Barcelona Bound!

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It’s a huge relief to be writing this post, because the past few months this has been an uncertainty. But I finally booked my flight, and in a couple of weeks I will be beginning my MA in International Relations at Institut Barcelona d’Estudis Internacionals!

I’m hugely excited. And nervous. And impatient. And giddy. Spending the majority of the past year in Spain made me fall completely in love with the country and its culture, and although my plans were to spend one year in Spain then return to university to complete a masters, over the year I realised I wanted the university to be in Spain. So after a lot of research I found IBEI, which sounded perfect. Plus it is in Barcelona! I found the city awesome when I visited for a long weekend with a couple of friends last December. Burgos was a beautiful city to live in, and after three stressful years of university it was perfect to unwind and relax. However my heart lies in big, cosmopolitan cities and so I’m super keen to return to one. London was great for three years, and I’m expecting Barcelona to be just fine for one 😉

The uncertainty of these past few months have been a result of my recent lupus diagnosis. Speaking with the specialists who have been seeing me since I returned to the UK, they unsurprisingly voiced their concerns over me returning to Spain, therefore having to change doctors, all whilst still battling to get my lupus under control. Which is not ideal. However I am stubborn. Although I know things aren’t perfect with my health, I do feel like things have dramatically improved since I’ve been put on the right medication. And although deferring a year was gently recommended by some, I honestly felt that it wouldn’t take a year for me to be as okay as I’m ever going to be. And truth be told, the idea of spending a year in my home city working some random job was not appealing at all. Life doesn’t stop, and we all have to keep rolling on. And I know me, I know I need to be in a city where I can just head out for coffee or drinks with friends, find live music and theatre, museums and art galleries, or to get lost in.

So I must give a MASSIVE shout out to the NHS specialists who after umming and ahhing, basically said it was my choice, so long as if I go to Barcelona I still arrange to be seen by them in the UK every three months. Which suits me fine! They even said they would establish contact with my doctors in Barcelona, all so I can happily pursue my dream education. Sure, I have my complaints about the NHS. Mainly to do with how it is operated and its need for more funding and what the government is doing to it etc (but that is a rant not for here), and also that they failed to diagnose my lupus last year so it had to get worse and threaten my kidneys before the Spanish doctors diagnosed me. But I can never fault the people who work for the NHS (except maybe the really grumpy ones). How can you fault people who dedicate their lives to saving lives? I wander into my appointments with medical records all in Spanish, declaring that I want to return to Spain despite having a life threatening illness that should be monitored regularly, and they barely batter an eyelid.

Also have to be grateful to have the family I have, who are willing to support me and my stubborn dreams despite preferring me to be somewhere a lot closer to home. Especially as my summer has involved quite a few doctor trips and a couple of A&E trips, but I like to think I’m slowly becoming less of a walking casualty…

And now the nerves are hitting me: that I’m soon to be moving to a foreign city, finding a place to live, finding new friends, and hopefully not going to completely fail at a degree that is quite different to my BA in English Literature…but I am itching to go. Although it’s been nice spending time with my family and old friends, I cannot wait to have my independence back and once again establish my own roots in an adventure that is uniquely my own. Everything will be once again on my own terms, and life will continue being an adventure. And I miss being a student! (Yep, I miss all the essays and deadlines and late night studying…)

I am nervous that lupus will affect me more than I’d like (don’t tell my parents). Student life usually entails a lot of nights out, but now I know my body simply won’t be able to handle that anymore. I will sometimes have to sacrifice socialising with new people to make sure my body is rested, looked after, and so I don’t find myself back in hospital. Communicating with doctors will certainly be an experience, and I don’t know how much to tell the people who will become a part of my life. “Hi, I’m Eleanor and I have lupus/Hola, soy Eleanor y tengo lupus” might not be the best introduction…but at the same time people close to me will need to know that there will be times I can barely stay awake, or my joints hurt so I can’t move much, or my immunosuppressants are working a little to well and I have to keep away from all possible infections (aka people).

But oh well. There might be set backs, but if there is one thing I’m glad about it’s that although lupus is a pain in the arse, it could be worse. I’m still able to have a normal life, and I’m still able to have a future. Sure, it put me in hospital and made me quit my job, but things have been in improvement since. My steroid dosage has gone from a huge 60mg to 20mg starting in September. As a result my face feels a lot less moony (now I can’t tell if it’s moony or just naturally wide). My shingles scar is gradually fading and my muffin top and spots are decreasing, so while I don’t feel totally attractive I feel less gross than I did a couple of months ago. But most importantly my kidneys are functioning as they should, my chest pains are gone (meaning my heart is safe), and although my joints sometimes hurt it is nothing compared to before. My body might be trying to attack and kill itself, but it’s not winning.

Barcelona I am ready for you! (That is a lie, I have so much to organise and oh god how I hate planning and packing). I’m actually flying to Madrid to spend a weekend with a friend from my Burgos days, and I cannot wait. Then I have a super long journey to Barcelona to make, to find somewhere to live, and begin my studies and a new chapter of the life of Eleanor. Vamos!

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