It starts in the night, the feeling of tearing flesh. You quickly open your eyes and spring up. The pain in your knee has returned. The whole knee is on fire. Sharp cutting pain is rushing through your left leg; it feels like a surgeon got really drunk and instead of postponing the operation until he was of sound mind, just said “fuck it” and started operating anyways. You scream under your breath to stop yourself from crying.
You realize that if you don’t move your leg, the pain is manageable, so you slowly lay back. You wonder if football was worth the torn ACL, MCL, and every other fucking muscle in your left knee? Was it worth your future?
You’re damn right it was! Pain builds character, and over time, yours will define the person you will become.
As you lay back, your mind starts to shift to time not so long ago. A time you weren’t alone. She had once slept on the right side of the bed, she had given you the choice. “Which side do you want?” she had asked. You preferred the right side of the bed. It allowed you to hold her in your right arm, your strongest. And it was the furthest away from your left knee, your weakness. Proof that you weren’t Superman, proof that you were human. This was before it happened.
You have to pee, but the bathroom is 12 steps away, and suddenly that seems an unreasonable distance. You wonder what asshole designed these apartments, and why he felt the need to make such inhuman lengths between the rooms.
Awake, your mind does everything in its power to help you forget you’re alone. You stare at where she once laid. You can picture her face now. It pulls you back to another time. You had just finished the worst fight of your relationship. Standing in a snow storm holding her with only a street light above to light your way. She cries into your shoulder that she loves you. You whisper it back and then you kiss her. You catch yourself smiling.
Stop! What’s done is done and can never be undone. If you can’t learn to accept what’s happened, you’ll go insane. Once you’ve made your bed, there’s nothing you can do except learn to sleep in it.
You feel it now. It’s time to decide. Will you get up off your ass, limp to the bathroom, or will you accept defeat and piss the bed? For most men, this is not a hard question, but you are not most men. “I need a bottle,” you tell yourself. Then it hits you.
A piss bottle, a bottle people put beside their beds so that when they wake up in the middle of the night and can’t make it to the bathroom, they can just reach over, grab their piss bottle, and take care of business. You’d make millions, be as rich as Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. And your simple invention would put any of theirs to shame. Sorry, Apple. Move aside, the future is here. They would call you the Piss Prince. What the fuck are you thinking? Are you stupid? The Piss Prince? No, you’d be the Piss King.
“Piss the bed, what am I, six?” Or crippled. You slowly push yourself up. It’s hard to say for sure what you feel in your knee. Pain, that doesn’t cut it. Torture, not even close. The doctors asked for one word, one word to describe the pain that has stolen your future and left the past a bitter memory. The doctor even showed you “The Wong Baker faces Pain rating scale.” And you look over all the face, you can’t seem to find the face that screams “Fuck your pain scale, you hack! Fix my leg before I skull-fuck you!” After the pain scale fails to perfectly describe the pain you’re in, the doctor goes back to his original question, “One word?” You wonder if it would be easier to describe the Mona Lisa. Art, you guess. Yes, the pain in my leg is art. It’s a burning, twisting, tearing art, but it’s yours.
As you slowly limp across the room, cursing every step of the way, you have to stop and take a second. Your dick is giving you trouble now. They always said he’s got a mind of his own, never has that statement been truer for you. You shoot him a glance and say, “Don’t be a dick, Dick, we’re almost there.” He’s not happy. He’s like a water balloon that’s been filled way past its limit and is ready to pop and send piss everywhere. You almost start to cry as you quote Tim McGraw: “I don’t know why they say grown men don’t cry.”
After you finally reach the bathroom, you slowly lower your ass into the seat. This is it, the moment of truth. You wonder if all your hard work could ever be worth it, then he starts. The feeling of relief is hard to put into words, it’s biblical. Moses can keep his magic staff and burning bushes, you have a bowl that holds your waste.
You start the bath. The cold is what caused the pain to flare up, so maybe you can burn it out. Once the tub is full of scorching water, you lower yourself in. You can feel the water burn your right foot; your left leg feels nothing. There’s a sense of terror as your balls approach the water. Once you lower them in, the impulse to scream fades away. It’s not so bad until you realize that you just boiled any chance of having kids away. You leap to your feet. Balls, knee, and ass all in a different state of horror and agony. After most of the pain has all gone, you look up to the ceiling to talk to God. “Fuck you, man.” You slip and fall.
After one of the worst bathing experiences of your life, the pain has shifted from “oh God, please kill me” to “this sucks.” You stand in front of the mirror. Smile, you notice your chipped, fake teeth, your fading hairline, and kickass beard. Most people might not like what they see looking back, but you don’t mind. You were taught at a young age to make the best of any situation. What you lack in looks, you more than make up with personality. After staring for far too long, you ask yourself: what do you want? What do you want?
You can look back at so many times in your short life you wish you could relive. One more hour lying in bed with your girlfriend, hearing her tell you she loves you just one more time. Running to the peaks of snowy mountains with the wind and the rest of the world at your back. Holding your grandmother’s hand as she tells you stories of a father you’d never meet, but whose stories and words would shape the man you are today. Standing beside your little brother peeing off your deck, joking that if you crossed streams it would cause all life as you knew it to stop. Or even further back, chasing sail boats on the shore as a little boy, praying for him to come home, even after your mother takes you into her arms and tells you, “He’s not coming back, baby.”
But all you really want is to be able to pee standing up again.