Oh man, I can’t believe it’s been six months. Sorry! If it’s any consolation, the last six months have been relatively uneventful. My health was progressing more or less consistently up until about June. That was when I moved into a new apartment complex in Oak Brook (my old one was getting renovated). To make a long story slightly shorter, I got significantly sicker when I moved in to the new place; let’s call it Apartment Two. It turns out Apartment Two’s air quality was exceptionally bad. Eventually I moved out, but at the time, I had to wait about six weeks to make sure it wasn’t any other variables causing me to be sick before deciding to go through the stress and nightmare of another move.
Looking back, I don’t know if it was the heavy smoker below me, the high mold levels, or the fumes from the freshly lain carpet (or all of the above), but something was making me scarily worse. It may not have affected you (or even me in my prime), but since I’m inside all day, and my body and immune system are already in disarray, any added stressors (i.e. environmental toxins) can cause everything to start locking up and my health to start slipping backwards. Sort of like a poorly-supported second story deck with one too many drunk people on it, at some point it’s going to start giving way. And so it did. When the dust settled, I had literally lost months of hard fought progress.
During the awful six-week period that I was living at Apartment Two, my Grandpa (also a William Nolan) experienced a drastic decline in his health. He passed away a week later on July 22nd in the company of family. I was fortunate enough to visit with him on his final days and say my goodbyes. I also feel blessed that I was able to speak to him a few weeks prior to his passing. In our final discussion, we bonded in a comical way over the idea that our days are probably equally as miserable, dividing time between staring out the window and watching a screen. We talked joyfully about my progress and prospects. He was ecstatic to hear my health was on the rise, noting how strong my voice sounded on the phone. He told me he hoped to be around to see me get better. Obviously that didn’t exactly pan out. But hey, maybe now he has the best view of all!
Fun fact: Grandpa Nolan is actually the only grandparent I have had in the last ten years, and out of all my grandparents, I would definitely rank him in the top four, no question about it. Any humor you might find in me probably stems from that man. He was the most quick-witted man I have ever known. Up until he passed, he stayed sharp as a whip. I remember one time when we were preparing for a trip, my dad asked my grandpa, “Why are you rushin’?” My grandpa replied (without skipping a beat of course), “I’m not Russian…. I’m Irish!” Everybody has their faults, but I think my grandpa’s light-hearted humor will continue to echo down the generations. I had the pleasure of attending his wake for a little over an hour. It was a beautiful wake. I hadn’t been to a family event in forever, and I was just ecstatic to be able to see, hug, and talk with so many of my relatives, the majority of which I hadn’t seen in two or three years. I was like a kid in a candy store, which is probably the total opposite of how most people feel at wakes. But I think my grandpa would have wanted it that way.
Anyways, back to the living situation: after about six weeks of living in Apartment Two, my mom, my sister, and I began the painstaking quest for a new apartment. In the meantime, I stayed at a hotel (I know, I’m spoiled). Within a month of moving out of Apartment Two, I could already tell the difference in my health. A lot of my symptoms that had flared up, subsided, and I slowly started getting back on track. In the middle of August, I moved into my current apartment, Apartment Three, which is in Westmont (slightly closer to home). Well, in reality my mom did all the moving, with some help from my dad and buddies, Mike Ruzz and Matty K. To be fair, I played the vital role of lying around and telling the “movers” to keep it down. So who deserves most of the credit? I think the jury’s still out…
Overall, the past few months have been challenging. I have been rebounding from the blow I took to my health while living in the poor conditions of Apartment Two. Fortunately enough, Apartment Three is turning out to be the perfect place for me! The air quality is exponentially better, no smoking is allowed, and it has hardwood floors throughout. I just feel really excited and positive for the first time in a number of months. This is a great place, a great community, and I know I am going to surpass a lot of milestones here.
About a month ago, I flew to D.C. for my routine doctor appointment at JSC. It has been sort of a transitional phase in my gender treatment. With my living situation now corrected, it would be my first time meeting my new doc, Kim. Kim has been with the clinic since it’s opening. My previous provider, Tara, left the clinic and moved back to her home state. She hopes to start her own practice one day! I don’t know what effect individual patients have on their doctor’s life, but Tara played an integral role in mine. I am glad I had the opportunity to be under her care and was sad to see her go. But Kim is picking up right where Tara left off, and we are hitting the ground running. I wasn’t sure how I would take to the new doc, but after meeting with Kim and bombarding her with a myriad of tough questions, I am convinced she is the person for the job. From my assessment, she is not only highly qualified and experienced, but very talented and confident in her approach. I have full faith in her abilities.
To be honest, it is difficult to write when I am doing poorly, because it often comes out disjointed and unintelligible. Which is fine if I am just writing for my own sake, but if I am posting something for others to read, I want it to be coherent and adhere to a certain standard. It’s also difficult to share my writing when I am doing poorly. Mainly because it’s not funny or even hopeful; usually it’s just depressing. If I shared it, part of me would be afraid I am spreading negativity and hardship around. The world has enough of that already, I would hate to think I am contributing to it. It is substantially easier (and preferred) to share the positive aspects of my journey when I am improving and more optimistic. But as I explained earlier, it hasn’t been that way for a number of months, hence my aloofness.
Going forward I am going to be more lax in my ‘quality control’ and more liberal in sharing my writing. I will also try to be more authentic, as ugly as it may get, because it feels like the right thing to do, not to mention it is probably a healthy outlet for me. So if you see posts in the near future, be prepared for a massive tonal shift. I am not sure how much humor, if any, will be incorporated into these posts. They will probably just include ramblings about the unpleasant details of my experiences along this journey. It may include perspectives I have gained and things I have learned. At times it might not even have anything to do with this disease. I don’t know yet. I am just going to play it by ear.
If that’s not something you’re interested in, I would encourage you to skip those posts. Whenever I am giving my periodic “life/health update”, I will be sure to put that in the title for those who just want to stay in the loop about how I am doing. Thanks again for all your support! Until next time, here is a joke and quote:
Following Hurricanes like Harvey, what do you call estimating the cost of damages?
“We Nolan’s hold our own. We started with nothing and we’ve done a pretty good job of keeping it.“ – William Frank Nolan (March 9, 1926 – July 22, 2017)
P.S. Sending love to Ciaran and the whole Conway family! Ciaran was in a terrible accident on Sept 25th. He was struck as a pedestrian crossing a very busy road. At this time he is very critical and in neuro-trauma ICU in Florida. Ciaran has been the embodiment of the word inspiration for many years. He has overcome so much adversity and this couldn’t have happened to a better guy. So please send prayers and love his way!