Saturday, August 15, 2015

everything looks different from here

We arrived home from Massachusetts just three weeks ago.  It's the weirdest thing, this feeling that everything is completely different while at the same time feeling exactly the same.

Teaching is going spectacularly, unexpectedly well, although this week I have a huge amount of grading to do, and I'm behind in getting my file system set up.  I have nearly 200 students (!!!) this year, and consequently I'm not cutting anyone any slack.  Fortunately the 7th grade cohort is really outstanding -- they just completed their first lab and were very well behaved.  I do have to read their lab worksheets and grade them to know how well they did, but I have the feeling they did they well.

It's odd to have some energy left at the end of the day.  I'd be happier if I hadn't come down with a cold last weekend, but taking quercetin seems to be helping me recover faster than usual.  It's nearly gone and it hasn't even been a week a yet.

Back in Massachusetts, Mom's condition is deteriorating.  I call every day but we only talk for a few minutes.  I try to tell her about what's going on here, but I don't know how much she can hear.  She never tells me how she's really feeling.  Texts from my siblings tell (and show) the bruises she has from scratching herself and the breakdown of her systems, and I hear about the pain that started yesterday and took far too long to get under control.  There is literally nothing I can do.  I call, I text.  I talk on the phone.  I'm not there and I want to be, but that's the way it has to be for now.

DS1 is going to college in about 5 hours.  We'll load up the van and drive him up to the west campus and help him move in and, I suppose, leave.  I'm going to miss him so.  I don't know if I'm worried about him or not.  I think he'll be OK, but he is a bit absent-minded-professor-y.  He will find his own way, though, I know it.  In a last-ditch fit of nostalgia, I took the three kids to Barnes & Noble after school today. It felt right, all driving over together and getting a snack in the cafe.  It made for a nice low-key send-off, because neither sibling will be around when we leave early Saturday morning.

My shoulder has been giving me trouble on and off (using the mousepad on this laptop for any length of time is sure to trigger pain), but it is much better since I've been consistent with the physical therapy exercises, and it's not disturbing my sleep anymore.  So I'm more or less nonchalant about scheduling my followup testing (I did do the vision field test - all clear!).  Dr S, the surgeon at our local MD Anderson wants me to do a CT, but Dr. B my endo wants me to have a whole body scan.  I talked to Dr. S's assistant and asked her if the doctors could confer and she said no, it would have to be my call.  This did not sit well with me.  I even called and talked to the BC/BS nurse on-call about it, who told me I should talk to Dr B and see, because if the WBS is positive, wouldn't she order a CT anyway?   This situation was nagging at me until today when I had a chance to talk to Y at the hospital, and she looked at my chart and said they recommended PET/CT followup, not a whole body scan, but she would have the nuc med doctor review my chart and decide what I should have for followup, and then discuss it with Dr B.  I'm glad that conversation is taking place at the doctor level and not with me, because I really don't feel qualified to make this decision.

I'm in no hurry to get treatment anyway.  I need the Mom situation to resolve (lovely euphemism there) and I'm teaching and I'm working on my Master's degree.  I'm sort of flying by the seat of my pants on the non-thesis project, but that's OK because I'll spend next semester writing it up after it has actually been implemented. I had a phone meeting with my adviser at NAU and we tentatively planned for me to graduate at the end of next summer.  If all goes reasonably well, it should be doable.

I'm aware that this is an extraordinary time, kind of a bubble.  Many things that would have me fretting in the past are eliciting little more than a shrug and the acknowledgement that they'll get done eventually.  So far no one seems to even notice that anything is different, even though I feel about one-tenth as engaged in planning and preparation as I normally am.  Since it's my third year, I'm confident that I can do this job and I'm not (yet) having any problems moving the students through the curriculum.  I have about another week and a half before my NAU class starts up, and it is only one class, a literature review.  It's on Wednesday, which remains piano lesson night, so the schedule will be easier this semester since only one evening a week will be weird. Except I just remembered that I have staff meetings every other Wednesday so I will have to plan for that or else I'll be late for class every other week!  That's a perfect example of how my thinking is, these days.  Obvious problems are not so obvious to me.

I still need to plan my research/stewardship project to finish my summer course...

In these past few weeks I have seen how much having a drink or two helps me feel, not exactly better, just... less compressed at the end of the day.  I can see how it could become a habit, and then a problem.  Just the fact that I'm thinking about it in these terms helps reassure me that won't happen, but it's not something I can be complacent about, especially given how much I like a good bourbon.

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