Level-Up: Part 57

I’m not doing very well with my scheduling at the moment. I was going to write this post tomorrow, but as I’m stuck on the sofa with a stomach bug and feeling a bit sorry for myself I thought I’d write this while I have the quiet time.

This week I finished my university comedy course, or Clown College as I’ve been calling it. Technically it’s not over for another 10 days when I submit my second essay, but the final class took place this past week. We were all a little bit sad that it was over so quickly. It seemed that as soon as we got into the swing of things it was done. But I’m so glad I signed up for it. It’s re-sparked my interest in learning and proven to me that I don’t have to be completely held back by my illness.

Much like last weekend helped me to claw back the kind and generous piece of my personality that had been distorted by the impact my physical illness had on me emotionally, this course has done more than just provide me with knowledge. It’s reminded me that I have a purpose and something to offer beyond just a person with an illness. When you’re living with something 24/7, you never get a break from it. Sometimes it’s all you get to see, often because you’re too tired for much else, and it can convince you that everyone else sees you in the same way that you see yourself. I’ve mentioned many times how chronic and invisible illness can smash your self-esteem and make you feel a little worthless. For all you can train yourself to believe you are more than just a broken body, you need the evidence that you’re interesting and that people see more in you than just the medical reports.

In this class, the tutor knew I had health issues because the university disability support office had informed her at my request. We discussed it in private, but she never made a big deal of it or mentioned it in front of the class. An adjustable chair was waiting for me every week, I always had my walking stick with me and the other students regularly stood up to help me with heavy doors etc. So they knew too that I had a few problems to deal with, but again, they never made it an issue. I realised early on that being one of the older and in some ways more experienced people in the group, I had a lot to offer. It made me push myself to answer questions and lead discussions. It felt like a long time since people were listening to the real me and not an unwell person. If you’re in my position, I absolutely encourage you to take a class in something you love. It’s nice to not feel like people are looking straight through you.

Attending classes certainly wasn’t easy. As they didn’t start until 7pm, I was often ready to put my pyjamas on before I’d even left the house. Several were quite difficult to sit through and keep myself from losing concentration during. I had to fight hard to stave off brain fog so I didn’t lose any information. It happened a few times, but hopefully enough stuck for me to do as well on my second essay as I did on the first. I remember while were watching part of a documentary and I was having an especially intense dizzy spell. I kept shifting in my chair so I didn’t fall out of it. I debated with myself whether I should just leave and stop burdening everyone else with my fidgeting. But I stuck it out. Thankfully, after the video we were put in groups to answer questions on it. The friendly chatter managed to distract me from how awful I was feeling. I was definitely glad to put my coat on at the end of that one though. One thing I’m certain of, it was definitely worth it.

Over the next week I need to properly research and write my second essay. Being a writer, that doesn’t phase me too much. But fitting it in with everything else I have to do feels a little daunting. If I have an extra-tiring week I wonder how much stamina I’ll have left. I might need to be precious about how I use my energy this week.

I knew I needed a few books from the university libraries to beef up my bibliography, so yesterday I plotted out a route that let me walk from one to the other. I made sure I took a route that had plenty of places to stop and sit along the way. The two buildings aren’t really that far apart, but I still have to plan out where I’m going. I went on the library search web pages at home and printed out everything I needed so that I didn’t have to stand at the search bars when I got there, then caught a taxi to the first library.

Moving around the building was quite tricky and, with hindsight, I should have asked for help so that I wasn’t aimlessly traipsing around different floors trying to find the right book numbers. The tall, narrow aisles were quite disorientating and in places made me feel extra dizzy. I tried to counter that by looking for the books as quickly as possible while focusing my eyes on just the numbers. The building was quite warm, which isn’t such a bad thing if you’re sat there working of an afternoon, but it definitely didn’t help me while navigating the place. The upside though was that it was obviously especially quiet and peaceful, and had plenty of places to sit down.

Once I’d found what I needed, I slowly moved off down the street. I was tempted to go straight to the second library and get it over with, especially as it was starting to get late in the day, but I decided to keep with my original plan of stopping half way for a coffee and a proper break.

IMG_7756

I didn’t want to be wandering through the park in the dark, so I didn’t stick around too long. I made my way over to the second building, which is actually where my classes have been taking place, so I had a rough idea how to find it. It’s a little more of a maze than the first one, so I had to do more searching when I got in there than I thought I’d have to. It was also incredibly warm. I started to get very dizzy in the final room, so I just looked quickly for what I needed, got back outside to sit down on the wall and then called my taxi home.

A part of me was frustrated that something seemingly so simple had taken such tactics and so much effort. For a while I considered how quickly and easily it could have been done without anything holding me back. But I brought myself back to feeling proud for giving it a try. I have plenty of people who could have collected those books on my behalf. I could even have walked in, sat down and asked one of the staff to bring them all to me. But I tried to do it myself, and that felt good. Now I just have to write it!

PS—> I cashed in my 9th Coffee No.1 loyalty card this week. It’s been done during a period longer than a year, but 90 walks still seems a crazy number. 100 next!

coffee number 1 card

 

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