I’ve complained about having migraines here before, but I haven’t talked much about how I expect them to affect me in the future. Part of that is because it terrifies me. As an undergraduate with classes that aren’t too challenging and teachers that don’t mind letting me make up tests, migraines don’t really hurt anything other than my head.
So it’s easy for me to not think about the future too much. Last week was an exception. I was attending a workshop by a fancypants scientist who makes very pretty models. The last day, we all gave informal presentations on the model we’d been working on and got lots of really good feedback from the class and Dr. Fancypants. I had a migraine and had to leave – so no advice on my model.
What will I do when I’m teaching classes? Or have lots of important meetings? Or just have to deal with a heavier workload?
There are places I can live where my migraines will be less severe, but I think one migraine a month is the best I can hope for. And I won’t know for sure until I’ve lived in a place for a few months. My current concern is broaching the subject with potential graduate advisors.
Part of me knows this isn’t going to be as serious a problem as I fear it will be. A successful and well-respected scientist in my field invited me to check out her lab when I applied for graduate school – and she has a chronic illness, too. But most of the time I’m afraid this is going to really hurt my chances.
I know I asked for your advice just yesterday, but I need your help again, readers! If you’re in a position to take on grad students, would you consider taking on a student with a chronic illness that would certainly impact their productivity? Under what conditions? If you aren’t in a position to take on grad students, are you or do you know a grad student/post-doc/prof with a chronic illness? How do they do it – what are their coping strategies? What sorts of things seem to be more difficult for them because of the illness? Do other people think less of them or complain when they’re sick?