The Author

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I am a high school English teacher, and mother of two charming little ones of my own. I teach in a high poverty urban charter school, while I live in a typical American suburb that has frequently been rated one of the safest cities in the country. It is a paradox I struggle with constantly, but it is my life.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Blue Roses

      So, the mystery of my month of health issues has been illuminated.  I finally got in to see the doctor  on Thursday. Note -- I was not waiting out of fear or stubbornness or anything like that; it took me over a week to get an appointment. Just in time too because throughout the last week, it just got worse.  It soon became clear that my headaches were not from caffeine (because I returned to drinking it), but from a sinus infection that peaked Thursday morning. I felt like my head was disconnected from body or like I was walking around in a cloud or something.  This whole sinus infection thing happens to me frequently, but I can't always tell when it is happening because I have allergies, so I take allergy meds and use decongestants year round.  Being a little stuffy is not always a sign of an infection brewing for me, and a lot of time, the decongestants mask the symptoms anyway.  Well... who knows how long I had this recent infection for, but somehow, it caused pleurisy. 

     Pleu what?  Yeah, me too? "Like pleurosis?"  The Tennessee Williams fan in me was thinking, "Ha! I'm blue roses!" But, more importantly, "What IS that?"  I will explain it the way my doctor explained it -- there is a saran wrap like covering around the lungs.  Sometimes, an infection or something can cause it to get inflamed. When that happens, it hurts to breathe, which can make it feel like not enough air is getting in, but that's not the case. (My oxygen level, as I predicted, was 99-100%).  It's just painful (and kind of frightening, because feeling like you are not able to get a full breath is kind of awful).  I'm on antibiotics for the sinus infection and that is pretty much gone, from what I can tell. The pleurisy really sucks though, and I have no definitive answer on when it will go away.  The doctor said a few weeks.  I've found people online who have had it for months. Joy. Blue roses indeed.

        It's sort of a dull pain most of the time, but if I physically exert myself, I get out of breath really easily and then it really hurts. As a result, I've kind of banished myself to the couch for the weekend.  I don't really feel "sick" the way you do when you have the flu, but I guess I'm just trying to manage the pain for now and let myself heal.  I've done a lot of grading and whatnot and I've watched a lot of tv. 

     I decided it was a great time to start a new series, so I started watching The Tudors on Amazon.  The show starts with an ambassador being murdered, which is a great opening for a tv show, but I of course wanted to know if it was true, so I started googling and found out that this particular kinsman of Henry VIII's was not murdered. He died of pleurisy. Nice. 


Sunday, August 18, 2013

Where did August go?

I cannot believe the last time I wrote it was the day before school started... in July!  This month has flown by. So, where has it gone?

     Work and working out mostly. I had grand visions that without graduate school work to consume my time, life would be easy as pie.  While it has been less stressful, I have been somehow busy as usual. Some of it has been by choice, as I have been much, much more consistent in my exercise schedule, which is a first for me during the school year. My new secret to success -- classes.
     I'm teaching my honors class about archetypes this semester and one of the activities is a self archetype profile thing online.  Guess my top archetype?  The intellectual, the seeker of wisdom.  This is not surprising to me, as when I've done things before like Gallup's Strength Finder, it has always identified me as a "learner."  I decided that, if I really want to get serious about losing weight, I need to play upon my strengths and do something that involves me learning, so I have been going to yoga, funk, and jazz classes. These are all things that I do not really know how to do well, so it combines something I love (learning) with something I hate (exercise). The end result -- something I might just be able to stick with. It has been mildly successful, in that I have lost a little bit of weight and my clothes are fitting much more loosely.

      On the other end of what has consumed my time -- work. Not only am I back in the full swing of teaching, I have also been involved in some extra endeavors.  The common denominator to it all is Common Core Standards. This is the big year for Common Core Standards implementation here, although I am ahead of the curve in my knowledge of the standards, as I have been teaching from them for years, by choice. Now that everyone in the state is officially supposed to be teaching them, there is a rush to catch up. I spent this past week in the capitol working with the state department of education on aligning the questions on the exit exam to the Common Core Standards. It was tedious work and an exhausting week, made worse by the fact that I hate to fly.  Preparing for a week's worth of sub plan before hand was also really tough and caused me quite a bit of anxiety.  When I came back Friday, I was happy to find that most of my classes actually made decent use of the time I was away.  All but sixth period, who is paying for the work they fell behind on by staying after school all next week to catch up. 

      This weekend, we planned to go camping with my parents, but first Common Core again. Sigh. I had to go to a workshop about the new updates to a curriculum we use at my school. It was a valuable workshop, and I am glad we went, and we headed out to the campground afterwards.  I admit that I had somewhat reluctantly agreed to go camping, because I hate camping, but I am glad we went. We had not been camping since Tiana was born, and we have only been a couple of time since Vinny was born.  When I was a kid, we used to go all the time, but our lives are very busy and camping is a lot of work, so I have intentionally avoided it. We decided to be super simple about it and bring only the absolute necessities. By not over packing, it was less stressful than I remember it being in the past and the kids had a great time.  Tiana loved getting dirty from head to toe. She really seems to have a knack for getting as dirty as possible. We even rented kayaks on a whim and took the kids out on the lake.  Maneuvering a two man kayak with only one person paddling was somewhat difficult, but apparently not quite as difficult as it was for my mom to get the hang of kayaking at all.  It took her a good 20 minutes just to get out of the marina area.  It was worth a good laugh honestly.  Although, she comprehended the idea of push right to go left, her arms somehow were not getting the message. Much like me and dancing. Haha.  By the end, we all had a really good time. It was pretty peaceful being out in the middle of the lake with the kids, looking at the hills all around, pushing through the wake from nearby boats.

      The one dampener to this all has been the health issues I have been dealing with lately.  I will not go into depth, but I basically have been feeling really bad shortness of breath and chest pain, along with a slew of other random symptoms. I am asthmatic, but it is not asthma (it feels very different), and I seem to have full lung function -- it is just a painful sensation. I am now fairly certain that it is acid reflux, since I have been able to manage it with some diet modifications and over the counter meds.... however, one of those diet modifications was cutting back drastically on coffee, which makes me very, very sad. Coffee is more than a beverage to me. It is like a friend. To be more accurate -- I will admit that it is an addiction. What happens when you give up an addiction? Withdrawals. In this case, physical ones.  If you read this short little article, you will get a well-rounded picture of my weekend.   I had ALL of the symptoms. To the max. 

     I was trying to taper my caffeine usage over the past week, but yesterday, I tried to go cold turkey in an attempt to avoid the awful reflux symptoms while camping.  While I was reflux free all day... the migraine I suffered last night was significantly worse. I've had caffeine headaches before when I went off caffeine while pregnant, but man... this one I had last night was BAD. Definitely a migraine bad.  Looking at the camping lantern was about the most painful thing ever.  Even with heavy duty pain meds, I was in barely able to walk straight mode. Sitting by the fire light was kind of okay, but  the accompanying nausea made for a pretty awful cocktail and I was throwing up in a trash bag in the dark. I eventually went to bed. And then the reflux came back (probably significantly exacerbated by the whole throwing up thing followed by laying down). Feeling like I couldn't breathe and like the world was spinning and like my head was going to implode pretty much made me feel like I was going to die. In fact, I actually had a nightmare that I had sleep apnea and was going to die in my sleep, which I woke up from gasping (of course) and afraid to go back to sleep.  Boo.  It was not a good night.

     I woke up this morning feeling significantly better but still with a slightly dull ache that I was afraid was going to grow into another full blown migraine, so I had to weigh my options - drink coffee with a possibility of reflux or don't drink coffee and let the headache grow.  I popped a pepcid and drank a small cup of instant coffee.  The reflux didn't return until after lunch today (I admittedly overate a somewhat acidic lunch), but it's not as bad and my head is clear.

    Sigh -- all this feeling crappy has been admittedly rough on my psyche. I have a doctor's appointment on Thursday (which means missing sixth period again, but hopefully they have learned their lesson), and I have a really good doctor who has rarely failed me in the past, so I am going to take it easy on the coffee and acidic foods this week, manage with medication, and hope this is stress induced and temporary.

     Regardless, this has been a good week. I made some new teacher friends, and I rediscovered my childhood love of camping.  I am actually looking forward to planning another camping trip some time soon. Anyone want to go camping?