Excerpted from Part II, Chapter 3: Keyless Gates

I woke up Wednesday. At least that’s what I remember doing. Apparently, between Monday afternoon and Wednesday
morning my mental palm pilot experienced an electrical outage. As far as I could tell, I had slept the better part of nearly
40 hours.

Walking into work early that morning my head felt like it was stuffed with a mountain of cotton batting.
Gosh, did I even
feed my dogs? Oh, I must have. How odd it is that it is Wednesday. Did I eat? This is so weird; I can’t believe it’s
Wednesday. Jeez, I feel like a Martian’s taken over my brain.

The thoughts bobbled around like anchorless buoys in high seas.

Oh, well, I shrugged. This will clear up once I’ve been awake a little longer.

Sitting at my desk with a child’s testing protocol in front of me, I attempted to complete the mindless task of scoring it. It
was a simple task:  add up a small column of one and two digit numbers and put the sum in the little square box at the
bottom. It’s a menial, tedious task that I had been routinely doing for the better part of the last twenty years.

I added.

I added again.

I couldn’t seem to make my mind work. I tried again. I used my fingers. I still could not get past a couple of numbers. I
could not add the column. My friend Sandra, a teacher in the next room and a lead paramedic for the county, came in
to check on me. She took one look at my face and with concern written all over hers, asked:  “What’s wrong? You’re
really pale. Are you all right?”

I stared at her, an uncomprehending look in my eye and a tight knot in my stomach. “Sandra…something is very, very
wrong. I can’t add. I can’t think. Something in my head is very, very wrong.”

Immediately plopping me into her ever-present paramedic car, Sandra drove me the twenty-five miles back to the
hospital. I have no idea what she did about her students that morning; I only know that she kept me from panicking
during a time when fear was beginning to suffocate the very breath from my lungs.

How could I not add simple numbers? What was wrong with my head?