Monday, October 18, 2010

So, What Have You Been Up To This Month?

I wrote this post back in September.  I've delayed in posting it because, as I posted previously, I was waiting for word on my status.  Fortunately for my peace of mind, I heard from my disability insurance company and they've approved my claim.  I didn't really want to post anything about being declared disabled until I knew the whole story--as in, whether or not my claim would be approved or denied.  Now I know the whole story, so now I can begin the process of adjusting my mindset to accept this curve ball that life has thrown.  And start figuring out what the heck I'm going to do to keep myself from going nuts while following my medical restrictions and not having my job to go to.

So anyway, here's what happened back at the beginning of the school year:

I hope everyone has had a wonderful month!  I've missed posting on here, but now that my hubby is home from his business trip--and my laptop with him!--I won't have to miss it any longer!

My last substantive post was all the way back on August 21st.  So much has happened since then, I'm not quite sure where to start.  Well, as a wise man once said, the best place to start is at the beginning.

August 23rd was Freshman First Day at my high school.  The powers that be decided a few years back that it would be an easier transition for the poor little fishies if there were no upper classmen present their first day of high school.  This year they also relocated the majority of the freshmen classes into one wing of the high school.  First Day went really well--the kiddos were able to find all of their classes without the entire student body (3500 students) present.  I really enjoyed meeting my freshman homeroom, even though I was very saddened to learn I had lost my homeroom from the past two years for this, their senior year.  After the initial homeroom meeting, we went through an abbreviated version of a full day schedule.
My freshman were all very quiet that first day--they weren't sure what to make of the crazy lady at the front of the room, sitting on her desk and trying to get them to talk to her lol.  I was delighted to discover that I had several of my homeroom kiddos in my regular Spanish I classes as well!

August 24th was the real first day of school with all the kiddos present.  We spent THREE HOURS in homeroom at the start, for all the necessary paperwork, and then went through the schedule.  Unlike the previous day, thankfully, the freshmen kiddos were talkative and seemed excited to be there.  The upperclassmen were actually the quite ones.

August 24th was also the day that Bryan left for his field test business trip.  The trip was 24 days long, so just about a month.  It was a very long month.

The rest of the first week went well, as far as the kids were concerned.  All of my classes were engaged and quite a bit of fun to work with, except 7th period.  Don't get me wrong, they were great kiddos!  It was just hat by the end of the day, they had apparently used up any energy that they once had.  Lol in my three years of teaching, this was the first 7th period that had less than 30 kiddos and was NOT going to be super-high energy at the end of the day!

The first week we focused on get-to-know-us games and classroom rules and procedures.  Week 2 we started learning actual Spanish!  The kids, even the ones suddenly thrust into my classes because of schedule changes, were all well-behaved and engaged.  It was an extremely pleasant week!

That Tuesday was also the first officer's meeting for the Anime Club, which I had agreed to sponsor!  Wednesday was the first general meeting, which I was very sad to have to miss--I had to give a training on the nee ELPS handbook from the state at our department meeting.  

All in all, even with the stress inherent to teaching, I was getting very excited about the school year!  I had put my fears from the summer in the back of my mind.  The Anime Club was shaping up to be a ton of fun, especially because I had my own anime/manga phase back in college and could share their enthusiasm!  A lot of my kiddos from last year had come to see me, and I went to a home volleyball game to cheer my 5 JV girls on.  I was getting to know my regular class kiddos and my homeroom kiddos--which ones would shine, which ones I'd have to prod, which ones would take some careful watching--and was starting to build solid teacher/student relationships with quite a few of them.  I hadn't had ONE STUDENT mouth off to me in two weeks!  Things seemed to be off to a great start!

But there was a slight problem.  OK, it wasn't so slight.

The first Monday of the teacher work week (August 16-20), I was limping--my ankle had started to flare.  I spent the rest of that week trying to ride out one of the worst flares I'd had in quite a while.  I couldn't even sit for more than 45 minutes without starting to really hurt.  I made it through til that Friday, when I went to my rheumatologist.  He prescribed me some prednisone to try to get the flare under control and we arranged for my return in September.

I spent that weekend off of my feet, trying to relax.  Normally, that helps.  Of course, normally my flares don't last a week either.

Monday (Freshman First Day) I was still limping.  That plus Paddington's constant presence led to questions from my kiddos, which I, of course, answered, explaining my condition.  The week went on, and there was no improvement.  With the amount of pain and swelling, I did not get to start a school-year water aerobics schedule as I had planned. 

Again, I tried staying off my feet for the weekend.  At this point, I was starting to get worried.  I had never had a flare last this long.  When Monday came, I was still limping and hurting.  Tuesday saw more of the same.  Having to teach lessons, monitor student activity, answer questions--all the normal teacher stuff--was excruciating, even though my kiddos were wonderful.  They were even wonderful on the Friday before Labor Day for their substitute when I returned to my rheumatologist.

I was very nervous going in to that doctor appointment.  I knew I was already on three DMARDS, plus my NSAID and other pills, so adding more medicines wasn't an option.  I had no idea what our next step could possibly be.  Turns out I was right to be nervous.  My doctor's decision was:


I know better than to argue with Dr. C, but I still tried to negotiate.  I asked about teaching until the semester, and was told no, that would only make things worse.  I asked about teaching the next week and was told, both by look and word, no, I needed to call for a sub and go in on Tuesday and talk with my principal. 

I was floored.

Dr. C's nurse filled out the paperwork while I took a minute to compose myself.  And by that I mean I cried like a baby for a minute or three.  Disability at 25?  And permanent disability at that?!?  I felt (and still feel) like a stranded fish.

Dr. C answered my questions as much as he could--I had to get the other answers from my principal, HR, and the disability insurance company.

That weekend was Victoria's bachelorette party.  I had to spend most of the weekend sitting down, even when we went out.  Vic had a great time, but I felt guilty that her Matron of Honor had to sit out quite a bit.  I also used those three days to try to mentally come to grips with my Dr.'s decision before my upcoming meeting with my principal.

On Tuesday, I went in and spoke with my principal, his secretary, and my department head.  They were all extraordinarily supportive and understanding, even though they hated to see me leave.  Fortunately for my peace of mind, a substitute that had filled in for me last year--whom I knew to be a good teacher and to know her stuff in regards to Spanish--was available to take my place.  I at least know I left my kiddos in good hands.

I tendered my resignation effective that day.  I have finished the paperwork process of applying for my disability insurance, and now I'm just waiting to hear about my approval status.

I miss my school, my classroom so much, and miss teaching my kiddos more than I could have imagined.  I miss being a part of my school family.  I feel unfocused, and more than a bit lost.  I know part of that is the shock--I never dreamed I would be declared disabled at 25.  And it happened so quickly, without any control over the decision on my part.

I'm still not doing that great RA-wise.  I can't sit for too long, can't stand for too long.  As far as walking goes, the limp is getting a bit better, but it's still markedly there--and if I'm on my feet to long, it's just as bad as it was.  Even driving for too long is difficult--part of the reason I flew to Ft. Worth this weekend for Victoria's last bridal shower.  I have to be very careful with my house work--observing my weight limitations (especially with the laundry), not vacuuming, timing tasks so that I am not up for too long, and can sit down as needed.  It makes for very slow progress when I'm trying to clean the house.

I hope that things will get better.  I'd like to be able to start water aerobics again, but I have to wait until Dr. C clears me.  I think my return to gardening will take an even longer wait.  For now, I'm trying to eat healthy meals so that the disease-forced inactivity and the stress don't cause my weight to balloon.  I have two bridesmaid's dresses to fit into in less than a month after all!

I'm reading a lot, watching TV and movies.  I've started to write again--brainstorming stories and coming up with beginnings and characters mostly.  I can't write for too long for the same reason I can't do anything else for extended periods of time.  I'm hoping to type up what I have, but I'm on the computer in short bursts only--too much time makes my wrist and elbow start aching fiercely.  This post has taken several bursts to write.

That said, this is my outlet and a very necessary one at that.

I know that there are positives to this decision--hopefully, being on disability will slow the disease progression and reduce stress-induced flares.  This is of critical necessity--in only four years, I've already lost one joint (my right elbow), my right wrist is collapsing, and my right ankle is bad.
Hopefully, with a slow down in progression, I'll hurt less.
Hopefully, I won't get sick as much this year, being away from the germs of the high school.  Hopefully, a slow down will also mean that I'll still be able to be a good mom when Bryan and I have a kiddo of our own.
Hopefully a slow down will mean that, sooner or later, we can HAVE a kiddo of our own.

There's a lot of hope there.  I'm trying to keep my mental focus on that, instead of the shock and fear that being on disability has brought.  And it's even starting to help!  Eventually, I'll wrap my mind around the whole idea of disability, adjust my outlook to a more positive one, and life will be wonderful yet again--after all, that's how I dealt with being diagnosed at 21, and with every other obstacle this disease has thrown at me.

And the best thing that happened this last month?  Bryan came home last Friday :-D.  He finds more positive aspects to me being home--the laundry done!  dinner cooked!  house cleaned!  Lol.  And me (eventually) not hurting or being sick.  He helps me to see the positive in this situation, and he's been so wonderfully supportive and encouraging about the whole situation, even while he was gone.  But having him here so I can actually hug him is the best. :-)


  1. My eyes misted over a bit reading this. It's difficult to imagine that much pain, and really puts into perspective how much we take for granted. I sincerely hope that your condition will better as you put less strain on yourself. Just remember to never give up and keep on fighting. Nothing will ever change the fact that you're an awesome person and will continue to live and thrive. Bryan's a damn good guy for being so encouraging; my props go to him! You got your friends backing you up, too.

  2. My eyes misted up reading your comment :-). Thanks Ranza! Hope all is well with you.

  3. (Melissa)
    Hey sweet friend! I'm so sorry to hear about your big life change. I can only imagine what you're going through. My mom had to go on disability and stop teaching with her autoimmune disease, and it was so hard on her to be away from it all. She teaches with Sylvan online now, but it's not the same. You are strong and determined, and I know God is watching out for you and comforting you. I hope you'll find your routine and your sweet spot at home and can learn to enjoy it. I'll pray for you and this huge adjustment!

  4. Mel! I didn't know you had a blog, but I'm now following it! :-) I had forgotten your mama had an autoimmune disease too--how is she doing? Yeah, this whole disability thing has been a huge adjustment--I'm still working on it lol. It's hard, but I know it's ultimately for the best. I hope all is well with you!

    Alicia--BIG HUGS back!!! Thanks chica :-D.


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