Thursday, July 5, 2012

Lupus in the City

As most of you know, in the last month I have defended my doctoral dissertation, earned my PhD, moved to Maryland (only because I have wonderful friends who helped me), and started my third graduate program. I am now a student in John's Hopkins' Master of Public Health, because I have enough idealism in me to think that I might be able to use my science background to help form health policy.

So far, however, I have to say that moving to the Baltimore area has generally sucked. The traffic is horrible. The jay-walkers are unpredictable and move across major roads more slowly than I do on a bad lupus day after a 3 hour infusion. John's Hopkins, unlike my previous University, does not have readily available handicapped parking, which has led me to spend a lot of time in the sun...which, of course, is the quickest way to flare my lupus. Fun times. Oh, and don't forget about the constant "If you walk a couple blocks away from school you could get shot" warnings. East Baltimore isn't a great area.

Upon my arrival I promptly got sick. A minor cold...until it turned into bronchitis. More fun times. And I have learned that, if I follow doctor's orders and cover up completely to avoid sun-exposure, I get a daily dangerous case of heat exhaustion walking to my non-closely parked car. Like "nearly puking on the side of the road, too spacey to be a safe driver and so obviously out of it that people can tell at a glance that I am *really* sick". So now I have the choice: sun-exposure induced lupus or daily heat exhaustion. At this point the heat exhaustion is actually the greater threat to my health. So I guess I go back to praying that sunscreen will block enough of the sun to keep from killing all of my blood cells? Because it's either that or cause an accident because of heat exhaustion. And, of course, my car's air conditioner chose now as the time to stop working. Rolling down the windows = sun exposure, not rolling down the windows = more heat exhaustion.

Don't get me wrong; my MPH program is great, the other students are bright, diverse and friendly, and the faculty is fantastic. It's just that lupus in the city isn't working out so great.

7 comments:

  1. Yow. That car AC needs to get fixed fast, and maybe an icepack across the back of your neck with a Coolibar sun jacket? I know, I know...

    How could they not have handicapped parking?! I'd request it, at least.

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  2. Um, I'm not an idiot. I've been working on getting the damned parking for THREE MONTHS now.

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  3. How about a very (very) large parasol?

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  4. Ok, linguistic hitch there, just checked parasol and only the big garden variety came up. I was thinking more in the way of a golf umbrella - further check, apparently I mean a sun umbrella, UV screen and all http://www.amazon.co.uk/tag/sun%20umbrella/products

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  5. I have one that I'm going to start using. But John's Hopkins had better get their **** together in the next 24 hours if they don't want to be on the news for refusing accommodations for disabled students. That wouldn't look good for the #1 public health school in the world.

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  6. I saw your FB post after reading your post here--wow. Three months of the medical campus not getting it right for a patient, knowing you needed it? Wow.

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  7. Umbrellas are helpful, but the long UV waves get under them. Even with the sunscreen, sun clothes, umbrella you still need the handicapped parking. People really** don't get how sensitive I am and are constantly trying to tell me how it works for me. Lupus is not sunburn.

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