My body starts heaving. Exhaustion encases everything I do, even washing the kids’ cereal bowls. It feels as though layers of thick gauze have wrapped themselves around the faces of my three children. A hardened grayness taking over the spaces between everything. Sealing the tissue between my ribs. Filling in the distance between the kitchen window and the soccer ball in the backyard.
One doctor thinks I am still caught in the fist of the mononucleosis I contracted in college; another tells me that giving birth to three children is enough to swell anyone’s glands and break open these rivers of mucous. Infection after infection keeps me from my kids’ tennis matches and class trips to Canyonlands in Utah. The fatigue gathers in my chest, leaving my arms heavy and my fingers numb. Daily headaches send me back to bed after breakfast.
The words “chronic illness” move into my house, wandering the rooms, trying to steal parts of my body. My thin, bare feet slide down the hall to wake up the children for school. I have no idea what is happening.