Monday, May 14, 2012

Dog Days

After 12 hours and an endless playlist of sing-along-worthy tunes, I found myself and my parents pulling in to our driveway in Nova Scotia - the official welcome home to Canada. And while the moment still seems surreal as I type from the desk I had in high school and glance at the yearbooks on my shelves, I know summer is just beginning and the reality that I’m no longer at school will sink in soon enough. 

Virtually every semester since beginning college, there’s been some health emergency/issue/drama that’s taken me out of the game so to speak. So this was arguably the first semester that I was really in class all the time and able to do things with my friends. Example: I was walking home from studying around 8:30 at night the other week when I ran into a friend and he invited me to eat with his friends at a dining hall. I was shocked when I heard myself agreeing and heading off - not worried about getting sick or missing a medication time or even just being able to have the stamina was a surprise. And I laugh now and think, is that what college is supposed to be like?

This morning I went for a run with the dog to survey the neighborhood (Criminal Minds style, thank you very much). As I was literally rounding the bend home, I ran (well, not actually, I managed to stop myself!) into a neighbor. “Oh Jennie,” she begins, “you look like you’ve gained some weight”. This comment from her makes me laugh, because it seems to have no grounding in reality for I’ve been the same size the last hundred times I’ve seen her and yet she recites this each and every time. It’s like being told, “You look so much better!” Like thanks, what did I look like before? I’m the first one to admit cringing at pictures of myself when I look emaciated and laughing at my pathetic Prednisone pictures, but when I’m 20 years old I don’t need a comment to imply how utterly crappy I looked before - I’m aware, thanks.

It all comes back to this - beyond the overly hot and humid and desperate days of the middle-summer when not even Antarctica would have water cool enough to stabilize the temperature - we as IBDers experience the dog days of our lives when our illness flares. It’s not being sluggish by choice, not giving up or giving in, just living with the reality of the body we’ve been dealt. And that’s not meant to sound harsh or laissez-faire, but rather a validation of those feelings.

My Mom asked me this morning, “Do you ever just relax?” Answer: no. When I feel well, there’s too much I want to do with my life and my time - latest goal: do a triathlon (now that I’ve said it here I’m stuck with this!!) - that I have no time to waste. Things do get better with effort and time and patience and support and hope. It’s not equal, but what you get out of life is directly related to what you put in to living it.

The summer is here - grab some lemonade and a pool noodle and get going on enjoying it. Remember to take a break, you deserve and more importantly you need it. And don’t forget that no matter what the challenge, don’t rush the time that it hurts, but you can start climbing that mountain to overcome it today.


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