The first comes when you’re suffering from an apocalyptic migraine, one that has taken up residence right where neck meets skull. A circle of torment created just for you, by you. Pills would help, but you don’t know that yet. All you know is that your body is shaking like an earthquake and your breathing is too fast. Quickly, you discover you can localize the tremor to one limb. Your leg jackhammers into the couch. In fits and shivers it subsides and you think, Oh fuck.

And you take a breath.

This is not good.


Another happens at the doctor’s office. You’re not here because of the couch incident. You’re here because your body tried to off itself. That’s an important distinction. You’re not suicidal. Your body seems to be. They sedated you when you checked in at the urgent care and then explained things. Backwards, but necessary. Something about criticality and nearing stroke levels.

You slept really good that night.

But now you’re shaking and you localize the tremor into the arm on the other side of the doctor. You don’t trust her yet, but you don’t want to hit her.

She helps you trust her a little bit when she doesn’t accuse you of faking.

That will come later. With a different doctor. You’ll be ready for it.

But this doctor, this Doctor, she is important because she believes you and she’s frowning. Staring. Trying to puzzle out this complication.

She starts a drug regimen.

Neither of you are happy.


Only your boss knows you’re sick. He’s accommodating, but doesn’t asking anything about it and it hurts a bit. It’d be nice to know for sure that someone outside of your family cares. But a tremor in the midst of summer can’t be explained away as being cold. They don’t keep the office that cold. It consumes your thoughts.

Don’t call an ambulance. I’m seeing Doctor.

Because this is the land of the free. Home of the very expensive ambulance ride.

I’ll be fine, please just don’t say anything.

Because this is the most embarrassing thing that’s happened to you.

You’re supposed to be strong. To be resilient.

You’re not supposed to be sick.


Your ankles are baseball round. Water. But it’s never happened before. The on-call doctor, because apparently you need one of those right now, tells you to go to the ER. That it might be a clot. You tell him you’ll think about it and hang up. It’s not a clot. There’s no pain. Just skin stretched in ways it shouldn’t be.

Doctor prescribes more pills. The pills make your hair fall out. You’re on this-shit-is-fucking-serious doses and the new pill is due to the side effect of Issue still trying to kill you.

Issue still isn’t known.

Doctor says she thinks she knows but needs to test you.

So into the machine you go with contrast warming your veins.

You pray you don’t shake.


After the operation you’re hopeful. Maybe everything is better. Except you’re sitting up to eat hospital food and you can feel it coming.

“Don’t freak out,” you say to your nurse mother.

And then you shake.

And you can’t stop.

And Mom is calling for a nurse.

And the nurse is calling for a doctor.

And then you’re admitted to the fourth floor.


You’ve been ready for someone to not believe you since the start. It’s inevitable because you are young. Young people are supposed to be healthy. And you don’t look sick, which means you are not missing an arm. You are not in a cast. You have no wounds. Except on your heart, hurting from having your independence taken. And you’ve lost too much weight. But our society values that so it’s fine, apparently.

The doctor is a neurologist. Young. Cocky. Everything Doctor is not.

New doctor asks if you’ve ever seen anyone have a seizure. He seems doubtful when you say no.

He asks if your SO is abusing you. It takes all of your control to not scream.

He calls the tremors pseudo-seizures. Says it’s because you’re stressed.

You’re not fucking stressed.

You know what being stressed is.

When you tell him as much his smile tells you all you need to know.

He’s formed his opinion.

He prescribes anxiety medication.

You throw it at the wall when you get home.

Turns out the tremors are due to dehydration.

And the kidney that’s now fucked up due to Issue.

This is life now.