Wednesday, July 18, 2012
I spent yesterday and today emptying out about 50 baskets of books from children at our program and my son's program who quit attending. I am sorry that that happened, but it gave me a bit of a jumpstart on a lot of physical labor I will be doing on Friday. I still have about 30 active book baskets in my classroom and I have almost all of the contents of my walk in closet all over my room. I pulled out all of the center activities I have so that the two aides I have had during the program could choose what they wanted to do with their groups. I also have about 50 big books stacked on my floor. It will take me all day on Friday when they have their "celebration" day to get it done. I hope that my helpers can lend a hand because that physical stuff really is hard on me.
I have been playing mediator between several of my kids all evening and it has stressed me out. I am sure all of the bickering is directly related to high heat and humidity, but I fail to see what it solves. It is one of those things of parenting that is never fun. Grr-rr
We have decided to go visit St. Louis for a few days. It will be fun, there are so many interesting and fun things to do there. It is about a 5.5 hour drive from here, so that is a nice little jaunt. I am sure we will see the
arch and their famous zoo. My husband is interested in Grant's Farm too. I suspect it will be a lot of walking and I am thankful for all of the injections that are making me feel better. I think my biggest challenge will be careful eating, although I may have to break down and enjoy some wonderful cuisine.
Have a good evening and a restful sleep, one and all!
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
What is this "it" that I am referring to? I can tell you that "it" is important and satisfying to me. I can tell you that "it" is probably better than ever in my entire life. "It" is something that I can be proud of and feel comfort in.
I spent today being true to myself and the commitments I made to me over the weekend. I am so glad that I can give myself the gift of reliability and self-respect. I can honor myself and who I am. For a woman who was formerly known for being "fat" and without any redeeming qualities, I have come a long way.
Let me explain my day. I started out with my morning wake-up call. I slept better last night than I have in many. Yesterday, we went to church and a very good sermon that reminded me to look inward and consider my values helped me to dismiss some of the struggles and pain in my life. After church, we ran an errand and picked up fresh fruits and veggies, ice, water, whole grain bread and some nice ham, roast beef, and turkey for a picnic at a local lake. It was a sunshiny, hot and beautiful day. My son bought a nice rubber boat that he inflated and we decided to go for a ride.
There was a day when you wouldn't have drug my 363 pounds anyway near a rubber boat or a canoe or anything else that someone would have to row. Even with my twisted body held together by a fair number of metal rods, I was able to get into this boat and off we went. It was a hoot. My son hated the way I row and soon took the paddles away from me. Hmm, I thought for a first time that I did okay--he insisted that I was working against him. I kind of liked changing directions from time to time. Anyway, the tricky part came when it was time to get out because it was slimy and slippery on the dock and those metal rods keep me from bending much. My husband and son didn't even work up a sweat or grunt pulling me to my feet and I didn't feel guilty for inflicting all of my weight on them.
Anyway, we went from our funny boating excursion to the lake for some swimming. I wore my new swim suit, a halter style suit with a soft turquoise bodice, and a belted skirt. I haven't ever owned anything quite so, uh, dare I say sexy? It fit me nicely and felt like a million bucks. There were a lot of people there but I never felt like I was being looked at or criticized for my appearance. Do you know why? The answer is simple--it's because I looked GOOD! All of the fresh air and good food and time with my family was good for me and helped me to rest peacefully last night.
Back to this morning... I got myself ready for work along with my sweet reading bunny, Lola, and my school supplies that included 3 bags of new books to use for my children who deserved a gift for their wise decision-making and choices. I got to work, enjoyed some fresh raspberries and watermelon--and I started on a letter documenting the issues I have had at work. I wrote and edited for two hours, highlighting my values and expectations for the program and I took responsibility for the anger I displayed on Friday. Even that was fairly new territory for me. The former Sylvia would have never put herself in that position because she (I) never wanted to stick out in a group of people. I never thought I had the right to do that. I really had no self-esteem for much of my life. Anyway, the letter is good and is waiting for some editing and I will submit it to the right people.
I went on to do my work today and had a good time with the children. I have children reading who might not have gotten to this place for weeks after school came back into session. I have several groups of children writing stories that I expect to have finished by the end of the program. I even got a couple of kids to read who typically challenge me on reasons for reading. It was a good day for this teacher because my students were doing what I asked. I think they appreciate knowing that I have specific expectations for them and will support them, but I will not allow bad behavior or lack of cooperation. I think my students need that sort of direction.
After work, my husband and I went to the doctor for a follow-up to the car accident last week. My husband tried to get out of the appointment in many ways, but I held firm. Unfortunately, I had to go in with my doctor before his doctor came into the room. I think he downplayed the issues--she found his blood pressure to be high which wasn't a surprise to me because he hasn't taken his meds in a long time. I had my first weigh in since May 25th today. I know that I have been tempting fate by not running to the scale and keeping a tight reign on myself. I haven't really been trying to lose weight while I have been juggling the results of surgeries and procedures and at least 13 steroid injections and epidurals in that time frame. However, I had lost .8 pound. I have maintained successfully without pushing me for perfection. I have arrived, I am eating the way I am supposed to for maintaining my 140 plus pound weight loss. I do want to lose another 25ish pounds to get to a healthy BMI with my recent height and I think I am about ready to focus on losing again. (It would also be best for that new hip I need in the coming year.)I was pleased--oh and my BP was 120/82. That is as good as it can get after the high stress life I have been living recently.
Anyway, I have proven a great deal to myself about me this week and it is only Monday. I celebrated bty going to the water park with my husband and my youngest son. I even "de-armed" a couple of bullies of an exercise bar that they pilfered to use as a weapon on their friends or family. The police officer on duty came and got a second one as well.
YAY, me!! I can do it--wait-- NOPE, I am doing it now and it makes me feel good.
Saturday, July 14, 2012
I don't think I have had such a difficult week as this one that is coming to an end today. In order to give myself a reason for what I have been through, I must have a place to go with all of it. That is the only way that I am going to be able to heal and live my life the way I choose with the values I need.
I am going to write letters to members of our park board and explain things I have witnessed and dealt with--one of these people is a friend of mine, we went to grad school together and I teach with her daughter. Another is a principal in our school district and the thrid has a reputation of being an educator. Two of them are officers on this 5 member board. I believe that we do not have to throw the baby out with the bath water, but that they need to begin such a program with certain expectations and understandings of their staff. I think that there should always be an adult with some experience at a site serving children and that the adults are to understand that they are there as supervisors, not the kids' friends. (The kids' friends should be kids and the adults should be mentors and caregivers.) I am also going to expand my opinions to the people who I am responsible to and that will include the funders of the program. I hate to take on something new, but it is reasonable to me that a certified professional be in charge of the site. It has seemed like a case of the "inmates running the asylum," to borrow an old phrase from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." I believe staff members who are lying should not be rewarded for that type of immoral behavior and that maybe the one in charge needs to be replaced by someone competent and capable. I believe that I am able to explain this eloquently enough not to sound as angry as I feel when I consider that the kids were rewarded with candy for not participating in the reading activities.
I am also going to take the idea of my hip replacement in stride. Replacing my knees was one of the best medical decisions I have made. I am nervous because this is my right hip and it was my right leg that had the RSD. However, my pain doc and ortho are aware of my history and I will ask them all of the questions about possibly recharging that evil condition and what preventative things can be done. I am aware that replacing a hip is ten times easier than a knee and I've done that three times, so I can handle this. I can also get back to work on losing the weight I want to lose to match this 5'7" height that I am still not accepting well. It would make a replacement procedure go a lot more easy on me.
As for the accident, I cannot do anything about it as far as changing it or making it go away. I can just practice some breathing and distracting activities when I am in the car for a while. My knee looks awful, but it is superficial bruising at this point. My left hand is better, my shoulder is worse and will need some attention. I see the doc Monday night and I'm guessing we will start with x-rays. Good grief, I will soon glow in the dark, lol.
As for other things, I just returned from the pool and I can swim better than I have in a long time. Kicking was easier than it has been and my back is amazing right now. My pain doc did me a wonderful service with these trigger point injections and although they were not fun, I am wondering how much better it will be after we complete the sequence. Again, if the x-rays aren't going to make me glow in the dark, I wonder what the percentage of injection medication to my regular tissue might be. Maybe I am more medication than organic right now, lol. I don't mind if I can move and function at a higher level than ever.
My husband and I are looking for a short three day getaway with our youngest son for the end of next week. I cannot get into my classroom for a few days after the park program ends and it might give us both a bit of a break. The other kids cannot get away from their jobs and summer commitments, and they will like having the run of the place. It may be the blessing that we all can use. We haven't told Micah yet because he will drive us crazy as we try to figure out our plans. We had to rule out the badlands because they are too far away. We have been considering St. Louis, the Lake of the Ozarks, Pigeon Forge, TN, Omaha,,, something a bit touristy but not too crazy, somewhere new to us. It's kind of fun to be sneaking around with him and making plans.
Anyway, I think the end of this week and some time for reason and healing are in order after having a week like I have had. I am expecting to be myself again very soon, I am recuperating.
If you have any ideas of places around Illinois that might be a good mini-vacation location, let me know.
Saturday, July 14, 2012
I blew up today. Oh my, I finally let loose some of the frustration that the people in the park program have been giving me as i have been trying to teach. I was doing a daily read aloud for the older children in grades 3 on up. The staff would come in and interrupt my work, undermine my control over the group by making jokes and conversation with the kids, bringing in pizza and eating in front of them, letting a specific kid move back into the group when I moved him, playing basketball as I read in the gym...and the list goes on. I finally gave up and when I went to get my kids, I asked for only the kids who planned to sit and cooperate. That left me with 6 out of about 25-30 who came. Today, I had a guest reader (My son Mitchell) and when I went to call for my kids, nobody would respond to me. They were loud and yelling, goofing off. After 5--yes, F-I-V-E requests for my readers, I finally hit the ceiling. I told the children that they were the oldest children who should be well-behaved role models, especially when there is a guest. I took the 6 children who did get in line and we left. I found out later that the remainder of the group who stayed behind were all given candy. After Mitchell was done with a wonderful story about the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner, he left and one of the park workers came and told me off. "The children want to know if they are in trouble," was her opening comment and she went on to tell me that it was my fault that they didn't know I was having a guest reader and I asked her why should they need special information to behave in a respectful manner and listen to an adult. I also pointed out that her staff has repeatedly got in the way of my lessons, canceling reading without even giving me a bit of forewarning. I let her know that I was done trying to deal with them because there is only one week of the program left and quite honestly, I didn't care about her or the rest of the staff, I was there to help the children continue reading during the summer and to possibly show growth.
I was so angry that I wanted to scream out of the windows. I have been trying to work with all of this going on from about the third day. The behavior problems that I experienced with a specific kid who I caught in the building almost an hour before they were supposed to be there was blown off instead of being treated as gross misbehavior. I tried to explain to them that this situation was a major liability to the school district--he was running around the gym. Any injury would put my school district in a bad place and we can't afford that. He lied and said he was in the bathroom and they pretty much accepted that as acceptable. Nobody ever believed me and I saw him there. Finally, he was bullying a couple of other kids. He actually beat a child up outdoors after the program and that child's mother pulled him out of the program. I couldn't get anyone to listen to the fact that this child was a bully--but three days later, after I refused to let him come to my groups and interfere with lessons any longer, they finally gave him a day off from the program. He told one of my aides that he didn't care. His mom wasn't home when he left for school and when she got home, he would tell her that he was sick. I tried to call and let her know about that, but he was answering her phone. I suspect he got away with that as well.
I haven't been able to manage these young people working for the park program. They have had total problems managing their large group and have resorted to screaming, making the kids put their heads down for over 30 minute periods, and blowing whistles indoors over and over again. I tried to provide ways to handle such things. I offered to use my reading lessons to enrich their programming, such as special reading activities to go along with the Fourth of July, but they never communicated any plans to me. I bought them donuts and tried very hard to be a part of things and finally had to stick to providing reading lessons for the 115 children enrolled that dropped to about 40 a day. I believe that their inexperience and lack of planning caused the drop in attendance as well.
I am in a tough position because I can influence a number of things considering I am the one who influenced that these programs work together. If I tell one of the major funders the truth that he has been asking me for, the funding could be lost. I don't want that to happen, but I don't think they are getting what they are paying for either. I have to be careful with what I do next--I need to make sure that there is appropriate supervision for the staff of these programs to allow the true plan--academic enrichment imbedded within their activities--to occur. I don't want the program to disappear because of a few rotten apples, I want administrators to make them better. It is important that I also share all of the many positives that have went on. I have a soon to be first grader who was a non-reader, making daily gains and feeling pretty proud of himself when he originally wouldn't look at books or teachers. I have a pre-schooler doing nice one to one correspondence when he reads a meaningful text. At least 35 children read 3 or more books/chapters every day that I am allowed to see them. I have also trained my two aides in reading support that is helping them with their own work in their college teacher education program. I have a lot of positive stories, so I have done nothing but good. Those are important facts and anecdotes for the funding sources to have. After I share that, I can address the issues at hand.
I sure hope my anger isn't the result of the many steroid injections I have had lately. My back and hips are both doing far better than they have for months with this medical treatment. I am covered with bruises, especially on my legs. My right knee is still sore and so is my left shoulder. Both my husband and I see our PCP on Monday at 4.
My therapist just encouraged me to talk. He said that healing takes time and he offered me some valuable insight. I learned from him that the car that hit us was a very expensive one. The other car owner's insurance has contacted us and Mitchell, and they are being very kind at this point in time. I am hanging in there.
Talk to you all more later--as always, your kindness is awesome!
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
My body is angry at me. I guess it has a mind of its own. My left arm, shoulder, hand are not having fun. The swelling in my knee has come down thanks to a lot of ice bags. My PCP called me a bit ago for a follow-up and I got an appointment for my macho husband who hasn't been seen yet. Any accident as nasty as ours was should result in medical exams. There is no way to see what all may have happened without expert help. Marissa finally let me take her to the ER today--her pediatrician wanted her to go yesterday and , following her father's lead, she refused. After a totally restless night of sleep, her co-workers at the church sent her home from work early and suggested that she get looked at. They didn't find any damage in her chest or lungs. That bruising from the seatbelt is pretty awful. If she isn't better in 2-3 days, she will need to see the doctor. One of her orders was "No lifting," and she can no longer be angry at me for calling the church to request exactly that yesterday. Yay for what mothers instinctively know.
My pain doc gave me 8 injections in my SI yesterday with a second set planned for me in a month. It wasn't a fun night between the slow "un-numbing" of my thighs and lower back, but I am somewhat better already today. These trigger point injections were a blessing when my spine doc did them and it seems as if my pain doc them far more cautiously using the fluoroscope. He sure got a few interesting reactions out of me when I had a reaction that went down part of my legs.
Today, I saw my ortho for a follow-up on my hip. Floyd wasn't pleased with the outcome of this one. The injection that the radiologist did 3 weeks ago has been quite a help. I am guessing it is 75% less pain than I was dealing with during all of my waking hours. That is a double-edged sword. Since the injection was successful, it means that I definitely have arthritis in my hip joint. The only treatment for the level that I have it is a hip replacement. I can have a total of 3 injections, no more than 3 months apart. That means, I have anywhere from 8 to 25 months before the replacement will be necessary. The upside to this is that it a hip replacement is a great deal easier than a knee replacement, of which I have had three. The downside is that this is the same leg that I had the RSD in that caused the need for the second replacement on that right leg. I guess that all I can do is wait and see how long I can hold out until a second injection. It can work as long as 8 or 9 months.
Finally, the thing most on my mind is this accident. I have never been negative or unrealistic in my life. I did struggle with depression when my body was the most out of control with the knee replacements followed by the infection in my spine--but as I took control and got better by working hard and losing weight, I beat that. However, I am a total wreck and especially in the car. Every time we have driven anywhere, there has been some close cal. I am jumping and seeing things out of the corner of my eye. I am entirely overwhelmed with anything that provides me a bit of stress--like the kids doing their typical bickering this morning or Micah's noise-making and begging for soda in the back seat of the car. (I have cut him and the others off of most diet soda now. We have lemonade, juice, tea, lots of water and flavored water, and milk. The others are pretty happy with it although a couple of them pick up their own soda once in a while. He is not at all happy with this change...but he is 14 and I can do this and I did!!) I almost had a meltdown over some of this kind of stuff that I deal with all of the time. I am an absolute nervous wreck.
I see my therapist tomorrow. I already know what he will tell me, but it isn't helping me to say it to myself. He reminds me that it takes energy to deal with chronic pain. He points out that I have a high stress job and a large family that takes more energy to deal with than most people have. The result is that when something new comes up, most people have energy reserves to fall upon to use but given my world, I don't have any reserves to use. That is why I get so upset or sad or down. OK, I get the concept, but I don't know what to do with this mess.
I picked up my swim suit cover that was in the dirty laundry and it was still wet. (I had it on in the car over my swim suit when we had the accident.) For some dumb reason, I smelled it and I almost doubled over with the smell of chocolate chip frappe and spent airbag taking me right back to the scene of the accident. I understand why I have heard that the sense of smell have been one of the most powerful senses that we have. It is really unbelievable what that smell did to me.
Another part of my frustration is that Mitchell went over to get things from his car. The refused to let him take anything except money (some change), medicine (none). letters (none), and with a bit of begging, my parking placard. He had his entire trunk full of teaching materials and Micah had left several DS games in the back seat. They said that the only way that he could get those things was when the insurance company released it. Now, my husband is thinking they want to blame this on him. That is not reasonable given how it happened and all of the astonished witnesses that were there. I believe it has gotten to him as well.
i guess my life is just going to be full of things and these events are part of it. I hope that I develop some sort of appropriate coping mechanisms pretty soon.
Take care everyone!!
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