Monthly Archives: November 2012

Overwhelmed or underwhelmed

It can be hard to be constantly, permanently and eternally fascinated by your project work. I go through phases of loving it and not really being overly pushed about it. Sometimes there are far more interesting things to be doing/reading/considering. While I’ve always had an interest in sci comms and policy, reading about it and commenting is taking precedence over my work of late.

The sheer volume of work I need to complete over the next few years is pretty overwhelming when I think about it, especially when I consider how much (or how little) I have done to date. I came back from recent conferences invigorated and excited about science and what I can achieve, but that wears off. I enjoy reading about my field, I like designing experiments, and teaching people around me, but actually executing my own experiments with my hands is harder than it should be. Not due to the arthritis, but a lack of will.

At the moment, I spend a lot of time ordering supplies for the lab and doing various housekeeping chores like preparing for health & safety inspections and clearing out the remains of PhD’s who have long left the lab (seriously, how can people not archive the relevant work and discard what doesn’t need to be kept). This work keeps me occupied and useful, without necessarily progressing my PhD work. In a larger lab, these duties might be spread across more people, but in our tiny lab it’s primarily my responsibility.

So for now, things are tipping away, but I should probably see if Santa Claus will bring me focus and motivation next month…

Being off the drugs (temporarilly)

Those of you who follow me on twitter will know I recently caught a virus that was doing the rounds and ended up with a chest infection. The virus part was like a mild flu/heavy cold, and lasted about ten days, the chest infection however took a bit over a month to clear.

Unfortunately, as my arthritis medication is an immun0suppressant, I was obliged to halt treatment while the cough cleared up. As much as my immune system torments my joints, I need it in action to deal with infections. This break in the medication allowed my arthritis to flare, so I had that to contend with as long as a pretty harsh cough.

After three weeks off the meds, I gave in, I just had to take them. I was still coughing but I was beginning to struggle with flares in my foot and hand. Even now (two more weeks later), I still have a mild cough. The flares are beginning to subside, and my work has been set back by a few weeks. I’m trying to minimise any pipetting and standing I have to do, but I still need to complete some experiments and struggle through.

So now I realise how dependant I am on my medication. When I started treatment, I had hoped that when we had the initial flares under control, I could be weaned off them and just have to keep an eye out for proto-flares in the future. Sadly, this doesn’t seem like it’s going to be a likely outcome for me..

On a positive note though, it seems my immune system can still tackle viruses when it’s not inflaming my joints 🙂