After a difficult semester full of medical twists and turns, I am needing to request a retroactive withdrawal. To begin the process, I had to submit a statement detailing the reasons why I was needing to withdraw.
I found myself struggling for words and anxious about the withdrawal process, so my mom kindly got on the phone and tried to help me figure out how to phrase the letter.
After rattling off a long list of symptoms, procedures, and medical vicissitudes, she finished with:
“This is something I’ve been dealing with for the past 5+ years…”
Wow, she’s right: 5+ years of this crazy, inconsistent life.
5+ years of waking up to fight fatigue, widespread pain, nausea, dizziness, tachycardia, low blood pressure, vertigo, migraines, dystonia, syncope, anaphylaxis, chronic infections, subluxations, dislocations, cognitive impairment, tachycardia…
5+ years of taking more medications than most 80 years olds. Drugs to treat symptoms and disease processes and then even more drugs to treat side effects of those drugs.
5+ years of needle sticks, blown IVs, invasive therapies, painful procedures; “eating” through a tube in my intestines; relying on a wheelchair (though using it less than I should due to fear of judgement); stabbing myself with EpiPens, grabbing at my throat gasping for breath; faking smiles, forcing laughs and constantly hiding behind an “it’s all good”; trying, and usually failing, to balance health, family and school, struggling not to define my existence by my disabilities…
No wonder I’m exhausted.