Ataxia Support

Professional Development...Feeling Foolish

I had a migraine the other day. It was super bad and sudden and so of course I had apraxia problems at the same time. I dimly remember my one year old looking down at me like I was a strange bug and then my husband came back from work and got various migraine medicines in me until I was able to open my eyes again. I basically lost a whole day. I'm just now feeling okay again.

I'll go a long time without acknowledging to myself that I'm disabled or that my ataxia is any kind of real problem. I'm on full disability, but I'm almost done with my master's and I'm planning to start a PhD next year. I have this loose plan to teach or work in statistics.

Then I'll have something like that migraine happen. It could easily be anything else. Last fall it was a car accident with a sprained back and neck. Once it was the flu. Whatever random thing my body can't handle PLUS the ataxia.

Then I'll think, what's the point? Maybe I need to cut it out and take out some needlepoint. Or go back to learning Japanese. Like why go through the trouble of professional development when everything is so fragile? Sometimes I feel like I'm going to get to the end of a PhD and be standing there with it in my hand like some kind of fool, unable to use it. Then like maybe one person will do a slow, sarcastic clap.

I guess I just needed to do a woe is me. It's usually my job to be encouraging. But sometimes I just need a pity party.

As someone who stopped just short of finishing my PhD (though without the challenges you have had, Marjorie), I want to give you a nudge to keep at it and finish. I still have dreams at night about the program I didn't finish. Getting that degree will ensure that decades later, you can look back and say, "I did it." Plenty of time for needlepoint and Japanese later.

Yes Marjorie, stick at it! Years ago I also struggled on a course and wondered if it was worth the effort. I finished and passed, I’m so glad I persevered.

Best wishes :slight_smile: xB

Yes, my neurologist says staying motivated by setting goals and achieving them is very important. I coach athletics and even though my body sometimes fails me I still feel that my words of wisdom in the sports field will come in handy in their lives! So I preserver and keep training and getting more knowledge to share with others. Japanese and neddle point are thinks to pick up later on you sound like a brilliant person and if being a professor is your ultimate goal ataxia shouldn’t stop you!


Take one day at a time. I'm a big advocate of the benefits of the pity party. It helps. I agree with the other responders. Stick with your efforts and go for it. No one would be sarcastic or consider you foolish, just admiring of you getting an advanced degree. Do as much as you can for as long as you can.

Having a "purpose" in life is very emotionally healthy and can only make you stronger. Therefore, you go girl! An occassional "pity party" is alright too, as it's human nature to feel down at times! Kudos on your goal of a Ph-D!!!..., ;o)

Keep up with goals. Keep doing as much as you can while you can because what I have found and many others have as well it’s that this disease can go into “remission” so to speak. More so it can plateau for months or even years. You go girl!!!

I believe you are a fighter and a true fighter never stops fighting. Keep on striving to those goals of yours. It is healing to do something "normal", I'm 77 and still chugging along with piano and voice students even though I have had to cut waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay back. Pity parties are fine as long as they don't last too long. A good cry helps me sometimes to but I'm much better as being like Molly Brown and "pick myself up, dust myself off and start all over again." I look for songs to sing and think about and I pray for others and hug and smile a lot. That's the treatment that works for me. Oh yes, I still go to continuing education classes to help me learn to be a better teacher. SINGcerely, Gramma Karen

Also - I don't know what (if anything) you've told people in your professional life, but you could tell them enough of what's happening to provide an explanation and give you a little more flexibility, even if it's just something like "I suffer from chronic migraines".

And I'm a great believer in learning for learning's sake. If nothing else, if (heaven forfend) your ataxia suddenly decided to progress rapidly, and you ended up collecting your PhD in a wheelchair, or with a walker, and you had to have someone else hold your cap for you because you'd drop it, it's much more likely that you'd get the loudest clap in the hall: people recognise courage and optimism in the face of adversity.

And on the other side of things - if a time comes when you can't speak or walk easily, that "Dr" at the front of your name may help act as a preventative against other people's unfortunate tendency to associate physical impairment with mental impairment.

But totally have some pity parties when you need them.

Best wishes,

Lute (PhD).

My ataxia began in November while I was halfway through my second year of grad school. I didn't stop. I just completed that year and have one more to go. Then I'll apply for PhD programs. I've already started researching and studying for my GRE. Don't quit. It's hard, but it's important to see a future for yourself. If not, life can become quite bleak.


I want to encourage you to stick with it!
You’ll be glad you did.
I admire your strength and determination,
Have a pity party if you want.
Sometimes we just need to let it out.

Do it! There is always a way! I have spent my life working to have my perfect job, than bam, taken from me (or so I believed). My employer has asked me to freelance jobs at my own pace from home and via conference calls, and I will be assisting in a new part of the website where they can ask the professional when they need help, again, totally on my terms. I went from disheartened to upbeat! I went from hectic travel schedules to wearing fuzzy bunny slippers until noon if I want and still have purpose and looking forward to still teaching others. So go do it girl!

Keep at it. Don’t give in. You will feel so proud when it’s finished. X

I too feel that way, it was funny hearing it from your point of view. I have done several courses so that i could work in a nursing home in leisure and lifestyle ( a popular job ), i worked my but off over the years, raising two kids on my own, working and going to tafe for years. I am now qualified and have been working in the job i love, only to learn last year that i have genetic MSA, multi system atrophy. It has come upon me so fast and after all that lifeling effort, i have to give up work. It almost seems like a very bad joke, but its unbeleivably real, as we all know. I am positive but it does suck. Just getting that off my chest.