Beginnings, Endings, and Just Keepin’ Keepin’ On

Ooph. I am so glad to be sitting on my couch, listening to Adele, with nothing more pressing on my mind than whether I should make myself a cup of tea or not. The last couple of weeks have been extra busy for me. Not only did the new semester begin, but I had a public dissertation prospectus defense on Monday (I passed, yay!); extra advising duties Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday; an interview on Thursday; and a conference on Friday, where I had to present at 9AM. I made it as far as dinner last night and then had to bow out of the rest of the evening’s activities. I went to bed shortly thereafter and woke up 14 hours later. My joints, especially my hands and feet, are not terribly happy with me, but I feel quite accomplished nonetheless.

As much as I would like to return to living my life the way I was before I was really sick– or even the way I felt last summer when I got that first big flare under control (sad how I’ve adjusted my goal to being less sick rather than not sick, eh?), this week reminded me that with careful planning I have the mental and physical reserves to get through these kinds of personal and professional challenges successfully. I have to give myself credit too, instead of discounting my success, thinking “Well, two years ago this would have felt like a normal week, what’s the big deal?” In a world were many many people with lupus/RA diagnoses quit their jobs and/or go on disability within a few years of diagnosis, just working at all, let alone writing a dissertation while also working, is an immense accomplishment. And I need to remember that. I also try to remind myself that I’ve barely scratched the surface of treatments– it won’t always feel this bad (I hope).

So I’m officially a “PhD Candidate” now; time to buckle down and write the dissertation. No more coursework, no more required teaching… someday soon it will be time to move on to the next phase of my life. I’m doing my best to look toward it with excitement rather than trepidation. We can’t know what the future will bring, but I suppose a positive outlook never hurt anyone, right?


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