As regular readers, or most recently, non-readers, know there has been lots of silence from me over the last couple of months. I’m back and happy to share that life is shiny and bright, and things are on the upswing.
As you may know, I have had long-term problems with my hands and wrists since being rear-ended and pushed into another vehicle more than five years ago. I’ve done physiotherapy, massage, Graston, ART, acupuncture, medications, and even resorted to surgery to try to resolve this injury. Nothing has helped me achieve better than tolerable function on my best days, and by May I was experiencing pain, stiffness and functional deficiencies comparable to the levels I had prior to the operations. I am also coping with additional symptoms, such as binding in the joints on my fingers, that have only developed over the last year.
It has become clear that my work as a teacher has played a significant role in the chronic inflammation present in my hands and wrists and the resulting symptoms. While the day-to-day classroom and teaching tasks aren’t generally problematic, the required evenings and weekends spent marking and commenting create major flare-ups of my symptoms. As much as we attempt to manage the injury, the truth is that at this time, I simply can’t maintain the pace and workload required of an English teacher. It took the first three weeks of resting this summer for me to see any improvement, and at the moment I’m grateful to be feeling significantly better.
On top of the issues with my paws, I have also been diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome, and even experienced what I am sure was a cyst rupture last December. The treatment for this condition often starts with birth-control pills, which make me feel like hell. Right now, my GP and I are going through the process of finding a brand of pill that does not give me unreasonable side-effects. The first three brands I tried have made me feel anxious, depressed, highly-irritable or a combination of those feelings, as well as bringing me splitting headaches and a class of pimples I have not sported since eight grade. Three weeks out of the month on these things since January, I’ve felt horrid, and during the week without pills, I feel like myself by about Wednesday. Sadly, a woman has take each brand for several months too see if the symptoms subside before trying a different kind.
The combination of these problems has been overwhelming for me sometimes over the last few months. There have been days I really struggled to get all the necessary things accomplished, and extras like blogging have fallen away by necessity in both a physical and emotional capacity.
I’ve really struggled with the direction to take in my career, especially since I’m a person who simply cannot settle for less than my best work. My neurologist, my physiotherapist, and my chiropractor have all recommended I explore alternate career paths that would limit my work to a set period (like 9 to 5) so I can have enough time to rest, seek more treatment, and hopefully gain some ground in the healing process. It’s been so challenging to even consider leaving teaching, which I love for many reasons. Equally difficult was considering the prospect of returning to the classroom and being unable to do the quality of work I can be proud of and which my students deserve, or of fighting to keep up to the point of causing irreparable damage.
I’ll take a moment to send a shout out to my amazing husband, who has taken such good care of me on my best days and on my worst days. I’m a lucky and grateful woman.
I reached the point where I called out into the universe for help because I didn’t know what else to do. I’m not a person who adheres to organized religion, but I certainly believe in a higher power, and I believe we get assistance when we truly need it. I asked for direction and I asked for a positive change. I promised I’d do my best to be brave and I promised I’d take care of myself.
And then I got everything I asked for.
Really. First, I felt clarity about what steps I needed to take to help myself, and a sense that things could get better if I was willing to take some risks and do some work. Friends and family supported me until I was ready to take action and improve my situation. Then I started moving forward.
I found a job posting that sounded too good to be true, on the day it was published.
I diligently worked on my resume: my heart pounded bongos in my ears when I finally hit the “send” button.
I was invited for an interview, then climbed the walls waiting to hear the results. Something in my gut told me to trust that the powers that be have wonderful things in store for me, and that this new position was the place I am supposed to be right now. I chose to trust that instinct and felt peace.
I got a call from the lovely woman who is now my boss after the longest weekend ever.
I was granted a leave of absence by my school board to explore this new opportunity, so I still have the option to return to teaching and haven’t burned any bridges.
I met with a friend who is a brilliant pharmacist, and she gave me the data I needed to choose the next birth control pill to try; I made a decision to try a new brand based on scientific evidence. I looked at what side-effects I want/need to avoid, while still treating my PCOS, and selected the best option suggested by the literature. My GP supported me and wrote the prescription.
So far, I have minimal negative side effects on this brand. My mood is level, my energy is returning, and the pain in my ovaries is declining. I no longer have big lumpy zits, which is a blessing in and of itself. Hooray!
I’m not sharing the specific details of my incredible new job because I’d like to maintain some degree of anonymity. It’s a healthy thing to keep my professional life and my blogging life separate, yes? What I will say is that my new role is still in education, that I will become a better teacher because of it, and that I am employed at a highly-respected University. I get to work closely with students and hopefully make a difference in their learning and in their futures. I will be in the office set hours and I am not expected to take any work home, which is exactly what was suggested by the medical folks for the sake of my hands. Under the conditions of this new job, I am optimistic my hands will improve and confident I can do quality work I can be proud of.
My new office is filled with phenomenal, like-minded people who have made me feel welcome and valued since the moment I started. They have made what was initially a daunting transition smooth and I am excited to again be part of a wonderful team, which was something I really valued at my previous school. I need to feel like I’m something bigger, and I’m so grateful that hasn’t disappeared from my life.
I’m not going to pretend I didn’t have a little cry when I drove home after cleaning out my former classroom at the school. I have been blessed to work with talented and dedicated people in my life as a classroom teacher, and I’m sad about the close of those positive working relationships. Walking away–at least for now–from being the teacher I imagined I’d be since childhood was emotional, but there was something very powerful about accepting the realities of what I’m capable of at this time, and there was something reassuring in the knowledge I have the ability to make healthy decisions for myself.
People talk about opportunity knocking. I think you need to not only be prepared to open the door, but also to tell opportunity where you live because nothing wonderful is very likely to land on your doorstep unless it has your address and knows you’re ready for a visit.
Leave your porch lights on, friends.
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