Anyone who has ever written a dissertation or a research report can tell you how anxious you become. It can become a physical, mental as well as an emotional struggle but imagine adding being hospitalised to the list of struggles - it was a nightmare.
My first obstacle the previous year was when my department changed my supervisor. This was particularly hard for me because I had already built and established a relationship with the previous one that at first, I did not see how I was going to build a relationship with the new one. However, he made the transition easy and smooth for me.
Being constantly sick was one of my biggest challenges. There were times I would be writing and working on my thesis and then I would start getting random cramps. I never told anyone what was I going through because the pain would come and go. The cramps finally got to the point where they became unbearable and that is when I had to break the silence and do something.
I told my mom - who has always been my hero - and she said that we should go to see a doctor. I thought it would be a routine thing - the doctor would check me out and give me medication to deal with the pain. Of course, I was wrong, the doctor admitted me to hospital and I was diagnosed with ovarian cysts.
This was a few days before I had to submit my thesis draft and didn't know what I was going to do. I thought that I would miss my submission and called my supervisor to tell him. When we spoke on the phone and he said to me, "Look, you are going to get this thesis done, send me whatever you have and I will try and edit it as much as I can but you are not going to give up." He kept on reassuring me and made me feel like everything was going to be okay. However, I still needed to put in the work.
I spent the whole day typing my thesis, there were times I would run out of data and my boyfriend made sure that I would get more so that I would have constant internet access. For some reason, I was motivated to complete my thesis on that day. When I submitted it though, it was not the end of my struggle.
I had my operation as scheduled. It was a quick and simple procedure and I was discharged the following day. But I still had the challenge of physically submitting the final version to my faculty. I was in pain, barely able to walk but managed to hand it in.
But I couldn't breathe a sigh of relief because my health deteriorated because I did not take the time to rest and heal - I just went back to life as normal.
I soon developed a cough which I shrugged off as flu. I didn't take it seriously until I started coughing blood and also started having shortness of breath. I went to my GP and he was worried that I may have contracted an infection because I had just had surgery. He decided to run some blood tests but didn't tell me what they were for. A few days later he came back with results and said, "You have high D-dimer levels and that could be an indication of pulmonary embolism."
My GP referred me to a hospital and I did not want to go. I fought so hard not to go back there. I remember having the heart to heart with my mom and explained that I was tired of being sick. Being sick all the time was not the life I had imagined for myself. She finally convinced me to go to the hospital and the specialist physician confirmed my GP's diagnosis.
At that moment I said to myself, 'Yeah, I'm dead now, my mom will collect my Masters degree on my behalf,' because when you think of pulmonary embolism you think of the late Vuyo Mbuli who died from that condition. My doctor assured me that I would be fine because the condition was detected early. I was put on heavy medication. I had to get stomach injections twice a day to thin my blood. I would also have frequent blood tests done and even when I was discharged from hospital I still had to be on medication, which has side effects.
For the first three months, I felt nauseous a lot and vomiting regularly plus I would get headaches. For the first six months after the diagnosis I had monthly checkups and thereafter I need to have checkups every year.
It has been a long and hard journey but on the 11th of July this year I received an email confirming that I hold a Masters degree from WITS.
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