On College

Everyone always told me, “College is this big, scary, overwhelming thing. But that’s okay–everyone goes through it, you will too.” Problem is, I’m not actually going through that. Do I feel a little alone? Yeah, but it’s no more than I have felt in any new social situation ever. Are the classes different, harder? I guess, but I’m used to taking on new academic challenges. Sort of.

I think what keeps me from being super overwhelmed about this large life change is that I don’t view it as a large life change. I’ve always seen college as just “the next thing.” I’m someone who looks far into the future, all the time; like, five-ten-fifty years down the road. I always thought that was normal, to think about your life that far ahead. So College, this scary thing with a capital C, never seemed that far-off and looming. I expected to feel a little lonely at college, but I never expected the meltdown that so many of my elders had described.

My mother always tells me the story of how, when her parents dropped her off, she sat in a bathroom stall and cried for what felt like hours. That’s perfectly valid. I have always respected that it’s hard to be away from family–hell, my family is the only group of people I don’t feel lonely with, and even then I do at times. Now that I’m here, I realize that College is not this big deal everyone is making it only because I never let it be.

To me, life feels like a vine creeping up an endless fence; growing, changing, getting stronger, but never moving, never breaking. I’ll go into the “endless” part in another post.

My brain is a computer

There’s something that causes me to clash with other, normal humans: my brain is actually a computer. Now, I get that brains are technically organic computers, but mine seems to be something more on the order of an old Dell that runs Linux. Just today, as I was shopping for sheets for my dorm room, I heard, “I don’t think you have any idea of how much stuff costs.” So my brain does this:

>input: “I don’t think you have any idea of how much stuff costs.”

>keywords: MUCH, COSTS

>output: look for cheapest sheets available

I picked up a sheet set for, like, $21.99 or something. They were 275 thread count, pretty cheap-looking. The thing is with me, I don’t care. Sure, I can tell the difference between 700 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets infused with orphan tears and 275 thread count sheets made of opossum, but it doesn’t matter to me. Even if I know, objectively, that I’d enjoy sleeping on fancy-ass bedding, I’m not going to mind sleeping on ghetto sheets. My brain sees this as:

>input: “700 thread count sheets, $149.99” — “275 thread count sheets, $21.99” — “Microfiber sheets, $39.99”

>keywords: SHEETS, $149.99 — SHEETS, $21.99 — SHEETS, $39.99

>criterion: cheapest available

>process: $21.99 < $39.99 < $149.99

>output: purchase “275 thread count sheets, $21.99”

And that makes my computer brain happy. Normal humans are like, “Microfiber’s easier to wash, and it’s between the other two prices. Get that.” But I think, “Error. Clashes with criterion: cheapest available.” And that makes my computer brain sad. This results in my inability to take anything in a less-than-literal way; just like a computer, what you put in is exactly what you’ll get out. Most humans have some process, which is entirely mysterious to me, to tell them how to act around each other. Normally, my literal input-output system works. People like when they get exactly what they put in for things like, say, small talk. Pleasant attitude, friendly demeanor, whatever. But, if someone puts in a command that they didn’t really mean or that was supposed to have nuance, I won’t pick it up. Other normal humans will, but I won’t, and that makes normal humans frustrated. That’s probably why I’m not fun to shop with.

Normal human: *holds up patterned shirt* “What do you think of this?”

Me: *processing* “That’s a shirt.”

Normal human: “Yeah, but what do you think? Should I get it?”

Me: *downloading query* “Do you need a shirt?”

Normal human: “I guess… we’re shopping. What I’m asking is, do you like it?”

Me: *error: query not found* “… That’s a shirt.”

Normal human: “You’re no fun to shop with. I’m buying it.”

Me: *processing potential mistakes, unanswered queries* *404: not found*

I’m missing an important part of my body, Part 2

What can be done about the absence of an important, metabolism-regulating gland and all the hormones it produces? Well, you can just take the synthetic version of the hormone. It’s that easy. There’s no horrible catch or weird side effect of the medication. (The name brand is called Synthroid, but I actually take a generic version). There’s only a few rules to deal with when taking synthetic T4, which comes in a small pill:

  1. Take your normal dose (mine is 175 mcg) daily
  2. Take it at around the same time every day
  3. Take it on an empty stomach
  4. Get regular blood tests to check T4 and TSH levels
  5. Get a good endocrinologist to help regulate your dosage

As long as those rules are followed, nothing else really needs to be worried about. Sure, if you’re under-dose you’ll be weirdly energetic and it’ll feel like there are reptiles crawling around in your stomach (happened to me when I was three or four). If you’re over-dose you’ll be lethargic and tired. That effectively comes from under- and over- suppression of TSH, respectively. But once you get a handle on the dose, you’re pretty darn normal. I’ve had the same dose for years, because it stabilizes after puberty. Up until this point, I’ve had a mostly normal life.

The only catch to the whole situation is the needles. I am really used to needles. I have my blood tested about once a year these days, since my dose is stable and I’m an adult. But throughout my childhood, I had to be drawn up to three times a year. That has pretty much desensitized me to needles (although I will not claim to have been stuck with them a lot. No way. There are people out there who are way more used to needles than I am).

The endocrinologist and blood tests went hand-in-hand. They’d interpret my results and tell me if I was screwed up or not, basically. We started out at Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh, but got kind of frustrated with them. It was hard to find an independent, consistent endocrinologist, and we ended up trying a lot of different places for blood tests / doctors. And that is quite the basis for some stories, let me tell you.

There was this one lady we went to–how old was I, six? Under ten, I don’t know–and she was OLD. Like, not just old, OLD. It normally took only a few minutes, maybe five or ten, to get all my information entered into the early-model computer at whatever medical place I was. This lady hadn’t finished after a solid half hour. This was concerning. My mom was obviously antsy (She did not want this shriveled dinosaur to stick me with a needle. Um, no). I, being the giant accommodator I am, was like, “no no it’ll hurt her feelings if i don’t let her stick a hollow needle in my arm,” but my mom was eventually (after maybe 45 minutes) like, “We are leaving. Bye.”

This is where things got weird. We were the only three in there, and I was getting kind of creeped out by this ancient fart as well, so I was pretty much okay with leaving. Still a little sorry for the old lady, but not eager to give her my life substance. So, as we headed out the door, all was well until I hear,

“Wait! Don’t you want me to take your blood, sweetie?”

?????

She was sort of shuffling after us and everything. Absolutely terrifying. It was like watching a zombie slowly shuffle after you, calmly asking to bite you in the face. You know the zombie won’t reach you, since it’s as slow as a crippled sloth, but you still would like to give it a polite “no thank you” to its generous offer. Suffice it to say, my mom got us out of there fast. We didn’t ever go back there. Hm.

We ended up at Quest Diagnostics. That’s where I still get blood-tested. They’re polite, efficient, and know what they’re doing. I’ve never gotten a bruise or puncture from them (unlike a lot of places), and they always seem impressed with my blood-drawing savvy. Roll up the sleeve, sit on the chair, give them your info. Watch the needle go in (I have to watch, always), wait, and that’s it. Whatever. Only weird experience I ever had there: I had to get tested for Lyme disease, mono, and allergies at the same time as my thyroid test. That meant four vials o’ blood. This is before I had ever donated, so it seemed like I would basically die. It was probably my freshman year of high school. I sat down, put on my brave face, and let the phlebotomist do her thing. I had told her before the drawing how much I loved science, and was actually fascinated by this whole blood thing. I even briefly considered going into phlebotomy, which I also mentioned.

After vial #4, I see her calmly put a fifth one in. ??? Um?? That is my blood you are taking???? Not yours to have?? My mom looked ready to jump the lady, but she just removes the vial o’ blood and hands it to me. Turns out, she knew it was mine to have and went one step further by giving me my own blood. Huh. She then proceeds to take a bunch of the different types of vials (even the fancy glass ones with chemicals in them), stuffs them in a bag, hands it to me, and is like, “I probably shouldn’t give you some of these, but.” I’ve still got that vial. Somewhere.

This whole post went a little off the rails, didn’t it?

Moral of the story: get born without a thyroid and you will get a vial of your own blood to keep. Also, you will sound like a badass to anyone you talk to.

POSSIBLE BADASS CONVERSATION STARTERS:

  • I am missing an important part of my body. Guess which one!
  • *at blood drive* Oh yeah, I’m fine with all this needle stuff. Stick it in there. Yep, right there is fine.
  • Yes, I have some of my own disembodied blood in my room. Oh? You don’t? Hm.
  • My IQ might be lower than it should be because of a developmental deficiency. IDK, tho.
  • I am also probably fatter than I would have been if I’d been born right. Oh well.

WARNING: It may possibly be in your own badass interest to not use those last two. I don’t know where they came from, as they do not sound badass.

I’m missing an important part of my body, Part 1

Since no other blog topics have come to me recently, I’d like to talk today about the important part of my body I’m missing. Spoiler: It’s not actually that important.

The thyroid.

I was born with a shriveled-up little raisin instead of a thyroid gland, and it’s in the wrong place to boot. This defect is called congenital hypothyroidism, and it occurs in about 1 in 4000 births. If not caught early, it can cause severe delays to physical and mental development, as well as lethargy and a whole other plethora of nasty side effects. So why isn’t it talked about more? Well, it’s caught pretty early on these days. People used to just let it go because they couldn’t test for it, leading to… less than optimal results. It was called cretinism for a while. Yeesh.

So my twentysomething parents found out that me (kid number one) came out wrong just a little while after having me. My mother’s first question was, “Will she be able to have kids?” That wouldn’t have been my foremost concern, but hey, the general idea of having kids was probably on her mind, given her recent having of a kid. Anyway, there were a lot of blood tests and long story short, my TSH level was through the roof.

Let’s pause and take a minute to discuss some technicalish terms regarding this weird butterfly-shaped gland. It’s situated in your throat near the Adam’s apple, and its cells are the only ones in the body that can absorb iodine. The thyroid takes this, mixes it with other body stuff, and starts pumping out the hormones T3 and T4. These little guys are the regulators of the metabolism. If your body needs more T3 and T4, it starts to make TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone). It basically pokes the thyroid in the face and says, “Hey, more hormone please. You made it? Okay, cool. Thanks.”

That’s not quite how things were working for my janked-up system. I didn’t have a functioning thyroid when I was born, and by extension, no T3 and T4.

Fun fact: Your TSH level should be around 5 or lower when you’re born.

Another fun fact: My TSH level was around 400 when I was born.

So basically, my TSH was not poking the thyroid, but full-on ramming it in the face with its elbow, over and over and over. The exchange probably went something like this:

  • TSH: Hey, there’s no T3 and T4 in here. Yo thyroid? Could you make some of that? We’re about to get born and there will probs be a freakout if we don’t have any.
  • Thyroid: …
  • TSH: Hey. Hey, bro. It would, uh, be nice if you made some hormone. Please.
  • Thyroid: …
  • TSH: Bro. Buddy. Pal. *pokes thyroid* C’mon. We don’t want a bad first blood test haha right?!
  • Thyroid:
  • TSH: RIGHT?! *nudges thyroid with elbow* *is panicking*
  • Thyroid:
  • TSH: DUDE PLZ WE NEED THAT T4 I’M LITERALLY HAVING A PANIC ATTACK RIGHT NOW BRO SRSLY *frantically ramming thyroid in the face*
  • Thyroid: …nope dude, haha. i’m dead.
  • TSH: WHAT?!

I hear they’re making a movie adaptation of it soon.

 

???? I just ????

What the heck is up with Veggie Tales? Can you even imagine the sales pitch? I mean:

“So, I have this really solid idea for a TV show, right? The characters will teach kids about Christianity…”

“Yes…”

“…by singing a bunch of songs…”

“Go on…”

“…and get this: They’re all vegetables.”

“…by George. It’s GENIUS!”

I mean, I’ve got nothing against Veggie Tales. I loved watching it a decade and a half ago. But who pitched it? Why are they vegetables?? How are there child vegetables?? Do they reproduce, or???

????

On Politics

So, I’m pissed about this.

I’m pissed that half the people that read this will not think it applies to them, when in actuality, it’ll apply to the gross majority of this audience (myself included). It seems to be an inherent quality of the internet, for people to bang their heads against a wall in the hopes that maybe that wall will come down. That wall, in this case, is the viewpoint of the opposing party. Protip: it won’t work.

What people don’t seem to realize is that, when you bang your head against a wall, it’s going to hurt you a whole lot more than it hurts the wall. I’m talking about conservatives bashing liberals and liberals bashing conservatives. Berating someone’s views, even opposing them at all, will not make them want to listen to you. This is why #Feel the Bern and “Bernie’s an evil socialist” only bring fire and brimstone onto every comment section they enter.

I just finished reading an article, which is what sparked this whole spontaneous puddle of word vomit–or, more specifically, the comment section of an article. There was a string of comments that read something like this:

I won’t listen to anything you have to say, because you said this one thing I disagree with. You are so closed-minded.

Actually, the thing I said that you disagreed with is right because it just is. You’re wrong.

Stuff like this is what makes me mad. It seems that when the explicitly-stated viewpoints are taken out of the equation, it’s easy to see the redundancy in the arguments. Because honestly, the opinion doesn’t matter if the support for it sucks.

Am I banging my own head against a wall by preaching this to the internet? Yes. I just hope that, in my own attempts at rationality, I can persuade others to put a helmet on.

You’re going to read this.

Or maybe you’re not. I don’t know. Actually, if we’re being technically correct here, I’m a post on a website, not an omniscient being, so I wouldn’t know. And technically correct is the best kind of correct.

Did that paragraph scare anyone off? No? That’s goo- oh, nope, there goes someone in the back. Goodbye, sir! Have fun on a different website! Okay. Now, for those of us who are still here… I write stuff. Sometime’s it’s good stuff.

Time’s just humanity’s way of counting irrelevance.

Sometimes it’s crap.

Every day I have a start. Every day I have a part. Every day I have a feeling I’m gonna have a sweetheart. All you really need is heart.

(I wrote that last thing when I was six or something. Message for past me: Get your freaking crap together, six-year-old. I mean, I have had to claw my way up from this level. Be better at writing, please.)

I like when people read the stuff I write. That’s why I’m writing on the internet, for literally anyone to see except the large bunch of people who are living their lives internet-less. But even more so, I write for myself. I write because my head’s a little too full, sort of like that cup of Pike Place from Starbucks that drips sneakily onto your pants on the walk back to your car. There’s a lot of things banging around in there. That makes for a not-optimally-functioning brain and quite a few “special” moments. In the course of writing this post, I

  1. Broke my computer chair.
  2. Ate pulled pork with a spoon.
  3. Became hyper-aware of the little squishing noises made while chewing food.
  4. Wrote that last thing. What the heck was that.

It was the truth, and that’s what I’m going to write on this blog, darnit. Actually, me, you’re going to take all sorts of creative license. Luckily, you’ve struck out this sentence so no one can read it. You sneaky, sneaky liar, you. So yes. The whole, unembellished truth.

Have fun reading it.