday” banner that I didn’t notice the first time I walked under it.
My sweet pup Penny is jumping up to lick my face and I look happy and content. The morning sun is flattering, Penny and I look so natural together, like we’ve been practicing this slobbery kiss forever.
Before this, before we were kissing in the sun, a woman cut in front of me in the valet line at the hospital. I was in the valet line because I forgot to to get exact directions to the exact building in the giant complex and I was running late.
She put me back a whole 30 seconds, but I wished a lot of bad things for her.
She found the elevator after I was already in it and I did not hold the door. I felt vindicated. I hated her. I had no control over anything this morning and so I bullied her. She had no idea, of course, but I know what I was doing.
This woman does not show up again, so don’t get too attached. I’m just setting the scene, showing my lack of control. Slowly building the scaffolding before I can tear it down, looking for evidence.
A few minutes later and I’m answering the same questions, re-telling the story of what brought me there. I’ve had a week to find the words, but I haven’t.
My reflexes are still in good working order, I can still walk a straight line and touch my nose and then the doctor’s finger and then my nose again.
But the memories, the memories my mind had made space for and remembered and felt familiar with, they weren’t mine. For about five minutes, on two separate occasions, I lived in a mind that wasn’t my own.
Both of these events were followed by extreme, tearful anxiety and then two or three days of total exhaustion.
“Please, can you tell me what happened?” I’d pleaded with a physician’s assistant last week and then this morning with a neurologist.
Later today I’ll celebrate with my favorite pizza and tonight more friends than I’m expecting will show up and toast to me.
I’ll feel loved and wonder if I deserve it, convince myself that I do and then I’ll fall asleep, vowing to never skip another friend’s birthday party.
But for right now, I’m just 39 and waiting to schedule my very first MRI.