An Update and a Plan

The first few weeks of school always bring with them a fair share of chaos, lack of sleep, and stress, and this year was no different.

I’m the co-manager of a quadrennial choral festival to be held in February, which means meetings began tout de suite – before my co-manager had even finished unpacking! We’re making progress, and grant applications are due next month, so that’s sort of hanging around in the back of mind for now. I imagine this long-term project will hang around like this all year – one of those things that always makes you go, “There must be something I should be doing right now!”

Shortly thereafter, in the beginning of September, my grandfather was admitted to the hospital with intense pain in his abdomen. They discovered that his kidneys were failing, and that his slow-growing prostate cancer had likely metastasized to other parts of his body. He remained in the hospital for about a week and a half, during which time my mom traveled to visit him in upstate New York and take turns caring for my grandmother with her three sisters. He passed away peacefully on Monday, September 10th, surrounded by his daughters and wife. It was a rough week, and I didn’t attend any classes for fear that I would break down suddenly (I was also PMSing, which didn’t help one iota!), but I sang a lot with my choir and went to work as usual. We knew this was coming, so as a family we’ve been fortunate enough to work through the grief and sadness together, and all in all it was much easier than I expected. I know that he is resting peacefully and waiting for my grandmother to spend the rest of their lives together in a much less painful place!

The next day, I got the results of a full blood test that showed that I have mild kidney dysfunction, so I was taken off NSAIDs entirely (no reason to fear – the kidneys are amazing at restoring themselves, but this does mean that I can’t really take NSAIDs anymore). Unfortunately, without my pain managed I was pretty much useless. I was mostly immobile, grouchy, and generally depressed. Thankfully, yesterday I was prescribed a pain medication that works beautifully, but it makes me nauseous and dizzy until it wears off (so after six hours). I’ve been trying to find bland but nutritious foods that I can eat during those six hours to take the edge off the nausea without increasing it, and it looks like I’ll be munching on gluten-free table crackers and plain, lightly-salted rice cakes throughout the day. So far, it’s a small price to pay for the wonder of being nearly pain-free.

This past Thursday, September 13th was my 21st birthday. My school held a memorial for a young man in my year who committed suicide two weeks ago that day, so I didn’t do much celebrating (mostly crying, actually). It was cathartic, to say the least, but not exactly what I was expecting on my birthday. Needless to say, I was extremely excited to see this weekend come.

I have a three-hour makeup exam on Monday for which I am studying furiously, and I also have to write four more mini-book reviews before night’s end, so this weekend hasn’t been much better than this week! Studying is restful, though, and I really do enjoy writing the reviews, so although today was just as busy as the preceding days, it was a bit more enjoyable. I even got to take a nap (the dizziness was just getting to be too much).

This week has caused a set-back in my triathlon training goal, but I’m raring to go and create a plan that will work with my meds and food. I’m seeing a nutritionist for the first time in two weeks, and I couldn’t be more excited!! I finally am developing a care team: a doctor who understands the importance of pain (she’s different from my PCP – I think I’m switching to her for primary care because her proclamation of, “If this medication doesn’t work, there are tons of alternatives we can try!” was a far cry from my PCP’s frustrating declaration, “Your only other option aside from NSAIDs is narcotics.”), a physical therapist who understands my limits and the importance of “no pain, thank you!”, and a nutritionist who can (hopefully) help me manage my apparent food intolerances and medication needs.

The year is shaping up to be an eventful one, that’s for sure!