I have spent a lot of time being sick. In fact this year has been an emotional roller coaster of emotional and physical wellbeing. I had two aunts die; my mother was in the hospital; I was admitted as well and am still in the throes of being diagnosed. Those who have kept up with my “Dire Straits” posts know that I have been shipped around by doctors and I had a hard time finding someone who would listen. Finally, a friend called into a favor at UAB. In less than a week, I was in with a doctor in the Rheumatology department. The doctor was very responsive and looked at my entire health history. He even looked at my original kidney biopsy that was done four years ago! Now that’s what I call service!
From both my symptoms and the results of my kidney biopsy, he was lead to believe that I might have lupus. More tests were run. I swear I don’t have any blood left! IO would know in two weeks what happened. Within that time, I woke up with no feelings in my feet or hands again. We called UAB and they set me up for another appointment; this was in response both to the flare up and the fact that I needed yet more tests done. We had yet to find where my autoimmune decencies were.
This led to a spiral of depression. I hurt, I can’t sleep, and I don’t feel good. I am emotionally tired. How much more testing do I need? What if it’s something more than lupus, something rare with treatments in testing? It all finally sunk in. My life will change no matter what happens. We can manage symptoms but flare ups are guaranteed and I will hurt like this again. I’ve cried over this in the last few days. But I’m ready to get back on the happy track. The best way? To explore how these burdens have given me blessings.
On Labor Day weekend, my boyfriend and I had planned a trip to Atlanta for my first Dragon Con. Dragon Con is a convention for the fans of science fiction, fantasy, television, comics, movies, etc. It spans five different buildings and six city blocks. Tens of thousands of people come dressed in costume to attend panels by stars, fans, and creators. Autographs and photo opportunities are abounding. People set up shop and nerds spend lots of money on cool geeky stuff. It sounded like an adventure and a chance for me to fan girl out.
So months and months ago, after Wizard World New Orleans, he said he wanted to take me and I agreed with excitement. I purchased my tickets, he booked a hotel room away from the hub of people, and I took time off work. Then came Memorial Day weekend, the start of a long, difficult struggle with my health. We had to reevaluate our trip. I was determined not to miss it. I rented a scooter (I can walk for long distances or stand for long periods of time), and he found out how to acquire disabilities services.
Our first night was a bit troublesome. We had rented a room at a bed and breakfast and were sharing that room with one of his friends to save costs. They had no elevator to where the rooms with two beds were, and I couldn’t go up the stairs. We had to get a ground room with one bed. The person at the front desk was nice but said it would have been helpful to know about the wheelchair when we booked. I explained, with wet eyes, that my condition had worsened and we didn’t know we would need it. The front desk made the room magically appear. My boyfriend’s friend had no problem sleeping in the “sitting area”; he had plenty of blankets and space. That was blessings one and two.
The Dragon Con staff was nice and helpful. They assisted in registration and getting me set up with a wheelchair sticker which denoted I needed special seating for ambulatory assistant vehicle. They even got me a sticker to write my emergency contact on in case something was to happen to me when I was separated from my boyfriend. Friday was hard. I was taught good manners so I was trying to be nice but people were being rude about letting me get through or walking in front of my scooter. I was tired and cranky (being in a new place the night before had made it hard to sleep). I went to The Walking Dead panel, and my pass worked like it should. Because I was first in the wheel chair line (I still went an hour before to wait as is appropriate), I got a good view of the stage. But the cast didn’t show up. Then, on our way to the next event, my scooter broke down. I was just so upset and tired and unhappy that I cried. I thought I had made the biggest mistake.
But God was just teaching me. Showing me a burden and then showing me the blessings. I got good sleep that night and was hooked up a new, working scooter. I decided that I would quite being “nice” and just run over people who rude to me. I went to the Warehouse 13 panels, bought gifts for my friends and got autographs from Mary Elizabeth McGlynn and Eddie McClintock.
Being in the scooter became a blessing. As long as I got to the lines in time, I got priority seating that was in good view of the panels. The Walk of Fame (where you get celebrity autographs) was not set up very well for vehicles so the Dragon Con staff worked with everyone politely letting me goes to the front of the line. The celebrities were so nice. Tahmoh Penikett was an angel thanking me for coming out and supporting him. It kept me out of the worst crowds and gave me a break from being on my feet that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. The staff at the various hotels was just as great. They let me use freight elevators and helped me navigate some of the worst crows.
It also caused some sweet confusion at the Photo Ops. I had order a photo opportunity with Tahmoh and Eliza Dusk because Dollhouse was one of my favorite shows. Miracle Laurie was also their and doing photos but I could not afford the group photo. I was the first one in line for Tahmoh/Eliza, and when I wheeled in, no one told Miracle she was done. In fact she, Eliza and Tahmoh went out of their way to help and support me as I rose to stand for my photo (I was really hurting that day). Tahmoh even held my hand and helped me get back in the chair. He thanked me again and squeezed my hand. It was amazing to be treated that nicely by people who get treated like royalty and I was especially lucky to get a three people photo for the price of two.
I was really lucky. For every rude persona there were three nice ones. I was able to get closer to the panels than I would have if I can’t have mobility issues. I had a boyfriend that cared for me and fought for me when the need was. It took an adventure to realize that even though we have burdens, God has buries blessing in them.