Tuesday, April 15, 2014
I cannot believe how much I was able to do in one day, but Monday was a testament to my resolve and hard work. On top of teaching all day, I finished all but two items on my 18 item "to do" list. I was able to finally get in with the principal. That was big on its own! I was able to get approval for my sub choice and to find out there was absolutely no changing minds on the other half of my day. I then submitted the letter I had written to explain program changes to families and get it approved. I also got to share my concerns about a few students and the Tertiary team and staff who are causing me so much difficulty. In return, she visited me later in the day with my evaluation write-up from the observation she did on September 16. (Our union president told me that she had 7-10 days to complete that, but who's counting? This is one of many typical things with her...)
Anyway, I got all of those letters printed and distributed to the children for their parents. I was contacted by the nurse at the local hospital clinic about the OR report they need at University Hospital who directed me to a medical records person. She took the information and promised to fax it to them. I was able to cancel four of five coming medical appointments. My dental appointment is waiting for the dental people to get back to me. I sent out information to the staff twice--once about the changes in my program and once about the coming ball game. I also worked with my friend and her therapy dog with my students, taught my lessons including a semi-cooking lesson with one group who made "ants on a log" that was the focus of a story we read, and I submitted a large stack of files to the principal for storage. I created a large packet of paperwork for submission to the folks in administration, found out the status of my FMLA paperwork and got information about the sick leave bank to help cover my time off of work. I met with a teacher about one of her students I am tutoring, created a summary document for her and the parent about the child's current level of functioning and her strengths and needs and I met with the parent after school. I did everything I could to contact another parent, but hit a roadblock because of disconnected phones--I may have to do a home visit on Wednesday which will get in the way of my needs, but the child needs me to advocate for him. I completed the kids' Easter baskets with a few items I had at home and raided Miles to give him his new GPS early. (He is going to have to travel for the first time to get his sister for her Easter break and it seems silly for me to hold it when he needs it so much.) I am in the process of updating student reports and need to look up their entry data to add to the form--my sub will have to fill in thesting data from her work in May.
After work, I went to the pool and swam laps before my water aerobics class. I cannot stress to anyone with back or other orthopedic/ arthritis pain how helpful the water is and I cannot let you know how blessed I am to have access to a fitness center with a pool. Our fitness center is part of the city's park and rec program and we get discounted rates for being public school employees. (I pay less than $20 twice a month for a full family membership--that is sweet compared to the price of similar programs around here!) Membership gives us discounts on classes and the one I am taking is free to members. It doesn't always have the same instructor, but two of them push us hard and one of those instructors was available on Monday. I came home, worked on some paperwork for our family and wrote a letter. I fell asleep for a short nap and had left over turkey from yesterday for dinner. It was kind of quiet after my day.
Tuesday is a big day. My friend Lynne who is subbing for me is coming to shadow me and get ready to sub on Thursday. I have to keep working at contacting that parent which will probably include me chasing a car in the parking lot today. I have a shipment of donated supplies to retrieve and put away--it is big because I ordered all of the books that were on the order form for building wide LDC activities. I have to pack up those Easter baskets and my boxes of gifts for coming family events that I keep at school to keep nosy children away from. (I started this some 20 years ago--one place they just cannot find anything for coming holidays for is at school, it has kept surprises intact for all of this time, but since I won't be at school, they will need to come home.) I have to start packing up my plants as well... I cannot expect Lynne to care for them or Digger, my "reading bunny."
I am astounded at how well I did and how many things tumbled off of that "to do" list--it went beyond my expectations for the day. If Tuesday goes as planned, Wednesday shouldn't be so traumatic or "last-minute" for me. That would be a desirable blessing. In the meantime, I am working on my post-surgical stays and information. I have learned which local facilities for care are my possibilities and which are the most desirable. I have been thinking about where to choose for my physical therapy and I am about 75% decided on that. I know I cannot jump the gun and know what is best for me until I know how I am. It sounded like we will be doing the procedure with an incision on my tummy and then the big part with an incision on my back, from what I understood when the nurse at the hospital and I were talking on the phone and that faxed OR report came through.
Tonight after work, I have my Weight Watcher's meeting and then am going grocery shopping to stock the house for my family while I am gone. This will be tricky and time consuming--I have already conceded my pool time for today and some 3-4 hours shopping will count for a lot of steps today. It would be nice if I could get a bit more sleep to handle what I need to accomplish today.
It is scary to think about what is coming--but my focus is on what can be. One thing will be a reduction in this lousy pain and being able to sleep in a bed. Regular sleep in a bed like everyone else is one awesome outcome that I cannot welcome enough!
Have a great day!
Sunday, April 13, 2014
I HAVE A SUB!! I spent a good deal of time talking to my friend and former instructor, Lynne, and she is willing to sub the half days for me. Her expertise is in reading acquisition and she will be amazing for my first graders which are the students who I decided will get service, since they are only letting half of them get a program while I am gone. She is also sensitive to the fact that I need to heal and have to let it all go when I leave on Wednesday. I went to school today for another reason, but I organized my to do list and included turning in all of my paperwork for the year--it will leave her final test scores to post on it. I have a note ready for all of my parents, to let them know of the changes coming their child's way--either a new teacher or their program ending for the year. I AM planning to end my year when I walk out of the door on Wednesday. The team is not going to defeat me either.
I went to my son's apartment today. His new little dinette set that we got him for his birthday came and his father and brother put it together for him. I have good taste, it is really nice. I love the little bistro chairs that swivel just enough. Anyway, his apartment is almost done--he has to finish decluttering--and what is left is up to him. I have a couple more things I want to get for him and he needs a new futon and two new area rugs, but for now, it is good.
I organized the kids Easter baskets today--and they are ready to go. Each of them have a nice gift and a few small gifts, some nuts, cheese and crackers, and a chocolate cross for Easter. I think they will be pleased and should be a fairly healthy alternative to what is more traditional. Each basket is something that they will be able to use for any number of other things. I will be able to label them with a nice bow and bag them up and send them home. (They are at school where I have hidden gifts and surprises for many, many years in whatever building I am in. I am pleased with the things I have gotten. I got Matthew and Mason each some pants and shirts, Micah gets a hoodie, a CD he has wanted and a couple of MLB items. Megan and Marissa are both getting a really special pendant and charms from Origami Owl. Miles is getting a GPS and Marshall is getting a DS3 game he has wanted. Mitchell is getting a bunch of White Sox items and Laura is getting a charm bracelet with about 10-12 special charms like an engagement ring and other wedding related charms along with a musical note, her birthstone, and other personal choices. All three of the girls will be able to add to their charms as they like. It was fun shopping for what I know each of them likes and needs (without the Christmas shopping stress.) I know my kids are grown up, but I still like to give them gifts like they have grown up with. I may go to a dollar store and buy them a few personal care items that I know they use--it's always nice to have extras of those kinds of things on hand.
Right now, we are decluttering my wardrobe and dresser. Hooray for spring cleaning. I am proud to say that the last of my "big clothes" are boxed up for Goodwill now. I will NEVER need them again--that is my promise to me!
It has been quite a productive day. It started with a beautiful Palm Sunday service. "Hosanna. Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest." We put flowers on the alter in memory of my dad whose birthday was April 14. We picked out some beautiful pink hyacinths and the bulbs will go in my spring flower bed. Anyway, we had a lovely choir anthem and a really touching sermon--can't ask for much more than that. The pastor had put my name on the prayer chain list and I had so many people offering prayers and warm thoughts for me, I was blessed and personally, deeply touched by all.
I have more to do--a couple of bills to pay and other such tasks--I have helped whittle down things on my mind today. I will keep at this in the morning with a phone call to get those OR papers faxed to my surgeons and to cancel some medical appointments. I do go to the pool after work for lap swimming before my water aerobics class. Tuesday, my sub is spending the entire morning with me. After school, I have Weight Watchers and then I will go grocery shopping for my family while I am gone. I will also pick up thos items I wanted for the Easter baskets. We may eat out for dinner--I haven;t decided. I am going to splurge on my favorite pizza for dinner on Wednesday. Wednesday will be tricky enough--I have to take all of my plants home along with the Easter baskets and my "stash." (I keep a box of gifts at school that I pick up as I shop or buy from the book and gift salesman who comes to our school.) We also have to bring Digger, my classroom bunny home--and clean her cage. I will leave one day of plans at school for Lynne--she will be able to run with what goes on.
Anyway, I am getting their--all will work out and I will not have a worry. Please pray that I will be discharged to home and not to a skilled nursing care center. I surely do not want to do that!
Blessings to all!
Friday, April 11, 2014
This has been an eventful, fast-paced, high-energy successful and yet frustrating week. So much has went on, that I will try to share the big points.
My week started off with me trying to do things the right way, being responsible. I filled out the FMLA paperwork, shared my surgery date (Thursday, April 17) with the principal, completing taxes for the children and insurance paperwork, talking to lawyers about a couple of things, and recruiting reading specialists I know to sub for me. I felt on top of my situation, especially when I got two very wonderful reading teachers to consider sharing my job. I was so happy to know that I had a "Dream Team" to care for my students.
Tuesday was not as rewarding. I got an email from downtown administration that said they would only pay for a half-day sub for me, leaving me to figure out how to explain this to these two wonderful ladies and the idea that only half of my students were going to receive help in reading for the rest of the year. The children were a bit difficult as well. I decided to let the administrators fight the big battle--I went to Weight Watchers and was pleased that I lost 2.2, over what I had unreasonably gained the week before. I also knew that the following day was going to be the one where I put the pieces together with everyone.
Wednesday started off really badly and went downhill quickly. One of the members of the team I am part of to make plans to help kids having problems in school sent out an email at 10:03PM the night before to tell us we had a meeting on Wednesday. Of course, I didn't check my work emails at that hour and I missed an important meeting for four of my kids. I had words with two of the members of that group throughout the day--both trying to blame all of the kids' problems on teachers...Grr-rr, not oversized classrooms or children with a multitude of needs that aren't being met. On top of that, I subbed for a primary teacher int he morning when we had a building full of visitors, one being the superintendent in the room I had and I was not able to talk to the principal all day because she was always tied up with others--when I had a lot of important things to discuss. (I still haven't been able to hold those conversations.) Thursday had a big continuation of those problems and I worked so hard that I didn't even get to the bathroom until 2:50 that day.
Today, I had planned to take the morning off for my pre-op work-ups at University Hospital. I had a 9 AM appointment and the nurse told me that I could come early. I did and it was a good thing--we didn't leave there today until 3:13 PM. Some of what I was expecting has been changed. Dr. Mendoza has decided to leave the hardware in place from my lumbar fusion when ordinarily, he might not have done so. His concern is the fact that I had an infection in my spine which would leave my bones more porous and he wouldn't be able to attach the new hardware sufficiently--to my advantage, that will eliminate the need for me to have two surgeries. The plan is for my spine surgeon and a vascular surgeon to start my surgery with an incision in my tummy so they can move my organs and dodge major blood vessels to place the spacer in my spine that will force my back into an upright position. Then, the vascular surgeon will be done and they will turn me over and work on my back, using hardware and screws to make my back stay in the correct position, The docs realized that I had had a prior abdominal surgery while I was there and now need to get my OR report from that surgery to see if they have to abort the first part of my surgery and do a far more complicated procedure, going through my back for everything. Although this isn't desirable, it can be done this way. As soon as they get the report, they will let me know exactly how this surgery will work. Either way, it is a 9-12 hour procedure and I will spend 2-3 days in ICY and a total of 7-8 days in the hospital. Physical therapy will decide where I go when I get discharged--home, a skilled nursing facility or a rehab facility. In any case, all systems are go for next Thursday--they will call me between 2 and 5PM to let me know when to be at the hospital. It is a 75 minute drive from here, so it is sure to be an early morning.
We rescheduled our week in the food pantry for this week and after that, I have lunch with my best friend before I go to the pool. I have about a half a dozen appointments that need rescheduling or canceling on Monday. I will need to confirm my sub and get her to my room to share logisitics. I have some tidying up to do there and bit of paperwork and some other odds and ends that need finishing. I have to take the gifts for my family that I sneak to school home and prepare Easter baskets--I still have a gift to get. (Each of the kids get a nice gift, a few trinkets and a couple of sweet treats--I cannot help myself. I select healthier sweets and the gift is the big deal in their baskets--I have some really special gifts this year. :) My husband will have to put them out since I will be int he hospital and miss out on Easter and church. One of our parish nurses is preparing a meal for my family (She is making duplicates of what she is preparing for her family, how amazing is that!)
The coming days are very busy for me--I must have some stress-free time, no more monkey business at school. I will be here as I can!
Saturday, April 05, 2014
As most of you know, my week back to work after spring break wasn't really a good time. I needed this weekend so I could get my focus back onto self-care and the things that are important. I got a bit in on Friday--I realized that the other two people I had outdoor duty with were placing themselves in such a way that they didn't have to deal with the big kids. Since that was so awfula nd since I was "allowed" to do the job all week, I played the same game on Friday. I went to the lines where the primary kids were and got myself busy so that they had to handle the older kids. It was still chilly and I was still busy, but I didn't feel that frustration over the uncooperative disrespectful behavior I had to deal with the rest of the week. I'm sorry if it was less than honorable, but I had reached my point of no return.
I did receive a call about my surgery date late Friday morning. I am going to wait to share it publicly, so the principal gets to hear it first from me (even though I suspect this place is private from the people I work for.) I will tell her on Monday if she is back. She was gone on Thursday and Friday. I will tell you that it is coming much sooner than I expected and it leaves me with a lot to do on my job and at home, preparing the house, meals, and so on for my family. I am expecting information on my online chart and the nurse told me that I would need to come in on Friday for my pre-op work-up and to be fitted for my back brace. I sure hope that I will be eligible for the sick leave bank because I am not sure how my family will handle me being unpaid financially. I am sure we will work it out, but I hope that they don't have to cancel my contract and insurance. That is a lot of money to deal with.
We had a nice time at the Lenten book study we are joining in with at church. We are reading and discussing a book called "An Altar in the World" by Barbara Brown Taylor. I recommend this book to everyone who wants to do some personal/spiritual growth. On a slightly related topic, I went to a morning conference today put on by QCAIR (Quad Cities Alliance of Immigrants and Refugees.) I attended three sessions--the first was about PTSD and other mental health needs of refugees. The second was a panel discussion by immigrant. refugee parents about their children and public schools. Their biggest concern was that we should call them and keep trying to contact them--they all work full time and are going to school full time to learn English. They are busy, busy people who admire and respect us. The last session I went to was a group of ten high school ELL students who shared what life was like in their home country. There wasn't a dry eye in the place. These young people have been to the war and back. Many got to come here, but their parents and immediate families did not. As a group, they all want to get the education that is available and then they want to help their families and home country. They long for peace in their home countries and they have all seen and been part of the worst violence that you can imagine. They are true survivors and many of them heroes. Then they come to the US and are shunned because their language and clothing aren't "right." Many of them are very bright, speaking 4-6 languages and they can care for the people they live with because they can speak English. I was so impressed by them and their attitudes.
It has been a week for thought. I am so blessed in so many ways.
With more to come soon....
Wednesday, April 02, 2014
It's been a difficult day from the very beginning to the end--sometimes things happen, I know. It was frigid cold outside today because of the wind and a lower temperature than expected. I went out for my duty and I had two pair of gloves on. The longer that I was out, the colder it got--my fingers were burning. They were hurting and my back was really objecting. I was out to help watch our kids all in lines waiting to go inside. Some were wearing shorts and many weren't wearing socks. I took my first opportunity to go inside and after going outside at 8, it was about 9:20 before my hands starting feeling normal again. My fingertips stayed swollen all day long. And that doesn't even begin to describe the pain in my back. I got all teary-eyed for a few seconds before I could control it--and I was angry to be in that situation.
I added one more group of students during my only 20 minute break for this quarter. I also added several other students filling my room to capacity. I am so worried about all of the need in our building right now--class sizes are so big and the new students that have moved us from a building of 480 to a building of 548 are all needy students. There is more to do than I can possibly do.
That took me to my evening and my WW meeting. Somehow, I gained 1.8 this week and even though I can explain that I did NOTHING to cause this. I know that the intensity and length of my workouts during break could have created muscle while breaking down fat. I know that having a week where my weight balances itself after losing over 11 pounds and over 5% of my body weight in 3 weeks is also very logical. But, I hated hearing this!! It was like the lousy ending to a lousy day!! (I know that I passed on eating ice cream and cake at two parties, two days in a row over the weekend--and I know that I stuck to my eating plan perfectly with not one bite unrecorded or going over my amount of food even once.) I know this happens, but it didn't make me happy at all,
That brings me to today. I am hopeful that I hear from University Hospital today to let me know when I will be starting my surgery and going down a path to less pain, the ability to stand up straight and walk unassisted, and the chance to live a more "normal" life. Maybe this other stress will back down with my physical stress being reduced. I cannot consider things like a career change/ move until my medical needs are met.
Ii's 5 AM, so I could try to sleep a bit more or I could start getting ready for work...or I could continue doing what I am doing now, which is nothing that couldn't wait until later. I don't know...
Take care of yourselves!
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