Knowing When You’ve Reached Your Limit (Then How to Effectively Communicate It and Reset).

Last week was my first round of midterms and it took a lot out of me. Beyond the midterms I had two group projects, a lot of late nights with my study group, quite a few early mornings prepping and keeping up with treatments, and a visit from some college buddies (pictured above). The hellish schedule was mostly by design.

Prior to matriculating at Tuck, the MBA Program Office was super transparent with me about the Fall A term, and made it clear to me that focusing on my health should be my number one priority.

In fact, Fall A is meant to force students to choose their priorities amidst an overwhelming amount of work and everything else going on in our lives – I just happen to be part of a select group of students dealing with a massive underlying health condition. Nonetheless, figuring out how to reprioritize things in my life has been quite the challenge. In a way, I guess I’m getting what I paid for!

One of the hard lessons I learned in undergrad was that it’s okay to communicate about my health, advocate for what I need, when I need it and adjust the rigorous schedule to allow myself to succeed. In fact, the above is a topic is one that I read about quite often when people with CF are discussing educational challenges online. It’s just been a long time since I’ve had to personally deal with it.

I remember at BC that I initially felt like a failure or got unwarranted special attention if I exercised the Americans with Disabilities Act. I couldn’t have been further from the truth! The fact is that I got very, very sick because I was afraid to exercise my rights. Simply put, it took a huge hit to my health for me to accept that I am living with a disability.

This time around, I have been balancing the assimilation into graduate school culture with my specific needs.

For the past 6 years, I had more or less been operating on a schedule that I was able to build and adapt as needed. Now, I am working within the curriculum.

Just this morning I woke up feeling like crap. I mean it is what it is, I’ll take one bad day out of the 2 and a half months I’ve been here. I know it’s the result of minimal sleep over the past 10 days.

So what did I do? I emailed my professors and indicated that I needed to take the entire morning to focus on my health. I did a more extensive treatment session, exercised my lungs, got an extra 90 minutes of rest, and now I am back on my feet feeling good.

Yes, I will fall behind in Managerial Economics for a period of time, but how far behind would I be if I pushed myself too hard this morning? Would I be paying for it with a hospitalization in a week or two? What would have happened then?

I think a lot of us with CF work so hard to keep up with the crowd that we often forget how to react if we start falling behind. I think it’s important to remember the consequences of overdoing it. Sure, there are times when it’s okay to really push as hard as you can for as long as you can, like I did last week, but there comes a time when you have to throttle back. It’s the result of living with cystic fibrosis. It has to be done.

Instead of pushing myself beyond the brink, I invested 4 hours this morning to reset, and I am beyond happy that I did. I know this 4 hour investment will pay dividends (can you tell I’m going to business school?) when later this week I am wrapped up in another late night prepping for my Accounting midterm.

PS, please say a prayer for my performance on the accounting exam.