Now that I’m officially in the throes of summer break, I should be having a grand ol’ time taking a break from classes and writing and reading and learning, right? It seems that for the past month, I’ve been suffering from the summer blues. Erin, Jenna, and I always joke about the weather–they often envy my warm Houston weather. And while I admit 60-degree highs in the winter sure beat Erin and Jenna’s subzero days, now I am rethinking the climate advantage of Houston. While they are probably enjoying temperate weather, I am stuck down South in one hundred-degree, smeltering heat. That’s right, we hit a record one hundred degrees just last week. And it’s barely June!
The heat and humidity makes all Houstonians sluggish, and that doesn’t exclude me even though I spend most of my days indoors. We all hear how heat exacerbates MS and Neuromyelitis Optica/NMO, so imagine having nothing to distract myself with now that school’s out for summer.
Despite the break, my summer goal was to have a draft of my thesis written by September. I managed to persuade the powers that be in the Creative Writing Program to let me postpone graduation for another year, thus scheduling my defense for April 2012. Being a novice writer, I am for the first time experiencing the true frustrations that come with producing satisfying literary works. I’ve flip-flopped from a short story collection to a novella to a novel, and now I’m contemplating on returning to a short story collection or a collection plus a novella. I sit at my desk for endless hours each day and can barely get a sentence on the page. In addition to the writing, I’m juggling my editorship at Gulf Coast, and deadlines are fast approaching. It’s enough to drive a NMO girl crazy.
Crazy, it didn’t make me. But sick, it did. Since my birthday last month, I’ve been plagued with a cold turned what I believe is a sinus infection. I wake up in the middle of the night with massive pain in the right side of my head. my doctor suspects shingles (God forbid!), but I insist it’s just sinusitis. (If it’s shingles, I might have to take sedatives for a month straight–that was by far the most horrible experience I’d ever had in my life…no joke…even worse than the NMO stuff.) Even after antibiotics and Tylenol 3, the pain and irritation continued, so now I’m on corticosteroids.
There’s nothing like a swift kick in the ass to remind us of how fortunate we are when life (and, inevitably, our health) is going well. Even when we think the future is nothing but gloom and doom, even when we are stuck in bed with neuropathic pain and fatigue, even when we are struck with blindness and numbness, when we have a “good” day, we learn to appreciate so much more those “good” days. After all, it’s all relative, right?
Having NMO has really taught me to be grateful for true friendships and those good days. Sometimes, when we’ve been running on a streak of good days, we forget what it’s like to be sick, and then boom, we get sinusitis or the flu or pain or a NMO attack. And then in the midst of the bleariness, we must remember to focus on taking it one day at a time as to not overwhelm ourselves, and when we finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, we can rejoice in the fact that we can say we’ve known true suffering, and we’ve overcome it.
So, here’s to you, Sinus Infection, I’m bigger and better than you.