Saturday, December 6, 2008

When Asking For Help Is Useful And Victim Blaming Is Not

The problem with feeling better is that it doesn’t mean I’m back to my old self, even though I settle comfortably back into my old routines of not enough food and too little rest.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been feeling markedly better. And then, Tuesday was very busy and at 8 p.m., as my head started to pound and I couldn’t see straight, I realized that I had forgotten to take my evening cellcept, which I usually take around 5 p.m.

Realizing that if I was going to get any work done after class, I needed to take the cellcept to get rid of the headache, but had to take the cellcept on a not so empty stomach. (Notice that I was worried more about not being able to get work done than about not taking my medication…) Needless to say, I ended up with a horrible headache, nauseous and dizzy, suddenly remembering the feeling that I hated so much when I was really sick – being plastered to a wall, waiting for someone to scrape me off of it – and of course, there was no one there to talk me down.

Unfortunately, this was a good lesson. Except that the week got progressively crazier. I came back from Thanksgiving behind on everything. Somehow, I managed to grade 47 term papers in two and a half days. But of course, that meant that I sacrificed a lot of sleep to do that. So much, in fact, that I completely forgot to take my GERD medication one day, and made the decision on two occasions not to take the flexeril because I wasn’t going to be able to sleep enough to fully recover from the haze that it puts me in. For instance, I went to bed at 1 a.m. on Thursday to be up at 6 a.m. to get ready to teach. I didn’t sleep well, though, so I probably go less than four hours sleep.

So, I’ve been a pretty bad patient this past week, which only goes to prove Doctor C right that grad school and chronic illness don’t mix. This has been, by far, the most stressful part of this semester, and my medical routine went right out the window. But I am somewhat impressed with myself that I’m finally at a point where I know when my medication is going to do me more harm than good. Or I’m at a point where I no longer care…

Of course, all of this rebelliousness isn’t without self-loathing. It immediately started the cycle of self-defeating thoughts. If only I had taken the cellcept when I was supposed to. If only I were a better patient, student, etc., etc… Then what? I wouldn’t be sick? The problem with this kind of thinking is that it doesn’t lead to anywhere good.

The other thing is that just because I feel better, doesn’t mean I feel like I fit into the world any better. When I was feeling bad, I actively tried to hide it by plastering on a fake smile. Now that I’m feeling good, I feel like I’m doing the same thing. It’s all a façade. Happiness doesn’t come in pill bottles. Sick is sick…

On the school front, aside from trying to survive the last few days of the semester, things have fallen into place in my favor for next semester, so it looks like I may be attempting to take things a little easier. Sometimes asking for help is necessary because it means saving your own ass…

So, as the New Year approaches (more quickly than we’d think), while some people will try and shed pounds or adopt new forms of spirituality, I am going to attempt to cut down on my commitments. This isn’t going to be an easy thing to do, as I am a “yes” woman. But it’s necessary.

Just call this identity crisis two million and one. I’m not surprised. Are you?

Sometimes, denial is a good thing…

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