A Letter to My Very First Neurologist (Ish)

Dear WebMD,

I’ve noticed that you’ve been getting a lot of flak. A lot of hate. People use you as a punchline. Like, “I had a cold.. but WebMD told me I had cancer!” That must be hard. So I’m writing to let you know that I’m still here, as a friend. I’m a loyal, true believer. Yes, there have been times when I just had a nosebleed and you told me it was either a brain tumor or like, I don’t know, Ebola, but one time, when it really counted, you were my ally.

You probably don’t even know what I’m talking about, so I’ll tell you. Once, when I was 18 and home on winter break after my first semester of college, I had just gotten over what my local doctor told me was a bad virus when my feet went numb. And then they stayed numb. It was very odd. I did a lot of things to try to get them to un-numb themselves, but nothing worked. I put on warm socks and ran up and down the stairs. I rubbed them a bunch. I took hot showers. And then, WebMD, I turned to you. I plugged all the things I was feeling into your lovely symptoms checker and you spit back at me “Multiple Sclerosis.”

Multiple Sclerosis was something I knew nothing about. I didn’t know anyone who had it. I knew that sometimes people did charity runs or bike rides for it because it was A Very Tragic Disease that, I don’t know, probably Only Very Sick and Old People had and probably led to them being Confined to Wheelchairs. Thus, I yelled to my dad, “Dad, could I have multiple sclerosis?”

And he, as every father probably should when a teenage daughter says “Dad, could I have [insert tragic disease here]?,” said “No, what? No.” Thus I attempted to put it out of my mind. But, as the existence of this blog might have led you to guess, you were right, WebMD. You were right! You are probably wrong a lot of the time, but with me, you were right. And I argued with a few doctors and convinced them that something was really wrong and that I knew my body and knew that it didn’t feel right and that I really really did need an MRI. Finally, though they thought I was crazy, they gave me one and then they scratched their heads because you guessed it, there were lesions, and without your symptoms checker, I might not have gone to the doctor.

Which is really my point, other people who might be reading this letter (oh, is this on my blog? How interesting.). My point is that you know your body better than any doctor might and even though WebMD is often wrong and you don’t have a new kind of cancer every time you have a headache, sometimes they’re right, and if it’s WebMD who convinces you to go to a doctor and makes you feel legitimate enough to say, hey, listen, I want you to run that test, then so be it.

A thing, though, which is strange, is that I went back, for old time’s sake, let’s say, and I put in all those symptoms that I had, because, I don’t know, masochism, and MS didn’t come up. The top results were much less serious conditions, even though I put in all the symptoms I had which were accurate and pointed to an accurate diagnosis. I had to scroll down a very long list to find MS. WebMD, are you feeling pressured? Are you trying to change your reputation as an over-reactor, the website that says cancer when it’s just a nosebleed? Don’t tell someone like me “Poorly fitting shoes” (an actual result just now) when they have MS. You know that doesn’t explain the nausea, the dizziness, the vertigo, the vomiting.* WebMD, be yourself. Just tell us your truth, we can take it! Be a tool of empowerment, even if people don’t see you that way. Some doctors suck and barely listen, but you take every symptom into account and give every possible answer. Keep doing that.

Love,

a Hopeful Fan

*seriously, I have worn some poorly fitting shoes in my life, and they have never caused… MS-like symptoms.

Spring Apocalypse

My spring apocalypse started approximately fourteen hours ago.

If I’m going to be poetic and weird I’d say that everything melted, but since we barely had winter, it’s not that applicable.

(Thoreauvians, this one’s for yall)

We drove out of town with ice on the rocks by the side of the road (mysterious, given it was 50 degrees out) and discussed the GPS. If Thoreau wanted to know the distance from Middletown to Mamaroneck (pronounce it correctly), he’d use string. And he’d be accurate. We used the GPS.

It may seem ridiculous to drive 80 miles and ride two trains and run a couple blocks just to listen to someone talk for fifteen minutes, but for us it wasn’t. It was probably the best decision I’ve made so far this year (and 2012 isn’t as new anymore).

I felt like we were transported back, weirdly, to freshmen fall, and that feeling of closeness. After Abelove’s closing remarks, we talked over dinner fairly frankly (because we’re among friends).

I wish when we all said goodbye, it didn’t feel like we were saying goodbye to someone we hadn’t seen in a year and a half. I wish it felt like we all live within a mile of each other and inhabit the same tiny bubble that is Wesleyan. Which we do.

Although at the same time, it’s really only coincidence and the mysteries of WesMaps that brought us all together in the first place so there’s really no inherent reason for us to feel close and god it’s such a weird situation and…

write deliberately, read deliberately, disobey (civilly) when you need to, know that the spring apocalypse will come. Drive home in the dark listening to Oren and Leo debate philosophy/identity/theory of self and be too tired to join in. But know that you are among friends.

 

WHOA!

GUYZ. Click this. I’m so (prematurely) excited. Injections suck.

Although, I’m a little freaked out by the thought of Copaxone side effects happening at a certain time every night and me not having any control over it…. other than that, this is awesome. 🙂

Getting Sillier

Oh hey blogosphere, I haven’t seen you in a while. Since I’m incredibly busy, I thought I’d post my first exercise from my creative writing class. The prompt was to write testimony (like court testimony). This way you can a) laugh a little hopefully b) think about what your pet would say about you c) not really, because that’s really corny and d) know what’s going on in my brain. Happy reading (I hope) 🙂

Also, as my friend Kraksy will attest, looking at pictures of guinea pigs makes me unnaturally happy. Here’s a guinea pig for you to smile at before you read (not my guinea pig) (aka the narrator)

Testimony of Cinnamon, a guinea pig

 

My name is Cinnamon, better known as Minnie. I hereby solemnly swear on all that I hold dear (namely, my water bottle, my crawl-tunnel, and my Food Dish which is always plentiful) that I shall now tell nothing but the truth.
It is indeed true that, as a small rodent, I have no long-term memory.
It is also true that thus, I have no memories which could lead to the persecution and/or prosecution of my Owner, she who refills the Food Dish.
It would be out of the bounds of my memory, then, to report that perhaps my Food Dish is not “always plentiful,” as previously stated. I would not recall days when the Food Dish was not refilled.
It would also be impossible for me to state that occasionally, though Owner is supposed to take her medication before she goes to sleep, she often does not sleep until the sun has again risen and thus does not take her medication until that time.
It would be highly improper of me, as I have no recollection of these events, to state that after injecting herself in the leg with the aforementioned medication, Owner just leaves the used syringe sitting on her table. Surely, she would never do something so irresponsible.
It has been told to me, since I would not recall, that I was named Cinnamon due to the fact that I was purchased with another Guinea Pig, who was named Nutmeg, called Meggie. I can assume, through knowledge of Owner’s intelligence, that she did not actually believe us to have been sisters. Having examined photos of the Other Pig, Meggie, I can report that we do not look like sisters at all. Her fur is an entirely different texture.
As I also have no depth perception, it would be hard for me to observe Owner’s actions in a way that would lead to valuable testimony. I have thus never observed Owner stating to her mother “Yes, I will clean my room,” and then proceeding to sit on her floor watching moving images on her keyboard and screen device while eating crunchy puffed grains. I also, of course, speak no English and would not have understood the discourse.
I can also, since I speak no English, not attest to many conversations between Owner and her mother which proceed as follows: the mother says “Clean the Guinea Pig’s cage,” and Owner says “Why? It looks perfectly fine,” while I, Cinnamon, wallow in my own filth. Owner, were I able to understand her, would never say such a thing, nor would she allow me to inhabit an unclean cage.
As Owner is a good Owner and takes care of me well, she would never allow the smaller human, also known as “Devilish Child,” to come into our cage, reach into my smaller cage, and pick me up.
Since she of course would chaperone these visits, were they ever to take place, she would never allow Devilish Child to squish my stomach for many minutes while laughing.
I would not recall, with my limited memory, times when Owner failed to fully protect my cage from outsiders and thus allowed the Medium Sized Mammal to swipe his paw through the bars of my smaller cage. Owner would never allow me to be put in such danger, and if she had, I would not remember.
Based on my limited recollections, which, due to my lack of long-term memory, have all taken place over the past ten minutes, I can assure the court that Owner is a perfectly fit Owner and should be allowed to continue to act as my caretaker.

 

 

The Existential Blog Crisis

(since classes have started and I have no time, I thought I’d post this weird thing that I wrote at like 5AM at some point over break) (an update post is coming this weekend, I promise!)

I don’t spend a lot of time contemplating whether I exist. “Waiting for Godot” (please pronounce it God-oh when you say it in your head) is my all-time absolute head-over-heels favorite play, and the fundamental question (back to AP English) is “Am I?” but it’s not a question I ask. When my friend Wes was having an existential crisis, he asked me if I ever thought about that stuff. I guess if I have to think about that stuff, I’d say we do exist, because there’s not a good alternative. Nobody’s imagination is that layered (and cruel) that they dreamed up all the stuff that happens in the world (ya know, genocide, AIDS, famine, diabetes, Michele Bachmann…). And I think our lives would be more unpredictable if we were just dreamed up. I don’t know. Like I said, it’s not an avenue of thought that I go down.

However, I am having an existential blog crisis.

Does my blog exist? I’m not really sure. Do any websites exist? Do online personalities exist? Does writing exist if it’s only online and not printed? Do things have to be tangible? Too many questions!

And then with my blog specifically: is it a disease blog if I’m in denial about being diseased?

Yeah, okay, I said it. I’m in some serious denial. Wouldn’t you be? Nobody wants to hear at age eighteen that suddenly their life is on a completely different path that they can’t veer off of.

It makes me think about choosing majors (again). My dad pointed out that what I major in Does. Not. Actually. Matter. Whoa. I could major in whatever, and as long as I got decent grades (ha. hahaha) I could just enroll in the Bryn Mawr pre-med one-year magic program-y-thing and still go to medical school. I could major in dance and art if I felt like it (or, ya know, was good at either of those things). So no matter what I do with this particular decision, I can still ditch that path later.

I keep using walking metaphors (paths, avenues) which is probably because my favorite method of thinking is to just start walking somewhere. Especially in high school when everything, every fight every breakup every text message, seemed so significant and painful and urgent, it felt weird to take public transportation somewhere. I guess sitting on a train felt too stationary. So I walked.

Then, for me, to be stuck on one road seems inconceivable. Couldn’t I just turn right up at that corner and go be healthy? Couldn’t I stop, tie my shoe, window-shop, delay the progressiveness that is MS?

Is it really a disease blog if I refuse to feel diseased?

PS: if you are actually having an existential crisis please do not click here because it’ll just make you sadder about the world.

The Mother-Daughter BlogStravaganza

How to Write a Marketable BookBased on our research of actual book titles, we’ve got the formula: towering intellectual figure + everyday object.
Thoreau’s Laundry
Flaubert’s Parrot
Heidegger’s Glasses
Wittgenstein’s Poker
Beethoven’s Hair

Easy, right?  Ideally the object should be one the Intellectual Figure handles every day, to enhance intimacy and mystery (the mystery of, Why the fuck would anyone write about this?) Writing the book is not really the problem, it’s the title. So to make it easier on you, the writer-to-be, we’ve created a list:

Darwin’s Ladle
Asimov’s Spatula
Sartre’s Springform Pan
Kant’s Whisk
Nietzsche’s Coffee Mug
Picasso’s Toothbrush
Van Gogh’s Multivitamins
Monet’s Smartwool Socks
Hume’s Waxed Floss
Gaudi’s Q-tip
Beckett’s Fingernail Clippers
Freud’s iPad
Shakespeare’s Doorknob
Joan of Arc’s Digital Camera
Queen Elizabeth’s Wireless Mouse
Tolstoy’s Brita Pitcher

Historical inaccuracy?  Why not speculate on what Joan would have photographed if she could have!  A hipster self-portrait of herself being burned to death after which she tossed the camera away from the fire… Anyway, remember to add hypersexuality, insanity, and death, plus creamed herring for breakfast or whatever weird thing your Intellectual Figure tucks into his or her mouth.  We all have mouths, so we want to know this stuff.  Add odd habits, such as walking by the clocktower every day at noon, or always washing the left underarm first, or roasting roadkill  to save money.   Or building teepees out of sticks and calling them magic caves as the apocalypse arrives (apologies to Von Trier–but we would rather roll up in blankets in a closet and suck down some liquor than sit on an exposed hillside without even a sweater if the world was going to end–though the teepee was more picturesque, we grant).

Whoa–pie break.  I made a chocolate cream pie last night, in a successful effort to get my father to eat carbs.  He ate carbs!  Unalloyed culinary triumph! Now we must have some pie. Anyway, here’s the end of our first mother-daughter-blog-stravaganza, look out for more in the future!
Love,
Kathryn & Cade

Teach Me How to Taggie

teach me teach me how to taggie

No, but really, I have a serious tag problem. Let me try to explain. My problem is that most of my tags are just inside jokes with myself. To be clear, these are jokes that only exist within my own head. Actually.

I think the purpose of tags (or how I explained them to my mom) (for use on her much more functional blog which you can find here) is to sort of make “topics” (tags) that people can click on in your “tag cloud” to see more posts that deal with that subject. Such as, for normal people, “family” or “recipes” or “new york city” or “roommates.” To contrast, here’s a rundown of some of my own tags that I (and only I) have found clever:

cankles

did i mention cankles?

go watch 10 movies in some air conditioning

hilarity ensued

i don’t want to share solutions with you

jk this isn’t about hipster music

omg its so dark

owls

you have to speak spanish in order to read this post

One thing that you might note about all these “tags” (they don’t really qualify as tags) is that I don’t use them more than once. For some of them (such as “hilarity ensued” or many more that I didn’t list) this is simply because I forget that they exist. That’s right. I forget that I created a tag that (for once) could function for many posts. WHAT. This is awful. I have dug myself into a deep pit of self-referential entirely useless tags. And now I’m writing a painfully meta blog post. Forget MS, this is like the worst thing that’s ever happened to me. #justkiddingthatwastheMS

And there’s a hashtag. Look at what my life has become. I need my mommy.