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  • With a sigh, I kicked my shoes to the side and rolled the nylons and my Underoos toward the floor.

    “Fat lot of good you did me, Batgirl,” I mumbled and wondered where I might have been without a superheroic base.

    I tugged futilely at the zipper on my rain jacket. It caught on a cord, and I swiped my hand slowly, catching the cord with my fingers and freeing the zipper. Slowly, slowly, with my left hand, I opened the jacket and peeled it away.

    The elasticized cuffs caught at my wrists.

    “Breathe. Just breathe.”

    Slowly, I freed my hands. The cardigan sleeves caught as well, and I pulled the dress over my head without bothering with the zipper. Then, I stopped. I looked down at my chest.

    "You got to be kidding," I muttered hoarsely.

    I looked at the shower and considered stepping in as I was. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught sight of my reflection: Damp, disheveled, slightly panicked looking, and mostly naked.

    "You've got this," I encouraged the girl looking back at me. "You can do this."

    The girl looking back, the one in the mirror, regarded me doubtfully. I lifted my hand, feeling distinctly like a 12-year-old boy, and I worked the hooks. My hand faltered. It failed.

    "Why are there so many?" I moaned.

    I managed to loosen three of the four; the last one wouldn't budge. I looked back at the girl. The girl looked at me. We shrugged, and I tugged the bit of black lace over my head.

    The shower stung as my shower never had. The water wasn’t that warm; I was just that cold. I used the wall as leverage to squeeze shampoo into my palm and rubbed it awkwardly into my hair. I gave up the idea of conditioner, contemplated the razor, swiped it toward my legs, and gave up on that, too. Soap. Face wash. Rinse.

    Eventually, I would regain use of my hands. I would put the groceries away. I would pick up the clothes so awkwardly peeled from my body and pretend that everything was all right. I would make dinner, watch TV, take the online Jeopardy test, and go to bed. I would get up early to walk miles into work. Everything would be all right.

    I have lost feeling in my hands twice in the past three weeks. Cold and tired, I have struggled to fish keys out of my purse, and I have taken things slowly. Awkwardly, I have fit the key into the lock. Slowly, somehow, I have found a way to turn it, using my palms, using my wrist, rejoicing when I felt the lock tumble. Carefully, I have hooked a finger I couldn’t feel in the ring to withdraw it.

    For a while, I have considered whether knocking on doors to ask a neighbor for help. For a while, I have wondered what I could do differently, and I have remembered the times it has happened before – after a long winter run, after a charity walk, at the kite festival, and after a long walk home in a cool spring rain.

    Outside of me, I haven’t yet found a single common denominator. It's just. Me and the disease. The loss may be related to pushing myself physically and cooler temperatures, but I’m not sure how to avoid either. My body melts down in completely different ways when I’m too warm and when I don’t walk.

    I am learning to accept that this is just part of me, to take things slowly, and to keep wearing Underoos. There is something good to be said for a superheroic base.
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