Monday, March 23, 2015


That month was a blur.  I expected to be less busy after science fair, but the two classes I am taking are keeping me hopping, mostly because I keep implementing stuff I am learning.

Also, I'm falling apart (again).  My RA is still flaring unbelievably, to the point where round-the-clock ibuprofen is having next to no effect, at least on my hands. (I've given up - I'm trying to get in to the rheumatologist for pain management.)  But the real kicker is my neck, which has been bothering me since the beginning of the year so I finally went to the doctor, who ordered an x-ray (first).  You know it's bad when you can see the problem on the x-ray.  I had the neck MRI on Friday and I'm waiting to hear what my next steps will be: most likely physical therapy, maybe a brace, but I need something to manage the pain.  600 mg of ibuprofen 3x/day as a therapeutic dose like I did last time is helping a bit but not completely. 

Then there are the headaches, which are not back-of-the-head headaches that I would get from my neck, but middle-of-the-head, behind my eyes headaches, sometimes my front teeth hurt.  This makes me nervous that it has to do with the pituitary adenoma, because I've also noticed light sensitivity and a couple of brief moments of double vision.  When I saw my eye doctor for my annual eye exam, she was concerned about the size; 11 mm is about the size that starts squishing the optic nerve, so I'm going for a vision field test to see if my peripheral vision is affected on Friday.  I'm glad I'm seeing her soon because I'm not happy about this.  I shouldn't be having headaches when I'm on 600 mg of ibuprofen...

Of course my weight is up because of all the inflammation (RA), the bad sleep, the ibuprofen which messes up my insulin metabolism. Sleep is OK with the ibuprofen but still not that good, which isn't helping either.

Meanwhile, my unit plan is due Thursday and there's gobs I still have to write up for it; plus I have to grade last week's 8th grade quiz in advance of tomorrow's test (and 7th grade quiz), and we're launching my new physics unit on Wednesday and I'm simultaneously excited and terrified.  If I felt physically better I think I would be mostly excited and only a little terrified, but since I feel so beat it's about 50-50.

So I have summer plans already, going to Mom's early in June, solo; the kids and DH will come out later.  DH will have his two weeks, and the kids will stay until the end of July.  DD is taking a summer oceanography course at WBNERR, and I've applied for the teacher course the week before (fingers crossed).  Plus I'll be working on revamping the science fair as a portfolio project, and I'm thinking that might be for credit -- so that would be two different independent studies over the summer...

... but I am NOT taking two courses during the school year ever again. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

OK, part 2

The MRI went well on Monday, once the insurance company found me in their system, and after only 3 failed attempts at putting in the IV for the contrast.

I hate MRIs because the noise is so startling, but when you're having a head MRI, they put foam around your head that helps a lot.  If I ever have to have an MRI that's not for my head, I'm going to ask for the head gear anyway, because otherwise I feel like I'm under attack (literally) from all of the loud banging sounds surrounding me, getting louder and louder until they suddenly stop.  And then start up again with little clicks that progress to a different cadence of loud banging.

I keep my eyes closed the entire time because I'm pretty sure I would freak out if I saw how confined the space is.  And I pray; that helps a lot.

The very cool thing about going through Banner/MDA is that all of my records are uploaded on to their myBanner website, so I logged on Tuesday to get the report.  I don't have it in front of me and I'm too lazy to download it again, but: results consistent with adenoma (which means benign); no unusual vascular activity (so, no sign of cancer building up a blood supply) and no sinus cavity invasion (it's not so big it's growing into my sinuses).  It is bigger than normal, there is definitely a mass there, and there is "leftward deviation of the infundibulum," which means the mass is pushing the pituitary stalk to the left.

I still haven't heard from the doctor, but I'm not sure about how or when that will happen (it may be up to me) , but it seems to me that none of this is particularly worrisome.  I'm asymptomatic and the mass is non-functioning and my pituitary function is fine, so there's no reason to do anything.

I suppose we'll just keep an eye on it.  An annual CT may be just the thing, less trouble and expense than going through the Thyrogen protocol, and I can check in on the mediastinal nodule and the pituitary adenoma in the same test.

Sunday, February 15, 2015


Did I say I'm slightly less grumpy about science fair since two of my students took first and second place at the district science fair?  Only slightly, but still - they made me look good.

I finished grading, entering, sorting, and stacking all the science-fair related materials at about 2:30 this afternoon.  I'm trying to tote up the number of hours it took: 3 hours Friday at school and then 5 hours at home and then 2 hours Saturday morning and a marathon 8 and a half hours Saturday night and then another 3 and a half today... that makes 22 hours, right? 

Thank God we have a 3-day weekend.

I am so very appreciative of how quickly I can read, how consistent my snap judgments are, and how good my addition and subtraction skills up to 100 are.  I can't imagine getting through that amount grading if I were any slower. Plus, my organizational skills came to play: I put together a one-sheet listing of all my students so I wouldn't have to be rifling through stacks of paper while I was grading their display boards.  Brilliant, and a great snapshot of who-did-what.

I haven't taken any ibuprofen today and I don't feel too bad.  I'm hopeful that my flare is subsiding now that huge stress is in the past.

Head MRI tomorrow morning, and then basically nothing, so I can get caught up on my homework and my sleep.  Glorious!

Monday, February 09, 2015

OK, part 1

Saw my endocrinologist today, and happily, all my pituitary-related labs are fine. 

She (mildly) harangued me to see my rheumatologist about this flare that is killing me, although it does seem to be letting up.

I'm getting the MRI done anyway.  Endo doesn't think it's worth it, since she says, "There's no baseline, so you don't know how big your pituitary was before anyway."  However, I have had quite a few looks at the inside of my head over the past decade or so and no one has ever remarked on my pituitary before, either from CT or MRI scans.   Even if it's benign and not pumping out hormones, it can still mess me up if it gets too big. 

Still haven't graded a bit for the science fair, but am feeling fairly well caught up on everything else, so I hope to start grading all that ... tomorrow.  Maybe.

Friday, February 06, 2015

well, that happened

Way too much work this week, starting with last weekend when I worked all the hours there were catching up on grading and prep work, but also on my own coursework.

Monday I took photos of the 35 bulletin boards showing all the in-class projects and put them into a power point presentation.  I also found a really cool "science" page border and made signs for all the tables by teacher and grade. Tuesday my students checked in their projects, and I had to review all ~150 of them to decide which ones were worthy of judging.  Then Wednesday was the actual science fair, which involved getting 300+ projects set up in the gym, and the top tier judged.

Only half of my volunteer judges showed up, both great guys who worked hard. 

I haven't been sleeping and my RA has been in a vicious flare for what seems like weeks now, so I was even more exhausted than even all this work would involve (what with full-time teaching and two grad classes continuing uninterrupted).  Maybe that's why, when a top student came by to pick up her display board, which clearly did not follow the guidelines, I commented to her that her font was too small before telling her how excellent her work was.  That didn't sit well with her father, who called me out on criticizing her after she'd worked so hard.  My apologies and subsequent praise did nothing to mollify him, and he went on to harangue me, quite loudly, for a good 10 minutes or more.

When he finally left, one of the judge (I'd only met him 2 hours before!) came over to see if I was OK, and I immediately burst into tears.  Mortifying.  I wasn't crying because I'd been yelled at, I was crying because he was so very kind, and I was so tired, and the whole situation was just so ... unnecessary.  My AP came in to see me, because the peeved parent had gone on to harangue her, too.

The DH bailed on helping me with the break down, because... reasons.  But he did drop off DD, so there were four of us to fold up and stack 300 tri-folds, stack up a few dozen binders, take down the signs, and gather up the various odd materials that the students had brought in even though we'd told them they should not.

When I finally got home, I had to sort through the ballots and figure out who won in both the elementary and junior high divisions. It wasn't obvious so I had to build a spreadsheet.  Then on Thursday morning I had to fill out the certificates and accidentally wrote in a wrong name... oops.  But other than that, and 150+ reports and the 150+ display boards that need grading by the end of next week, it's OVER.

P.S. Today, I checked in with my AP again to see if there was any fall out from the obnoxious encounter.  I was advised to pretend it hadn't happened, which  I have been doing, out there in the real world. The parent had a follow-up meeting with admin and he is "willing to let it go."  When I heard that, I thought my brain was going to explode (and given that whatever-it-is on my pituitary, maybe that actually will happen one of these days.)  That guy owes me an apology.  He chastised me for criticizing his daughter in public but then literally yelled at me for 5 minutes, walked away, and then came back to yell at me more, dragging up stuff that happened last year, when his daughter won the district fair!  It was so bad that another parent came by to tell me I didn't do anything wrong, and that she would stick up for me to the administration if there was any question, since she heard the entire encounter.   And now I really will drop this, and pretend it never happened. I'll never get an apology or even an iota of respect from that guy, so I'm not going to look for either one. 

Tuesday, February 03, 2015


I realized after I wrote it that the last post must seem absurd: I do nothing (it seems) but talk about my pains both psychological and physical -- here. 

Out in the real world, it's different.  If I'm moving slowly because I'm in pain, I'll let the family know.  Other than that, it's all just business as usual.

I'm feeling slightly less squished because I worked pretty much the entire weekend to get caught up on grades and homework, but I'm definitely in a flare because everything hurts and I'm having trouble sleeping, too.  My mammogram went fine this morning, and it's only one more week until my appointment with Dr. B, where we'll discuss what to do about my pituitary.

Off for ibuprofen, and bed.

Saturday, January 31, 2015


Somewhere along the line I decided that physical feelings are OK to talk about, but emotional ones, not so much.  This is a probably a reaction (over-reaction?) to earlier days of over-dramatic responses to nearly every thing. Thinking back, I can't imagine why I got so upset over so many things in the past.

Anyway.  I'm under a tremendous amount of pressure right now because I'm balancing teaching work and two grad school classes with managing the science fair at school.  That's a freight train of some 300 projects to get set up (and judged...) and 160 papers and displays to grade.  I'm trying to clear the decks of all grading before Wednesday, but I'm not sure that's going to happen.

I haven't been sleeping well at all, so I've been staying up late and then still have to get up early for work.  Consequently, my physical feelings are terrible, too.  It was uncharacteristically rainy and cold today, and I have that vague, all-over discomfort that often - but not always - accompanies this weather.  Also, the first joint of my right middle finger has been viciously attacked by arthritis -- how weird it is, having that one joint so badly affected. It hurts! 

Sleeping has been bad because I have so much to do, but it has also been bad because my right arm keeps falling asleep/going numb on me when I sleep on my side, which I like to do. I've been getting these weird tired muscle feelings in my biceps/triceps, too -- even if I haven't worked out. I believe this all has to do with the muscles in my neck and shoulder, particularly on the right side, as stretching seems to help.

On top of all that, DS1 just turned 18 and will be going to school in state, so there have been lots of discussions about that.  I think he'll be fine, but I'm really going to miss him.

My favorite cafe/bookstore is closing in March.

And over all of this, the question of whatever is going on with my pituitary lingers.  I've had my labs done already, but I don't see Dr. B until a week from Monday.  At least science fair (if not science fair grading) will be over by then.

I made a list of what I'd like to - need to - get done this weekend and it's ridiculous.  I'm going to take some ibuprofen and pray I'll be able to sleep soon.