I can’t pronounce half of them but I know them very well. I can identify each by their brand name, which I write on their bottles if they accompany me home — this way my husband knows which one to bring me when it’s just too much to move on my own. All of them have made themselves at home in a body that rarely saw Tylenol. The list of poisons grows, the ones that are fighting what my body can’t and the ones that make those tolerable. A list that will never stop growing, always adding a new soldier to its army.
These drugs march their way through my bloodstream, conquering my body for good or bad. I look at pictures of women throughout their own arduous battles and I see the toll it has taken on them over time. How long until I am the frail, wrinkled skeleton I have seen in photographs? How long until my own eyes are haunted with the ghosts of failed hopes?
I am 34, and I am not 34. I don’t remember what it feels like to be young anymore, my heart and spirit are old. My body has also aged. My joints ache with an elderly pain, a nagging reminder that my body is a battleground for a war I did not choose to join. I look in the mirror and do not know the person who is staring back — the flaking, ashen skin and gray, sunken eyes. It isn’t me, surely it can’t be me.