Michael Kimmitt

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I've put a lot of effort into becoming me, and now I'm not. It's rather disconcerting.

Engineers have a term for what I do -- intermittent failures. Failures that are not due to any specific part, but due to the way that the system hangs together, and that may or may not occur during a specific set of circumstances.

Lemme give you an example. A few weeks ago, I went up to Chicago. Also, a week ago I went to Chicago. The two trips were essentially identical, except that on this last one I would have forgotten my head, were it not attached. I forgot my toothbrush. I forgot to bring a fan that I had promised a friend. I forgot to bring a book to read on the train ride. I even forgot to get a ride home.

The really disturbing part of this is that I will execute my responsibilities with exactitude and skill on some days. Today, for example, I went to class, had a doctor's appointment (psychiatrist), inspected an apartment for my girlfriend, went to work, and still had enough energy left to pick up a newspaper on the way home and look for more apartments to view. Granted, I had to take a four hour nap afterwards, but the idea is there.

The fatigue of this illness isn't the kicker--it's the aphasia. The struggling for a word, the inability to form complete sentences at times. The tendencies to go rambling off topic occasionally. I feel senile, sometimes, as though I fast forwarded through fifty years of my life during May of 1995, and now I'm sixty-nine and losing my capacities. If nothing else, this image keeps me from voting for Bob Dole.

I liked my life. You'll hear that, now and again, from those of us lucky to have gotten where we wanted to go. I was in college, and I liked my classes. I lived across the street from my girlfriend. I was a blue belt in a martial art. I didn't have a belly, except as a name for the expanse of skin between my ribs and my hips. I even, in a brief spate of white male optimism, voted Republican for one office. That's gone now.

I withdrew from my classes for medical reasons last semester. The workload was too heavy, and I was incapable of keeping up. I'm going to end up living across town from my girlfriend this year, due to a number of factors, several of which are related to this illness. I haven't been to a practice for my art for over a year. My stomach protrudes beyond my ribcage and has aspirations for my belt buckle. I vote solid Democrat.

I'm not me, anymore. I'm some other person--one who doesn't make his doctor's appointments (one clinic I'm seeing has threatened not to allow me to see my current doctor further). I am trying to take a light load this semester, but instead of looking forward to the knowledge I'll gain from these classes, I see only drudgery and the unending quest for enough time to fulfill my responsibilities. My job taxes me. I have a habit of punching walls--I even struck my girlfriend once. She hasn't left me, though I'm not sure what that means. I want me back. I rather liked me. Now I'm Michael, CFS guy. I liked Michael better.

© Michael Kimmitt, 1996

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