June 2012 archive

and then I turned 30

I originally wrote this post over a month ago, but I figured since so many people were asking for the entire story behind my last post that I’d post it here:

Before I turned 30, I was incredibly nervous. I was going to be 30 but I wasn’t where I thought I would be. 30 felt really old and I still felt really young. I was worried.

For my 30th birthday, I copied my 13th birthday. For that birthday, my mother invited all her friends over and we talked about what it meant to be a woman. I remember feeling so loved and so empowered and that’s exactly how I wanted to feel on my 30th birthday. So I invited my closest friends and a bunch of my mother’s friends.  I asked everyone to be prepared to say a few words about what it meant to be a woman to them and/or their advice on how to live a good life. The party was awesome and exactly what I wanted. One of my most awesome and closest friends even flew in from Oregon. I rekindled some friendships that were dwindling. I got to spend time with some of the most important people in my life. I got awesome advice – mostly to live life on my terms, live without regret and to stop waiting for whatever I’m waiting to to start living.

I left my party feeling like my life was about to begin and that I was so blessed.

And then I turned 30.

It started simply enough: my left eye was acting funny. It didn’t hurt or anything, but it was funky to look through that one eye. Initially, I thought there was something in there. Consequently, I spent a lot of time in the bathroom playing with my eye trying to see what was going on. I took an L for the day and was crazy unproductive because reading was a total pain at this point. The next morning I woke up and my eyesight was a little worse. So I spent the morning trying to figure out who to go to since of course I don’t have a ophthalmologist. So I finally get someone and they say I need a referral from school and so begins my day. I got to work (late) and explained to my boss that eye was being a total pain and that I’d prob need to leave early to get to a doctor. She was super cool about and so I spent the rest of the day trying to get appointments and referrals. This was when I learned exactly how much my school’s health insurance sucks. Anyway, fast forward to 4 pm when I find a doctor who actually takes my health insurance and she makes me take a million different eye tests.  This is when I started getting scared.  Three hours later, the doctors are whispering in a different language, they keep asking if my eye hurts and then tell me I need to get an MRI soon. As in within the next 48 hours. And said something was wrong with my optic nerve. Then they sent me on my way home.

Of course I went drinking instead.

Next day was spent trying to get the damn referrals I needed to get the MRI.

The day after that I met with the big daddy eye doctor who did a preliminary check and guessed that my eye was acting funky because of an old injury. I couldn’t really remember any serious injuries other than my boo dropping his stupid phone on my eye a month earlier but I felt relieved that this injury was starting to make sense. He sent me to get more tests and then to get the MRI and blood work.

Hours and hours later we’re both looking at my MRIs and I’m smiling to myself because I’m not seeing any tumors or anything I think is crazy. (Yes, I do think I can read MRIs because I watch a lot of Grey’s Anatomy.) There is a history of cancer on both sides of my family, so I was prepared for that to be the issue here. I’ve kind of been waiting on a cancer diagnosis for most of my life since I know those odds aren’t in my favor.

What I wasn’t prepared for was my doctor thinking that I have multiple sclerosis. I wasn’t even sure what it was until he started explaining. It’s an autoimmune disease where your body attacks the mylein sheaths that protect your nerves. So that was what was happening with my eye. He said he thought it was just a regular optic neuritis until he saw two small legions on my brain. Yup. Then the rest kind of fades to black. I remember bits and pieces “50/50,” “I know this is hard because you came in here thinking you’re healthy” “home nurse” “iv” “steroids” “another specialist” “bring someone with you to our next appointment” and “come back in two weeks.”

In a daze, I left the office. I called my mom. I cried the entire subway ride home. I drank two vanilla cokes since they told me not to drink alcohol because of the steroids. My friends came over. It was insanely awkward and sad. My mom came. It lightened up a little. The drugs came. It got scary again. The nurse came, it got scarier. The catheter went it, it got gross. Chris came and I smiled. The nurse left, and then Chris left and then it was just me and my mom.

And for the next four days, it was me and my mom and my catheter. I only went out once during those 4 days and randomly ran into friends. The catheter, while wrapped up, freaked them out. I went back home and stayed in the house. The catheter came out. There was blood everywhere. I worried if this was going to become a regular occurrence in my life. This can’t be my life.

This week I see a MS specialist and get his opinion on my MRIs. I also go back to my first doctor to get the results of my blood work.  I’m scared.  This week I find out if I have a slightly annoying autoimmune malfunction where my eye is gonna get cute every now and then or if I have a chronic disease that might lower my life expectancy to just 30 years. [spoiler: it was MS, and that life expectancy estimation is off (too low) according to newer books I'm reading. phew.]

There’s nothing like a situation like this to kick your ass hard enough that it forces you actually live. Before I turned 30, my biggest goal was to pay off my loans within the next 30 years. After I turned 30, my biggest goal is to live the most incredible life I can within the next 30 years. Let’s see what kind of shenanigans I can get myself into now.