Monday, September 11, 2017

Longing

      The world is not ending. This is the sentence I repeat to myself when I catch the albuterol (a medication that reduces inflammation in my lungs) making me uncontrollably nervous and shaky. I push panic back, reminding myself that it is just the medicine making me feel this way, and try my best to think rationally and calmly.

Hawaii 2016

     My world is not ending, but it is spinning a little chaotically right now. I made it to September 6th before catching my first college infection, and quite frankly I was hoping to make it much further. I went home for the weekend to rest and heal, clearcutting my entire schedule, destroying my social life in the name of recovery. It was an agonizing decision, as small as one weekend may seem. The first few weekends of the semester are so important in terms of establishing friendships and getting to know people. I decided that going home was necessary given my level of pain, but I still felt horrible sending all of the cancellation messages to people who had already carved out time in their busy schedules.

     It's a drizzly Monday afternoon now, and my stomach is recovering from a night of nausea (thanks to the antibiotic I am on) while my joints are struggling to function given the chilly weather and the havoc the rest of my body is going through. I woke up feeling very weak, like if someone nudged me lightly or handed me a textbook I might collapse. Breathing is requiring an incredible amount of energy and effort. My immune system has zero fight left in it. Showering this morning brought tears to my eyes, although I am not sure what percentage of my distress is attributable to pain and weakness directly and what percentage is reflective of my frustration. I am working on a plan to reduce my exposure to germs that goes beyond the obvious measures like hand washing and avoiding sick people, but the logistics of this plan are unappealing and overwhelming.

     My dad kindly drove me home after my last class earlier today, so that I can rest and then return to campus for my classes tomorrow. It is such a relief to have home so close by, but I am definitely feeling the isolation that comes with being seriously ill in college.

Canada 2012
     I am meeting with two surgeons in the next week and will finish what I hope is my only round of antibiotics over the weekend. I feel frightened and too weak to withstand even the best of outcomes. I cannot help but feel like my health and college are not a good match. I cannot help but feel disappointed, in myself and in my treatment and in bacteria and in my hopefulness.

    Whenever I am feeling particularly physically weak, I always have a powerful urge to go to the mountains or the beach. I imagine myself stretched out on a mossy rock, overlooking the Amalfi Coast, my hair curly and tangled from the salty mist. I long to draw crisp Appalachian air into tired lungs, curled up on a bench with a blanket, layered under sweatshirts two sizes too big. Sometimes I long for people, sometimes I long for solitude, and sometimes I long to watch people from a distance. I never long for success in these moments, I only long for peace. I long for spaces where I can breathe and soak in beauty. I long for places without any knowledge of the medical field, where words like "immunosuppression" are foreign and funny. I long to feel connected with the world I am trying so desperately to function within.

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