What a whirlwind the last few months have been for me personally, professionally, and everything in between. It’s been a while since I posted on here, but given current circumstances, I figured this was the best time to let y'all know what’s been going on with me.
I’m now midway through my 20th month of service with the HandsOn Tech program at AmeriCorps*VISTA with Pittsburgh Cares, and despite a little fatigue, I still love that I get to help out the community in a way that makes the best use of my talent for language and technology. It’s been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, and I’m very glad that I’ve been given the opportunity to give back when I’ve been so fortunate in my own life.
I am also very happy to announce that, starting in August, I will be attending Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh to receive my Masters degree in professional writing. Communication, explication, and simplification are not only a job, they are a hobby for me, and with my admittance into this program, I am almost guaranteed a good job in a relevant field upon graduation. Future careers are as fascinating as they are diverse. I could follow in my mother’s footsteps and become a technical writer for the software industry, I can pursue this crazy dream of mine of becoming a writer and editor at a major publication, or I could venture off onto a million other tangents. The faculty are world-class professionals, the incoming students are friendly, smart and ambitious, and the facilities are state-of-the-art. I couldn’t be happier with my decision.
First, the good. Since almost exactly this time last year, I have lost around 50 pounds, shrinking from 270 to 220. This, plus the four months’ prior loss of 30 pounds, puts me at a total of 80 pounds since I started paying attention to what I eat. In January, I took up boxing as a hobby to help me get over that equilibrium point when fat becomes muscle, and I’ve loved it. I’m leaner, stronger, and better than ever, and I couldn’t be happier about that…
…except for one thing. In March, a sonogram showed that my spleen is enlarged. It’s roughly the size of my liver, which is about 4 times bigger than it should be, and because of that, I’ve reached critical mass. It’s restricting pretty much everything I can do, from movement to work to sleep, and it’s worrisome, so after 4 CTs and a trip to the ER, it’s bone marrow biopsy and maybe splenectomy time. Now comes clearing it with work, second opinions from other doctors, and hand-wringing. I’m trying my best to stay positive and just get it done because I have so much to look forward to, but navigating our healthcare system is taxing even under normal circumstances.
And now, a quick word on something that’s been knocking around in my head.
Back in November, what I loved most was taken away from me: my ability to sing. One of my vocal cords was paralyzed, and as a result I lost my position with a local choir, lost my voice, and lost my smile. I was pretty melancholy. So for the past 5 months or so, my random musings and jokes on Twitter have been interspersed with updates on my health and my mood. I tried to follow them all up with positivity, but sometimes I forgot or it was too late.
About a month after that, I noticed some of people whom I would have formerly considered pretty good friends (both online and off-) hang me out to dry. No words, just a steady trickle of them dropping out of my life. What’s worse is that, because I hadn’t noticed, I continued to talk to them as though we were still close until I realized they wouldn’t listen. So I did the only thing I knew to do: I cut them off too.
I hold compassion as a virtue, perhaps even greater than fidelity or loyalty. When someone I know is going through difficult times, I will do whatever I have at my disposal to help alleviate their suffering, be it dancing around in a funny hat or just lending an ear. Perhaps it was too simplistic or naïve to expect the same in return, but the least I would expect from a friend is tolerance of another’s pain.
Four months later, I’ve removed all of that negativity from my circle, and my life is drastically improved. My circle of friends has expanded further, and although they sometimes coincide with the previously-regarded-as-friends circle, I can avoid it. If there’s one thing I’ve learned throughout my struggles with my health, it’s that dealing with people out of social obligation or that don’t care about you is the worst thing you can do to yourself. Your friends will understand and either tolerate you or deliver best wishes, and to them I will always extend my sincere thanks with a smile on my face and love in my heart.. And if they don’t, you know where the chips will fall when it matters.
If you can’t respect that, your whole perspective is wack.