Wednesday, September 26, 2012

63 Sisters, 2 Truths, & 1 Lie

Getting pumped for Homecoming!
 Joining a sorority was a big move for me. Being around 50-60 girls I am already beginning to think of as my family, creates strong bonds and makes for a lot of fun time spent together. For Alpha Gamma Delta (the Gams), this typically includes a lot of obnoxious unnecessary laughter and jokes. For a cataplectic, this typically includes body paralysis, usually partial but sometimes the whole big deal.

I knew I'd soon have to tell my new sisters about me; they need to know if they're going to be a part of my life through college and the rest of my future. But I hadn't quite thought of how to bring the subject up and explain to everyone at once. My Resident Assistants hadn't even been told yet, whoops... I was going to put the thought away for later when my sisters suggested as we were getting to know each other after Bid Day, that we play Two Truths and a Lie.

My grandparents' Haunted House in Mansfield, Ohio.
When my turn was up I was fully prepared. My three statements were:

1) I love raccoons.
2) My family owns and runs a haunted house.
3) I have my own show on MTV.

Of course everyone thought I lying about the last one, but I shook my head and laughed a bit, telling them how much I hate and am terrified of raccoons. Before I could even begin to explain the MTV deal, a few girls made the connection. They asked me if I slept on TV, between a few "oh-my-gods" and "no ways". And I then got to explain to nearly all of my curious new sisters at once, what narcolepsy and cataplexy are and what to do if I had an attack.

It was the easiest, painless way I've ever had to tell somebody about my narcaplexy and I'm so glad they were understanding. I really do have the best sisters a girl could ever ask for!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Going Greek: ΑΓΔ

The "baby squirrels" of ΑΓΔ

Had anybody told me told me that I would someday join a college sorority, I would've laughed and called them crazy. I had never imagined myself wearing some crazy letters no one could ever read and calling 50 girls I don't even know "my sisters". But as of today I can officially say that I am a proud baby squirrel for ΑΓΔ, Alpha Gamma Delta!

Having to stand in front of hundreds of sorority girls and a ton of fraternity guys as they read off your name and chapter affiliation for the first time is a complete whirlwind. The sisters rush forward when they hear your name and their letters put together and hug you, spin you around, scream at you, anything they decide to do in the spur of the moment before dragging you off to meet your sisters. For any girl, that's insane. For a cataplectic, that's detrimental. 

I was terrified of falling in front of everyone, terrified of freaking out all of Greek Life here. But what option did I have? My flush of excitement and emotions pulled through, and when I heard my name I couldn't even deciphers any of the emotions in my head. I was able to easily hug my sisters, jump up and down like a giddy girl, and even walk the 15 feet back to where the Gams were hanging out cheering us on. I was amazingly all right!

So that's my story for tonight. I've joined the funniest sorority on campus known for joking around all the time and finding humor in the smallest little things, and I have a cataplexy. 

Sounds like an interesting combination, hmmm? 

Preference Night 2012 - Green Group

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Band Camp Didn't Have a Lesson For This...

College football is pretty big in the U.S.; it doesn't take a genius to notice how much it captures the entire attention of our country. There's high school and NFL teams too, but something about college football just makes the year seem whole. Growing up in Toledo by the University of Toledo, I know all about our blue and gold themed Rockets. The Rockets are actually awesome, they've beaten Michigan a few years ago and always play a few big teams from out of their division. Bowling Green State University with their orange and brown Falcons aren't bad either, and are also within and hour from my house.

Basically, growing up in a college town with good football and crossing into Michigan for school every day where the Ohio State University Buckeyes and University of Michigan Wolverines' massive rivalry rule the region every November has made me a seasoned college football fan. Since my high school was so small, I never went to a game on Friday night's like the entirety of Monroe County Michigan seems to do this time of year. I haven't been to ANY football games, on any level. Or, I hadn't until this past weekend.

My new school, Baldwin Wallace University is home to the Division III Yellow Jackets. Brown and gold is adorns the campus and its students almost like a cult, and sports are a big recreational thing here. As a freshman in the marching band with a football obsession and similar family members, to say I was overexcited for Saturday's game would be an understatement. Add in the fact that I'm sort of seeing a guy on the team, and even the Black Plague couldn't keep me away from going to that game!

Marching band was another first for me. Everyone else in the band marched for their high schools for most of their four years before this. Me? I've never taken so much as a step away from my chair and music stand on the stage during our high school performances. The bulky uniform, silly hats with the feathers on top, weird way of roll-step walking in an even line with the beat of the drumline while we played our instruments, and especially the bizarre lingo was ALL new to me. Standing and playing my flute was one thing that I'd noticed was going to be an issue as soon as I was diagnosed with cataplexy; silly me never thought about that when I signed up for marching band.

Despite my fears, Saturday was fantastic! I remembered my positions and kept my roll-steps in check, I mostly remembered all my music in my head and kept my wrong notes at a low volume...

Marching outside the stadium leading the fans into the game and hearing the hollers and cheers of the fans tailgating in the parking lot, shouting "Kill 'em, Yellow Jackets!" and seeing all the proud parents taking pictures of us as we walked by left me holding back obnoxious giggles and gripping my flute for dear life, trying to hold off the cataplexy that was teasing me, threatening to cause a scene.

That dizzying feeling of pride and anticipation when the team came out of the locker room shouting and making noise like only a football team can gave me a small delay in playing the fight song as they ran down the field in front of us, but as one in a band of 100+ it went completely unnoticed.

And I somehow got through the pre-game show and half-time show without any cataplexy incidence. Even though the excitement of being at my first football game was coursing through my veins, with the nerves of being on the field in front of all those people, including my mom, representing my school as a part of the band. 

Even walking into the stadium as the teams were warming up, seeing the boys in their uniforms and searching the jersey numbers anxiously despite telling myself not to; looking for MY guy, #71, even though I knew that spotting him would just send a jolt of SOMETHING through me, with a wave of cataplexy following directly behind. Lucky for me, I didn't find him until I was safely seated in the stands, but that didn't stop the cataplexy from poking at me as I marched through the pre-show and around the stadium as the team ran in for kick-off.

Despite all that I held my own and got through the entire game. Our boys won, of course! 45-13, I believe. and my guy won with the Junior Varsity on Sunday as well against Case Western Reserve, but that was an away game so I didn't get to see that one.

I think I'll do well in marching band. The first game was the hardest and I'm sure the giddy excitement will wear off as the season goes on; maybe even the butterflies from knowing I'm being watched while I march by one certain player on the team. Playing at Disney World in January? That's a whole other story, but I have hopes of taming my cataplexy a bit more by then!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Narcaplexy 101: Dating in College

I've had quite the crazy first week here at college! One week of Band Camp, one week of actual classes, and the three-day weekend that Labor Day bestows upon us. In that time, I've done so much and made so many friends that it's hard to believe! My new college life is everything I'd ever hoped it to be.

While I HAVEN'T been running around off-campus housing getting ridiculously wasted from cheap alcohol and making a fool of myself like so many movies portray the average college experience to be, I HAVE made a ton of friends, been a part of some late night homework parties in the lounge, completely destroyed any resemblance of a normal healthy eating schedule that I might've had, and met a really great guy who lives in my building and definitely likes me back :)

If you know anything about the high school I went to, you'll know what I mean when I say that being in a class of 700+ freshmen is a big adjustment. My graduating class from high school? Four (4) students, including me. The campus I live on now is home to 4,000 other people my age and a bit older. You can imagine how surreal it is to me, to be able to walk to a class four blocks away from my room and not see a single familiar face. I kind of like it, really. And of course, there are lot more guys at college than there were at my high school. Guys that I live in the same building with and see every day. Any girl in this position would be excited, but a girl who graduated with only two other boys? It's more at a little-kid-in-a-candy-store level of excitement ;)

Remember that guy I wrote about in my last post? The nice guy I met in the laundry room of my building and ran into at a Weekend of Welcome dance later that night? Well right now he's eating pizza and watching Sherlock Holmes with me; our own Labor Day celebration since 2/3 of the campus has gone home until Monday.

I've spent the past week fretting about telling him about me, about my Narcaplexy and all the potentially embarrassing bits that comes with my lifetime diagnosis. How would he react to hearing that I have a constant struggle with staying awake? And what about the fact of collapsing when I experience "strong emotions"? I love laughing, any guy I'm with had to be able to make me laugh or it's just not complete for me. If we decide to make this into a relationship, thus spending a lot more time and experiences together than friends, will he be okay with having to be the one to help me when my body thinks I'm starting a dream and I collapse to the floor? Flirting alone presents a problem for me. Teasing, laughing, meeting the people in his life... The inevitable minor fighting or jealousy? Getting involved with someone creates a lot of subconscious emotions that we don't deal with everyday, and some I've probably never experienced in my life.

As an average hormonal 18-year-old girl, my muscles betray me when I so much as walk by a cute guy, let alone smiling and talking to one. What will happen with a guy that has feelings for me, feelings I return? This is all new to me; so many questions, so many answers I'll have to discover my own.

Back to my week of fretting: I was so worried of scaring him off, having him think I was a freak and deciding that the likely normal bubbly brunette he'd been dancing with the other night would be a safer bet. My friends told me not to worry, if he was as cool as I made him out to be he'd be totally accepting of me, sleep disorder and all. Just approach the subject naturally and don't make a big deal out of it. Okay, so now I had to make it as casual as a conversation about the weather or he might realize I was making a big deal of it and worry... no pressure? And all this while I had to act normal around his friends who also had no idea or they might all think I was a slurring clumsy drunk and they'd ALL avoid me. While living on a campus with 4,000 strange faces, usually coming home at night almost too tired to handle the hike upstairs to the 3rd floor. No problem, right? :S

Well I finally told him. One morning, when he came upstairs to hang out with me. I was online trying to see when True Life: I Have Narcolepsy would be on next, thinking that would be a great conversation starter. "Hey look, that's me! Yeah, the one that just fell on her face in dance class..." No such luck, so when he asked what I was up to I flat out told him what I was looking for. This began the next 10-15 minute conversation of explaining everything, and finally telling him what I'd been so scared about. He assured me not to worry, he's not so that easy to get rid of... As if I had ANY intention to! ;)

And he's sure proved to be great about it. Keeping my naps in mind and reminding me to sleep when I start to slur but have no desire to pass out for 30 minutes, watching out for my clumsiness, being cautious when he makes me laugh and stopping when I tell him to so I can regain composure. He even reminded me to take my medicine one morning when he'd noticed I hadn't! The best was when he made a disappointed comment to my roommate, Beckah, about not being able to start a tickle war with me. I laughed and promised him if he was good then I'd explain the rules of tickle wars with a cataplectic--he cheered right up!

Things truly couldn't have gone any smoother with him. I'm so glad that he's accepting and protective and mindful of my daytime sleep schedule and my limitations from cataplexy. I really feel like the luckiest girl in the world right now :)