The Waiting Room

This could take a while...

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

When Fog Leads To Panic

Posted by Seeking Solace |

Brain Fog is very common issue for people with autoimmune diseases. It's bad enough that my joints and organs take a beating, but so does my brain. Brain Fog is just like it sounds; you feel like you are in a fog. You brain cannot process things as easily. You can't think through the simplest task. You can remember anything. You don't know which end is "up".  Your brain is just tired.

Today is one of Brain Fog days. I knew it when I woke up this morning. Usually, I wake up the same time as Husband. But this morning, I slept until 8:15. I vaguely remember Husband trying to wake me up and my saying that I wanted to sleep. Even Junior let me sleep it.  I guess he figured Mommy was tired.

As I fumbled through my morning, I just couldn't get it together. I had several tasks that I needed to accomplish, but I couldn't put together a simple "to do" list. Frustrated, I decided that I would take Junior for a walk. The sun was shining and it was nice outside. I put on my workout gear and headed out with Junior.

As we walked our usual route, I started to feel the Brain Fog lift. I was able to process how I was going to complete my tasks for the day.  I was starting to feel a little more human and contemplated doing two laps around the neighborhood, which is about two miles. As Junior and I reached our house at the end of lap #1, I noticed that my garage door was open. 

I thought to myself "Did I forget to close the garage door? I honestly do not remember closing it."



Now, I do live in a relatively safe neighborhood. But, that does not mean that one doesn't take the usual precautions. At that point, any remaining Brain Fog morphed into panic.

"SWEET MERCIFUL CRAP, I left the garage door open!"

I ran into the garage and into the house with Junior in tow. I began to thoroughly inspect every single inch of my house, again with Junior in tow. I even said out loud "If there IS anyone in here, I do have a very large German Shepherd."

Junior was not fazed by all of this. I think if there was someone in the house, he would have reacted immediately. Instead, he just followed along on his leash, thinking this was part of his walkies and that his Mommy has lost her mind.

I didn't find anyone, or anything, out of place.

Exhaling, I looked at Junior and said. "Should we finish our walk?" Of course, he did a his happy dance whenever someone says "Walk". 

With the Brain Fog lifted and my anxiety level down to somewhat of a normal state, we did our second lap around the neighborhood. Before we left, I made sure that I closed the garage door.

I actually watched it close completely.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

One Poor Correspondent

Posted by Seeking Solace |

How many of you use LinkedIn? I don't think many academics do, except for the part about being listed there. There are other networking sites for academics, but I think the premise is still the same. Part of LinkedIn is writing recommendations for former colleagues. It's similar to writing a traditional recommendation, except that it is viewable by the public. There are also endorsements, where a pop-up will appear, asking if Person X is versed in Y skill-set. You can click "Endorse" if you agree.There is a bit of a quid-pro-quo going on here. You recomend me, and I will recomend you. You endorse me...

You get the idea.

Since leaving Career College and Tech College, I've been flooded with email and face-to-face requests for recommendations and endorsements. I am happy to oblige for those who ask. Unfortunately, I am way behind on responding to the numerous requests.

Like writing any letter of recommendation, it takes time to write a response. I am not the type of person who just phones in a recommendation. I really do take the time to think about the skills and talents of the person I am recommending. Also, this means I need to be in the right frame of mind to write these types of things.

I am not ashamed to admit that my own laziness is a big part of the problem. It is hard to writing a recommendation for someone who already has a job when you are looking for one. Of course, there is the quid-pro-quo that I mentioned, but that is kinda hard to reconcile when you feel like crap about your own circumstance. Sure, there are folks who are in the same position, but excuse me while I feel a little sorry for myself and be a little narcissistic.

I know...I hear the tiny violin too.

I feel horrible about being a poor correspondent. I feel bad that I did not live up to a promise. So, I get depressed about that, which only magnifies my own depression about my own job situation. I keep telling myself that I will get to it, but that time never comes.

I've decided to give myself a deadline. I do much better when I have a deadline hanging over my head. Classes at PhD Uni are finished on December 3rd. All of my deliverables are due before Thanksgiving. Final grades at HBCU are due on December 15th. I not have any additional distractions from December 15th forward, so that will be the week that I will catch up on my correspondence. I need to complete at least two a day until December 19th. That will put a huge dent in my backlog.  I've put this on my Google Calendar, so that it will pop up and remind me of my commitment.

That will get me back on track to being a better correspondent.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Big Fish, Small Bowl

Posted by Seeking Solace |

Husband begins his new job today. He is a little nervous about it. It's not the usual new job jitters. He is not the only new guy at the site. He is on of a group of five or six that were specially picked to be part of a specialized group at his new company.  This group is only the second of its type at the company, and the first group at one of the branch offices of this company. So, Husband is working with his work and intellectual peers on a somewhat brand new venture.

He feels like a big fish in a small bowl. And, that is freaking him out, just a little.

I kinda understand what that is like. I remember my first day of law school orientation. On top of the classic "Look to your left, look to your right" speech, I and my fellow first year students were reminded how we were to top of the deck, the top 1% of the 1%. I was with people who were my intellectual and academic equal. I was a big fish in a small bowl with a lot of fellow big fish. And, that scared me.

Law school was very competitive, almost cut-throat. I remember classmates hiding books in the library that were needed for assignments. Some people were not open to collaboration or even studying together. Even when I did find some good folks to form a study group, there was still a "I'm in this for myself only, mentality. In the law school fish-bowl, there are a lot of piranhas that have no problem eating their fellow fish.

I don't think Husband's new job experience will mimic what I experienced in law school. But, I didn't want to diminish what he was feeling either. My thought was about how much pressure there is when we embark on something new. Regardless of the pressure being institutional, self imposed or both, it's still pressure. I did tell Husband the same thing he told me when I started law school. They wouldn't have picked you unless they truly believed that you have something to bring to the table that no one else can. You are about to start something really great. Enjoy the ride. You got this.

Then, in my best Stuart Smalley voice, I said, "You are good enough, smart enough, and gosh-darn-it, people like you.

It is tough sometimes, being a big fish. But, in Husband's case, I think he will be happy swimming in his new fish bowl.

Friday, November 07, 2014

Writing While Running

Posted by Seeking Solace |

When I go for a run or a fast walk with Junior, it's not only about the exercise or getting a vitamin D fix. I use that time to think about stuff. Sometimes, I would try to resolve some issue going in my life. Sometimes, I write in my head, meaning I will compose something in my head to write later. This is true when I have some sort of writing piece that is due.

Today's run was about a paper that I am writing for my PhD course. The writing task is a simple one. It's an executive summary that should be no more than five pages. I don't have a problem with the length of the assignment; it is geared toward legal writing style which means keeping it short and to the point. Also, I found a great template to help me organize my summary. But, the ideas are just not flowing right now. I've got the GRE coming up in two weeks, plus work-related crap that has flooded my brain to the point that I am unable focus on this paper.

That's where my run/walks come into play. Once I get a good stride going, and Junior is not stopping to sniff and pee on everything, I can think about what I want to say. By the time I finished my 2.5 mile run, I had written my introduction in my head. Once I was inside, I immediately went to my computer, sweaty and tired, and typed what I had dictated in my head.

Now, all I need to do is write the rest of the paper. Too bad tomorrow is my off day from running.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

I Feel Your Pain

Posted by Seeking Solace |

One of my good friends was recently diagnosed with RA. I feel terrible for him. He's been dealing with a lot lately and this diagnosis is the last thing he needs. However, it is a relief to know what is the cause of his health problems. 

We talked at length about how he has been feeling. He said that while he always had sympathy for what I was dealing with, he truly empathized with my struggle with RA and could understand how debilitating the pain and fatigue is.  He said that he would not wish this on anyone.


After our conversation, I though about something that one my close friends from Lake Effect Snow Central said about autoimmune diseases. My friend, who has lupus, said, Autoimmune diseases are the best looking disease to have because no one knows you are sick. And, that's the problem.

For me and anyone else with autoimmune diseases, we do not look sick for the most part. Unless the disease is in an acute state, like a flare, we look perfectly fine. But when the disease acts up, it's like night and day. For me, I can go from being able to run a 5K to barely being able to walk five feet. I can barely do the simplest of tasks like brushing my teeth because my hands are swollen and hurt.
But, that's not the worst part. It's bad enough to be in pain. but when you body is being attached by your own immune system all day, every day, Sundays included, it is exhausting. No amount of extra sleep can help with that kind of exhaustion. That is, if you can get any sleep because even the pain can keep you awake.

When you don't look sick, people have a tough time believing that you are sick. Often, people with autoimmune diseases get very little support or sympathy. They are called fakers. People say that the pain is all in their head. Many people have told me to just take an Advil for the pain. Some will say that I am too young to have arthritis, because that's an old person's disease. A few have told me to "suck it up". Yet, we would never say to someone with cancer or Parkinson's that it's in their head or that they are faking it. Would we say "suck it up?" to someone who cannot control the tremors in their hands or that they had their hair because of the treatment for their disease? That would be met with scorn. But somehow, it's OK with autoimmune diseases because we don't look sick. And if you don't look sick, it must not be that bad, right?

That's just wrong on so many levels.

On the plus side, there is a great deal of support out there from the very people who deal with autoimmune diseases every day. Those of us with autoimmune diseases have to be advocates for our disease. When I was first diagnosed, my friend who has lupus was a great source of support. Now, that my friend has RA, I intend to pay it forward by being support for him.

After all, I feel his pain.  

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Seeing If It Will Stick

Posted by Seeking Solace |

I am in the process of writing my personal statement for admission to the PhD program. Thankfully, an assignment for my current class contains much of what I would say in a personal statement, so I am revising and reworking that assignment so that it will be a suitable statement.

When I was working on the original assignment, one of the questions that my professor asked the class to address was: Why are in pursuing graduate studies? She wanted us to dig deeper than the "I need a PhD to advance my career, blah, blah blah" sort of thing. Sure, I can give the classic, bullshit answer. I'm good at that. I'm a lawyer. I can come up with a plausible answer that will pacify anyone without having to go any deeper than the surface.


But, what she wanted to know was "What are YOU going to bring to the profession?"

Um.... (Insert sound of crickets here)

I struggled for days answering that question. I ended up writing something about how my background in teaching and in law will bring a new perspective to education and policy. I have the ability to bridge the gap between the two areas; I am the missing link that unites the law and education...blah, blah blah...It worked. I earned an "A", complete with positive comments.

The truth is that what I wrote was a bit of BS on my part. My lawyer skills come in handy when I don't know the answer to a question or I don't want to answer a question. I can come up with a answer that will be seen as brilliance, when all the while, I am just throwing crap against the wall to see if it will stick. In all honestly, I don't know what I expect to contribute to the education world with my PhD and/or research. I have a feeling that I will be like the coyote who finally catches the roadrunner. The coyote holds up a sign that says "What do I do with it now"?

It's not like I no idea. I have some ideas, but to pigeon-hole myself into one or two possibilities is just not the way I like to do things. I like having a buffet of options to explore. I don't like to be stuck eating the same meal. My coursework to date has revealed interests that excite me. But, I am far from saying that focus A and B are what I plan to use for research or even a dissertation. I am too busy sampling what is out there to make a decision. I hope that I will have an adviser who is willing to help me flush out my ideas; otherwise, I fear my dissertation will be just like the crap that I throw against the wall, hoping that will stick.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Flipped

Posted by Seeking Solace |

I just about flipped my shit today.

I glanced at the offerings at HBCU for the spring semester. When I saw the course that I teach, my name wasn't there. Instead, there was Some Dude, another adjunct.

Excuse me?

I knew that there was the possibility of layoffs at HBCU. The president mandated layoffs to help balance the budget. As an adjunct, I am expendable. But, not seeing your name next to the course you teach is a pretty shitty way of finding out that you are cut. And to see another adjunct's name? Truly a WTF moment.

In trying to keep my emotions in check, I emailed my department chair. In my most professional "WTF" manner, I asked "WTF".  I got a email, in which the department chair asked me to call.At this point, I'm thinking that this is it. I am about to get cut.

The chair told me that at the time he hired me, he had also hired Some Dude to teach the course. The person backed out because he did not want to teach the course online. So, the chair went with me, who was willing to teach the course online. At that same time, the chair had promised Some Dude that the next time the course was offered on site, Some Dude had dibs. Chair did not think to ask me if I would be available to teach on ground.

Um, did you even think to ASK?

That led to a conversation in which I reminded Chair that I've not only taught this particular course for over 10 years, but I've taught it on ground. Also, I am a trained teacher (BS in Education), so I have been "classically trained" in the art in how to teach. And, part of my research interests in my doctoral program is strategies for effective teaching of the law at the undergraduate level. Finally, my schedule is pretty open, given that I am currently doing the PhD thing. On ground or online, I can do it.

Translation: If you had TALKED to me...

The end result is that Some Dude will be teaching the course that I teach on ground in the Spring. If there is a demand for another section, I will teach that class online. In the summer, I have dibs for future on ground courses.

And, just to show that I am not a complete bitch, I extended the olive branch to Some Dude that if he needed any assistance with the course, he is free to let me know. I also told Chair that I understand that he had given Some Dude his word about teaching the course. I can appreciate that. For me, a person's word is their bond.

Anywho, the whole thing sucks. I do not have a gig for the Spring. I've applied again at local CC to teach the same course that I am teaching now. This is also the same CC that failed to read my CV. Not sure what going on with that, as I have not heard anything back from them. Otherwise, I will keep looking.

 Flipping of shit avoided. But, I am still a little pissed off.

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