Wednesday, May 10, 2006

"What can you do with an English major?"...

asks a character in the musical Avenue Q . Funny, that's what my mom asked me, too...

I began at Capital University in August, 2000, as a Middle Childhood Education major. It took almost exactly one month for me to change me mind. :)

My friend Liz (also a reader of this blog, so I hope she's not embarrassed at being mentioned!) was co-chair (I think) of Cap's College Republicans that year. Since 2000, as we all remember, was one heck of an Election Year, we were busy with phone banks, lit drops and the like. It was a fantastic introduction into the political world. But that night that really changed my mind was the night of the first Presidential debate.

The Franklin Co. GOP held a debate watching party at the Damon's in Columbus' Arena District, not to far from Capital. Liz and some others, including Branden, were going that night, and I decided what the heck? I didn't have anything else to do, and my roommate was never around, so it wouldn't bother her.

That night, in a dark basement room of Damon's, surrounded by state party leaders (including the governor) and other Republicans (more than I'd ever seen in one place at one time), that I knew I was in the wrong profession. In my EDUC 101 classes, we spent more time talking about "inclusion" (as in, how to word a word problem so it accurately reflected "diversity") than teaching. I didn't like it. I wanted to be a teacher, but I didn't wan to have to read Why Does Sally Have Two Mommies or whatever to my classes. I wanted to be able to teach and not worry about nutty regulations or whatever, and I most definitely did not want to join a union.

That night, aflame with political passion, I called my parents once we got back to campus and told them I was changing my major to Political Science and English Lit--the two things I'd always wanted to do. My family was political, in the sense that all of us kids listened to Rush Limbaugh and we all knew the Speaker of the House, President of the Senate, and other political leaders waaay before most kids our age. We'd been active in following politics since the '92 election (I stitched my first sampler during the Democratic convention). With a Poli Sci/ English major, I figured I could be a political writer, writing speeches and what not...eventually. I wanted to be Sam and Toby on West Wing , except with Peggy Noonan's politics ('course I wanted to be her, too). So second semester, I began that career track.

Of course, not everything went smoothly between that autumn night and January. One morning in September, I got up, showered as usual, and went to dress. But not before running the 10 feet from my Schaaf Hall basement dorm room to the toilets, where I promptly threw up. Thinking that was abnormal, I decided that missing my 9 a.m. Elementary Math class wouldn't hurt. I dashed off an email to my professor and then tried to sleep it off (my preferred method for most things).

No-go, I was getting searing, precisely-located pain in my abdomen, to the left of my sternum, that I'd never had before. So I tried advil. No go--came back up. When I tried to stand up, I couldn't stand up straight. Like I said, I've got a really high pain tolerance, so if I'm complaining, it's big. I decided to try the campus nurse and see what was up.

She was a good nurse, as far as these nurses go, and asked me if I'd ever had this type of pain before, etc., etc. I said no. She said I should go to the ER, and called my father, who worked on Broad Street then, so he wasn't too far from Capital. Grumblingly, he came, muttering that it was probably just stomach flu (we should note that my dad likes ERs as much as George Bush likes terrorists). But then I threw up again, in a trash can on the middle of campus (dad calls that my " Exorcist moment", as we were walking to visitor parking and headed for the Children's ER.

There, blood tests were run, an IV was started, and I was given some anti-emetics--phernergan, drug of champions :). The tests came back relatively quickly, and revealed that I had pancreatitis.

Now you have to understand that that's not that common in CF patients, because typically our pancreases are totally burned out due to infection and clogging of the small ducts in the organ. When you get pancreatitis it demonstrates that your pancreas has become inflamed due to producing too many enzymes or whatever--it's working overtime. So this was, well, odd. But, as Dr. M said, I was the 'strangest case of CF' she had ever seen.

I was in the hospital for about a week, where I was given painkillers and phernergan, and couldn't eat until my amalayse and lipase levels were back to normal, and even then it was liquids/clears, then low-fat. It was a slow progression because it can be very touchy and not an exact science.

I got pancreatitis again in December...but some things had changed, otherwise, since September...

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