Friday, August 21, 2009

Where Have I Been All Summer?

Where do I begin? I can’t believe it has been nearly two weeks since I last blogged…

If you thought that I’ve been notably absent this summer, you’re right. While I had intended on working on not over-committing myself, I did not do a very good job of it yet again.

After teaching a class spring term, I had to jump right into reading and studying for my preliminary examination, which I just finished today. The stack of file folders in the picture above represents all of the reading I had to do, or basically the last three months of my life.

The other big occurrence this summer is that I took a trip out to San Francisco to present a paper at the American Sociological Association annual conference. While I was out there, I also hit up Oregon to visit my aunt, uncle, cousin, and a very special blogger friend.

Pre-trip Jitters

There were a lot of firsts on this trip. This was my first time flying in eight years, and my first time flying alone. My first time in California. My first professional conference. And this was the longest time I had been away since I was diagnosed with lupus and RA.

I was not feeling very well the Thursday before I left. I woke up from a catnap to the realization that I had my mail held before my cellcept was being sent to me. I feverishly e-mailed the woman in charge of sending me my meds. To make a long story short, a $25 cab ride later, and I was able to get the cellcept in hand. Needless to say, this sent me reeling a bit, making me feel like if this were any indication of the way the trip was going to go, I was in trouble.

I was also feeling a bit worried because the two weeks preceding my trip, I found myself having symptoms that I hadn’t had since before I was on medication for lupus and RA. I wouldn’t say I was flaring exactly, but there seemed to be at least a small portion of everyday where I would just get knocked-out, either with nausea, a headache, or mind-numbing fatigue. I suppose that it could be a result of the stress of an impending trip, professional presentation, birthday, preliminary examination, etc.

I kept wishing in vain that I could leave lupus and my meds behind for the nine days I was gone. Now that would really have been a vacation…

Despite the craziness of my medication mishap on Thursday, by Friday I was feeling totally pumped. I was desperate for a change of scenery… And Saturday I was off to the West Coast…


San Francisco

Apparently you can take the girl out of the Midwest, but you can’t take the Midwest out of the girl. I hate to say that I wasn’t super in love with San Francisco. It was very busy and incredibly fast paced. But I was able to take a trip with a friend to Sonoma, and I really enjoyed the beauty of wine country.

I got to hang out with a lot of people from my program, which was a lot of fun. It’s ironic that we have a hard time connecting up when we are all in Ann Arbor, but somehow, in San Francisco, we made it work!

Overall, my presentation went well. I have been asked to submit my paper for publication to an anthology on disability studies. I have to make a few edits on it, but it should be good to go in the next few weeks.


Getting to see my aunt, uncle, and cousin in Oregon was really nice. They are really laid back and the pace of life is very different than it is in Michigan. I drank wine at dinner every night. I can actually say I was able to relax.

And I got to meet my friend Maria, a fellow lupus blogger ( She and I chat multiple times a week, and it was great to finally meet her in person. She has been a huge help to me in learning how to live life with lupus.

My goal had been to get away and leave lupus behind. And while that was an impossibility, I was pretty surprised that I fared as well as I did. I knew that because of various occurrences this summer, a change of scenery was in order. And obviously it was much needed. Managing the medication schedule was a bit difficult, but my body seemed to cooperate, as long as I took my meds in as timely a manner as possible. Er, that is, until I got home.

I flared the worst that I have in nearly two months. And I was quickly reminded of how bad I can feel, and how emotionally distraught I can become during flares. Lucky, however, I recovered in time to take my prelim…

I realized that I hadn’t missed anything good by not flaring. But it’s hard when your body is literally battered and bruised to be optimistic about where things are going. Monday night, I sat in a hot bath and sobbed. And the worst part was that I couldn’t distinguish between the emotional and physical pain. It’s really hard for me to deal with that. But in this game of illness, it’s all about living, learning, and adapting. And sometimes we fare better than others…

So, while I sought to get away from illness, I found it staring me in the face. But I think that’s a post for another time and place…

Oh yeah, and I turned 24 while I was away! And got a new computer!

I’ve tried to write an adequate post to talk about everything that’s happened over the past few weeks and months, but I’m not sure I can do things justice just yet.

I learned a lot about myself on this trip. I learned that I can be okay on my own, and that I can manage illness to some extent. San Francisco was filled with impossibly long days, and I didn’t show myself any mercy. And, as I’ve suggested, I definitely paid for it when I came back.

On the Road Again

Then there are the things that I am less inclined to talk about. And I know what you’re thinking… there’s more that happened this summer? Is that possible? Oh yes, yes it is. And I’d really like to talk about it right now, but I can’t. I’m still trying to make sense of things myself, and I have a lot to mull over.

I’ve discovered a new mantra, though, which seems to be working very well for me. It’s something my mom came up with, and it has kind of stuck. Take the garbage and put it in the trash. Take the trash out to the curb. And leave it there. Double bag it, if you think it’s going to try and escape. Every time I find myself thinking about things that have frustrated or hurt me, things that are being given far more attention than they deserve, I say this mantra over and over to myself in my head, and it really does seem to help.


Just because I haven’t been blogging, doesn’t mean that the blogosphere hasn’t been busy in my absence. Check out the latest edition of Grand Rounds and Patients For A Moment. Additionally, Kairol Rosenthal asked if she could use my post about her book as a guest post on her blog. It happened to be picked as an Editor’s Pick on I’m not even exactly sure what that means, but you can check it out here.

I’ll be heading off to spend a few days with one of my really good friends, so I’m looking forward to that. And I’m seeing a new doctor next Friday, a gastroenterologist, to see if we can get to the root of the appetite and various other issues I’ve been having lately.

That’s all for now. Just wanted to let all my loyal readers know that I’m alive and doing fairly well, and haven’t fallen off the face of earth, even though it may have appeared that way!


  1. Wow, that photo of the stack of folders is a little scary! What a summer you've had, thanks for sharing the photos. Hope the visit to the gastroenterologist helps.

  2. That's quite a stack of reading! Hope you're feeling better. I like your new trash mantra.....may have to adapt that.

  3. Leslie,

    Congratulations on doing things that scared you and finding the joy in life, ill or well! I am glad you let us know you are doing relitively well and look forward to hearing more soon.

  4. Thank you, Leslie, and know that you have been a great source of guidance and support for me as well~ I am glad you were able to explore your life a little and sorry that the aftershocks have been so difficult. You are one tough cookie, tho!

  5. Sorry to hear about the flare, but good for you for making the trip, presenting the paper, etc. I've been too scared to travel and wondering lately if I just need to get over myself and do it, or if it's actually a smart, reasonable thing to stay close to home until/unless I get my symptoms under control.

    Hope you're feeling better soon!

  6. Glad you're having a great time. I have added your blog to my 100 Chronic Illnesses List (email me is you don't want to be added a updated roll out will be on my blog soon. THX for helping so many others in your shoes. Diane-