When Pessimism is Used to Protect

So anyone who has been following this blog probably knows by now that my luck is absolutely awful. Despite this, however, my boyfriend and I decided to take a nice weekend trip out of Mississippi to visit our alma mater for one of the season’s biggest rivalry games. And we thought it would be a smooth trip with no hiccups.

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He took a day of leave and I managed to take a half day off work so we could leave at a certain time and arrive in town for an event. Everything was going smoothly, and we were so close to town, until *boom*, then a repetitive thud, thud, thud, thud… We immediately pull over on the shoulder of the highway to discover that his car had blown a tire out of nowhere.

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We were perfectly on schedule to make this event, so we didn’t have time to lose. He grabbed his spare tire and the car jack from his trunk, and began tinkering away. That is, until his car jack just snapped and down the car came crashing. We were only half an hour away from town, but could not get in touch with someone who could come and get us. New plan! We called Triple A, and were told help would be on the way by 1:45 am! …It was 9:45 pm. Another new plan! We contacted Florida Department of Transportation, who generously offers roadside assistance and provides car parts, like jacks, free of charge. But of course, they could not help as the only car jack they had was for another type of larger car. So they sent out a different vehicle for us that never arrived. When we called back later asking where our assistance was, we were told that the driver had passed us and thought we looked fine (sitting on the side of the road without any assistance) so he continued on. At that moment, we had already missed the event that we were rushing for all day and that we took work off for, so we just sat by the side of the road and enjoyed the stars. Plot twist: I sat in a pile of fire ants while my boyfriend was jogging along the side of the road searching for a mile marker to tell a tow truck where we were stranded on the side of the road in the middle of the night.

Eventually, a tow truck came and rescued us. The driver was told the car had no riders, so we proceeded to file into the cab of his truck, with me crouched and sitting on my boyfriend’s lap for 31 miles into town. When we arrived, we paid the tow truck driver his $80. The occupants of the house we were staying with were attending the event that we had missed. Of course the house was locked, so we proceeded to sit on the stoop and simply revel in the bad luck of it all for about an hour.

The weekend progresses on, until less than 24 hours later I felt serious abdominal pains. I had spent the day avoiding the college football tailgating extravaganza that was happening outside so I could monitor my heart rate, keep out of the sun, and regulate my fluid intake. I was determined to make this a fun weekend that my health did not dictate. But that night, I was crippled with severe pain, as if someone was wringing out my stomach like a dry sponge. This pain continued for 7-8 hours, until I was in a ball on the bathroom floor, crying and immobile from the pain. Around 2 am, I began vomiting black and coffee grounds – old blood. The pain managed to move from an 8 on the pain scale to a 6 after all the excessive vomiting, and I just needed some sleep. The next morning, as we waited for the tire place to replace my boyfriend’s tires for our long trip home, the pain raged again, if not worse. I was doubled over in the Tires Plus waiting room, crying and asking my parents what I should do from hundreds of miles away.

We waited a grueling hour while the tires were being replaced, and rushed to Urgent Care. Almost instantly, Urgent Care called an ambulance to transport me to the neighboring emergency room. My boyfriend contacted his wing commander and any of his colleagues necessary to inform them he may not be in the next day, as his girlfriend was experiencing a health emergency (again). I spent the day having blood drawn, aching for a drop of water. The stress had rocketed my Sjogren’s, and I was in and out of feeling loss of consciousness from the dehydration coupled with pre-existing POTS. I fought my way through all my other diseases during that hospital visit, simply to figure out what was happening now. I racked my brain with why – I had been sticking to a great, organic diet, have been sleeping well, have been hydrating often…

Finally, the ER doc came in to tell me that I had not lost any significant amounts of blood, but there was no further testing he could do. Once he confirmed that my liver numbers were in acceptable ranges, he sent me on my way. Even though he had to give me morphine to calm me down and a Motrin before I left because I was growing a steady fever, I was released to walk out because I was no longer “life-threatening.” And so, again begins the nasty cycle of “well you’re not dying!” but your daily life is relatively impossible to participate in. Oh, the autoimmune frustration of being compared to fatal diseases where you should feel lucky to have something that won’t kill you, but it’ll make you feel miserable until then.

This great weekend to enjoy the company of each other and friends we haven’t seen in months turned into more time spent either on the side of a highway or in a hospital. But I have to say, I was not even surprised that that’s how such an anticipated weekend turned out. I live in a world of car tires blowing out the one time you’re in a rush, in a world of throwing up blood but a doctor tosses his hands in the air to the reason why and sends you off. My boyfriend had gotten really excited when we were an hour from town and I had even said to him, “Don’t get too excited yet. There’s still plenty of time for this to go wrong.” I’m pretty sure he made one of his “don’t be a Negative Nancy” comments, and yet there we were, 25 minutes later, sitting on the gravel off I-10.

I find myself constantly wondering if that’s pessimism or realism. But I’ve deduced that to me, it’s realism. I don’t expect things to go wrong because I want them to, or even because I just simply think that they will. I expect they’ll go wrong so I’m not disappointed. I’m a big fairy tale and glittery and get-excited-over-stupid-things type of person, so I hook onto something small and get bursts of happiness from that. So when things fall through, it really brings me down, big or small. The big things impact life, but the little things give you the push to keep enduring what you’re dealing with. I think of my realism as a defense mechanism. If something does end up working out, then I can get excited and surprised and ride that high. But if something does not end up working out, then I can nod and understand that what I planned for has happened and I need to move on.

Everyone handles things in their own ways and for their own reasons. Sometimes I am sad for myself that my faith in fate can be so wavering at times. But I know why I think that way now. I didn’t always used to. But when you get diagnosed with three autoimmune diseases, dysautonomia, a liver condition, and painful and unexplained symptoms at 21 years old before your life can truly begin, you are unfortunately scarily aware of the unpredictability and the cruelty that life can dole out. And when those things keep happening over and over again and overshadowing the few good things, you start to expect disappointment. But to me, expecting disappointment is when you start to overcome it.

 

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