Saturday, November 25, 2017

There's nothing quite like Rivalry Week.

It's what I look forward to most in college football season, taking on the UNCheat Tarholes Tarheels. There is no team that most State fans hate more. Plus, being the last home game of the season, it was Senior Day, and we had to say goodbye to the best class this program has seen in ages. That was pretty bittersweet. This almost made up for it, though.

Yes, sir. We beat our arch rivals in what turned out to be a very weird, very tense, very messy game. But hey, a win's a win! While we didn't meet expectation this season, this was our Coach's best record in his tenure here. PLUS, it's the first time we've gotten six conference wins since 1994. Yeah, I know.

Celebrating the win didn't take away the frustration of losing twenty extremely talented men, but I know most of them have careers in the NFL waiting for them. I was in an especially cheesy and sentimental mode, so I created an Instagram post just for all of them.

#1 Jaylen "JaySam" Samuels TE/Hybrid
#48 Cole Cook (C) TE
#50 Tony Adams (C) OG
#27 Dakwa Nichols RB

#9 Bradley Chubb (C) DE
#27 Justin Jones DT
#98 BJ Hill DT
#35 Kentavius Street DE

#85 JuMichael Ramos WR
#6 Gavin Locklear WR
#4 Jerod Fernandez LB
#58 Airius Moore (C) LB

#2 Mike Stevens CB
#5 Johnathan Alston CB
#26 Nicholas Lacy CB
#24 Shawn Boone S

#64 Peter Daniel OT
#79 Ben Kaiser OL
#44 Bryan Smith DE
#54 Davion Allred DE

A D-Line who garnered national attention (rightfully so). LBs who made so many important plays, you usually couldn't count them all. A secondary that never stopped fighting to get better, even when the crowd was against them. WRs and a RB who fought through life-changing injuries to come back even stronger. A TE and OG who were the unsung heroes and leaders of the team. Walk-ons who earned scholarships. Scout team members who worked hard and selflessly every day to make sure the starters were ready for battle. And a hybrid, jack of all trades, all-purpose king of the field who defied all explanation. That's a lot of really special guys to lose all at once. Ask anyone; this class changed the culture of the program. The good news is that once you're part of the Wolfpack, you're always part of the Wolfpack, so Wolfpack Nation can cheer a lot of these guys on on Sundays.

I also added a picture for my favorite player, junior Nyheim Hines, who had two major touchdowns, 48 and 54 yards, had his personal record (by a LOT), and crossed the 1,000 rushing yards threshold for the season. And he did all of this after getting back on the field just one day after being cleared from concussion protocol. He's a BEAST.

These 20 guys are one of the most impact classes our program has ever seen. Wolfpack Football will never be the same. It was so important to everyone, team and fans alike, that they be sent out on a high note. They deserve every ounce of love, adoration, and respect they're getting.

Thanks for the memories, boys.

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Friday, November 24, 2017

That's what I call a good holiday.

I got to see my cousin.

I got to eat amazing food. (I love growing up in a family of incredible cooks.)

Garlic and herb marinated turkey, pork, stuffed mushrooms, stuffing not in mushrooms, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes, broccoli, baked mac and cheese (the same mouth-watering deliciousness I asked for for my birthday), and three different kinds of cheesecake bites. It was even better than it sounds.

I was just lucky the Wolfpack is playing tomorrow instead of today (I'm post-dating this a couple of days), otherwise, I'd be in a food coma during the game.

Hope y'all had a good Thanksgiving, everyone.

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Thursday, November 23, 2017

This is what I'm most thankful for this year.

Well, more like this is who I'm most thankful for.

Forgive me for risking sounding like a broken record, but Clayton, Jay, Reafe, and Tunji are my angels on earth. This year, more than ever before it feels like, they have carried me when I didn't think I could walk. They have saved me from myself when I felt like giving up was the only option and couldn't see a way forward. They have held me up when I felt like I was collapsing and refused to let me go when they saw me slipping into that dark hole. 

No matter how isolated I've felt this year, I've always known that I had someone I could call or text, someone who would be there to tell me the truth of who I am and how much I am loved. They've let me vent about the same fears and the same stresses over and over again and never once gotten annoyed or tired of hearing it. They each encourage and push me in their own unique ways, and I can't imagine my life without each of them in it. 

Clayton is my spiritual/faith encourager. He's the one I can go to with all of my questions and fears and frustrations about God and know that even if he doesn't have any answers, he won't judge me. Conversations with him always help me work out struggles with my faith. Even if I'm not feeling God's presence anywhere else in my life, when I talk to him, I remember that God is here and God is alive, because I see God in Clayton. I truly have learned more about God from him than any church service I've ever gone to or could ever go to. 

Jay is my, stealing a quote from Hamilton, "look at where we are, look at where we started" friend. Because he has known me longer than anyone currently in my life, he has the unique ability to remind of how far I've come and grown, and he really knows what he's talking about. Because we've seen each other through so much, he's seen firsthand everything that I've overcome and uses that as his proof that I'm going to keep growing and keep moving forward. He reminds me that even if I feel stuck now, it's not going to stay that way, because it never has - I've always overcome. 

Tunji is the one who forces me to find the humor in life when I can't see past whatever hard thing is in front of me. That may sound like more of a distraction than an encouragement, but it's not. He has this instinctive ability to know when I need to laugh and has no shame about doing whatever is necessary is order to make that happen. And by making me laugh, he reminds me that there is always something light in the world. There is always joy to be found somewhere. I just have to be willing to look for it. Even if it's found in one of my best friends saying the most random, off-the-wall nonsense just to make me smile.

Reafe is the one who pushes me to hold on to positivity when that feels impossible. He is the first to remind me to choose joy when letting the pain win is the much easier option. He unashamedly reminds me of why he and others look up to me so much, and that, in turn, forces me to remember that there is good coming from all of this. Texts from him always remind me that as long as I'm alive, God is using me for something, and that it's going to be okay in the end. Even if I can't see it getting better right now, it's going to get better. 

The real, blunt truth? These four guys are the main reasons I didn't try to kill myself back in September, why I stopped and called for help when the thoughts first entered my mind. Because even though I thought at the time that their lives would be easier without me in the long run, I knew that I couldn't hurt them, and I know for a fact that losing me would devastate all of them. Their presence alone in my life, even though they are hundreds and thousands of miles away, reminds me that I matter to someone when I feel like my biological family only cares about what I can do for them, not actually about me. 

An exchange trip I wasn't supposed to be allowed to go on to a city more than 4000 miles away. A class I randomly joined for a Twitter experiment. A soccer team I never intended on meeting, let alone becoming friends with. I met all four of these guys in the most accidental ways, and now, they are the most important people in the world to me. That's God, y'all. That's all God.

I've said it a million times before, and I'll say it again: DNA doesn't make a family. Love does. The relationships I have with Clayton, Jay, Tunji, and Reafe are all the proof I need.

So yeah, if you were to ask me what I'm most thankful for this year, I would give you this answer without a second thought. It's these four guys right here. They are my angels, my saving graces, my four best and truest friends. Since I can't change my health issues, at least I have the comfort of knowing that I have people to help me get through them. I couldn't ask for anything better.

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Sunday, November 19, 2017

Here we go again.

Tuesday, I went back to my foot surgeon for my six month post-op visit. I was fully expecting this to be one of the rare times in my life where a doctor appointment would be smooth and uneventful. I've been having a bit more pain in my right foot since around the beginning of October, but I figured it was just because I spend so much time barefoot since I really don't leave the house much.

Well, this is what I get for assuming things.

After I got the x-rays, I was just hanging out waiting for my doc to come back in to talk to me about them, still not having a clue anything was wrong. When he came in, though, he was way more serious than he usually is, so I just said, "So what'd they say?" And I heard a sentence I have heard way too many times in my life.

"Well, can I just preface this by saying 'if it can happen, it will happen to you?'"

And my heart sank. Because you'll never guess what bizarre thing my body decided to do to me this time.

Remember how he put steel plates and screws in my foot in order to immobilize my big toe? Yeah, well, those broke in half.

Oh, yes, you heard me. I broke steel plates and screws in half without even trying. I'm like Wonder Woman, except way less cool.

My doc assured me that this isn't my fault, that he knows I did everything that I was supposed to do during recovery. He said he won't know for sure why they broke until he gets in there, but sometimes, shit just fails and the fusion doesn't take. Like he said, if it can happen, it will happen to me.

So yeah, I'm having surgery again. Number 28 for those keeping track at home. It's scheduled for December 29th, but the surgical coordinator said that she would call me if they got a cancellation because ever since my doc messed with my toe at my appointment, I've been in a lot more pain than I was beforehand.

I'll be honest. I've been angry. Really angry. My closest friends know that one of my biggest fears in life is that my life is never going to be anything but a cycle of constant doctors and health problems and surgeries, and this just felt like confirmation of that fear. Plus, it's so aggravating that just when I think I'm finally getting my feet back under me - I'm not sick anymore, and I changed one of my psych meds, so my depression was getting better - and could focus on job applications again, something else pops up that completely derails my life when all I want is to get my shit together and move out and be an adult. It feels like every day of my life is this constant battle, and I'm just so exhausted. It's like the universe is saying, "I'm going to keep punching you in the face until you absolutely lose your damn mind," and I'm on the brink. I really don't know how much God expects me to take, or why begging and pleading for refuge and a break from all of this pain leads to nothing but a continuation of me feeling abandoned and hurt and alone and exhausted.

But if there is one thing I know in the midst of all of this confusion and pain, it's that no matter how alone I feel, I am never without help. God has given me the most incredible support system of friends who, even with hundreds, in one case thousands, of miles between us, have shown up big time in the past few days to hold me up when I've felt like I couldn't stand one more second. I see God in my friends every day, in every conversation. And when I don't know what to say to God, when prayer feels impossible, their presence is a reminder that God is here, too. God sees me hurting and knows the pain I can't always express.

Am I still afraid? Yep. I was having nightmares just last night about this next surgery failing, too.
Am I still angry? Yep. I'm tired and don't want to do this anymore.
Am I still confused? Yep. I don't understand why I haven't been through enough.

But I am loved beyond measure. And I am not alone. At the end of the day, that's what matters.

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Sunday, November 12, 2017

So. Much. Sickness.

It's been...a rough time.

It started out as allergies/a sinus infection the week before Halloween, so I had an antibiotic for that.

Except then, instead of getting better, it moved into my chest and turned into a respiratory infection, so I had to get a different antibiotic and basically lived on cough drops for several days.

I started getting better for a few days.

Then, I got the cold from hell. I knew it wasn't a sinus infection because my snot was clear (TMI? sorry), which meant there was nothing the doctor could do, so I just had to ride it out.

Except it wouldn't. end. I even got the fun sore throat and swollen lymph nodes to go along with it. And my usual regimen of Benadryl and Sudafed only seemed to make it angry.

I finally stopped sneezing a couple of days ago, but I still haven't shaken this chest pain and cough. And I've been having to do even more for my mom than usual because she got a tooth pulled on Wednesday, so she's pitiful and who really cares if I'm sick?

On the upside, my neurologist wrote me a prescription for a migraine nasal spray (who knew there was such a thing?), instead of just giving up on treating me like he was originally saying. It has the same central ingredient as the DHE infusion I did twice while I was at Campbell, so I'm cautiously optimistic. I've done it a few times so far. I haven't really noticed a difference, but my sinuses are still swollen, so I have no idea how much of this headache is also a sinus headache. That's the fun part of being screwed up on multiple levels. Ha.

Ha. Anyway, I'm tired. I have laundry to do. I just wanted to get on here and document what the past two weeks have been. In short: sick.

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