Thursday, May 10, 2007

Argh.

I don't think I've written about this here yet, but I've mentioned it in various comments other places, so some of you probably already know.

For the one-year anniversary of my father leaving her for another woman, her life falling apart and her ending up moving house, going on welfare, and being a (understandly) miserable wreck, this year my mother got cancer. It's a Nasty Sort (official medical terminology) that I don't want to go into detail about in case my mother googles the specifics of her situation, flips through to page 98 of the search results, and accidentally ends up here. (I know, I'm paranoid.)

As an extra bonus, my grandmother's (my mother's mother's) cancer, which was in remission, has returned with a vengeance, ensconced itself in her brain, and her doctor says she has about six weeks. The one good thing (for me, and of course it is all about me) is that she has been moved from her hometown 400 km away to the same hospital as my mother will be in, so I can visit them both at once. (They really ought to have shopper reward points for this sort of thing: have two or more family members treated for cancer in the same hospital and get a free upgrade to a private room. Ha. Ha. Ha. See me make inappropriate jokes.)

So yes, the visit. That was the point of this entry. When my mother's cancer was first diagnosed a couple of weeks ago, they said they would be operating within two weeks, so I geared up for a quick trip over there. Then the operation was postponed until the 30th of May. So my new plan was to get my dissertation finished in the next few weeks, hop on a plane, and spend a work-free three weeks with my mother while I waited for feedback from my committee.

An hour ago I got an email from my (rather frantic) mother, saying they are operating on Tuesday and I should get my arse on a plane as soon as possible. Which is Sunday, apparently, since that's the only flight between now and then that has reasonably priced tickets still available.

Would anyone like to take bets on whether I can finish my thesis within the next two days? Cos I'm guessing not.

27 Comments:

post-doc said...

I didn't know this - I must have missed the relevant comments. I'm very sorry to hear about your mother and grandmother. I'll be thinking about them. Travel safely, and, um, write really fast?

Dr. Brazen Hussy said...

Wow, I'm sorry about this! I hope everything turns out ok. And as for the thesis, well, I just heard about this newfangled thing called email. Maybe you could write it from your mother's house... :)

StyleyGeek said...

Yeah, I'm just worried about not being able to access references. Most of the sources I am using are not available electronically, so I currently (re)write while sitting in the centre of an enormous pile of books, papers and files, most of which I can't take with me.

I think I'll spend most of tomorrow checking which of the books I am most heavily relying on are available at the university library in my mother's town, and scanning what else I can into files I can take with me.

And, much as I love my mother, she is both hugely social and very needy, even at the best of times, which these are not. Plus I'll be looking after an extremely distressed grandfather, who will be staying in my mother's house as well. So I think the only chances I'll have to work are before the anesthetic wears off, and while everyone else is asleep.

betty said...

Oh Styley - I'm very sorry to hear your news, I didn't know. I hope your trip goes as well as it can and that you are able to get at least some work donw. Would your committee consider letting you turn it in a little late if you can't finish on time, since these are unusual circumstances?

StyleyGeek said...

My committee is very understanding. Unfortunately time constraints are externally imposed. For example, my official completion date is the 1st August, and two months before submitting, students, have to hand in an "intention to submit" document, which one should only do if one is absolutely certain of finishing on time. I don't want to do that until I hear back from my committee that they think the thesis will only require the sorts of revisions that can be completed within two months.

So even in the current circumstances, if I finish rewriting by the end of May, I'm still not really on track for finishing on time, and extensions to the official date have to be applied for officially, and cannot be granted on the basis of "personal circumstances" but only due to research-related problems or personal (not family) illness.

My supervisor suggests I have a nervous breakdown closer to my submission date and get an extension based on that, which I might end up doing :)

But the other consideration is this teaching job I have lined up for the second semester (which starts mid-July). I really really want to do this (and will need the money, since my scholarship will end at the start of August). And ideally I don't want to be trying to juggle teaching new courses for the first time AND finishing up the thesis.

So all in all, I want to finish on time.

kermitthefrog said...

I'm sorry too. I hope Betty's right and you can postpone if you need to... and you'll be needing some alone time during all of this. Maybe you can use your thesis as reason to take small breaks from family?

Meagan said...

Hi-- just delurking to say how sorry I am that you have to go through all of this-- all at once. Take care.

Bardiac said...

Styley,

I'm so sorry to hear your bad news. I wish there were some way for those of us reading to be useful.

shrinkykitten said...

Styley,
I am just so sorry about this. I think the desire to push through and get it done soon is a good one because you have no idea what things will be like in the next few months.

This is a hell of a lot to have to deal with all at once.

If there is any way I can help, let me know. Like maybe if there are articles you need, I can check my schools libraries and see if they have them and email them to you. Whatever you need.

shrinky

Ianqui said...

Styley, this totally sucks, and I'm sorry you have to go through it. I'm sure your committee will understand. I know *you* probably wanted to finish, but well, I guess it's not going to turn out that way.

BrightStar said...

I am so sorry that all of this is happening... I will be thinking about you and your family. Best of luck with the writing, too.

flossie said...

I'm sorry. How very stressful to deal with this all at once. Be sure to take care of yourself, OK?

Anastasia said...

argh, indeed. the policies in place at your uni are the height of family unfriendliness. you should be able to take time for this without penalty. I'm sorry you can't. do what you can and be kind to yourself.

Dagromm said...

Wow! That's a lot to be hit with all at once. Individually any of those things takes a strong person to get through.
Best wishes.

saxifraga said...

Sorry to hear your news. You shouldn't have to deal with the uni submission rules at the same time. Safe travels and hope everything goes as well as it can.

Queen of West Procrastination said...

I continue to following you around the internet, giving you hugs. (Hug) Because I have no advice for dealing with such a family-unfriendly system, and I go to a small institution, and so there are very small chances that I can help in that way. And so I hug. (Hug)

Be good to yourself, and find some time for yourself when you're in NZ, okay? (I know it can be hard to find that time, when dealing with hospitals and hurting family.)

Jim said...

I'm really sorry to hear about this, Styley. I hope things go as well as they can. Take care of yourself, and best of luck.

StyleyGeek said...

Thanks, everyone. Especially Shrinky for that very practical suggestion that I might take you up on... And Q of West P for stalking me around the internet :)

susan said...

What they all said: take care, write fast, ask for help when you can. And be good to yourself. I'm so sory.

Miss M. said...

Argh! Poor Styley! Good luck with trying to balance family and thesis, but it sounds like the powers that be seriously owe you something good.

(also, I second shrinky's practical suggestion - I'm not particularly familiar with the linguistics sections in the library, but if there are things you can't find elsewhere I can try to hunt them down for you, and hijack a scanner from somewhere)

StyleyGeek said...

Thanks, Miss M. But the linguistics sections? They are the ones on the floor that is buried under half a tonne of roof ever since the storms back in February. Books from there have to be requested individually in person by filling out and handing in a long, boring form, and picked up three hours later. It's WAY more trouble than it's worth. I think I will try to impose on people at other universities before I request favours like that from anyone here.

There are also linguistics things in the Hancock basement, but fortunately they do now scan stuff and email it to you. So I can do that myself if necessary. Woohoo!

JustMe said...

i'm so sorry styley, i know this is hard... take care

Badaunt said...

Styley, this is horrible news, and the next few weeks are going to be stressful. I wish I could do something to help.

I'm sure you've already thought of this, but is your mother in a university town? If so, maybe there is a university library there you could arrange permission to borrow books from.

StyleyGeek said...

Yes, and yes. Fortunately it is the university where I did undergrad and I still have a lot of contacts there, so I'll have no problem borrowing books.

Unfortunately I have done a brief catalogue search and of the 20 random books I tried (a mixture of books that are fairly relevant to what I am writing on), they only have three. So I think it may not be overly helpful.

Also, my main contact there is someone I am avoiding because she has submitted a paper for a volume I am editing and her referees are two months overdue in writing their reports and are not answering my emails.

sam said...

yeah, shrinkykitten had the same thought i did. seriously, post resources that you need on the the blog and we'll email them to you. i'm willing to scan some pages of books that aren't e-friendly yet.

sorry to hear this stuff. anything else we can do, please just call out. we've enjoyed your blogging, so we can give back, now.

New Kid on the Hallway said...

I haven't had a chance to say this before, but I'm so sorry about your mom (and grandmother) - please take care of yourself, and I'm sending tons of good wishes to you!

Yvonne said...

Hey styleygeek, just read this post and wanted to offer my condolences. Hang in there.

I'm stuck in a similar situation right now, having just found out that my dad has the Big Bad Daddy of All Cancers and needing to hop on a plane home at the end of next week. In the meantime, I need to finish revising a journal paper and get it submitted before I leave.