Tuesday, May 29, 2012

When Bad Things Happen, Make Lemonade!

Two years ago today I had a stroke.  It really didn't seem like much, and I didn't even go to the hospital right away.

I felt a tingling in my left arm while I was in the shower.  At first I thought I might be having a heart attack, since one of the symptoms is tingling in the left arm.  So naturally I did what any mother would do.  I quietly got out of the shower and got dressed.  My biggest fear was embarrassing my teenage daughter by being naked when the EMTs arrived.  When I started walking around, I noticed my left leg was also tingling.

I really didn't want to go to the hospital, since it was Saturday of the holiday weekend.  But finally, I realized that tingling wasn't going away, so I went.

It's a good thing I went. I was there for hours, drifting in and out of sleep.  They gave me all the necessary tests, and sent me off in the wee hours.  It wasn't until about a week later that I realized that tingling was pretty much on my entire left side... my scalp and my torso in addition to my arm and leg.  It was the most intense in my arm and leg.

I went back to school a week later for the last 2 weeks of school marathon.  Somehow I had to pack my room, yet I was so tired I couldn't see straight, and I'd lost control of much of my left side.  Lifting heavy boxes wasn't an option, yet I got very little help packing my classroom.  I do remember falling off my ladder hard, which is probably what messed up my alignment, but I didn't find that out for another year.  I did something nasty to my shoulder which makes it pretty useless for anything more than 5 pounds.

It wasn't for a couple of months that I realized the full impact of the stroke.  I went to occupational and  physical therapy to develop the muscles in my arm and hand that weren't working, and work to restore my balance.  I had gone as far as they could bring me on the OT, but the insurance was withdrawn before I could "graduate" from the PT.

I think one of the toughest things is that I "look fine".  That may sound silly, but I think if I were looking less than fine some of my colleagues might be a tad more compassionate.

Two years later:  I still struggle with fatigue.  It's gotten better than it was when I first had the stroke, but I still have trouble making it through the day, and I'm useless on evenings and weekends.  I still struggle with my left arm with things like opening water bottles, ATMs, and holding onto things.  I still have trouble with balance.  I'm OK if I'm on a flat surface and I can watch where I'm going.  That's not always easy while teaching second graders.  I still have trouble lifting things, too. Much of the tingling is gone, but it's still there, especially in my arm and leg.  I try to give the illusion that I'm fine, because I just don't like to be pitied or treated like I'm less than whole.  but the fact is.  I'm far less than what I was before the stroke.

The bad news?  After 2 years, I've probably progressed about as far as I can go.  I've known all along that the further away from the stroke, the less chance of getting those skills back.

But, I've chosen to make lemonade out of this.  Luckily, my daughter is off in college now, so I'm back to living alone.  It sounds terribly lonely, but it's not at all.  It's just less responsibility after school.  I like that!  I do minimal cooking and cleaning during the week, since I'm usually far too tired, especially as it gets near the weekend.  And, of course, when I get to see my gentleman friend, I can give him the energy I used to save for my daughter.  (He's amazingly patient when I get tired!)

So I had to take up a hobby that didn't need me to be up and walking around.  (Or dancing... like my previous hobby of musical theatre!)  So I took up blogging!

In a way, I feel like blogging has given me back my life!  It gives me something to look forward to every day when I drag myself out of school.  I try to finish all my work at school so I'll be free and can blog, pin, tweet, and post on my facebook page.  I spend a lot of time at my laptop, reading about brain research, and making materials to help students learn.  It's a good life!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Pay it Forward for Evan

Evan in Chicago.  My daughter in the foreground.
My community is in shock because of the sudden death of one of its gems.

Evan had just finished his freshman year in college and was on an archaeological dig in Scotland when he collapsed.  Attempts at resuscitation were unsuccessful, and he was pronounced dead at the local hospital.

I am stunned by this event.  Not only because it's a local kid, but because I knew the family.  Evan's dad teaches Social Studies in my school district.  Evan's mom is my acupuncturist.  (I had a stroke 2 years ago, and acupuncture has been an amazing help in my recovery.)  Evan and his twin brother were friends with my daughter, and graduated from high school together last year.  Evan and my daughter starred in the school's musical, Chicago, last spring.

My whole body aches for Evan's family.  Having a daughter the same age, I just don't know how anyone can deal with the loss of a child.

I ache for his brother.  The boys were twins and rarely left each others' sides until college.

All those high school classmates who just finished their freshman year of college are in shock.  This was one of their finest: an honor student, active in many activities: debate club, theatre, president of the honor society, and an all around good kid.  Everyone liked him.  He even spoke at their graduation.  What a horrible loss!

Here's a link to a video from our local TV station.

Here's a link to a newspaper article:

Evan's Dad, the Social Studies teacher at our local high school, asked people to "Pay Something Forward" in Evan's honor.  I just posted an end of the year Social Studies review Scoot game on Teachers Pay Teachers.  I thought, in honor of Evan's memory, I would offer this item for free to teachers who will Pay it Forward in honor of a great young man.

Click THIS link to obtain the scoot game free, in honor of Evan.  Of course, this means you will Pay it Forward in some way to honor Evan.

Thanks so much!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Top Teachers' Memorial Day SALEabration!

Look at all the Top Teachers having a sale on Memorial Day!

Clink any link to see what you could buy!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Yoga for Kids - Fun AND Beneficial!

Some of the teachers in my school have been doing Yoga with their students.

I think it's a great idea!

Having done Yoga, I know it's not just a form of exercise. It's a great way to regroup, de-stress, and focus.  It's great exercise for building strength and flexibility.  Many say it's beneficial for memory, concentration, and self esteem!

Want to learn more?  Here's a list of benefits of Yoga.

Here's a website called Yoga 4 Classrooms (That's why my school is doing.)

I'm hardly an expert, but the teachers who are using Yoga most definitely see the benefits.  I first learned Yoga in 1977 and have always loved it.  I've tried a few poses and breathing with my students over the years, and they've always responded to it.  

These days, kids are under more stress than ever.  No Child Left Behind has put more pressure on the kids, and administrations all over the country are pushing for more and more.  These poor little ones are getting less recess and more testing.  I think it's time to bring more Yoga into the classroom! 

Here are a few more things I found at Amazon that I plan to explore:         

        What do you think of Yoga in the classroom?
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