Free At Last…..

graduationThe books have been packed up, the paperwork has been shredded and my house has been cleared of post-it notes and last-minute scribbles.

I sat my last ever university exam on Wednesday and it’s all over bar the marking. It’s been a rocky old road to get here. It was a part-time six-year degree and as regular readers will know, I had a fully-functioning brain until two years ago when MS came along and messed around with it.

Since then, it’s been an uphill struggle. I nearly gave up after five years, but quite fancied the (Hons) after my name so ploughed on for another year. It was worth it though and the sense of achievement has been incredible, as was the bottle of bubbly I had waiting in the fridge.

I’ve been lucky. My MS nurse has written a letter in my defence, something along the lines of, ‘…please excuse Stumbling, her cat ate her study notes and her brain doesn’t work properly’. Which is just as well. I struggle to remember my shopping list, so how on earth was I supposed to remember a whole year’s worth of facts, ready to regurgitate onto blank paper? In my shaky handwriting?

It didn’t help when a fellow student emailed me the day before asking if I had revised Esping Anderson. If I knew what it/he/she was, perhaps I might have. As it was, to me it just sounded like an Ikea dining table.

Anyway, I arrived at the exam centre, ignored the last minute swotters, and took my seat. I set out my pens and bottle of water. The woman next to me set out a lucky teddy, three bottles of water, two packets of nuts and a bag of chocolate buttons (where did she think we were, a cinema?). The clock on the wall ticked round to 10am and we turned our papers over.

I was obviously in the wrong exam, sitting the wrong paper and toyed with the idea of pretending to faint. But as if by magic, the words rearranged themselves and they actually started to make sense. Three hours later, and with a lot of padding and random waffling, I was done. I clicked my pen off and shuffled the papers together.

As I left, I noticed the woman sadly pack her teddy away. I stumbled out the building, high on relief and headed home to google Esping Anderson.

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22 thoughts on “Free At Last…..

  1. stevedomino says:

    that post made the stress of exams come flooding back! the thought of revising for exams chills my blood, so WELL DONE YOU.

    i have 5 A levels (long story) and got a BA Hons degree – can i remember any facts from any of the subjects? no, but i can remember all the words to the theme tune of Murphy’s Mob.

    i don’t think any of this is solely to do with MS, just the natural shaving-off of faculties that comes with age – plus the fact that i watched loads of telly growing up.

    well done, again!


    • stumbling in flats says:

      Thanks Steve!
      I’m with you on that one. My first degree is a hazy memory! 5 A levels – I’m impressed. I struggled with 3, lol.
      Revising with MS is just pointless. My beautiful study notes were next to useless. All the stuff went in one ear and fell out the other. I kind of remembered impressions of facts, just not the facts themselves. Oh well. It’s all done now and it feels fantastic!

  2. congrats on finishing!

    when do you find out your results?

  3. Julie says:

    Brilliant, well done for sticking it out to the end! I think that is a great achievement whatever the results.
    Are you carrying on with your career plans as they were before you started the course, or are you going in a different direction since the ms? I ask this because I was due to be studying maths/physics A levels right now but then ms hit and I no longer feel able to tackle it what with the cognitive issues I have been having.
    I am also not sure how I would cope in a work place now so am pondering my next move, how about you?

    • stumbling in flats says:

      Hi Julie,
      I’m totally with you on that one. I started the degree with a view to going in to health and social care with a holistic slant. I was intending to go straight to an MA in social work, so by the time the Teenager hit 16, I’d have a full-time career again, rather than still working part time.
      To cut a long story short, that’s now all out the window. I went for a social work interview at Cardiff University and the course load and placements are just too much.
      Do you get any support as a ‘disabled’ student with your A levels? They’re tough subjects if, like me, you have cognitive problems. I really do think I’m getting worse. I was speaking to someone on the phone yesterday and completely lost the thread. I just could not remember what I was talking about. Oops.
      Anyway, regarding work, I’m a bit stuck right now. My wonderful friend is still employing me and he seems to be happy with that. I am too, although it’s not a career, but he’s totally flexible and lets me choose my hours, so if I’m having a bad day, I don’t need to work. I just make up the hours.
      My original career plan is in tatters. Ideally now, I’d like to find a part time job in the charity sector, but no one is hiring right now!
      Maybe I should start writing my book, lol. Sorry for the long reply!

      • Julie says:

        For me the hardest thing to accept has not been the ms itself but how it has got in the way of my plans to start a new career after being a stay at home for 15 years.
        I think writing your book is an excellent idea, especially if you feel your cognitive problems are worsening. I have been having problems with my hands and eyes so have been getting stuck into some art and craft projects I have been meaning to do for years, in case things deteriorate. I don’t think we should be putting things off, if there is something we want to do but feel it is too self indulgent then we should indulge ourselves and get on with it immediately!
        Now where is that cake…….. 😉

        • Julie says:

          Stay at home mum that is! Tsk

        • stumbling in flats says:

          That’s a brilliant comment! And I know exactly what you mean – my career plans are now dead in the water and funnily enough, I wouldn’t have taken up writing if it weren’t for MS. Plus I’m starting to get in to crafty things more (Christmas project – make own candles!)

  4. Diana says:

    Congrats! This is amazing accomplishment, especially because of the MS. You go girl!

    • stumbling in flats says:

      Thank you so much! Still can’t believe I actually did it.
      Honestly, if you could have seen me in tears trying to construct essays over the last two years!

  5. Yay! Congratulations!!

    You would write a fab book…

    • stumbling in flats says:

      Thanks Cranky!
      I would LOVE to write a book. But blog posts are so much easier, lol.
      Must get my beret and black polo and try to look intelligent. Hahahaha!

  6. Archie says:

    good for you luv. i too recently had to take an exam after not administering anti-inflammatory cream to a patient’s elbow (really). a senior nurse was harsh enough to put me on a course to prove I was not a buffoon. fortunately i passed and left the room before anyone else – which was another first for mr haslett 🙂 enjoy the moment you get to shred your notes!

    • stumbling in flats says:

      You can’t be serious??? That’s bonkers. So glad you passed, lol. I’d be a bit worried if you didn’t :-).
      Yup, I had great fun shredding the notes and put them out for recycling today. Feels absolutely brilliant. Amazing how much head space I have now, despite a less than well-functioning brain.

  7. Jenny says:

    ” The woman next to me set out a lucky teddy, three bottles of water, two packets of nuts and a bag of chocolate buttons (where did she think we were, a cinema?)” – Lol!! This really made me chuckle! Another great blog, you really should write a book it’d be great!

    Congrats on the exam – I break out in a cold sweat when we have to do a multiple choice test at work once a year, there’s no way I could string an essay together.


    • stumbling in flats says:

      Thanks Jenny!
      I can’t string an essay together either, don’t worry. I’m still bouncing off the walls (in my head) with all the sudden freedom. It’s quite bizarre!
      What sort of book should I write?? I said to a friend that I wanted to write a book along the lines of, ‘If Bridget Jones had MS, this would be her book’, i.e. rather than fags and alcohol units it would be number of brain lesions, naps on the sofa, etc. But my friend thought it was a crap idea, meh.

  8. Angela says:

    Congratulations xxx

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