Eyes Open

February 2015 is shaping up to be the longest month of my life so far. I’ve become good at presenting a positive outlook on life, but the last few weeks have been terrible.

First of all, I’ve been struggling with an extended flare up of my condition with some new symptoms and it isn’t budging. I’ve had psych myself up physically and mentally for lectures. The pain and time management has been such that I have hardly seen or spoken to any of my friends for a couple of weeks.

Second, I received my semester 1 module results on Friday (20th) and they were disappointing, only just hitting the pass mark for one. I wasn’t on great form when I was writing the assignments, and I actually don’t really remember writing on of them, but all the same, academic writing has always been a strong suit of mine.

And finally on Thursday 19th, I received the news that my grandfather, to whom I was close, had passed away that morning. It was a shock. Grief is something I have never had to deal with before and I’m still feeling somewhat numb. I’m confident the reality hasn’t sunk in yet, unless I have a heart of ice.

In light of these things and my emotional openness over the past few days, I have come to realise that perhaps I am not coping with my condition as well as I tell myself I am. I consider it both a strength and a weakness that I am able to compartmentalise and hide my emotions or pain from loved ones, but I have also been kidding myself. Now I don’t know what to do.

Something that has been gnawing at me recently has been what I do after I complete my postgraduate studies. The pace of my life as it is now (studies, fairly limited social life and a very part time job 15 hours a week) is evidently too fast, and my symptoms don’t allow me to sit or do the same activity for longer than about an hour at a time. I’m also anxious about the prospect of being depended on by a boss or colleague when I’m going through a flare up or treatment, and my capacity to fulfil expectations. So what do I do?

The immediate issue is my degree. I have four weeks left of semester 2 and I am very behind with work. Then I have the summer to write a dissertation that is to be handed in at the beginning of September. If my condition stays the way it is now, can I complete the term with a shred of enjoyment?

My options are as follows:

1. extensions are pretty easy to sort out

2. change from full to part-time study and hand in my dissertation and other assignments next year

3. pause completely and take a sabbatical to get a grip on pain management

I’m seeing my consultant on Monday, when we’ll discuss what is left on the table, up his sleeve and under the rug. Hopefully that will give me a bit more to go on. Right now, I have a lot to think about.

3 Replies

  • Firstly I am sorry about your Grandfather. You will experience a range of emotions likely alien to you.

    Anger, blame, sadness, loneliness and regrets. These are all perfectly normal part of bereavement. Hopefully you will have family and or close friend who will support you through this sad time.

    I think you have answered your own question.

    You can not cope with all the study, work and pain. Something has to go and it ain't gonna be the pain!. Back on my soap box - one of the first things pain clinic say is....pace yourself. You are having a massive flair up. Stress is a major factor and doing too much. Your body can't cope so it throwes a wobbly to make you stop.

    Pain is your body's way of protecting itself. You stick your finger in the fire as a child, it hurts, so you don't do it again. Same with chronic pain and it can't be ignored. So listen.

    Pain clinic real name is pain management. Learning how to live with your pain with the help of meds, alternative therapy tp a level you can cope with. Push yourself too hard and no amount of meds will help.

    So.....take time to let your body recover. Look at ways of helping yourself and take that time off.

    Hope this might help a bit.

    Pat x

  • Thank you Pat. Time off of some sort is looking likely. I'm probably going to try to implement some sort of CBT as extra aid to help get routine and management under my belt. I've got to try and work out what I might be able to do part time to earn a little money. I don't think I can sustain the job I'm doing now; too much standing around and I have to talk to a lot of customers which when I'm in pain and exhausted, is a real struggle. In speaking to my parents over the last few days, they have helpfully told me that they had worried that I would be asking a lot of myself to study a postgraduate degree in London while doing a part time job, considering my condition. Kind of annoying that they've left it until now to bring it up.

  • Hello E - can't possibly type your whole name!

    Good decision and plenty to think about.

    I smiled at your comments about your parents not saying anything sooner. Suppose they had come to you and said you are doing too much? Would you really have listened and taken heed? Probably not. You might even have resented their interference. The time for you to make changes is when you and you alone decide. Parents know this and often seem indifferent whe they are very aware of what you are going through.

    There is a fine line between caring and interfering. Don't be too harsh on them but do talk to them now you have made your decision. Parents are only children in bigger sizes!