Managing a Crisis

Posted: October 23, 2012 in Uncategorized

Lian Dolan, wrote something to this effect on her blog recently: One the of the strangest aspects of having a full-scale medical emergency in your life, is that life goes on outside of what you’re experiencing. If you’ve gone through something like this, you can relate to that strange sensation of being unexpectedly removed from the real world. However, you are also simultaneously forced to connect with it. I couldn’t agree with Lian’s assessment more!

It was somewhat surreal for me, walking back into my office after missing work for two weeks during my husband’s hospitalization. To me, it felt as if no time had passed there, even though it had been eight days of sitting by his bed day and night, and then another six days of transitioning him to home and setting up various home health resources.

But life goes on, even when mine seemed to be on pause. The responsibilities don’t go away, bills keep coming. I had no choice but to return to work even though my husband’s illness is terminal and he needs round-the-clock care. I am near the end of my current degree program, and my husband’s illness actually makes it even more imperative that I stay on course to graduate asap so that I can increase my earning potential. Once I entered back into “real life,” I encountered person after person who simply asked, “How is it going?” It sounds oddly similar to the way one might ask about the status of a softball game or preparations for a birthday party. When you are dealing with a hard reality, a reality that says your husband’s life can only be measured in days or weeks, not months or years, how do you answer that question? It’s tempting to pour out the whole story, because it seems like it can’t be communicated any other way. Yet, you know that conveying the magnitude of what is going on is too much. Too much for them to hear and too much for you to say without bursting into tears. Things are definitely not “okay” or “good,” but you have to resist the temptation to dump. So, for now, I’m trying to compartmentalize as best as I can to take care of my sweet husband, my family and home, work as much as I can, and keep up with the classes I’m taking at a local university.

What does all of this have to do with Success Hacks? While there are no cookie-cutter situations, I wanted to share some suggestions on how to keep the ship from sinking when huge splintery holes have been blown into your best laid plans. First and foremost, in spite of it being difficult to communicate “how’s it going” to other people, the one place you must be at least somewhat transparent is at work and school. Don’t just disappear from your college classes and then expect your instructor to give you all kinds of leeway later. Contact the instructor as soon as possible to let him or her know what is going on. If it’s possible, schedule a meeting in person or by phone. If it looks like you will need extra time for projects or assignments, see if your instructor will allow it. Ask if you have an option of receiving a “delayed grade.” A delayed grade is sometimes used during extenuating circumstances– a college will sometimes allow an instructor to basically “pause” the class for you for a certain length of time. During that time, you can work with the instructor to make up work and finish the class on your own, similar to the way you might do an independent study. If you find out your instructor is not going to be flexible, it is better that you know this as soon as possible, so that you can drop the class before it affects your grade point.

What this all boils down to is: communicate. Communicate with your instructors from the moment you realize your school work will be drastically affected by a life crisis. Yes, I mean crisis. Don’t expect special treatment because you decided to go on vacation in the middle of a semester. If you have a true emergency, then be as open and honest as you need to be in order to communicate the gravity of the situation. Then, be responsible and complete the course work and continue to reach out to your instructor via email, phone calls, or office visits. Help them to help you through effective communication.


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