It had taken a little over a week for him to him to be able to leave his bed for more than a handful of minutes. Now, two weeks out, he could do something that almost resembled walking. It wasn't atrophy- the nanos had prevented that. He just needed to regain the feel for actual physical movement. It had only taken him four days to remember his name- Sam. Sometimes the old name- the one from the other place- would snap in, but when that happened, and it happened now with alarming infrequency, he at least knew that it was wrong.
Sam suspected that he had done something with machines before he had gone in, but that thought pushed him to the edge of catatonia, and right over if he held onto it long enough. So taking deep slow breaths, he let it go. Dealing with anything more high tech than what he needed to make instant food made him forget where he was and what he was doing. That was when it didn't make him hurt. It usually made him hurt. The right side of his face, particularly his eye, would hurt viciously. Once it had hurt without abatement for a day and a half. Sometimes when the pain was bad enough to keep him awake he wondered if it was just jealous spite- his body's way of getting back at him for daring to have such a wondrous adventure without it. At those times he would tell himself that even if such a thing were true, he wouldn't regret it. Curled into a ball with his arms around his head, he would promise himself that even if it got worse- and Sam knew from research before he went in that it was terribly possible for things to get a good deal worse- but even if it turned out like the very worst of the stories he had heard he wouldn't regret it.
Last night had been one of those nights. The day hadn't been so bad though. He had even gotten something that with a month's evolution might be exercise. He had slept through half of the day before getting up to check on how much money he had left and how much longer his bills were paid up. Sam checked because it helped him keep track of the days, not because he had to worry. He wouldn't have to worry for a couple of months.
Sam had been smart about things. He had worked hard and saved everything he hadn't needed to pay bills or eat with. The day before he walked into the center and shelled out the combined fees for the implantation surgery, the extraction surgery, the two month residence (care and feeding included), and the in-residence physical therapy Sam had paid his rent five months in advance (the two months he was in and three months worth of recoup time just to be safe). He had also made sure he had a healthy utilities credit, though if worst came to worst it wasn't like they were going to shut him down if he missed a month or two. He just had to make sure that he was in good enough shape after three months to get a job.
That had been the plan, but now actually turning himself around in that time frame seemed better suited to some old world pagan god. What could he do? He was just Sam. Not even old Sam now. Certainly not the name he had to forget. Still, he had to try. He couldn't end up like those wretches everyone walked by and laughed at. The ones constantly worrying at their faces, especially their eyes. He used to pity them, now he hated them for their weakness. The more he thought about it the more their failures felt like chains around him. Binding his legs and arms, squeezing his chest, strangling his neck. He couldn't breath. For an instant he thought he was back in that pool of horrors, but his apartment came to his aid by stubbing his toe and snapping him back to it. He thought about maybe not checking his money for a few days. He was, after all, alright for a little while.
He would just have to find a new way to keep track of time. He decided to try counting the slips of paper instead- he didn't need to know exactly what day it was, just how much time was passing. He had opted for the paper notifications because they were recommended by an associate who's family member who had gone in. The slips were delivered daily through a slot in his apartment door. He wished he knew their name- the associate or the family member- so he could thank them when he was able to leave his apartment. He picked the day's slip up from the floor (he must have dropped it in his panic a few moments ago) and sat it on the kitchen table. He awkwalked (a term he came up with to describe his current ambulatory style) to his desk and laboriously wrote himself a reminder to find out who this associate had been and thank him or her. Whoever it was had helped him get a little leg up on coming back, and after the episode by the doorway he felt there was no greater thing a person could have done for him.