Wednesday, September 28, 2011

things that keep me up at night

1) do i have the huevos to officiate the wedding of two of my most favorite people this summer?

2) what if a "real" handicapped student needs our apartment next year and my housing complex kicks us out?

3) how in the world am i going to explain to a PI who i like and respect that i don't want to rotate through her lab next term after all?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Neurobeer: an orientation week finale

As it turns out, I do in fact have a small amount of terminal ileum inflammation, but not enough to stop me from eating salads on a near-daily basis.  Or biking after boozing on Friday afternoon...

After an agonizing week of general grad and departmental orientation, I am pumped to actually start in with courses and a regular class/research schedule.  The little that I've gleaned of my incoming classmates has been stellar; we are all from different backgrounds and excited to share our expertise and learn from that of our peers.

It also turns out that 3 of the 5 of us (and one other incoming in another department) want to rotate with a particular assistant professor who was just given a lab just this summer and who I just learned about last week (more on his situation after our meeting next week), so my rotation schedule has been jostled into upset and I am just shy of frantically lunching and coffeeing with PIs and grad students in order to re-prioritize.  My 3 comforts are as follows:

1) schedule upset is a defining characteristic of academia, and this compulsive organizationalist naively invites the challenge as if she might actually conquer it;
2) I am confident enough in my enthusiasm for finding a rockin' project and publishing/collaborating through it that I don't feel reliant on a PI having an established and renowned publishing record;
3) I have a NSF grant, ergo, I'm a free-be, ergo, I'm not in the same kind of competition with other graduate students for space in a lab of my choice.

After four days of mind-numbing introductions, patronizing trainings (and I was prepared for this process, but having your entire breadth of background disregarded and being made to start back at zero is frustrating no matter how prepared you are), stressful reconfigurations of research rotation fates, and a Remicade infusion, there was Neurobeer.

Yes,  I am part of a neurobiology program that treats its family to beer and free cuisine each month.  And by cuisine, I don't mean wraps and cookies -- I mean Mexican, Indian, Asian cuisine.  And by family, I don't just mean the grad students -- I mean us, recruits, post docs and PIs.  All chillin' in our courtyard with a beer (or wine, or soda, as you prefer).  I lubs it.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Remicade and identity theft

H.K. has finally experienced colonoscopy prep Raga.  Something about not being nauseous or half conscious (as I have been in my previous three) makes a liquid diet and 4 liters of electrolyte concentrate so much more irritating.  I survived only for the promise of a teriyaki chicken burger.  Which was devine.  And for his part, H.K. was utterly delighted when he was handed picture copies of my lower guts.  All of his suffering from the last 36 hours vanished.

As dreadful as the prep was, the results may have been worse. 

At my follow-up appt the next day, it was concluded that my Crohn's -- at least the lower bowel Crohn's -- looked fantastic.  Scars smaller than ever, inflammation gone, no ulcers, no abscesses.  So where is all the pain coming from?  IBS, says Dr. New GI.

Nuh uh.  IBS?  In my 13 years of Crohn's, no one has ever mentioned that some of my pain may be coming from IBS.  I feel almost slighted.  Remicade is doing beautiful work in my lower tummeh, and in doing so stealing my identity as a Crohn.  I don't know how I feel about this.

You're thinking, "you should be cheering, wtf is the problem?", am I right?  And I am.  Yay.  It's like this, though.  When you have a creature inside you for 13 years and you're told that that creature may now either be hibernating or dead, there is a feeling that you've lost a part of yourself.  Not quite like when a Trill's symbiont dies, but similar.  Especially when the loss of your creature doesn't actually change anything about your life(style).

First of all, for those who have been following the journey, it was decided that despite all the side effects of Remicade that I've been accumulating over the last 2 years, we're going to keep me on it.  Because, well, my inflammation is gone and my scars are no big deal atm.  So we're redirecting the energy of the mission into full mobilization against the psoriasis, the dermatitis, the hives, the fatigue, the rotting teeth and the chronic infections.

That said, Dr. New GI has not ruled out any activity in my upper tract.  So we're checking my sedimentation rate and I may be doing the camera pill in the near(ish) future.  Rock on.

Is this it?  Am I still a Crohn if I'm just battling the Remicade?  I had a small identity crisis last night before realizing... if I still feel like shit, and my immune system is still functioning like shit, nothing has really changed, has it?