First, WOOOOHOOOOO!!!! I am now enrolled in the Master of Public Health at The University of Melbourne – or UniMelb, as its domain has caused it to be known since I was last at University, 25 years ago!
I got the offer for the Masters in mid-December but I couldn’t bring myself to write this blog post until I was sure that I was actually enrolled, because a part of me still struggles to believe this is happening. Just eight months ago, I was writhing in pain for three weeks of every month, and considering my diagnosis of migraines and POTS and their treatment, which allowed me to get into a car without taking anti-nausea drugs, a miraculous change in my life. Which it was – and continues to be – but ooh, boy, it doesn’t come close to the cessation of chronic pain.
I still have pain from the osteoarthritis I’ve had in my spine and hips since I was 20, but it’s not layered on top of the vicious beast that was my adenomyosis-riddled uterus and its adhesion to my bowel, so the arthritis pain is manageable with nothing more than regular paracetamol. Paracetamol! Not even with codeine, let alone oxy’ or tramadol!!
But I digress, if you are new to the blog, or missed my post in which I wrote about finding a new purpose in turning my fiction writing skills to non-fiction on women’s pain, and my plan to apply for the Masters of Public Health, you’ll find it here.
With the hurdle of application and admission cleared, I now move to the harder and most interesting phase – getting it done!
The idea of study after so long doesn’t worry me – perhaps it should, lol, but for now I’m working on the basis that my intellect will turn up for me. If it doesn’t, I’ll deal with it, then. I’m not making it easy on myself, as I’ve also decided to do a concurrent Diploma of Languages in French – those of you who joined my blog when I was living in Japan or Thailand will know I have a lifelong desire to become a polyglot (fluent in at least four languages) – so I’ll get to do some interesting subjects taught and assessed entirely in French, in a couple of years. I’m sooo excited!!
The other issue that has crept up on me only in the last few weeks is the fact of being around other people. I have been lucky that, as an introvert, I have no trouble spending hours, even days, in my own company, but it does mean that being around others – even though I enjoy it, very much – is draining. Not to mention, that after so long spending every day with just Oggie and the TV to talk to, I’ve allowed my habit of automatically correcting the pronunciation of words out loud (which I developed while directing audiobooks) to run amok and I’m sure I’m going to do it in a class at some stage!
What worry me most are the issues that my remaining medical conditions could create. Both my GP, and my Specialist at the Austin hypotension clinic are supportive of this new direction, but have been at pains to remind me that, though I might feel like Superwoman without my pain, I must still take it gently – something I’ve never been good at. My Specialist has also told me to expect setbacks, probably even big ones, but that I will recover faster, now, and to reach out to him to adjust my meds to manage that. Which I will do.**
And so, like the hyper-vigilante, over-intellectualiser that I am, I have spent the last couple of months finding solutions to all the issues I could foresee being a problem as a sufferer of chronic illness(es). Of course, there will be unforeseen issues, surely, but the way I’ve always handled my anxiety is to plan, plan, write lists, and plan – it’s what works for me.
I won’t go into further detail about those solutions, today, as I want to test them before I write about them, but I will write about them – honestly – in case it may be of help to those of you with similar chronic conditions and may be considering, or in the midst of, University life. Just as this blog focused on how to live in Japan as a “trailing spouse”, when I lived there, it will now focus on how to attend University with chronic, largely invisible medical conditions. I can only hope it will be tinged with the same joy as my Japan experience.
As always, wishing you courage and creativity in all you do,
**(If you live in Melbourne, or are willing to drive to Heidelberg, and would like to know who my Specialist for POTS is, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll tell you what I know about his particular interests etc.)