Simon was a young man struggling to stay afloat in the present, anchored down by traumas of his past. He was raised in a neighborhood plagued by poverty and crime, and as a teenager was shot in his spine, a merciless act by a malicious bully who thought it more humiliating to cripple his foe than to kill him outright. As a result, Simon became paraplegic, losing his leg function, his bladder control, and his sense of self-worth.
As the rest of his teenage body grew, his thighs and calves atrophied into pathetic brown sticks. Wheelchair-bound and barely 20 years old, he became so entrenched in depression that he spent entire days sitting still, allowing himself to develop pressure ulcers on his buttocks, which soon became infected and spread, like poison, to his bones and through his blood. It was a stark sight to behold, to peel the sticky beige bandages off his glowing, caramel skin, and see it suddenly wrinkle into raw, pink tissue, then plunge downward, toward bone, the cavern seeping with frothy, yellow pus.
When I first met Simon, I found his acute physical injury measured equal in devastation to his chronic illness of isolation. Continue reading →