Present tense, Past and Future; Using thesis writing to look back on my life

After six months my time in Groningen has almost come to an end. If it were not for the boyfriend I would love to stay here, if only for the great glutenfree food!

After six months of researching the gut microbiota, nutrition and the immune system, I am now 200% sure; I want to continue with this and am thus trying to get a PhD position. I simply cannot get enough!

Unfortunately I had the last lab day last week and I now have 3,5 weeks to write my report, with a defense the week after. And after that, then I finally have vacation! Come September I will work in a lab in Wageningen as a student assistant. Like I said, I simply cannot get enough of lab work 😀

I used to love writing, had no troubles with it, lay it on me! But now, now my enthusiasm is long gone. This is not only because I would much rather be doing lab-work than sitting behind a computer, but more so because of how it went the last two times…

My bachelor thesis should have been written in two months, yet due to rollercoaster sugars I didn’t make it and two months became three. Luckily, nobody gave me a hard time and despite this slight delay I still finished my bachelor’s in 3 years’ time. Then, exactly a year ago, I wrote my master thesis. Just after getting the insulin allergy diagnosis I had to start writing. Which went terrible… My sister, who helped spell-check my writing, could pretty accurately correlate my bloodsugars to my writing, especially those parts when I had high bloodsugars. With a lot of effort I finally handed in my report after four months of writing (whilst following other courses). It was definitely not my best work, but I wasn’t going to be feeling any better soon, so I decided to hand it in.

And now, now I need to write a report which has roughly the same size as my master thesis. I have been worried for the past three weeks and started writing every moment I wasn’t in the lab to calm my nerves. One part if finished and I still need to start the 3,5 weeks which are planned for writing. But I feel a pit in my stomach when I think about it. I am going to make this dead-line? Will my sugars not be too high?

Flash back to a year ago; it was horrible. I remember I went home crying one day because the allergy doctor had told me that after two months I was still 12th on the treatment waiting list. My sugars got worse every day. I barely drove myself because my sugars were simply not stable enough for it to be safe so my mom or boyfriend went with me to meetings because they didn’t want me going alone by train either. Exercise was a no-go and if then only with supervision. I would sleep 10-11 hours each night and still wake-up exhausted. Two hours of stable sugars was a victory and I wasn’t very stable emotionally either. Due to the exhaustion and the bad sugars the tears came fast with (minor) set-backs. Or anger/frustration, and then sometimes tear as well. And continuously the question; when is it my turn? Will the treatment actually work? How long before I feel better again?

Working with a dead-line is something new for me, and the nerves aren’t helping. But I have nothing to worry about. I think these are simply the nerves every student feels with a dead-line. To be honest, I now feel like every other student. I won’t work through the night, simply because I am not a night person, but I can write from 07:00-22:00 if I need to. Because I am doing pretty great. A year ago I would have been overjoyed for a day I now call ‘bad’. And usually a bad day is when I went running before breakfast. I haven’t quite mastered how to handle this. Instead of being really low every day this now occurs once, maybe twice, a month and really high probably more like once a month. There is plenty of room for improvement, but the last weeks I am noticing I am becoming more lazy with my diabetes. Which is great because I am still doing fine. If I forgot to change my site for 3-4 days that’s okay, nothing happens. If I eat something without measuring first I do fine (okay, the sensor does help a little bit), and things like festivals, staying up past 1:00 a.m., drinking alcohol, even eating cotton candy are no longer off limits. Only the BBQ can still result in high sugars.

What a difference a year can make. If I would have known a year ago that I would be doing so great now it may have been easier. But then I wouldn’t have known how strong I am and would have appreciated how well it is going a lot less!

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