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Category Archives: ADHD at higher education

“I don’t believe in labelling kids….”

Today I gave a presentation about ADHD for my group of GP registrars. Just this morning I joked that instead of giving a presentation I should have filmed myself trying to make the presentation and just show that. By this time I am permanently off my meds and I think the max focus time for this presentation was 5 minutes. 

Still impressive that I managed to make something coherent out of it. Suppose it’s one of the things I learned it 29 years of ADHD: the skill to make a rough draft for a project in less than 10 minutes.

Anyhow. 

So these are a bunch of doctors. 

I was just running through some basic stuff. 

And two of them didn’t really believe in helping these kids by ‘labelling’ them. After all, if pedagogic measures can help some? 

I tried to explain that if pedagogical measures solve the problem there is no ADHD. That these kids need more guidance. That you help them to understand themselves and to deal with their relative impairments. Yes but doesn’t everyone have their issues? We all have to learn to deal with our issues. Yes, but you all don’t end up screwing up your life because of it. Aren’t they just lazy? No. 

Honestly, from one of them it made sense. She was in my mentor group and I feel like I get it now.

She doesn’t want to get it. 

Makes sense why my trying to explain my ADHD issues in mentor group didn’t help much. She wanted to hear that I use it as an excuse. She didn’t care that I only offered as an explanation while I struggled on to make things right. 

There wasn’t time for much of a discussion. 

I’m not really sure if I really was going to put in the effort. If people don’t want to hear they don’t want to hear. 

TDH reminded me that it didn’t matter because I know the truth.

Because to be honest, it’s hard not to take it personally despite the fact that I didn’t mention my own ADHD to the general group.

Then I was thinking. 

Perhaps I’d rather have ADHD than a mind that works like that. 

 

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Update on the school situation

I haven’t posted much about it lately, and what I have posted was mainly very emotional and very frustrated.

Long story short:
I have been placed into a group that started half a year later, so basically, I’m already finishing half a year later than planned originally. This brings me on an education duration of just under 10 years, post secondary school. Given that it takes 9 years if everything goes smoothly…. taking 9 months longer doesn’t matter that much I suppose. The difference between the old group, the one I couldn’t manage studying in, and this one is enormous. It makes me a bit angry still: had I been placed in a different group to begin with, things would have been different. Had this been an option over half a year ago, when I told the mentors this wasn’t working for me, things would have been different.
But they are what they are now, and I’m just relieved that I am now in a position where I can actually learn something. I no longer have to go to extremes to read a bunch of text I can’t focus on, or sit through 3-hour sessions and receive a negative evaluation because I didn’t respond enthusiastically to a discussion about some detail after 2,5 hours of being unable to focus any more. The pace is a lot higher, and there is a lot less emphasis on theoretical details… and a lot more emphasis on what we’re going to do with this. What makes the difference, you may ask… Well… the students.
I do still find uni days long… It’s still too much interaction with a chair. I don’t think that will change. But it’s better now.

I’ve also switched to a different practice and a different preceptor. It’s different. Nothing personal towards the previous one, to be honest, I know she tried and I tried and we kept on missing each other’s point and we kept on confusing each other… It just really didn’t work, and that was horribly stressful. New place is bigger, more organised, and just different. I now have a male preceptor, who was hand-picked for me because he is very experienced as a preceptor. He is. Just not sure what that says about me.

The whole situation has had more of an impact on me than I’d like, and I’m still working on regaining my confidence and de-stressing. Small things freak me out, (small things were the problem last time!)… I worry a lot more, find myself more anxious than I normally am. Of course, some things latched onto some of my ‘issues’, and I have to deal with that too. Not fun. But I’ll be OK in the end.

I’ll also see how it goes with training now.

And guess what? They even have a pic of the doctor set I used to have as a kid on the internet!

 

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Studying.

 

All WOW moments under pressure set aside – that’s not a viable long-term solution- I still feel like I have no idea how to do this.

I have absolutely no idea why most higher education is set up like this:
Lots of theory, based on what someone else thinks is interesting.
Everything has to be done in a certain -not really efficient and rather unpractical- way. Maybe that’s because many intelligent people seem to live in their cognition.
Translating theory to practice is very very complicated for most.
Bonus points for pointlessly using big words.
Pictures and graphs are for babies.

I really really don’t know.

And I really don’t understand how these people LEARN much. Some do, and are very snooty about it. Good for you, now what else do you have to offer?

 

Give me access to clinical practice and a library with PubMed access, give me some rough guidelines and maybe some coaching and I’ll rock your socks off.

Force me to march to the beat of someone else’s drum, force me to read a bunch of texts, to do assignments of which I see no point.. and I get stuck. It becomes torture.

I’ve tried my best to read the mandatory prep reading. I’ve spent hours trying different ways. I haven’t learned much from it.

I was so excited to be let into this programme, I almost -or no I actually did- hit my head against a lamp when jumping up and down out of sheer joy when they let me in. I really love the work bit, I love primary care.

Two months and a bit into the programme I am completely disappointed. I find my mood taking a drastic plunge on Thursday evening because free time means study time (and chores time). I hate both so much I don’t know if yelling or crying is the best response. Studying is torture. I spend all weekend trying to get myself to do something extremely boring and looking forward to Tuesday evening, when class day is over. The others enjoy the break from the practice, I dread Tuesdays because it means going to class, (sitting still, listening, more boring info). I haven’t learned much outside of simply working. I find myself not giving a fuck about most of the assignments. These people have a way of ruining anything that could be interesting. (I thought it would be interesting to sort out and present stuff about knee examination, nice and practical. I also figured we’d all get to do that, so why not do something I find interesting. So I agreed to do it. And then discovered the question was ‘what is the scientific background of the examination of the knee. Snore. Why would I WANT to present that???? ).

I have no idea what to do.

I tried looking up study tips for ADHD, none of them really solves the problem: only snore-minded people can follow this course.

It’s not worth my sanity.

I have no idea where this is going to end. I know this: I am planning to do the bare minimum and not read the prep. I don’t care. I’m wasting my time trying to do it their way, they won’t let me do it my way. I’ll see where it ends. The only really shitty bit is that I have a half-finished degree; just finishing med school and nothing else doesn’t really get you anywhere. I mean, I can work as a doctor, but I always need a supervisor. And that’s going to be less fun when I’m 40.

It’s not worth my sanity, it’s not worth my relationship.

I should never have gone to med school. I should have done some form of uni of applied sciences, finish at 22 and just get on with doing what I do best: the actual thing. It doesn’t matter that I may have a lot to offer, it doesn’t matter that IQ-wise I may (or may not) qualify for Mensa. It doesn’t matter that I can be a very good doctor, ADHD or no ADHD.

The way to get there is not for people like me, it’s for more of the same sort of people. I hate society.

And I need more time to ‘play’ in order to keep on functioning.

 

ADHD disability? Super power you mean?

So remember how I absolutely do not function as a student under normal circumstances?

Here’s how I function under extraordinary circumstances (and why I want to be treated by an ADHD ER doc. I think the H bit is vital here…)

We’re doing a mandatory emergency medicine course this week. I am technically the holder of a valid ALS and some other diplomas, did those courses 3 years ago but they’re pretty useless outside of the ED. Plus, three years ago…. I am not one of the most experienced acute care people here.

Prep was a 217 page reader, an e-learning and a ‘serious game’.

Estimated reading time for the reader was 440 minutes. That’s 7h20mins, an impossible task for me. Under normal circumstances.

The game was a failure, I just clicked through.

Most came prepared, I did not.

I chose to get max out of active learning, and by day 2 I started clicking.

See, I normally think of 3653 things at once, emergencies allow me that calming rush of adrenaline, and suddenly that Ferrari engine gets to do it’s thing: go fast.

Practice scenario 1 didn’t go well, too fake actually. And on day 1. Scenario 2 went well, apart from forgetting the f’ing glucose.
In real life it would have made no difference, I’d have checked it a few minutes later.

Tomorrow is test day. As a way to revise (which is why it doesn’t work the other way round!) I just used my Ferrari mind to read the 217 page reader in…. Under 2,5 h. I skipped a few pages that were definitely not relevant for primary care (I have no CT scan, for example). Concerta helped me stay awake I think.
And I did this in the hotel foyer/lounge area/bar, because that helped me focus. (Well, apart from the bit where one of the instructors asked me if I thought this was helping…)

And now for sleep, to help those brain links grow stronger.

 

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What am I doing?

Had the first uni day and I am in tears. I hate having ADHD because that’s what it comes down to. I am different. I had sort of mentioned it during intro; but it didn’t land and even if it did then I doubt people GET it. And I don’t want to be the ADHD girl. 
So today I asked what exactly is expected when they require me to read required literature. One girl said ‘well supposedly you got the books knowing you’re starting training, and you knew you’d have to read’. I said that I can’t work like that. The coach said perhaps I can read afterwards, but then corrected herself that I’d just have to get used to the cycle of reading and then discussing things in-depth and then maybe looking stuff up. 

I am trying my best to get things done. Actually I did not buy any books because my past experience taught me it’s best to have a look at them first, during med school I mostly bought the books that worked best for me, usually not the first on the recommended list. I’m bad at histology for example, because that was a class with a requires book and it wasn’t an ADHD proof book. 
OldSchoolUni has no recommended list, they have a required list. This makes it nearly impossible for me to adjust what I learn from in such a way I will actually learn from it. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely want to learn… that is actually exactly why I am so upset about this. 

I have no idea how to solve this and now I am dreading training because I’ll be spending all my time and attention (mind you, I also have limited concerta time) trying to get through something suited for someone else’s brain, and I will have little time and no energy left to learn and do something with my brain power. 

I really want to do this because I know this is something I can be good at, and now I am worrying that I won’t even make it through because I am being forced to do it in a way that will never work for me. 

Concerta is all and well but it doesn’t make something out of me I am not. It only enables me to fly the plane I have instead of continuously crashing it. 

I’m almost thinking I shouldn’t have started this. 

The stupid part: despite being unable to learn in the same way most ‘intelligent’ people do, apparently, I was known for my crazy amount of knowledge at my previous job. I got in this programme as one of the first (top candidates); and I am able to graduate in the same position… IF I get the chance to rock what The Lord gave me brain wise. 

Let’s put it like this: I march to the beat of my own drum. My drum produces mega hits, but not if I am expected to join a marching band. My drum is not for marching, it’s for dancing.