It’s the end of an era: last Friday, I successfully defended my PhD dissertation, iffy neurons and all.
The period leading up to the defence was difficult, epilepsy-wise. I don’t know why, but somewhere in the back of my neurologically unsound brain, I made the completely unscientific assumption that I’d have a “seizure holiday” in the, oh, three or so weeks prior to what was arguably the biggest day of my academic life thus far. You know, so that I could adequately prepare and whatnot.
Instead, the Monday night before my defence, I had a series of seizures that was alarming enough that my husband almost called 911. The next evening, a similarly scary situation presented itself. Again, he debated dialling the dreaded numbers. Reflecting on my position during my post-seizure hangover the following morning, I realized that if there was any chance of being able to attend the defence—and, though I wasn’t, psychologically speaking, able to admit it to myself at the time, things weren’t looking good—I was going to have to do the the equivalent of enveloping my brain in bubble wrap while waiting out the next few days with my fingers crossed.
In other words, I was forced to stop preparing and start “relaxing,” which, in the few days before one’s thesis defence, is much easier said than done.
To make a long story short, it worked. I had a few little partial seizures over the next forty-eight hours, but I was determined to go ahead as planned, and I did: with my husband nearby listening to the latest episode of the Political Gabfest and texting our parents periodically with updates (he was there in case I had a seizure during the defence but told me that once I was in the examination room, he was confident that everything would go fine—his primary worry was getting me there sans major medical emergency in the first place), I came through with an optimal outcome. And then we all went for a fancy lunch.
I intend to devote an entire blog post to the defence experience itself sometime soon. (Just giving you something to look forward to—I know, I’m a Dr. Saint.) This one, though, is simply a shameless brag piece about how proud I am of the fact that I persevered through the defence despite the very real epilepsy-related challenges (seizures, horrible memory) that complicated it for me.
So yes: I’m glad that I didn’t give in to the tremendous temptation to cancel or reschedule, mostly because now it’s over and I can make my husband call me Dr. Wife and look forward to the next major entry on my calendar—next week’s appointment with my epileptologist, when I’ll find out if I’m a candidate for surgery.
Major things are happening in the life of Dr. Me.