I clearly lack the backbone for a PhD. I’ve come to this conclusion today after much careful and considered thought, and about 48 hours of intense pain and some very fun drugs. (Just kidding. They’re not that fun. Okay, you got me, yeah they are, but I’m not sharing.)
I hate to blog about a health crisis, because, really, who cares, right? Everybody has health issues, and the minute I start complaining about my minor complaint, I know there is someone else out there with far better reason to complain about a far larger complaint who can one-up me and make me feel like the whiny wimp I truly am. (Go on, I dare ya.)
But, I’m gonna do it anyway.
So, here is why I lack the spine for this:
A few years ago, the first day I sat down to really start writing the dissertation, feeling done with some research and ready to move beyond literature reviews, I started to prepare to write about my primary material. I was in my Cave (the Midwestern library office space assigned to me that had absolutely no natural light whatsoever – kind of an 1870s version of the Cage) when I picked up 3 books from the top of a waist-high shelf, and turned to put them on my desk, and wham. Back spasm. I couldn’t stand up. I couldn’t straighten my back, I could barely move and was in excruciating pain. At the time we were living in the Fabulous Midwestern Lake town where Spousal Unit was doing a post-doc and where coincidentally my mom was working as well. So, I hung out there in the Cave for a while, trying to figure out what to do. I was crying. I was desperate. I couldn’t reach Spousal Unit. So, I did what any reasonable 30 year-old graduate student would do. I called my Mommy. She said she’d come and get me, so I hobbled down two big flights of stairs while folks looked at me like I was Quasimodo (although, in truth, at that point he could have played me in the TV movie). My Mom found Spousal Unit and they came and helped me hobble to the car, and took me to a nice doctor, who gave me lots of sleep-inducing drugs, and eventually, a few days later I could stand up again. I chalked it up to a freak of nature. My mom suggested that I clearly was the freak of nature and that I had issues surrounding the dissertation. Imagine that. Clearly, she’s right.
So now I’m getting to the end of this thing (so everyone tells me, although I surely can’t see it), and I’ve apparently developed disc problems in my lower right back that make it uncomfortable to sit, stand, walk, or lie down. Which is pretty much most of the human condition. But it is especially uncomfortable to sit. Handy, that. The physical therapist today thinks it is a “bulging” disc that is pressing on nerves, also accounting for the dead-to-the world toes She told me to ice it as often as I want, to do some exercises which involve slight bodily contortions while on the floor or a bed (so much for working in the library today), and to change my position every 30-45 minutes. Not too onerous. But, I’m still uncomfortable. All the time. Which is doing wonders for my concentration.
Like I said, I just don’t have the backbone for the dissertation. Or maybe it is just breaking my back. It is the straw and I am the camel. I really wish I didn’t have to use my body literally to act out these weird metaphors and puns. (But, at least I’m not the dude I know with irritable bowel syndrome who is so totally disorganized — he just can’t keep his shit together…)
Despite all of this, I did manage to complete a bit of work, and am going to do a bit more right now before a friend cooks us dinner. Maybe having a true obstacle to overcome, rather than the imaginary ones I cook up for myself in my overactive imagination, will result in some progress. Here’s hoping.