Monday, August 03, 2009
My husband is exhausted and if I sit still with ice on my back, I cannot feel the sharp pain cutting into the left side of my back and rolling around with a burning pain. (Does anybody know what you call a pain like that?) I think the way to explain this is to go into my last few days.
Thursday, I was under the assumption that I was going to have my classroom (former pantry, not big, no closets or cabinets) to myself. I got busy rearranging things since I was so miserable there last year/ (The window was on the other side of the room and the young lady that helped out and used that side of the room was one of those people who was generally cold--so no A/C or seasonal breezes for me in that ten pound back brace that I wore for 11 months--and may have to wear again. That left me with a lot of reorganization and I spent the morning moving some things I shouldn't have and lots of baskets of books, including the ones I had taken to church for the summer. My back was hurting and then in popped one of our Assistant Superintendents. He came to basically tell me that I was going to travel to another building and then to quiz me about my ability to climb stairs. (Five doctor notes from 3 different doctors over 6 years didn't clarify that nearly enough--and if I remember clearly, I had to have an evaluation from one of their doctors to confirm it as well.) He was blunt and a bit rude, waiting carefully to come into my room between the trips my son was making from his truck to deliver things. After he left, my boss who had refused to answer my question if I would be traveling told me that she felt that HE should be the one to tell me. (Why?) Then she proceeded to tell me that I had 2 aides that I would be in charge of and planning their assignments for--uh oh, I won't be in a room by myself.
So here I was, in a room that I had spent 4 hours arranging in a manner that was for me teaching in BY MYSELF. Now, it was possible that there could be 2 or 3 of us in there--it's a tiny room where I have been trying to house about 1/3 of my things. She also told me that my 50 some boxes of books on the stage had to be removed. I also received an email from my "big" boss, our Associate superintendent of curriculum telling me that I had until Monday's 2:00 meeting to have a schedule to show how I'd be teaching 50% of my day on Tuesday (for all of the reading teachers, not just me), Great trick since my boss doesn't seem to have the student test scores for me to select students from. OK, that means by Monday--after Friday being a day full of mandatory meetings, no time for working in our rooms--I had to rearrange my tiny room and have it ready for multiple people to teach in, clear 50 boxes off of the stage and unpack into 2 rooms, 1 room that I had never seen, set up a new classroom in another building of some unknown size and shape, and to create a schedule based on partial paperwork that turned out to be over half a year old and inappropriate.
With the help of 2 of my children, we did a lot of work this weekend--we sorted through at least half of the books on the stage and removed them. We also organized my room and it is almost finished. Then, I got my boss to come over and show me my "other" room in the other building and we moved appropriate boxes of leveled reading books there. That still leaves 1/3 to 1/2 of my boxes of teaching materials on the stage, my classroom ready to teach in with some things left to be done, things at my new room that I am currently sharing with the packed materials of the previous tenant, and 2 hours of wasted work on the wrong paperwork.
When I get to work today, I have to find the correct test scores and make decisions that affect 518 children in 21 classrooms, 2 reading aides and myself. I also have a second classroom to organize. Thirdly, I have to do the bulletin boards and wall displays--the environmental teaching in both rooms. Finally, I still have about 20 boxes that need to be removed from the stage and organized and possibly stored or sold or maybe I'll have a place for them. I JUST DON'T KNOW AND I DON'T KNOW HOW ANY HUMAN BEING CAN DO ALL OF THIS BEFORE THE 2:00 MEETING TO PROVE I AM READY TO TEACH ON TUESDAY (THE FIRST FULL DAY OF SCHOOL WHEN NONE OF THE CLASSROOM TEACHERS WILL WANT ME TO TAKE THEIR CHILDREN ANYWAY!!!) I really needed to say that, or shout that. It is not possible to do all of that, It isn't possible for anyone to do what I did over the weekend either.
Here's the rest of my story. On Thursday, I came home from work sometime after 7 and was in so much pain that I got in my chair and got an ice bag on my back, and was barely coherent. My husband waited on me hand and foot--brought me dinner that I don't remember eating but I did get it recorded. I woke up with a part of a bowl of ice cream, mostly melted in my lap and one hand in it around 2:30 AM. I hurt a lot, took my medicine and then, I suffered for about 2 hours and fell back asleep and almost didn't make it to work on time. I finally got to start on my classroom work at 3:30. but we had a parent night from 5:30 until 7:30/ I packed up and left and went to the pool at about 7:00. That helped a bit with my pain.
I slept off and on, using lots of pain control techniques until about 10 Saturday morning and ran errands and had a great, but sad lunch with my best friend. (She has some life changing things going on that make my life look easy right no and my love for her is struggling with having prayer to help and nothing that I can simply do to help out. It really is hard to watch a loved one suffer and her pain hurts me as much as the pain of my own children.) Anyway, I digress--I went to school after we had lunch and with the help of my 24 year old son and my 13 old daughter, we worked until about 8 PM--including over 2 hours of totally wasted work on the wrong paperwork.
I went back at it right after church on Sunday and about an hour and a half later, the same to of my kids joined me at 2:00. My pain level was growing by leaps and bounds so I took my meds. My kids brought me a shake and it was the first food that I had up until then. We went to the first classroom, then I called the principal and with a carload of things, we met her at the other building. I got the tour and my room and some keys--and we unloaded there. Then, we went back to the other school--and she was there then--and I called my husband and he brought the truck. They loaded it while I worked in the room. I was feeling so severely nauseated that I could barely stand. Every step I took with my left foot felt like I was stabbing myself in the back. The others came and helped me to put the remaining baskets away for the present time so we could go back to the new building and unload the truck full of books. It was weird because when we got there, she was there too--?? We unloaded things in an orderly fashion and by then, it was 6 PM. I promised the kids we would go swimming, but all of our regular haunts were closed by then. I was lousy miserable, but we went around and finally found a pool at a campground. I hobbled through the motions, but that pool was freezing. I got my exercises done and went to the spa. After that, i bought a soda and took more meds and went for a shower. As I left the shower, I found that I could barely walk and the pain was way beyond the Thursday level. I did the only thing I knew to do and cried and cried and we went home.
My husband had fixed one of our favorites for dinner--stir fry. I never ate a bite, I cried and considered an ER visit which still isn't out of the question. I cried and he got the ice and at about 10:30, I tried to walk again--I walked about 15 steps before the awful jabbing, cutting pain returned. My family was so tired that I got in my chair and have been here ever since. I had some soda and some cheese and crackers.
What happens next? Well, I still may be heading to a doc or the ER--but I have so much work to do and I can do this, if it is possible. I do believe that with God, all things are possible. I cannot live in this level of pain. so I guess that I am taking things one step at a time. I probably need to try to get up ad see if this rest has made a difference. Assuming it has, I need to make a plan that my work today will not involve anything physical--that can wait until Tuesday. I will find the correct student scores and start over in making decisions about student need so that I can get a picture of how to start a program for twice as many students in two buildings than I should be handling. I need to survive this week, including the rest of the boxes on the stage for next weekend most likely--or after school Tuesday or Wednesday--2 of my kids are going out of town this weekend in 2 different directions, 2 have special school events and a parade and it is one of their birthdays, This is a very busy week here.
If anyone can do all of this, I can. I am praying that my back will allow me to prove what I can do in spite of everything. I do, however, have some more praying to do. I almost prefer praying for others, but except for my dear friend who has made her tough decision, I may be the neediest person I know right at this second. That certainly doesn't feel very good.
I appreciate any support that my spark friends here give me. Thanks for listening to me whine as well. I am going to go, so take care of yourself and make sure to enjoy your blessings!
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
The end of summer vacation always used to be bittersweet, but now that we have broken the understood "not before August" rule, it just seems wrong.
I now have 3 main tasks to do before school starts. I have to pack up my materials that I took to church and bring them back to school, I have to set up my classroom which looks exactly the way it looked when I walked out in June down to the scratched up floor and my things that are all over because they took my table. And last but not least, I have to figure out how I am going to manage my pain so that I can be an effective and caring teacher. (I have always wanted to use that emoticon, lol)
I will be going to church tomorrow and getting things ready for my son to help move them back. I need to empty the children's baskets, sort the books, then box or stack things up to get things moved out. I also need to finish the reports that I am writing for their school too. My classroom is on hold until I find out if I have a roommate this year and if I am traveling. I haven't seen the principal face to face yet, so I may not know until Thursday because we are working together that day. (Note to self--I need to get fruit, yogurt, and water for my classroom frig by Thursday. This helps me to eat properly and not out of her bottomless candy dish.)
@#$%&%$#$#@ PAIN MANAGEMENT
I had two doctor appointments today. The first is the one I made last week to talk to my neurosurgeon about my pain. He is out of town for a couple of more weeks, so I saw his PA. They x-rayed my back and then I got to see her. She told me that the upper part of my fusion has crumbled but that is the same way it looked in Oct. (My doc had never told me that, but it seems that this something I can live with.) Then she asked me about my pain and I told her about how it hurts greatly when I walk--and she had me walk and show her. She poked around and then determined that the major pain comes from my "SI" joint. She told me that the way to help that was to strengthen my back--and she suggested that I get physical therapy and call my pain management doc. Now, I had left the hospital from my surgery a year ago with an order for PT and after I went for an evaluation, my neuro-doc said that he didn't want me going because he wanted me to take it easy and slow. That NEVER made sense to me. Then she asked me if I took anything for pain and I told her that my pain management doc ordered my pain meds. Then she told me that since I was on narcotic and strong meds (Fentanyl and Hydrocodone for breakthrough pain), my back pain was never going to go away. That confused me so much that I asked her did she mean that because of my pain meds, I was condemned to a life of severe pain? I started to get teary-eyed and then her coarse tone with me dropped a bit. I told her that I wasn't sure which doc to call...and then she stopped me and told me that it was right to call them and for them to see me. (By now, I am getting really confused.) Then she told me that my back needs to be strengthened because first I became ill and my back became weaker, then I had surgery and it became weaker, then I had to heal and it became weaker, I wore my brace for along time and it became weaker and I am so overweight that it can't work and it is even more weak. Now the problem is my fault and I should have taken off the brace more and I need to lose weight. I KNOW THAT and she wouldn't let me tell her what I've been trying to do and she wouldn't acknowledge that the pain is making it hard for me to do anything to help. I told her about my plans to have WLS and how the insurance company is messing around. She told me that they always do that and they will come around--that may help me. So she ordered PT and I stopped to check on my paperwork for the surgeon and to schedule. They are in the middle of putting in a new system and they will not be able to schedule my first session, the evaluation, until sometime next week. So again, I have to wait. And apparently most of this is my fault because of my weight. And I have to see the PA again in a month.
My second appointment was with my rheumatologist. The first thing we talked about was how pleased he was with my weight loss since I saw him 6 months ago. We talked about what I have been doing and he said that it was hard work. He said if you are up to continuing what you are doing, to try for as long as I can. He also said that it was a bit of a surprise due to the medication he gave me last time (an injection of Kenalog which helped me to get through the last month of school without the strange all over pain assaulting me.) He gave me a physical and noted that my fibromyalgia was at an extreme point and he told me that he was very sorry to see me with all of this pain. I talked to him about my earlier appointment and he said that he thinks part of my problem with my lower back and the "SI" joint was the FMS attacking there as well. He didn't have anything else to offer me because I am taking one of the drugs for FMS and another has a side effect of weight gain and I had already refused that, so he ordered another injection of Kenalog and will see me in 6 months. He is such an awesome doctor and thank goodness that I saw him after that awful first appointment.
My week last week was very nice. I learned a lot and hope that I will be asked to mentor a new teacher, if we have any this year. We were in a lovely hotel in Bloomington, IL--the Parke Hotel and Conference Center, and they were all about service. The food all week was special, I had to pick carefully and I enjoyed the variety, theme menus they provided. I was in a room for the disabled and enjoyed the shower so much. It was actually made for me, with a chair and nothing to climb over. The big beautiful beds were a problem, but from what my kids told me they were totally comfortable, I tried to sleep on one with 6 pillows piled up to support my back, I also tried chairs with the bed as a footstool/ reclining position. None of it worked well. (Oh yeah, the PA blew off when I tried to tell her that I am now having major pain in my neck--so I guess that is unimportant. It may be, I am frightened after everything that went on with my back) I had to fight off some dozing each morning but got and stayed perky the rest of the day--yes, me perky, lol. I think it was because it was a lot of sitting at out table--we went from "lecture" "powerpoint" and then activities. My soon to be 14 year old daughter stayed with me to help me, and actually, my 24 year old son drove us and we got there late enough the first evening that he stayed on the other bed to sleep before he had to drive back. He stayed a couple of other days and then, I had him come back a day early with my youngest son. We went out to dinner together and I gave him a gift I had bought. On the last day, check out was at 11, vut we had training until after lunch--it turned out that they finished with us at 1 instead of 4 (yay). They went to a delightful zoo with many interesting animals in it. It was a small zoo, but it was very interesting--and I didn't get to see. I'll try to add in some photos they took, if I can figure out how to do that.
We shall see if I was able to do this and if I found some of the photos that were really nice. There is really nothing like a suny day at the zoo. I enjoyed my working vacation and am looking forward to teaching. There were some nice articles in the paper about out summer program at church and if I can good enough, I'll share one of those too. (I'm trying to lose my status of technodummy, ha ha)
I really will appreciate your comments on all of this from today. I think that it is my job to keep on working on a healthy lifestyle and I think PT is long overdue for me. I am grustrated with what seems to have been a few forgetful errors on the part of my back carefivers and pray that we can get past that now with a lot of hard work on my part. What do you think about calling for injections in my back? I'm sure my pain doc would give me some, but I am aftaid of this kind of stuff. )I can get past being aftaid, I've been through a lot.)
Thanks for sticking with this long blog so far and for being my friend.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
What do I do when I cannot enter my blog because I keep getting a message that says "No html please. Click here to go back" I have some emoticons and text, but that is it. I will keep trying!
Sunday, July 19, 2009
I am anticipating this coming week with a bit of excitement, kind of like a kid who gets to spend the week with an out of town family member, I think. Tomorrow is a day for me to "get ready." I need to call my physical therapy group ad see if they will forward reports of my "years" of therapy on to my surgeon's office to see if that information can be used as a substitute for "gym" evidence for my surgery. If that won't work, I have nothing, so if they tell you walking is just as good, that is only true realistically but not for insurance companies to prove that you really do activities to help you lose weight. I also am going to call the school I taught at this past year to find out if I really have a job assignment yet. ARRGGHHHH @#$%^%$%$%$# I am too frustrated with all of this, knowing that I go to back to work on July 30 and have spent the abbreviated "summer" that we have not knowing what I would be doing. I also need to let them know that I am going for a week long training, mostly to let them know that I won't be held down. I need to help my young college students to be ready for the last week of our church program--they will have 4 days that will include a field trip, an open house, and a meeting with the media. The kids and the children have been a bright spot in this teacher's life and have given me a summer of deep pleasure, I hope that each of them are leaving our program feeling that they have gotten something helpful as well. I also have to pack my suitcase and make sure my family will be okay while I am gone. My 13 year old daughter is going with to help take care of me and my second oldest son is driving us. We are only going a couple of hundred miles away as far as I know.
I am looking forward to this training. Only National Board Certified Teachers have been invited and the state is footing the bill. We are being trained to mentor new teachers for the 21st century--kids like the ones I have been working with lately and like my son who still doesn't have a "full-time" job, subbing is always available. This is my year to renew my National Board Certificate, so this is a good opportunity. I am thinking about working on my doctorate again. I have no fear of the work, but I have serious fears of the cost involved at my age (53) and the payoff for my family in all of this. I am a good student, a capable reader, writer, test-taker. I will decide on this pretty soon because the schools are recruiting now. I am also considering an online program which would be the easiest method for a full time mom and teacher, otherwise, I'll have to travel somewhere.
My kids are all over the place, but mostly busy with work. We had an awful time this past week with a Hepatitis scare at the McDonald's where my 16 year old works. This area has had quite an outbreak in Hepatitis A and they closed his store for 3+ days. I am irritated because they didn't treat the kids with any type of respect. That evening, the health department came in and closed the store down and McD's made my son and a few others clean for 5 hours, no gloves, no explanations. They sent home a ridiculous stack of paperwork including a permission sheet for parents to sign for their minor children witch had buried down at the bottom, a phrase that began like this: "I give permission for Whatever Clinic to use any surgical/ medical procedure deemed necessary to treat said minor..." I just about had a tantrum of my own. I called his doctor and they said "Don't sign that!" I took him there to have his injection as the rest of the news finally leaked out. The source was two of the other employees, not customers or a food source. The last I heard, over 30 people had been isolated with this. Anyone who has eaten at that McD's in the past month cannot donate blood for 120 days. It is a nerve-wracking event and although I know it isn't a "plague" it is not a good thing and my son was in the midst of it. Oh my.
My youngest son, he's 11 and is sweet, emotional and has Asperger's Syndrome is who I will worry about. He has anxiety attacks and a few fears that can be pretty severe. It hurts to see his pain and if I am gone, it may be a hard set of days on him. I meant "when" I am gone. He has to be able to handle these things with his father and I from time to time. The only time that I have ever been away from him has been when I have been in the hospital. He just went through a lot of his "pre-panic" talk with me and it will lay hard on my heart. He is such a sweet little guy, but his teenaged siblings do not have a great deal of patience with his fears. I won't be here to offer to ground them and take car keys and so on, of they misbehave, so I will have to insist that my husband do the tough parent stuff.
I know I need to do some things, so I'm going to stop my blogging and move on for now. Take care everyone, I'm expecting an interesting week.
Hugs and Prayers to all of you!
Monday, July 13, 2009
I've been put visitng many of my friends and giving hugs for two reasons. 1) It seems that many of my friends need a hug right now. 2) I need some really kind-hearted hugs of my own as well. Everything is mixed up--the good and the not-so-good anyway, so I am just going to tell my stories as sequentially correct as I can. First of all, I wanted to blog sooner, since I got around to weighing in. I was surprised to have such a nice loss, but then I got to thinking that I had been following the plan to the best of my ability. I have a major problem getting enough protein in each day which contributes to me not eating enough calories each day. I need to work more on this, but I am doing a good job with fruits and vegetables and that is often the trickiest part.
Friday was supposed to be the last day of our Reading program at church, but it has been working in conjunction with a program for older kids to work on social and choce skills along with a good lot of decent fun. They were able to get more funding, so we decided that we would keep our program going as well. The young people helping me--which include 2 of my own--are those great teens that we never hear much about. I doubt that there will ever be a news report on 19 year olds who give up part of their summer to tutor young children from the inner city in reading to help them to do better in school that starts on the first Monday in August. Maybe there would be more positive attitudes and happy people around if they did. Anyway, that means that I am going back to work at the church this morning after the night passes.
We had an awful storm here at the end of last week. We had massive amounts of rain off and on from Wednesday evening throughout the entire day on Friday. Our house ran out of ability to handle all of it. Of course our basement filled up with rain and we have been running the pump a lot, mostly nonstop. On Friday, sewers in town filled up and overran. Roads were flooding and everything was wet with more wet. Back to our house, not only did the basement fill, the crawl space filled, the rain made a small path and worked its way into the corner of the house into my daughter's room and all of the way through into my family room. We have a horrid mess and have started to clean up, creating an ominous pile of garbage and we will eventually have to pull up the carpets and well, before that, ha ha, move all of the furniture in 2 rooms.
Yesterday was my husband's union picnic. We have gone to these for many years and lately we have went while my husband was still at work. I don't like to go without him, but he really insists and sometimes I do things that he likes for me to do. This event is a lot of rather boring food; all of the soda and beer and water you can drink; sometimes activities for the children, and then euchre and bingo for the older crowd. They also have drawings for prizes for the members and then for anyone who signed in. We have had years when we won some prozes, but we don't seem to be the luckiest group around. I played cards this year for the first time and still didn't win anything, but I enjoyed it anyway. My husband got there and visited and ate and so on. Most of our kids went to swim at the nearby lake on our dime (not a big dime). When I got done with the card game, I went over to eat my lunch and asked for more water, but all they had left was lots of beer and some soda they needed to chill. I got a diet soda and my husband got one of their give away coozies to keep it cold. He grabbed a handfull to share with the guys he works with who didn't come. The union president, a fairly drunken woman, looked at him and asked him if that was "really necessary". She was "sick and tired of his family coming and taking more than their fair share at the picnics." My husband was so hurt and offended. He doesn't have to join the union. He is a union steward, attends trainings that he hates, helps to deal with grievances, does a lot of things on his own time for them, etc, etc... I wish that I 'd have heard it because maybe it was a drunken person trying to make a joke poorly or maybe he didn't hear it all correctly, but whatever went on wasn't great and I wish that I'd have known who she was, grr-rr. Yes there are a lot of us, but so what?
I have a lot to accomplish before I return to work on July 30. Our phone is disconnected right now because my son called a person he met on the internet who lives in Singapore and ran up a $2000 phone bill and we do not have enough undesignated cash to pay for that, so it is off. I will be at a workshop downstate for 5 nights and days (on the state's dime) and I also have to find out where my classroom will be and get it set up before school gets started for my students. This is my year to start renewing my National Board Certification as well. That is at a cost of both big money and time.
All of a sudden, there is a lot on my mind, on our pocketbook, and chopping at our spirits here. Hurt on top of stress isn't fun. I am hoping that my doctor has rewritten the authorization letter to my insurance company because I need my body to work better to handle the things that are coming my way. Everything in my world comes back to the fact that I need my back to let me live my life like other people. I am so sick of the extreme amount of pain that I live with day in and day out. I will keep at my work to lose weight even if it seems that I have to try considerably harder than most people to do less. This is what I have and this is who I am, so this is what is necessary--at least until the insurance company decises to authorize weight loss surgery and help me to lose at least 7 of 14 prescriptions that I take daily. I really need a few prayers to be answered soon, so I need to have a far better talk with the Lord who takes care of all of us. He has a plan and all I need to do is work with Him.
Take care everyone, I have come to my answer and my action, and it wasn't that difficult after all. I'm sending love and prayers to all.
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