August 21, 2011 at 1:25 am #130762
School starts Monday. I’m in the process of finishing up a Physiology course at the University of New England that I started this Spring. I signed up because of the fact that the school offers college credit and is flexible. I have up to a year to complete everything. I don’t need anymore science credits and enrolled to keep current and really … for fun. I have also been contemplating applying to PA school and Physiology is one of the few courses that I need that I don’t have.
So … I am enrolled in two graduate level …… psychology courses in the Fall. This is an about face, I know … and it really has been hard for me to let go of the dream and open my heart to other directions. I am allowing myself to explore this direction before making any final decisions about applying for graduate school. Officially though, I am taking Psychopharmacology and Grief and Loss across the Lifespan.
The Psychopharmacology isn’t a complete departure from the sciences. The Grief and Loss? It was the first course that I signed up for, and I’m really looking forward to it. Everything that I have been through over the past 5 years with the Lymphoma, late effects and my involvement in supporting other women struggling with cancer during pregnancy is part of what has led me down this path.
I have started looking at how my life has changed and what the big picture looks like for me. I feel like a rat running through a maze. I have been heading towards the goal and bumping into side walls that I have just tried to leap past. I think I can translate the metaphor of the challenges to medical school as my children … and my marriage. As much as I have really, really wanted this for myself, I am in a position right now to be homeschooling my daughter (for the second year in a row) as she enters the 10th grade. I have five children ranging in age from 16 to 5 … and the needs that they have simply take over my life. It goes beyond the driving or cleaning … those are things that I could farm out to anyone. I am consumed by the job of mothering itself: The homework, instrument practice, emotional needs and the physical caretaking that goes into the responsibility for such a large family.
If I’m honest with myself, there is more to me than just science or medicine. A big part of my life for the last ten years has been focusing on helping people cope with struggles in their lives. I volunteer for the Pregnant with Cancer Network as a support person, and I am involved in helping out women with cancer in our community.
In the grand scheme of the maze of my life … maybe the natural direction that I have been running away from … the way to the exit goal … is to allow myself to explore psychology as a path for myself. There is a PsyD program here in my state that offers an evening option. It is a reputable school and its graduates are well-recognized here. It is realistic and doable … and it is not far-removed from how I have been living my life these last few years.
So Monday it is … I’ll update once the semester gets started!
KrisSeptember 16, 2011 at 7:29 am #131201
It’s taken me awhile to update. Things are good here.
My semester is now underway, and I’m really enjoying it. I have had a few PMs about how I got to this point and so I’ll recap briefly:
I was pre-med, trudging away, teaching at my State U when I became pregnant with my 5th child. It was a surprise, but … we embraced it and revised our plans. Then I got cancer during the pregnancy and it all changed. My daughter went through 6 rounds of CHOP-R with me until she was born at 32 weeks. I haven’t worked since my pregnancy, but I tried to jump back into classes as soon as possible. See our video here: http://www.onetruemedia.com/shared?p=dd1438a760ac52b7dd7e73&skin_id=1803&utm_source=otm&utm_medium=text_url
My recovery wasn’t as straightforward as I imagined. First, I have suffered secondary effects from the chemo which have included neuropathy (affecting ears, tongue, face, eyes, and extremities…major unexpected suckage confirmed by the U of MN this year) as well as radiation bronchiolitis. It was a tough road for awhile because I started treatment with the attitude that life would soon return to normal. The thing is … normal as I knew it was gone forever.
The new normal that I have? It’s pretty awesome. I have been very happy as a sahm over the last few years. I’ve even been able to homeschool my daughter for highschool for the last year (and am doing it again this year). I am so grateful for my life and my family. My focus changed. I stopped being interested in jumping through some professor’s hoops to get an A+. It really stressed me out, actually. I was still doing it until last year. My transcript from the last couple of years in advanced bio and chem courses literally reads A, A+, A+, A+. A …. and it never felt good enough…until it started to feel bad.
I decided to step back and look at the things that I have focused on in my life. I build the medical spouse network more than 10 years ago and focus a lot of time and effort on helping med spouses….I volunteer with the pregnant with cancer network and help other women struggling with cancer during pregnancy … I started asking myself if Psychology really could be a good direction.
Is it medicine? No. I’ve been so focused on med school for so long that I couldn’t imagine myself doing something else. I decided to give myself permission to try graduate level psychology courses this year and I applied and was accepted.
I have ended up with only a Grief and Loss Counseling course because of enrollment issues with the other course, but this one experience has been life-changing. I am really happy to be learning about loss, grief, mourning and how to HELP others. I am applying this right now to cancer treatment and the medical establishment in hopes of making my major paper for the course a health psychology paper.
My life is pretty good right now.
KrisJanuary 15, 2014 at 12:20 am #143636
Fast forward 2 years!
I am halfway through my MS in Counseling Psychology and I’m loving it! It isn’t medicine, and I sometimes think about how my life would have turned out “if” … but I don’t feel sad or nostalgic anymore. I believe I made a very good choice for me. Funny how the user with MomMD2B ended up going in a completely different direction. I am so thankful for your kindness and support through the years while I struggled to balance family and school and to make a decision … and particularly for your support when I was pregnant with Zoe and was sick.
I am taking my schooling slowly (2 or 3 courses a semester with summers mostly off) in order to be with the kids. I go to school ~1.5 hours from my house and classes meet once/week. It isn’t usually possible to schedule them for the same day, so I drive out a couple of times/week. I love the opportunity to get away and create a life for myself. My oldest graduated from high school last year and is a college freshman! How did that happen? My oldest daughter is a high school senior this year! The other kids are all doing well … and Zoe … the baby of the family is actually in the second grade now!
I wrote a book about my life and my experience having cancer during my pregnancy. There is a free giveaway going on at GoodReads for anyone who is interested: https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/78196-a-rolling-stone-gathers-no-moss
I certainly didn’t end up on the path that I set out for myself…but I’m happy with where I am. I do miss being a part of the community here.
KrisSeptember 7, 2014 at 2:52 am #145072plumpchknParticipant
Kris I’m so glad to see your happy and well – I remember how much we were both dealing with years ago and its so wonderful to see you on the other side!
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