I’ve always been a plan-oriented person. I knew from the time I was eight years old that I wanted to go to college, graduate in four years, find a job that I loved, then, God-willing, get married and start a family.
Well, I’m learning that sometimes things don’t go according to plan.
Back in October, I wrote that I was dealing with some health issues. To sum it all up, I was experiencing constant dizziness, nausea, weakness, and shakiness. For weeks, my primary care doctor told me it was just a virus, but as time went on and I saw different doctors, we realized that it had to be more than just a virus.
I saw a neurologist, who diagnosed me with vertigo. I went on three different medications to help alleviate the dizziness, but they made me feel like I was on a boat. I was miserable.
I had to get an endoscopy, too, to make sure I wasn’t nauseous and throwing up due to something in my stomach or intestines. Thank God the gastroenterologist didn’t find anything that was causing my symptoms, but it still didn’t answer the question of why this was happening.
This persisted for four months, with more days being awful and unbearable than not. I spent more time stuck in bed than was actually desirable. I could barely handle going outside and being in class. I was incredibly sensitive to heat, noise, and light. The only things that gave me any sense of relief were an essential oil called DiVertigo and acupuncture.
In December, when the symptoms continued and I was only feeling a little better, my mom took me to see her ear nose and throat doctor. They tested me for vertigo only to find that my eyes weren’t responding the way they should have if I actually had vertigo. I went for additional testing in January, where the doctor found that I was actually suffering from a weakness in the balance mechanism in my right ear (which I later learned is called “right-sided labyrinthine paresis”). This weakness manifests itself a lot like vertigo, which would explain my neurologist’s original diagnosis, but it actually affects a different part of the ear, which is why the vertigo medicine was making me worse instead of better. It can also cause all of the symptoms I’ve experienced.
The doctor told me that the weakness was probably caused by a virus and should heal itself in 14-16 weeks, so there was nothing they could do to help me. He advised me to continue doing the things that helped me and avoid the things that made me worse. I was so excited that we finally had answers and couldn’t wait to get back to a sense of normalcy.
And then, I made the mistake of going to New Hampshire for winter camp. Now don’t get me wrong, I was thrilled to be there. I had amazing co-counselors and the cutest campers. But while I was there, I got incredibly sick, worse than I was when this whole thing started. I couldn’t get out of bed for most of the day, and we weren’t sure if it was because of the long bus ride or the altitude.
Either way, I was worse than ever when I got home, and it seemed like the trip just sent me back to square one. The semester was starting the following week, so I moved into school and started going to classes. I was so thrilled to be back to doing productive things and living in the dorm. I was working super hard on my honors college senior thesis/school of journalism senior project and was so excited to start my reporting.
Until I started getting worse. I was shaking uncontrollably, feeling super nauseous, and throwing up again. I had to go home because I was worried I couldn’t take care of myself and that I would faint.
When I was home, I started thinking about what I was feeling and how it was affecting my life. Going to class was difficult, I was having trouble stomaching food, and I didn’t feel safe standing on my own two feet. I was fairly sure that at least some of my symptoms were being exacerbated by anxiety that I’d be alone if something bad happened. I also knew that I would have to be traveling into New York City pretty frequently to report on stories for my classes, and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do that feeling the way that I was.
So, I decided to withdraw from the semester. That’s my big news. This basically means that I pressed the pause button on my academic progress. I didn’t want to see my grades plummet after all the hard work I’ve put in over the last few years, and I didn’t want to make my body feel worse by pushing too hard. Hopefully, I’ll be back in the fall and able to graduate in a semester or two.
Like I said earlier, I never planned on taking more than four years to graduate from school, so this was an extremely difficult decision to make. I was hoping to graduate with my friends this spring, and it still hurts a lot to think about them all graduating without me. I’ve cried a lot over the last week, but that’s okay.
At the end of the day, I know I made the right decision for myself. Saying goodbye to school was hard, and living at home with my parents and youngest brother is even harder (sorry, Mom). But, as people keep reminding me, without my health, I don’t have anything. I’m learning that sometimes you have to give up your plans and your pride to take time to care for yourself.
I’m going to be spending the next few months trying to feel better. I’ve been relaxing and sleeping (probably too much). I’ve watched so many Disney movies. I’m also going to use this time to work harder on my blog and get my life in order. The ear nose and throat doctor recommended that I see a physical therapist who specializes in dizziness, and I’m going to continue with acupuncture, too. I’m hopeful that I’ll be feeling great soon!
Oh, and I’m also working on reaching my yearly reading goal of 30 books! So far I’m at six, so if you have any recommendations for me, please send them my way! Also, if there’s anything you want to see me write about on here or you want me to answer, send that over, too. I’ve got a whole lot of time on my hands these days.
A big thank you to everyone who wished me well and supported me through all of this– I don’t know what I’d do without you. And thank you to you, too, for reading this! Hope to see you back here again soon.
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