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A Health Update and other Ramblings

May 31, 2011

The days here are moving fast enough, yet I’m tired of teaching.  That’s right; I’m not afraid to say it.  I’m tired of teaching.  My fatigue – although, getting better – has been an incredible strain on my work days.  I suppose I also attribute my lethargy to my lack of “teaching stamina”.  I’ve talked a lot with my kids about reading more and more everyday to improve reading stamina.  I’m on the same boat with my teaching.  Mr. Rongcal tired everybody.

The symptom of fatigue is really new for me, but like any chronic disease you learn to live with it the best you can.  And in my years of having this disease I’ve recently just learned new things about it and how it affects my body – as I reluctantly brave others’ blogs on the disease and actually try and do some research on the topic for myself.  I learned that stress increases the disease’s activity and its symptoms (not to mention the painful cycle of my symptoms causing me stress).  Also, the fatigue I’m talking about apparently cannot be relieved through more rest or sleep (as I quickly learned).  So, even on a goodnight’s rest, body has felt tired!  Also recently, I’ve began seeing a physical therapist.  From him I’ve (re)learned one important thing about regular physical therapy: it increases the longevity – the usage – of my joints.  I always felt I knew that, but it really clicked when he said it.  R.J….With 100 percent certainty, doing these exercises will give your joints a longer life span.  Make no bones about it.

Anyways…the days are moving fast enough, but there is still so much to do (as if a teachers’ life is ever peaches and gravy when it comes to To-Do Lists.)  Speaking of notes and to-do lists, I wrote on a post-it note to myself several weeks back (in earnest hand-writing): Your health is THE MOST important thing right now!  And I leave my self post-its all over my desk at school and my apartment, pretty soon it’s just this potpourri of different colored papers and inks looking back at me in disappointment.  To add to the irregular effectiveness of this tactic, every Wednesday my maid, Mira, so routinely takes any papers that are in my place – on my coffee table, in the kitchen, where ever.  And creates one nice, neat little stack as if they all belong together.  I have writing assessments mixed with prescription forms, song lyrics mixed with restaurant menus.  Naturally, all the post-it notes I’ve been writing for weeks and weeks become sporadically interspersed amidst all those papers.  But I can’t really hide the post-it notes from her; that would kind of defeat the purpose.

I suppose the days are going fast enough, in that, they are busy.  Tutoring twice a week.  Environmental Fun Club every Monday.  Staff meetings on Tuesdays.  Although, I did have to give up something I fell in love with rather quickly, and that my friends is…Ultimate Frisbee.  In my attempt to network beyond my own co-workers and more so to routinely exercise and get my body somewhat ready for my summer hiking adventures, I began playing Frisbee with a group of ex-pats twice a week for two hours at another American school across the freeway from ours.  I loved it, but my knees, ankles, and toes did not.  Three weeks of playing this quick-paced game of constant sprinting, cutting, jumping, pivoting, etc. was enough to send me straight to physical therapy.  In eight years of having this disease, this is the first time I’ve seen a physical therapist.  It’s not that my joints haven’t been worse before, because they have been much, much worse!  But I finally felt I needed more professional help other than my Rheumatologist and my own independent research.

I know ultimate frisbee is not a high-contact sport, but my body just could not handle the constant exertion against the astroturf.   The short of it:  my body’s different that it was…even one year ago.  Thus, I’m needing to figure out what changes I need to make in my life in order to…respect this disease – whether it be changes in my diet, physical activity, the shoes I wear, the positions in which I sleep, whatever.

As I was saying, the days are…busy, busy, busy.  Despite the fact my papers are piling up at work, I still find myself researching travel plans during my planning periods.  It’s kind of its own vacation in itself.  Sending the kids off to specials and…browsing “Things to Do in Gimmelwald”, reading hostel reviews in Heidelberg and Amsterdam, scrolling train times to align with my hostel check-in and check-out times, and reading bloggers’ own experiences of when they travelled Central Europe.  That’s one way I’ve been spending my planning periods at work.  Clear cut sign I’m ready to knock all this sand out of my shoes.

I’ve never been a fan of counting down the days toward a special occasion.  It always seemed counter-productive, like watching the stove for a pot of water to boil.  But I think it’s only natural at this point in the year to entertain those feelings of…celebration…freedom…those feelings that all build up as you pack your things, say your goodbyes, and walk through security…to finally touchdown once again and walk into that glorious and intoxicating summer.

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