Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Maybe Next Week?

Today I had a small victory: I did all the reading for my Toxics and Hazardous Waste Regulation class this afternoon. The class only meets once a week, so the reading list can feel sort of hefty. I think today may be the first time all semester I actually got through all of the assigned reading. I read the text. I read the cases. I even read the statutes.

However, as it turns out, I actually sort of have permission to be unprepared for this class. The professor, who knows about my situation, has been super understanding. He told me flat out that he was never going to “cold call” me in this class. That basically means that he’s not going to turn to me in front of the whole class and say “Mariah, what is the holding of American Mining Congress v. EPA?” (Although I am delighted to say that today I would actually be able to answer that question!)

The thing is, while I am really grateful to have the pressure taken off me in that class, it feels really obvious, at least to me, that the professor avoids calling on me. There are a couple of other quiet students that don’t volunteer in class, but he still calls on them fairly often. In fact, since there are only eleven students in the class, he calls on everyone fairly often. Everyone but me. I do worry that my classmates will think I am getting special treatment without a reason. So maybe today I will be able to volunteer a bit in class since I am actually prepared. I think if my voice is heard in the discussion occasionally, no one will notice that he didn’t actually call on me.

But today wasn’t a total victory. I didn’t do any of the reading for my Foundations of Natural Resources Law class. In fact, I’m about four weeks behind in the reading for that class. I’m also quite behind in the reading for International Law. Not to mention that even though I did all the reading for Toxics today, I have quite a bit of catch-up reading to do from previous weeks. And I need to take notes on all this reading so that I will have good outlines to get through exams. I used to be really diligent about taking notes at the same time as I was doing the reading, but this semester I’m just trying to get through the reading so I’ll have some idea of what’s going on in class. I’m using a highlighter and putting off the actual note taking until later.

It has been extremely difficult to do even the small amount of work I have managed this semester. The pain in my body distracts me. The fatigue makes it hard to concentrate. I’ve been having really bad headaches. I’ve feel so downright icky that it has been really difficult to force myself to sift through complicated readings that are not always the most stimulating. Half the time I am so out of it that even if I did “do the reading” I wouldn’t have absorbed anything anyways. So, even though I am doing as much of the work as I can make myself do, the mountain of work keeps growing and I feel like I’m falling further and further behind. Actually, I am falling further and further behind.

I am trying to keep the “non-judging” attitude working as is pertains to my schoolwork. I’m trying not to judge myself. My inability to concentrate and be completely diligent on schoolwork right now is a physical limitation of my body that I have no control over. I’m trying to step back and congratulate myself for the work I do get done and also not be too hard on myself for the work I am unable to get to right now. I just try to do what I can, one day at a time.

However, this calm acceptance of what is essentially horrible procrastination is based on the theory that, maybe next week, I will be feeling better so I will be able to go back and catch up on my work. I keep telling myself that, in a week or two, the treatments will kick in and I will find it easier to concentrate. Then I can go back and do a good job on my notes and make sure I really understand the reading. Then I can get back to being a good student.

But the weeks of the semester are ticking by. While I am confident that we will eventually find a treatment that works for me, what if that eventually takes until spring? What am I supposed to do about this semester? What if all the weeks disappear and I never get to the point where I feel well enough to be a good student again? How will I ever catch up? How will I get through finals? How will I salvage my GPA?

I guess I just have to keep up hope that I will be feeling better next week. Maybe next week.


~kelly marie~ said...

Once again, we live parallel lives. I could have written this same exact post in undergrad and grad school. I do have to tell you that I am so glad that you have opened up to some of your professors and that they have been kind. In undergrad I didn't do that because I was too proud, and I look back and wish I had.
This next thing isn't really inspirational, but it is truthful. My grades did suffer towards the end of undergrad when I became really sick. Of course, I think that may be our version of suffer because they were still good but not what I wanted or planned on. I want to tell you not to be too hard on yourself, but really it would be hypocritical of me, because I am always hard on myself too. I totally understand how you feel. Jut remember to keep hope for 'next week' because that hope is what keeps us auto-immune gals going.

Sylvia Zebrowski said...

I had a real shock this morning. Something happened to my back when i got up. I always feel pretty good, so i didn't know what to do. The pain was so bad i couldn't move or bend. I thought I'd have to stay home because i couldn't sit. How could I drive? Anyway I thought of you and wondered how you manage every morning. Somehow I stretched and made the pain go away. All day long I was relieved to know that it was gone. I moved very carefully so that it wouldn't return. I know that it takes a lot of strength and courage to wake up and face the day. I am so proud of you, You are strong and beautiful.

~Mariah~ said...

I think I've done everything possible to get through this semester. I mean, I'm taking a much lighter course load than I am used to, I've told my professors (where relevant), I'm registered with Disability Services and they've helped me get backup note-takers in two of my classes, Disability Services will also give me extra time on my exams to deal with the pain in my hands...I've done just about everything I can to be the "good student."

But, even so, I'm starting to get really overwhelmed with the amount of work I have to get done. I'm trying to figure out how to steel myself for the inevitable drop in grades that seems so likely with my reduced work ethic. I'm not sure I know how...

~Mariah~ said...

P.S. Mama - I hope your back is feeling better and that it doesn't happen again!

~kelly marie~ said...

You have done everything possible, and you should be proud of that. Just know that we're all here for you :).