Turning 19, Finishing my First Semester at a University, and More Life Changes

Ya’ll! It has been far too long since I’ve properly sat down updated / spent time on this blog in general. Finals are over (hallelujah) and it’s officially winter break. I’m going to try to rapid fire catch ya’ll up on everything.

Back on November 17th, I turned 19! It feels really weird to say I’m nineteen, as it sounds both far too old and too young at the same time. My birthday was on a Saturday, so I went home for the weekend and celebrated with my family. My older sister couldn’t come that weekend, so she came the weekend before to my apartment and we had a lot of fun hanging out. She lives four hours away from me, so I don’t get to see her as much as I’d like. We went to a queer coffee shop in the city my university is in and played Drag Queen Bingo, which was really fun!

School has been a whirlwind. I can’t believe this semester is already over. As a whole, I had a pretty good semester. I took Biology II with lab, chemistry I with lab, and Spanish II, which totaled to 13 hours.  Chemistry was HARD! Since I didn’t really go to high school, I practically didn’t take chemistry, so everything was new to me. However, even all the other students who had taken chemistry previously also struggled; I guess it’s considered a “weed out” class for a reason. I managed to pull out an A, but there were definitely times that it felt like I was holding onto that A by a thread. I’ve never studied so much in my life for one class, but I feel very proud that I was able to do it. I’m very pleased I was able to keep my 4.0 this semester!

After many conversations and months of internal conflict with my college major choice, I’ve decided to change my major to nursing. I think the nursing approach better envelops my ultimate goal of taking care of chronically ill patients and being their advocate, than the general approach of being a doctor does. I do however still want to be in a provider role, and plan on getting my masters to become a nurse practitioner later down the road. It took me a long time to get to this conclusion, but I’m really excited about it. Realistically I knew Med School would never work out anyway with my health issues, but I didn’t feel peace about letting go of that dream until recently. The only downside is that my university does not have a nursing program, so I have two options: 1. finish my prerequisites at my current school and then apply directly to nursing school for Fall 2020, 2. transfer next fall to a school that has a nursing program to finish my pre-reqs there and then go to that universities nursing school afterwards. I am planning on re-applying to my dream school because they have the best nursing program in the state, and if I don’t get in then I’ll just finish up at my current school.

I’m a little bit sad about the possibility of me leaving my current university. Although this semester has been tough, I do really like the school. On the other hand, the school I’m applying to has been my dream school for so long and it’s in the city I’ve always wanted to live in. I have not made the friends I was hoping to this semester, so the idea of starting all over again is both intriguing and terrifying. I’m really hoping I make some friends next semester, as I’ve been incredibly lonely.

Overall I am really grateful for this semester, and everything it has taught me. Thank you for sticking with me, even with the lack of posts these last few months. I’m hoping to be able to post more in 2019. How has your life been? If you are in school, how did your semester go?

I hope you all have / have had a very happy holiday season!

Advertisements

College Life Update

I’m sorry I was a little MIA in September, it turns out college takes up a lot of your time!

In my last update I had just moved to college and was having a rough time adjusting, but I’m happy to say I’m at the end of my seventh week of school and things have greatly improved home-sickness wise. Being a biology major is a lot of work and the classes can be pretty difficult, but I’m really enjoying my biology class. Right now the only thing I’m struggling with is chemistry, which is probably because I didn’t take it in high school, so I’m learning everything for the first time. My first chem exam didn’t go great, which is disappointing, but I think the next one will go better now that I know what to expect.

I’ve tried out a couple different clubs, but I’m still trying to find my people. Being a transfer makes it a lot harder to make friends, since you aren’t in a dorm where everyone is desperate to find friends like freshmen are. I’m hoping that it’s just going to take some time, and as I meet more people through these clubs, I’ll find people to hang out with.

On a health note, things have not been easy. When I started classes I wasn’t feeling well, but I wouldn’t say I was doing awful. It’s currently the seventh week of school (out of 16) and it’s become increasingly more difficult. My health tends to follow a pattern of doing it’s best around late-august and then declining until it’s worst which is usually mid-december until sometime in the summer. This isn’t set in stone, it has strayed and done something different before, but this is a very common pattern for me. It’s frustrating and discouraging to see my body continuing to do this, but I want to be at college and be successful in my classes so bad that I’m pushing so hard to stay here and do well.

Pushing yourself when you’re sick is a damned-if-you-do damed-if-you-don’t kind of situation. I often push myself too hard for too long and end up losing all progress I’ve made and go back to not being able to function at all. However, if you don’t push yourself you won’t succeed in the first place. I’ve been forcing my body to do so much that it has repeatedly told me it can’t handle that I’m afraid the current repercussions are only the beginning. For now, I’m going to keep trying my best and doing as much as possible while attempting to think positively.

I started seeing a new GI since my last GI, who I loved so much, gave me the “I don’t know what to do anymore” speech. I didn’t love the new GI right away, I felt like she didn’t really listen when I was speaking and she made me try a medication that I explicitly told her not only didn’t work for me in the past, but also made things worse.  Surprise, surprise it made me horribly ill again. My GI system is beyond messed up and the list of foods I’m able to eat in dwindling down rapidly. I have my second appointment with her at the end of this month, so I’m hoping we can come up with a better plan then.

I also started Xolair shots for the mast cell issues, and received my second shot earlier this week. So far I have yet to see a difference in my symptoms but this medication can be one that needs to build up in your system before it will work, so I’m hoping to see improvement after the third shot. The allergist wants me to cut down on the amount of antihistamines I take, but because I haven’t seen improvement I feel like I’m going to be miserable without them. I’m going to try to cut them down this weekend, so if things go bad then at least I won’t have to worry about going to class while being so itchy and rashy.

I’m also supposed to get my genetic testing results back at the end of this month to see if I really do have hEDS or if I have another type of EDS. I’m slightly nervous for the results, but overall I’m pretty sure I have hEDS and would be surprised if the results said something different. These past two months have been quite the whirlwind, but I feel lucky to even be experiencing the things I’m experiencing.

Life Update: Withdrawing from College

This semester has been incredibly rough for me.

Some of it I have shared with you, like documenting my journey at the Mayo Clinic, but there’s been a lot going on that I haven’t talked about yet. My health has been very poor since around the last few weeks of Fall Semester, and has been continuously getting worse. This was one of the major reasons I chose to go to Mayo in the middle of Spring semester. Unfortunately I missed a lot of class before my trip, and then a whole week for the trip (my first trip was during spring-break so I didn’t miss any class for that). While I was successful in obtaining multiple diagnoses, the treatment options are very limited.

As of right now, they are mainly focusing on the lifestyle changes; things like exercise, following the gastroparesis diet, and eating tons of salt. These things may or may not work, and if they do work it’s going to be months before I see any improvement. Since returning from my trip, I’ve only become more symptomatic and much less functional. I’m honestly not sure what to do right now, since I know if I contact the Mayo doctors they will probably tell me to just keep trying to do these things since it hasn’t been long enough to see results, but at the same time my body is incredibly weak and doing simple life tasks can be very difficult.

Missing this much school has seriously affected my grades. Some of my professors have been great, and others have been awful. I have disability services, but they aren’t very helpful and professors have found loop holes that essentially disregard any accommodations I’m supposed to have. It’s crazy how little legal protection disabled people have, but that’s a whole nother can of worms. I made the decision to withdraw from college, since my Spring semester grades were going to tank my GPA. I really wanted to only withdraw from the two classes I was doing poorly in, and stay in the two classes that I had nearly perfect grades in, but that isn’t an option at my college.

This also means I will not be able to transfer to a University in the Fall. I won’t have nearly enough hours after I lose these 14. Now, I’m going to have to do at least one more semester at community college, maybe two. I’m trying my best to remind myself that I’m only 18, so I’m actually ahead of my peers by at least one college semester, but withdrawing makes me feel so behind. There’s a lot of emotions to process, and I’m doing my best not to fall into a pit of despair, but it’s been really tough. I think hope and positivity are important when it comes to living as a chronically ill person, but I also think it’s okay to recognize that some situations just suck.

I’m planing to return to college in Fall, or even take a Summer class if I’m able to get my health under control enough. As difficult as this decision is, I know it is the right one. This is not the first time I’ve had to withdraw from school, as many of you know, I started this blog right after I withdrew from high school in November of 2016. It’s crazy to think that almost 18 months later I’m having to do the exact same thing. I’ve got to say it doesn’t hurt any less the second time around, but I know from the first time that it will get better.

Life Update: June

I feel like it’s been a while since I updated ya’ll on my personal life!

Overall things are going pretty well. Health wise I was feeling really good for a while, but now I’m just feeling okay. I’m having more headaches than I was, and my stomach is acting up, but overall I’m still doing better than normal. I had an appointment with an endocrinologist which was a waste of time, but other than that I haven’t seen any other doctors. I’m probably going to find a new gastroenterologist since that seems to be my main problem currently, and the one I was seeing said he couldn’t do anything more for me back in the fall of 2016. Ultimately I probably need to go to Mayo Clinic, but we haven’t started to try and apply since I’ve been out of a flare for a while. Having a few good months during spring/summer isn’t abnormal for me though, and it usually ends with intense pain and a hospitalization in the Fall. Yipee!

I got my GED in May and this past week I was admitted to my local community college. Yesterday I took the TSI, and luckily I don’t have to do any remedial courses, so that’s nice. I also visited with an academic advisor and started the process of getting disability services. Things are looking up as far as that goes!

The one major thing I need to do now is get my driver’s license. I have an appointment for June 28th, and I’m terrified. I took the driving test once and it didn’t go well. The woman who administered the test and angry when she got in my car and snapped at me repeatedly, then she failed me. Honestly I know I made some mistakes and shouldn’t have gotten a perfect score, but failing seemed a little ridiculous. That was almost a year and a half ago so it’s time to try again. She really got in my head and made me scared to drive, but I’m trying to be positive and confident because I know I can do it.

It may sound silly to some people who have gone through the process of getting a license, but it’s been incredibly stressful for me. I’m comfortable with driving now, the only problem is the dreaded parallel parking. Ironically that’s the part I passed the first time. I know some states don’t do the parallel parking, but my parents told me moving across the country wasn’t an option, so I guess for now I’ll just keep practicing. There’s a lot riding on this since I can’t to go college if I can’t drive, but I have faith that I’ll pass (or at least I’m trying to pretend I do :)).

I helped my sister move out of her college apartment, look for a new apartment by her new job, and then into her new apartment. She had her graduation ceremony mid-May and we threw her a family party at the air-bnb we rented. It was really nice, but I’m sad that she’s now living four hours away from us, and won’t be forced to see us for a month over Holiday break. She’s very family oriented so I know she’ll visit and we’ll visit her, but I also know it won’t be as often as it used to be.

That’s pretty much it as far as my life’s concerned. How are you doing? Do you have any fun Summer plans?

 

 

Daith Piercing Experience

Yesterday I got my first daith piercing!

I had said in my previous post that this place only does this piercing and I was mistaken. The piercer I saw specializes in it, but does all the other typical piercings as well.

The shop was around 25 minutes away from where I live so it wasn’t too far. Living in the suburbs means you’re always driving 20-30 minutes everywhere. After we got there I realized in the parking lot that I didn’t bring my ID. Oops! It honestly hadn’t crossed my mind since I wasn’t driving and I’m still technically a minor. In Texas the law States that both the minor and their parent/guardian have to have a state mandated ID or birth certificate to prove that the adult is their parent and is old enough.

So we drove 25 minutes back home and I got my ID. Luckily we didn’t have an appointment  so we weren’t keeping anyone waiting. About two minutes down the road my mom’s tire popped and we had to turn around and to take her car home and use my sisters instead. She just got these tires on Wednesday too so it kinda sucked. We later found out it had a razor blade stuck in it and she got the tire replaced for free since it was under warranty, so that was good.

Back on the road we made it to our destination with all the proper identification and waited around fifteen minutes. She pierced four other people in that time and was really fast. Before I knew it, it was my turn and I was getting marked up. I couldn’t really see back in my ear, but I assumed it was fine and trusted she knew what she was doing.

FullSizeRenderI liked that she did it really quick and didn’t talk about it a whole lot. The piercer was super friendly and made conversation but didn’t dwell on the piercing for too long before we got started. After she marked my ear, she set the needle up and then told me to get ready for some pressure. It honestly didn’t hurt nearly as much as I thought it would. I wasn’t nervous until she told me she was setting up the needle, then the nerves kicked in a little. She was so quick though I didn’t really have time to feel nervous!  The most “uncomfortable” part of it all was the popping noise it made. It basically felt like a giant pop with one sharp pain that wasn’t that bad, and then my ear felt really hot for a minute. There was no blood and I was good to go after she cleaned the area. We probably only spent five minutes tops in the piercing room, but she was really attentive and gave me her phone number for if I ever needed anything so I thought that was kind.

In the short time I’ve had it I have only experienced some mild discomfort and general achiness (which definitely isn’t word but we’re just gonna go with it). The piercer told me that day four is the worst so I guess we will see what the healing process is like. The jewelry I have in it now I’m not going to keep once the healing period is up. I didn’t get to choose this but I knew that this would be what they pierced it with going in. What I have in now is a circular barbell and from what I understand, barbells are the best for the healing process with daith piercings.

I’m really happy with it so far and had an awesome experience at this piercing shop. At this point I’m still planning to get the left side done after the four week healing period on my right one. I think it will be really interesting to see what happens as far as migraines go. I haven’t been having them like I have for the past five years lately (like since December). I don’t know if I’m just cycling and on an upswing or what. It’s been weird, but I’m grateful to at least not be dealing with that pain.

I’m going to do another update once I’ve had this one for a while and then once I’ve had both of them done. Let me know if you have any questions and I’ll try my best to answer them! 🙂

Lots of Love,

Alyssa

17 Going on 67

I haven’t been feeling great for the past two weeks or so.

I don’t think I’m in full flare mode yet, but my body just feels bad. I’m not having migraines, but I am having daily headaches and gastro issues. My tachycardia has been affecting me more than usual and making me really tired. I just feel old.

My joints hurt, and everything is exhausting. Weird things keep happening that aren’t a big deal, I just don’t normally experience them. My muscles have been twitching, my joint crack ridiculously loud every time I move, and a few times in the past week I’ve started shaking randomly. These things probably won’t last long, because my body is an asshole who likes to mess with me, but they’re annoying none the less. It’s been hard to explain, but something feels off. I’m not in a ton of pain, but I feel terrible and that’s not really something you can fix.

I went to my first appointment at a new counselor since the last one kept canceling on us. It was an “intake” appointment and she just asked me a bunch of questions. I feel like all I’m doing is complaining, but to be honest I didn’t really like her. She asked me a few questions in the beginning and my brain went blank. I couldn’t think, my heart starting racing even faster than normal, my whole body flushed, and I felt lightheaded. I was embarrassed and said, “I’m sorry my brains a little foggy today,” and she just gave me a look like I was crazy and said “oooooh kayyyy.” It felt really judgmental even if she didn’t mean it that way. She also said somethings that rubbed me the wrong way and tried to give me medical advice, which is so very annoying. I’m still going to try to have one real appointment with her and give her a chance, because there isn’t anyone in my area who wants to see a seventeen year old with chronic health issues.

I’m really hoping they’ll find something in my electrophysiology study next week, because this fatigue is awful. I’m normally pretty fatigued, but this a whole other ball game. I am grateful that I’ve only had a few episodes of extreme pain, but I’m fearful for the weeks to come. This time of year is normally really bad for me, so it’s been kind of weird that I’ve had less pain than normal. I’m trying my best to stay positive, although this post wasn’t very positive was it? Sometimes we all just need to rant.  I have a hard time finding a balance between my realist personality, inner cynic, and the positive person I know I should be trying to be.

How are you doing? Let me know what’s knew in your life or what’s been going on!

Lots of Love,

Alyssa

Thank you!

Yesterday I hit 100 followers here on WordPress!

I started this blog December 12, 2016, not long after having a terrible trip to Cincinnati’s Children’s Hospital to try and get some answers about my chronic illnesses. I felt as if I was at my breaking point and needed some sort of outlet to express the overwhelming emotions I was feeling. This has been a great community and I’ve had a lot of really awesome conversations surrounding chronic illness and feminism.

Thank you to everyone who follows this blog and reads. I never expected for anyone to follow me or read my posts, let alone 100 people being interested in what I have to say. I throughly enjoy reading every comment I get and checking out every new blog that follows me. I’ve found so many people of all ages who are experiencing the same things as me, which is incredibly uplifting and comforting. Thank you once again for checking out my blog, I hope you stick around for the rest of my journey here at Queerly Texan.

SO much love,

Alyssa