I am not sad to see the end of 2013 approaching. It’s been a difficult year. Just when I thought the worst of my health struggles were over, it all started anew this spring. It was no joke, and I have spent most of the year searching for answers, and visiting doctors at home and abroad. The good news: I have found answers. The bad news: it’s late-stage Lyme disease. I always thought Lyme was an acute illness that you got after a tickbite. That’s what most people, including doctors, think. But that’s only half the truth: in some cases the immune system manages to suppresses the disease until much later. That’s what happened to me. I went on a hiking holiday 18 years (!) ago, when I was bitten by several ticks. It wasn’t until 2007 that I fell seriously ill. (Just goes to show that I should never have left my natural habitat which is the city/ the library. I spent most of that holiday rolling off hills and steep slopes, having to be rescued by our hiking guide. I didn’t mind that last bit too much, but let’s just say it’s the first and last time I went hiking.)
So, presently I am looking into treatment options, and I am hoping 2014 will be the year in which I will make great strides back to health. The future looks brighter than my present situation, but unfortunately this is a chronic condition. Think months and years of intense treatment, not weeks. Many people relapse after treatment, or do not respond (fully) to treatment, so you can imagine I am not too happy to embrace this diagnosis. It’s a rough road ahead. That said, I have met quite a few people who have significantly improved with treatment so I live in hope.
But in any case, no matter what happens, I am determined to not let this disease take over my life. It’s similar to when I only had a couple of hours of energy a day, and finished my PhD anyway, a couple of years ago. If I could do it then, I can do it now. I have found that when the road ahead is too hard to contemplate, when past hurt and sorrows are close enough for their pain to be felt, and when the present is pretty damn painful too, the only way forward is to pay attention to those things that are going right.
And one of the things that went right in 2013 was the launch of the HappyPhD course. If you are one of the PhD students who took the course this year: Thank YOU!
I tremendously enjoyed working with you. In case you said something nice to me: just know that 2013 was a very good year to say something nice to me. Any kindness rather stood out, and will be remembered forever.
To celebrate the end of 2013, and get 2014 off to a good start I thought I’d hold a HappyPhD contest. For the new year I am giving away the HappyPhD self-study course twice. To enter the competition just pop your name and email address in the box below.
I’m looking forward to hearing from you! I will be announcing the two winners mid-January.
CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED