Saturday, October 30, 2010

. . . continued . . .

The weekend of the 16th was when it all began. As I said, I started with a stomach bug on Friday that did subside by Sunday. I was in charge of copying our kindergarten homework for the week, so headed to the school on Sunday. I remember being sooo tired. I headed to the work room with all my papers and got busy. Once I got going, I knew there was no way I could complete the task. Many times during the process I had to go sit/lay down on the hall floor. Theo was there doing some work too. I talk to her as she worked and tried to regain some energy to trek back up the hall full of ramps (okay, so there are 2 ramps but it felt like a lot at this moment). At this point I determined there was no way I could teach the next day. Now I had a sub to find and sub plans to get ready, not to mention the homework packets to make and my own students' homework folders to stuff. For those of you unfamiliar with the life of a teacher, most teachers would rather go to work sick than prep for a sub. Getting ready for a sub is a lot of work! It is so much easier to teach. Anyway, I don't remember who I got a hold of to sub, but I knew they were left with a mess. Not only was my room a disaster, but my plans were not too thorough and the homework didn't get done. I simply couldn't do it. Luckily, I worked with some amazing ladies who stepped up and helped to get things done. The next day (Oct. 19) is when the fevers, cough, etc. began. I determined that for the first time in my life I had the actual flu.

I am not one to run to the doctor's office when I am sick. I try to manage my illnesses on my own, until I know I can't. This time around I lasted about 5 days and decided I needed some help. My cough was so bad that I wasn't getting any sleep and I was gagging/throwing up from coughing so hard. Not to mention all the other things that were going on (see last post). My mom took me to Dr. Clark and he told me I most likely had H1N1. No testing was done and there was a good reason, I just don't remember it. He gave me a pamphlet about how to care for and prevent the spread of H1N1. He also gave me some cough medicine with codeine so I could get some rest. That night, Kaden and I slept at my parents house. I remember the cough medicine helping some. Most of all, I remember waking up in the middle of the night with my sheets, blankets, and pajamas drenched in a cold sweat. I had never had such an experience. I found it odd and disturbing. I determined that having the flu was the pits!

Once my cough and fevers settled down a little (@ 2 day after my doctor appointment), I realized that the whooshing sound in my ears was changing. Not only did I have a little bit of whooshing, I had the Jumanji drum pounding in my ears. You know, the sound the game makes on the movie "Jumanji." Keep in mind, I was still a kindergarten teacher to 46 students.

For me, and most teachers, teaching is a 24/7 job. When you are not at school teaching, your students are on your mind: so are thoughts about how to meet district demands, school demands, students' needs, lessons to prepare, etc. Plus, teachers either stay late to school, go really early to school, or take school home. Personally, I took my job teaching seriously. I love my students (once my student, always my student) and want what is best for them. I also love the families of my students. Some of my best friends and favorite people in the world are families of my students. Last year was no different.

My morning class was particularly challenging in the classroom-management department. As always, each student was unique and added to the dynamics of the class. I had free spirits, disagreeable spirits, bubbly spirits, stubborn spirits, talkative spirits, ready-to-please kids, kids who knew little to kids who knew everything, sensitive kids, they were all loving, some cared about learning more that others did - you know, a regular classroom of kids. The dynamics of this group were simply challenging to manage. I knew that in order for the class to be most successful, structure and routine were extremely essential. We worked really hard at getting our class to run smooth and I felt that we were all making great progress. October was the month to work on earning jack-o-lanterns (paper) each day and many of the kids were motivated by doing so. I do not remember if there were rewards possible or if the number of jack-o-lanterns was the reward. Either way, progress was slow but sure. I also had my afternoon class. They were pretty mild. Again, each student was unique and added to the dynamics of the class; however, aside from lots of gigglers and a few talkers, behavior was not a big concern. Academics and meeting some individual learning needs was my challenge. Everything was feeling good with both groups when I got sick.

My teacher friends will especially understand my anxieties and frustrations at this point last year. Each day I would hope to go into work. Tomorrow was always going to be the day. I did my best to keep a consistent sub (Mrs. Keith), but it's not always possible as good subs generally have prior commitments. I knew my morning class was especially struggling and it was always on my mind. I was so grateful for those who were constants (Marla, Julie, Kim, Kim) in the classroom, especially for my students who had behavior plans, academic plans, and who thrived on structure. Still, it was not the same as being there myself. I knew my classroom was a mess. Book orders had arrived and needed to be sorted (a huge undertaking). I was e-mailing lesson plans from home but had been gone so long (2 weeks) that I didn't know what was going on, what had been accomplished, and how the pacing of district programs were going. My afternoon class was even getting a bit lively. I knew things were a bit chaotic - I heard about it. All of this was not how I worked! Still, each day I planned to go in, but couldn't.

Finally, I was feeling a little better, just very tired. I decided to try going back to work (I think it was Thursday, Oct. 29th). I knew I would have to sleep between my two classes and would have to rely on extra help, but by golly I was going back! My students were so happy to see me and I was so happy to see them. I recall being a little teary and thinking about how much I love teaching and how I had missed my kids. I received some nice welcome-back notes and little treats. It was just nice. Unfortunately, once there 2 hours I knew I couldn't do it. Luckily I had several parents there for Thursday groups. Once my aides came in at 11:00 I had to leave. I went down to the teacher's lounge, sat on the couch, and cried a little. I felt so sick! My head was pounding, I felt dizzy, and I now I had grown a pounding heart in my ear. I knew I had to go home. I called Chris at the office and told her I needed a sub for the afternoon and she helped get everything arranged. I did make it back to the morning class to help get them out the door for home. I then worked on sub plans for the sub coming in the afternoon, and tried like mad to get out before my afternoon students arrived. I didn't want them to be disappointed when I left. Well, I didn't make it out before they arrived. Once again I was greeted by excited students with cards and treats to welcome me back, then I had to tell them I was going home. I felt really sad, but I couldn't stay.

At this point I figured I had a middle-ear infection or a sinus infection. I called my doctor's office yet again and got an appointment for the next day, Friday, Oct. 30. Dr. Clark wasn't in that day so I saw Dr. Mortensen. He determined I probably had a secondary or tertiary infection from the flu. I discussed my extreme fatigue with him. After feeling my thyroid, and having all the other doctors (3 total) check out my thyroid, he also determined that my thyroid was mildly prominent and that we should look into it further when my flu/infection was under control. I left the office with an antibiotic prescription and the knowledge that my thyroid may be causing some issues. I started my antibiotics that afternoon, took a nap, and went to school so Kaden could fill his obligation of volunteering at the Halloween Carnival from 5-7.

I figured it was a good opportunity to work on my room and get the calendar switched over to November. I worked a little, and then I laid down on the yellow-group table to rest, worked a little more, laid down, talked to Curt (principal) about a couple of things, laid down. At one point a student, his sister, and dad peeked in to say hello. Mac seemed surprised to see me laying on the table. It was nice to see him, and a few other people. I didn't accomplish too much. I did get the calendar switched over, I looked through homework, picked up a little, and that was about it. The next day was Halloween.

Halloween was a not too eventful Saturday. I don't remember what went on during the day. That night, Kaden went out with Eric, Eli, Tate, and Taylie. Cami was sick (I think). I watched TV and listened for the door. I did have a few kids come to trick-or-treat. I remember having to sit in the doorway once I opened the door. I didn't have the energy to stand and hold a bowl of candy. I was glad I wasn't visited often. Sunday came and went without much improvement. I was sure that by Monday I would feel a bit better - I didn't. So, I did the next best thing and called my ENT, Dr. Bennion, so I could get a specialist's opinion.

I drove myself to his office at the Specialty Hospital and made my way in. I was in tears by the time I got to his office. I was so exhausted! The nurse took me back to my room and I apologized for crying. I was possibly sobbing at this point and all I could say was I was so tired and that I was sure I grew a heart in my ear. Dr. Bennion checked my ears and there was no sign of infection, just fluid. I always have fluid in my ears so neither one of us were surprised. The audiologist did some test and my pressure was off a little. Dr. Bennion determined that Eustachian tube was having some issues due to some inflammation. Fair enough, it's a common problem for me. He prescribed me a steroid. He also sent me to get some blood work done to check my thyroid. I ran into to my friend and colleague, Jan, as I left Dr. Bennion's office. I could hear the concern in her voice and see the concern on her face - a bit unnerving. I started my steroid that afternoon. I remember picking up my steroid at the pharmacy. My old classmate Tasha Bowen (I forgot her married name) was the one who helped me. I had to put my head on the counter because I was so tired. The next afternoon I got my thyroid results and it was a little bit low. Well, the count they checked was high which meant that my thyroid was low. Now I needed to get synthroid. I was a little perplexed by the fact that I was so exhausted, but my thyroid was just barely off. I followed doctor's orders and took the steroid and synthroid. I did start feeling a little better; at least my Jumanji drum/heart quit pounding in my ear thanks to the steroid.

To be continued . . .

Much love,

*I apologize to those who know the rules for lie, lay, lying, laying, etc. I don't remember them and am too lazy to look them up. :)

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