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Chapter 50: Boxed In

Updated: Jun 26




Disbelief. Incredulity. Skepticism. Extreme dubiousness. C’mon, a lone, renegade parasite responsible for all this carnage? That’s such a massive stretch that one trusted member of ActiveMSers, Sarah, the astrophysicist quoted in Chapter 37: Telltale SHARDs, finally cracked.


Love your stuff, though I am worried you are going a bit too far with saying everything is Lyme.... I feel confirmation bias is afoot! I know that’s what you think other MS scientists also have, but there is also so much research with EBV, etc., that I wouldn't lay everything and long Covid on Lyme. And these last two weeks [Chapters 45 and 46] is where you've lost me personally. Because I care about your blog and plight, I wanted to let you know. I honestly think that will overall hurt your cause to get Lyme more widely recognized in the scientific community.

telescope

This was sent to me before Chapter 47 was published, about how vaccines can occasionally trigger Lyme, or Chapter 48, which basically connected Lyme to an otherworldly murders’ row of health issues afflicting humanity. I can only imagine the spin cycle those chapters put her brain through. Sarah closed her note of concern with a promise: “I will eat my hat if everything turns out to be Lyme related.” Ever the scientist, though, she did leave her intellectual door cracked for that remotest of remote possibility.


“I could be wrong.”


Smart woman. The fatal flaw of many hypotheses, I’ve discovered, is the overt, whistle-past-conflicting-evidence technique in the hopes that the omission or gloss-over isn’t seriously scrutinized. And if it is, any potential scrutinizers have been given plausible enough reasons to ignore those messy inconsistencies.


Damn inconsistencies. A canon in SHARDs reminds us that answers await in those very anomalies, the ones researchers tend to brush off as noise, distractions, to the big picture they are trying to paint. Tsk, tsk, tsk. Avoidance, even if unintentional, is not sound science.

Nobel laureate Dr. Barry Marshall implores scientists to put their theories through the ringer, to keep trying to poke holes in their prized conclusions. I have a simpler method: box ‘em up and see if they can survive. Throughout this memoir, I’ve systematically been dissecting and then dismantling widely accepted medical theories, many decades old. I’ve done this by methodically boxing them in, trapping them in their own quicksand of questionable conclusions. Here’s an example of how it works.


What’s the root cause of breast cancer?


That’s impossible to answer, scientists would say, there are so many potential factors. Maybe it’s pesticides in our food supply. Maybe it’s environmental pollutants. Maybe it’s the ubiquity of industrial chemicals. Maybe it’s ultra-processed foods and harmful additives. However unlikely, tossing arms in the air, they would say they can’t even conclusively rule out damage from cell phones, electromagnetic waves, or contrails. So much of it is genetic, they’d remind us.

spray bottle

Wrong. Where’s my spray bottle? Bad scientist—pscht, pscht, pscht!


I asked for the root cause, not maybe factors that may or may not contribute to the development or fuel the advancement of breast cancer. According to A Brief History of Breast Cancer, “written records and illustrations of breast cancer date back to antiquity” as “the Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus, dating back to 3,000–2,500 B.C., … provides authentic accounts of breast cancer.”


So it’s not pesticides, environmental pollutants, industrial chemicals, ultra-processed foods, cell phones, electromagnetic waves, or contrails. Barring a visit-gone-wrong from time travelers Bill and Ted, none of those things existed in 3,000 B.C.




Genetics then?


Pscht, pscht, pscht! That was debunked two chapters ago. In the first half of the 1900s, “breast cancer was extremely rare, reported almost as non-existent, among both Canadian, Alaskan and Greenland [Inuit].” Then, tellingly, later that century it wasn’t so rare.


Something had to have been introduced to this isolated group of people that is causing breast cancer. It’s clearly not genetics. We’ve already eliminated modern suspects. That means it’s got to be something old, something really old, thousands of years old, that spreads rather easily.

As potential culprits keep getting boxed out of the discussion, the list of rational, possible causes narrows considerably. Viruses and bacterial infections, though, are still standing, both of which can be passed down for generations. Many cancer-causing viruses have been identified, Epstein Barr virus and human papillomavirus are two examples, and accurate testing has been developed to flag them. We know that EBV was already circulating among the Inuit when breast cancer rates were essentially zero, eliminating that virus as a cause. But another, bigger clue collapses the virus theory in its entirety.


Doxycycline, an antibiotic, has an unquestionable influence on breast cancer. Recall that revelatory hallelujah booyah in Chapter 48: “Scientists have discovered that the antibiotic may prevent breast cancer recurrence, inhibit the proliferation of cancer cells, delay tumor growth, and eradicate cancer stem cells.” What does that tell us?


Doctors dutifully remind us every flu season, repeatedly drilling into our heads a refrain so well known that it falls just short of that tortuous “Baby Shark” earworm of hell: antibiotics don’t treat viruses, like influenza or Covid. They have no effect. But doxycycline is having an effect, which means, no, viruses aren’t causing breast cancer, either. That leaves a bacterial infection. And with the primary antibiotic routinely used to combat Lyme disease proven to have a profound effect on said cancer—doxycycline usually is used to clear up lung and dental infections, skin infections and conditions, and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), none of which have been linked to breast cancer—we’ve effectively boxed out many other viable bacterial invaders as well.

Bexfield Box-Out

There you have it. The “Bexfield Box-out” technique has identified Lyme disease as the most likely root cause of breast cancer. Sure, there no doubt are other contributors that also trigger and accelerate this type of cancer, but they fall into the squirrel! category of distraction, an unending descent into infinite variables and poisoning whataboutisms, leading to scientific paralysis. Without getting to the true source of a problem, there is no practical way to discern how or why other variables affect its trajectory—yet scientists continually feel hell-bent to try, re: most every food and drink study. Limiting alcohol consumption appears to be associated with lower risks of developing breast cancer! Why? It’s not clear, say scientists, just maybe cut back. More research is needed. And the germination of a future study takes root, one that will inevitably reveal a similar conclusion… more research is needed!


Moving forward, scientists and the public can test the resilience of virtually any theory by using this box-out method. Keep stripping down the question to its essence and see what survives. It’s rollicking fun! I mean, if you like that kinda stuff. But be forewarned, undressing endearing yet dubious theories, particularly those involving a web of complex conspiracies—the moon landing was faked, the election was stolen!—will likely cause consternation among those most invested if their boxes fold.


The Gathering

I warned that outrage is gathering. Open your ears and listen.




Just months ago, Ren, a rapper from the UK, topped the BBC charts with his album Sick Boi, which is all about his experience living with Lyme disease and dealing with the dismissiveness of the medical establishment (“essentially your mind is making you sick” he was told). He’s even put together an 8-part video series discussing his illness for fans. So many musicians have been crushed by the disease, from Avril Lavigne to Kris Kristofferson to Justin Bieber. All have huge followings. And these few are just those officially diagnosed with Lyme.




I warned that outrage is gathering. Open your eyes and watch.


The most popular and most-watched YouTuber on the planet, Jimmy Donaldson, aka MrBeast, has been fighting Crohn’s disease since he was 15. His last video on his struggles with IBD, in 2015 when he was still in high school and growing his audience, got a quarter million views. He now has over 260 million subscribers. If MrBeast indeed has Lyme disease, his first video about those struggles will be appointment viewing. Now potentially raise that by orders of magnitude. There are so many celebrities sick with autoimmune diseases. And most have massive, very public platforms.


If scientists expect to be able to carefully parse my discoveries over the coming years, reassuring the public that they are exercising due diligence to perform painstakingly detailed analysis and lengthy clinical trials to confirm or refute my findings, I have some bad news. That ship sailed more than a few chapters ago. As you’ve read, I’ve pleaded for help and tried to warn everyone who’s anyone: the leading experts in Lyme disease, the top MS researchers, even specialists at the NIH. No one could be bothered. I warned that the math just didn't add up. Shoulders shrugged. I warned of a coming reckoning. Crickets.


Funny that I mention insects. And math.

First, consider that during the last 10-20 years, only a tiny fraction of people on this planet received an official diagnosis of Lyme and theoretically got treated with antibiotics, at best 2 million individuals in total.


Now remember that 2022 study that found there were at least 1.2 billion people living with a recent Lyme disease infection? And that April 2024 study published in The Lancet that tossed out that God-forsaken estimate of 3.4 billion people afflicted with some form of a neurological condition? Let’s not forget to add in all the worldwide cases of autoimmune disease, long Covid, and mental disorders, not to mention a boatload of cancers, birth defects, and other suspect chronic conditions. All told that’s a lot. In the billions. It’s not all Lyme, but the disease certainly cannot be ruled out in many of these cases.


Those are desert locust plague numbers. Cue David Attenborough: “When groups merge, they form a swarm,” Sir Attenborough intones. “As they fly, swarms join up with other swarms to form gigantic plagues several billion strong… This is one of planet Earth's greatest spectacles.”




And what else is a spectacle to behold on this planet? One unique swarm consisting mostly of young women, the group most at risk for future cases of Lyme disease. I’ll pause for a moment to let the blood that drained from the face of scientists return as they ponder the consequences of upending a core group of seriously motivated, undeterrable and unflappable, highly creative females: Swifties. There are few more influential armies than a legion of Taylor Swift fans. When they receive this news—that many of their futures are in the crosshairs of a looming Lyme infection—I guarantee that they are not going to just shake it off (and I also guarantee I will abstain from any future Swift puns).


Then, with the nature of plagues as a guide, the predictable is going to happen: swarms are going to merge. The misdiagnosed autoimmune swarm is going to amass with the recently formed long Covid swarm, which will then assimilate with the mental disorder swarm before merging with those affected by birth defects, chronic conditions, and a number of cancers. And it won’t just be the patients making noise, it will also be their families and friends, doubling, tripling, even quadrupling those numbers. Now add in the Swifties. But the loudest noisemakers of all?

black bear

There’s a reason you are told not to poke the bear, particularly momma bears protecting their cubs. Mothers. When they conclude that their children are at high risk of having a lurking Lyme disease infection explode in the future—given the ubiquity of the disease, a proposition that is dreadfully realistic in many parts of the world—God help us all.


The Aftermath

When I was fishing for piranha in the Amazon—trying to coax the tiny predators onto my fishing hook with fresh cuts of beef—I wanted nothing more than to catch one. After an hour of providing an all-you-can-eat buffet, restocking my hook after every failed tug, I finally managed to nab a now overfed, sated fish. I was elated. Until I wasn’t. I had a coveted piranha on the end of my line, wriggling in a frenzied panic, and I had absolutely no clue how to get it off, as stories of nine-fingered fishermen replayed in my head.




Just as in my adventure in the wilds of Brazil, here we all are—suddenly and unexpectedly: medicine, healthcare, life, upended. Now what? Mike Ehrmantraut, the sage grandpa/hitman/ investigator/security/cleaner of Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul fame, has a catchphrase appropriate for this moment. “So, here’s what’s going to happen…”




Few industries will emerge unscathed. In 2023, it is estimated that some $150 billion was spent on autoimmune treatment alone. Pharmaceutical companies would appear to be most in the crosshairs, but that is a woefully shortsighted view—only a fraction of the overall true dollars exchanged to treat this patient population flow directly to them for medications. Specialists in conditions that no longer truly exist will have to completely reinvent their careers, while entire professions—looking at you, mental health—will be shaken with uncertainty. Businesses that rely on advertising dollars from Big Pharma—TV, radio, print, internet—will be impacted. The incredible number of nonprofits and charities dedicated to conditions that are confirmed to be variants of Lyme will be adrift. All the providers and businesses who aid these patients—from wheelchair and scooter manufacturers, to medical suppliers of catheters and alcohol wipes, to those who produce specialized journals, magazines, websites, conferences, podcasts, and videos—will see their customer base erode. And then consider all the other related wellness offshoots, from influencers who help guide patients to the self-help books now chock full of questionable advice.


If you think you can dodge this dagger of a disease and ride that healthful wave called youth, I have some sobering news. And I am so very sorry for the impending buzzkill. Everything from sex to forms of self-expression are subject to being recast in a different light with a new, unpredictable variable.


Not long ago I was fiddle-farting around with the idea of getting a tattoo. I mean, goodness, not me personally—I’m a certified pansy. I was just wondering about the type of courage it takes to voluntarily subject yourself to the kind of trauma required to play an oversized voodoo doll.


Trauma.


Holy hell, I almost didn’t want to look. Needles plus dye equals an immune system disturbance. A 2021 study on tattoo complications confirmed my suspicions. Psoriasis, sarcoidosis, uveitis, cardiac issues, and more, their onset delayed from weeks to years. Women, as expected, bear the brunt of complications: 70% of post-tat cases. Authors of the research hypothesized that “this is likely to be related to the amount of allergic red tattoo reactions (50.2%) and permanent makeup (7.1%) as this color and type of tattooing is thought to be more used in females.”


Nope, it's not that, it’s just lurking Lyme, and it doesn’t matter how big or small your tattoo is (or how much ink is used). So when you read scary stuff like the just released May 2024 study warning “of an urgent need for more research into the long-term health impacts of tattoos after new research found they may increase the risk of lymphoma cancer,” remember to breathe. I would expect studies on piercings to be similarly deflating. To be clear, getting inked or sticking a barbell through your nose is generally safe, but as the lead author of the aforementioned study says, “when the tattoo ink is injected into the skin, the body interprets this as something foreign that should not be there, and the immune system is activated.” And that, readers, risks waking up a dormant Lyme infection.


With the outsized popularity of body art in those under 50—more than half of women between 18 and 49 have at least one tattoo—I urge those who have accentuated their persons with these forms of expression not to panic. For starters, stress is bad, m’kay, and second, what’s done is done. Tattoo removal is as much of a spark as the original needlework. Besides, all these efforts are still technically minor triggers, unlikely to wake the beast. Fingers crossed.


As for sex, particularly casual hookups, umm. That’s one of the three most common ways Lyme spreads. And there is not a single reliable test in existence to check to see if a potential partner is infected with the disease. Again, your best bet is to use condoms. And cross your fingers.


Right now, many of you, I imagine, want to channel Jules Winnfield, the Jules from Pulp Fiction vowing to “strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers.” Seething rage is to be expected; however, I recommend a more measured approach.




The fingerprints of Lyme disease are all over society. This, however, isn’t the fault of any one group or the efforts of a purposeful cabal of bad actors, as much as we want to lay blame. All of us, humanity, were thrown unwillingly into this tempest, and we alone have the moxie to emerge from this immaculate storm stronger, healthier.


I urge all of you to stifle your anger as best you can, grapple with lost opportunities as best as you can, mourn departed loved ones taken too early as best you can. This is impossibly hard, I know. But we are strong, resilient. Look to the regrowth that forest fires spur, as devastated areas bloom anew with possibility. How will this reshape our world?


People will live longer and happier, relieved of many of the health ailments and choking pain that accompany disability due to a bacterial infection. As mental illness retreats, there will be fewer broken marriages, fewer incarcerations, fewer mass shootings, fewer institutionalizations, fewer suicides. Doors presumed forever closed will fly open as the strangling albatross of disease lifts. More Christmases will be shared, more Yom Kippurs, more Ramadans, more Diwalis.


To get there, and I am confident that we will get there, we need to support those stakeholders who now are scrambling for purpose. Perhaps rocked most by my findings will be scientists and the public’s confidence and now-wavering trust in science. That wavering, however, is misguided. That confidence can be restored. And scientists, themselves, will be at the source of this renewal.


Instead of lamenting eons of missed signs, embrace this as an entry into a new golden age of discovery. Armed with the knowledge that Lyme disease and its related bacterial partners have been infecting their research and analysis since forever, scientists can now take fresh approaches to countless problems viewed with a far clearer lens, akin to each getting their own personal James Webb telescope. Take DNA and genetic research. Researchers have puzzled over the near 300 genes that appear to be associated with developing schizophrenia, inspiring the depressing headline in the journal Nature: “It’s time to admit that genes are not the blueprint for life.”


Left: NASA’s Webb Reveals Cosmic Cliffs, Glittering Landscape of Star Birth (public domain); Right: Illustration of the James Webb Space Telescope, current as of September 2009. Top side (public domain).


Maybe don’t give up on that idea just yet. This is also the time to start planting seeds and preparing for future generations of researchers and physicians who will learn from an entirely revamped educational model, one built to avoid past mistakes. The over reliance on technology at the expense of common sense and listening. The lazy habits of blindly trusting settled research when new questions and new evidence arise. The poisonous culture that punishes novel ideas and stifles forward thinking because something might threaten the status quo. The unhelpful paralysis of whataboutisms blocking vital investigations into a health problem’s true genesis.


For people mired in an active Lyme infection, doctors will need to step up in currently unimaginable ways to help as experts urgently formulate a plan of action—carpet bombing with doxycycline is not the cure-all answer we’d like it to be (and may rarely trigger dangerous Herxheimer reactions in patients with cardiac issues). Despite the likely involvement of Lyme in ALS, studies of intravenous ceftriaxone have been uninspiring, similar to the results of trials in long Lyme that show bursts of early promise followed by ineffectiveness. Successfully treating advanced Lyme disease will likely involve a combination of therapeutic approaches, but for the moment* that combination is as much of a mystery as that dang password you can’t remember.


Meanwhile, drug companies—who have devoted billions developing their own medications—will need to rapidly shift research to support a version of the Manhattan Project for treating entrenched Lyme disease. Critically, do not overlook the value of their existing medications designed for one of the newly defunct diseases. They may work well across a vastly expanded patient population, overlooked salves for the masses.


There is also an urgent need to produce new and varied antibiotics, a research effort that has largely stalled in recent years, as profit from these new drugs is far from assured. The development cost for a new antibiotic is estimated to exceed $1 billion and take 10-15 years, eons for antsy investors eager for a quick profit. Even so, hygromycin A, an antibiotic that targets spirochetes specifically, has just entered early human trials after successfully eliminating the disease in mice studies.


On the support side, those nonprofits affected will need to swiftly pivot to aid their clientele during this uncertain time, acting as invaluable, trustworthy resources. To address this crisis head on, rebranding will be essential to help those afflicted with “Lyme MS”, “Lyme lupus”, and related conditions. Those health influencers, many of them friends of mine, will no doubt need to shoulder the weight of confusion that surrounds any new diagnosis. Valuable resources for the disabled and memoirs of disease now have potentially huge, expanded audiences as Lyme disease is an unsaid and undiscovered undercurrent in many of them.


The most important response will come from our collective governments and leaders. With renewed evidence that vaccines are safe after my Chapter 47 hypothesis, even people long suspicious of their benefits should be eager for additional protection. Effective vaccines will need to be developed and quickly, answers will be needed to prevent the disease being passed down from mother to unborn child, solutions to the alarming sexual spread of the disease must be addressed, diagnostic testing will need to be vastly improved, ways to measure the effectiveness—and maximize their effectiveness—of existing treatments will need to be developed, and desperately needed new treatments must be created that are both accessible and affordable.


The sky won’t fall if we won’t let it.





But right now, all of this is in the future, God willing the near future.** The immediate aftermath of what I’ve written, and what I’ve discovered, is going to be disbelief. Utter, full-throated, heels-dug-in disbelief. Carl Sagan predicted just that nearly 30 years ago in a piece he wrote for the Skeptical Inquirer, the self-described “magazine for science and reason.”

The truth may be puzzling. It may take some work to grapple with. It may be counterintuitive. It may contradict deeply held prejudices. It may not be consonant with what we desperately want to be true. But our preferences do not determine what's true.


Factions invested in treating a sick world initially are going to try to discredit and destroy my findings. Hundreds of billions of dollars, trillions, are at stake, and shareholders are going to be reticent to accept this new reality. Look no further than past protestations concerning tobacco, DDT, PFAS, and now fossil fuels for a preview of the contentiousness. So, so many would prefer that I was wrong, yet science is the final arbiter.


If it helps, put yourself on the receiving end of Dr. Eleanor Arroway’s impassioned plea in the 1997 movie Contact after her hypotheses were derided as “less like science and more like science fiction.”




Science fiction. Well, you're right, it's crazy. In fact, it's even worse than that, nuts. You wanna hear something really nutty? I heard of a couple guys who wanna build something called an "airplane," you know you get people to go in, and fly around like birds, it's ridiculous, right? And what about breaking the sound barrier, or rockets to the moon, or atomic energy, or a mission to Mars? Science fiction, right? Look, all I'm asking, is for you to just have the tiniest bit of vision. You know, to just sit back for one minute and look at the big picture. To take a chance on something that just might end up being the most profoundly impactful moment for humanity, for the history... of history.


The key difference between Jodie Foster’s speech and Sit Down Before Reading? I’ve systematically removed the element of chance. I’ve taken away the mights and maybes. Although the entirety of my discoveries may not be pitch perfect—as a layperson without a medical degree, I’m bound to have made a conclusion or two that grates—efforts to flush out significant, meaningful fault in my findings ultimately will be met with failure. As they are, I have a pressing request.


Dismantle or defend, don’t defer. It is the final tenet of SHARDs. And it might be the most important.


Past protestations from courageous medical mutineers, despite being armed with persuasive scientific evidence, typically fail. Why? Deference, and not the noble, reverential kind. As explained by Wikipedia, “deference (also called submission or passivity) is the condition of submitting to the espoused, legitimate influence of one's superior or superiors.” The perceived hierarchy in medicine has poisoned the profession, muzzling those who dare contest accepted hypotheses and their most boisterous supporters. It’s not the brave souls who buck convention who are the problem, and it’s not the kingpins of researchers and the perceived (real or not) threat of retribution for dissenters.


[We need a] revamped educational model, one built to avoid past mistakes [and reject] the poisonous culture that punishes novel ideas and stifles forward thinking because something might threaten the status quo.

No, the problem is with the silent majority in the middle. The back turners sitting on their hands. Instead of taking the time to defend conflicting theories—or, conversely, taking the time to dismantle them—they’ve largely ignored them. The same indifference is true of broadly accepted hypotheses. Over the decades, how many doctors have puzzled over the paradox of autoimmune disease, the body randomly turning on itself, seemingly in direct conflict with Darwin’s theory? I would think most, at least at some point in their careers. But that’s not their specialty or their place to question established theories and, therefore, not their problem. And that’s the problem.


The would-be gatekeepers justify their inaction with infinite, predictable “but what abouts,” inconsequential static. It’s a tired argumentative technique, a convenient crutch used to sow doubt without robust supportive evidence, and one that deserves to meet its end. So let’s kill it. Now.


Pay attention to retorts that begin, “but what about….” Talking heads love to stir things up with the reliable button pusher. Yet it’s the weakest of counterarguments, a notch barely above “I know you are, but what am I,” as just about anything can be injected into a discussion to question, without merit, any finding. That forces the defender into feeling that he or she must debunk the first whataboutism, which only leads to a second, and then a third, which are then followed by pointless, distracting tit-for-tats. Eventually both sides, frustrated, agree to disagree and drop the topic without resolution.


There’s a way out. Call out the bullshit for what is, bullshit, and don’t play that game. Declare Red Card! (holding up an imaginary ejection card to drive your point home if necessary), and don’t engage. Insist that they dismantle your position, and if that’s not possible to do without resorting to vague whataboutisms, their hand is the clear losing one. At first, the number of red cards being thrown around will be jarring (the whataboutism defense is rampant), but as its use spreads and becomes accepted, arguments and disagreements eventually will turn into consequential discussions resulting in actual progress. Try it.


I now ask those same fence sitters and reticent researchers to rise up and defend me. Loudly. And I call upon those collective swarms—of those infected and of those affected—to do the same. I’ve provided all of you with the rare opportunity to rewrite your future, to change your destiny. You now hold that power. Use it. Spread hope—spread hope like fire.




Recall at the start of this chapter that Sarah the astrophysicist said she’d “eat her hat” if everything turned out to be in Lyme’s orbit. Her gut reaction isn’t unreasonable. The scale of my brazen theories is not just big, it’s downright astronomical. More appropriate in a sequel to Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, my Brobdingnagian findings, if proven correct, would dwarf the greatest discoveries in the history of medicine.


I know.


But you are not a doctor, a scientist, or a researcher. Your highest level of education is a 4-year communications degree from a commuter college in Northern Virginia. You can’t even consistently tell funny jokes despite trying really, really hard.


I know.


The burden of proof necessary for my hypotheses to cut through the chaff of breathless but flawed medical conclusions has been Atlasesque. So many pieces of this epic puzzle had to come together just so to avoid an equally epic collapse. And it still could. I’ve dumped such a broad array of my grand theories into a single box, that I’ve boxed myself into the tightest of corners. For them to all be correct—Lyme disease is at the root of autoimmune disease, mental disorders, long Covid, many cancers, and more—any potentially successful treatment must, therefore, have a notably positive effect on all of them as well. That’s insanity!*** Yet I welcome that impossible benchmark of proof.


My arrogant conclusions throughout this memoir have seemed to be perpetually skirting doom, and yet I was never concerned that I wouldn’t get to this point. I even boldly warned Sarah that “although a good source of fiber, a hat diet is NOT recommended.”


Why have I been, and why do I remain, such a cocky son-of-a-bitch, having boasted about Nobel prizes and groundbreaking discoveries from the earliest pages? I mean, I even rented an oversized post office box nearly two years ago in anticipation of fan mail. (To date, I’ve received exactly one letter… from a Semester at Sea friend of 30 years, who apparently misplaced my home address in his Hong Kong apartment.)


See, there is one last question mark stubbornly hovering over this memoir, one that concerns an unexplained, snarky, often glasses-wearing, sometimes amusing, obnoxiously confident wildcard.


Dave with Rocky Balboa


Me.


I’ve got a confession. Remember way back in Chapter 16 when I first started grappling with changes in my brain, writing that “something was definitely up”? How I never should have discovered my multiple sclerosis misdiagnosis?


Never ever. There aren’t enough evers. Not in a million years. Ice ages could come and go, civilizations could be born and extinguished. Less likely than breaking park ranger Roy Sullivan’s record of getting struck by lightning seven times, winning a billion dollars in the Powerball—twice, or avoiding seeing a mattress sale over Memorial Day weekend.


Sorry. I haven’t been as forthcoming as I could have been on the advice of my wife. “If you write that now,” she said nearly two years ago, crossing out earlier pages when I was describing the bizarre effects of my intense bout of psychosis, “people really are going to think you are crazy.”

The time to come clean is now, with the origin of the Bexfield Twist in the penultimate chapter of Sit Down Before Reading. Before I had written a single word of this memoir, I already knew how it was going to conclude—even though I had, at the time, absolutely no clue how I was going to get there. But I knew I’d get there.


As Laura has warned, it’s crazy.


Okay, beyond crazy.


*That moment might be a little sooner than I had anticipated.

**That “near future” might be just a couple chapters away.

***Yup, it’s total insanity, but the best, curative kind.


June 19 is Juneteenth, a federal holiday in the United States. Chapter 51, The Bexfield Twist, posts Wednesday, June 26.


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