Dinosaurs and Doctors and Books oh my
By Irish McKilligan
Published on 05/28/2011
It's been a nasty couple of semesters, both in and out of school.

Well... (long pause).  Where to begin? 

To put it simply, I had a wretched Fall semester.  I tried a new school and it didn't fit.  My notices about financial aid were confusing, each notice had a different amount which kept getting lower.  How do you get scholarships and grants and get less aid, but more?  Financial aid seems to work differently at every school and in every semester.  Everyone from students to teachers has a different experience that no one can really tell you anything with certainty.  As soon as you think you understand, the rules change.  Even if you look on the federal sites, you don't get a clear picture of exactly how things work.

I found out way too late that I would not be getting the loans I thought I would because I got so much scholarship.  Scholarship good.  Inaccurate, poorly timed and insufficient information... BAD.  Had I been 19, I really think the school would have come up with some plan to keep me in school and help me find work....but that didn't happen. 

Welcome to the jungle.  (insert panic stricken scream).  I also began to have pretty severe allergies, which added to my new stressful situation, was absolutely killing my energy and focus.  Then I met this teacher who was the epitome of the teacher who is driven by checking off boxes rather than making sure you grasp the material.  I knew this one class was going to require a little extra, but I had no clue how little "extra" I would get from this teacher.  I should have transferred the moment he failed to grasp that he had an "in box" and hadn't returned my messages or responded to email. 

It became obvious he didn't know how to use the software required for the course and he wasn't going to admit it or bother to learn it.  3/4 of the class was failing and he'd bailed the school out by "filling in".  (crickets chirping).

Voila, he's a teacher.  Not a great one, his availability was all that mattered.  I guess it's a crap shoot hiring teachers.  This one was ill prepared for college level student body or students with questions.  When I hear a teacher say "study harder" that hasn't even determined whether you study, I want to say "teach harder" to see if they grasp things on a different level.  (big sigh) 

I was at my wits end.... physically, emotionally and financially drained.  I struggled through the semester making A's in every class but his.  The negative experience suffocated my spirit. 

The next semester comes and I retake the class with a different teacher of course.  I knew it would be my hardest class.  I can immediately tell this teacher is different.  She is talking about how she teaches, knowing the foundation, learning the material, how to study for her and makes it clear she know the software AND the material. 

It's hard to respect someone who comes to class unprepared to teach that demands you be prepared to learn.  This teacher is focused on student grasping the material.  She even gives a quick demo and explains how and when she will communicate outside of class.  Not only is she calm, she is well-rounded.   

As I'm leaving that first night of class, I realize the last teacher of the same class was winging it.  He'd failed to explain methods and rushed the material. Perhaps retaking this class might not be so awful.  The new teacher not only explained vocabulary, but the standard and not-so-standard methods.  The focus was on learning.  I was suddenly sitting in a room full of sponges.  90% of the class passed with A's.  If a good teacher makes all the difference, but a bad teacher still makes an impact.  I saw that difference on all the students faces and in our grades.  

And then I got sicker.  My neck was so stiff I couldn't turn my head.  After a visit to the family doctor and a quickie diagnosis that just didn't jive... I wasn't sure what to do.  How do you find a good doctor?  I was fine 2 weeks before and suddenly I'll be on medication the rest of my life? 

I know you have to be your own advocate and I got referred to a doctor who does natural healing.  I'm skeptical.  This guy does all kinds of weird tests on me.  The more he does, the more he tells me about myself.  I'm not saying much, he is doing all the talking.  It's awkward.  Is he guessing or just this good?  He tells me I have a syndrome, which I try to research and find zilch!  I mean nada. 

Now I'm concerned.  Holy mother of maird, what do I have?  He gave me a pamphlet and put me on a strict diet, but I wanted more information.  I follow the diet to a "t" and within 3 days I'm feeling so much better it's spooky.   I finally discover the syndrome has several names.  The more I read, it seems the doctor hit the nail on the head.  I begin to think I've had this syndrome a long time and it went undetected because I was using traditional western medicine to treat symptoms rather than find a cause.  This syndrome is not a big problem until it gets extreme.  When it does, your body kind of goes haywire. 

All this information casts a glaring light on the mental and physical exhaustion and last semester, not to mention the years of same old same old medical treatment.  Seemed fine at the time, but it was looking like a long road ahead. 

I have a solution, but unlike western medicine... it will take a while to get my body back in sync.  I have to relearn what and how to eat.  I had already begun to convert to organic foods, but it's not something you do all at once.   

Eliminating yeast and sugar sounds simple until I you start reading food labels.  No fake sugar either.  I've been doing it for a couple of months and I haven't lost a pound.  I'm sick of salad and fish and I'm starving.  Food has become painful and unappetizing.  You don't realize how much junk people offer you to eat until you can't have it.  Saying "no thank you" wore thin and it became easier to tell people what I can eat, than what I can't. 

Although all these painful symptoms were slowly going away, I'm frustrated because I'm having to re-learn what to eat and having hell finding out where to buy it.  I also would eat something I thought was ok only to find out it had some yeast or sugar in it.  I have become too familiar with "ose" words in the name of avoiding them.     

So, I missed 2 or 3 weeks of school, but completed 1 class, took an incomplete in 1 and dropped a 3rd at the last minute because I couldn't get my grades (or much else) and didn't want to risk failing.  One Dean does everything to help me, the other one was.... less than stellar. 

So I made it through fall and spring.  Now I have a 2nd class to retake because ... oh what difference does it make.  At least I know the cause of all the weird symptoms and I can eventually resolve it.  Ultimately, I learned that in some cases persistence pays and in others it doesn't.   

Picture me walking down a pier and departing on a pontoon boat to the chorus from The Gambler --- "you got to know when to hold, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away, know when to run..."