Saturday, October 24th started out pretty fantastic. I was feeling fine, great in fact. I even put on a legitimate one man show of Newsies for my nephew, Ethan, while he ate a snack. It’s not pretty and actually super embarrassing, but I’m going to post it, just because A) I think it’s hilarious, B) It is the last time I have been able to be my silly self, listen to music, run, yell, spin, whip around, make stuff up on the fly, shake my head, jump, stand on one foot, and multi-task in general without becoming nauseous, getting a blinding headache, losing my balance, or having to sleep for the next two days to make up for “over-doing it”.
Amazing, right? My personal favorite is at 1:35 when he sees me way back in the distance and gets excited because he knows my (incredibly graceful jete) leaps are coming. So cute! It makes me laugh and so happy to see his little face fill with joy!
But the truth is even though I love that video, I hate that video. Every time I watch it along with his smiling face, I see a me that I’m not sure I’ll ever be again. It leaves me wondering if that was the last time my sweet nephew gets to see that silly auntie. Wondering how I could go from that to where I am now so quickly.
So anyway, that was around 4-4:30 on Saturday. Later that night, while I was eating dinner my left ear suddenly felt “full” and muffled like I was getting an ear infection. I tend to get at least one ear infection a year so it wasn’t too alarming. In my 4th year teaching, I’ve become a pro at responding to the first signs of any illness. So, I quickly chugged some orange juice and AirBorne and took some Benadryl and nasal decongestants. I took it easy for the rest of the night, drank some tea, and went to bed early. I don’t mess around because as any teacher will tell you, it is easier to go in sick than it is to get ready for a sub. Besides that, this is my first year at a new school so I hadn’t accrued very many sick days. Those suckers are priceless.
But the next morning, something was clearly wrong. My left ear still felt full, I couldn’t hear out of it, but in addition to that there was a really loud ringing/buzzing/whooshing in it as if I had stood right next to the speaker at a concert the night before. It was almost like a hairdryer on high constantly running in my ear. I was really dizzy, my eyes couldn’t focus-they felt crossed. I felt like I was spinning and floating. I couldn’t walk without running into walls or tables. My head HURT-there was pain and pressure like it was in a vice, and the pain would change locations and intensities really quickly but never go away. I was having a hard time focusing, concentrating on anything. Sounds and lights made me recoil in pain and made the everything else worse. I kept saying “This is more than just an ear infection.” I just didn’t know what. Still, I kept hoping I was wrong and everything would calm down in a day or two with some rest. At that point though, I decided I had to take Monday off.
Obviously I couldn’t drive, but as a teacher on a Sunday I had to get my room ready for a sub. My sister graciously drove me in to school, but once there I realized it was pretty pointless. I mainly just sat at my desk, too overwhelmed to really do much of anything. My eyes still weren’t focusing. I couldn’t read the computer, textbooks, workbooks, or my own writing for that matter. My head was pounding, and I felt helpless. I tried to write things on the board, but I kept misspelling easy words, making simple mistakes. I literally couldn’t think. So, I grabbed about 5 videos pertaining to current subject matter, printed out some graphic organizers, scribbled down basic instructions and hoped for the best.
That was tough. I happen to be a bit of a control freak when it comes to planning for subs. Think of a new mom leaving her infant for the first time…with a teenager. That’s how I treat my subs; meticulously broken down instructions, labeled piles placed in order, names written on papers for modified assignments, stamped ready-to-go passes, prizes to bribe the kids, bulleted lists of “pointers” for each class, a form for the sub to fill out throughout the day. Ridiculous. I know it. But, these are my babies. I always say “No one can teach my kids as well as I can”. I love subs and loved subbing, but even the best sub hasn’t built the relationships, learned the hard lessons, or have my compassion and intuition when it comes to my kids. So yea, that was tough…