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Aren’t You Done Yet?

I keep getting asked “Aren’t you done yet?” or the assumption that I’m in grad school rather than undergrad … so I thought I’d share how I got to be where I am, which is apparently much farther behind than people realized.(this is also completely unedited or spell checked or grammar checked …)

 

In 1982, I was a sophomore in high school and rather stubbornly refusing to take algebra. I had no idea at the time how that would effect my future.I just knew that math was harder for me than anyone seemed to understand and everyone, parents included, thought I was just being lazy. I couldn’t explain how hard it was and how confusing it was. So, I dug my heels in and refused to take it. I took Business Math and Accounting instead.

When I graduated high school in 1983, I didn’t go to college … in part, but not the whole, because I’d not taken algebra.

 

In 1988, I was a waitress. I’d just lost a baby girl, and was told I’d never carry a child full term. I went to work one day and it was a co workers birthday. I’d thought she was close to, if not over, 60. I learned she was only 42. To say I was shocked was an understatement. I didn’t say anything, but someone else did and her response was “waitressing ages you”

The next day we went to get my husband signed up for his fall classes. I mumbled something about what would it take for me to go to school. His head snapped and he pulled me out of the very long line we’d already been waiting for an hour in, and there was well over an hour wait (no computer enrollment in those days). He took me straight to the enrollment office and an hour later, we were standing together in a line to register for classes.

I didn’t know what I wanted to ..but it seemed that education was ‘the family business’ so I majored in education. The plan, at the time was to become a teacher for the deaf.

 

A year later, my first son was born. October 14, 1989 and my world turned upside down. I walked into the hospital perfectly healthy and walked out with Myasthenia Gravis. A neuro muscular autoimmune disease that causes the voluntary muscles to weaken with use. It literally turns your world upside down and inside out as you learn that the more you rest, the stronger you get and the more you use the weaker you get … fatigue is undescribable … and overwhelming.I saw a doctor who told me that there was nothing wrong, stress & depression.. post partum. A neurologist told me to stop being a baby about being a new mother.

 

So I kept trying to go to go to school … after all, the best thing for depression is to keep moving … one foot in front of the other.

 

I took 2 classes the spring of 1990. I got a D in humanities and a C in meteorology.

The following fall, with no further diagnosis besides depression I enrolled in 12 hours

 

Before the end of the semester I was having to leave 2 hours before school, so I could stop and rest for an hour. Then one day, my legs just stopped working. 1/2 to class, I fell and drug myself to the wall, figuring if I waited a few minutes I could get up. I sat there for 2 hours (with students just assuming that I’d been sitting there on purpose ..an odd study place, but not unseen on campus).

I finally got strong enough to get up and went home, having missed my class … and the next day I went to my professors and withdrew. They all agreed to give me my current grade as my final grade, but the 3 weeks between this event and the end of the term, 2 forgot, and 2 gave me a withdraw passing. (the first 2 were an F and a Withdraw Fail).

However, I was too sick, too busy with a sick baby to follow up and make sure the grades were recorded as necessary. I just assumed they did what they’d said and that I had semi decent grades and credit given …shortly after I received a letter from what was then, TJC, telling me that I needed to take my high school math equivalent classes before I could continue. (and said nothing about the current grades).

 

It wasn’t for another 16 months that I would get a diagnosis. By then I’d had another baby and become even more ill. To top that off, my youngest had the same immune system malfunction my oldest had had … and then some. Our lives were filled with doctor appointments, physical therapy and speech therapy and occupational therapy, piles of pills and frequent hospital stays.

 

In April of 2008, something happened. Having tried to do some advocacy for some friends whose children had special needs and having been told for the 4th time in 4 months that “You’re just a mother with no letters behind your name” I got angry and decided to go to school. 2 days later I was enrolled in school for the fall semester of 2008. The first thing they said is “you cannot take any classes unless you take algebra with them.”That was also when I learned the credit for the classes I’d thought I’d been given credit for, I’d not and all those classes would have to be repeated. I was starting as a Freshman, not as a Sophomore like I’d expected, with only 23 hours .. not the well over 30 I thought I had. Plus, the D had to be retaken.

So, 25 years after stubbornly refusing to take the high school algebra, I enrolled in the equivalent of the algebra class .. in this school, it was called Beginning Algebra (a developmental class).

 

I had NO idea what would be facing me, or I likely wouldn’t have done it! Math 25 years after graduating from high school would be hard for almost anyone. I found it impossible. My professor pulled me aside and told me he thought there was something up. He’d watched me work and work. He knew the hours I spent in the math lab, with a tutor and in his office getting help. He’d never seen a student work so hard and get no where. So I was tested for a learning disability in math and I miserably failed the test. I didn’t just have a problem with math, I had a SEVERE learning disability in math.The concepts that others struggle with confused me and there seemed to be no way around it.

I failed that class with dismal 42% but he gave me a D on my transcript because he knew how hard I worked.

 

Fall of 2009, I stated my journey of intermediate algebra which would be far more difficult than beginning ..both emotionally and intellectually. I failed (there really should be a word that stands for miserably failed) with a defeating 29%. I retook it in the spring and worked hard m… but somehow got stuck in an 8 week class. There was no way I could pass it, but the instructor encouraged me to just keep going, because then it would help with the next time I took it. (he was right) I got a 44% this time … So I retook in the fall of 2010 and struggled, worked with 2 tutors and spent a minimum of 4 hours a day on my math, but there were weeks I spent more than 40 hours working on it! And when I got done, I thought I’d squeezed out the C I needed to move onto college algebra.

 

When grades came out, I was stunned to see a D. I contacted the professor who refused to budge from the 69.8% that gave me my D.The school said he had grading autonomy .. and it meant I had to retake it.

 

This also put me behind in my program for psychology … I can’t take Psychological Statistics without college algebra I can’t take Experimental Psych or Mental Tests and Measurements without Psychological Statistics. When I enrolled at NSU, it was on the agreement that by the end of the 3rd full semester (excluding summer or intercessions) I would have my Associates degree and all pre reqs met .. in my case, only the College Algebra. The rules had changed a bit, allowing for Math for Critical Thinking rather than algebra .. but I still had to get through Intermediate Algebra to even GET to the college Math class …

 

So I took it, by itself, in the summer. And eeeeeked out a grade that allowed me to move on.So, this fall, 2011 I finally got into my college math class.

 

Last night, I took the final, having known I’d gotten at least a C … I was ‘safe’.I wound up with a B by the skin of my teeth (400 pts earned a B and I had 401!)

This also means I got my associate degree ..

 

An associate degree in psych is absolutely worthless … but it is a rather solid stepping stone and for me? It means I finished that math!

Now, for spring, I can finally take the psychological stats which enables me to continue moving forward toward my goal towards a BA (expected in May of 2013)

and then a Masters (which, according to plans will start in August 2013)

then PhD ..

 

so, no, I’m not done yet and have a long way to go …

The Agreement

In April of 2008 I decided to return to school.

Because I’d gone on disability 18 years earlier and had student loans discharged based on health issues that were still in existence, I had to get doctor approval to go back (well, to get financial aid I did).

So, some of my docs were not for it at all “but you’re on strong immunosuppressants! you’ll be sick all the time”  “what will you do if you go into crisis and have to spend 2 weeks in the hospital?” (happened a few times)

My primary care doc (thankfully) said

“I’m not sure it’s a healthy choice but I understand, how about if we set up some parameters” and she, having  known me for not very long, signed the papers.

So, I go in a few weeks ago (lost track of when, this semester some time) and I’m tired, worn out and overloading .. and she asks what classes I’m taking and what else is going on.

I tell her I’m in over my head with 15 hours , PTK/AA; SGA and independent study. She looks at me (having done one herself in school) and says “What happened to our agreement of no more than 12 hours and no extra curricular activities?”

“um, you didn’t know me well when I agreed to it?”

I feel like I’m falling under and avalanche … something somewhere has to be cut  .. either out or back and I’m not sure which would be the best thing to do …

I do know my body is reacting to the stress … the headaches, kidney function, fatigue and pain increasing …

I also know that the following list comes now where NEAR my original agreement with the doctor:

Phi Theta Kappa Alumni Association OK/ARK region – Web Services Officer

Northeastern State University-Broken Arrow

Student Government Association

Student Services Chair

Psych Club SGA Rep

Movie Night Chair

Committee Positions

Fall Festival

Letter to Servicemen

Music Festival

                                                                Movie Night

Student Advisory Board

Psych Club

SGA Rep (already listed under SGA responsibilities)

CLASSES

Independent Research                                            3 hours (supervised by Dr. Steven Byers)

Math for Critical Thinking                                       3 hours

History and Systems                                                3 hours

Behavior Analysis and Management                    3 hours

Psychology of the Minority Experience                3 hours

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

Identification

I’ve thought a lot about this. For a long time, but it has been growing inside me to the point that I feel it’s time I went public. It is a post that just may upset a lot of people who either don’t feel like I do as well as those who do identify themselves as a such. But as for me:

I am not a #spoonie.

The roles in life I play are
Woman
Wife
Mother
Student
Friend
Daughter
Sister
Patient

My behavior is 
Friendly
Strong
Strong Willed
Flexible
Always early & never late

Protective

My inner thoughts are often

Goal oriented

Insecure

I am not
Myasthenia Gravis
Lupus
Asthma
Allergies
Migraine

Eating Disorder

this last list effects my life all too often and I do get the concept of ‘counting spoons’ and paying for what you do when you over do it … I do, I really do. But the reality is

I am more than the sum of my diseases.

 I am more than the sum of the roles I play.

I am more than the good

and the bad.

I am me.

Disconcerting Trend

Recently I have gotten a fair number of new followers on Twitter. They all had one thing in common.

They were advertising a service that is available to college students. My problem with this is the service they are offering.

They all boil down to 1 thing: we sell essays. Essays for scholarships, essays for class, essays for tests .. you need a research paper? got it. Need APA format? got it (an extra $10 please). Need an essay for just about anything? Got it.

These services infuriate me. I had a classmate that I respected, a lot, until one fateful dinner when plagiarism came up. While he agreed that copy/paste of another’s work was reprehensible, he found no problem with paying for someone to write an original essay. As he argued his point, my respect for him plummeted. I also regretted recruiting him for Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. Having no idea if he wrote his own essays or not I have no idea if his GPA is HIS or a paid for GPA.
(he never DID say he bought them,but I doubt anyone would defend so aggressively a practice of dubious reputation if they had not availed themselves of what was offered.)

What bothers me is that it is innately dishonest. Not only that, but I work very hard for my grades. There are those who’ve implied that I have straight A’s because school comes easy for me. No, not really, I work very hard for those A’s. I’m not a natural straight A student. A’s and B’s .. yes, but not straight A’s and certainly not HIGH A’s that I’ve gotten in several classes. Those, I have to work for.

I work hard, I think through my papers and I write them from inside of me. I recognize that writing, for me, comes a bit easier than for most but much of the technological writing is new to me and does not come natural. I work for it.

The justification is that it is a new essay, written for the subject matter at hand, it is not copied from someone else.
But this logic fails. Essays are not written to teach the professor. Essays are not written to inform the professor. Essays are not written for the BENEFIT of the professor. But rather it is to give the professor an idea of how well you have grasped the subject matter that is covered in the paper. It is to solidify the subject matter in your own mind and help you to figure out the ins and outs of the subject matter. To BUY an essay, means it is someone else’s understanding of the paper.

While few of my professors grade on a curve, so your grade does not effect my grade one way or another, it is still unfair for me to have to earn my grade and you to buy your grade and that, IS, what you’re doing! This, may give you a better GPA than me and wind up with you getting into grad school at my expense … and THAT .. THAT would be completely unfair.

Fear

When my oldest was born and got sick so young … we put him in the hospital, gave him antibiotics and IV’s … we learned to live with protection …we *did* something.

When my youngest was born .. and got sick so young .. we put him in the hospital, gave him antibiotics and IV’s .. we found specialists, ran tests and had him in PT/OT/Speech by the age of 9 months .. we DID something.

When I became ill .. I researched, I learned, I took medication .. I DID something …

When my youngest couldn’t get services through special education .. we fought, we went due process, we went arbitration .. we DID something.

I feel so helpless right now .. there is nothing to do! We just have to wait.

There are no answers.
There is no advocacy that can change what has happened or what will happen.

An anonymous addict leaves a needle in a trashcan and our lives are changed.

When he was little and OCD was causing so much anxiety for him, I would cling to the prayerful words in the song “He’s My son” “Let him grow old, live life without this fear”

and Today, I find myself singing the same prayer … He’s MY SON …

He’s My Son

I’m down on my knees again tonight
I’m hoping this prayer will turn out right
See there is a boy that needs Your help
I’ve done all that I can do myself
His mother is tired
I’m sure You can understand
Each night as he sleeps
She goes in to hold his hand
And she tries not to cry
As the tears fill her eyes

CHORUS:
Can You hear me?
Am I getting through tonight?
Can You see him?
Can You make him feel all right?
If You can hear me
Let me take his place somehow
See, he’s not just anyone
He’s my son

Sometimes late at night I watch him sleep
I dream of the boy he’d like to be
I try to be strong and see him through
But God who he needs right now is You
Let him grow old
Live life without this fear
What would I be
Living without him here
He’s so tired and he’s scared
Let him know that You’re there

CHORUS

Can You hear me?
Can You see him?
Please don’t leave him
He’s my son

The Unwanted Call

There are a few calls that no parent wants to get
top of the list
“your child has died” … that’s not what this is about …

The others I can think of
Mom I’ve been in a severe accident
Mom I’ve been arrested …

Mom, I’ve been stuck by a needle at work.

That .. that’s what this is about. I over slept (seriously over slept woke up at noon when my bossy cat decided it was way past time for mom to be out of bed) and woke up to a text message
“mommy, I’ve called your voice mail, please call me as soon as you can”

I call .. and he tells me he’s at a workman’s comp clinic after having been stuck by a dirty needle that was in the bathroom trashcan at work (Arby’s)

He was sent to the health department for vaccine for Hep because they only have a supply for employees, not workmen’s comp patients. They didn’t test for HIV … they gave him a tetnus and a test for Hep …

I picked him up to take him to health department that was already closed … and decided to go by his docs office to ask them what should have been done, or what he should do. They took him right back (it is not a walk in clinic, but this is the doctor who delivered him)

He ordered more tests, including HIV … got him the necessary vaccines …

We got done and went by QT to get something to eat/drink. I stopped the car and he burst into tears. As I held him (which is much harder to do with a 21 year old than a 2 year old) he cried “I’m scared! Why me?!?”

I have never heard him say “Why me?”
not when he was sick
not when he had a broken bone
not when his dad was thought to be dying
never …

We get that the chances of infection are small … but that doesn’t relieve the fear … his, or mine.

Allergies & Poetry?

‘Ode’ To A Weed
by Peggikaye Eagler

Ragweed, oh Ragweed, how I hate thee so.
Ragweed, oh Ragweed, It’s time to go!

Ragweed, oh Ragweed, Leave my eyes alone.
Ragweed, oh Ragweed, My head’s turned to stone.

Ragweed, oh Ragweed, Just what doth thou gain?
Ragweed, oh Ragweed, Do you enjoy inflicting pain?

Ragweed, oh Ragweed, Please, enough is enough,
Ragweed, oh Ragweed, leaving my breath in a huff!

Ragweed, oh Ragweed, You’ve made my throat raw!
Ragweed, oh Rag, weed, This is the last straw!

Ragweed, oh Ragweed, how I hate thee so.
Ragweed, oh Ragweed, It’s time to go!