2016-04-08 Posted By Jenna
Growing up, there was less and less of a reason for me to keep my peers in the loop of what was going on in my life, medically speaking (which was a lot as a kid). It was a downer for them, a lot for them to take in, and a lifestyle that had become (somewhat) normal to me but would shock, disgust and alienate me from them. So, over the years I got very good at being independent, flying under the radar and just getting through it on my own. That is, until university.
(For the parents of someone with a chronic condition, or you are that someone going through elementary or high school - IT GETS BETTER! I just happened to be someone who put too much weight on what other people thought about me and let it get me down. Lesson - do what makes you feel confident, that confidence will draw people to you!)
Let me explain in Saved By the Bell-type flashback:
It's Easter weekend 2010. I'm fighting a really bad common infection, a UTI (urinary tract infection), and this little…bugger… isn't. letting. go. In my dorm room I'm trying to appreciate the rare silence of nobody being around - because of the holiday - to try and sleep, not having kept a thing down for three days straight and my temperature's RISING - I'm in trouble. The most obvious solution takes awhile to cross my smokin’ hot brain - if I do say so myself!
Believe it or not, even at 20 and having a congenital condition (from birth) - I haven't ridden in an ambulance before. So I think to myself: I’m sick and I DEFINITELY need to go to the hospital, I’m gonna ride… in style - I deserve it! And let me tell you, what service! There's a bed back there that is WAY comfier than the one in my dorm, they give me as many blankets as I want (no charge), they know how to fold my wheelchair without instruction or breaking it, and they get me there quickly with that nifty siren (I really need to get me one of those for my chair AND car). It's luxury like I've never seen (within the healthcare system). I'm almost sad it's over - sorry, bad word choice for the end of an ambulance ride…yikes!
Remember my mentioning my propensity for independence? Well, I do confess that before the ambulance came I packed a bag of supplies, tidied up my room (which my mother now realizes takes a medical emergency and the potential of good-looking paramedics to get me to do) and jumped up onto the gurney faster than they could offer to help. Nothing shoots a nearly lethal amount of adrenaline and stubbornness into my system faster than when I know people are going to assume/know I need help - 104 degree fever and extreme dehydration… what’s your point?...
However, I do learn that night that there are limits to my independence because as I’m blowing up my cell battery trying to assure my parents - on the other side of the country - that I'm fine and that they don’t need to come, my battery is quickly dying. I had forgotten my phone charger when I was packing. D’OH!
So, what's a person do at 6am in the morning on a holiday weekend to solve this problem? With fingers crossed, I call my best friend who is very quick to point out the fact that if I had called her earlier, since I needed HELP, I would have found out that she had been in town the wholeeee weekend; I then really want to point out to her how awesome the ambulance ride was but (quite out of character for me) I'm able to figure out this is not the time to do that. After making her point, and keeping mine to myself, I beg her to grab my phone charger so that my phone doesn’t die and have my parents think the same fate has befallen me.
Within half an hour, she's there with a phone charger, an extra laptop, a mountain of DVDs and an offer to get me the breakfast of my choice. This was the first time, really since elementary school, that I had let a friend into my medical world, and it felt like freedom.
Now I could end this post on a warm and fuzzy note, or add some funnyness. Yes, I spelled funnyness wrong but so did “The Pursuit of Happyness” and that movie didn’t do half bad, did it? Imagine that the above post is your typical, drama/comedy/psychological thriller/documentary/love st…(I wish!) and the following is a blooper:
Before my friend is about to go get my breakfast a nurse comes around the curtain to ask me the standard questions. My friend isn’t particularly eager to leave me seeing how crappy I look, so I let her stay to show her how mundane the questions are.
The nurse asks “Do you drink alcohol?” I honestly respond, “Maybe a glass of wine once a month” which she takes note of.
The nurse then asks me, “Do you smoke?” I vehemently deny that I do (I really don't). She doesn’t really look like she believes me but nonetheless moves on to her last question.
“Do you do drugs?” I was start to feel like I had done a disservice to my university experience as my answer was yet again, “No.”
Thank God I have my friend by my side when the nurse replies, otherwise no one would EVER believe me. The nurse turns to me and says, “Girl, you gotta get a life!”