I mentioned in a previous column how I began to come off track with my PKU at around ten-years-old, and there is no doubting the certain changes in the way I reacted to life. But, when it comes to education, I would never have described myself as a studious child (before or after the point I began cheating). After a year of not being respectful to PKU, however, I started secondary school and the first real sign of educational impact was about to be revealed.
This ‘sign’ was instantly disappointing, and for the first time in my life I doubted my intelligence and compared cognitive performance to my friends I knew from Primary School in a self-destructive way.
In the first week at the new ‘big school’ we were set several exams to determine what sets we should be placed in (based on our potential) and, after going through junior school, feeling as clever as those around me, the test results revealed otherwise.
I was devastated!
There were even tears!
I just couldn’t understand how my best friend had been placed in the higher sets, and I was ‘slumming it’ in the middle and lower sets.
We had always, at least, been on par!
But had we?
We might have been at a similar level of potential in the juniors, but I never had my close buddy around for the final year while I was putting all the wrong foods in my mouth. Maybe if he had been around I might have noticed a difference in my school work during my final year of Primary School, because I’d have been more likely to compare myself to my ‘partner in crime’ more so than anyone else.
The test results from the first week of secondary school hit me hard, but I never linked the cause of my results to the foods I was eating. I continued to eat chocolate on the way to school, have burgers and pizza for my lunch, then go home and have a perfectly prepared PKU meal (prepared by my SUSPECTING parents, who could only make sure I was eating correctly where they could see me).
After all their hard work and organization throughout my younger years, and now I’m shovelling hotdogs in my mouth.
After a year at my new school I was proving to be decent at English, despite my PKU negligence, and earned myself a promotion to a higher set.
It wasn’t quite the top set with the cleverest of my age group, but it was at a level I felt more suited to and less disappointed with myself.
If I could earn a promotion to a more suitable class without taking PKU seriously, what could I have achieved in my new class if I was eating the correct foods and retaining a sharper mind?
There wasn’t a day went by, during those times, where I made any effort to keep my phenylalanine levels down and I’m almost certain this is what caused me to feel tired and disinterested in my lessons, along with the temperature in my new English class! (It was always far too hot in there)
I was doing OK though, and, despite my English teacher predicting I wouldn’t manage an A-C in my GCSE, I did get a C when my results came through as I left school.
Mathematics was a different thing all together for me. I just couldn’t find it interesting!
“If Johnny went to the shop and bought 5 bananas, how many…”
“Oh, my word! WHO CARES?”
(Was my attitude to maths)
I know, that’s not good!
But I got through school and remained in a ‘middle’ set throughout my years (for maths), then went on to fail miserably in my maths GCSE.
Maybe I wouldn’t have been so disengaged in lessons if I never allowed my eating habits to force my attentions towards the clouds floating by the classroom window!
Maybe I would have had managed A-C grades in more subjects!
I was always the type who was more interested in having fun rather than being hardworking in class, so I put my disinterested ways down to sheer boredom.
I was bored, no doubt about it!
But won’t the lethargy in my mind, caused by excessive phenylalanine, have created most of the tiredness and boredom (more so than anything else)?
Based on my experience of understanding how high protein levels makes me feel (since those days), I’d say ‘DEFINITELY’!
If I’d been good on my diet during those years, my mind WOULD have been more switched on in class, I wouldn’t have felt that tiredness and boredom so intensely, and my alertness would have been more engaged in the subject of the class.
Since returning to PKU at 27, I am now halfway through an English literature degree and regularly impressing myself with the marks from my essays.
Looking back on my school days… I could have done so much better!