I have been back at work for a half term now, and my hip has definitely held up to the test, which ten months on from my surgery is definitely the outcome I was looking for. Obviously the nature of teaching people with learning difficulties means I don’t get to sit very much so I have to be mindful of the way I move around as it has a massive impact how much additional pain joins me in the evening.
I have, liked being back in the classroom, it is amazing even after a long period off how quickly you get back into the routine of work. Very quickly feeling like I had never been off. Except I have been off and that has time away has had had an effect. Plus loads has actually changed at work due to merging in reality being taken over by another college. Which naturally has brought with it changes in structures, management, policy, procedure and loads and loads of small changes to the day to day doings of my teaching jobs. The admin tasks and procedures, computer portals and programmes, right down to the smallest of thing such as how to access photocopy credit have changes. So not only have I returned to teaching after six months off I have returned to a place of ongoing change. I am lucky I do pick up new computer bits and bobs reasonably quickly and in all fairness we have been going through so many management and staff changes in the last four years actually that now it would be a change if something stay the same for five minutes
I have always been so grateful for my job. It took me so long time to get back to teaching after my strokes and whilst I have never been fit enough to work full time again, it has always been the thing that I have been most proud of. The thing that despite all the all odds and changes that stroke brought into my life, my work was the thing that to get back to, the light at the end of the tunnel. Over the years it has been the thing that has let me feel normal. able, independent. I have repeatedly surprised myself with how I have been able to perform at work, despite my difficulties.
I have always placed teaching very near the top of my priority list. it is the thing I have used to judge myself, my success as a person and as a stroke survivor. I have always been so proud of proving the doctors wrong by getting my voice back and be able to teach again. For doing it well, regardless of how much pain I am in, or how much of a fatigue fog I am wading through.
Now I know that I have only ever been able to do this because I have the next day to sleep, rest, recharge, recover, as post stroke I have only ever worked Monday, Wednesday and Fridays. On some of my worse pain days at work, just knowing that I only had to hang in there for a few hours and then I could rest of next day is the thing that has given me the mental strength to dig deep, grit my teeth and get to the end of the day. Plus teaching students who themselves have difficulties has always been another very humbling, motivation to push through. But if I am ever asked to name one thing that has made work possible for me it is not just working part time hours it is working one day on, one day off.
So I knew what to expect when I started teaching again this September. I knew even with all the healthier routines and habits I had established whilst off it was going to be tough. That there would be many meals eaten in my bed at 6 o’clock due to fatigue, I knew I would by constantly thanking my wonderful husband for cooking, washing up, looking after our house and our dog and most importantly for the fact that he totally understanding that all the energy I have has been spent in those few hours in the classroom and at work. I knew how being back at work and teaching would impact my energy levels, increase my pain levels and effect my day to day life, as it always had. I just didn’t expect it to be so much more than previously. I didn’t expect to be facing this dilema for a few years.
My years of practise and my internal tool kit of coping that i have gathered mean that I am not letting my thoughts and fear get hold of me and spin me into a spiral of worry, stress and anger at my situation about what I am I going to do now I find myself struggling even more with my job. In fact I am determined to doing quite the opposite. After many years of epic fails I am finally able to recognise what my body is telling me and that there are times when you have to listen to what your body is telling you rather than fight against it. for me I know this is one of those time, which is a had reality to swallow.
In the past I would have focused everything onto why. Why I am feeling so fatigued, why is everything so hard, why is this happening to me, why is it so unfair, why isn’t there a medicine to free me of this fatigue and rising pain or get rid of my clots squatting on my heart valve. Surely there must be something wrong?. I know, that ridiculous of course there is something wrong I was a stroke survivor trying to do a exhausting job. It took me a whole decade to stop wasting time on the whys. A decade before I truly accepted that there where some things I am stuck with as a result of my strokes. Things that no positive thinking, hard work or pacing will ever fix. I know, I should of won a medal for the “slowest acceptance of the obvious award” but hey we all need to face our own shit in our own good time. Though given an opportunity to jump in a time machine and change something it would be this, as although initially not accepting my lot helped me to work on rehab and recover well, there came a time when the balance tipped and not accepting my limits became to my detriment and caused me a lot of heart ache.
Now I know my energies are best spent on the how’s? instead of whys. How can I be the better regardless of this extra fatigue, extra illness, extra medications, extra duties at work and extra things to learn?. How can I improve my situation?, how can overcome this new level of challenge, fatigue and illness? and how can I avoid all the difficult emotions that can present themselves just to add that extra bit of hardship to the situation.
I will be honest I have done a whole lot of thinking, talking to my husband and my closest, I have been doing a whole load of googling and talking to my medical people. And I have not to come up to the correct answers, I have not found a perfect solution or even anywhere near a perfect answer. But I think I am finally starting to think on the right lines and explore realistic, if far from perfect options, of what I to do now that what is best for my health isn’t best for my wealth and may mean some gigantic life and perception changes .
It’s strange how things change. when I decided to start this blog at the beginning of the year, I wanted to reflect on my personal journey, the twists and turns the excessive nose dives, epic fails and wonderful wins. My main intention had been to share some of the things that I had learnt over the last fifteen years as a stroke survivor, navigating the NHS, managing pain and fatigue. Hoping that my experiences might be useful to other people who facing similar things, invisible disability chronic illness, or limitation, and I wanted to share some of my art. However, here we are and it appears that not only will I be able to continue to share my past experiences and lessons learnt, but also take you all along for the ride as I explore and take on what might be the second biggest crossroads I have faced. What do you do when health, wealth and wellness conflict and you haven’t even reached forty yet?.
I am sorry if you opened this post thinking I had an easy one answer fits all, to one of the biggest question anyone dealing with illness has had to face. What do you do when your health needs are conflicting with you wealth needs? there just isn’t a one answer that fits all.
But I do have one answer, and that is
“What we need never stays the same, what is right for you at one point in your illness may not be a few years later. What might seem like a life changing decision may have to be made all again only a few years later, when you health or wealth needs change. A solution to your pain and fatigue that has worked wonders in your late twenties, may need a whole new approach or treatment in your late thirties, as I am just finding out now. The only constant we can truly rely on, is that things constantly change and this is definitely the case when managing life long health conditions. So the answers is be flexible, enjoy what is working in the present with the knowledge that it probably has an expiry date, that at some point you will have to find a new solution. You have managed other big challenges in the past you so you will be able to manage new ones in the future. You don’t always need the whole answer just to be taking small steps in the right direction”
So this is my first step in the right direction. I look forward to sharing my journey in to the unknown with you.