Tuesday, July 19, 2011

On Going It Alone

Wow!  It has been a jam-packed few weeks.  And I know you’ve all been wondering where I am and what I’ve been doing. 

At the start of my traveling, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, from both a work perspective and a personal one.  I was definitely concerned about how I would do, health-wise.

Ultimately, in general, I did much better than I was expecting.  I navigated new airports and new cities, and explored new parts of places I’ve been before.  I truly felt grown up traveling for “work”, and I definitely maximized my time and took the work part very seriously.  I basically did 24 interviews in about six work days, along with collecting various other types of data. 

But my sleep schedule, eating, and medication schedule all took a hit.  I was dealing with crazy time changes (ironically I think the one hour difference in Chicago proved worse for me than the three hour difference in California), leaving destinations at night and getting home in the early morning, eating coffee shop meals, and taking my meds at odd times or not at all (this only happened twice).

The thing I do have to admit, though, is that because of my graduate student status, and teaching a class in the spring, I have no official job other than working on my dissertation right now.  So I have been able to catch up on the rest that I’ve lost while traveling (and I definitely need to catch up).  I can’t imagine how I would do if I had a full time job to come home to (other than illness, of course, because even though I left, it never will – I talked about wanting to leave RA in dust in my latest Health Central post). 

To let you know what I’ve been up to, without giving too much away at this point, I attended the Little People of America conference in Anaheim, California, and the MAGIC Foundation conference in Lombard, Illinois, just outside of Chicago.  I attended these conferences for my dissertation research.   

One thing that struck me about the utility of these conferences is having the opportunity to spend time, in person, with like others.  And I wish that there was something like that for some combination of chronically ill people.  While I do have an amazing online support system, it is amazing to see people come together in person, for what proves to be something that people look immensely forward to all year long. 

I wish I had that, too.  Especially considering that while I am short stature, I didn’t perfectly fit into the categories of persons at either conference.  At the start of these trips, I felt very unsure of myself.  I couldn’t quite put my finger on why, and then I realized that I had never stayed in a hotel room by myself before.  And this fact brought up a lot of insecurities for me.  And being an outsider at these conferences definitely didn’t help my anxieties about being alone.   

It’s hard for me to admit that five months after my breakup, I’m still reeling.  I wonder when I’m going to wake up from this nightmare.  And that any minute, he’ll call or show up. 

It’s also hard because this time last year, all of my friends were asking what I’d say if he proposed.  They all had their theories about when and where it would happen.  But ultimately, it didn’t.  Not even close.

I go it alone because I have to.  There’s no other choice.

On the other hand, I’m used to spending time alone, with my own thoughts.  The absence of health is a lonely, solitary pursuit.  You are the only one who fully experiences it.

So, as usual, I think these trips proved to be more about personal rather than scholarly growth.  I had to abandon my comfort zone.  I had to travel roads that I hadn’t before.  And I did it all, by myself (or I did it, all by myself).  (Although I did have a run-in with a spider in my hotel room, which necessitated getting a very hot hotel worker to kill it for me)

I do have some health stuff going on, beyond trying to recover from traveling, but I’m not really ready to talk about it just yet.  I really need some time to process everything, but I won’t really get to do that because I have an impending medical procedure coming up in a few days.  After that, I’ll have to get my head back on straight and start working on the dissertation in earnest. 

So that’s my life right now.  Work, illness, work, illness, work, illness, repeat, repeat, repeat.


  1. ... so close to home, yet again. No one quite understands what it's like to deal with my illnesses unless they have them, too. And I don't have any friends who do. I hope your procedure goes smoothly and I will keep you in my thoughts, as always.

  2. I'm glad you survived your travels and have had a chance to start catching up on sleep. Good luck with the medical procedure -- I hope it's as easy as possible to get through and recover from. *hugs*

  3. Leslie,
    I was wondering if you had read this article regarding a protein being examined in white blood cells that is thought to influence inflammation?

    The finding could help lead researchers to new treatments for inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. I appreciate your go get them attitude as you fight your way through grad school and continue to kick the butt of so much.
    Remember the condescending folks, they just roll off the skin and they are the ones who have to live with themselves. Keep you chin up & keep writing when you can. Your appreciated.

  4. When I traveled to Chicago a month ago, I felt much the same way - a year ago, things seemed so right with me and the husband. And then, they weren't.

    Many thoughts your way, Leslie.