OINTS ARE A FUNNY THING. They can tingle for no reason, swell up, refuse to move, or work perfectly fine. At least, my joints are a funny thing. They do not respond well to the flights of stairs they have to go up and down on every day, but they usually manage. Why I decided to live on the top floor of an apartment building with no elevator, I do not know. My rent cannot be that much cheaper than everyone on the ground floor. It is not just the stairs that bother my joints. Sometimes they swell up when I am eating out, or trying to relax at home, but there are generally no serious flare ups and pain. So it surprised me that when I was taking a bath the other day, they refused to work at all.
There was no reason for them to be so tense and immobile. Before the bath, I had not gone through any intense workout or done any heavy lifting. I only filled my tub up with hot water, undressed, and got in. I managed to scrub my shoulders and put soap on the non-submerged parts of my body before the pain set in. It started with my hands, and then came to my elbows, hips, and neck. After lying still in the water for a minute, I tried to move my knees and legs, only to find the pain had spread down there too. Any movement brought a sharp sensation that ran through my body and caused me to gnash my teeth.
With no roommate to find me and no girlfriend to come over for a surprise visit, I had to figure out another way to get help.
Being in the bathtub did help a bit. The water supported my limbs, so a little pressure was taken off the joints. I did not move, except involuntary. My hope was that the problem would go away on its own. The warmth of the water, even though it was decreasing, could soothe the swelling and reduce its impact enough for me to hobble out of the bath. A few minutes passed and I tried to see if I could get out. There was too much pain in simply moving one hand to the rim so that I could push myself up. With no roommate to find me and no girlfriend to come over for a surprise visit, I had to figure out another way to get help.
I tried waiting some more, and then attempting to get up. The same round of pains followed and I had to retreat back to my old position. To pass the time before I felt better, I would look at the water and my reflection. Then I examined all my moles and bumps of skin to make sure they were all good and benign. Looking at the oils building up on the surface of the water and the hairs floating along with other debris, I wondered why I considered a bath cleansing in the first place. As the water became tepid and the joints continued to hurt, it was clear that I had a serious medical issue. There was no phone by me, and even though my window was open, it faced the street. No one could be reached easily.
My bathroom has fairly good acoustics, and after I had to relieve my bladder into the bathwater, I made use of the tiled walls to yell for help. I cleared my throat and made my first call. “Is there anyone out there? I need help.” It was done in a matter-of-fact voice. I was loud, but not screaming. If anyone had heard me, they probably thought I was reading a line from a play. If I was going to get help, I had to speak louder and forcefully. People had to know I was having a problem and that help was really needed. So I restated the line and raised my voice: “Is there anyone out there? I need help!”
There was no response. The only sound I heard was the dripping water coming off the faucet. I repeated myself, raising my voice each time. Still there was no response. I sneezed and my arms filled with pain from being moved. “Ouch. Please, someone, I need help! Please! Help! Me! I am trapped in my bathtub!” For a moment I worried that a person might try and break into my apartment and take advantage of me if they knew about my state. But I needed someone to lift me, so I continued to yell. There was a faint rapping sound, that seemed to come from a wall in my apartment, but I was not sure if it was directed at me.
Angry and afraid, I began yelling at my neighbors, accusing them of all sorts of things. It was involuntary at first, but the accusations gave me an idea. Maybe I could berate them until they had enough and came to my door and knocked it down, angered with me until they saw what was wrong. “You cowards, you dickless, thoughtless, idiots! You Nazis! You fascists! Help me up! Help me or go rot in hell!” I had no idea if my charges were true, all I knew was that without another person, I was going to shrink away in a cold puddle of my own filth. All that would be left of me was a dirty raisin or prune.
Tale from a Tub continues...