Saturday, August 1, 2009

Life outside of cancer can still be a GIANT pain in the ass

And now post two of "So overwhelmingly much I'd like to blog about today"... had a lot to think about as I was taking the biggest most important test ever.

First, there's the idea of how I deal with stress quasi-post thyca. I get high strung on little itty bitty things. Big things, don't phase me. Is that weird? Is that normal? Is it bad that I went into the test going, meh... I can always take it again in February and won't have to hike out to the bum-fuck middle of nowhere to do so (I apologize now to all readers who live in the country/mountains/deserts/west Virginia or western Virginia... i tend to prefer a few more people in my life, and don't understand why the bar exam was only being held in one location for all of Virginia.... no really... Roanoke... only about 28,000 people, I think that's the size of my college... then suddenly you have 2,000+ lawyers there... terrifying). Anywho... the whole experience has taught me a lot about my personal limits on what I can and can't handle in life... all the way down to having some... interesting... stories to go along with it.

To begin... Let me take you back to Saturday. I'm driving down the interstate to go to the place I like to study... there are a few logs on the road... on the very busying interstate. Two directly in my lane... I miss one while hitting the other... a third in front of me, i swerve slightly, but not enough to go in the other lanes, as the cars on both sides of me are also dodging similar logs of wood. Then two lanes to my right an suv hits a log kicking it up about three feet in the air. It misses the car in the lane next to me, and all i can do is watch this thing propel towards me like a helicopter... I brace... I wonder if the bar examiners would waive the fee for February's bar exam if I can't make it there this week... the brick of wood hits the front of my car... the horizontal propelling spins it to the right side (versus vertical propelling which would have popped it up into my windshield... i can visualize stuff like that as long as you don't ask me to do the math)... I get to my destination and survey the damage. Headlight crushed in along with a few inches of my hood. Didn't get to drive my car to the Bar... frustrating. Damage estimate: $1,200, thank god for auto insurance. It should be pointed out at this point that I'm not used to auto accidents. I've been driving for 11 years now without much issues. Since January, I've had a rock kick up shattering my windshield, been rear ended (last month), and now this. It wore on my nerves to say the least.

The route to Roanoke involves going up and over the middle of the state. No joke, here is the map...

View Larger Map

No matter what you believe... this blows all common sense.

I stayed at the worlds most sketchy Ramada. In my experience, Ramada's are usually nice. Apparently I was wrong. I'm cool w/ sketchy places to sleep. I'm a backpacker; its what I do. I saved over $100 staying here. That should have been my first clue. Little things, like the outdoor pool, the lack of promised fitness center and spa, no restaurant... outdoor rooms... the blow dryer that didn't work, after a while they do get to you. But no biggie, shrugged it off.

The itching began around 1 on Tuesday. I was sitting in my car during lunch. I had just completed the first quarter of the bar exam. It was my right hand. Itch. Itch. Itch. It looked more like a flat welt than a bug bite. Oh well, I thought. I've been having worse reactions to bug bites in the last couple years or so. The itching continued during the second session of the exam. Oh, I'm in a full suit by the way; its a requirement. The underside of my chin started itching. I'm trying to write essays, w/ my hand and neck just itching uncontrollably. Day 1 ends. Go back to sketchmada.

At one point I went to get ice. I step outside; I'm in my pajamas (high school powderpuff t-shirt and yoga pants... hot). Its the kind of hotel where the doors are outside. I'm holding the ice bucket. Its outside of town. There are mountains... but all you can see is the faint red blinking lights at the top. I'm a big wuss... decided this was far too much like a horror movie for comfort... not to mention its a hotel full of lawyers. RUN back to my room. Ice is never gotten.

3 more welts show up that night.

In the morning, there is another on my face.

During the exam, I watch my hand grow. It was like the reaction to the MRI dye. First thing to go was the bones in my hand. During lunch, I checked out the other welts. They all had centers w/ rims. My only other experience w/ that was last year when I had an allergic reaction to a bee sting. I watched my hand through the second half of my exam wondering if I should actually be in an emergency room. Where is the line? At what point do you give up on the most important exam you will ever take because damn... that just ain't supposed to happen to your hand. At this point I was thinking a good deal about Kairol's post about working when you are sick. My right eye, the one I had surgery one, started watering again... now of all times. My nightmare about not really remembering the last half of the MBE (multi-state Bar exam)... sort of came true... I was definitely more focused/worried about what was going on w/ my hand. But I was stoic.

I came back to sketch-mada, talked to a few people. Made jokes about how it took the pressure off. Gave me something else to focus on. Claimed I looked like I had one of the Egyptian plagues, boils to be exact. This would not be as funny the next days.

(This story does have a point, I swear)

Next morning. Lots more welts, though they seemed much more bug bite like and less welty... at least at that point. Hand... well... I couldn't see two of my knuckles. Doctor appointment scheduled. Just needed to get back to Va Beach by 4:15.

I detoured. Hell if i was going to be all the in po-dunk no where w/ out seeing a few things. My hand be damned. I stopped off at one of the 7 natural wonders of the modern world; the Virginia land bridge. It was pretty awesome, but rediculously expensive. I took the $18 I paid to see a giant bridege of rock, and went ahead and wandered the whole nature trail checking out a few caves, a mock indian village and some waterfalls. Of course it was a miserably grey and humid day and on the verge of rain. To give you an idea of how imulsive I am about these kinds of things, here's how i'm dressed: kahkis, black clingy/shiny tank top, flippy-floppies, key's wallet just hanging from my pocket, as I had no purse, and my big new camara, which I swore if it started raining I would strip off my shirt to wrap it in to save it. Once I accepted that I didn't think it would be the end of the world if i didn't make it home for my doctor appointment, this became the most fun party of my trip. I loved the spontenaity and the peacefulness of it. I loved that there was a was cowboy riding a raptor. That alone made the detour well worthwhile. I'll add in pictures once I get around to loading and editing.

I made it to the doctor's office with minutes to spare. I feel that nothing is as awkward as even the nurses staring at you because of the welts on your arms face and chest. I got led back, and was waiting for the doctor, and there was just this collapse. And i just started balling my eyes out. There was nothing I could do to stop. I had just sat for the most important test of my life and distinctly felt like I failed, and thne watched as my hand near doubled in size, and that wasn't right, and now medical professionals where just staring at me. It was like everything that has happened in the past months just crumbled down. I had no reason to hold it together anymore.

Its amazing how we do this. Cancer patients in particular. Everyone asks how we can be so strong. How we can still live our lives when everything is going horribly wrong. How we keep it together. And I believe its because we have no choice. Not one of us believes that cancer is the end of our lives, or at minumum we cling to the hope that it isn't. We don't want things on hold. I want to get through what needs to be done so I can pick up the pieces later and move on. My mom said when I got home if the swelling had happened two days earlier, that would have been it... the last straw for me and the exam. I'm not so sure. I still don't feel great about how I did on the test, but I did it.

I tried to say tell the doctor that I thought it was an allergic reaction to a spider bite... or maybe bed bugs... though there weren't any tracts. They didn't agree. Another doctor called in. Its weird because its all over my main exposed areas, and no where else. It isn't hives b/c they have little heads. "I would say that it was shingles, but it is on both sides of your body." I think that was my favorite line. I know what shingles is. I don't want shingles. It might be any number of different types of rashes. They broke out a book and started comparing pictures. Nothing I had looked that bad, they said maybe it's mild, or early. There was an awkward question of whether I have herpes b/c a similar rash could follow an outbreak... uh, no. And then it was decided to just put me on steroids to bring down the swelling and stop the spread. Narcotics to stop the pain. I go in Monday to see if once the swelling is gone they can tell a little bit better what they are dealing with.

In the meantime, I'm to pay attention to if my fever goes up (I had just a low grade fever). If i feel things in my mouth. If the welts turn to boils and fill with pus. I should expect the swelling in my hand to get better before worse.

This is supposed to be the weekend I drink myself senseless and just not move and relax for the first time in months. Fuck.

More welts yesterday. On my toes, and 2 on my tummy. Great. New regions. I found a bug on my bed, here, at home, crawling in front of me. Grabbed and squeazed; it exploded w/ blood. Fantastic.

The fever went up, but down again, depending of if i'm upright. Steriods make me sort of jittery, the narcotic is non-codine based... so for the first time I'm not sick as a dog on pain meds.

I have an odd reaction to bugs. I'm not afraid of bugs... except milipedes, those things are terrifying and fast. I know i'm allergic to certain things, like spiders, but I live by a don't hurt them and they eat everything else mentality. At the same time, when you get to that place where you aren't exactly awake, and you aren't exactly asleep, the things that i see there are bugs. Spiders, beatles, mites. When I feel particularly guilty about things, I see fruit flies flying around me. When I was in SE asia, and on the malaria pill, methloquin, I hallucinated about bugs. And then w/ a 105 degree fever... bugs. So, when I'm all together I'm fine. When i'm borderline paranoid, I'm edgy about bugs. And its driving me insane now as I'm paying attention to ever little thing that brush my leg. I just want to fill a bathtub, grab my snorkle and just sit underwater for like an hour in case there is anything thinking it can live somewhere on me.

I woke up today to 3 more welts.

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