Well the last half of this month didn’t go as I hoped. I got COVID and have spent the last two weeks recovering. It’s frustrating because I have been careful this whole time, but my personal mitigations mean less and less as fewer people are taking it seriously. I’ve been struggling to find a balance between my need to not be completely isolated and my need to not add more chronic illnesses to my life.
I never had any trouble breathing but it triggered a massive fibromyalgia and IBS flare that I’m still dealing with even though I’m testing negative and no longer contagious. I don’t like how I could feel it stacking on top of my fibro symptoms, feeling inflammation in my whole body, talking myself down from anxiety attacks because my nervous system is on the fritz…I truly hope to never catch this again.
I got boosted in September, but the variant boosters weren’t released in Germany yet. Now I’m counting down the days until the 3 months is up and I can get an updated shot. If this is what it’s like as vaccinated as possible, I shudder to imagine what it would have been like otherwise.
It’s not really the best note to end 2022 on, but it also feels fitting. So much of this year has been about facing my fears and anxiety head-on and surviving it just to prove (to myself) that I can.
- I moved to a country I’ve never been to or imagined I would even visit, with a language I knew nothing about…with two cats
- I found us an apartment in said country with said language barrier
- I figured out how to get meds refilled and kinda navigate healthcare..in german
- I spent most of the year trying not to get sick because the idea of getting sick without doctors I trust is terrifying, and I got sick twice and lived to tell about it
In some ways this year feels like a repeat of when I was 18 and learning how to do things on my own for the first time in a world that was completely foreign. But this time I have several years of therapy under my belt and enough life experience that I have some general understanding of the world to build on. There’s just more nonsensical bureaucracy this time.
In other ways, it’s obviously nothing like that. On good days, I am overwhelmed by a sense of relief, gratitude, and liberation. Moving to Europe was never an idea that I seriously held, I thought visiting was the most I could hope for. I figured if I were going to flee the country I would stay on the same continent. But here I am, with a residence permit that means I can visit anywhere in the EU on a whim.
And I have.
I went to Barcelona by way of Strasbourg and stopped in Paris for a day on the way home.
On the way to Paris I got to ride the 300KPH train which felt so weird but was very cool.
Before I moved I decided I wanted to see the Eiffel tower by the end of the year and it felt good to actually be able to do that.
Now I’m making a list of all the different countries I want to visit on this side of the planet. Next year I’m hoping to get to Portugal, Switzerland, Belgium, and France again.
The biggest thing I appreciate about living in Germany is how little gun violence there is. It isn’t non-existent, but I can go to a grocery store or mall or college campus or bar without being worried about a mass shooting. My partner can bike around the city and I don’t fear for her life, I feel safe biking here which was something I never thought would be possible. There was an attempted coup a few weeks ago and the government quickly arrested the people involved and stripped them of their civil positions and pensions. Fascism is rearing its head here too, but it’s nice to be somewhere that takes it more seriously. It’s nice to feel like I live in A Society.
In 2023 I plan to refocus on my health. This year I was pushing myself trying to move across the ocean, find a place to settle, and start rebuilding a life. It was really hard to go from having a team of professionals who were easy to communicate with to struggling to get my meds filled because bureaucracy determines which doctors can prescribe which meds on which color paper (that actually matters, I learned the hard way). This year I’ve settled for finding someone, anyone, who can continue my medications; but I need someone who can actually be my doctor and care for my health, and have a conversation with me in English about it.
I’m going to pay the money to get the probiotics that actually treat my IBS. I’ve been resisting this year because of the deep-seeded feeling of unworthiness which I know is bullshit, but 18 years of abusive religious indoctrination runs deep.
In November I started working on my memoir for NaNoWriMo. I haven’t touched it since (mostly due to getting sick with COVID) but I plan to work on it at least one day a week next year. I want to have a manuscript before I’m 40.
I want to do more painting and filming and get involved with some local artists here. We’ll see how that turns out. If I can find a doctor I trust and consistently work on my book by this time next year, with a couple train trips thrown in here and there, I’ll be happy.
Here’s to 2023.