I was the smart kid in school. I'll just get it out there now. I don't do it to brag or to put myself above anyone. There are athletic kids, popular kids, rich kids, poor kids...all kinds of kids; I just happened to be one of the smart ones. (Which pretty much excluded me from most other groups)
I had one or two friends at any given time and I usually had my nose in a book...it's amazing how little has changed.
When I went to junior high I stopped being one of the smart kids. I became best friends with a beautiful, depressed, artistic girl and suddenly I had lots of friends. Older friends, who were just as smart as I was, who I could talk to without being accused of condescension. And then there were drugs. Lots of drugs. By 16 I had gone through most of the list of common illicit substances; trying, but not sticking with anything I'd call an upper, because, damn it, they just make me paranoid and nauseous. My high school years were spent indulging in alcohol, pot, LSD, and ecstasy on the weekends (but always being home by midnight) and being bored to death with school during the week. I always kept my head above water though, never addicted to anything (except nicotine) and never letting my grades fall below a self-imposed C average. I should have been getting straight A's; I can see that now because now I do, but then I just didn't give two shits.
At the end on my Junior year, when I was looking forward to the summer and the end of that high school hell was in sight, I came down with mysterious knee pain. I had suffered from migraine headaches my whole life, causing me to miss massive amounts of school, so another health problem was the least that I needed. Not expecting it to amount to much, I went to the doctor and had some lab tests run. When they asked me to make an appointment to discuss the results I didn't think anything of it. It's not in my nature to worry. Turns out I should have been worried, I had lupus. I had no idea what that meant though, I was not devastated, I was actually relieved; they had found the problem and they would fix it. Ha! Was I wrong. A few weeks later a doctor at one of the big giant hospitals downtown told me that I also had fibromyalgia, which was causing my migraines. What a way to start the summer...
For those who don't know, the kind of lupus I have, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), is an autoimmune disease. It's like your body is allergic to itself. Instead of functioning normally, my immune system also produces a variety of antibodies that attack various cells in my body causing, in my case, major joint pain over my whole body, a blood clotting disorder that landed me in the hospital not once, but twice with blood clots in my lungs, and lung "issues" including pleurisy (not too fun) and pneumonia (way less fun). I'm lucky in some ways, it could be attacking my kidneys or my liver. But that's really little consolation. Fibromyalgia is much more difficult to explain, but in general it causes a lot of fatigue, widespread muscle pain and weakness, oversensitivity to painful stimuli and changes in temperature, and of course, migraine headaches. There are a variety of treatments for both diseases. The traditional approach is pills and my health insurance covers those, so that's what I take. I could go to an acupuncturist, a massage therapist, and a chiropractor, but once again, I'm a college student. Blue Cross and Blue Shield don't believe in alternative medicine. And I'm already in enough debt.
Oh and of course, there's no cure for either disease.
To Be Continued...