Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Welcome To The Freak Show


Treatment as of July 2012

If they add anything else to my regimen, I'll have to buy a bigger dry-erase board.


From physical and mental to financial and time-wise, this is a challenge in every way. I feel like a juggling Guinea pig in a circus freak show (where you at, Ripley's?) who returns to her cage when the act is done. And this juggling Guinea pig has over a dozen acts a day, because the Ringmaster thinks she's qualified to handle the workload.

I am not qualified today. Or this week. Or this month. In fact, I'm not sure I'll ever be qualified for this.

Five years ago, I was an executive office administrator in the corporate world, working two jobs seven days a week and still managed to take online college classes and do charity work on the side. I took one pill a day and one shot every 11 weeks. Although I was still recovering from a severely separated knee caused by an incident with post-Katrina debris, I appeared to be in remission from the Periodic Paralysis. I didn't take it for granted. I seized every day as if it were my last. I did the best that I could.

The Periodic Paralysis reared its ugly head again, and I found myself flat on my back at the end of 2007. I had to resign from all jobs, and I was back to the drawing board. Weaker, but determined.

I didn't give up. I redefined my life. I threw caution to the wind and ran off to Florida, where I trained and certified to teach Bob Ross painting workshops. It was the craziest, riskiest, most spontaneous thing I've ever done. It was also the most incredible, amazing experience of my life. I returned to the Gulf Coast and began teaching for very little income, but I was happier than I had been in a long time. Summer of 2008 brought forth another spontaneous decision - going back to college full time. I dove in head first. Two weeks in, I landed in the hospital and had to have two kidney stone operations, missing almost a third of the semester. One of my teachers told me that I was an academic goner and suggested I withdraw.

But I didn't give up. I worked night and day to catch up, and I walked out of there on the Dean's List.

I continued teaching, going to college, and helped launch a wonderful non-profit called Art With Heart. My vision of getting my Fine Arts degree, bringing Art Therapy to the Gulf Coast, and eventually qualifying for foster parenting was finally becoming possible. Then my body began to weaken again, and I saw the inevitable. I went to doctor after doctor, and warned loved ones about what was happening. Nobody took me seriously, even after I had to drop my Art courses because I was too weak to handle them.

But I didn't give up. I was devastated, but I dropped my Fine Arts major and continued college strictly online. I surprised myself by choosing Psychology, and kicked some unexpected, unprecedented butt. Perfect score. I found my academic niche, and ran with it. The new goal: Troy University's Psychology/Social Studies Post-Secondary Education Masters, with Bob Ross instruction and art therapy in the plans as volunteer work on the side. I had a real goal again, and was so excited.

April 9th, 2011, my world came crashing down when my body went into a paralytic episode following a painting workshop. I was severely mistreated by the hospital staff, resulting in multiple episodes and a drastic nosedive in my condition. I never fully recovered, my doctors have declared me permanently myopathic, and life has been a roller coaster from hell ever since.

At the horror of those around me, I refused to give up on college. I continued online, propped up on pillows in bed. I couldn't complete some of the assignments on time due to episodes and hospital visits, but my instructors made accommodations to extend deadlines, and I finished strong. When I was forced against my will to drop out of college this year, I left with a 4.0.

And now, my life is this. One pill a day has become an overwhelming list of crap that I have to write down to remember and borrow money from relatives and charities to pay for. Some days are better than others, but overall quality and all future plans are out the window. Some days, I can't swallow well enough to take all the meds. Some days, the side effects are worse than the symptoms. Some days, I take the meds and they flat out don't work. Some days, it would just be easier to give up, because I am absolutely not qualified for this.

But then I am reminded of everything that I once strove for. I am reminded of all of the people, young and old, that I have mentored and counseled to never stop hoping and never stop trying. I am reminded that I don't deserve to talk the talk if I'm not willing to walk the walk. I am reminded of who God is. I am reminded of who I am. I may not have much or be much, but one thing I know for sure - I don't give up.

I may not be qualified for this act, but with everything in me, I'm gonna keep juggling.