Thursday, October 6, 2016

Grieving and Processing

Remember four days ago when I said this:

"I am a teacher.  This diagnosis is one giant teachable moment.  How I handle crisis and illness, how I handle difficulties and potentially embarrassing situations, is something that will be observed by my children, my students, and my community at large.  It is my opportunity to continue to make an impact.  I want to be able to laugh at myself, and show determination.  Yes, I do feel sorry for myself. Yes, I have said why me.  I don't think I would be human if I didn't.  And who knows - three months down the road I could have a totally have a different perspective.  Right now, in this moment in time, I am a teacher.  And I will continue to be so as long as I can."

Specifically this:

"And who knows - three months down the road I could have a totally have a different perspective." 

Well, it hasn't even been a week and my perspective has changed.  Yes, already.  I mean I still believe that this is one giant teachable moment, but I would rather have something else to teach.  Even Statistics.  I failed Statistics.  I had to take it twice.  I would rather teach Statistics.

I believe I might have hit rock bottom.  (I mean, I say that now, but look how much has changed in four days).  I went into the bathroom Tuesday night to take a shower, and in my attempt to take off my t-shirt, I lost my balance and bashed the bridge of my nose into the bathroom mirror.  I know that doesn't seem like a big deal to most, but I was just trying to take off my shirt.  By myself.  Something I have done every day, even multiple times, by myself, probably for the past 45 years.  And I couldn't do it.  I got hysterical.  Not because my nose hurt (it did), but because I couldn't take off my fucking shirt.

That night, after Adam took off my shirt, and I took a shower, and I iced my nose, I went to sleep.  All night I dreamed about falling.  Falling from my wheelchair, falling while using my walker, tripping over steps.  And every time I fell, I woke up.  I was so anxious and distraught the next morning I couldn't get out of bed.  And this is what happens.  I can't get out of bed, I can't go into work, I can't put forward my grand plan of making an impact by continuing to be a teacher.

So I stopped.  I just stopped.  And I am taking some time to grieve and process.  Grieve what I have lost, and will be losing.  Process how I am going to move forward.  Granted, I thought I had it all figured out, but alas, I don't.  Someone I love very much said to me - you have just been given probably the worst news you could be given about your health.  It seems a bit unrealistic to be able to jump right back into work, especially since what you do is so taxing on your mind, emotions, and body.

I am learning that I might have some unrealistic expectations for myself.  I think I have these unrealistic expectations for myself because I so desperately want for things to be "normal".  I want to be able to walk down the steps at a quick pace, jump in my car and run to Target for a few things, take my dog for a walk through the trails, and take my fucking shirt off without whacking my nose!  I want to be the old me, the one who is able and not disabled.  The one who can do it.  I have always been the one to do it.

Last night Gillian was inducted into Tri M, a national music honor society.  As I was leaving my seat to transfer back into my wheelchair, I stumbled and fell back into the seat.  I tend to say "I'm falling" when I am falling.  I am not sure why I do that.  It is pretty obvious that I am falling, so there is really no need to declare it.  I was embarrassed, but I know that it made the people around me really uncomfortable and sad.  So I sent a text to a few friends later that night apologizing for making them feel uncomfortable.  What the hell?!  Why did I do that?!  Why did I feel compelled to apologize for something that is completely out of my control?!  

This is what I have to process.  This is what I have to grieve.  I recognize that this writing is raw, and scary, and full of sad things.  But I do not have anything positive to say right now.  I am in a woe-is-me moment, and I need to be here for a while.  Maybe more than a while.  It will be intermixed with positive moments and Facebook posts, as I try to climb back up.

Last night I had the falling dreams again.  Falling from my wheelchair, falling out of my bed, falling from the rocking chair in my classroom.  But last night some of the times I was falling, there was someone there to pick me up.  Sometimes it was Adam.  Sometimes Lisa.  Sometimes Sarah.  Very often it was Janet, my friend and principal.  Sometimes they caught me.  Sometimes I fell and they were there to help me up from the ground.  Sometimes they got to me in time.  Sometimes they didn't. You don't have to be a genius to analyze these dreams and see their significance.

So bear with me my friends.  I am still me.  Please continue to love me.  Even like me, when I might not be so likable.  I am desperate for normalcy, but I no longer know what that is.  I am going to be writing sad and scary things, and bearing my soul to you, not because I want to, but because I have to.  This is part of the grieving and processing.

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