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!!