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Hello, it's been a while

Hey loves!

Wow. It has been almost an entire year since I last posted on this blog - it honestly feels a bit weird to return after such a long absence, especially since I remember posting almost religiously every week on here back when I was in high school. I have wanted to make a comeback to my blog for a while, but it never felt right. Over the past year, I have struggled with quite a few things and that has made me take a step back from many of my projects, including this blog. So here's a little catch up chat, I suppose:

I got my degree!

This is definitely exciting, but getting my Cambridge law degree was also very hard work. I returned to Cambridge after having finished my year abroad in Germany, where I met basically no one because the world was in lockdown. My year abroad was essentially a year of Zoom meetings which I joined from my childhood bedroom. There were positive sides to this - especially getting to spend more time with my parents. I moved out at age 16 when I got a scholarship for a boarding school in Hong Kong. While I have never regretted that decision, I have realised over the past few years that there was a high price that I paid for this experience in terms of the relationships I had at home. I lost contact with many of my high school friends because we essentially outgrew our friendships - people change a lot at the ages of 16 to 20 and when you are not there for those changes and only return a year later for summer break, you may not really recognise the person you're speaking to anymore - not in a bad way at all, but they just grew up and you did, too. I did not visit my parents, or my grandparents, or any of my family members, as much as I probably should have. So having that year to spend with them was a blessing, too. But there were also some big negatives: I made no friends during that year. It was a very isolating experience and I had really hoped that my time at Cambridge would be better.

It wasn't. I returned to semi-in-person-classes (translation: only one course was taught in person and the rest was only online due to high sign-up numbers), lots of social distancing because the pandemic wasn't over and as someone taking immunosuppressants, I was being as careful as I could. All my friends from Cambridge had already graduated since I had added an additional year to my degree through my year abroad. So in the end, going back to Cambridge didn't make things better. I remember coming home from England for my Christmas break and when it was time to go back, I cried. Not because I would miss my family, but because I didn't want to leave. Despite having lived abroad for years, I had never experienced that. I was always excited to go away and experience new things, but I was feeling so lonely. So when I finally got that degree, I was really happy to get the hell out of there.

I got sick ... again & again

I guess it isn't that abnormal to get more sick when you're not doing so well mentally, but I guess I also just got a little bit unlucky. I had to have my wisdom teeth removed during my final year at Cambridge and while this is normally not a big deal, dentists in the UK are kind of hard to come by. Many of them have waiting lists for you to even become a patient and I ended up having to fly back to Germany just to get the surgery. Since my wisdom teeth were already hurting pretty badly, I spent a few weeks being able to eat almost nothing aside from soup because I couldn't chew things anymore due to the pain. So that definitely didn't exactly go well. But at least the surgery did and I am officially wisdom-teeth-free!

But my immune system decided that it was time to act up again and so in the summer of 2022, I had a flare up of my autoimmune disease. I have a form of rheumatism called psoriasis arthritis and in very basic terms, this means that my immune system sometimes attacks me. This can cause inflamed joints, which, if untreated, can turn into permanent damage. Luckily, this disease can be managed pretty well with medication nowadays, but the problem is that it can be difficult to find the right meds for a patient. It took months for my new meds to work, but when they did, things got pretty well again. My autoimmune disease often comes with fatigue - so I wasn't just in pain when walking, but I was also incredibly tired. During the summer, there were days when I was awake for maybe 4 hours, before going right back to sleep. My best friend came to visit and I felt so bad, because I could hardly do anything with him. But when the meds kicked in, I noticed the swelling in my knee retreating, walking stairs without a problem again and even being able to run again to catch a train.

But remember what I said about finding the right meds? Those meds were definitely not the right ones for me. Since the medication affects the way your immune system works, they can have a great variety of side effects. My side effects turned out incredibly painful - so painful, that I sometimes couldn't get out of bed and would just lie there and cry because of pain. I remember sitting in some lectures of my master's degree and pulling my FFP2 mask up right under my eyes, so that other people wouldn't notice that I was crying. It was definitely not good and the most annoying part is that this situation could have easily been prevented. I had to see an OB-GYN, because that's where the pain was located (yep, your immune system is also relevant there) and that doctor messed up pretty badly. She overlooked what really caused the pain and gave me a wrong diagnosis because she didn't know my meds and so she attributed side effects to them, which they actually aren't known for. This caused months of preventable pain and me getting meds against the side effects, that not only didn't help, but also gave me more terrible side effects. I ended up in the hospital at some point, because something was clearly wrong and after being in pain for months and literally hardly sleeping (because it is difficult to fall asleep when in pain), I just couldn't take it anymore. I finally got a correct diagnosis there, but this story does unfortunately not end with this.

The OB-GYN from the beginning of the story realised after my hospital visit that she hadn't just overlooked the original cause of my pain, but she also overlooked something else - which would have to be surgically removed because it had already gotten so bad. Yeah, I really won the health lottery over the past few months. That was the point when I got a new OB-GYN (which sounds so easy here, but this was a search that took months because it is difficult to get into a somewhat ok practice as new patient since many of them are full). I finally found one and hallelujah, I did not need surgery. However, this was probably not a misdiagnosis from my old OB-GYN. What happened is that my immune system had probably thought off what had caused the problem that would've had to be removed. It couldn't do that earlier because it was being suppressed with medication, but since I had stopped taking my rheumatism meds when the painful side effects occurred, my immune system had had enough time to recover. This is definitely good news for now, but it also means that I have to watch out because my immune system could attack me again. But since rheumatism is a disease that comes and goes in waves of differing strength, it could be months or even years until the next flare up. I am definitely hoping that the time will be measured in years.

I started a new degree!

Ok, let's get some positive vibes here: I got accepted by the only master's program I applied to - honestly, that was a bold choice on my part, because they only accept a maximum of 12 people per year. But I knew I wanted to do this program and I had told myself that if I didn't get in, I would do a gap year. I thought that this would also be a sensible choice after two years of a very isolating university experience. But I got a place and so I am now doing my LL.M. at the University of Tübingen in Germany. I wanted to be close to my family because the past few years showed me how isolating it can be to have a long distance between you and your loved ones. Since I was sick for almost the entire first semester, I honestly did not make any friends. But that is alright - I had to get healthy. I am hoping that the second semester will be better. I am, however, also very proud of myself for doing my best academically despite all the health challenges. I ended up finishing the semester with top grades only and I honestly did not expect that. I spent the last two weeks of the semester only studying for my exams and I had to catch up on a lot of material. I am happy that the work paid off, but mostly, I am happy that I am finally starting to feel better.

I signed up for driving lessons

This was an impulse decision. I made it when I started to feel better, because I felt like I had had nothing in my life that was 'just mine' like a hobby or really anything with which I could fill my free time. I had just been sick for over four months. The first months of going to a new university weren't spent with signing up for clubs and making friends for me - they were filled with doctor's appointments, getting prescriptions and trying not to go crazy because the treatment didn't seem to work. I felt really sad and demotivated by this situation and I was quite frustrated academically because I had fallen behind so much due to my health. So I wanted to prove to myself that I could do something like getting a driver's license and I honestly also just needed a project to fill my free time. I have done over half of my theory classes so far and I have also started the practical classes and it is actually a lot of fun. The driving school I ended up with is a really lovely place with fun instructors and I genuinely enjoy the classes.

That's it for the updates for now. As you can probably tell by the space taken up by the different sections of this post, my health was definitely my biggest struggle over the past few months. Health is something that often goes unappreciated until you no longer have it and this time period has really shown me again how grateful I should be for the good times, when my immune system doesn't act out and I don't have to think about my health at all.

Lots of Love,



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