My final semester at college studying for a BA on a combined History and English degree is now well underway. In fact we hardly seemed to have started and it’s half term already. But that is not a break from studying because I am in full flow with my 10,000-word history dissertation on the satirical prints of Thomas Rowlandson from the late 18th and early 19th centuries. I also have one History and one English assignment to complete and submit before the end of March. It is good to be working at home this week because Parkinson’s disease (PD) has made college particularly hard going in the last couple of weeks. Thankfully I currently have lessons at college only two afternoons a week, but last semester the lessons were in the mornings which, with hindsight, seems to suit me better. I think I just need to get myself into a routine. I had adapted my medication timing and dosage to optimise my ‘on time’ for the morning lessons and that worked reasonably well for me. With the afternoon lessons, however, I am worn out before I even get to college. The other issue, apart from drug tweaking, is to stop myself from doing much in the mornings on the days when I have lessons in the afternoon. This isn’t as easy as it sounds. First of all the obsessional side of me (typical PD character trait) cannot relax until the house is tidy, dishwasher loaded, bins emptied, and kitchen de-cluttered. Then the dog will pester me to be fed (not an unreasonable demand) and then will not relax until he gets a walk. Before I know where I am it’s time to head off to college. With the morning lessons it was tough getting up early, but once I had left home nothing could be tidied and the dog got walked late afternoon after I had rested following returning from college at lunchtime. It will get easier when the nights draw out and it is light enough to walk him after college. I am also sure I will find an optimal medication routine for these two college days.
I have raised the issue here several times, over the past few months, concerning what I will do when my course finishes, at the college, in June. It is essential I find a replacement activity that will absorb me and keep my brain active and my mood buoyant, coupled with lots of distraction from the symptoms of my illness. This is not easy when my primary symptom is severe fatigue. I am pleased to report that I now have a plan. Regular followers of my blog will know that I like my plans! I have pre-registered for an MA in History with the Open University, and hope I will fully register when registration opens in April. My past concerns about following this route had been the lack of interaction and study with other students. Two things have changed. Firstly as an ex-Higher Education student I have discovered that I can continue to use the college library when my BA finishes for a nominal fee. Secondly there are possibly four of us from my current class who are also planning to study the same History MA, with the Open University, and we can form a study group to help and support each other. The course starts at the beginning of October with four modules studied over 16 months at nominally 16 hours per week. This is less than half the hours of my current full time BA but it will be more than enough as my illness progresses, and the dog might also get more prioritisation on the walking front. There is a 3-month gap after the 16-month, four-module period of study followed by 6 months to research and write a 15,000 word dissertation. So, as long as I pass my BA and am accepted on the MA I am potentially now sorted until November 2016, by which time my brain will need a very long rest!
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