The End of Semester

The end finally came. The final lectures for the semester were given. And I was still swept up in the relief of seeing my recovery progress. But at some point in that last week my reasonable pace of life turned to the more manic. I started to let the pressure of finishing the semester well and the number of deadlines ahead start to drive me. As soon as the last lectures were finished, I consumed myself with marking the final assessments and trying to complete subject administration as soon as I could. But exhaustion crept in. And everything in me wanted to stop. To rest. But I didn’t stop.  I was now on a countdown. The countdown to November 27th, the day I would be flying out to the UK for several months study leave. Writing tasks were dropped completely. I lagged behind in language study. Four weeks was all I had to finish marking, complete the admin for the semester’s subjects, handover all my administrative responsibilities, start and finish writing two papers, fly to Sydney for an Academic Board meeting, while attending specialist appointments, organising all the transfer of medical records to the UK.

When I stood at the precipice, looking at my schedule on the Saturday after lectures ended, with those four weeks ahead of me, I was just weary. I knew life was going to turn from being full but reasonable to being punishing in its pace. And I was already exhausted. I looked at my Sunday. No work was scheduled, but I had a lunch and congregation meeting after our gathering. I dismissed the idea of not going and I’m glad I did, in a way. Because at the beginning of what was going to be a manic few weeks, I was reminded of my limitations in a mortifying but humorous way. By the end of our church gathering that Sunday morning, I was questioning whether staying for lunch and the meeting was a good idea after all. I felt like I could snap at any moment. The snap was not my patience breaking, but physically and emotionally feeling like I might crumble at any moment. We all went outside and the chicken and salads were set out. Easy. Parents were invited to get some lunch for their little people first. Always a good strategy. As I watched the parents though my reality hit me. How was I going to get lunch? While I was certainly stronger and there was progress, I did still need to use a walking stick. I thought about setting aside my walking stick to free up a hand so that I could hold a plate and put food on it. But I knew I would overbalance and I would struggle to move around the tables. If I tried getting my lunch with my walking stick in hand, I would only be able to hold the paper plate. I needed help. I couldn’t get my lunch by myself. At the end of a week where progress was just so obvious, realising that I couldn’t do the most basic thing like getting a plate of food was mortifying and humbling. So I stood there. I considered my options. I could leave. I could stay and not eat anything. Or I could ask for help. I seriously considered the first two options, but after fifteen minutes watching others tuck in, I put away any shreds of pride that were holding me back and I asked a trusted friend to get a plate of food for me. I’m not good at asking for help, I’m way too stubborn. But I had to laugh. Sure there was progress, but I still need help. Progress doesn’t mean that the disability suddenly disappears. So although that reasonable pace that I had enjoyed for the past four months was just about to disappear, I knew I needed to make some changes. Change no. 1 is asking for help.