Amie Humphries updates us on her journey...
I have now completed my first two terms of my masters and have submitted all my coursework! All I have left to do is hand in my dissertation at the end of August and then my MSc in Conservation is complete! Can’t believe how quickly this year has gone. It has probably been one of the most challenging years, both physically and intellectually, but I’ve really enjoyed it! Not only have I had to get used to a commute of an hour and a half four times a week, I’ve also had to get used to the great step up in work load from my undergraduate degree. I’m so proud of what I have achieved this year, even if there have been a few times when I seriously questioned if I had what it took to complete my Masters, particularly when I have been completely exhausted.
For my dissertation, I am using a decade long dataset to analyse how changes in climatic conditions are affecting the populations of plants and beetles in eight forested sites in Northern China. I chose to do a desk-based study because I knew that I just didn’t have the energy to complete field work at this point in time.
As well as studying for my Masters degree, I am also seeing a neurologist again to discuss the best treatments for me. A few weeks ago, I had botox injections in my right leg and foot to relax the muscles and reduce painful spasms. So far it seems to be working incredibly well, so I will be going back to the hospital every 4 months to have further injections, as the effects of botox only last for a short period of time. In addition, we are discussing whether to have Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) surgery again. DBS is like a pacemaker, but for the brain, and is used to try and dampen down uncontrolled movements. I had the surgery when I was 15 years old, but, unfortunately, due to an infection, I had to have it removed 4 months later. I’m not sure if I want the surgery again yet, so I have a lot of thinking to do – but, at least I know that it’s not a ‘now or never’ operation; if I don’t want it now, I can choose to have it done in a few years.
I have started a new Instagram account to document my journey with Dystonia (as well as a few travel and conservation posts thrown in). If you are on Instagram, check out @dystonia.warrior !
I have really enjoyed studying my Masters degree, but it has been a massive challenge and has taken a lot out of me physically – I’m really fighting my fatigue levels at the moment. It has taught me how to pace myself, and that it’s okay to take time off when I need to. I have a goal in mind and I’m going to get there (I’m so close!), it’s taken tears, stress, and a few moments of doubt, but I’m still going. I think that’s the important thing, to just keep going and keep moving forwards towards your goals. Life can be tough and challenging at times, but how we respond to those obstacles and challenges are what make us stronger and turn us into the people we are supposed to be. As cliché as it sounds, the journey is just as important as the destination. Never give up – life is worth it!