Cataloging my ruination.
Not long ago, after playing a marathon game of Wiffle ball with my son, a strange lump formed in the palm of my right hand. I noticed the lump the next day when I ran my hand over my bald head and in some weird sensory mistake thought that the lump—a brain tumor?!?—was on the skull. I looked in the mirror at my head, didn't see any tumor, and then looked at my hand and saw a lump the size of a marble. Something about the way I grabbed the plastic Wiffle-ball bat must have inflamed the sensitive tendons in my hand. It's a painful lump, and it announces itself when I grasp the steering wheel while parallel parking. The benefit, though, of this palm-lump pain is that it distracts me temporarily from my neck pain.
My stomach is actually good these days. In 2001, I had irritable bowel syndrome brought on by heartbreak and was seriously thinking of getting fitted for a diaper. I was a walking scatological time bomb. But my heart healed and my intestines followed suit. My libido is down by about 40 percent, but this is probably a blessing, though my weakened sex drive may be linked to the existential displacement described above.
The lower third of my body, I have to say, is also in excellent shape, except that my right ankle is frozen and probably in the early stages of arthritis, but debilitation-wise it's nothing to write home about. Not yet anyway.
Well, I've run out of body parts, and I'm rather relieved. If I had any more depressing limbs or organs to discuss, I might not have been able to finish writing this catalogue of my ruination. I have noted that my disintegration, like some kind of spreading tree rot, has only reached my ribs, where the Kafka-esque hole is. I don't think there's anything I can do to stop this rot from spreading further, but at least I can watch its progress, as I might watch the lengthening of a shadow at the end of the day as light fades and darkness predominates.
Jonathan Ames is the author of five books. His most recent is the novel Wake Up, Sir!
Illustration by Mark Alan Stamaty.