So, I posted this on the Catharsis roundrobin on Luna, but I thought I'd post to my own personal journal as well.
It also makes me extremely sad to see Sally might be closing the site down. I honestly don't know what I'd do without Lunaescence. However, the people that I have met over at Jamlyfics are amazing. :] So thank you for that.
Without further ado:
I don't even really know why I am writing this, to be completely honest. My story is nothing–and I mean nothing–compared to everyone else. Still, bare with me. You don't have to read if you don't want to. I wouldn't blame you, either. Compared to these lovely people, my problems are miniscule at best. So, where to start?
Once upon a time I, Laurin Nicole (affectionately dubbed 'Elle' by her grandmother), had two loving parents who were so in love it was sickening. When I turned two, my parents divorced, and I was ripped away from my father. They bickered like cats and dogs, and I can still recall their heightened tones, and threats. Regardless of if my parents knew it or not, their loud tones would cause many problems for me later on in life. But we'll skip to the good stuff, right?
When I was six years old, I was placed in therapy for so called “separation anxiety” if you will. It was weird having to tell my friends why I was always leaving class early on Thursdays. Still, I was too young to really comprehend what was happening. To me, Dr. Leslie was my friend. She played dolls with me and was nice. However, one afternoon, she pulled my mom off to the side and mentioned placing me on medication. An anti-depressant.
My mom was so appalled she ripped me out of therapy faster than you could blink. Outraged, my dad and her began arguing even more, especially because my dad is a true believer in cognitive therapy, as well as medication. But for what, you might ask. Why did I need medication in the first place?
While all of this was happening, my grades in school started to drop because of my constant ailments. It was just one thing after another, I guess. I'd get well, then get sick again for another week. I was even hospitalized one time because I caught a serious case of pneumonia. But still, I was fine. I had my tonsils removed at age seven, and my illnesses seemed to calm down...for now.
At age eight, I was tossed into another therapy program with Dr. Richards, a nice lady who was beginning her first year of residency. Still, I wasn't sure what I was going in for. It didn't really matter, though. For four years I continued to see this lady every Monday, getting to know her, and myself. By the time I was twelve, I was finally beginning to understand why I was going. One day, Dr. Richards had a meeting with both my mom and dad (by now, they had stopped fighting; for my sake) and told them that I had GED; Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Once again, the idea of medication was brought up, but my mom quickly pushed that away. No meant no, in her book. No matter what my dad did or said, she wouldn't change her mind on the matter.
The next year, school was going fabulously. I made amazing friends, continued my therapy, and started to understand who I was. Eighth grade came and went and finally I graduated from middle school and moved on to high school.
For me, ninth grade was a very hard transition. You see, I went to a Catholic school since pre-K until eighth grade. For high schools in my area, you have to apply and get accepted; it's kind of like a mini college. Since the third grade, I had dreamt of going to this school that I will dub “MT Academy”.
MT Academy was everything you'd expect from a Catholic, all-girl's academy. It was strict, and was named one of the top high schools in the nation. I applied in eighth grade, had my interview, and got accepted. Still, as happy as I was, I was also sad. My best friend in the entire world lived across the lake and, while her mom would continue to teach at my elementary school, the chances of seeing her every day were nonexistent. My other best friend was a guy, and obviously could not attend my school, either. Still, at least he didn't live a hour away from me. Still, I had my best friend going with me, as well as another good friend. I would be fine.
Transitioning into MT Academy was fine and dandy. I met some wonderful people, made great grades, and even managed to snag a place in MT Academy's all-state choir. However, one day in P.E., I pulled out my back. It hurt so bad that I cried and cried and cried. Turns out that not only did a disk from my spinal cord slip, but it was pushing against one of my nerves. In order to treat this, my doctor ordered physical therapy, which only helped so much. Still, it wasn't until November that things really went downhill.
I came home one afternoon, feeling really strange. My mother took note of it, and felt my forehead. I was running fever, and was sick. I had the flu, which wasn't that strange. Everyone got the flu, right? I got over it in a week or so, and returned back to school.
I got sick not even three days later.
Suddenly, it seemed like I was out of school more than I was in it. My mom would get downright furious when I would tell her I didn't feel well. “You're just faking it,” she'd tell me as she made me get ready for school. I'd go to school and come back home, worse than I was before I had left. She'd then tell me that “she was taking me to the doctor's” and “if there was nothing wrong with me, then I'd be sorry”.
Each and every single time she took me, there was something wrong. Strep throat, the flu, a bacterial virus. You name it, I had it. She would always feel terrible after, showering me in affection and care. I know my mom didn't mean anything by it. What kid likes school, right? She just thought I was trying to skip.
It became harder and harder to keep up in school. Still I managed, somehow. My friends then began to poke fun at my sickness, going as far as to say, “Oh, that's just Elle. Always sick.” It was all in good fun, though. I knew this. Still, despite how many times I kept getting sick, I tried my damn hardest to keep my grades up.
By the end of ninth grade, I had missed forty-five school days with a 3.5 GPA. I was pretty happy with myself.
However, sophomore year began my troubles. Suddenly, my schedule was much harder than freshman year. I had to drop my honors classes, because I kept getting sick. Finally, it got to the point where I was almost failing Chemistry, which is something else because I adore science classes. Because of all the school I was missing, my entire attitude began to drop. Suddenly, school wasn't as fun. I turned to the internet–mainly reading fanfiction on Luna–in order to cope with it. Reading and submerging myself into fantasy land was much easier than facing what was happening in the real world.
By the end of my first semester at MT Academy, my mom and dad both agreed to pull me out and put me in another Catholic high school.
I was so depressed. The very first day there, no one welcomed me. I sat outside during lunch and read to myself. I was miserable. When my mom picked me up from my first day and asked how it was, I promptly busted out into tears and cried the entire way home.
My mom knew it was a mistake to take me out. She tried to get me back into MT Academy starting with that day. However, at my new school–we'll call it DLS–things were pretty bad. If anything, my health was just diminishing by the day, it seemed. I missed three weeks of school once because I had bronchitis. One of my mother's co-workers, alarmed for my well-being, suggested that we get my immune system checked out. So I sat in a chair on an early Saturday morning, trying to suck up my fear of needles, as this woman took nearly a pint of blood out of my arm.
About a month and a half later, the doctor called with the results.
Apparently I had just been coming off of mono, and that could be causing my fatigue. However, there was something else that put him on edge. My white blood cell count was low, and he suggested immediate blood work be drawn again and examined. I wasn't stupid. I knew what a low white blood cell count meant.
He thought I had leukemia. He thought I had cancer. After he told me I was stunned. I didn't know what to say, or what to think. My mom was hysterical, and had to leave the room to calm herself down. In my head, my mind began to make the worse of the situation. My doctor was quick to tell me not to worry, not to freak the fuck out. They couldn't be entirely sure of what was going on until they drew my blood work. That very day I got more blood work done, and three weeks later he called us again.
I didn't have cancer. I was so relieved that I cried on the phone with him still on the line. My mom was doing her best to be strong for me and she held me close, just listening to me cry. I had been so scared that I was going to die. However, despite this wonderful news, the truth smacked me in the face.
What was wrong with me? It seemed like no one knew.
Upon drawing even more blood work, my doctor discovered that my IgG count was abnormally low. For people who don't know what IgG is, it is an antibody molecule found inside of your immune system. Of course, my doctor referred us to an immunologist.
By then, I had missed so much school that I lost count. My history teacher would mock me, asking if I had been skipping again. My best friend (long story short, she ended up transferring from MT Academy to DLS) stood up and told him off for me. She took a detention for me. I couldn't believe how supportive she was being. Of course I kept her filled in on my medical condition, but I didn't share that much. I didn't want to burden her. I didn't want to burden anyone with my problems.
Anyways, we visited the immunologist, who then took more blood work, and promptly came up with the idea that my immune system was just a little low. He gave me a booster shot, which should have protected me from illnesses, and sent me on my merry way.
I got sick not even four days after this vaccination.
I was referred to another doctor called Dr. Daul by my first immunologist. She ordered blood work, and was shell-shocked to see that the booster shot had done absolutely nothing for me. It was almost like I didn't even get the shot in the first place. She studied my immune system even more, confused as to what was wrong, before she referred me to another doctor.
By then, I had graduated from 10th grade and missed sixty-five days in total.
I was at my dad's house in Texas when my mom called me, telling me how I had to see, yet again, another doctor. Enraged, I began throwing a fit. Poor, poor, pitiful me. I know that there are people with worse problems with me–people dying–but didn't I have a right to be angry, too? I had seen three doctors within a span of five months, and not a single one knew what the problem was.
And I kept getting sick, too. I was tired of always being sick. To top it off, being at DLS had thrown me into a serious depression. I had no friends there, because I knew my best friend was transferring to another school and wouldn't be there next year. That, on top of all my medical problems, was enough to send me over the edge. My mom finally allowed my therapist to give me medication.
With the new doctor, Dr. Sorensin, he ordered even more blood work. It was two weeks later when he called me back with the results.
I had PIDD, or Primary Immune Deficiency Disease. Basically, PIDD is a rare disease when your immune system does not produce the means to run normally. Because my IgG was low, I was not protected from things such as the flu, strep throat, pneumonia, etc. By September of my Junior year, they began these treatments called IVIG.
Basically, once a month I had to go to the hospital and be hooked up to a drip for about seven hours or so. Inside of the drip was Immunoglobulin–IgG made from other people. To my horror, I discovered that I would have to do this process for the rest of my life. While PIDD has a treatment, it does not have a cure.
The very first time I got my IVIG treatment, it was terrible. The hospital was cold, I had a panic attack from the thought of a needle sitting inside of my arm, and to make things worse, the nurse could not find any sort of vein on my arm. So she stuck me in the hand, much to my dismay. Still, she set up the medicine and began the drip. I thought things were going to be okay. I had not accounted the fact that the medicine burned while going into my body.
It hurts. I can't even begin to describe how it feels. Maybe I am being dramatic, but it is so uncomfortable. The next day, at school, I had a vertigo attack and had to be taken home. It was then that my mom and I found out that returning to school the next day after was not likely. At least, not for the first few months. My body needed time to adjust to this medication that was foreign.
The next few times I went, the nurses all declared that I had “spider veins” and that sticking me was “hard to practically impossible”. It was so bad that, during one treatment, I had two nurses stick me twice, an anesthesiologist stick me three times, another anesthesiologist stick me twice, and the head nurse look at me before they decided to take me down to the operating room, put me under, and stick the vein on the bridge of my hand and my wrist. I was bruised all the way from my wrist up to my elbow.
As for school, I was so depressed that my mom made the choice to yank me out, and let me do home schooling. Suddenly everything was better....at least on the school front. I continued these treatments, but what confused me was why I was still getting sick. Still, my sickness had cut itself in half, for which I was entirely grateful. However, in September of '10, Children's Hospital changed my medication from Gammunex to a brand called Gammaguard because of the price. I reacted badly to the medicine. I was going to leave and, while in the hospital, I frantically told my mom that something was wrong as I curled myself up on the floor of the elevator, and became to dry heave.
My mom took me back up to the floor I had just been on, and I honestly don't remember much of what happened. Apparently I had passed out, and a doctor had carried me back into a room. I woke up with an IV in my arm, and a heart monitor cuff on forearm. My blood pressure had sky-rocketed for some strange reason, and I was running a high temperature. I cried when they told me I had to stay overnight, but complied anyways.
The next day I was fine, and was free to leave. A series of events such as this one continued, and finally my mom pegged my problems on the new brand of medication I was receiving. My doctor argued against her and brushed her off. Fast forward to Christmas time.
I was spending time with my dad, since my school is on the computer. At one point, I had a panic attack and finally told my dad I didn't want to go home. So I stayed there with him, and he began calling into Children's in Houston, which is ranked number two in immunology. Finally, I met with a new doctor named Dr. Hansen, who made me preform a series of events. I inquired about my skipping menstrual cycle and if my medication was the cause of it, and she said she didn't know. I was referred to a PTP, but I'll talk about that later.
Dr. Hansen made me draw more blood work, and met with us a few days later. As she glanced over my blood work, she noted how my IgG level, while it was low, was not as low as it should have been for me to be getting sick. Immediately I was on edge. Did this mean that they didn't know what was wrong again? However, she pointed towards my B-memory cells and told me how abnormal they were. She said that I had hypogam anemia, which basically meant that, while I have IgG, I did not have b-memory cells to make it work. She explained it as a car that has a motor, but has no gasoline to make it run. I was to continue my IVIG treatment there. She also switched me back to gammunex, much to my happiness.
I'm not even going to finish the story about my mental-state of mind. That's another story for another time.
Where does Luna come into all of this? Well, Luna has basically been my escape outlet from all of this bullshit. Reading the stories from such talented people makes my heart feel warm, and offers me an escape from reality, even if just for a moment. Thank-you for reading this, and I'm sorry if there are mistakes. It is currently 3:30 A.M., and I am ready to go to sleep.
So, Luna, thank-you so much. I love you.