Monday, June 17, 2013

I Heart Summer

Next to Christmas, summer has always been my favorite time of year. Because I am a teacher, I do not have the opportunity to work during the summer. (Just to clarify, no teacher gets paid for summers off. We all get paid only for the hours in our contract and some are lucky to get extra time for special projects, but no vacation is paid.) I use this time to reflect on my teaching as a high school IT teacher, and to teach summer fitness classes and help others find their fitness groove. I also try to kill my husband. Well that's his definition of I get us out playing on the water, kayaking, biking to nearby and not-so-nearby cities, and all sorts of fun things.

This morning, my first official day of summer break, I felt really down. I thought back to last year. I remember still struggling so much with fatigue and brain pain, I had to cancel almost all of my fitness classes. It was really a hard thing to do because I felt I was letting people down. I didn't cancel the running group because I had a group of people who volunteered to assistant coach with me. We arranged it and I felt great that I could still do that, but very sad about the rest of it. Sadly most of the people who volunteered to help were unable to; some for very good reasons (like having new twins is HARD!) and some for unexplained reasons. Some just floated out of my life with no explanation. I still wonder what happened; what I said or did. That was very very hurtful and it still stings quite a bit because it isn't like I wasn't thankful, or was inconsiderate, or was faking it. Maybe they did think I was milking it.

I suppose that happens with most people who deal with chronic pain. There is always going to be those who think you're over-reacting. What are you gonna do?

I was sure that if I took last summer off I would return to work as a teacher rejuvenated and that would be the end of my healing.

I'm so afraid that it was the end of my healing, but that wasn't what I meant when I defined "the end of my healing". I thought I'd be completely better and the headaches would be gone, my energy would be back, my brain wouldn't reboot, and I'd be my old self again.

Since last summer I have seen improvement in my fatigue level. It isn't a problem any more, although I still need more hours of sleep per night. That's not a huge deal. What I have seen no improvement in is the brain pain. That's why I say I fear that was the end of my healing.

This morning I got out for a run early enough to take my older dog (he really is affected by the heat) and Flik my little Bo-Chi (Boston Terrier/Chihuahua mix). Flik is a BEAST when it comes to running. He has the terrier musculature so he's a great little runner. He's run up to 13 miles with me. Wiley has done up to 20, but he's starting to peter out around five now. Makes me sad. Anyhow, got out with them while it was still cool. I could feel the headache racheting up, so I didn't put it off. Unfortunately my plan to run five miles was dropped to three. My head hurt, I was dizzy, (common when my head is bad), and I had to stop early.

That's when I cried a little. I had a little pity party because I'm not who I was two summers ago. I hate that. I hate that I can't just hop out of bed, teach a bootcamp class, run a few more miles, then go for a 30 mile bike ride. (This is my definition of about as perfect a summer day as can be, provided my honey is with me.) I know I'll still be able to do all of those things, just probably not all at once.

So what can I look forward to this summer? I am teaching five bootcamp classes a week. Three will be at 6 a.m. and two at 5:30 pm. I think that's going to be just fine, and I do have backup for evening class. I will be teaching a stroller class at 9 a.m. two mornings a week. It'll be a low impact class, so I think I'll  be okay. I also have running classes on the weekend. I'm VERY thankful that I will be doing all of this, and I think I'll be okay. I know some days will be hard but I think I can power through, I just wish I didn't have to power through. I just look forward to the day when I don't even THINK about pain.

Headache today: about a level six.

Monday, June 10, 2013

If I'm Going to Have an Ice Cream Headache least I should get some damn ice cream!

I wish I could clearly communicate what it feels like to have this brain pain. Sometimes there is pressure, sometimes there are tingles (almost feels like my brain is vibrating), usually my ears ring (but they aren't today, and really it's only one ear...maybe it's aliens trying to communicate), often my ears feel like they are "hot" and not in a good way. Today it's my ice cream headache where it feels like just after the spike in the ice cream headache when it still hurts but not as bad as the spike. So it's like the feeling never really goes away.

I didn't take any pain meds today, just some excedrin because I don't have any more refills and I don't want rebound headaches. It's also the end of the school year and we have summer school starting next week. I'm the IT person (and a teacher, I wear BOTH capes, 'cause I'm cool like Fonzie) and that means I have to have all computer labs ready to rumble. Unfortunately since I lost some of my memory last year I am flying blind on how to do this. Our school burned down a few years back and we didn't have summer school for awhile. Last year was the first time in years, and I am sure I set it up...who else would have? Unfortunately I literally have no memory of it. I did find an email that I sent out with usernames and passwords, so obviously I did it. I remember things I have done a lot before the brain explosion, quite well. In fact while I was in the middle of the short term memory issues where I would sometimes forget what I was doing while I was doing it, I could teach concepts I've been teaching for years. (It helps that my curricula is super-organized and I write it all myself). But if I had to do something new, I'd read about it before lecture, have it bookmarked on a computer, and ta da I'd totally forget it. Or math...that was fun. I would try to do math and my brain for a few months, could not do basic math. I am told I once argued with a student that 5+2 was 9. I learned to just laugh it off, say "Sorry! Brain damage!" and move on. It would hurt too much to force it.

But I digress...this has left me setting up for summer school with very little to go on. I think I'm doing okay, but it is a lot of stress. So today I chalked my headache up to stress. I think that was part of it. Part of it is that it's going to rain tomorrow so the barometer is dropping.

I don't know whether I should feel proud that I do get so much done with the brain pain, or if I should slow down. I guess my worry is that if I slow down I am giving in. I mean I'm 48 years old. I take excellent care of myself (I lost 100 pounds and I've kept it off for 10 years). I could live another 51 years (since my husband is aware that I fully plan to live to be 99 and then I'll reassess my life plans). Do I want to "slow down" when I'm barely halfway through my life? Hell to the NO! So I keep going. Today I managed a few things:

  1. I got dressed. I know you're jealous of my accomplishments.
  2. I went to work as a teacher (I teach high school IT classes).
  3. I did not kill any children. Parents tend to frown on that.
  4. I managed to set up the user accounts for summer school.
  5. I set up the menu for week one of clean eating (first week school is out).
  6. I taught a kick-ass bootcamp, although I couldn't participate all the way.
  7. I donated a small amount to Hands for Baby Jameson. Check out Hector Picard's page and be prepared to be awed. What an amazing man.
  8. I wrote this blog post. Well I'm writing this blog post. 

So back to the ice cream. Today's headache is brought to you by Ben and Jerry and the letter 7, which is about the pain level I have been dealing with most of the day. So where is my ice cream?