Category: chronic illness and education

Rest required

I have a few chronic illnesses, some that I’ve written about in the past…it doesn’t matter what they are, just know that they exist and they impact every facet of my life.

I recently defended my dissertation (Yay Me!!!) now it is time to focus on job hunting (Why me?) and this is where chronic illness is front and center.

So I’ve lived with these chronic illnesses for many years and I’ve achieved my educational goals…although things never went smoothly…and now I’m exhausted

I have important people to contact, cover letters to compose, and applications to complete…but I’m tired.

I’m not only tired from the arduous process that is a doctoral program…my chronic illnesses are screaming at me to pause temporarily.

My chronic illnesses are suggesting that I breathe, meditate, then rest. Sigh.

As many of you know, application deadlines and all the many things necessary for getting a job fails to account for the fact that your (my) chronic illnesses demand that I rest.

Some of you may even go so far as to say, if I need rest during the application process, I’m likely not able to do the job for which I am applying.

Then there’s others who would say that the PhD process is tedious and the typical person would need a break, so it’s not unusual that I need a break…in the form of a short rest.

The problem I often face as a result of being chronically ill is that I wonder if I’m being lazy or I really need the rest.

Those closest to me suggest that I simply need the rest, but even that’s not always convincing enough to stop my negative self talk

As someone with chronic illnesses, it is hard enough to deal with some outsider suggesting that you are lazy, incompetent and yet many of us, myself included engage in negative self talk when our bodies demand self-care.

I am someone who possesses chronic illnesses, but I’m also more than that. I am someone who needs accommodations, but I’m also more than that. I am more than any identifier I possess…if only I consistently believed that.

Stress induced flare

Ok so here’s the deal, in less than 10 days my dissertation defense will happen and my angst is high

I’m not nervous about what I know as it pertains to my dissertation; but I’m concerned about the what’s next questions that are flooding my mind

This is bad because the illnesses that reside in my body react badly to stress…really bad.

My thoughts are jumbled; I’m frustrated and I’m ready to scream

I must find a way to calm my mind and balance myself.

I must relax or else I won’t make it through my dissertation defense because I’ll be nursing a flare.

Why are my illnesses stress- sensitive ?

The Memo

The chronic illness related pain failed to read and/or comprehend the memo which stated:

To Whom It May Concern:

The deadlines are fast approaching and must be met. There’s no acceptable excuses for said person to miss these deadlines. Reasonable accommodations were made and any extensions beyond those suggests that said person is unable to adequately perform the tasks.

Signed,

The Deadline Committee

Well, back to the chronic illness related pain that failed to read and/or comprehend the memo and decided instead to flare when I (aka said person) desperately needed to write in order to meet the deadline committee’s demands.

Clarity statement: NO committee or individual gave me such a deadline notice…IRL

PhD and Me

The closer I get to finishing this PhD program, the more I wonder if it was/is worth it.

I’ve sacrificed much for this lofty degree and when I started I had a plan; I had major plans…but now I’m releasing myself from all of the plans I had and letting life fall into place.

One thing I know for certain is that my plans thus far constantly changed…whether it was due to my ugly battle with endometriosis and other chronic illnesses or the people I’ve met who enlightened me…I’m not the same and my trajectory has changed.

One day I hope to look back and say: those years I sacrificed and the relationships that suffered due to my pursue of this lofty degree were worth it.

Until then, I will continue what I started because I’m too close to the finish line to stop now.

 

I Think I Can

I should graduate from my doctoral program May 2018; but there’s so many changes that will happen before that day.

Health, illness has caused major delays in my original plans but I’ve made progress also. If you’ve read my posts, you know that I have endometriosis and I’ve known for awhile.

I had a dream to receive a PhD so that I could not only teach at the postsecondary level, but so I could help others reach their goals. Believe me when I say that I don’t believe you need fancy degrees to help people and you certainly don’t need a PhD; however, there are some levels of access that are denied to many without the fancy degrees.

My pursuit of this degree is not for reasons of vanity but lies in the fact that it inspires many. Many groups are still underrepresented in the halls of academia so it’s not shocking that some individuals from those groups feel that dreams of having fancy degrees are just that, dreams. I am and will always be a symbol that those dreams don’t have to remain dreams. I look to inspire at least one person to pursue her dreams.

I am representing many underrepresented groups…I think I can achieve my dream of obtaining this fancy degree I’m in pursuit of in spite of the seen and unseen obstacles in my way.

Often I have to encourage myself to keep going because it feels like an uphill battle…but in a little over one year this battle will be won and I’ll prepare for the next one.

I believe I can do this and that’s a major part of the battle.

Endometriosis Fears

Being diagnosed with endometriosis in my adolescence was a blessing and a curse. I was glad to know that there was something wrong and it had a name. I was excited because I finally knew that I did not make up the pain; it was definitively real…with a name.

It didn’t take long for me to receive my diagnosis, considering that many individuals go years without a proper diagnosis. Endometriosis was always the suspected diagnosis from the very first time I experienced pain. The only delay in diagnosis was due to my age, my doctor didn’t want to subject me to an unnecessary surgery. We waited 1 1/2 years before surgery while trying oral contraceptives and so I could become an “official” teenager.

Once the official diagnosis came it was also a curse because I instantly developed fears about my future fertility and my future career.

I automatically assumed I was infertile and that NO man would want a woman who couldn’t bear his children. After reading information about endometriosis – most of which was provided by or recommended by my physician; I feared that I would never have a successful career either.

These thoughts, fears were compounded by my very premature mind, I was only a teenager – barely -and I tried to deal with a very mature problem. I wasn’t dying, but I often felt like dying was a far cry better than living In constant pain.

Today, I’m learning to put the brakes on as far as my fertility and career goes. No reason to worry about things that are not at the forefront. I’m currently working toward the career that I’ve always wanted and I’ve never tried to conceive so who knows what the future holds

Endometriosis…beginningsĀ 

I felt the presence of endometriosis in my body during my SECOND EVER menstrual period, I was nearly 12. Once I turned 12, I started my first set of birth control pills in an effort to address the menstrual related problems I was having…birth control pills didn’t help so I was referred to a gynecologist. In the referral documents, the pediatrician suggested endometriosis as my potential ailment.

I was so young at the time so the gynecologist tried a few other birth control pills and patches before deciding on the exploratory surgery. The surgery would confirm or deny the suspected diagnosis of endometriosis.

I was 14 when it was surgically confirmed that I indeed had a pretty bad (in terms of location and size of lesions) case of endometriosis.

For a moment, I was relieved…there was a medical reason for why I missed so much school and missed out on hanging with my peers that was no longer a mystery, it was endometriosis.

Then I remembered that my doctors told me that endometriosis had no cure. My relief flew out the window because now with diagnosis, I was the sick one.

Before the diagnosis I was just an adolescent who didn’t like school and made “excuses” not to go or to leave early in the day. After diagnosis, I had an incurable disease and no guaranteed surgical or medical relief. 

Endometriosis officially made me the sick one…as an adolescent this was torture.