Saturday, May 29, 2010

Hips Don't Lie, Literally

The past two days have not been well. The day of the 27th, I couldn't get off the bed. Both my hips were killing me. I couldn't walk over to use the bathroom - the bathroom is a few steps away from my room. I no longer sleep in my bedroom - I sleep dowstairs in my parent's bedroom. My legs are no longer mobile. But I had to get my ass up from bed because I had an appointment at Mount Sinai for 3 MRIs (both knees and right right hip) and 1 CT Scan (right hip). The procedures took forever because there were so many patients. You realize how many ill or sick people there are once you enter a hospital. From the outside, it always seems that everyone is living a good life. But it's not true at all. We all suffer. We all suffer pains in different ways. You can never understand my pain and I can never understand your pain. That's how God set it up.

The CT took 5 minutes. The MRIs, each about 20 minutes long, took forever because there were so many patients ahead of me. One lady was so scared to get her MRI done, she was crying and screaming. While I could relate to her pain, she was really getting on my nerves because I wanted to go home. And that day my pains were so severe I was using my crutches. Even with my daily pains, I try not to make use of the mobilized wheelchair or crutches because I hate the feeling of handicap or disability. I hate the stares and especially when everyone is trying to help you like you are incapable of doing shit. And for those who know me, it is rare for me to accept help. I like to get shit done myself, when I can. I mean I am a Diva and I love when people do stuff for me, but when it comes to aid - aid in walking or getting out of the car - I want to be able to do it myself.

The day after, my pains were still there. Dr. Sinha called with the MRI and CT results and gave me a list of bad news, which I knew I would receive. Both my knees are gone and my right hip, which was the good hip a few weeks ago, is now my left hip. He gave me strength though and said we'll just have to take it one step at a time. He knows I can do it. I know I can do it too. I know that I'm destined for more than one major surgery. I could be sad if I want too - and I am some days, some days I just cry because I forget why I need to go through all this. But then I remember, I'm going through this because Allah knows I'm strong, stronger than most. And also, I feel that people (friends, family, strangers) have learned so much about humanity and pain being around me. More of them are patient, and more of them are understanding.

I'm not the only one being tested. Everyone else around me is being tested too.


Good Times

After handing in my last final, I made the effort to buy Ruqayyah a birthday gift. Though I couldn't go far, I walked to the nearest gift store and bought her a humorous card and a picture frame. I didn't want to get a readymade gift - anyone who knows me, knows I get creative with gifts, at least those who get gifts from me. After looking for pictures, I found some from the fashion show we participated in during junior year at Bishop Kearney. I wrote a few sentences about our growing friendship - for anyone who doesn't know Ruqy, she is my best friend. She's always been there for me through every thin and thick. There's nothing fake about her. Nor is she two-faced. Nor does she change personalities. And I've had best friends over the years, but some of them are no longer in my life. Friends these days, for the most part, end up being temporary. With the rise of technology, "friends" are all made and built through texting and social networks. However, me and Ruqy are not text buddies. She is that one friend who calls me everyday. I'm serious. And our conversations go on for hours. That's how I know I have a true friend, through phone calls.

After walking one block to buy her gift, my hips were out of control. I felt miserable and had no strength. I came home, made her gift, and rolled around in bed. But I was determined to get my ass up and take her out in the evening along with Jasmine and Chopra. And for those who know me, if I plan something, I get my ass to do it. So there was no way I was going to back out. Ruqy kept telling me we didn't have to go because I felt sick, but I really wanted to make her happy the day before her birthday because I wouldn't be able to spend time with her on the day of due to more surgical pre-testing at Mount Sinai.

Later that night, I took a cab to Beet Restaurant in Park Slope. We all caught up on gossip and ate good ass food. The night didn't end there. We ended up taking a cab back to the apartment to party in 4D. I had my first blue jello shot. Interesting. That's all I have to say about that.

I ended up leaving with Danielle and Tomer, two of my other best friends. They always call me whenever they hang out. We went for a drive and bought some ice cream. Our nightly excursions always end with us eating. Haha.

The day of the 27th, Chopra planned a surprise party for Ruqy which I knew I wasn't going to attend due to my appointment that ended at 7pm. However, I ended up surprising her a little before 12 am with Danielle and Tomer. After surprising her and getting to know some of her other close friends, Danielle, Tomer, and I ended up eating at Famous Pita on Coney Island Avenue. Whenever I'm with them, I become a Jew. Sometimes, I'm cheap like a Jew. And other times, I'm a Jew eating kosher. I love it! And I love them. I ordered the schnitzel while Danielle had a shwarma and Tomer a falafel on pita. I wasn't home till 3 am.

You live life once, and waiting to have fun in the future, does not make sense. Do what you want to do, nowwwww. I mean now. Get your ass off the computer and enjoy life.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

First Year of College: Done

May 26, 2010. Officially done with my first year of college. I remember six weeks ago being in so much pain, pain that almost won the battle. But that didn't happen. Pain didn't win. With the support from friends, family, and even orthopedic doctor, Dr. Sinha, I pushed through - limping around to class every single day. I think being ill and in pain pushes me to stay in school and motivates me to go everyday. I remember coming one day from school, Danielle was dropping me off, and during a red light, she looked over and said, "Shahana, I don't know how you do it. You've never missed chemistry lab. The only reason I come to lab is you." Her words touched my heart, and I looked at her and said, "I just do it." Really, I just do it. Think about it though, I'm doing what I should be doing. Sickness may handicap me from walking, running, going up a flight of stairs, but it does not handicap me from doing well in school. I still have a brain, and might I add, a brain that is very sharp. Hehe.

Education is very important to me. However, after being diagnosed wih Lupus in 2008, my outlook on education changed - not completely, but in a fair amount. Before, all I cared about was school. I was so competitive. Always looking for perfection. I needed to be perfect. And I was. Now, though I use white-out in my notebooks to keep clean notes, I am more lenient. In my first year of college, I don't think I ever crazy studying for a final or midterm - I simply knew I had to study and did so accordingly. And in the times I could, I enjoyed by going out and having good times and laughs with friends. It reallys hurts to see friends studying like it's the end of the world. Having an easy mind, a mind solely dedicated to learning is the way to reach success. Learning is not the same as going to college for an education, which easily becomes a burden.

This semester was not at all easy. With my constant hip complaints, I wasn't able to push myself as much as I wanted to. But I learned about my limitations. Sometimes it's good to say, "No, I can't do that" or "I need to relax." Even with all the complaints, I am proud of some of my achievements: making it on the Dean's List, raising $178 for AIDS Walk, attending an AIDS Benefit Concert and meeting Cuba's famous singer: Xiomara Laugart, and healing my toe. It's officially normal looking.

Going to college everyday was a relief for me - relief from the world of doctors appointments I had on a weekly/monthly basis. I'm preparing for surgery, which is less than one week from now, and let me tell you, preparing for surgery has not been easy. Surgical pre-testing and such was during the same time of final exams - I don't know how I managed everything, but I did.

I'm so ready for my new hip.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

A Rather Disgusting, but Interesting Turnout.

So, my big toe has been healing for about a month and a half now. Healing from what? Well, my right toe was badly bruised somehow - I can't even recall how. I either pulled a skin or the last pedicure lady pulled out way too much dead skin. Whatever the story, I've been suffering for about 6 months with a swollen toe. I showed my nephrologist, rheumatologist, and primary physician, but what the fuck would they do? They each gave me antibiotics - obviously, not together, in three different periods. But, the toe didn't heal. I tried putting ointments, washing my foot in hot water, leaving the bruise out - nothing healed it. Anyone who saw the toe would tell me, "Something's wrong with your toe." No shit. When going out, I would bandage the toe and that's when it looked normal.

During the time I was looking for a hip/knee specialist, I came across a 'podiatrist' - I guess my doctor gave me a list of random specialists' numbers, but I got lucky. I asked the receptionist what a podiatrist was and she answered, a foot doctor. God works in mysterious ways. It's true.

A foot doctor. They have that? Feet are nasty, I mean seriously, feet. I made a quick appointment even though the quickest appointment was in 3 weeks. Dr. Alex Katz, my podiatrist, was amazing beyond words. He saw my toe and before I explained my situation screamed out, "Oh, you have an ingrown toenail, we'll fix that right now."

What the fuck? An ingrown toenail! My nail, instead of growing outside of the skin, as it normally should, was growing in the inside. Nasty as hell. No wonder my poor toe was so stretched out. Katz numbed my toe with local anesthesia and pretty much cut through the side of my nail and pulled the growing portion out. I sat through my own surgery just staring at my toe, amazed. There was hope for my toe.

Because I have Lupus and many factors are working against me, the healing process is taking longer than expected. However, after my visit last week, Dr. Katz loved the appearance of my toe. A bit weird, but I guess a scabby, black-pigmented-skinned-toe is excellent to podiatrists. I promise, it's not as nasty as it was before. I can wear open sandals now.

One thing I learned from Katz during my last visit was the meaning of FUCK, one of my favorite words. My sister, who accompanied me during the appointment, said "I'm glad her friggin' toe is better." Katz then started questioning her about whether or not she knew the meaning of the word friggin' and it's other usages, i.e., fuck. Apparently, men during the Renaissance era would go "FUCK" - for unknown cardinal knowledge - meaning they would literally go to fuck prostitutes.

I came in to the podiatrist's office without any knowledge about ingrown toenails and all, and who knew I would come out so educated? I just can't wait to be a doctor now!