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​Graveyard Shift - Finality

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December just started! Not only does that mean that the cold winter is going to be that much more terrifying, but classes are finally starting to wind down. Yep, in only a few days, the roads will be packed during off-hours and you won't get to enjoy those short lines at the mall on weekdays. Well, at least until January rolls back around.

There's only one thing standing in the way: Finals. So many finals.

I have a very strange relationship with finals, actually. Some years they'll go by perfectly and, assuming I studied well, I'll get all the grades I was hoping for. Other years, I'm just horribly unlucky. I've gotten the flu during finals week one year, a traffic ticket during another, and all sorts of other fun things. One of my favorite stories to tell about my entire college experience actually happened during finals week, and it all started with a sore jaw.

This was back when I was still majoring in Biology, so I had a pretty strange schedule for my final exams because I had to get an exam in the lecture and in the lab for each class. Because of that, "finals week" was actually about two to three weeks long. Professors had other classes' finals to worry about outside of the lab, so they needed the head start. To prepare for these finals in time, I had to study way before finals week for them, so for that last month or so I was pretty much stressing myself out like mad.


Anyway, when I woke up a few days before my last Cell Biology exam (before the fina)l, the first thing I noticed was that my jaw was killing me. Since I was stressed out about finals, and I had quite a history with temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJD), I just wrote it off as me clenching my jaw in my sleep. I went to classes and attended a group studying session for the exam I was taking in Cell Biology. That night, I'm pretty sure I just ignored everything that night and shirked my studying duties, but just before bed I put in a mouth guard to keep me from grinding my teeth in my sleep.

The next day, it was much worse despite the bite guard. The right side of my jaw was beginning to harden and swell slightly, and I started to think that it wasn't TMJD. I went in to my dentist that day, and after looking me over he told me I managed to get a tooth abscess. He wrote me a prescription for pain medication and referred me to an endodontist. Sadly, the endodontist couldn't see me until for two days, so I had to rest on my growing infection for another night - but by that point, my jaw was hurting so much that I couldn't sleep for longer than thirty minutes. In the morning, it was beginning to swell noticeably and the pain was intolerable, so I took some painkillers and had someone drop me off at school for my Cell Biology exam. I walked out incredibly groggy, but managed to get a ride, and immediately went back to lying down and trying to sleep - not studying or attending any of my other classes.


When I woke up the next morning, the right side of my mouth was completely swollen. It looked like I somehow managed to cut a baseball in half and stick one side under my cheek. The painkillers wouldn't let me go back to sleep, and I basically had to wait it out. When the endodontist finally did see me, he put a drain in my cheek to the back of my throat to let all the infected garbage out. I stayed home from classes that day, obviously. From that point on, though, I didn't risk it. I e-mailed my other professors, including the one that I took the Cell Biology test from, and told them that I wasn't in a condition to be taking exams. So, I missed about three exams that week. I managed to make them all up eventually, and got responses ranging from adisgruntled "Yeah, alright" to "I totally understand, I had a tooth abscess. Those are awful."

Anyway, that tooth abscess made me completely worthless for about five days total. After I got the drain in for the infection and a horribly long root canal, everything started to get better again. The moral of the story is to not assume everything will work out on finals week. Things that you think might end poorly almost always will.


As a side note to completely undermine that moral, I totally got an A on that Cell Biology exam I was sleep deprived and drugged for.

So what about you, TAYers? What are your horror stories from finals week? Or just horror stories from approaching deadlines, in general? It could be from High School, College, or even just something that happened with a deadline at work!


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