At 28, Cory Martin thought she had it all, a budding career as a writer in Hollywood, an apartment of her own, and a healthy obsession with yoga. But when she found herself on the floor of her apartment wailing into the phone, 'but I don’t want to be sick,' her entire world came crashing down.
A doctor had just revealed that she had Multiple Sclerosis, a potentially debilitating disease, her good friend was getting married that weekend and the only people she wanted to call were her parents. In a time when she was supposed to be coming into her own as an adult, all she could think was who's going to want to marry me now?
As she embarked on a medical quest, subjecting herself to countless MRIs and a painful spinal tap that landed her in the ER, Cory simultaneously threw herself head first into dating. But no matter how many doctors she saw or men she met there would never be a cure for MS. And if you think it's hard to get the guy you’re dating to give you a ride to the airport, try getting him to drive you to the hospital. Add to that an unfortunate incident with a blue thong and a cute young doctor, and Cory quickly realized that just as there was no concrete method to diagnose and treat the disease, there was no surefire way to find "the one."
Love Sick is a smart and witty account of dating while navigating a life of uncertain health. Writing from a place of strength and vulnerability, Cory Martin faces her fears head on with humor and grace. Her tales are true to life and relatable. There is no magical ending and no grand epiphany. Instead it is her desire to be loved and feel normal that makes her journey so poignant.
|Publisher:||Write Out Publishing|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.75(d)|
About the Author
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By Cory Martin
Write Out PublishingCopyright © 2016 Cory Martin
All rights reserved.
I am on drugs. Fucked up, wandering aimlessly, staring at the white haze around me.
I am 28 years old. It is 11 in the morning. I should be sober.
No respectful adult gets high on a Tuesday unless they're famous. I am not famous.
I have taken one and a half pills of Valium. All five feet and four inches of my yoga-toned body feels out of place. I am wearing nothing but a blue hospital gown, a pair of panties and my Nikes.
My neurologist prescribed the pills to ease my nerves, but the people around me don't know I have taken the drugs. This fact makes me jittery, jumpy. Everything feels heightened, like I can hold the oxygen in the room by simply cupping my hands as if it's water to be splashed upon my face. I grasp the air and press it against my sun-kissed skin and laugh. I am loopy, giddy. I attempt restraint. I am hyperaware of my surroundings. I wonder what others think of me. I don't want them to think I'm a degenerate; that getting messed up is something I do regularly. I turn my head. A toddler's logic of hide and seek, if I can't see you then you can't see me. There are two other people in the room. I want them to know that I am smart and intelligent, not a blonde idiot bumbling her way through life, high on looks and Valium.
I focus on the ground.
I prepare a sentence in my head. Over and over to get it right. Should. I. Go. Here. Then it drips from my lips.
"Should I go here?" I gesture to the cold bed of an MRI machine.
The technician nods and I hoist myself onto the plasticized gurney. He covers me with a white blanket. A red laser light beams down on my skull to determine the correct placement of the scans about to occur. A soft breeze comes out of the tunnel behind me. A bolster is placed under my knees for comfort. The man gently locks my head in place with a plastic brace then pushes a button to move the bed into the machine. Inside the shaft of the mega magnet he instructs me not to move.
I lie still, but my mind keeps going.
Outside the door, the technician talks to his colleague. They whisper their thoughts to each other. I am certain they are looking at my file. I wonder if they feel sorry for me. I know what it says. I know what they are looking for. I close my eyes. I want to think of pretty things, bright things. I practice inhaling and exhaling through my nose, a technique I have learned to calm myself.
The MRI roars to life. Screaking out sound. Beep. Beep. BEEEEP. The high-pitched note pounds at my ears, a reminder that I am here, doing this right now.
I wonder how much a flight to Maui would cost if I left tomorrow. The last time I was there I was a freshman in college and learned to surf. Maybe I can go shopping after this and buy a new bikini.
"You okay?" the technician asks over the intercom system.
I say yes, then wonder if he can see what I am thinking.
My brain is doing the thing it does when it's decided it no longer wants to be in a place. Jumping from thought to thought. Pulling up memories in a non-sequitur fashion. The first time I crashed a bike. Middle school band. Walking on hot coals with Tony Robbins.
In 1990 my parents bought earthquake insurance. Iben Browning had predicted there would be an event on the New Madrid Fault. The fault spanned from Missouri to Indiana to Illinois, Ohio, and Kentucky. Our house was in the northwest corner of Indiana. Instead of regular tornado drills in school we now had earthquake drills.
"Are you still doing alright?" the technician asks. His voice reverberates through the tube like the wizard from Oz. The machine is mic'd, but I cannot see a soul.
He is looking for something specific on my brain. Reasons for a year-long cycle of pain in my body, numbness that comes and goes but stays longer than it's away. Memory loss, confusion of words, and other symptoms that I've been ignoring for far too long.
I take a deep breath.
My body trembles from the weight of the magnets moving around me. I feel like a fiend, edgy and shaky. I speculate how long Valium stays in the body. One hour? Two?
My ex-boyfriend is picking me up when this is over. He and I once lived together. We cohabitated out of love and convenience. I was only 23. We broke up after six months. He lived with me for two more.
I close my eyes against the white monotony around me. The MRI pounds through its second cycle. My thoughts continue hopping — one foot, then two, a game of hopscotch to ten.
My mom's propensity for preparation is unbelievable. When the Y2K hit, our bathtubs were full of water, the basement had rations of canned food, batteries, giant candles, and more water.
I was home from college in Los Angeles that winter of 1999 and spent the New Year sipping champagne with my parents and sister on the southern shore of Lake Michigan. I was not allowed to celebrate with my friends in Chicago, a city whose lights I could see across the great lake. My mom was paranoid she'd lose us. If the world ended, we'd leave it together.
I have been in three earthquakes since I moved to California at the age of 18. Right now I am in Santa Monica lying in a medical facility 24 blocks from the Pacific Ocean. In my closet at home there is a 40-pound survival kit sent to me by my mom. Should I need them, there are two more pills in my purse prescribed by my doctor.
"We've got about 30 minutes to go," the technician says. "You still doing okay?"
I answer yes. The brain-scanning machine continues its work, vibrating with noise. Buzzing. Buzzing. Its sound crescendos. The soft foam of a set of earplugs protects my eardrums, preventing any ringing that would echo the sounds of this experience for hours to come.
The first earthquake I ever felt struck in the middle of the night. It was the summer between my sophomore and junior years of college. I was living in an apartment just off campus. My twin bed was against one wall. My surfboard was against the other. The board slid down the wall and crashed onto the floor. I hid under my covers. It was not the response I was taught in middle school.
Several months before I found myself here, I moved out of a rent-controlled apartment in Santa Monica to a place in Marina Del Rey, just south along the LA coast. My apartment now looks east out onto the harbor. If a tsunami hits, the water would rush through my neighbor's and straight through my front door.
The MRI becomes silent. Images of my brain are uploaded to a radiologist in a dark room.
The technician re-enters the room and the bed I am on begins to move. "We have one more scan to do," he starts, "but your doctor requested this be done with contrast."
I stare at him blankly.
"I'm going to inject some dye into your arm, wait about a minute, then I'll move you back inside."
"Fine," I say.
The technician shoots the dye into the biggest vein of my right arm as if it were heroin. I feel tingly all over. My nose starts to itch. I reach for it, but I am directed once again to remain still.
"Are you ready?" the technician asks.
I mutter yes, then think about the fact that my insurance will pay for most of this MRI, but the rest I will have to settle with my savings.
The machine comes to life one last time, working itself into a pattern of Morse code. Dash. Dot. Dash. Dot. Pound. Pound. Pound.
I concentrate on the sounds around me, the vibrations move through my body. I read once that monks use the resonance of their voices to heal people. Or was it a shaman? Or a drum? Images of indigenous tribes spring to mind. Women and elders caring for the sick. It's a tableau of health and yet I'm back to fourth grade glancing over the boys' shoulders at the National Geographic they hold, giggling at the site of real life boobies. I wonder if those women ever get mammograms. The MRI pounds harder.
After ten minutes the room is silent.
"You're all done," the technician says.
I open my eyes. The light in the tube is an ambient yellow. The electronic bed conveys my body past the red laser and into the open air. The cage is unlocked from my skull. I am still a little high.
I sit up and turn to the man. I practice the sentence in my head: What. Did. You. See. Then it seeps from my lips.
"When will I get the results?"
"Your doctor should call you in a couple days," he says, then smiles with an apathetic turn of his lips.
I try to read his face for clues, but there is nothing. I exit the metal free zone of the imaging center.
In a small curtained area in the ladies room I redress myself. In the mirror I catch a glimpse of my light green eyes staring back at me. My highlighted blonde hair falls past my shoulders. I grasp for air and place my hands on my cheeks.
The first time I got high was in the basement of my friend Matt's house. I was 16. He was two years older than me and incredibly smart, the kind of guy all moms want their daughters to date. Today he is a doctor in Kentucky.
At the end of this week I will see my doctor.
I gather my things and leave. Outside I wait for my ride on the corner of Wilshire and 24th. A Whole Foods market sits across the way. My purse rattles with the remaining Valium as I shift my weight from side to side. I contemplate taking one more pill, but decide against it. My ex picks me up minutes later and I buy him a slice of pizza as a thank you for acting as my chauffeur. I say little about the exam and crack jokes using what high I have left to forget about the experience.
After he drops me off at my place, I sit on the patio of my apartment and watch as the setting sun's light reflects off the water of the marina. Kids play at the beach below as I come down from my buzz. I think about the day's events then make a mental note of the contents of the emergency kit in my closet. Inside are rations of water, a blanket, some M&Ms, a pile of MREs, toilet paper, and plastic gloves.CHAPTER 2
"You don't get to eat my pussy for free!" screamed out the prostitute as she finished servicing my sex-starved neighbor.
Let me explain ...
I believe in moments. Big moments, actually. The kinds of moments that you look back on later in life, point to, and say, "That's when it all changed."
I like to theorize and hypothesize about why my life is the way it is today, and I believe those feline-inspired words at the top of this page are the reason I am where I am right now.
My neighbor, who I'd nicknamed "Mr. Hacker" for his loud smoker's cough that barked up phlegm and a congestion of noise on a nightly basis, had ordered a call girl that May evening of 2007. It was just about midnight on a Tuesday when I heard the moans of a climactic orgasm followed by a request for cash. A request that was, apparently, denied.
Now, I see nothing wrong with a man in his sixties who weighs all of about one hundred pounds and looks like Timothy McVeigh ordering in a little vagina. But when he refused to pay the bill, and she threatened to call her husband to come and shoot him, then made mock shotgun noises, and he threw her against the wall, I drew the line and called the police.
I called 911 and explained the situation. I left out the part about what my neighbor didn't get to do for free and told them there was a prostitute next door and she and Mr. Hacker were now throwing each other against the wall. From the sounds of it she most likely had a gun, and considering the fact that my slumlord apartment had walls like cardboard, I was quite certain that if someone shot, the bullet would blaze right through Mr. Hacker's bedroom wall and straight into mine.
This kind of mayhem was not what you'd expect in a Santa Monica neighborhood on Fourth Street just north of Wilshire, where two-bedroom condos went for $800,000. No, this was the kind of thing that was supposed to happen down on Crenshaw in Compton or Watts.
I hid in my kitchen and cracked the sliding glass door open so that when the police finally arrived I could hear everything. Of course, no one wanted to admit what (or who) was going down minutes prior and the pretty woman and the hacker apologized for the disturbance, telling the cops they got into a "little fight."
When I heard the word little, I wondered if that was the loose woman's way of getting back at Mr. Hacker. I pictured her telling the cop, "It was just a small fight," as she held up her pinky finger to indicate that hacker man's penis was "only a slight disturbance."
The image produced only one thought in my mind.
I had to move.
I'd been living in my fabulously rent-controlled one-bedroom apartment since I was 22, and I was going to turn 28 that August. I loved my place and didn't want to leave, but I could see this night for what it was. The hooker and the hacker signified the end of an era and the beginning of something new. This night was one of those life moments that drives you down a different path.
I spent the next few days looking for a new apartment. I started in Santa Monica and headed south along the Los Angeles coast, stopping at every building that had security along the way. Finally, I found my dream apartment. A big complex in Marina Del Rey. It had a pool, a Jacuzzi, tennis courts, a workout room, and everything was gated. Sure, it cost more, but the way I looked at it, if someone could afford the rent there, then they would obviously be able to pay their prostitutes. And that would certainly be a step in the right direction.
On June 6, 2007, I moved into my new apartment with views of the marina and was so ecstatic that I couldn't help beaming from ear to ear. Even though I had lived alone since I was a young 20-something, I finally felt like an adult. This was my first "grown-up" apartment and there was some sixth sense that kept telling me, things were about to change in a major way.
The following week my mom flew out from Chicago to visit and was helping me unpack when she turned to me and said, "I have a feeling, Cory. The next time you move, you're going to be moving into a place with your husband."
"Yeah, right," I laughed, knowing that my track record with guys wasn't so great and the last thing on my mind was a white dress and a walk down the aisle. "I doubt it," I finished.
I was still young and wasn't looking to get married. I had bigger and better ideas. I wanted to write the great American novel, live in a house on the beach, spend weeks in Paris flirting with foreign dignitaries, travel the globe, find myself at an ashram in India ...
I looked over at my mom who was now unpacking a box of dishes and my face saddened at the domestic image. I knew she thought she'd made my day by making such a heartfelt prediction. But all I could think was, the impending change cannot be a husband. It has to be something more.CHAPTER 3
When I am not high I am a loner.
I like to do my own thing on my own terms. I like going out at night and I like not having to answer to anyone. I like being able to pack a bag and head off to Hawaii for a last minute vacation by myself. I like waking up in the morning and running around my apartment naked. I like walking to the beach and watching the sun set alone. This does not, however, make me a total loser. I have friends. But when shit's going down, I tend to sort through it by myself. It's how I ride. Solo.
In fact, one of my favorite things to do is hop in the car and start driving with no destination in mind. One time I ended up at the Santa Barbara Zoo on a Tuesday, hung out with the giraffes for an hour then drove the two hours home. Right now I am on the Pacific Coast Highway, headed north. I don't know where I'll stop, or if I'll stop, but I like the way the road twists and turns along the Southern California coast.
I practice yoga five days a week, but there is something about driving up this ocean road, windows open, music blasting, that has a larger calming effect on my mind than straight meditation. And seeing how I was just high and confined in an MRI machine one day ago, I am taking this moment to relax and reflect.
The first time I took this drive, I was a student at the University of Southern California. A sophomore studying creative writing, I was a ripe 19-year-old with grandiose visions of living the life of a writer. I was in a poetry class under the tutelage of David St. John. His poetry was magnificent, mine reeked of teenage angst. I was determined to push past that.
Excerpted from Love Sick by Cory Martin. Copyright © 2016 Cory Martin. Excerpted by permission of Write Out Publishing.
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