Queerly Beloved: Gem Sheps

_DSC4416I’m really tired. The only way this could be considered LGBTQ+ news is because I’m a lesbian, but that isn’t the point of this column.

I am so tired.

I feel like I haven’t slept in over a year. One of my many chronic illnesses is chronic fatigue syndrome, a condition that literally makes me tired for no reason.

Most college students are tired because they can’t get enough sleep—I sleep at least eight hours a night, up to 10 if I have the time, and I still wake up feeling like a seasonally-appropriate undead person.

Having chronic illnesses as a student is terrible. On top of juggling homework and midterms, there are doctors appointments, emergency room trips, specialist visits, and frequently missed classes because sickness interrupts attendance. It’s why intiatives like the Disability Resource Service office exist on campus. They provide accommodations for students who need the extra assistance to take tests or need a little more lenience when it comes to attendance or participation.

This year my health took another turn for the worse and I’m in the process of searching for a new diagnosis. The problem with having one chronic illness is that they tend to come in duos, trios, quartets, and so on. They almost never travel alone, and I’m coming up on illness number eight.

If I get the diagnosis I’m expecting, I’m looking at the potential of retiring my current service dog in training, Bones, in order to get a larger dog who has the ability to perform medical alerts.

Through it all, I and people like me—who lovingly refer to ourselves as “spoonies,” based on the popular ‘spoon theory’ in online circles—try to remain positive. Chronic illnesses don’t go away. It’s part of the name. A lot of able-bodied and neurotypical people don’t get that their “get well soons” are lost on us. There are meds, therapies, and natural remedies to water down the symptoms, but they’ll always be there.

All we can do is try to stick through it and live our lives to the highest standard that we can. For today, I’m out of spoons. I hope you all are doing okay.

Gem Sheps
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