Time passes by SOOOO fast! I caught myself thinking about time yesterday as I was driving to meet my study partner for my final in my second class! I remember Christmas time, I was so excited because I was finally going to start a doctoral program! Being a doctoral student was something that I have dreamed about, worked hard for and at that time it was within my reach!

Fast forward to January, I was so nervous! Was I good enough, would I flunk out, would I be able to make it through it. I knew I was losing my insurance and I was honestly terrified…how would I do off meds? Would I be able to think? Would I be able to write doctoral level papers? What about presentations….I had not done but one or two presentations in my ENTIRE LIFE. What would I do? Would I choke?

Fast forward to Spring Break! Half of the semester is over…and I have two A’s! I have been able to make a 97/100 on my first doctoral literature review. I have applied the theories and I have loved getting to know my cohort mates! We have held together and pushed through the grueling 6 hours of lecture EVERY Wednesday night. WOW!

Fast forward to now, we are THREE WEEKS from the end of our semester! In three weeks, my first doctoral semester will be in my past. And what can I say about my fears? Well I know I can do the work, if I work hard, apply myself, and MOST IMPORTANTLY keep my priorities (God, family, church etc.) then I will be able to finish. I have to keep my eye on the end..and I have to share my journey!

I found out I can write, I found out with practice and work I can present! I found out that I can work with others and most importantly I found out that I cannot do this program alone. We need all the encouragement and support that we can get! Why? Because it is exhausting!

For me, completing about 75%-80% of this program off medications was probably the hardest journey of my young life! To push yourself to think through searing body pain! To make yourself read journals and pull out information JUST SO you can do better than the average! To push myself to study when I wanted to cry in pain! It developed strength I did not know I had inside.

Then as of two weeks ago to get my medicine back. YES it was awesome but as anyone getting used to being back on auto immune suppressant medication…that in itself is grueling! The nausea, the diarrhea, the intestinal cramps, the fatigue, and much more. To be sitting in class for 6 hours with your stomach hurting so bad you jus want to scream..but instead you make yourself focus!

A journey, this first semester has been a journey! And I know my journey will hopefully not end any time soon! I am scared, I am excited, and I am pushing forward to see what is around that corner!

I cannot wait to share with you what else will happen in my life. In the life of someone who battles Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus and Fibromaylgia among many other things! If you have these diseases and more, if you have any type of invisible illness…I am fighting this journey for you and for me. Why? Because I do not want to be told (and I do not want you to be told) that you cannot do it just because we are sick! The day I graduate as a doctor, that day will be for all of us spoonies and squeakers! And until that day, I hope we all band together to push each other to the next level in living our life with RALF!

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