Monday, 28 November 2011

It's about bloody time...

that I put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) and wrote something on my poor wee neglected blog! Truth is I've kind of lost my way blog wise...I've looked at it a few times recently and just didn't know what to write...it kind of feels like I don't know what it's for anymore. When I started it was to keep people back home up-to-date on life in Thailand (Yep, too lazy to write individual e-mails!) but now we're back I don't really know what it's supposed to be anymore...but I miss blogging and I miss my blog friends so decided what the hell...it's my blog and it will be about whatever weird notion that happens to pop into my head! (Ha, you have been warned!)

Anyhoo, I was telling a friend of mine about 'THE DAY' (insert scary music here) that I handed in my dissertation and she suggested that I share it here. Oh, for those of you that are not on Facebook (*hangs head in shame* I'm afraid that I do spent waaay too much time on there!) I have now finished my Masters and not only did I pass...I have passed with distinction *does happy dance*. I graduate on the 10th of Dec. Blimey, it has been a while since I blogged hasn't it! Right...where was I?...Oh yes...THE DAY!

To really put this into perspective I need to do some scene setting. My dissertation was about long-term health conditions. I wanted to know where the designation 'Long-term condition' left the person that had been assigned it and what barriers, if any, adults faced when trying to 'manage' their condition. To be able to do that my dissertation was split into two sections...the first was a STEEPLE analysis of the subject and the second was a qualitative study which involved going out into the community and talking to patients. Now, because I work with THINk, who have a statutory duty to speak to patients, it was agreed that I wouldn't need to go through an NHS Ethics Committee. This was agreed in January by one of the PCT (Primary Care Trust) directors. I needed a signed letter from the PCT stating that I didn't need NHS Ethics Committee approval and I could fail my whole dissertation if I didn't have it...I had asked for this a month before my due date, and two weeks before my due date, and a week before my due date....

The other thing that you need to know is that there was some confusion as to whether direct quotes counted towards my final word count...my dissertation tutor said no but another student, who had also done a qualitative study, said yes. A week before my due date my dissertation tutor went on holiday and it wasn't till after this that we had the 'do they count or not' debate. So, a week before my dissertation is due I'm almost finished....all I have to do is go through the suggestions my dissertation tutor made and write my final summery, I go upstairs at 9pm on a Saturday night to find an e-mail there stating that quotes do count! I had less than a week to re-write my findings, then go through the entire thing making my tutors suggesed alterations and write my summery..I finished it at midnight the night before it was due in. The letter from the PCT had still not arrived! I asked for it three days before my due date, two days before and the day before...na da! (Yeah, you can imagine that the old stress levels were...erm...orbital!). It was not a good week!!

THE DAY dawned and despite this being the technical age London Met (in it's infinite wisdom) don't accept any accademic work via e-mail. So on Friday the 3rd of September (a date that will forever be ingrained in my mind!), unable to sleep, I was up at the ungodly hour of 4am. The dissertation was written but I still had to pull together the appendices, my bibliography, my references and sort out the last formatting details, I then had to get two copies printed, bound and to London before 5pm. At 9am I phoned my boss about the letter, at 9.30am I got a call from the PCT Director to say that she would get the person who was responsible for writing the letter to call me, at 10.30am he finally called and told me I would have it in five minutes. By 11am I had done everything except my page numbering which I couldn't do because I didn't have the guy's full job title and it had to go into the body of the text. If it was short then it wouldn't matter but if it was long then the page numbers would be out. At 11.30am the letter was e-mailed to me...he hadn't signed it!! I had to phone him back...ask him to print it, sign it, scan it and then e-mail it back to me. It arrived at 12pm. I frantically did my page numbering then phoned the local print shop to find out what format they needed the document in...only to be told that they couldn't print it...they could only photocopy it! AAARRRGGG!!! So I started printing...then the printer ran out of ink (at this point I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown) so I left Chris to deal with the printing and got dressed (I had been working in my housecoat up to that point). Chris then dropped me off on Malmesbury highstreet and I ran down the road, half dressed (seriously... I hadn't done up my boots, my cardigan was trailing on the ground and I looked like a mad woman!!)...clutching my dissertation. I got to the stationary shop, walloped it onto the counter and asked the slightly startled woman to make a copy...it took ages...and I mean ages!! Meanwhile we picked a cover and chose a snazzy black plastic binder for it...which...wait for it...didn't fit!! The dissertation was too thick. After rummaging around for five minutes the woman produced two white ones...the largest they had in the shop and...they were too big for the binding machine!! I was about to have kittens!! Chris (have I told you how wonderful he is?) decided that he might be able to fiddle with the machine to get it to catch the edges of the binder and ten minutes later he suceeded! It was now 2pm...we still had one copy to bind and I still had to get them both to London by five...it's a 45 minute drive from Malmesbury to Swindon, the train takes just over an hour to get to Paddington and then it's 45 minutes to get from Paddington to the Uni at Highbury and Islington. Chris drove like a mad man, the train was painfully slow...the tube even more so and then I had to wait for the bus to take me up to the Uni...

I got there at 4.55pm! I never ever want to go though something like that again!!

20,000 words were written, over 300 books and documents were read, 129 people were interviewed and a Masters with Distinction was achieved. I am never studying anything ever again and if I ever even hint that I'm even thinking about it you have my permission to take me outside and give me a good slap!!

17 comments:

  1. Carol: It is good to see you back. And, of course you will study again. You are one of us!

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  2. Wow, what an incredible achievement. Congratulations! x

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  3. What a day! And what a hero in Chris...

    Still, it all ended well so hearty congrats (again) are in order! Well done.

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  4. Oh dear. I seem to have left my message on the previous post!

    Reading that made me feel a bit sick... reminiscent of all the last minute essays/dissertations etc... I think you win though!

    So proud of you!

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  5. What a lovely feeling to have got a Distinction after all that effort. And what an effort. Well done you.

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  6. JJ - *sigh* the worst thing about your comment is that I know your probably right!! *whispers* If THINk get the funding for the next project then I think I may end up doing a PHD. As Chris said, if they get the funding then I'll have to write a big report anyway so I might as well. But I don't want to think about that....I don't want to think about that at all!!

    Debs - I am over the moon with the result but not as over the moon as I am about not having to study or read any more academic books!

    Lady Fi - It was bloody awful!! I just had visions of not getting the letter though in time and being capped at 50% for not having handed it in on time!

    Chris was an absolute super star. He proof read the entire dissertation (Twice), did all the cooking and housework so I didn't need to worry about it, kept a steady supply of tea coming to me that morning, sorted the printer, got the binding machine to work and then drove me to the station. I think he was nearly as stressed about the whole thing as I was! I wouldn't have been able to do it without him!!

    Jenny - Lol, sorry about that! If it's any consolation writing about it made me stomach churn and heart thump...it's still too soon for me to have completely gained a sense of humour about it!

    Thanks hon *grins*

    Rosie - I couldn't believe it! I just wanted to pass and as far as I was concerned anything over that was a bonus...to get the distinction was the icing, and cherry, and chocolate sprinkles, and hundreds and thousands on top *grins*. I got my official certificate through the other day and it was only when I held it did it feel real!!

    C x

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  7. Oh, and can I just add...thank you for your comments...it's been so long since I blogged that I wasn't sure anyone would visit :-)

    Mwah

    C x

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  8. Congratulations, Carol! And may I say that I was biting my nails and sweating reading this! How fabulous you must feel! I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I know you'll learn something again because enquiring minds always want to know ;)

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  9. Carol, I won't slap you about the head. I will simply take you by one arm and one leg and throw you into a snowdrift!

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  10. Firstly, congratulations! Just Awesome for you.
    Secondly, I can appreciate your stress levels and the time slipping through your fingers as I have watched my son go through pretty much the same, different reason but the same effect, people not coming up with promised material, criteria if not changing was always being questioned, the rush for a final print and the printer not working...
    Anyway, you have done it and done it well!
    Relax now :-)

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  11. Masters with Distinction

    Woooooohooooooo.......go YOU!!

    I'm proud for you and laughed as I read the ordeal. I know, I know......not supportive and not cool. *hangs head* I'll go to the naughty corner for that one.

    But I AM proud for you!

    Yeahyeah.....going!!!

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  12. Many congratulations Carol...well done!

    Glad to see you back blogging. I had removed myself from your followers because I thought you'd given up...so I'll add myself again now xx

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  13. Talon - Thanks hon. It was worth it in the end but it was a day that I never want to repeat!! In fact I would go as far as to say that I would rather poke my own eye out with a blunt teaspoon than go through that again!! (Your probably right about the studying but not yet...waaay too soon!)

    Dad - Ha, you've already done that...and I think you would struggle more this time...I've grown a bit since I was..what?..seven? *grins*

    Marilyn - Thank you *grins*.

    Awww, your poor son...having gone through it I can completely empathise! It's awful when you are relying on someone and they leave it to the last minute (or let you down)...it's the one thing that you have no control over and that is a horrible feeling when it's regarding something so important! I also don't understand why the goalposts keep changing...surely the Universities have gone through this often enough to have agreed the basics!!

    Mel - Awww, thanks hon...wooo hoo indeed! I'm surprised you didn't hear me holler with delight when I found out (I did actually do a happy dance in front of a builder...who looked at me like I was a total loon!). As for the laughing...well...you have to sit on that naughty step till your ready to say sorry young lady! *snigger*

    Ayak - Thank you *grins*.

    I don't blame you...first it was because I was so busy with Uni and then it was just because I didn't really know what the point of the blog was. As I said, I don't really need a point do I :-). I am glad to be back!

    C x

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  14. Congratulations!!! What a feat, must feel great to have it behind you! Can't believe your last day, what crazy stress!!! So glad you made it on time, eek really by the skin of your teeth!!! Brings back memories of stress from when I did my masters, phew so glad not to be in that deadline stress stage anymore- computers crashing, pages missing etc.
    A big ole cheers to you!! We all knew you would come out shining!

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  15. Well done on distinction - great achievement.

    You are so passionate about third sector and social justice I wonder if you might blog about that more regularly. Succinct and thought inspiring posts about issues you encounter would, I think a t least, be interesting and maybe give a new purpose to your blog

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  16. Ha! "Never studying anything again" - I know how you feel. Having FINALLY finished my degree (though still awaiting results and it won't be a distinction (you clever sausage)) I feel it unlikely that I'll never learn anything or read another book again. Until the next thing, obviously.

    So... now you're all done... we get to see more of your lovely art, I hope?

    Congratulations on your outstanding result... you are blimmin amazing. But I already suspected that... X

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  17. Mark - That's not a bad idea! The only thing is that the stuff I have to deal with is pretty harrowing and I quite like coming here as an escape from it...still, I could talk about some of the bigger (less harrowing) issues couldn't I. Hmmm, shall ponder on that idea.

    Jen - YAY!! You've finished too...it's an amazing sense of achievement isn't it! You must be over the moon :-D (I think celebrations in the New Year are in order!).

    I'm planning to get the art stuff out...have signed up for a big art project so that will be a bit of a baptism of fire!

    Awww, you are lovely *grins*

    C x

    Ps. I shall now pop over to your blog...for some reason I thought you were no longer blogging but now I know better :-)

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