Call Me Dr Scamp

That’s right. I am now a doctor. 4 years of blood, sweat and tears. 4 years of edits, research, interviews and data analysis. 4 years of projects, jobs, networking and conferences. 4 years of hard work. I’m not sure how I did it, but I survived the process and might just be a better person for it.

The viva was a gruelling process. I had gotten sick the week before and went through the viva with a fever and no voice. My examiners hated my thesis….and I am not exaggerating. They told me it reads like a jumbled, confused mess and it was hard to figure out what my original contribution to knowledge was. They did not understand the way I positioned my work in relation to the literature. They told me I have six months to rewrite it or they have the right to change their mind.

I am not ashamed to say that I cried in the middle of the viva. I was horribly ill and felt like crap, but I was also so upset that all of the things that the examiners hated about my thesis are the things I battled against with my supervisor….the same supervisor who was not in the room to hear that he had screwed up my work. The same supervisor who decided that I was not worth his time when I sent an email saying that I was upset that his lack of planning for the scheduling the viva could cost me my job. I was also very embarrassed. The examiners don’t know how badly I struggled. They don’t know how much of the thesis was dictated to me by said horrible supervisor. They only read the product of a less than stellar time….and the only name on the work is mine. I am the one who looks like I turned in horrible work. I am the one who now has to rewrite it in 6 months.

That’s not to say that the examiners were wrong though. That work is a jumbled mess that is a product of my experience. The feedback they gave me will make my thesis a better piece of work. It will also allow me the chance to discuss my work in the way that I want to. I have a better message and have really good things to say, and now I get to say them. My due date for resubmission is on my grammy’s birthday. I am taking that as a sign of good luck.

The only downside of this is that I still have a lot of work to do, more so now because I have a full-time job. I am having a hard time separating my bitterness about the last four years and the rewrite that I need to do. It has been more than a month and I have barely made any progress. That, in turn, is stressing me out….which is not helping the writing.

On the bright side, finishing the PhD means that I was able to book a ticket back to California for Christmas. I get to see my favourite people for a whole month. I am thinking that the change of environment and the time with my family will help me tackle the PhD as well. I have not seen my family in almost three years or been in California, so to say that I am excited about this is an understatement. I cannot wait to see how my parents have changed the cabin they now live in, I can’t wait to finally meet my nephew in person, and I cannot wait to sit around a table with my siblings while we play games, drink beer and tell each other to fuck off while we laugh so hard our sides hurt. I can’t wait to drive a car again.

I can’t wait for all the yummy Mexican food.

And mojo. Hopefully, I can find my mojo. I’m still looking for it.

The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 7

It is currently a crisp 41 degrees in Edinburgh, and probably not much warmer in my flat. I leave for California in two days and I have yet to pack. I have a laundry list of things to do (including laundry), but it took me over an hour and half to get out of bed.

Right now the cold weather is not my friend.

The writing challenge for this week is based around thinking about something that I could be doing right at this moment that will help me get to where I want to be in the future. Given what I have said for the last three years about needing to break up with the United States, this is going to seem really strange, but I believe that the best thing I can do right now for my career and my future is go to California.

I’ve made no secret about the sneak attack of the dark and twisty. I’ve mentioned more than once that I miss the sun, and that I need a break from the cold. The research, my job, and my motivation have been tough. I’m not focused, not interested, and not the easiest to be around right now, so this mini vacation is coming at the perfect time. It will allow me a break from work, a break from the cold, and a chance to maybe get some much needed tan lines (seriously, I am scary white. If the power went out, we’d be fine because I glow in the dark). This three weeks will allow me a chance to recharge and destress a bit.

California has my cat. California also has my wombmate and my nephew who has been kind enough to wait until I am there to make his debut. I’ve missed the entire pregnancy, so at least I might be able to be there for the most important part. I am a little nervous about being back in California though. I am worried that I will feel out of place while I am at my parents’ home, and that no one will want to see me while I am there. All of those are silly thoughts, but they still creep in from time to time. Hopefully some time at the beach and some authentic Mexican food will cure that.

I guess it is time to get my giant suitcase out and get to packing.

The Scamp and Gratitude Challenge Week 18 and 19

I am way behind in the challenge. Way way behind. I have been spending my time trying to get things ready for my move, and I have been trying to get some yoga sessions in before I leave. I was able to find a Groupon that allowed me 30 days of unlimited classes at a new studio by house, and so far, it has been a nice change from doing routines in my backyard.

I’m feeling a bit strange lately, which is why it is important to get back to the challenge. Today I handed over my car to the new owner, and I am starting to have to think about what to pack. I have 30 days left in the US and I think it is starting to set in that I am about to leave for good. I have a place to live, I finally have all the paperwork I need for my visa, and I have meetings and work set up for when I get to Scotland, and the people around me are starting to express their excitement. I am starting to feel very strange about it. I have spent almost three years trying to get back to Scotland,and now it is starting to become real that I actually get to go back.

So back to the challenge. Week 18 is all about the weather. This is easy. Right now the weather is just about perfect. The days are sunny and warm, and the nights are warm enough that I can have my window open and enjoy the breeze and fresh air while I sleep. Lately I have been able to work on my tan too, so by the time I get to Spain for vacation, I will look nice and golden. I am really going to miss the warm weather and the sun, but I am looking forward to the definitive seasons that Scotland offers. I’m looking forward to sunny days in summer, the leaves changing in fall, snow flurries in winter, and the cherry blossoms in bloom in the spring. I know that Scotland sees a lot of rain and wind, but I think the change will be nice. I’m looking forward to practicing yoga in the park, walking everywhere, and my umbrella turning inside out on a walk from the bus to campus. I will miss warm sunny days in California, but that will make visits home that much better.

Week 19 is health. This one is very important to me. May is Lupus Awareness Month. I was diagnosed in 2008, but I feel very lucky. This disease can be horrible, but so far, I have been able to manage my symptoms, and keep the bad days few and far between. For those who are not super familiar with Lupus, Lupus.org breaks it down:

What is lupus?

Lupus is a chronic, autoimmune disease that can damage any part of the body (skin, joints, and/or organs inside the body). Chronic means that the signs and symptoms tend to last longer than six weeks and often for many years.

In lupus, something goes wrong with your immune system, which is the part of the body that fights off viruses, bacteria, and germs (“foreign invaders,” like the flu). Normally our immune system produces proteins called antibodies that protect the body from these invaders. Autoimmune means your immune system cannot tell the difference between these foreign invaders and your body’s healthy tissues (“auto” means “self”) and creates autoantibodies that attack and destroy healthy tissue. These autoantibodies cause inflammation, pain, and damage in various parts of the body.

Lupus is also a disease of flares (the symptoms worsen and you feel ill) and remissions (the symptoms improve and you feel better).

These are some additional facts about lupus that you should know:

  • Lupus is not contagious, not even through sexual contact. You cannot “catch” lupus from someone or “give” lupus to someone.
  • Lupus is not like or related to cancer. Cancer is a condition of malignant, abnormal tissues that grow rapidly and spread into surrounding tissues. Lupus is an autoimmune disease, as described above.
  • Lupus is not like or related to HIV (Human Immune Deficiency Virus) or AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). In HIV or AIDS the immune system is underactive; in lupus, the immune system is overactive.
  • Lupus can range from mild to life-threatening and should always be treated by a doctor. With good medical care, most people with lupus can lead a full life.
  • Our research estimates that at least 1.5 million Americans have lupus. The actual number may be higher; however, there have been no large-scale studies to show the actual number of people in the U.S. living with lupus.
  • More than 16,000 new cases of lupus are reported annually across the country.
  • It is believed that 5 million people throughout the world have a form of lupus.
  • Lupus strikes mostly women of childbearing age (15-44). However, men, children, and teenagers develop lupus, too. Most people will develop lupus between the ages of 15-44.
  • Women of color are two to three times more likely to develop lupus than Caucasians.
  • People of all races and ethnic groups can develop lupus.

I have been lucky that I am mild. My health has been stable lately, and I have been fortunate enough to have access to doctors that can monitor me and keep me healthy. I know that I complain about Obamacare, but it is nice to have access to doctors and affordable medication. I am hoping that I can keep the trend of feeling good for a long long time.

This week’s gratitude challenge has temporarily calmed my fears and worries about the the coming month and moving to Scotland.