FINALLY, I have my life back. For only 4 days, but it’s something. I just finished the first semester of organic chemistry in Summer I session, and will take the second semester in Summer II. I knew it was going to be hard material, but I think I definitely underestimated the difficulty of the pace. You know those roller coasters that get going so fast you don’t even have time to scream? That metaphor sums up what this class was like for me. Good thing I’ve never been afraid of roller coasters.
I got this super cool-but-geeky patch for my lab coat on my last lab of chem 231 (the first semester). It says “I survived 1st Semester Organic in Summer 2017 Without Diene.” It’s especially hilarious if you know that “diene” is a type of organic molecule, and that the stick figure reclining in the hammock IS a diene molecule. I think this is so funny, it freaks me out. I knew I was a nerd but this is a whole new level.
Getting this patch felt incredible, but it also made me think about the cost of this patch. Summer classes are insanely expensive so in addition to lots of money (sorry mom and dad), there was a substantial emotional cost as well. Dozens of tears. Hours spent in the library in exchange for hours of lost sleep. My THRIVING social life (this is sarcasm). For a minute, I felt like the patch should say “my entire life was on hold for a month and all I got was this lousy patch.” But that’s a bit of a stretch, I think. This semester-in-one-month was incredibly expensive, but in addition to learning half of organic chemistry, I learned some more valuable things too.
Before my accident, I was a classic biology student. All I needed was a list of things to memorize, and I would get it done. As you may or may not know, one of the most significant cognitive issues following a TBI or concussion is with short-term memory. I don’t re-introduce myself every 10 seconds, but I now know that I need to give myself maybe a full week and a half to start studying before a test rather than a few days. Although I know this about myself, there isn’t much to be done about it when I have a test on 3-4 new chapters every Monday for 3 weeks, or 3 days between our last exam and the final. But at the same time, I feel like this is a suffer-now-or-suffer-later situation. I would rather this breakneck speed than have to decide which class is acceptable to blow off so I can prioritize the harder ones.
This was something I learned over the course of the last year, but this last month has reiterated to me the importance of staying on top of things. Luck favors the prepared after all, right? When I’m feeling overwhelmed, I shut down and don’t do ANY of the thousand things I know I need to. This is a terrible habit, because none of those thousand things are going anywhere. Now, I face it head-on; I make an exhaustive list of every single thing I need to do, from learning a reaction mechanism to folding my laundry. Then, if I give myself enough time, I can chip away at this list at a pace that is compatible with my schedule and mental capacity.
This class is like having to sprint a marathon, and I am so grateful to anyone who advised, pep-talked, or even just believed in me. Thank you.