Dinosaur Sick: Slow Start
By Irish McKilligan
Published on 09/7/2010
There's nothing like starting off the semester with a 'poof' instead of a bang.

Once again, it's around 10 pm and I'm finishing a little studying.  I'd rather spend another 2 hours studying, but I pause.  At this hour, I often wind up studying material I don't need to study or digressing into  never-ending minutia of internet matter thus learning nothing or the wrong things.  I then arrive at class in the morning tired with the wrong or no knowledge.  Way to work that "a" baby! 

So, I got sick the first week of class.  I'd had a cut on my foot that lead me to a doctor who didn't listen well and prescribed medicine I'm allergic to and I got a nasty cold!  My pain increases in my leg & I go to the doctor who again ignores my drug allergies and yet the E.R. who also ignores my drug allergies, freaks out & performs tests making me think I'm about to die AND prescribes the same meds I'm allergic to as well as meds that could have really put in the E.R. because of their thoroughness and the danger that ensues from taking blood pressure medicine when you don't have high blood pressure. 

The 1st doctor has a snippy nurse and they continue to ignore my comments about increasing pain and unusual blood pressure I am experiencing.  A less than inspiring meeting and downright deadly.

I then search diligently for a compassionate family doctor.  Alas, I find one!  I explain my cut, my pain and in 15 minutes discover I have phlebitus and am treated.  Wow, nice to be HEARD!!!!  Do I wrie a letter to the University about the crappy medical treatmen the University doctor gave me?  I'm so relieved with the new doctor, but infuriated that I'm now stuck with a large bill from another doctor who not only missed my diagnosis, but gave me meds that had I taken... could have killed me.  Lesson learned, trust your gut..... yes medicine is a practice, I just don't want to be the guinea pig. 

Amidst all this hub-bub, I miss a day of classes and discover my class schedule has a discrepancy and while I was working I missed 2 of my first courses.  Fabulous!  I also discover as I'm limping along physically and mentally that the University failed to send a "welcome" letter or packet to anyone.  Maybe it's just me, but it's helpful to know things like is here an orientation, when to expect funding, is there a cafeteria plan, they have a new online system, etc.  I feel awful, I'm in pain, I've gotten the medical run around and now I'm getting the scholarly run around.  The resulting confusion it is causing me is making me want to slap someone until their teeth rattle.  Is ANYONE is charge?????  Hello.... is this thing on??? 

I'm sick, I'm in pain, I now also have a cold with the phlebitus.  I'm exhausted and I'm now behind in 2 of 5 courses.  Yippeeee... a great impression I'm making!  Sneezing and limping into class, me and my misery try to make the best of it.  I then begin to be bombarded by  emails from various unknowns from the University.  Who are these people?  Some emails are signed, some are not, some have so little information that I'm not even sure why I got the email or what to do?  I ask a few questions.  I should not have done that.      

Some email about a cafeteria plan for 2 months for $500.  I read it 3 times, what they hell are they serving???  Eggs benedict and fine european hot teas and creme brulee?  No one knows, it's a non-refundable $500 breakfast and lunch for 2 months.  Just bring a receipt.  My imagine goes wild.  I went in for coffee once and they had to make it and never did.  So I'm really wondering what the menu is & why you only get it for 2 months?  For that price, I can hire a student to cook for me!  Ok, maybe I'm wrong.  I ask a few questions.  Several emails later, I know very little other than I need to buy the plan in accounting and take that receipt to the Cafeteria to get a "meal card".  No menu.  Is the food is as bland as the email?  I thought I might puchase a certain amount and use those funds up, but nooooo... you  buy the whole thing or nothing.  It's non-refundable.  My endless list of food allergies comes to mind and ... and..... maybe mid-semester when I'm brain dead and starving..... maybe I'll stop in and pay cash.  Bu righ now, after the doctor thing and the information thing and the professor thing... I'm not risking another fiasco.  

Clearly, the information train is moving away from me.  However, I'm  starting to feel better. Nothing is perfect and who isn't a little (or a lot) grouchy when they are sick, broke, hungry and uninformed.  

I notice that off campus, people have a reverential "ooooo" for the University, but on campus the students and a very few senior personnel have all the knowledge and no power.  There are alot of helpful people, but the student body lets you know that the campus is  disorganized and all students get the run around.  Well, that's good news now isn't it?  I press on. 

Then I discover human resources has a misstep and about 10 of us won't get paid for a month.  More good news.   

Then, I reach out to teachers to clarify my absence.  Some didn't notice or care & one even told me all the difficulties I had encountered must because of my age or technical ability.  They were so sure, they called my boss to confirm their suspicisions.  OMG... you did what???  The issue was not related to age or ability, and these comments in writing were so ignorant that I was stunned it was from a Professor.  A person who has spent years educating themselves demonstrating such blatant ignorance???  Does she blame the rape victims too?  Sheesh?!  It was so shockingly hurtful that I am still wondering why I'm at this  University and whether I want to become a teacher.  And now how do I approach this person and attempt to succeed in that class? 

I read all the posts about books and showing up for class and how important it is and..... pause..... a post that says if you don't attend this class regularly....just teach yourself the material from presentations.  In fact, you don't even need the book.  All those emails and the teacher never tells me the most important piece of information, just hands me some nasty judgement.  No conveyance that my absense was not an issue and I can read, prepare, not make up the time and save the $100+ for a book.  So I'm looking forward to attending this class as a bald Dinosaur.   

My fever is going away, leg pain is residing... I'm reading trying to catch up and knowing some extra-credit work will be necessary when another shocker came.  A fellow student tells me all the tests in that one course I'll be bald in... are open-book and take-home. 

Hellooooo McFly!!!  A professor emailing me for days, scaring the crap out of me, discussing rules, absences, ability, age, and never once mentions every test is take-home, open-book???  For this, I get discriminated against and humiliated?  

So the tally is I've been ripped off by 2 bad doctors that I had to pay to see, I'm being jerked around by a Ph.d who isn't kind enough to say "don't sweat it, it's a take home exam".  Someone smack me into next week so I can get OUT OF HERE. 

A long and winding road to get to that period.  Very frustrating and confusing and sad.  In an institution of higher learning, can one expect even a standard format in email?  Do people really not understand why its important to provide actionable information?  

Am I the only person thinking these things?  Are my standards too high?  I know some teachers think much of their degree and not of their students.  I know most people try hard to communicate well and still don't succeed.  My week attests to that.  So enough already. 

What is the upside?  I found a good doctor.  I have 1 good boss.  I love the Writing Center.  I learned that a good question is as powerful as a bad one.  I learned that sometimes if you reach out to a person about their words, you can both improve.  I also learned that when you are bitching about standards - like signatures - it's helpful if you follow the standard (woops!).  The reality is on small campuses, most offices are one-stop-shops that don't get much input and operate alone hoping for the best and that a little polite feedback is good.

I'm still looking for information; and I'm definately not buying a cafeteria plan.