by Chris Burton
It is hard to believe that I have six and a half weeks until I return to work. There’s a mix of excitement, fear, and “today has enough trouble of its own” coursing through me. Some days I feel bursting at the seams, ready to get back to normal (though there is no such thing) and other days I feel like I have no sauce at all.
I had a setback two weeks ago on a Friday night. I felt ill most of the day and had no appetite. Foolishly, I took my medicine without eating dinner. Around midnight I went to the bathroom and vomited a sea of blood.
I told Bri and we made our way to the hospital (not before vomiting for the second time in an hour). As we walked into the emergency room I began to feel chills and body aches. It scared me because it was the most ill I’d felt since the fall. We sat in the waiting room and I felt my confidence about life and chasing normal, fade.
The hospital kept me overnight for observation. Thankfully I did not vomit anymore. They discharged me with orders to follow up with my primary doctor and my vitals were good.
I was happy to be sent home but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that being back in the hospital shook my confidence. I told Bri that I couldn’t think of five straight days where I didn’t feel ill or fatigued or just not right. So, as I used to do when I wanted a fresh start, I got a haircut.
During the flare-up in the fall, I stopped shaving my head because among everything else, my scalp felt very damaged. I could see scarring on my face during the flare-up and assumed the same was happening under my beard and hair. My hair grew to a point with very different texture than normal but my beard was wild and untamed. I thought about letting it grow until June but then it started to annoy me. I brought it up to my rheumatologist in March and he did not see the danger in cutting my hair so I was happy to shave again. My shaved head and cropped goatee revealed my autumn scars but I am kind of glad to have them. Lupus can be such an invisible disease and the scars help remind me that I am not making this up. They remind you of what you’ve been through. Scars can be beautiful.