Sorry I’ve been MIA. I’ve come to realize that it’s difficult for me to focus on more than a couple areas of my life at a time, and I so apologize for neglecting this blog. BUT I’mback, and I’m so happy to share a bit about my summer.
If I had to describe the theme of this summer in one word, it would be growth.
I feel like I said something similar about last summer, and to be fair, we’re always growing. Every new experience teaches us something new about life, ourselves, and the world around us. I knew this summer would push my limits physically, emotionally, independently, and professionally, but we can never be fully ready for what’s ahead. However, I can safely say that living in Seattle for the summer has propelled me forward while being able to do something I would’ve only dreamed of.
This summer, I had the opportunity to work for Expedia on their Accessibility team, all while living in Bellevue, WA, taking public transit independently, managing my (and my dog’s)health, finding a church, cooking, making friends, hosting guests, relaxing,exploring cafes, anything and everything it takes to be an adult. There’s so much I could go into, but I’ll keep it to a few highlights and interesting stories.
My assigned mentor at work and I outside. He and I are smiling and both of us have guide dogs (my yellow lab and his German shepherd)
- The emergency room has great warm blankets.
This is a fact I’m well acquainted with from my history of being in and out of the hospital, but I was reminded of this in June when I took my very first solo visit to the ER!
The background for this is that in January of this year, I was diagnosed with an additional complication of Crohn’s Disease. It was quite a journey all spring semester, but after quite a bit of pushing, I was put on a treatment right after finals were over in April. With the help of my amazing mom, I was on my way to Seattle in mid-May after moving out of my sorority house and packing things up at home.
The treatment wasn’t perfect, and truthfully, I didn’t feel relief while on it, but I was hopeful. It wasn’t until mid-June I realized that I might’ve been having an allergic reaction to the drug. Thanks to my great work team, on that Monday when I realized that difficulty swallowing and breathing shouldn’t be happening, one of my coworkers drove me to the nearest ER. I was by no meansin a dangerous situation, but I was being cautious and following my GI’s suggestion. I was only there for a couple hours (fastest ER visit of my LIFE) and walked out with a script for some steroids and the suggestion to stop taking this new drug.
- Being sick is a part-time job.
Great, I thought, my throat won’t close up from this drug and breathing is important, but now I’m back to where I was in January: no treatment, and now I was 2,000 miles from home and couldn’t see my GI if I wanted to. The month that followed was plagued with making at least fifty phone calls: between the drug supplier, my mom, my boyfriend, the specialty pharmacy, six different specialists in three different cities (Columbus, Cleveland, and Seattle), insurances – calls I could almost always only make duringwork hours. Working in tech, I have the blessing of working a rather flexible schedule, so I can work from home and make up time as I need to, but even so, being sick requires so much time, effort, and knowledge, and no one is paying you to do it. Through the support of the people I love and quite frankly by pestering everyone involved, I begged for an appointment at the University of Washington Medical Center that ended up being a saving grace (thank you to my nurse practitioner!!!!) and I got things lined up for a new line of treatment when I got back to Columbus.
- Having a service dog is semblant to having a child.
The transition was “ruff” for Romana, too. Ever since we got to Washington, shestruggled with having some health issues since May. At first, I thought she was having some separation anxiety and was nervous about being in a new place. It continued though, and then followed some time of trying to observe to see what was going on. I also made phone calls to the vet in Bellevue and her school, Guide Dogs for the Blind, trying to sort out what was going on. We tried different things, some which worked and somewhich didn’t, but I can’t thank Guide Dogs enough for their support and coaching during this time.
- Life is about more than survival.
Even though things have much improved, the month and a half of being in medical “no-man’s land” was torturous. Regardless, I was determined to keep living a life I could enjoy. Somedays were easier than others, certainly, but the memories I know I’ll take with me are not the times I spent on the phone bothering all my specialists.
I’ll take the weekend in May when my mom was here and we visited the famous Pike’s Market.
Mom and I smiling in front of the Public Market sign. Romana is avoiding the camera, per usual
I’ll take the first week of June with my brother Carlos’ girlfriend was in the area, eating ice cream and wandering around a park while catching up.
My brother’s girlfriend andIholding big ice cream cones and smiling. Romana is very interested in our ice cream and is sitting below us
I’ll take the Saturday in June when Carlos came to visit from San Francisco. That night, we got a matching tattoo that had been planned since April: the center being a sun with a face, a symbol of the indigenous Taino people native to Puerto Rico, and the arrows to represent each of us.
SideprofilesofCarlos (in front) and I against the backdrop of the sky and surrounding trees and buildings.
Picture of the aforementioned tattoo on my thigh.
I’ll take the weekend of my 21st birthday when one of my long-distance best friends visited me from Boston. I can’t thank her enough for coming out from Boston and spending five unforgettable days with me!
Myfriend and I in front of the Seattle gum wall (kind of gross). She’s smiling and I’m grinning
I’ll take the last weekend of June that I got to spend time with some family friends who lived nearby, and I felt so cared for by having them nearby.
I’ll take the first week of July when my boyfriend of nearly a year and a half, Matthew, came to visit. We’re not new to long-distance dating, however, 2,000 miles for three months was a tall order, so he came to visit. The week flew by, and I’m looking forward to a time we’re not long distance anymore.
Snapchat selfie screenshot of Matthew and me. The caption says “cookin brunch” and I’m smiling partially out of frame and Matthew is grinning with an eyebrow raised while cooking ham
I’ll take mid-July when a friend from college was visiting Seattle and stopped by to explore and catch up.
I’ll take the end of July when I got to visit Carlos in San Francisco. We ate all weekend and I’m so glad we got to see each other.
~artsy~ photo of Carlos andI against a dark wall showing off our tattoos. We’re both looking serious: I have my arms crossed wearing shorts to see the tattoo on my thigh, and Carlos is angled facing back with his pant leg rolled to show the tattoo on his calf.
I’ll take all the little moments in between: going to the grocery store, visiting church Sunday mornings, bonding with my team at work, watching cheesy romantic comedies in my apartment alone, and sitting in cafes, because those moments are what make life worth it. You take the good with the bad because that’s just life.
Being in Seattle was an irreplaceable step in my young adult development. I can’t thank everyone who supported me through it, encouraging me to press on. I’ve continued to grow in knowing myself and in my relationships. My Seattle summer gave me the confidence to be the independent adult I always wanted to be and come to appreciate the help of those around me. I’m very happy to be in Columbus, but I will always have some roots in Seattle.
Picture of Romana licking my face with a sunset and the Seattle Great Wheel Ferris wheel in the background