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Mid-Semester Blues

Discussion in 'Lifestyle Management' started by LilacGardenia, Feb 19, 2012.

  1. LilacGardenia

    LilacGardenia

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    So it's the middle of my spring semester and I've been super busy for the past week. We had a dance marathon, so I worked extra hard to get everything done and ahead, but I still have a speech tomorrow, a quiz and a big exam on Wednesday, a couple little assignments, then three big papers and a midterm the following week. It's just really intense and I'm at an energy low. I didn't stay for the entire dance marathon (it would have really hurt me, even the people that do the entire thing will train months in advance.) When I do have some energy, the cognitive issues are really hurting my memory and ability to talk, I also am getting super dizzy/off balance which is kind of an awkward problem. I want to be able to enjoy all of my classes, do activities, and reach my full potential without these issues getting in the way, so it's become super annoying.

    After a busy week I went to the dance marathon (which was pretty intense since I was on my feet for about 8 hours), then spent the rest of the weekend sleeping or reading stuff for my classes. I was kind of bummed I couldn't stay longer, a lot of other people stayed for like the entire thing or most of it. These kinds of things really get to me since I feel like I'm missing out on so much. I have so much going for me, but I basically am robbed of the energy to do much.
    All weekend I've had really bad stomach and muscle pains (even before I was on my feet for 8 hours), so I have been eating soups, juices, etc. that are easy on my stomach. I'm a bit worried about my speech tomorrow because it's like 15% of my grade and even though I'm a pretty good speaker and am confident about my topic, my professor is one of those persnickety fussy basket weavers. He's kind of cool and down to earth, but then will grade kind of hard on really dumb things. It's an honors class so it is a bit more intense, but I worked really hard on my previous assignment and he gave me a B+. :confused: We met and went over my speech outline, twice, and he gave me some suggestions. I'm really hoping this one goes better, but considering I have to talk for 5 to 6 minutes when I feel like this, makes me a tad nervous. I also have an anthropology test (worth 1/4 of my grade) on Wednesday and an art quiz on a movie which shouldn't be too bad (the entire class is just about movies and video production type stuff). My memory is just so fuzzy, I have to put in a lot more time than others, so it's kind of annoying. After this week and next week, I have 9 days of Spring break and only like 10 weeks of class/finals before the semester is over. My parents are really pushing me to take these hard math and chemistry classes in the fall (since I am a bachelor of science student) so while I am relieved that I made it this far through spring semester, I'm worried about what will happen from there until fall semester, like will I be in any better shape to take these classes. I like them, but the ME (or what we believe to be ME) is quite problematic. In addition, I had a really, REALLY bad experience in high school (my symptoms have been going on for awhile). I had instructors get really mad at me when my grade went from an A to a C, make me stay extra to redo labs, and tell me I'm not trying when I really was. Another instructor (who was a real jerk) yelled at me nonstop during classes, then made me stay extra so he could yell at me some more and tell me that I didn't belong where I was. It was far from pleasant, I remember one day I just broke down and cried. Even though I'm now at a university (which so far has been a lot better), I'm really worried about returning to these intense classes given my prior experience was awful, and I just feel like I physically can't do it.

    Sorry that's so long </vent> :D
  2. 5150

    5150 Senior Member

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    i can't do much typing now. my sadness about your situation is deep.

    all i can say is, stress is terrible for you. in all forms, try to keep it low.
    how you accomplish it, is all up to you.

    general thought: this illness in its' worst way is upon our youth.
    the apathy at government-level is heartbreaking.
    we need an uprising like the AIDS did. i think the youth will have to start it.
    LilacGardenia likes this.
  3. L'engle

    L'engle moderate ME

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    Hi Lilac,

    I hate to say it, but as others have mentioned, you may need to cut out some extra curricular activities in order to be able to get through school. You may have to say 'no' to invitations or to peoples' requests that you take on activities/tasks out side your classes.

    Your experiences in highs school sound terrible :( I can understand the need to make university better and more positive. Can you spend your summer resting and studying ahead for your more challenging classes? Or perhaps take a course in summer so that you can take fewer during the year?

    Not easy, your situation! I hope you can get better, not worse. You may need to take some supplements to improve your situation. Do you drink electrolytes? You are likely getting dehydrated if you are out and about a lot. Vegetable juice is a good electrolyte (better than fruit juice) if you can handle the acidity. Do whatever you can do ensure that you don't physically collapse!

    Take care!
    LilacGardenia likes this.
  4. madietodd

    madietodd Senior Member

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    Hi, Lilac,

    The hard part here is that either you decide how to apportion your available mental and physical energy, or reality will do it for you. It's very difficult to choose between grades and your social life, but if you keep trying to maximize both, most likely both will suffer. And you'll feel awful because you didn't get what you wanted in any arena.

    You have enormous room to choose. You have a pile of pysical/mental energy. It's exactly SO big. You get to divide that pile into littler piles - hanging out with friends, physical activity (dancing), seeing family, taking care of yourself, and studying. You cannot make your energy pile bigger. You can divide it different ways on different days. Sometimes you can borrow from tomorrow's energy, but payback can be a bitch.

    You've also got a lot of latitude within piles. Dancing uses a huge amount of energy. Taking 5 classes is a lot more work than taking 4, or 3. Going out to see friends is harder than having them come to you.

    So........how did the week turn out?

    Madie
    LilacGardenia, ggingues and L'engle like this.
  5. Hope123

    Hope123 Senior Member

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    If no one has suggested it yet, you might consider seeing if your school's student affairs office has a disability section. Many schools do and will try to accomodate students as possible, including talking to their professors about allowing extra time for assignments/ tests, etc. By disability, I don't just mean people who are handicapped for example but also people with chronic illnesses. You will likely need physician and your parent's support.

    DePaul University in particular has such a program and their website may give you some ideas. Their program was founded by a law professor with a son with CFS.

    http://www.newsroom.depaul.edu/NewsReleases/showNews.aspx?NID=1123
    http://www.eric.ed.gov/PDFS/EJ825778.pdf

    Good luck.




  6. LilacGardenia

    LilacGardenia

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    Thanks so much, everyone! :)

    I ended up getting an A on my speech... yes, I was SOOO HAPPY! :) I went to my professor's office hours twice (there are only like 15 people in this class, so it's nice being able to check with him to make sure the assignment meets standards -- especially since grading for papers/speeches is typically more subjective than objective). He did take off some points because of the delivery of the speech (I spoke well, but repeated some things, as my memory is shot). However, he said my analysis was REALLY REALLY well done, as well as everything else. The art quiz went pretty well (I got a 9/10), but the anthropology exam went REALLY BAD! I got a pretty shabby grade (but have 2 other exams that will be averaged with it, and 1/4 of my grade is based off problem sets which are pretty easy and graded by completion, so I already know I have 100% for the 1/4 of my grade). My professor also includes 1 extra credit question per exam, so I have 4 more extra credit points, but the class is out of 400 points and I'm worried about how the other 2 exams will go. I can study for hours, but still not do well (I actually dropped math last semester for this very reason.) I can drop anthropology, but it counts against my 16 drop credits which is now down to 13 (math was 3 credits), and this anthropology class is 3 credits, so I'd have 10 left. I'll be a quarter of the way through my bachelor degree after the first week of May, and haven't failed anything yet (I have like a B- average), but it does get more intense as I go on, and so I'm a bit nervous about the next 3 years. All of my grades have dropped either because of my memory issues, seizure like things, and/or my fatigue -- knowing I could enjoy life more and have perfect grades if it weren't for this, is really bothering me. :-( This week is also pretty hectic (I have an essay due on Monday, 4 smaller assignments throughout the week, 2 midterms on Wednesday, a 15 page paper due on Thursday, and a couple continuous projects I have to keep working on until the end of the semester). I've been working this weekend, but it's been rough. I fell asleep at 6PM when I got home on Friday, and woke up at 9AM on Saturday morning. I did get housework stuff done and a decent amount of studying, and a couple pages of my one paper, but I've just been so tired I kind of forget what I'm doing and just sit there, then realize that I've been sitting for like 15 minutes doing nothing. It's kind of annoying. I do have 9 days of spring break after this week, so that will be nice. My parents, however, are pressuring me to do more (like many parents, they want me to be "the best" and think I'm invincible to failure) -- they'd like me to either work or take a few classes. I agree with them. I haven't had a break since the summer after 11th grade (I started college like 2 weeks after I graduated high school and have been going hard since then). After this semester, I'll have from like May 5th 'til late August off before the fall 2012 semester. I've been trying to decide what I should do after my Spring semester is over. I can either do the mini-semester where you complete 1 course in 4 weeks, then have June, July, and August off, or I can have a bit of a break and do 2 courses a 6 week session in July through August, then go right into the fall semester. My parents would prefer I spend the summer doing math classes since I really need to take scientific calculus (which is pretty intense), and I'm nervous. It seems to take more "mental energy" than say like a socials science class where I'm just memorizing stuff. I can study my math classes on my own from home, but I'm worried about falling short and not pleasing my parents or meeting my requirements, and I don't want to have to drop calculus (especially since I need it in order to take chemistry).
    I'm especially worried since it only seems to be getting worse -- I was working on my assignments on my laptop, one day, and in order to do this one peer review thing, I had to match things up to make sure I wasn't a "troll" or spammer and I couldn't even do that because my memory and focus was so bad. It was actually kind of scary... I'm worried what things will be like when I'm older. I had a relative that died of Alzheimer Disease, and she only got worse and worse until she died. :-( I'm not saying I have Alzheimer disease, but it seems like this cognitive issues only get worse. It really sucks... :-/
  7. LilacGardenia

    LilacGardenia

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    Hope123 Thank you very much for sharing this! :) That professor's dedication is amazing! I'm actually really happy at the uni I'm at (it's actually more supportive than my high school, believe it or not). I could love it even more if it wasn't for all of this "CFS" (my doctor is not 100% sure if it is CFS since there really is no official test), but yeah, my uni is great.

    The disability services are kind of strict from what I've heard, plus, what they do offer really won't help me. For example, they can let me have a calculator for calculus, but it's not the actual calculations that I can't do, it's really dumb stuff like remembering what step I just did or what I have to do next, the calculations themselves are quite easy. My parents and I also agree that it would just take down my morale more. It just doesn't seem to be an effective or a applicable solution for me. Also, it's not just academic-stuff, but other things like just being tired and missing out on fun things I like to do.

    Thanks anyways and thanks again for sharing the links! :)
  8. LilacGardenia

    LilacGardenia

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    L'engle
    I do try to eat really wholesome and natural foods (no artificial colorings, preservatives, etc.) and that's really all I've ever eaten growing up, but I haven't had much vegetable juice. I'll have to try it. I've been drinking a lot of water -- I've heard that dehydration or poor diets (especially now with all the crazy food additives) can contribute to issues like fatigue and cognitive issues, so I want to rule them out as much as possible.
    L'engle likes this.
  9. LilacGardenia

    LilacGardenia

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    madietodd
    Thanks :)
    Last semester (when my fatigue and cognition was even worse due to anemia being piled atop this), I would do the "borrow from the next day" type thing. I had classes on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, then a lab from 8AM until 10AM on Tuesdays, so I'd like have a bit of a break in between each day to rest more and get caught up on stuff. I remember going to class on my class days, getting some work done, then going to lab on Tuesdays and just crashing right after. I'd get up and finish my work, sleep, go to class, it was like a never ending cycle of take, borrow, spend, refuel, it was rough to say the least. This semester I have 5 classes some of which meet only twice a week, others 3 times a week, but they are spread out so I have 1 class meeting on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 4 on Mondays and Wednesdays, and then 3 on Fridays. It's still less energy robbing than high school (which was continuous from 7:30 AM until 3:30 PM, 5 days a week not including the 2-5 hours of studying/homework I'd have to do afterwards). College is actually much better in that respect. I only have like 15 hours worth of class a week, while in high school it was like 30 hours, and now I can adjust my schedule to what times I day work best for me, but since I'm in the smaller honors and seminar classes, if I happen to be not feeling well, I kind of have to go to class anyways. I actually really enjoy going to class, but on those days when I'm really energy drained, I'll do things to help me get through the day. I'll have a cup of coffee in the morning, wear comfy (yet stylish :) clothes like leggings, ugg boots, and a sweatshirt, and twitter with my friends or read/post on here from my iPad (technology and social media has really helped in my CFS fight). Being able to stay connected with other people experiencing the same ordeal really comforts me and keeps me going. I know it's sad, but thinking there are people worse off than me and completely unable to get out of bed, while I'm on my feet at uni really helps too. I feel like there's some reason why I was only hit hard enough to suffer to this degree where I can do some things, but am limited. I have an awful lot of empathy and sympathy for those suffering from this (especially those suffering from it to a more severe degree) and pray that a solution will come to their aid ASAP.
  10. L'engle

    L'engle moderate ME

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    That's great you have a healthy diet. It's more that vegetable juice has a large amount of salt and potassium, so it makes a good electrolyte. It's just something I wish I had known about when I was still able to go out and do things. I think i got dehydrated during a tough work spell, even though I was knocking back the water, as drinking tons of water can actually flush out electrolytes. If you have an ME-like condition it is especially difficult to keep enough fluids in. If you get dizzy and fainty it's good to have fluids like this on hand. Too much water in the absence of electrolytes can be a false friend, I've found!
  11. LilacGardenia

    LilacGardenia

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    Update

    So it's getting down to the nitty gritty... I only have 24 days until the semester and finals are over! :) It's been pretty hectic and I have literally been working non-stop with work, volunteer work, meetings, classes, projects, and doctor appointments. I'm getting my first major surgery (to have abnormal, yet noncancerous tissue removed) right after finals week, but I have to meet with like 3 different doctors and prepare for it. I'm a little nervous because it's going to be 4 hours long and I've only ever been under anesthesia for like 20 minutes for a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy. I'm hoping this surgery helps my breathing issues--we're still not sure if all of this is ME/CFS, but given it hasn't been matched to anything else, my GP feels ME/CFS is the closest match.

    Anyways, it's been hectic and I know I probably shouldn't be doing all of this. I was just exhausted yesterday and started getting stabbing pain in my side, a sore throat, and dizziness. I kept trucking along, and am currently wrapping up a few assignments, writing an essay, studying for a big test, preparing to meet with one of my instructors to go over this mini thesis thing I have to do for one of my honors classes, and working on a huge video project (and that's just today and tomorrow)--the video project and meeting is probably the only thing getting carried over into tomorrow, though (I'm hoping to finish the rest tonight.) I was so sick on the weekend and Monday, so I couldn't get much done (I wasn't even hungry.)

    After my surgery and recovery I'm hoping to take a bit of a break, but am going to work over the summer, do some light volunteering, and get through my math classes (I have like 4 months between Spring semester 2012 and Fall semester 2012, so all that will be stretched over those 4 months.)

    Hope everyone else is doing well, I was volunteering at a blood drive and kind of sad that while I'm trying to recruit donors, I can't even donate. ME/CFS smells.

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