Moving Forward Despite Arthritis.
The end of this semester feels monumental in a way that I am not sure words can quite explain.
Spring semester is always the semester that really wears me down each academic year. By the end of it, my nerves, emotions, and body are completely fried. Motivation nowhere to be found. Maybe it’s the weather. Maybe it’s the stress that comes with January 1st out-of-pocket costs being reset. Maybe it’s the new semester routine or the stress of the holidays. In reality, it’s probably a little of everything.
This year’s spring term was no exception—with pleurisy, pneumonia, and the flu, missing nearly an entire month of class, rushing a social group on campus, 14 credit hours, picking up a minor and a new major, and not having been out of a flare since November.
I spent less time second guessing whether or not I should be pursing PA school. I spent less time questioning whether or not I’m intelligent enough to be taking organic chem. I spent less time accidentally shedding tears in front of professors (though it still happened twice) while in a flare freak-out during a week when I could barely walk.
Instead, I took more steps outside. Literally. I was unable to run from December to March because of poor health. When I felt well enough to try, I stopped training on the treadmill and moved to the trails. I’m feeling balanced enough to manage the terrain changes and incline, and I am so grateful for that. It has become my safe place.
I took more steps out of my comfort zone—an easy place for me to stay in when I’m not doing so well physically. I interviewed for leadership positions. I put myself out there. I have met so many beautiful new people, new friends. Positive people who lift me up and make me laugh.
I’ve been accepted on a scholarship to Medicine X 2014—only this time, I will be giving an ignite speech on my journey through a mystery diagnosis and rare disease. Me and my homegirl Nikki Estanol will also be presenting a panel at MedX, but more on that later.
I pushed myself harder than I’ve ever pushed myself before and managed a 4.0 term GPA, making the President’s List. My GPA (and thus my career goal) is no longer in the toilet; my scholarships no longer in jeopardy. I have a set graduation date (I was supposed to graduate this semester) and established relationships with some amazing professors who were (and I’m sure will continue to be) incredible mentors to me. I’ve finally reconciled what I want to do, what I love to do, and the diseases that make living a daily battle. I can see the intersection of ePatient advocacy and clinical medicine staring me in the face, waiting for me.
No semester has been academically, intellectually, emotionally, or physically challenging the way this one has been. I’m exhausted, but I’m wonderfully satisfied.
It’s hard to take steps forward when your body holds you back. Sometimes I’m not sure I’m taking enough steps forward, or taking them fast enough (and sometimes, I beat myself up for this). But at least I’m moving forward.
For the first time—ever—I am actively living, not just existing. Less wondering, more doing. I’m not sitting on the sidelines, letting chronic pain and these god awful diseases keep me from going down the more difficult or seemingly insurmountable path. Even when it is easier, perhaps more responsible, or more “compliant,” for me to sit back…
I’m moving forward. And those steps, no matter how small, are worth celebrating.
Thank you for letting me share these steps with all of you.
Here’s to a summer of healing, personal growth, and less painful days for all of us,