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100 Little Things That Make Me Happy

This month has been rough, no doubt about it. It seems to be the winter from hell, as far as germs are concerned. Since the semester started a month ago, I’ve had two separate stomach bugs, a strep and sinus infection combo, and now a cold. And it’s not just me–my family members and schoolmates with normal immune systems have been sick almost as much! So what are we to do? Well we could dwell on our misfortune. We could freak out about the Petri dish in which we must live our daily lives (and trust me I have). But a monk from Vietnam I’ve been reading recently might have a better idea; in Peace is Every Step Thich Nhat Hanh talks a lot about mindfulness. At a really basic level, I think of mindfulness as noticing the beauty and little blessings all around us every day. So this week I made a list of 100 of those little things that make me happy.

  1. Random 60 degree days in the middle of winter #Virginia
  2. Opening a new tube of toothpaste
  3. Waking up without a headache
  4. Being called “aunty randa” (by my niece- from anyone else that would be weird)
  5. The space heater in my room
  6. Chocolate
  7. Purring cuddles from my kitty
  8. Purple and orange sunsets
  9. Not having to be on antibiotics
  10. My flannel sheets- so cozy
  11. My flying pig pj pants
  12. Having time to read for fun
  13. Finishing a long reading for class that seemed like it would never end
  14. Class being cancelled
  15. Goodbye/Goodnight kisses from nieces
  16. Family movie nights/ infusion nights
  17. Acing an assignment
  18. Texts from my parents, always politely signed Love Dad/Mom at the bottom so I know who they’re from
  19. Family dinners
  20. Getting a chance to play the piano
  21. Being treated by a doctor as an equal partner in my care
  22. Walks
  23. Feeling my room get lighter in the early morning when I can’t sleep
  24. Corny jokes- especially my dad’s
  25. Pictures of lighthouses
  26. The sound of rain at night
  27. A cup of hot cocoa
  28. Coloring
  29. Birds singing/ chirping
  30. Baby/ toddler giggles
  31. Finding a great parking spot
  32. Autumn leaves
  33. The smell after a spring rain storm
  34. Getting a great night’s sleep
  35. Listening to scores from my favorite movies (HP, LOTR, Hunger Games, etc)
  36. Parks and Rec
  37. Making others laugh
  38. Deep conversations with people I care about
  39. Hot showers
  40. Getting my back to pop
  41. Finding a favorite pen and then writing with it
  42. Learning something new
  43. Writing on the thick, smooth side of the notebook
  44. An empty laundry basket
  45. An empty sink
  46. Having special chocolate in a secret chocolate stash
  47. Stealing chocolate from my dad’s “secret” chocolate stash
  48. Fresh mangoes and pineapples
  49. Getting through my entire To Do list
  50. Sweatpants and hoodies
  51. Finishing a bottle of antibiotics/ steroids/ other loathed medicine
  52. When anyone, especially a professor says “as it were”
  53. Quoting favorite tv shows/ movies/ books whether or not they are actually applicable to the situation
  54. Being greeted by one or more wagging tails at the door
  55. Cold nose kisses from my cat that often jerk me awake at night (I think she thinks it’s funny)
  56. Having a fire in the fireplace (and therefore having an actual fire place)
  57. Remembering what I’ve been trying to remember that’s been driving me crazy
  58. Putting on a clean pair of socks
  59. Remembering everything I needed at the grocery store
  60. Freshly changed sheets
  61. Having no copay
  62. My cat socks
  63. Spontaneous study breaks when a niece or two or three escapes their parents and wanders into my room
  64. Every day, hour, minute I’m not sick or in a lot of pain
  65. A clean and organized work space
  66. When I know just what to write
  67. Finishing an essay
  68. Eating solid food without pain/nausea
  69. Pulling out the needles at the end of an infusion
  70. Waking up and knowing I don’t have to go anywhere that day
  71. Getting to go to church on Sunday
  72. Not having to rush in the morning
  73. Doing something outside my comfort zone (it’s a very small zone)
  74. Alone time
  75. Feeling good enough to work out
  76. Waking up without an alarm clock
  77. When a medicine has no bad side effects– oh wait that doesn’t happen… When a medicine has relatively few bad side effects…
  78. Cozy sweaters
  79. Reading a good poem
  80. Stepping on crunchy leaves
  81. Feeling my kitty at the foot of my bed when I turn over in the night
  82. Pictures of Christ
  83. Skyping/Face Timing the parentals on Sunday
  84. The smell of brownies baking (or any goody really)
  85. Getting a big glob of mucus out of my chest or sinuses
  86. Not coughing (remember I had whooping cough earlier this year so the last few months not coughing has been the cherished exception)
  87. When I catch someone doing something silly because they think they’re alone
  88. Anything Harry Potter
  89. The abridged version of Les Mis (so much easier to readdddd)
  90. Old fashion soda bottles
  91. Miniature pigs (I will have one someday!)
  92. Documentaries/ books about inspiring people
  93. Psych and Monk being on Amazon Video now
  94. Warm clothes fresh from the dryer
  95. Sunshiny days
  96. Watching lightning during a thunder storm (if it hasn’t already given me a migraine that is)
  97. Naps
  98. Christmas lights
  99. Finding a good song on the radio
  100. Jar tops that go clicky-clack



Dad’s “secret stash”


Bestower of nose kisses


Flying pig pjs and kitty socks #thuglife


The Chronic Illness New Year

The start of a new year is great right? You watch the ball drop, raise a glass, make resolutions–all that good stuff. January first comes around each year and you feel a sense of a fresh start. You look back on the previous year and see how far you’ve come; you look forward into the new year that holds all sorts of possibilities. Great. But for those of us who deal with chronic, significant health issues the new year means something else as well.

It’s something we dread.

It starts not on January 1, but with the first major medical necessity of the new year.

For me, and my PI homies out there that is generally our first infusion shipment of the year.

You dial the specialty pharmacy number with a knot in your stomach, you try to sound normal as you go through all the normal shipment info, then the moment arrives– with trembling hand you hold the phone to your ear and wait for the bomb to drop. Your copay amount.

You see, the new year means that the deductible you met last year is all gone and you have a fresh pile of money you have to toss into the insurance pit before you’ll get decent coverage.

It also means that your insurance company can make all sorts of changes that come into effect with the new year–maybe they’ll move your infusion medication to a different tier on their covered medications meaning they cover less of it, maybe they’ll increase the cost of your medication, maybe they’ll make you switch to a whole different one because they no longer cover the one you’re on… The terrifying possibilities are nearly endless.

This past week the Chronic Illness New Year hit me and my family hard. I went to order my months supply of Gamunex-c and infusion supplies to be met with the wonderful surprise of my copay increasing from $250 (but actually zero because our deductible had been met with copay assistance from the wonderful folks at Gammagard before I was forced to switch) to $600.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Ig infusions, this may seem like an impossible amount (and really it should be), but the sad fact is that this is a problem continually faced by those who need Ig infusions and their families.

Luckily most Ig companies provide copay assistance to those who use their product and need help paying for it (which is basically everybody). After my wonderful doc and I jumped through several hoops, it looks like I will be able to get copay assistance starting next month from my new buds at Gamunex. But even with assistance many families still have to shell out a considerable amount before the year’s deductible is met.

As I’m writing this I’m thinking I really, really wish that I didn’t have to know so much about health insurance already. But I’m also thinking despite the hoops, the bills, the stress, and all the wonders of the Chronic Illness New Year, I’m just so grateful to be able to have the Ig infusions. I’m so grateful that my immunodeficiency was able to be diagnosed and there is this treatment. And it does help. A lot.

So Happy Chronic Illness New Year! May the odds be ever in your favor…

Another Not-So-Smooth Start to a Semester

If you’ve been following me for a while you’ll remember that my last semester started off with being unable to get my infusion for three weeks and then coming down with whooping cough. Needless to say I was hoping for things to go a bit smoother this semester. But that’s not really how life works I guess.

Thursday was our first day of classes. I had three classes (French, Screen Writing and Dramatic Literature) and a meeting to update my accommodations letter. While I was in Screen Writing I got the bad news–my sister and niece had started throwing up after I left for class. We had the dreaded stomach flu in our home.

The last time I had a stomach virus I was a brand-new 19-year-old. That virus damaged my digestive system, causing gastroparesis (literally “stomach paralysis”), and leading to some very miserable months and ultimately two years away from school. So naturally I have an intense fear of dear old norovirus and all its relatives.

Egged on by this fear I did everything I could to avoid coming down with it this time img_0084around, but by the time I became aware of its presence it was far too late. That night around 9:30 I threw up for the first time. And then again. And again. And again. Until about 5 or so in the morning. *shiver* The stomach flu is the WORST. Every time I have it I get like minor PTSD where for a while I can’t stand certain foods, clothes, tv shows, movies–anything that is associated with the experience. This is especially true for the virus that permanently messed up my digestive system and changed my life.

EA57ED6A-C454-4F26-A275-0833E9EACA3BBut like I’ve said before, even the worst of things pass, and so did this. Well it’s passing. Friday I was still quite sick and miserable, even though I had stopped involuntarily ejecting the contents of my stomach and intestines. Mostly I had gotten really dehydrated and I was having a hard time getting sufficiently rehydrated. I ended up going into the local urgent care in the afternoon because of this; they did not give me a saline IV as I had hoped they would, but they gave me some strong anti nausea medicine to help me be able to sleep and drink more. I hadn’t slept since Wednesday night so I was beyond exhausted. Later Friday (about 4), I laid down to take a nap and woke up at 9:30 the next morning!

Right now as I write this, I am doing my infusion. I didn’t want to do it until I was well hydrated again, since insufficient hydration makes the infusion process (and aftermath) seriously miserable. And I’ve had quite enough of that this weekend.

So yeah, another rough start. But I don’t think it bodes ill for the semester at large–I think it’s gunna be a great one, as a matter of fact. Because, well, why shouldn’t it be?

100 Days!

So this week I have reached approximately 100 days since I contracted Whooping Cough! I was sort of hoping that when I reached the 100th day all symptoms would magically disappear, but unfortunately it’s been a bit more complicated than that. Last week—finals week no less— I caught a bad cold, and as the internet warns, every time you catch a cold for a while after you’ve had Whooping Cough the cold will bring some fun coughing, choking, spitting up, wheezing  remnants of the original Whoop. So it has been 100 days and I’m still choke-coughing. But in between colds it really is getting better. I can’t wait for the day—hopefully not too far off now—that I will be able to stop taking my abuterol everyday, multiple times a day.

Despite the cold I made it through finals alright. I also made it to my parent’s AND to see Star Wars on the same day. I payed for that with a three day migraine though, which is why I didn’t get a post up earlier in the week.

My favorite part of Star Wars was the Porgs and the fact that my fifteen year old brother thought that they were begging for food from Chewbacca… Totally failing to recognize that he was eating one of them. Hahahaha.C316D75E-1D87-43DC-894B-4781729BF23F.gif

In a couple minutes I have to head to a follow-up with my neurologist, because what would Christmas break be without a few doctors appointments? When I get back I will relate the plan that he hopefully has to get my headaches more under control. They are much better than they were (constant), but 3-4 migraines per week is still not really where I’d like to be. And my family still refuses to decapitate me so I must look to more conventional methods of easing head pain.


Yeah so I didn’t get to this yesterday after the appointment. My doctor was running an hour behind and so by the time I got home it was time for our family evening plans.

Other than the wait the appointment went well. Dr. L is also still not happy with where my migraines are. He decided to keep me on the Prozac at my current dose and add in a new med to the mix—Verapamil. Although the Prozac does help and is amazingly, wonderfully, unbelievably low on side-effects, he is worried that an increase in that would necessitate limiting my use of triptans so as to avoid Serotonin Syndrome. I can’t argue there. So today I will start Verapamil, which is a calcium-channel blocker. I’m definitely anxious, as I am whenever I start a new med (what horrors might it hold for me?!) but I’m also hopeful.

Dr. L has avoided beta and calcium-channel blockers with me so far because they can cause problems in people with asthma. Of the two, I think calcium-channel blockers are lower-risk for asthmatics. Also Dr. L noticed that my heart rate is often high—tis definitely true and I’m not sure why—so Verapamil might help with that too.

Basically Verapamil—like almost every med out there—may hold for me either the key to relief, OR a crap ton of misery.  Thankfully I get the chance to start it while I’m on break, when if things go awry it’s not as big of a hullabaloo.

So on that note… Merry Christmas! And if I don’t write again before 2018- Happy New Year!


A Day in the Life of this Zebra

Something kind of surprising that I’ve had several people tell me since I started this blog is that it has been “eye opening.” I guess that’s strange to me because, well, it’s nothing new for me. I sometimes forget that I’m a zebra living in a world of horses; when I hear other students talking about their Friday night plans I automatically think “Sillys. They’re forgetting that it’s infusion night tonight;” when I spend all of my breaks bouncing between doctors appointments, I forget that, that’s not the purpose of school breaks for everyone. Some people can’t imagine what it is like to have a malfunctioning immune system or a head that is always hurting–I can’t imagine what life would be like without them. So whether you’re a horse wondering how a zebra spends her days, or a zebra wondering if you’re the only one, here’s a day in the life of this zebra. (This is a Monday from a couple of weeks ago, but still overall a pretty good representation of an average day)

Monday 8:30 am

I wake up even though my first class isn’t til 10:00. I don’t like having to rush in the morning.

I start my day with cranberry juice and emergen-c. Mostly to prevent UTIs but also just as an immune booster. Then I get dressed (with thermals underneath my clothes because I’m already that cold), etc. and have breakfast.

9:50 am

I’m off to Fundamentals of Creative Writing. Today we are workshoping our poem #2 for our poetry portfolio. Maybe I’ll let you guys see it once I’ve revised.

11:00 am

Creative Writing is over. Normally I’d be heading home but instead I have to go make up the French test I missed on Friday because I had a bad migraine.

12:00 pm


Home again home again. If niece number two isn’t already asleep then I’ll probably sitdown to do a nap time with her. Nap time with this aunty means we snuggle on the couch watching simple songs on YouTube until she falls asleep. Then I either do homework or also fall asleep.

1:00 pm

Nap time is over. I’ll grab a quick lunch and then head off to French.

1:30 pm

French. We’re starting a new chapter today. I’ll also find out how I did on the test. I hope I did ok–it was hard studying this weekend with a migraine/migraine hangover. (I missed one question, but all things considered I’ll take that quite happily).

2:30 pm

French is fini and now I’m off to Approaches to Literature. We just finished reading the Tempest. Now I think we will be writing a paper about it. Woot woot.

3:30 pm

Done with classes for the day! I head home and change into sweatpants and a hoodie. I sit down to steam and watch Netflix for a bit. Probably the Great British Baking Show since they just put up a new season. Steaming helps prevent sinus infections and also seems to help ease the aching of my head/face.

4:15 pm

Now that I’ve taken a break it’s time to get down to business, as it were. Let’s see what should I start with? Probably the essay for WWI Lit that’s due tomorrow that I haven’t started…

5:00 pm

Been working for 45 minutes, made decent progress. I deserve a break. So I go out to the living room to see the girlies for a minute.

5:15 pm

Ok back to work. I can do this. I want to finish the rough draft so I don’t have that much to do tomorrow, though it’s not due til midnight.

7:00 pm

Whether or not the rough draft is finished, I can’t think in cohesive sentences anymore. Time for a dinner break.

7:30 pm

For niece number one it’s time for a pre-bedtime breakdown. For me it’s time to choose which is more important– my French hw or finishing my WWI Lit reading for tomorrow. I think I’ll go for the reading. Takes less brain power and by this point my head is hurting at least medium from looking at a screen for so long writing the essay. So I get comfy and dive into All Quiet on the Western Front.

8:15-8:30ish pm

Either I’m finished with the reading or my brain is finished for the day–either way it’s time for some healthy hot cocoa (raw cocoa powder, honey, cinnamon, turmeric, pink salt and a touch of grass fed butter) and an episode of Stranger Things. My sibs have already finished the new season but they’re watching it again with me so I can get caught up. I only have two episodes left!

9:15ish pm

The first episode is over. Now I have to use all my willpower to tear myself away in the 15 seconds before Netflix starts the next one and I’m committed to another 45 minutes. Time to hop in the shower.

9:45ish pm

Shower done. Now time to clean out my sinuses with the neti pot thing and do my nightly stretching. As you can see I spend a decent amount of time each day just trying to prevent sinus infections, which are my bane.

10:15 pm

Take melatonin. Read. Pray. Brush teeth, etc. Fill up humidifier for the night. Set alarm for tomorrow. Take cough medicine. Rub Vicks vapor rub on chest (been doing the last two ever since I got whooping cough in Sept). Lights out by 11:30.


A Nightly Stretching Routine for Less Pain and Stiffness in the Morning

Ok people are you ready for this? Today I’m going to share with you my nightly stretching routine. A combo of yoga and physical therapy stretches, it’s taken me years to hone to perfection. I do it every night before I go to bed; it helps me sleep better (less pain at night) and keeps the morning stiffness and pain under control.

1) Standing calf stretch

Hold 30 secs.

Hold 30 seconds each leg straight and repeat on each side with leg slightly bent. I do it with my torso leaning against a wall/ my bed to deepen the stretch. IMG_0040

2) Standing Groin Stretch

Hold 30 secs each leg.

IMG_0041.JPG Again this can be done leaning against something to take some of the weight off of the bent leg if needed.







3) Standing Quad Stretch

Hold 30 secs each leg.

Grab hold of something to help you keep your balance if needed, but try to work up to balancing on your own.IMG_0042.PNG

4) Standing Hamstring Stretch

Holds 60 secs.

Yeah I know you won’t look like this at first–but eventually. IMG_0043

5) Standing IT Band Stretch

Hold 30 secs each leg.


6) Sitting Hamstring Stretch

Hold 60 secs.


7) Sitting Groin Stretch

Hold 30 secs.


8) Side Sitting Hamstring/Back Stretch

Hold 45 secs each side.


9) Figure Four Stretch

Hold 60 secs each side.



10) Downward Facing Dog

Hold 30 secs.


11) Upward Facing Dog

Hold 30 secs.


12) Child’s Pose

Hold 30-60 secs.


13) Cat Cow

Go back and forth for about 30 secs, bend up into cat with exhale, go down into cow with inhale.


14) Gluteus Medius Stretch

Hold 60 secs each side.


15) Kneeling Quad/Hip Stretch

Hold 30 secs each side. You should feel the stretch in you quad and hip flexors.


16) Low Lunge

Hold 30 secs each side. Then lower back knee and repeat.


17) Forward Fold

Bend knees slightly and let head hang. Hold for 30-60 secs.



All done! I know it seems like a lot but it only takes about 20 minutes once you get the sequence down. Sweet dreams and less painful mornings!

15 Shows Worthy of Sick Day Binge-Watching

Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t really fun being stuck sick at home–especially if it happens frequently. Here are fifteen of my favorite shows that help me get through sick days.


Psych is the best. A mixture of clever crime solving and ridiculous antics, it just about broke my heart when they took Psych off Netflix. No it did break my heart.



Granted this might not be a great one if you’re feeling squeamish, but there’s nothing like Bones to make a day fly by. In fact, Bones got me through my gallbladder surgery recovery this summer.




I’m not sure if Leverage is on Netflix anymore but if it is, it is definitely worth spending a sick day or five on. It combines the smoothness of White Collar with the ridiculousness of Psych.


Everybody Loves Raymond

An oldy but a goody– Everybody Loves Raymond got me through my sinus surgery recovery.


Parks and Recreation

IMG_0036I was first introduced to Parks and Rec just over a year ago and since then I have watched it and rewatched it and rewatched it again. My sisters and I basically communicate via P&R quotes now. It’s so funny it might just heal you.



The Office

Also heartwarming and hilarious, The Office is a fool-proof choice. Though some of the episodes are just too hard to watch because Michael is so embarrassing.IMG_0033.GIF


The Good Place

The Good Place is a new favorite; it’s goofy, ridiculous and hilarious just for the sake of it–so basically it’s the best. As of about a month ago when we discovered it, The Good Place has become the official Friday-night-infusion show.


White CollarIMG_0032

Clever crime solving + humour + Neal Caffrey’s face = you can’t lose with this one. I
watched White Collar when I was at my sickest with gastroparesis.


Hawaii Five-0

I started watching this show because of the pretty views of Hawaii, but I soon got sucked into it hardcore. It has made me second-guess my desire to visit Hawaii though–there’s an awful lot of crime. Especially terrorist plots it would seem.


Studio C

Studio C is a sketch comedy show on BYU TV. If you have a pretty goofy funny-bone then you’ll get a lot of good laughs from Studio C.


Downton Abbey

If you love zombie apocalypse shows, then Downton Abbey is for you. But really I got into Downton recently because I’m taking WWI Lit and Downton is one of the few shows/movies that covers the WWI time period. It’s super interesting historically–like looking at animals in a zoo. Plus Cousin Violet aka Mcgoncall is hilarious and profound at the same time.IMG_0031.GIF


Gilmore Girls

I have to admit Gilmore Girls is a hard one for me. I was watching it when I first got sick with gastroparesis and so it is tied to some rather unpleasant memories. Still, it is undeniably awesome, funny and there’s like a gillion seasons (plus the reboot show).



I once thought that there could be no better casting for Sherlock Holmes than RDJ, but IMG_0030.GIFthen Benedict Cumerbatch came along and changed my mind. Sherlock is cerebral, intense and funny (sometimes). Unfortunately it’s produced at a rate of about three episodes every three years–but don’t worry it is a British show so each episode is like a mini movie.


The Great British Baking Show

Ok don’t laugh. I am not British, nor do I particularly like to bake, but I love this show. British baking traditions are so different than American ones, it’s super interesting. Plus it’s a nice change from American baking/cooking contest where everyone is so brutal–The British Baking Show is competitive, but not contentious. Also for some unknown reason this was my niece Aiva’s favorite show when she was 3-5 months old. So funny.


Once Upon a Time

Ok so good old Once has gotten weird lately. I stopped watching a couple seasons ago. BUT the first few seasons were really good and still worth a sick day watch. The clever twist on classic fairy tales is fun and makes you a little nostalgic.


How to Help a Loved One with Whooping Cough (As Told by a Two-Year-Old)

I’ve been coughing for about six weeks now and in that time my two year old niece (who I live with) has developed a fool-proof treatment plan for Aunty’s whooping cough.

Treatment 1: Back PatsIMG_0027

The first and most important part of treating a loved one’s whooping cough is to always be on hand to pat them on the back while they cough. This means constant vigilance–you must always be listening and prepared to run as fast as you can to them whenever you hear coughing. Additionally, you must tailor the intensity of your back pats to the intensity of their coughing– if they are only coughing a little than a gentle, slow pat will do, but if they are coughing very hard you will need to hit their back much faster and really throw your weight into each one. Finally, if they are somewhere you cannot reach them, say in the bathroom, and you hear them coughing it is perfectly suitable to freak out and expect something horrible will happen because you are unable to pat their back as they cough.

Treatment 2: Keep Vomit Bags on Hand

As I have said before, hospital vomit bags have been super handy for catching whatever comes up during a coughing fit. Your role as a loved one then, is to always make sure their bag is right by them. If they leave it in their room and are watching tv in the living room, you must go and get it for them. If they leave it on the floor and they are on the couch, you must hand it to them. It is also important to note that in order to make them feel less gross about carrying around a vomit bag, you should probably come up with another name for it such as “yucky baba.”


A yucky baba


Treatment 3: Bear Hugs

IMG_0026This past Thursday I had the worst coughing fit I’ve had yet. I guess good old pertussis wanted to prove it still had some power of misery over me. To make it worse, the whole choking, gasping, vomiting repeatedly thing happened right in front of my niece. She was super worried about me and didn’t understand why her mom kept taking her out of the room. As I sat on the floor catching my breath afterwards she escaped from her mom and came barreling into my room to give me a high-velocity bear hug. And let me tell you, being love-tackled by thirty compact pounds of adorable did make me feel rather better.

Treatment 4: Share your Toys

Later that same day I was sitting on my bed watching Downton Abbey–still recovering from that horrible fit– when my niece broke into my room again. She walked up to my bed matter-of-factly holding her little wooden camel in one hand and her little wooden rooster… between her teeth. She placed first the camel, then the slobbery rooster into my hand and climbed up to sit on the bed with me. So you see the key here is 1) share your toys, 2) the more slobbery they are the more love bestowed, and 3) just be there for them.


Well there you have it, four ways you can take care of a loved one with whooping cough!ms-F7fOC7

It’ll Pass

One of my favorite book series is Anne of Green Gables. In one of the later books after Anne is married she befriends the old sailor Captain Jim that runs the local lighthouse. Captain Jim is a lovably simple fella, but sometimes he says things deeply profound. One of those quotes, which I am sure I will butcher, has stuck with me and always comes to mind on particularly rough days. He said something along the lines of “Even on those days when I’m hurtin real bad I feel sorta cheerful cus I know sooner or later it’ll pass.”

Sooner or later it’ll pass.

Captain Jim would know–he weathered plenty of storms in his time as a sailor.

So far in my life I’ve always found this to be true. All the pain I’ve felt–migraines, broken bones, surgeries, sprains, strains, infections, gallbladder attacks, unbearable cramps, gastroparesis, depression–no matter what the pain or the cause of it, always it has passed.

Sometimes in the moment of extreme pain you can’t imagine it ever will. It seems it will last forever–that there never has been and never will be anything except this all-encompassing pain. Hundreds of times I’ve felt like I couldn’t make it til it passed, I couldn’t handle one more second of pain. Somehow I always did. Always do. And then eventually it always eases. Always passes.

I’ve been thinking about that with this cough. I’ve already been sick for more than a month. It seems so long and yet it could last for much longer still.

At the absolute worst point–when the coughing fits came about 40-50 times a day and each one left me gasping, choking, crying and each cough was agony to my ribs–I felt then I couldn’t handle it. Each time I felt like I couldn’t take even one more coughing fit. I wondered how I was supposed to keep going with my classes–or at all really. Each of the jabillion times I woke up in the night to cough and choke and choke and cough one thought kept going through my mind. This Sucks.

But each time I handled just one more coughing fit. One more day. One more night.

And then this past week something awesome happened. All the sudden it started to ease. Coughing fits were less intense. I stopped needing my handy vomit bags so much. I felt like eating more (something about regularly coughing up part of whatever you last ate makes it not very appealing…). Then coughing fits came less frequently. Somehow by the middle of the week I could go an hour, or two even without a single fit! Suddenly I could go to all of my classes and it was hard, but doable. Without even realizing it at first I had made it through the worst and it started to ease.

Believe it or not, it looks like even whooping cough passes. And it might even do so before the hundred day mark!

So head up, feet forward and be a little cheerful, cus sooner or later it’ll pass.

A Baby Disease Busted My Rib

Ok so remember how I said I had a bad case of bronchitis and then disappeared a couple weeks ago? Well it turns out I did not have bronchitis. I do almost definitely have whooping cough.

Technically the swab results from my seven hour stop off at the ER this past Wednesday


A rare action shot of an ER patient hoping that the footsteps she hears is someone coming to tell her something useful. Also yes I’m doing hw. French.

haven’t come back yet, but my symptoms are dead on AND there has been a verified case of whooping cough at my school. Add to that my incompetent immune system that doesn’t gain immunity from vacccines annndddd. Boom. You’ve got a twenty-two-year-old with a full-blown case of whooping cough.

From the very first week of school there’s been a bad “cold” going around. I’m thinking that really, most people have had a watered-down case of whooping cough. But luckily for me, other zebras and new-borns, you don’t need to have a full case of whooping cough to give the full-blown thing to someone else.

So what does a full-blown case of whooping cough look like in an adult?

Well first you get a “cold.” It’s really not even that bad of a cold. Then after about a week you start getting a nagging cough. That gets worse for a couple weeks until you find yourself having anywhere from 15-50 coughing fits a day that are so intense you throw up and gasp for air as seemingly infinite amounts of sticky mucus obscure your airways. (In my case the very worst of the attacks only lasted for a little over a week.) Then things get just a little better. Your coughing fits are less frequent. You aren’t choking, gasping and throwing up quite so much when you cough. You stop feeling like you’re going to black out with each coughing fit. That’s where I’m at now. Apparently this bit can last anywhere from 2-10 weeks.

Oh yeah and I forgot to mention–you might cough so hard that you break, bruise or dislocate a rib or so. It freakin hurts, but don’t worry there’s not much they can do about it.

That’s maybe the worst thing about whooping cough–there’s almost nothing that can be done. If caught early enough a course of antibiotics can lessen the severity of the case, but otherwise you basically just have to ride it out.

In China whooping cough is known as the 100 days cough, because it often lasts for three months or longer. So I pulled out my calendar and counted 100 days from the day I got sick. According to Chinese tradition I should be better by December 19th, give or take a few days. I have no idea why I thought that would help. I guess I can start a count down or something. At this point I’m at least a month in so… only 70 more days to go!

This is definitely not how I wanted to start off the semester. Or finish it… But it is what it is. It’s not going to make for the smoothest semester, that’s for sure, but I’ll do my best. And that includes making a sincere effort not to vomit or pass out in class 😉


We swiped a bunch of the ER vomit bags so we could feel like our trip hadn’t been a total waste. I carry one around everywhere to catch whatever comes up during a coughing fit.


Doing the nebulizer. This thing is almost as old as I am and it’s still kickin! We call it the Darth Vader machine.

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