I wake up and “Judy Blue Eyes” is playing in my head, probably because I think it’s Tuesday. But it’s Wednesday. Two days closer to the weekend. I hate weekends.
It’s so humid you can uncork wine bottles with my hair. The air is stacked in layers, like slabs of wood at a lumber yard. It feels like jelly on my skin. The breeze from the window fan rolls the wet air around like a lead ball. I get up and limp to the bathroom.
I look in the mirror. Another zit. I turn on the water to wash my face and I reach for a towel. It’s still damp from Tuesday’s shower. I use it anyway and place it on the railing below the window and straighten it fully. I look up. A fly bangs against the screen and a chipmunk sits in the lilac bush. My knee feels as dense as the air. I place the crutch under my right arm, walk toward the kitchen, and step in dog shit in the living room.
My second out-patient physical therapy appointment is at 10:30. Tuesday’s appointment was as much fun as stepping in dog poop, so my expectations are low. But somewhere in my brain’s humid haze, I know my destiny isn’t in the hands of the gods. Nothing stays the same.
I put on some makeup and pay attention to my hair. It lifts my spirits. I know (and preach) that real change comes from the inside out, but sometimes mascara is a bridge to sanity. A different song plays in my head: “Whatever gets you through your life, ‘salright, ‘salright…”
I am in the car driving east on I-80 when my shoulders tighten and I remember the agoraphobic, near-panic attack I had driving I-80 the day before. It was nearly identical to the one I had in 1986 on the on-ramp to 169N off 376E in Minneapolis. I made it home, but I was immobilized by fear and didn’t drive for a year.
Not driving for a year now isn’t an option. Agoraphobia will not happen today. I have strategies. Exercises. Still, I’m pissed that I have to breathe this way and talk my body into calm, that this stupid disorder chose to surface like cicadas after years underground.
The cruise control is set at 68 mph. Semis are passing me on the left. I feel the panic rise. I can pull over and cry and call AAA to tow me home or suck it up and keep my mind calm.
I choose calm and the change begins.
The wave of dread, frustration and disorder recedes the moment my PT puts me in the “tank” and I walk on a treadmill in water. I’m not breaking any land speed records, but I walk, untethered to a crutch and not limping. I feel free for the first time in a month.