Tuesday, 4 November 2014

A month in the life

I've been back at uni for a bit more than a moth now and thought this would be an ideal time to  reflect on the term so far.  I have wanted to keep a record of my health and daily activities for a while now, and thought it would double up as a sort of "a month in the life" post.  I hope you like it.  I feel the need to say that this is probably a worse month health-wise than normal, but I'm not sure that's true.  I look on the bright side and often forget the bad things that happen, this is another good reason to keep a record of the things that I get up to.

Freshers week
Freshers week was a bit of a quiet one, I tried to lay low as I had a cough since mid August that was taking a while to clear up.  This meant I had to cancel a few of my plans to help out with welcoming freshers which was a bit annoying.  But it was nice to see old friends again and get things sorted in my new room. 

My friends also threw me a surprise birthday dinner party!  I had been invited round to diner to a friends house but when I got there four other friends were there too!  I felt very special.  I'm a bit awkward to cook for as I am intolerant to wheat, so it was especially nice to have someone make the effort to cook for me.  We had risotto stuffed peppers and pita bread/wraps with baked mango and black beans.  Then one of my friends did a make your own ice cream parlour for desert with chocolate ice cream and a range of sweets and chocolate to add to it.  I which I took photos! 

I also did some batch cooking to fill my freezer, for those not-so-good days that I knew I would be having in the near future.

I spent my first weekend back home, I wanted to be with my brother as he made the move to Southampton to start uni.  It was a difficult decision to make as to whether I should go due to me being under the weather and about to start term in a few days time.  I actually tried to cancel the day before, but luckily no one was in when I phoned and I thought better of it before calling back again.

When we got there we all went up to see my brothers room which is very nice!  I then had the job of waiting at the bottom of the stairs by his stuff, while the rest of the family carried it up the two flights of stairs into his room and carted (literally the university provided carts!) boxes from the car.  It was nice to have a job to do, I felt useful!  Once all of his stuff had been moved, I went with my Dad and sister to her student house (she's also at Southampton uni) where I was able to lie on my sisters bed.  Dad put up some shelves and my sister unpacked a few things that we had brought up for her.  It was lucky to be able to do this as I wouldn't have been able to go otherwise, there wasn't anywhere for me to go in my brothers flat, and I would have been in the way resting there.   Once Mum and my brother had finished unpacking, we all went back say our goodbyes at his flat.

It was really special for me to be able to do this, we have all always been there for each other's moving day for the first year of university! I didn't want him to be short changed  just because he is the youngest.  He has done most of the leg work the two times I have moved into uni!

1st week of term
The first week of term was good, but then ended badly.  We didn't have a full timetable, and half of the lectures were introductory, so there was very little work!  I still had my cough so wasn't feeling my best, I had started another course of antibiotics to try and clear it up.  I was able to attended everything that I should have (or at least I think I did) and everything was running more or less smoothly.  

Friday was when it all went wrong.  I had a doctors appointment in the morning and was diagnosed with what is effectively short term asthma brought on by the irritation of my cough.  I was given a prescription for an inhaler and told that things would clear up.  On the same day I came to the realisation that I am now intolerant to oats (as well as wheat).  I had been getting bad tummy aces for a while (and had begun to suspect that they were related to eating oats).  These pains had been getting steadily worse, but I couldn't be sure what was to blame.  That morning I had a bowl of granola and by noon I was in excruciating pain.  I found it hard to sit still during my lecture, all I could think about was going home, going to bed and taking some painkillers.  I hardly ever eat oats, this is why it has taken me so long to work this one out. 

The weekend was very quiet, I spent most of Saturday in bed.

2nd week of term
The second week of term was not my best week.  

On Monday there was a timetabling error and I missed a lecture that I hadn't known about.  That afternoon I had a lab session that went on just a bit too log.  The cold lab air and chemical fumes made my asthma play up, and walking too and from campus each day was beginning to take it's toll on my legs, I found it difficult staying on my feet in the lab.
 I was very unwell on Tuesday and Wednesday and wasn't able to go to uni.  (I spent most of my time in bed.)

My Dad popped round on Wednesday to lend my my parents lap top as I had lost my laptop charger and wasn't able to do any work due to the fact that my battery had died and I was't able to get out of the flat. 

More on my difficulties walking,  the main theme for this week was being unable to get out of the flat.  Exeter is a very hilly city and although I only live just outside of campus, the transition from living on site to in the city had been a tough one.  There are buses that run however I was trying to avoid the cold as it exacerbates my asthma.  It can be very energy consuming waiting around in the could (and possibly rain) for an unspecified amount of time. The week before I had spent a very long time waiting for a bus in the rain, which lead to near exhaustion, and possibly partly why I lost my laptop cable.

To end the week I was invited to a Macmillan coffee morning/tea party which was lovely!   The house was beautiful and I had a really lovely time meeting new people including two girls from my course!  It was a lovely spoonie friendly activity! :)

3rd week of term
This week I had another practical session on Monday afternoon, I decided to leave part way through in order to pace myself and not over-do it at the start of the week.  I also started having talks about deferring one of my modules until the summer re-sit period this would give me one day off in the middle of each week.  

I decided not to go in on Wednesday as I was only going to miss one lecture and thought it was better to economise on energy.  I was  grateful to have a very productive work session in the afternoon. 

I was still struggling to breath on Thursday, so went to the doctor, I was prescribed a reliever inhaler and steroids.  The doctor told me to take it very easy and that I mustn't push myself to go to lectures.  

At the weekend I was invited to a friend's tea party.  In the end I wasn't well enough to go.  I do feel very lucky to have lovely friends who include me in their plans though.  Even when I'm not well enough to go to things a lot of the time.  This term they have been particularly amazing!

I have noticed that the way I deal with every day life is gradually changing and that other people are naturally responding to this.  I am getting better at adapting my plans to fit with my health, rather than just cancelling altogether when I don't have the energy to do something.  This means that I am able to do more and get less payback.  I am grateful for everything that I have been able to do so far this term, and for the fact that I am able to study.

My brother's uni moving day.


  1. Hey Jenny,
    Do you get disabled student's allowance? If you do, it might be worth investigating the possibility of getting taxis funded to help with your mobility difficulties. I had taxis to and from uni throughout my first year of university (when I was full time) and they really were a lifeline for me - I wouldn't have been able to attend classes or do other study related things like go to the library without them - Bristol is also a very hilly city!
    Fran x

    1. Hi Fran, I do get DSA and am looking into transport options at the moment. I have been told that I can get the cost of taxis partially refunded, but this would work out too expensive for daily use. I do have a free bus pass though, which has proved very helpful. It's just a problem on the days that I am too unwell to catch the bus. I am hoping that my tolerance to the cold will improve once my asthma is under control! Hope your doing AWAP x

  2. This was such a good, interesting post Jenny! Must have taken some doing too with all that writing, so I appreciate the effort it took!
    I hope you are enjoying your weekend so far xx

    Hayley-Eszti // www.hayleyeszti.blogspot.com

    1. Thanks Hayley, it did take a while! It went up a few weeks late, but once I'd finished it it seemed a waste not to post it! Hope your having/have had a good weekend too. xx

  3. So interesting to get a peek into your day-to-day life Jenny. Whenever anyone asks me how I've been doing I find it very difficult to tell them properly as I sort of forget past the previous day. A record like this must be great for properly keeping track of how you're getting on.
    The dinner party with your friends sounds lovely! I had some friends here the other day and they all came to sit on my bed to chat with me. It feels so good when people don't mind accommodating our poorliness!
    We've started batch cooking too and have found its an absolute life save on low spoon days. It's a great idea when you're at uni especially and mostly cooking for one.
    So pleased you got to be there for your brother's moving day. I'm sure it meant a lot to him knowing how much more of a challenge these things are for you.
    Bit concerned about you having getting to and from uni. Sheffield is very hilly too and I completely understand how limiting it can be. Hope there are no more bus incidents in the future.
    Sending love and spoons xxx

    1. Thanks Fay, yes I just completely forget how things have been when people ask me. I think it's a mix of brain fog and blocking things out, I like to move on as soon as I have a good day! I also don't know what is "good" for me any more because things are so up and down. Things are good here on the whole, it's just a bit taxing on the legs. I have learnt that communication is key, uni have been very understanding this term with my difficulties in walking. Lots of love xxx


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