What is happening to me?

By Ally Wall

My eyes flashed back and forth. My arm shook. My head nodded and spun. A sudden switch muted the surrounding world and replaced it with a high pitched screech. The muscles in my face contracted and convulsed. I could hear again, but I could no longer speak. 

What is happening to me?

I’ve always had headaches, but something about the most recent ones seemed a little different. Every first Friday of the month I attend a healing mass (a Catholic mass followed by a priest anointing the congregation with blessed oil). According to Suzanne Draper, a masters student at the University of Central Florida and the author of Catholic Healing Masses: Intersections of Health and Healing in Yucatan, “The sacrament that healing masses utilize is an interpretation or imitation of the sacrament of anointing the sick and is sought by parishioners pursuing supplemental assistance in their health, state of mind, and lives in general.” 

As I stood before my priest, I was anointed on my forehead and palms. I could barely make it back to my seat before my body began to shake and my eyes felt like they were spinning inside my head. 

What is happening to me?

In the looming age of COVID-19, no one wants to find themselves in the hospital. But that’s exactly where I found myself on November 1, 2020.

I sat in the passenger seat of my car and watched the headlights illuminate the reflectors on the highway. I faked a smile and stumbled into the emergency room where my temperature was taken before I could get past the first set of doors. My eyes went in and out of focus as I watched a wristband being placed on my visitor’s arm since there could only be one. I sat for hours listening to the beeps of the machines I was hooked up to. I watched the nurses go back and forth through the frosted glass of my room. 

My worries were not about my health, but for all of the unfinished assignments that I had due that Sunday night, and for the classes that I would be missing the next week. 

What is happening to me?

This semester has been anything but normal. College students are kept socially distanced inside, and attend most courses through Zoom and Canvas. The experiences that we have had up until this point have been stripped away. Now we mingle in masks, RSVP to athletic events or club events, and stay in instead of going out. We spend so much more time on our devices. How can a student with currently unexplained neurological issues be on their devices to do all of the required schoolwork? It’s extremely difficult to restructure my academic life at the end, and the busiest, most demanding point of the semester.

I started a new job in September. It has been two months and I am already having to take more than a month off. How do I know that my employer will be willing to keep me on staff throughout this stressful experience? I don’t.

My life has been flipped upside down. I have had to put a pause on everything I know to leave St. Augustine and go back home. Every day goes by the exact same, even though I can’t remember anything about yesterday. I guess the only thing left for me to do is to just keep going. 

We all go through times in our life where it feels like we have crash landed into the middle of chaos and worry. But we must make the decision to see where this detour in life has taken us.

Theodore Roosevelt said, “courage is not having the strength to go on; it is going on when you don’t have the strength.” We have to find the courage to push through the hard times we face in order to still successfully emerge from the wreckage. 

Now is the time to learn what each of us is truly capable of. I truly believe that none of us are given more than we can handle. We just have to find a way to make life work for us in the moment. Don’t focus on the future, focus on the now. Focus on you.

It has been almost two months now and I still can’t answer, “What is happening to me?” The only medical knowledge I have thus far is that I have no lesions or abnormalities on my brain. I will be having an electroencephalogram (EEG), which Mayo Clinic defines as a test that detects electrical activity in your brain using small, metal discs (electrodes) attached to your scalp. This will show whether or not I am having seizures.

The only thing I can do at this point is remain hopeful that I will have answers soon. All I know is that I cannot allow this to hold me back in any way. I have to adapt. I have to learn how this new part of my life makes me more dynamic.

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