I am at school in my office and have packed a good lunch for myself: my off-brand Ensure that I use as a main course if I’m running out of the house late (that I write down as “elder juice” on my grocery list), an apple, a cheese stick, and a box of raisins. Actually, since I was running late, I didn’t have time to get one box of raisins out of the cellophane-wrapped multi-pack, so I just threw the whole package into my bag, planning to get one out at work. That moment has come.
I take the package of raisins out of my bag and immediately drop it. Check. I pick it up. It’s already open because I ate two boxes last night, so I twist it in hopes of birthing another little box from the package of four remaining. My tiny winged monkeys run a hot javelin into the inside of my left wrist. I mark them down as present. I take the packet of raisin boxes in both hands and thwack it against my desk. My arms detach. Now I’m frustrated. I stop trying to get one box out of the stupid package; instead, I turn it upside down and squeeze the crap out of it until all of them fall out onto my desk. Stupid idiot raisins.
How difficult is it to get one box of raisins out of a pack? I mean, I honestly want to know.
I put the four boxes back into the cellophane package so they rest uniformly and snugly against one another as they did before I attacked them. I walk out of my office into the hallway, where I meet up with a group of colleagues who are, like me, on lunch break. I ask if they are each willing to take turns removing one and only one box of raisins from the remaining four in the cellophane. They air is suddenly filled with a sense of mystery and healthy competition.
Each of my friends has one box out in no time flat, but they each take different approaches and then explain why. We laugh and the group dissipates like we have raisin competitions all the time.
Five hours later, it’s just me and my tiny winged monkeys. We sit in the pain doctor’s chair, all of us quiet for once. It’s late in the day and we’re tired. We don’t like what we’re hearing.
“Fumbling and twitching and dropping things and not being able to open a box of raisins is not pain,” Dr. Lee is saying. The monkeys in my right leg start a game of tug-o-war with one of my nerves, making my leg jump unexpectedly. Dr. Lee is right: twitching is not painful. It’s scary.
“You need to see a neurologist,” he says. At the sound of the “n” word, my monkeys drop my nerve. A hot pain pricks my thigh for one millisecond, then vanishes. We remember the last time we went to see a neurologist. We had to wait in a grungy hallway in some hospital building, and when the neurologist was finally ready to see us, he was wearing a velour track suit and he was a very large man. He took up three quarters of the tiny examining room, and he never got off his chair. He tapped my knees and said he couldn’t find anything.
“I don’t want to see the same neurologist I saw the last time,” I say, to the delight of a stronger troupe of monkeys who have been trying to seize my trapezius muscle all day. These are the ones who want to join the circus. They start a fire at the base of my neck and start roasting marshmallows.