For the last 13 months, I've lived a lifestyle previously foreign to me. One might think said lifestyle involves elusive mystery or risque adventures -- but my tale is quite different. The last year of my life has involved considerable struggle. A struggle to explain, a struggle to repair, and a struggle to rediscover. Unfortunately none of these struggles have been successful and instead I find myself emotionally unraveled and exhausted.
A year ago I was asleep in my bedroom that I shared with my then girlfriend. I had fallen into a peaceful slumber with her in my arms. I was awoken by a loud crash from the entry way. Alarmed, I jumped up in nothing but my underwear and hurried to the front room to figure out what was going on. There stood a fairly large, stocky and obviously deranged man and beneath him lied the large, oak front door to our house. Confused, I began to ask "what are you..." -- but was interrupted by the individual's fist as it collided with my face. Adrenalin surged through my body, and I responded by attempting to tackle him from the waist. He resisted, kneeing me in the face and pushing me backwards. I collected myself and again charged head first into him, pushing with all of the force in my body -- this time succeeding in knocking him back through the open doorway. As I rushed at him, resuming my attack, my feet bare feet pressed over broken glass from the remnants of our front-door, but I couldn't feel a thing due to adrenalin coursing through my veins. The man managed to stand up just before I slammed into him again, this time knocking him down the front steps. He fell down 3 steps, slamming his head against the concrete below. I instantly saw the blood from the resulting injury spread from beneath him, but to my surprise the man managed to pick himself up and began to approach me again while yelling nonsense. I was immediately concerned that I had inflicted potentially mortal harm on my attacker, and attempted to convince him to stop while he limped forward, content on resuming his barragement. He couldn't be convinced and resumed his delivery of punches and kicks -- so I had no choice but to resume my defense. I again pushed him down the stairs and onto the concrete sidewalk of our front yard, where I then grappled him to the ground. The odds were against me as I tried to restrain him -- the guy likely had a good 100lbs on me, but somehow I managed to get my legs over his torso and my forearm on his kneck. Still, he did his best to resist and our grapple extended across the sidewalk, scraping my bare, bleeding feet across the pavement. My attacker continued to bleed profusely while I struggled to restrain him, and quickly my hair, chest and face were soaked in his blood.
The bloody combat continued for what seemed like hours when finally police showed up at the scene. The first officer told the two of us to stand up and put our hands on our heads. I complied immediately, but my assailant stood, screamed at the officer and charged him. The officer responded in a calculated fashion by tasering the assailant. The hulking, raving man fell quickly to the ground, after which a second officer restrained and proceeded to put me in handcuffs, simply as to ensure the two involved individiuals were properly restrained. As the adrenalin slowly subsided and I began to do my best to explain the series of events to the police at the scene, I slowly began to recognize the extent to which I was in pain. My bare feet were bloody stumps, barely recognizable. One of my pinky toes was clearly fractured, bent such that it veered away from my body, and both of my big toes were graced with large open wounds. A firefighter removed several shards of glass from my feet, advising that while gruesome, stitches weren't necessary. After about a half an hour of crime scene photos and recollections, I was finally permitted to shower, therein washing the attackers blood from my hair, mouth and body. That was, of course, after the police officer informed that I had been subjected to a "bloodborne exposure" and I should inform my doctor that I should be tested for any associated pathogens. Between the shock of the situation, the agony I felt in my battered body, and the anxiety of realizing that I was subjected to a deranged, drugged-out man's blood in excess I quickly fell into a world of anxiety. I remember sobbing uncontrollably in the shower as I washed my attacker's blood away, completely baffled as to how something so traumatic could have happened so quickly.
That was the beginning of the end of my normalcy. That evening was when my life -- my perfectly normal, happy existence -- came crashing down around me into a world of fear, anxiety and pain.
Fast foward 13 months and you'll find me here, writing this story as my foot throbs (which it does constantly). While you might look at me today and think that I look like a perfectly well adjusted, successful young adult -- what you don't realize is that I've seen 9 different doctors in the past year, watched relationships decay to nothing, lost the ability to enjoy the things I used to hold most sacred, and struggled with inexplainable, crippling pain that has all but nearly destroyed my once flourishing career. My life is now as broken as my body -- and both are seemingly beyond diagnosis or repair. I've watched as my friendships, relationships and finances have decayed into utter ruin -- and found that the only thing I seem to be able to hold onto is my fitness, even when any attempt to exercise involves tolerating excruciating foot pain. I live each and every day in utter pain -- and all doctors seem to be able to offer me are powerful, mind-altering drugs which I refuse to accept as a solution.
What's even worse is that throughout all of this I've tried to stay normal. I've never let myself accept my new-found weakness, instead I've done everything I can to deny it. The result is that I've lost sight of who I really am. The once intelligent, confident but equally reserved adult is now a loud, showy buffoon. The drive to make up for my insecurities has made me someone I'm not, and I've watched as it's ruined my attempts to create new relationships and fix my ever growing lonliness.
A year later, all I can do is look back and wish I had stayed in my room. Life would be completely different, and I wouldn't find myself 28 years old, alone and in excruciating pain.
How I wish I could take my life back. How I wish doctors could figure out what's wrong with my feet, such that I could resume running, playing sports and the other things I love. How I wish I could take back the $15,000 in medical expenses that have deteriorated the savings I was putting away for a home. How I wish I could once again feel confident and sure of myself. How I wish I could wrap myself up around someone next to me again, confident that I'd have that person next to me for the rest of my life.
All I want is my life back.