Reflection on High School, College, Graduation, Spoonie Students, and the Instructors That Would Never Give Up
Right now, everyone is in the midst of the exciting high school and college graduations. High school and college both force students to embrace challenges and work hard to accomplish their goals, even if it at the expense of sleep and a sad social life. This year, like every other year, individuals with chronic illnesses and disabilities are graduating from high school, college, or maybe even graduate school.
Education is hard enough as it is for the average person, but for many people all over the world, they are forced to contend with their dysfunctional bodies, while trying to remain as functional as possible. By the time they finish their high school and collegiate studies (if they choose that path), most will have completely bombed one exam, quiz, or assignment, due to an
inability to focus due to "brain fog" or pain. For some, merely picking up the pen to write can be a huge challenge, but typing may not be any better. It's a bad game of "Would You Rather?" if you ask me. Maybe they have to step out a long class to take a stretch break and get the blood moving so their body doesn't pitch a bigger fit. In that time, they could be learning the newest lesson, and yet they have to miss it if they want to be able to attend the classes later that day and not spend the next week recovering.
I can honestly say that if it weren't for my teachers at OLSH, I would not have pulled off graduating high school on time. Yes, I consistently got highest honors every quarter, but when you are missing the entire last month of your junior year, because of an ICU stay followed by an admission to the local inpatient physical rehabilitation program, you need a little help. Senior year, I was super sick every morning until about 9AM once I had gotten sufficiently hydrated to start my day. That led to a lot of tardy arrivals. I don't remember the exactly figure, but I know it was unreal. For every tardy arrival, there was an early dismissal for a doctor's appointment, procedure, or tests. I spent more of my senior of high school in doctor's office than I did in school most days. How my grades didn't slip I'll never know.
After a relaxing summer, I started college at Pitt. I had/have some amazing professors who genuinely want to help in any way they can. They honored the accommodations and even offered additional accommodations that weren't formally written in yet. Last semester, my public speaking professor noticed that my hand was spamming uncontrollably while I was trying to write my answers for her midterm. It was a super easy exam, but surprise! I was the last one done because my hand was being uncooperative. When I turned the exam in, she mentioned that she had noticed my troubles writing and told me I could type the final if I wanted. That's just one of many awesome examples of the great people at Pitt.
I may still have a year to go before I can walk across that stage to get that college diploma, or as my dad likes to call it "that really expensive piece of paper", but I would not have made it two this point without my amazing teachers in high school and fantastic college professors. So for now, I'll soak up the remainder of my college experience, while I try to figure out what I'm doing with my life!
Remember, behind every chronically ill student, there is at least one teacher or professor that will stop at nothing to help and will never, ever give up.