þrjár vikur, part 1

I’ve canceled my Netflix subscription in anticipation of my move, and my brain can’t absorb any more Icelandic language study tonight, so I guess that means it’s time to blog.

I am moving to Iceland in three weeks.

Three weeks!

Twenty-one days.

I can’t even wrap my mind around that.

The past five weeks, since I last posted, have been full of challenges and blessings alike.

In early June, I went in to see my doctor about a concern that had come up, and while that concern turned out to be nothing to worry about, the lab work she ordered came back with some abnormalities indicating a different problem.  Obviously, a new, potentially serious health issue is about the last thing I was expecting to have to deal with in the last couple months before my move.  It probably comes as no surprise that this discovery has added a great deal of stress to my life.

I was hoping to be done with work around July 18, giving me a full month to focus on preparing for my move. The problem was that my employer-provided insurance only extends to the end of the month in which I stop working.  So if I had stopped working on July 18 as planned, I would have only been covered until July 31, leaving two weeks of insurance limbo.  I chose to work until August 1 so I will be covered until the end of August, which means I won’t have any gap in insurance coverage (I’ll also be covered as soon as I get to Iceland).

Anyway, I was told that I would need to see a specialist for evaluation.  Then I was told the first opening was August 22 (just to recap, I am moving to Iceland on August 17).  I didn’t take that news so well, but once I calmed down, I started strategizing.  I was put on the wait list for an earlier appointment, I asked my primary care provider to order any additional testing that might save us some time, and I asked her for a referral to an outside provider, hoping I could get in sooner elsewhere.  Thankfully, she was on board with ordering the additional testing, and someone on whom I wish many blessings canceled an appointment with a specialist at my regular clinic, so I was able to get in last week.

Thankfully, the specialist was great. He was patient, clear, asked me many times if I had more questions, and not in a flippant “anything else?” while walking toward the door way, but in a sincere and patient way that frankly I haven’t seen in a lot of doctors lately (or ever, really).  He was understanding of my timeline and willing to try rushing orders for the additional testing we need to do (he mentioned putting the order in “stat” and I felt pretty special). Best of all, though, he reassured me that there is no reason to cancel my move.  He feels quite certain that whatever is going on (there are a few possibilities) is something quite manageable.

The last few weeks have reminded me in many ways of the experience I went through the summer after my junior year of college.  It took an entire summer of being nauseated and dizzy and overall miserable, four months of testing and doctor’s appointments, before I was diagnosed with a migraine disorder.  I remember the fear and exhaustion that came with not knowing what was going on.  Within the same week, same day, even the same hour, I could go from feeling incredibly hopeful to wondering if I’d ever feel normal again and, maybe if I was lucky, back to feeling hopeful again.  Thankfully, we seem to be moving much faster toward diagnosis and treatment this time around, but I have certainly experienced that same rollercoaster of emotions, only heightened by the whole moving-to-Iceland thing.

Of course, I would never have chosen to move overseas and embark on this great adventure when I’m not feeling my best.  In my ideal scenario, I would be feeling fabulous my last few months in the States, full of energy and able to put in many hours of focused language study so I would be as prepared as possible to start school next month.  That hasn’t been the case, but I suppose now is just a good a time as any to start working on my “Þetta reddast” attitude.

I don’t know exactly what is going on with my body or how it will affect the next few weeks or the next year or three.  I don’t know why all this is happening now.

But I do know that as stressful as this whole issue has been, there have been some tremendous blessings for which I am extremely grateful:

I am grateful I had the opportunity to ensure continuous insurance coverage simply by working a bit longer than I had planned.

I am thankful to have wonderful coworkers who have been tremendously kind, supportive, and understanding of my absences for medical appointments and my sometimes-unexplained emotions as I swing from moments of feeling overwhelmed to moments of feeling hopeful.

I am thankful that an American friend of mine who lives in Reykjavík connected me to another American (a Washingtonian, even!) living in Iceland who has had similar health problems and is totally willing to share what she’s learned about dealing with it and navigating the Icelandic health care system.

I am grateful for another friend of mine who sent me essential oils to help with my health.

I am unbelievably grateful and relieved that not only do I know where I will be living in Iceland, but I’ll be living with an Icelandic family – and one that I already know!  I know there are some international students starting at the University of Iceland this fall who still don’t have their housing lined up.  If I had to worry about finding housing on top of everything else that’s going on, I think I would really be (even more of) a basketcase by now.

And finally, I am grateful to be moving to a country with readily available, affordable health care.  I will be living in downtown Reykjavík with easy access to primary care, specialists, and (hopefully I will never need it) hospital care.  For the first six months, I will need to purchase a medical cost insurance plan, but it should only cost about $200 or so ($200 for 6 months?  You read that right, my fellow Americans).  After six months, I will be fully covered under Iceland’s national health care system and will pay the same low fees for care that Icelanders pay.  It has not escaped my attention that had I received a Fulbright to study in a more remote area of the world, I would very likely not be able to move forward with my plans to relocate.

So, a lot has happened in the past five weeks, and there’s a lot that needs to happen in the next three weeks both in terms of getting medical answers and crossing more items off the never-ending “things to do before you move overseas” list.

My friend Nicole, a fellow lover of Iceland, recently posted this quote, and I don’t think she’ll mind me borrowing it:

“Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear.”

Do I have fears about the next three weeks, and about getting settled into my new life in Iceland?  Absolutely.  But I have no doubts that this is what I am supposed to be doing, with or without a few extra challenges, and that there are beautiful things awaiting on the other side of this fear.