Sunday, December 18, 2011

Latency in Stress-Induced Crohn's Attacks

Folks, grad school is on hiatus for the next few weeks, so there is about to be a lot of straight up Crohn's talk up in hur.

Like most Crohn's (and IBS) attacks, mine have perpetually been the post hoc ergo propter hoc artifacts of stress.  As I have mentioned... somewhere... there is so much constitutively happening during grad school that what time one would ordinarily find to spend stressing out, one instead spends steeped in exhaustion-driven apathy.  While this is generally good for me -- as it would be for anyone with a type A personality in an incredibly demanding job -- there are residual consequences.

For instance, as soon as I stopped working in my new lab and traveled to my most dear childhood home, I was interrupted by a fairly large-scale attack.  Right in the middle of the restaurant.  Then right in the middle of the theater.  Then most of the rest of the evening when we arrived home accompanied by butylscopolamine, peppermint tea and a heating pad.  It was the worst episode I've had since the summer (non-opiate-grade).

It appears that now that I'm not in the midst of academic turbulence, I am beginning to feel the after-effects of the stress that was suppressed during the term.  There are some very serious defects in my program that were, naturally, not apparent until halfway through the term, and which cause a ridiculous amount of unnecessary stress in all of the students.  I had a nightmare last night that a department committee kicked me out of the program (despite the NSF grant, the Badass Student grant that they themselves bestowed upon me, the now five first-author publications, and the fact that three PI's are currently vying for me).  Yes, this is a real fear for most of the first-years in my department -- some of the brightest minds I have ever encountered.  It's why the program is so prestigious -- failing is less than an A-, for which one is put on academic probation and potentially booted from the program.  I never looked at the grades I got on finals because they are so arbitrary that they mean almost nothing and it was an unnecessary agony that I did not need hanging over my break.

These are the concerns that are suppressed during the ebb and flow of the active term, and which are now showing their might through latent Crohn's attacks so that I cannot fully relax during this brief and precious vacation.  Despite really not thinking about school.  I attribute the attack last night to having been asked "how school was going" and making the mistake of actually talking about it.


  1. Yes, "exhaustion-driven apathy" is definitely it. I don't miss being in classes at all, and watching my pre-candidacy friends deal with that stress has been stressing me out by proxy all semester. But of course, being in lab full-time, controlling one's own destiny, brings about a different kind of stress. "Am I working hard enough? Shouldn't I have the data by now? What does my adviser think of my progress? Shouldn't I head back to the lab after dinner tonight, just to start one more PCR...? Will I ever graduate?!"

    That academic probation policy sounds needlessly intense, though -- ours allows B's (and I've gotten them!).

  2. Laura -- you are so right, but the grass is always greener, eh? i feel like i could deal better with the stress of being in charge of my own destiny. at the moment. :)