Posted by: Shira Danin | March 13, 2010

Being a Student with Fibromyalgia – Part 2

Incase you missed part 1 you can read it HERE FIRST

It took a few months but all the treatments helped and I got well enough and felt like I could go back to school.

For some reason I thought I could go back to the job I had before the hospital. In retrospect it’s possible that the pressure I experienced at work helped me develop the pain and the Fibro. I went back to work part time and they relatively were considerate with my difficulties. After a few months I realized it wasn’t possible and I left work. The reason that helped me leave was the fact that the way the managers treated us was atrocious and there was a lot of pressure and disorganization. After a few times they induced crying and stress attacks I realized it was bad for my health to stay there.

When I got back to school I was worried on how I would handle school, so I chose to take only 3 classes. I didn’t want to overload myself. And I was right.

At first it was hard for me to handle the bureaucratic side of it, and tried to avoid it as much as possible. I didn’t try to talk to the administration or the professors. I think it was hard to talk to “outside” people since I had no clear way of explaining what was going on with me.

I managed to finish the semester and my physical condition to the point where I could fly and travel for two months abroad.

I was worried that traveling would be hard but I knew I wasn’t planning any trekking or long walks. I mainly wanted to have fun. I thought I deserved a little fun after all the pain I was enduring. When I was abroad my sister contacted me and let me know that if I want I already have a job waiting in her and her husband’s company.

I was very glad to join the team and I started working when I got back.

I came back from India about 5 days before the semester started. I realized that I in order to get a grip on this degree and what I need to do I needed to visit the Dept. of Management’s head administrator. I met Yifat Ben Simon (with Henna on my hands left over from India) and told her a little about my life with Fibro. She was great, and helped me understand which classes I still need to take and register to those classes.

Since then, with ever question I had or any help I needed registering to courses, she always helped and was very nice. I think that having me explain about the bandages, the pain and all my limitations helped her understand.

A bit after I came back from India, I went to see Dr. Booskila, the expert on fibromyalgia in Israel. He let me know that even though they wrote on my discharge note from the hospital that I may have atypical fibromyalgia, what I have is exactly fibromyalgia, by the book. The fact that I had a name for my condition helped me cope with it. It allowed me to learn about my condition and connect with others like me.

Because of the pain and fatigue I can’t get through more than a class or two at most. I can’t take a class that starts in the afternoon because at that time of the day I am beyond functioning outside the house. Sometimes I need Yifat’s help to register to an earlier class if there is no available space when I try.

In the first semester of my third year I went a little crazy and maybe “forgot” the fibro a little because I thought I could take 8 classes and work. I wanted to finish school so bad that I thought the more classes I take on, the earlier I finish.

I started going to class with an electric heating pillow on a regular basis. I also talked to almost all my professors in one of the first breaks to explain a little about the fibro. I felt like it was important they knew. In some of the classes I couldn’t sit for the entire class and had to stand against the wall for some of it. I didn’t want to start a discussion about it in class which is why I explained ahead of time. Also, I didn’t want them to think I walk out of class out of boredom, and know that it is out of pain.

The truth is I chose to talk with the professors I most enjoyed sitting in their classes. I came to the class with 4 elastic bandages on my hands and the electric heating pillow, so when I came in the break to talk with the professor about something related to class, they would usually ask about all the “equipment”. That way I would explain with a sentence what fibro is “a decrease in the pain threshold”, and then explain a little about how it limits me regarding to school.

I haven’t met a single professor that didn’t show empathy, at least from the ones I chose to talk to.

Since then, in almost every class I take I talk to the professor and sometimes the TA. I didn’t feel that talking to the TA’s was very important, but it couldnโ€™t hurt.

The same first semester of the “second” year I also got a laptop. Thank you to my parents again.ย  It became very hard and challenging to sit in front of the computer on the desk. This way, with my laptop I can let most of my body rest. A little less pain means a little more concentration.

My studying position

By the way, in Israel, most bachelor degrees (that aren’t engineering) are only 3 years long, not four like in the US.

As Tamar commented, while degrees here in Israel are only 3 years, they are the same number of credits as a university in the States, sometimes more.

Somehow I managed to hang in there with a part time job and 8 classes. I managed to pass all of them on the first try except for maybe one I had to take again.

I managed to hang in there but my pain was getting worse. The part time job was getting smaller and smaller, and in the second semester I only took 4 classes.

During the semesters I try to get to as many classes as I can. My problem is, that when I find out the professor is horrible and doesnโ€™t teach anything beyond his prepared presentation, I find it pointless to get to the class. I feel like it’s a waste of energy. So far most of my grades have been fine, so as far as I’m concerned, doing the best I can is enough.

When you have good friends, and even good acquaintances, you can cope with missing classes. It’s just important that people know what the pain situation is and you can get copies of the lesson summary. It could have something to do with my degree being relatively easy (relatively to Computer Sciences) so I didn’t have a hard time making up lessons.

Part 3 is just a click here away

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Responses

  1. You should explain that while degrees here in Israel are only 3 years, they are the same number of credits as a university in the States, sometimes more. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Hi Tamar, I added what you said, thanks for the addition ๐Ÿ™‚
      and thanks for reading


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