For some time now, Dee had been subtly agitating for a household relocation.

We had been in the same oversized, overstuffed East Cobb residence for nearly two decades, during most of which time we were empty-nesters. There was more house than we really needed, except for those times when we would host family and friends for holiday or Sabbath dinners.

Two years ago, Dee took a bad fall, cracking her left hip and shattering her wrist. Suddenly, negotiating the stairs between the main level and our bedroom became a painful, physically challenging task to be undertaken twice a day: down in the morning, up at night. The idea of a house with a Master on the Main, in realtor parlance, started making a lot of sense. Who knew when the next physical challenges would be coming along, and who could tell how much warning we’d have?

I resisted the move. The whole idea of moving – selling the house, packing up our monstrous mass of detritus, finding another place to live – horrified me, especially as all our previous relocations had been at employer expense. Now we would be on our own during the entire obnoxious process.

And yet, Dee was right. Getting out of the big house and moving to something a bit more sensible was what we needed. Many of our friends were already doing it: moving out of expensive east Cobb and downsizing. And so, in late 2017, we did the necessary repairs and painted the entire damned interior, all preparatory for staging the house and putting it on the market.

The entire nerve-wracking process of disposing of our former residence and purchasing our new one took roughly three months. Three months of cramming crap in boxes. Three months of nervously waiting for bids. Three months of schlepping stuff around... of jettisoning the useless miscellany that accumulates over the span of decades... of online garage sales and giveaways... of deciding what we really wanted to take with us as we relocated a mere seven miles north by northwest, just over the Cherokee county line.

Around the time of our move, I noticed something just wasn’t right. Somehow, my standing posture had changed, devolving from a normal erect stance to that of an old man, with slumped shoulders and bent knees. I saw that I had begun walking with a forward lean, and those boxes - all those damnèd boxes! - had gotten awfully heavy. Having been in reasonably good condition after years of weight training (my trainer would refer to me as The Beast-O), this was... weird. Maybe I had wrenched my back out. Yeah, that was it.

Then, one day, I was hanging up a pair of shorts on one of those hangers with the spring-loaded clips... and I couldn’t squeeze those clips open with my right hand. Now I knew something was wrong.

I had, just a few weeks earlier, begun taking a new medication. Could that be the problem? I called my internist, and the sawbones on call for the weekend suggested stopping both that drug and the statin I had been taking as well. “Come in Monday and we’ll order some blood work,” he added.

The results confirmed what I already knew: my muscles were literally melting away. But it was not myopathy. My muscles were not the problem. “See your neurologist,” my internist said. “Get a nerve conduction test.”

And that, friends, is when I began to feel that sensation familiar to so many of us: the dreaded Anal Pucker. Because I had had the bad habit, as a child, of reading my dad’s copy of the Merck Manual, over two thousand eight hundred pages of onionskin paper on which was delineated every affliction humankind is known to suffer. I had my own copy now, and all manner of Nasty Things began to suggest themselves...

...but we’ll save the rest for later, shall we? (Hey, it can’t be a cliffhanger - we know how it turns out!)


  1. I used to own a copy of said Merck Manual when I worked doing medical transcription! It was fascinating; like something out of Dr. Frankenstein’s Laboratory.
    We relocated last year as well. I understand that trauma.

  2. I started agitating my wife to get rid of excess crap more than 5 years ago. We've managed to clean out the attic, and various other places, but she's been very resistant to the idea. She wants to move, she just hates to think that she'll have to get rid of stuff to do it. I figure we'll be doing to trek west in a year or two, depending on how long my job lasts. The government project that's supposed to make me unemployed is now 9 years overdue. As a taxpayer, I'm outraged. As a contractor, I'm ok with it.


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