Saturday, April 28, 2012

Recap, Retrospect, Regret, Rejoice, Rinse, Repeat...

My college career has ended.

But let me reminisce for a while if you don't mind. I have a lot to get out of my system.

My semester went out with a bang. Despite being online, it was very difficult physically. But academically, it ended strong thanks to my four instructors, who were accommodating of my hospital appointments and bouts of paralysis. They extended deadlines, let me make up tests that I missed, and I ended up passing with flying colors. I really owe my Algebra teacher especially, as she went far out of her way to make this happen. I am more grateful than I can express. Truly grateful.

I am still amazed that I was able to accomplish all of this from my bed. The ability to learn online, especially when one is too disabled to sit up at a desk on campus, is a tremendous gift. It gave me a reason to get up every day, and on days I couldn't, I laid on my side in bed and typed with one hand. You know what they say about life giving you lemons. I made lemonade, darn it. I made as much lemonade as I possibly could.

The little bit of time that I spent on campus over the past few years was very risky. Thank God nobody had to call an ambulance for me. It was close on several occasions. No one will ever know how difficult it was for me to be there. It got to the point where I didn't even have the strength to put pillowcases on the pillows I dragged into class each day. That's pretty pathetic, but I desperately did not want to give up on my dream of making it through that course. Hell or high water, I was going to make it or die trying. I meant it, and my stubbornness was probably (ok definitely) obvious. In spite of the fact that my instructor became frustrated (who wouldn't, I guess...I know I'm not easy when I'm in this condition), he extended grace to me throughout my attendance and I will always be thankful for that. Lord knows I had my moments of frustration as well, and made some mistakes in the social realm. I regret joining the art guild, and I also wish it had never been told that I was an instructor. Life would have been a little easier had I stayed quiet in my little corner, in my opinion...for me and others. I wanted so much to help and make a positive difference while I had the chance, but operated with anxiety and urgency because I knew my time was short. I've discovered that I'm not alone in how my brain works...seems like this is a common trait among the chronically ill. Nevertheless, those who are healthy don't "get it", so there will inevitably be annoyances and misunderstandings. I never intended to be a problem to anyone, and it hurts my heart to think that I might have been. Hindsight is hard to embrace, but I suppose there's a lesson in there somewhere. I wish everyone the best.

How happy I am to have survived the classes, though. I still cry if I think about it too hard. I've wanted to be an artist since kindergarten, and have said since high school that I would take the drawing and design classes at JC. Three attempts later, I finally did it, and no one can ever take that away from me. I hope someday I will be well enough to visit the studio and perhaps audit or just observe. It is therapeutic to me to be there, even if I'm only admiring everyone else's stuff.

When I became too ill to do anything else, I began taking online courses part time. Rocked History, as I always do, but Psychology...WHAT??? Where did THAT come from? It came from the leftest left field in the history of left fields. It came from the parking lot behind the leftest left field. I had no idea I would love Psychology, much less kill it and want to pursue a degree. If somebody had told me four years ago that I would even be talked into taking the intro class, I would have laughed in their face. What an unexpected development, and I'm absolutely devastated that I cannot pursue that degree. I had a plan mapped out and everything - Psychology and American History Post-Secondary Education. I wanted to be an online college instructor. I wanted my Masters or maybe even my PhD. I could have revamped Art W/Heart and done mentoring and therapeutic art again on the side.

I had a plan. But apparently, it's not God's plan. At least not right now.

I'm being forced to give it up. I am too sick...and I have been urged to apply for Social Security. A college education is useless if I'm dead. They're right. I have to take care of my current situation, and that means getting on Disability, SSI, and Medicaid. Anyone who knows me or has followed my story for the past year knows I am 100% disabled. I am bed-bound most of the time. I have worked so hard to overcome this disease, but the reality is that I am losing the battle, and losing it badly.

Getting Social Security means no financial aid for college, even pursuing an online degree from the confines of my bed. They are not with "the times" so to speak, so I've been informed that my pursuit of a future is over. Disabled means just that, and I truly am. This disease is not going away...it is real and progressive, potentially deadly, and I am currently at my worst. I know my goals were far-fetched, but what can anyone expect from me? I am 34 years old. I don't have Mama and Daddy or a spouse taking care of me. When my aunts and uncles are gone, I have me. And what do I have? Absolutely nothing. Not a leg to stand on. It's just me and God. No income, no committed caregiver, no hope outside of God's provision. I am at His mercy and the mercy of those around me. I am at the mercy of the government, probably for the rest of my life. It is the most helpless feeling on Earth. I don't have words for this. I am utterly broken beyond belief.

Of course I was going to try to get a degree and find an online job. What else could I do? What else WOULD I do? I don't want to be dependent on the government or anyone else. There is no hope in that. None. What's the point of living like that? Any responsible person would try their hardest to make it on their own, and that is what I did. I only give in by force, and I think I've proved that. Nobody can ever say that I didn't try. I've nearly dropped dead from trying.

No matter what happens to me, I don't regret trying.