Sunday, 23 September 2012

Al-Baraka (*)

Disclaimer: this is a rant and, as all good rants, it is personal. If you don't give a f*ck about me or about how I may feel, don't waste your time. There's much more interesting stuff in the blog if you scroll down.

I used to believe everything was down to effort and hard work, when it comes to our lives. I grew up in a capitalist state where I continuously got told "if you work hard enough, you'll eventually get there".

I'm not twenty yet, but I have already realised something important. It's all bollocks.

You need luck in order to do anything. Good luck, bad luck, neutral luck, whatever. I would like to believe in fate but I cannot bring myself to do it, for some reason I do not really know. But luck, that's a completely different thing. You do not need to believe in luck, but if it does not believe in you, you are screwed.

I will prove this talking about the example I feel I can talk most about. Me. (Yeah, this can be narcissistic and self-centered, but whatever, this is my blog after all, and today I feel like talking about this personal matter.)

Two and a half years ago my luck changed. Back then I thought it was changing to bad, but eventually I found out it was actually good luck.
What happened? Well, if you know me at all or you've followed the blog regularly you should know: after a chain of disastrous events linked to my life, I just could not cope with it all anymore and broke down. I was ill for over half a year and in bed for over three months. A whole winter.
Of course, when you are about to turn seventeen, spending three months in bed and using your late grandpa's cane to walk to the bathroom because you simply can't do it on your own would not be considered by hardly any as good luck.
But I do. This gave me an opportunity to change my life a little bit more (after all, there wasn't much more I could lose), and so I made that change.

But to make it, I needed something not everyone has, and I am very lucky for having that. My family and friends, and very especially of course, my parents, supported me. Even more, they actually trusted me. They understood my position and decided to let me go ahead without even knowing what I was getting into. I hardly had an idea but they knew nothing at all. They still decided to back me. If they hadn't, well, who knows!
For that, I am eternally grateful to them.

I worked hard. Really, really hard, and for about a school year I hardly had any life. It paid off, though!
My parents still supported me and all was going well. So I left and had the most amazing year in my life. I have been really lucky in meeting the people I have met at York and doing what I have done. I could feel unlucky because I did not get a place at Cambridge, but I cannot see it that way.

And now, this summer, my luck has changed again. You see, humans do not really value something unless they have been deprived of it at some point.
I have been deprived of good health practically since I was born.
There have been more, of course, but I am going to stay with the main episodes:
My mum was seven months pregnant when she gave birth to me, and I was born purple and dying from asphyxia. They rushed me to another hospital where I spent a week, the first few days docs did not know whether I was going to make it or not.
When I was three, I had a problem in my hip and I could not walk for a few months. Imagine being almost four and having to go to school sat in a pushchair. Not nice.
When I was eight, I passed out at school and woke up in hospital nine hours later (during this time, I'm told my eyes were open and I shouted, but I wouldn't react to any stimulus). To this day nobody knows why that happened. To be fair, of that time I just remember spending a week at hospital on holiday, sort of. I did not feel ill. So many tests for nothing, they did not find out a thing.
When I was nine, my allergy evolved to a serious asthmatic condition and for a while I would have to rush to hospital once in a while to get some oxygen for a few hours. Once I had this massive attack and stayed in hospital for a week. I received so many corticoids I couldn't walk for a few days after that. Once I went home I started taking medication, slowly reducing the dose from nearly a hundred puffs daily. I inflated like a balloon and for many years I did not lose that volume. (I haven't stopped taking chronic medication ever since.)
Then it all went well with me for a while, albeit important events in the family sort of aggravated the scenario, and by the time I turned twelve or so I was feeling so bad about myself I had to see a psychologist for about two years.
After this I had a few minor problems I don't want to bore you with, but basically I found myself in that episode I've told you about before, when I stayed in bed for three months.

And then, it all went well until two months ago. I have been diagnosed this rare illness. It has no cure. I basically know that whenever I am eating or drinking my throat can suddenly shut and if it is bad enough, I could just choke to death.
I am being given different medications, they seem to get me better for a few days but every other week I get an attack. There is no instant cure, but staying in bed for four or five days helps feeling better. Still, you never feel well and I am starting to doubt I will ever feel well.
The following have been removed from my diet: seafood, mustard, nuts, everything containing gluten (beer, pasta, bread, sweets, pretty much anything I like), and for the last few days, upon a doctor's advice, lactose.
This morning I have felt a cheater, as my breakfast was lactose free milk and some gluten free cornflakes and a gluten free cupcake.
I cannot eat meat unless it has been processed before (in the form of a burger or a sausage) and I add some sauce to it. I cannot eat many kinds of fish. I cannot eat some kinds of veg, and I must be very careful with fruits. Effectively there are so many I cannot it. I certainly cannot eat a sandwich, even if it is gluten free bread, as I just can't swallow it. I can hardly eat out as I need huge amounts of water to eat absolutely everything, to make it slightly better, and because of the massive amount of stuff I cannot eat, it's actually better if I just eat at home.
And I need to take some corticoids. Oh, and Omeprazole, twice daily, for as long as I live. This helps with the reflux, but I can't get rid of it even taking the maximum dosage of Omeprazole advised for an adult.
Knowing that, even if I do all this, I can have an attack whenever, and there is nothing I can do about it. If it is serious, I can go to hospital and get some methylprednisolone administered, but all that helps is getting in bed, relaxing, drinking water in small sips and hardly eating. But there is no cure and no known 100% effective treatment. The illness is just so know we know nothing about it. Docs know Omeprazole usually helps patients with eosinophilic oesophagitis (yeah, I know the name sounds scary!), but they don't know why.

I have a flight to England in a week and I still do not know whether I will be able to catch it. I may have to stay here a few more weeks, perhaps I may have to take a year out.
I have the brains (well, sort of!) and luckily I have the financial means to do it, but my health just isn't helping. I cannot plan like everyone else because my ultimate goal in life right now is not having an attack in the middle of a seminar, a flight, or even a night out. I live in awe and I have felt on the edge of giving up a few times these weeks. As in, actually giving up, retiring somewhere or just staying in bed awaiting an attack.
I am pretty positive I do not deserve this, but this has been given to me and I have to cope with it.
I want to go to England. Not only because I actually miss my life as a Yorkie but because EO is related to allergy, and usually I feel better allergy-wise in England than I do back in Barcelona.
But at the same time I am scared, and exhausted. I am tiring of fighting this every hour of every day, feeling relegated to watching TV series online and writing once in a while in this blog when I feel well enough.

I just wanted to share this as an encouragement. Not only value your luck in other aspects of your life (finances, brains, success with girls/boys, etc.), but value the most what matter the most: your health. You are very lucky to be healthy, to be able to go out, to make plans, to do stuff, to not feel left out because you actually want to do lots of stuff but you simply can't do it unless you're in front of a laptop, because that's about as far as you can get: to a laptop in your bed.

My family and some friends are really helping me through this. They are really trying and sometimes not succeeding. They make me forget about all this for a while, perhaps, but when I'm in the middle of an attack, I just feel alone. I have actually asked a few times to be put under sedation. My lungs are not compromised when I have an attack, and I do not want to feel like that anymore.
No one seems to understand sometimes it's better not being here (somehow, sedation is not being here) than being here in whatever way. There seems to be an obsession with living no matter what, no matter how badly, and sometimes, when you can't do any of the things you actually want to fight for, anything you actually really want to do; when this happens, I think it's better not being here at all.
This obviously gets everyone angry, when I say it, starting by my parents, because it sounds a bit too suicidal. But I don't think it is.

I actually want to fight. And I'm fighting, and I'll carry on fighting, but I need some hope. If this does not get better soon, I don't think I'll be able to ever go out again, or take up a job, or go to lectures every day, or to the gym, or pretty much anywhere. And if that happens, what do I do? I force myself to do what I want to do, when I simply can't do it; or I crawl back to bed and accept I won't be able to do anything in life?
Neither sound good to me.

Moral of the story rant: live every day as if it were your last. I started doing this after my months in bed, I learnt to do it, and it really pays off. Especially when a couple of years later here you go again.
Maybe I feel better in a few weeks or a few months and I can learn from this as well. Maybe not.
That's why I'm still not going to say whether being diagnosed with EO is good luck or bad luck. Because I don't know. Yet.

*Baraka (البركة) is the Islamic concept for a flow of luck/beneficence coming directly from God/the higher power. It can be used as luck, in a metaphysical sense, and like the Jewish berachah (הברכה), it comes from the Hebrew Baruch (ברוך). Barack Obama's name comes from this same Semitic root.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Catalonia: a neutral analysis

Disclaimer: My English is far from perfect, and very rusty as I've hardly used it these last months.

OK. Last year I said I was not going to be involved in Spanish/Catalan politics again. I do not feel I have a say anymore in stuff going on here. After all, this is no longer my legal residence.
Anyway, due to the massive demo that happened a couple of days ago in favour of Catalan independence, in the National Day of Catalonia, and everything I've seen take place surrounding the demo, I have felt compelled to speak up. This time, however, I will (try to) do so as an 'observer', instead of as someone affected by it.
A couple of years ago I was absolutely against independence. As in, anything remotely similar to it I disliked. This has changed, though. I am more of a neutral person now. I feel both Catalan and Spanish, as I did before, but now, because I don't live neither in Catalonia nor in Spain, who cares?

I do. I care because I love my land. I would not live here for the world, but this is home and I love it. Which is why I am trying to analyse whether independence would bring good or bad to Catalonia. Of course, I am not going to say what Catalonia has right now is good. That would be an outrageous biased lie. All I want to do is establish the lesser evil.
In doing so, I have arrived to a conclusion. Independence might be favourable, a greater degree of self-government is certainly a must, but it cannot be done this way.
If it is done this way, all Catalonia will get will be a divided, sectarian society. To some extent, sectarianism is now stronger than it used to be, that is for sure, but I don't want to be so naïve as to say "all past times were better". Anyhow, since the crisis began, support for independence has been growing, and right now, at this point, it is not known which part of society (secessionists or unionists) would win a possible referendum. This is a remarkable achievement for secessionists because until a few months ago they were clearly a minority. A very big and important minority, but a minority nevertheless.
The thing is, and this is very important because it is perhaps the only thing in which all Catalans agree, they are tired with the current political climate and they want it to change. Secessionists want Catalonia to become independent, and they are certainly succeeding in their propaganda as very senior figures in the Catalan political arena are vouching their support for the cause of independence. These include Artur Mas, the president of Catalonia. His party was pro-Catalan but not pro-independence. Until last year, that is, when it went further and added full Catalan sovereignty to its manifesto. Unionists, or rather, all not in favour of secession (they must not necessarily be unionists), on the contrary, want Catalonia to stay in Spain. Some, albeit these are very few, want the Spanish government to step in and rule Catalonia directly. Some others want it to stay the way it is, and some others want a greater degree of devolution, perhaps a Catalonia within a Spanish federal framework.
A few years ago this division was not so. A minority wanted independence, a minority wanted Spain to have greater a say in Catalan affairs, but a very important chunk of the population simply did not care. They did not know what could be best, so they actually did not care.
Right now, in the current option, not caring is not an option. If someone does not care, they will be accused by secessionists of being a unionist and by unionists of agreeing with the secessionists. Propaganda campaigns are being more massive than ever, on both sides. This is obviously leading to a polarisation of public opinion. In politics ignorance is not bliss, or at least it should not be. But it seems it is starting to be, and very ignorant people who have no idea of what they are talking about took part in Tuesday's demos. Both on the massive pro-independence demo in Barcelona but also in the smaller anti-independence demos that happened in many town hall squares all over the country. Politics is fought on secession/union issues and not on left/right issues anymore.
This leads to a 'you are either with me or against me' climate all over the place. In other words, there is no longer such a thing as a Catalan society. Secessionists' view is "you cannot possibly be a good Catalan if you don't hate the Spaniards/don't want them to leave/you feel Spanish". Unionists' view is "you cannot possibly be a good Spaniard if you feel Catalan, because they're a bunch of angry people demanding the break-up of the great Spanish state". I know this sounds a bit extremist, but Catalan people are slowly moving towards these two poles. The only thing all Catalans agree in is that the current state, the status quo, is terrible and must be changed.
Now, let's assume, for the sake of analysis, that a referendum is held (I cannot possibly accept another way of achieving independence, such as declaring it outright, as some parties suggest). What would the result be? Well, technically, I do not care. It would not at all matter whether more people voted for independence than for union or vice versa. What is clear is that such result, no matter to which end it swings, would be tight. Which in turns leads us to assume a very large proportion of Catalans (whether or not they are Spanish passport holders) would be unhappy with the result. In the worst-case scenario, riots would happen and a police intervention might be needed. Maybe the army. In the best-case scenario, there would be unrest and uncertainty about the future. Many would leave: if union is outvoted by secession, some would leave because they do not want to leave Spain. If secession is outvoted by union, some would leave because it seems logical Spanish would rule Catalonia tighter in such an event and they would not want to live in such a place. In both cases, many would leave because it is quite obvious that political unrest would be greater, and many people just want to live quiet lives with no place for such unrest.
No matter what happens, then, it is quite clear that current paths to political change lead to sectarianism. I should think anyone accepting a political change as big as this ignoring the break-up of its society is a fool. Secessionists and unionists alike.

Catalan identity has been largely created in the last 150 years. Before that, Catalans used to be Aragonese, French or Spanish. Catalan was obviously the language of the land, but French or Spanish were used as fashionable languages by the elites, since the late Middle Ages. This all changed in the late 19th century, though. Modernism heavily changed Catalan society, made it more cosmopolitan, and Catalan identity and language started to be entrenched. It is during this period when a Catalan standardised ortography is created by Pompeu Fabra, and when sardana, the national Catalan dance, is created by Pep Ventura, unifying different popular dances across the territory. During the Second Republic period the largely autonomous Commonwealth of Catalonia is declared, but it all disappears after the Civil War. Francoist Spain was based in the ideal of a New Spain, whose motto was "One, Great and Free". It wasn't free at all and it wasn't that great, but sure as hell it was one. All languages other than Spanish were outlawed, regions were suppressed and a centralist almighty government was established.
This is largely to blame for today's current political climate. During the Transition (this being the period between Franco's death and the establishment of democracy) power was transferred back to the regions. First, to the regions who had pre-war power and historical reasons to claim some degree of self-rule. Among these, the Basque Country and Catalonia. But later it was decided that all Spaniards should be equal like the French, and the Coffee for all policy. Autonomous communities were created out of the blue, given anthems, statutes and legal powers, for the simple reason that other regions had them as well. Some say the Spanish system ressembles a federal system, but I don't think it does. In a federal system divisions decide to unite their sovereignty to suit the interests of all. In the Spanish system, however, a united sovereignty decides to create divisions to suit the interests of the central government. Spain has always liked doing things shabbily.
For a couple of decades it all went well, but it obviously could not work well. For a number of reasons.
Firstly, artificially created identities hardly ever work. At least, when they are so similar to one another.
Secondly, many institutions were doubled and even trebled. Much, much, much money being wasted for no reason.
Thirdly, nationalities with historical rights think they have a right to claim more. They do not want artificial identities to claim the same rights as them, so if the others are given these rights, they will claim more.

In the case of Catalonia, the trigger was probably pulled when the new Statute of Autonomy was drafted in the mid-2000s. It probably sought too much for what it could have got that day. People were outraged. Secessionist Catalans because it was too little, unionist Catalans because it was too much, and non-Catalan Spaniards because it definitely violated the Spanish Constitution. And bang, hatred started.  Secessionists started hating Spain because they felt oppressed. And Spaniards started hating Catalans because they felt they were asking for too much, so they boycotted their products and anti-Catalan propaganda started to become common. Anti-secessionist Catalans, by then a majority, found themselves in the middle of this: accused by both sides, they obviously started to change. It would be foolish for a Catalan to agree to a Catalan boycott (even though some did!), so more and more Catalans started to back independence, or at least moved their opinions in this direction.
This has been growing over the years, and aggravated of course by the current economic climate. The BBC covers this, worringly enough placing the news in its Africa section, but nonetheless explaining the economy-driven support for secession.
Secessionists argue that Spain is stealing Catalonia's money, unionists argue that way too much money is wasted in secessionist propaganda and doubled institutions. Ironically enough, both are right. Catalonia is definitely fiscally mistreated by Spain, and at the same time a big part of Catalonia's deficit (which has existed for a long way before the crisis) is caused by doubled institutions and costs of self-government which could be avoided, or at least, re-structured.

This all looks very messed up. Some might say there is no possible solution to this, given the circumstances, but the idealist in me tells me a solution is possible. Of course, this would require compromise, and Catalans and Spaniards alike have always had a remarkably disliking for anything smelling to the slightest compromise with anyone else.

In one scenario, things are done like they have been done until this point: badly. Propaganda is ever more widely used as a political weapon, and more and more people are convinced to align with the secessionists. When the secessionist elite feels there is enough support, it will lobby for a referendum. A referendum is won, and the cogs in the independence machinery are switched on. This would pose many problems, as secession is currently considered unconstitutional. But I am sure something would be done about it, if an adequate amount of pressure through lobbying is exerted.
I believe this would bring about more harm than good. I want to particularly point out two ways in which Catalonia would be harmed.
The first way is what I've said before, about sectarianism and a broken up society. Civil unrest, many fleeing the newly-established country, etc. This is definitely bad, and it would definitely happen. Catalans with different independence views have hardly any will to unite, and independence would definitely not change this. Many unionists would leave, fearing a life as second-class citizens or some sort of discrimination. Many secessionists have argued an independent Catalonia would be open to all Catalans, and I will not put this in doubt, but also undoubtedly some citizens would fear of this and, as a majority of Catalans have relatives elsewhere in Spain, quite a few of them would leave.
And, more importantly, the second one, would be related to the European Union. Even though Brussels officials have stated secessionist movements within a member country are none of their business, the European Commission has already interpreted European law and said a possible seceded Catalonia would stay out of the EU. This is very important. The EU has brought about many, many benefits, and I would say no Catalan can say they have not benefitted from being part of the EU. But if it is chucked out, the Catalan economy would be destroyed. EU-wide common external tariffs would probably affect Catalonia, and if it could establish itself in a position similar to Norway, it would not have any EU subsidies nor any say in EU policy, whilst it would definitely have to abide it.
Secessionists foolishly say accession could then be negotiated. Of course it could be negotiated. But this also poses problems: time and support. Time, because all things being well, negotiations would take at least 5 years. In the middle of so huge an economic catastrophe as we are now, this would be absolutely disastrous. And support, because new member states must be approved unanimously. Germany would not probably support Catalonia (a weaker Catalonia and a weaker Spain are not in Germany's interests). There are also reasons to believe France and the UK would not support Catalonia either, to discourage their home secessionist movements from trying to follow Catalonia's path.
It might happen, Catalonia staying in the EU and there not being problems, but common sense tells us this is not really bound to happen. In market eyes, both Catalonia and Spain would be weaker, and in the current situation this would be disastrous for both.

In a second, less-likely scenario, propaganda finally turns the tide in favour of the unionists. It would be foolish to assume the status quo would be respected. The Spanish government would definitely want to avoid this happening again. Perhaps it would not go as far as going back to Francoist prohibitions, but it would definitely mean less autonomy for Catalonia. All further attempts to achieve greater autonomy would be interpreted as secessionist and consequently crushed. Catalans have worked very hard to achieve the good bits of Catalonia's current status, and it should definitely not be lost. The rest of Spain should therefore be worried about Catalonia right now, because less autonomy for Catalonia would probably mean less autonomy for all other regions in the country.

In other words, no matter what happens, both Catalonia and Spain are to come out of it worse off. So what can it be done about it?
I do not like being pessimistic, and I think there is a way out. It is obviously hard, of course, and it will probably take longer than a few years, but it can be done.

Firstly, right now Catalans and Spaniards alike should put all their efforts in uniting to get out of this economic situation. Catalonia demanding €5bn from the Spanish government is a short-term solution, but enough to delegitimate Catalonia's secessionist claims, in Spanish eyes.
So they should leave secessionist and hate politics aside and focus on getting out of this. Both sides would have to make concessions, and this is not really bound to happen. But dreams are free, aren't they?
Secondly, once Catalonia is out of the danger zone, economically, it should claim from Spain a greater degree of autonomy. A fiscal pact so Catalonia can administer its own money would be a perfect way of starting this process. Maybe establishing a federal Spain with Catalonia being a federated state within Spain would be beneficial, but this would of course take negotiations and debates. And time.
Thirdly, something which no one likes should be done. Waiting. A few years of waiting should occur, and see how the new, more autonomous system is working out for Catalonia. Propaganda should be discouraged on both sides, as waiting cannot be tied to civil unrest.
Next, if a federation seems to be working just fine but Catalans still want more, then and only then talks for independence should begin. It would take compromise from both Spain and the Catalans to negotiate secession terms with Brussels, of course, as everything should be crystal clear before proceeding with the last step.
The fifth and last step would be a referendum. It is foolish to even consider declaring independence without respecting the people's will and mandate. Whether this referendum would involve only Catalonia, also the rest of Spain or also Brussels would have to be established then. Personally I think Spain should have a say in it, for it to be legitimate, but it should be up to the Catalans to determine what passport they want to hold.
If the referendum result was no, then the federation could be preserved. If the result said yes, then guarantees should be made for civil liberties by both sides. As I see it, Catalans should be able to preserve both citizenships, and all Spaniards who decided to move to Catalonia or had links with Catalonia should be given Catalan citizenship too. At least at first, both Catalan and Spanish should be kept official languages, or at the very least, the right to express oneself in Spanish should be respected.

But of course this is all too theoretical and perhaps utopic.
All I know, as a Catalan and a Spaniard who loves his land, is that if Catalonia and Spain continue in this path, things are going to end very, very badly for all of us. And I would not like seeing my land shattered by ignorance and ignorance-led hatred. If Catalans do not unite for more than an agreement to hate each other, it does not matter whether we are self-ruled, or ruled by Spain or by Germany.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Coeliac for two weeks

I have been ill for the last month and a half. It all started when I was on my way back from Murcia. Halfway through, I started feeling bad. My neck, ie my lower throat, was slowly beginning to close. If it shuts, then you cannot swallow. It is pretty obvious. So I went to hospital once I got to BCN (which I managed largely thanks to my aunt who is a nurse). It took seven or eight doctors and four hospitals for them to give me a short term solution: methylprednisolone, a weird-sounding name but a very common medicine if allergy is suspected.
But of course, that was only when I had started retching because my throat was so shut I could not even swallow saliva.
I went to a specialist doctor a few days after this, and I was told an endoscopy would be needed. For those of you who don't know, it consists on introducing a couple of cables down your mouth and throat, in my case until the duodenum, which is the beginning of the thin bowel. I am told I retched a lot, but I have no idea because luckily the first thing they did was give me some anesthesia. They did not start till I was in sleep mode and finished long before I woke up thirty minutes later, so How could I remember?
Long story short, when I got the results of the biopsies they took, I learned three things:
First, I do not have cancer. Which is both a relief and as good as it gets.
Second, I have been diagnosed a severe eosinophilic oesophagitis (EO or EE in countries using American spelling). It is much easier to explain what it is than to correctly pronounce its name. In a nutshell, my body has an excess of eoshinophils because I suffer from allefgy. These eosinophils, little white cells coming from the immune system, decide to make of my oesophagus a new home. Which would be fine for me if this did not in turn mean that my oesophagus inflames, and so the hole through which food and drink go to the stomach becomes ever smaller. 'Can it be healed?' 'No can do, sir, sorry.' I need to learn to live with this. At the moment I am taking a treatment I was prescripted at A&E ten days ago when I had another attack, and it is sort of working for me, but there are no guarantees, and sometimes surgery is needed. Oh, and lots of care, of course. To eat, to drink, to go out, to do pretty much anything.
And third (yeah, this was a list!), I have a mild chronic duodenitis. I was told by the pathologist this was most probably because I suffered from coeliac disease as well. Coeliac disease consists in a gluten intolerance, and the only known effective way to tackle it is leading a gluten free diet. Waiting for the results of further tests, and because it could do me no harm, I started leading a gluten free diet some three weeks ago. It was somewhat of a disappointment when last week I found out that I am NOT a coeliac. Okay, maybe I wasn't disappointed. But I was presented with two major questions:
Firstly, what on earth is causing the chronic duodenitis?
And secondly, how the hell can I feel better when I eat and especially when I am digesting food, like a coeliac person would experience, if I am not intolerant to gluten?
These are still unanswered, in case you may wonder. I am seeing a specialist later this week to try and answer the first question. As for the second one, I talked to my doctor about it, and he was very clear about it: "if you feel better, why should not you continue?". So I will still lead a gluten free diet for a few weeks, presumably until November, when I will reintroduce gluten in my diet, and I'll see what happens. Depending on how my body reacts, these months will become a happy anecdote, or I will become an honorary coeliac. We'll see.
For the time being, I need to learn to live with EE, which I can assure you is not easy, and try to find long term solutions for both problems. If I can, losing* half my summer will have been worth it.

*I'd rather say 'losing experiences I could have lived', as a sort of opportunity cost, than think I've wasted half of my summer in bed.

PS: This is the first entry I've written in full in my iPod. Quite an experience, not being used to touchpad keyboards.