I slipped on my Des Moines Half Marathon pullover, the one made from that fancy ever-dry fabric, rather than the “Newton Superfan” cotton T-shirt I often wear, long faded from Cardinal red to a confused pink color. I laced up my new running shoes, their neon colors still blinding from the box. Then I ran and ran and ran, probably too fast, probably too far at this stage in my training; I got a little power hungry.
The pace, the distance, the, “I’m a serious runner,” outfit — if I embodied power, embodied strength, it would somehow emerge. I was so close. I got home, stretched out my legs and tracked my mileage, each line of my route linking to form my own connect the dots. I was counting on this one to reveal some sort of latent girl-boss badassery.
The pill bottles, the pile of insurance papers and instructions interrupted my brief escape from reality: the one where I’m anemic, where I go to the doctor every few weeks, where uncertainty owns. Where the mileage can’t erase feeling powerless.
The needles sting; the uncertainty stings longer. I count down to blood tests and doctor’s appointments, silently repeating my latest hemoglobin count. As if ruminating on it will somehow will it (and me) to be better.
The other day at work, I sliced my finger on a wedge of cardboard, the cruelest of paper cuts. I watched the blood pool on my skin, wondering what it was hiding from me, why it couldn’t tell me or the doctor why I’m not well. The hematologist is next. “Hema.” That prefix unnerves me.
LSAT Logic Games Bible. As I bury my brain in its chapters and puzzles and problems, I wonder if my body is playing its own Logic Games with my mind. My external health — the running, the vegetarianism, the hours of napping — they each defy the vials of blood drawn, the “Why do I feel [insert today’s synonym for ‘fatigued’]?” Google searches.
The most precarious times are those in which I’m not moving, writing, running, reading, working or studying — the little moments of deceptive peace that thrive in the doctor’s waiting room, in line at the bank, simply in my own head. I look down at the half-healed paper cut on my finger, the blood-drawn bruise on the inside of my left elbow. It has faded from rich purple to a confused yellow color.