Surprise Skin Biopsies are Not a Fun Way to Spend a Thursday Morning.

I had shingles. It was awful. For those of you lucky enough to not know what shingles is, it’s just the chicken pox virus (which lurks around your body after you’ve had chickenpox), making an appearance again when your immune system is off guard due to stress or other issues. My immune system has been crappy to begin with, thanks to my sickly babyhood, and after getting booted from law school I was understandably stressed. So one day I noticed some skin lesions on my hip. In a band, not crossing my middle. My mom checked it out (she’s a doctor), and said it was shingles due to stress and would go away in a couple days. 

First of all, I had assumed that shingles was an old people illness. Nope. Apparently 22-year-olds with cruddy immune systems can get it too. So I had shingles. And in a few days, did it clear up? Hell no. It got worse. That’s not a thing that should happen. My mother made a few phone calls, and got me an appointment with a dermatologist for yesterday. The cool thing is, he’s got a four month waiting list for appointments, but since he was one of my mother’s professors in med school, he was able to see me right away. Perks of being a doctor’s kid. 

So I went to see this guy.First thing that happened was my mother had sent a note for him. I am twenty two and my mother sent a note. Then, the nurse handed me a paper shirt. It’s motherfucking FEBRUARY in motherfucking Ohio and these motherfuckers want me to wear a motherfucking SHIRT made out of motherfucking PAPER. Nevertheless, I needed to find out what was wrong with me so I put on the paper shirt. 

The dermatologist walked in a few rounds of Candy Crush later, and was very intrigued by this rash, and quite frankly stumped. He left the room for a second, and came back with a very large needle. 

“We’re gonna do a skin biopsy!”

“You’re gonna do a WHAT?!?!”

This man was far too excited to take a chunk out of my skin. He made me lay down, and I clutched his nurse’s hand as he stuck a needle full of anesthetic into my side. It was a punch biopsy, so he literally PUNCHED A HOLE INTO MY SKIN to get at the sample. Now, both my parents are doctors, so my childhood memories are a little more traumatic than usual. This biopsy reminded me of the time my dad brought home a bag of potatoes and some very large needles, and taught us all how to do biopsies right there n the kitchen counter. So I knew exactly what was happening near my hip. 

I began to feel a little faint, and the nurse set a cold pack on me. That helped, but not very much. I casually mentioned (amid dry coughs) that I hadn’t eaten yet that day, so the nurse decided that was why I was feeling faint (and not the chunk of skin being removed from my side) and offered me some crackers. But I can’t have crackers, I mumbled, I have a gluten thing…

Okay no crackers. They sent someone down to the geriatric unit next door and came up with some juice. After dumping that down my throat and handing me another cold pack (it’s FEBRUARY OH MY GOD), the nurse helped me sit up and get to the chair so I could start the process of putting my clothes back on to go home. 

Nope. Didn’t happen. 

Nurse glanced at me as I said I didn’t feel right, and dove to catch me as I nearly tumbled out of my chair. She put me back on the table and brought me more juice, and then they kept me there for an extra hour to make sure I was okay before I drove home. 

Now I have a suture in my side that keeps bleeding and my mother has to remove it in two weeks. It itches and I can’t scratch it or look at it without feeling faint. I guess medical school will never be an option for me…

I still think that man was all too excited to take a chunk of my skin. 


The Marvelous Adventures of Team Indecisive, Episode 2: That Time We Drove All Over Norman to Find Hot Chocolate

At some point between October of my last year at OU, when Anna and Kelly turned 21 and December of that year, when I turned 21, Anna had the brilliant idea of watching the movie Elf, while drinking hot chocolate spike with Bailey’s. So we were off. We had to buy groceries that day anyway, so the four of us (me, Anna, Kat, and Kelly) clambered into my car and went to Target. Because we were all a little scared of the local Walmart. Now, this is the part where I tell you Anna actually had her brilliant idea of drinking spiked hot chocolate as we were pulling back into the parking lot of our apartment.That is a key piece of information. We got excited, and trooped back into the apartment only to discover that we had neither hot chocolate nor Bailey’s. Oops.

We didn’t want to go all the way back to Target, because let’s be real, we’re lazy college kids. So we drove to the 7-11 that had a liquor store next to it, and Anna and Kelly, both being 21, went into the liquor store to procure Bailey’s, while Kat and I went to the 7-11 to grab a box of hot chocolate mix. We came back out to the car, Anna and Kelly triumphant with the little bottle of Bailey’s, while Kat and I were genuinely confused over why this gas station did not carry hot chocolate mix.

Our next plan of action was to go to the little grocery store in the lobby of one of the dorms. We skittered in there, laughing our asses off over something, and then abruptly stopped because they had no hot chocolate either. What the hell. It was practically December. Who doesn’t carry hot chocolate?

Determined to get hot chocolate, we drove to the Braum’s nearby, which had a grocery store in it, and a gas station/convenience store next door. Again, Kat and I went one direction (Braum’s), while Anna and Kelly went the other (gas station). Neither one had hot chocolate.

At this point, we decided we should just go back to Target and buy hot chocolate. Kelly mentioned that Walmart was closer. Anna mentioned it was getting dark and the crazies were coming out. So we went back to Target. It took us longer than we’re proud to admit to find both parking and the right aisle, but we emerged victorious, with our hot chocolate. We went back to the apartment and put in the movie, and generously spiked out hot chocolate. It was much later than we had planned, and that’s the story of hour four mature adults spent an hour and a half driving around Norman, Oklahoma, looking for hot chocolate.

I Am Not Extraordinary

My grandfather was born in Karachi, way back when it was still part of India. Sometime in his late twenties through early thirties, Partition happened and he had to get himself and his ten remaining siblings (he was the second oldest but his older brother died in his early twenties) into India, where it was safe for Hindu families. He won’t tell me how he managed that, nor when. So sometime between his childhood and his young adulthood, he moved his entire family to Western India. Not an easy task in the 1930s.

My dad came to the States with two suitcases and seven hundred borrowed dollars, following my mother who had done the same shortly before. The two of them got married, started graduate school, had me, graduated, started medial school, had my brother, and finished medical school, thousands of miles from their families. My dad grew up the youngest of four in India, and managed to get into school here in the States all by himself. My mom was the perfect student. The only B she EVER got was in a fifth grade art class. She’s brilliant.

My brother has never gotten a B. His worst grade was an A-. In Advanced Placement Calculus. A class I quit. He’s a section leader of the marching band’s drum line, debate team captain, Eagle Scout, volunteers at a therapeutic riding center, and is in contention for a full scholarship to study Computer Engineering at Georgia Tech.

And then there’s me. I graduated from high school with enough AP credit to be one semester ahead in college, but my grades weren’t good enough for a scholarship. I majored in something utterly useless without a doctoral degree (Criminology), and though I graduated in three years instead of four, my GPA was a 2.38, and I got into mediocre law schools. And then I got dismissed from a mediocre law school.

I’ve never faced any amount of adversity, nor have I gone and done anything remarkable. Sure, my parents got divorced when I was eight, but so did half of my friends’ parents. One of my friends went to paint houses for war refugees in Morocco the same spring break I went to Disney World. I’ve never volunteered for anything great. I babysit. And get paid. I never got a great internship working for a politician in DC the summer after I graduated. I worked worked for my cousin at his consulting firm, and answered the phone while fiddling with my phone most of the day.

I am not a remarkable person. And the push to be incredible is killing me. Everything my friends and I considered in college was met with the unspoken question “Will this look good on my resume?” My resume is a page and a half long. I haven’t done anything except babysit and go to school. And now I’m stuck. When law schools and potential employers ask what sets me apart, I don’t know what to say. I’m normal. I’m not one of those super driven people who bounces from internship to internship doing awesome things like teaching English in Jordan or studying abroad in Germany. I have no idea what I’m doing with my life, and I’m being told that I have to be awesome. Kids my age are starting multi-million dollar businesses. They’re getting married and starting families, or fighting insurmountable odds to be the best person they can possibly be. And I’m writing a blog.

But the thing is, no one is extraordinary. It’s an impossible goal. While everyone’s doing these amazing things to pad their resumes, it’s becoming normal. Spending a year in the Middle East teaching English in a refugee camp just doesn’t cut it anymore. Someone else has done something better. The push to be extraordinary is killing actually being extraordinary.

And I am not extraordinary.

I’m A Little Broken.

One of the things that’s made me who I am is my anxiety disorder and depression. Unfortunately, an overwhelming proportion of people don’t actually believe it’s a real problem, and therefore it’s hard to talk about. Conversations tend to go like this:

Them: Why are you sad a lot?

Me: I don’t know.

Them: There has to be something making you sad and anxious.

Me: It’s completely irrational. That’s why it scares me.

Them: But if you don’t have anything to be sad about, why are you sad?

Me: I don’t know.

[repeat infinitely]

The problem with any sort of mental illness is that historically, it’s been viewed as a defect, something to be ashamed of and not discussed in polite company. If you’re sad or anxious, pop a few pills and get back to life. Stop feeling sorry for yourself. Your life’s great, stop being melodramatic. Don’t hide behind the depression thing. Be strong.

But you know what? I’m sick of being strong. Or at least pretending to be. If my insides are churning and rejecting any sort of food because that’s how scared I am of absolutely nothing at all, don’t tell me to get on with it. Sometimes I have to run to my room and curl up half upside down on the floor because that’s how I slept when I was a toddler and you know what? Deal with it.  There are days when I wake up queasy and my heart’s racing and I don’t know why. And I sit there staring at the wall all day because I just can’t move. Or I force myself to text my friends banal bullshit and happy faced emojis and sit quietly on the couch with my dog because I don’t trust myself to handle forks or drive a car. I’m afraid of what I could do to myself.

Sometimes I feel like my entire life has been derailed. I need have a plan for whatever I’m doing, and when I don’t know, I get scared. That’s been the hardest part of being dismissed from school. I don’t know what’s going to happen next and that absolutely terrifies me. Everyone says it’ll be okay. It might be, far in the future, but I need it to be okay now. I need to know what I’m doing next.

Yes, I’m broken. A lot of people are. But it feels like everyone else is fine because no one wants to talk about how broken they are.