Adaptations and Examinations

July 19, 2017

Adaptations and Examinations

My soul is bursting with excitement. I want to shout it from the rooftops. I want people to know and hear, and share the excitement with me. I want people to understand the depth of this joy. Understand the sacrifice. Understand the achievement.

Make It, Bake It, Fake It

I have finished a semester at university. I made it to the end.

But then someone will ask about how many subjects I did, or about my full time load...and my inwardly my soul will crumble, and break just a bit more than a little. And with tears braced I will say quietly, "just one subject. I only did one subject." Before feeling compelled to justify the easing back into it, and what an achievement one subject has been. But those thoughts are often kept to myself, and that part of me, the feeling of achievement, and of success, falls away, and my achievement no longer feels worthy of celebrating.

From the very beginning I realised the mountain I was set to climb.

I had been training for it for months. Slowly trying to increase my cognitive activity. Moving from being unable to read a trashy novel to working up slowly and at time really painfully to reading academic writing. A short 15 minutes, then a rest, moving up to two 15 minutes, then two 20 minute blocks of reading a day. A rest in between. Forcing myself to read despite the headaches and the nausea that comes.

I thought I was in too deep the day I went to my orientation session for my course. Feeling as nervous as I had when I started my undergraduate fresh out of high school some so many many years ago. The couple of hours of the induction session left me feeling physically sick. How was I going to cope turning up to class every week, made worse so by it being in the evening!

I had to bite my shame and register for disability provisions at university.

I had to send an email to my lecturer exposing a bit of my tightly guarded secret...I have a chronic illness.

The first lecture I was too scared to walk out and take a break. Despite my watch giving me a silent alarm reminder. Too scared to draw attention to myself. It was bad enough that my class was on the third level, and the only lift I found looked like it was out of the dark ages and so walking the stairs (despite the consequences) seemed a much better option.

By the second week I managed to walk out mid seminar to get some fresh air. Using filling my water bottle as an "excuse" not that it was needed. I'd sit out on the balcony trying to mentally do some quick meditation or give my brain a rest...just enough to return back in and keep the nausea at bay.

I'd scrape through to the end of class, hoping and praying that I wouldn't need to put my brain into actual action and be called upon.

I'd drive home calling mum so that I'd have someone to talk to and keep me alert as I drove home.

Each week of study was carefully orchestrated and planned. From trying to stay on top of seminar material, reading some of the weekly readings, more reading on my assignment topic, and starting assignments painfully way way way ahead of time.

Assignment one was a killer. Trying to gauge whether I was on the right track, whether words could be formed in a somewhat academic form compared to my blogging style prose, way too long to dwell on the topic...yet, only able to complete a tiny bit each day. By the end, my brain was fried, our internet was fried (literally) and I was scraping by in cafes and the library. It was submitted, and then I crashed, barely able to make it to the following weeks seminar. I had pushed my body too far!

Yet, slowly I allowed the adaptations I required to be real. To allow my self to accept the help. With this came the confidence to say it how it is.

With this in mind as I looked at the looming end of semester, an exam and an assignment due in the same week. I bit the bullet and asked for an extension ahead of time. Pacing. Planning. The story of my life.

Then the week before the exam, I sat in our seminar in a fatigue mind fog. And I realised that for the exam the following week, I was going to have to utilise my special circumstances, and allow the adaptations to happen. Without this, how could I write, let alone think my way through an exam.

The semester was full of adaptations. It was filled with acceptance...well, a growing acceptance that is, and it was filled with joy. It was fuelled by the strength and grace of God!

There was an opportunity to actually get paid to give a lecture, there were new people to meet, things to learn (I suppose that is a good thing!), and time to dream big. Sometimes a little too big, but hey, we can slowly work on changing the world, one adaptation and examination at a time.

You Might Also Like



A photo posted by Kate Eastman (@makeitbakeitfakeit) on