This past week has possibly been the very first all year in which I’ve felt like I’m more fully living, less simply existing. I’m proud of having achieved rather a lot (always with the disclaimer ‘for me’) and of having overcome social anxiety enough to see some of my friends.

Part of my recent improvement has to be put down to the change of pain medication. I still suffer pain every single day, there is no miracle cure for that, but the intensity of that pain is not always so high. I’m always going to have to work around pain in the same way I will always have to work around respiratory compromise but if my ‘normal’ is now somewhat more reliable and predictable then managing activity is a little easier than before. And hey, I’ve got a nice new bed to collapse into when I can’t manage anything.

I have been considering a return to academic research – can’t recall if I’ve blogged about this or not so forgive me if I’m repeating myself – and now that I’ve sorted out my domestic environment for the colder months I hope to be able to put more effort and energy into that research.

Since I had to abandon my doctoral thesis in 2007 I have had a few half-hearted ideas about working on it again, or formulating something different. None got very far and this latest aspiration may similarly be thwarted by my health issues. But I have a genuinely inspiring new focus for a thesis which has more in common with my BA dissertation than my PhD proposal but which doesn’t require junking absolutely all of the research I did manage to do for the latter.

I was more proud of my final piece of work for my BA than of almost anything I wrote during my academic adventures. It received a commendation and ensured that I graduated with a first class honours degree, an achievement which I lost sight of when I became entrenched in the careerism of postgraduate ambitions.

If I do get anywhere with this new work it will not begin with any affiliation to Exeter university, nor to any other institute. No point adding complications and external expectation when there is no longer any prospect of it leading to the career I once so desired. As an alumnus I am able to use the Exeter uni library and online resources and my dear friend Olly has agreed to act as sounding board and de facto supervisor whenever his busy life allows.

It would be wonderful to be able to blog again in two or three years time and report that I am still working on this attempt, that I have chapters actually written. If it turns out to be another intellectual cul-de-sac then at least I’m feeling confident and capable enough of even giving it a shot. My despondency in June and July was about many things, one of which was a sense of having lost much of the meaning in my life. If nothing else it should bring a little meaning back to try and use some of the skills and knowledge I spent eight years acquiring in my student days.


About S

“an extraordinary repository of cultural knowledge”
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