I received an email today letting me know that a case study I had written all the way back in 2011 was being shared with another institution. That was great news; I was glad it was still proving useful and might inspire other people.
The team had included a link to a YouTube video of an interview I vaguely remembered doing. It is always interesting coming across another step in your digital footprint. I smiled to hear my reference to people who have left and gone on to greater things, to students who are long graduated and, in some cases, are now working with me, and to systems that have long since been replaced.
Then I thought about the date – March 2011. I saw the tinted glasses I was wearing and remembered how bad my photophobia was at that point. I can see and feel how tired I was, know how difficult it was and is to think, to keep a sentence straight in my mind, to verbalise my thoughts. I can see the points at which my mind drifts off in the video. At the time, back in 2011, it was frustrating – no cause I was aware of other than a daft tendency to head off on tangents and the subsequent hard work to keep my words on track.
In the autumn of 2011, I had my first recorded relapse, followed by a second more serious relapse in February 2012. That quickly resulted in a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. Now I knew the reason why I was so very tired, how the damage to my nervous system makes it difficult for me to stay focused sometimes, breaks my concentration, causes me to lose words and whole sentences, no matter how prepared I might be prior to speaking. The photophobia is not so bad now, so the all-day tinted glasses have been changed to light-reactive lenses. I’ve got used to the impacts from the relapses. I’m taking it slow and steady, being kind to myself.
In 2011, my dad was still alive; by the end of 2012, he was gone. I miss him. I know he’d think this short video was great, would be delighted the case study was being used in another institution. He’s not here, so I’m telling you all instead.
Who knew that an email could trigger an unexpected journey through time? If I could go back now, I’d give myself a hug and tell younger me that I’ll be fine. It won’t be easy, sometimes it’ll be heartbreaking, but you’ll get there.
Case Study: Using WebPA for peer assessment with equine science PG students. Available at: