Friday, January 20, 2012

So it continues . . .

All week I've been out of school. I've been gone so much that to return I now need a note from my doctor saying I'm healthy enough to return.

And the doctor has weighed in after I finally gave in WENT to the emergency clinic. (Truth: Hubby dragged me to the clinic under my fierce protest!)

It's viral, not bacterial. This means there's really nothing much any medication can do to cure me. (I knew this going in -- which is why I resisted going to the emergency clinic). It's just requires time and sleep and lots of fluid.

I can't take antihistamines because they wire me to the point where I can't sleep. I can take very intensive cough syrup filled with codeine -- and though I always believed codeine made me sick to my stomach, in cough syrup it gives just enough soothing relief to put me to sleep for 45 minutes or so. I love my new cough syrup! I also now have a prescription nasal spray, which really does next to nothing. I also have my "Cold and Cough" over the counter meds but like the nasal spray doesn't seem to bring much relief.

And I have pink eye -- in both eyes. I look really "cute." I haven't washed my hair in over a week -- and because me head has hurt so badly, I've been pulling on the top of my head so that my hair stands up by itself into a Mohawk. It can't be combed down at this stage. (To go to the clinic I had to find a hat).

However, today, I actually managed to have a coherent thought -- maybe even two. I fixed Hubby a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch along with some heated up stew I'd made last week -- and tried one for myself but the dogs got it when I found swallowing still to much of an effort. I honestly haven't had anything other than Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup in a week. The Diet 7-Up and I keep each other company everywhere I go.

I even managed to recharge the Kindle because it occurred to me I might be able to read tomorrow. So far, for the last two weeks, I've done nothing but watch weird TV -- and since sleeping has been very problematic, I can tell you that at 3:45 a.m. all 287-DISH network channels have nothing on worth watching.

The clinic says they'd seen a lot of cases like mine. Be careful out there -- this "virus" is vicious.

Saturday, January 14, 2012


At the start of this week I was finally beginning to make a real recovery from the head / chest / congestion / virus that afflicted me all during December and into the start of the new year. However, Hubby came down with it -- something I was dreading due to his congestive heart failure.

He's been sick -- but only as sick as the rest of us who have had it. He had better days than some. He spends every other day mostly sleeping through the day until he can't stand being in the house any longer. Then he ventures forth with the doggies, usually to return bathed in sweat in a couple of hours.

On Monday, I actually felt nearly normal. Tuesday was pretty good, too -- but Tuesday night I felt my throat begin to tighten.

We figure Hubby coughed / sneezed into my tuna salad sandwich and sure enough, I got up on Wednesday with a croaking voice and a miserable sore throat.

I've been telling everyone that this round is not nearly as bad as the one in December. But last night the virus proved me a big fat liar. Today my temperature went just over 101. Last night was so bad, I actually prayed that I could make it through the night. Food will not go down. Even swallowing my favorite diet soda is an effort.

I took Thursday and Friday off from school -- and we have Monday as the Martin Luther holiday, but honestly, I'm beginning to be bereft of any hope that I will be healthy before spring rolls around.

One round was really bad. This round just isn't fair. I only got three days of feeling near normal! (whine) But I don't have the energy to complain much. I just want my head to clear out, my throat to stop hurting, my chest to un-congest, and the sweats to go away.

This is about as bad as anything I can ever remember. Sick. Sick. Sick. Sick. Sick.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Self Soothing

At 5 a.m. on the fifth of January in the Midwest, even when the weather promises 60 degrees by afternoon, it is cold and dark and dank and miserable. Just putting my feet over the side of the bed caused two little doggies, curled into warm nestled balls next to their respective humans, to lift noses and give evil glares.

But it had to be done. I had laid out the clothes and jewelry the night before, very aware that 5 a.m. decision making is next to impossible. I even had the correct color of socks picked out.

Out the door by 5:45, lunch in hand, I had the school bag rolling along filled with new calendars, file cabinet keys, twenty-five cent boxes of candy canes from the after Christmas grocery run, and bottles of water for chilling.

Hubby, sad and grumpy with the dreaded "virus," only had the car partially warmed and we shivered along for the first five miles, all in the dead dark of a too early morning. He'd cough, I'd cough, and the doggies huddled under my feet by the car heater.

My caseload kids bounced in at 7 for new schedules. I had to explain to seven of them that I hadn't gotten their schedules changed before Christmas but would work on it during the next two days. The counselors had placed them in algebra classes with no support, a scenario destined for failure for everyone, especially those kids with low stress points.

Collaboration in first block was the same as last semester. The instructor told the class just how wonderful he was and that they should "love" him every minute of the 90 minutes they were blessed with his presence. He explained how important he was in the school, as a coach, and in the world at large.

My student aid worked hard second block taking down Christmas decorations and finding the work we had stashed away during the Christmas party, the last day before vacation. I ate half my lunch second block.

Third block was another repetition of first semester, this time the instructor telling everyone how much she loved teaching and working with kids and would never talk this much ever again but that this was a one time thing and she would see that they would get to talk during class and we would do plenty of difficulty work and wouldn't this all be fun and wouldn't we all just learn lots and lots and lots.

Then I ate the second half of my lunch which, because it was already depleted, just wasn't enough food. In Hubby's defense (he puts up the lunches) I had been sending home most of the food he had carefully prepared in December (when I had the dreaded "virus") so he just assumed I wouldn't be ravenous.

Fourth block was quiet. I liked my study hall / work study group. Currently they are a very small number, but as the semester goes on they will begin returning from suspension or find they can't cope in regular classrooms and the staff will begin sending kids my way.

On the way home, I tried to entice Hubby into eating dinner out. But the awful "virus" has completely sapped his appetite, until he realized that I was pining for F O O D, so he stopped at my favorite deli shop, "Planet Sub." They make these great soups and they toast their sandwiches, even when filled with cold cuts. Thinking ahead, I ordered a bowl of soup and a big cookie for lunch tomorrow and a six inch meatball sub with mozzarella cheese for dinner.

After getting out a cold diet soda at home (something had to be relatively healthful), I started in on the sub. But that soup, all warm and steamy, looked so tempting. I knew just a bite wouldn't hurt. Soon the soup was consumed, as was the meatball sub. So I figured why save the cookie?

It took two dinners tonight to soothe this savaged beast. It's good that in six months I'm retiring. That may not be soon enough for my diet, though.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Back in the Grind

Started back to work today -- workshop for the morning and semester grade submission at our high school during the afternoon.

Mostly just B O R I N G. We had one hour of the three this morning that was productive. At least Hubby sent me off with a big mug of Dunkin Donuts hot chocolate and breakfast croissant which got me through. Nothing in the afternoon was worth getting out of bed for.

Hubby now has the "virus." He's in the bed moaning and coughing. I've suggested the doctor but that fell on the deaf ears.

A small heater has been acquired for the computer room. Last year our little floor heater burned out and Hubby refused to purchase a new one until he could find the exact model he had in mind. Meanwhile I have shivered with frozen fingers and toes and honestly, mostly just stayed away from the computer because I would get so chilled sitting stationary in that back room. But a day ago a little heater finally showed up and Hubby placed it for maximum warmth output. Hallelujah!

Tomorrow school begins in earnest. I bet the kids will be glad to be back.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Looking Forward

Tomorrow I start back to school. Wednesday is the final day of semester with no students, but it still requires I get out of bed and get dressed and try not to sound as sick as I was before the Christmas break. Truth be told, I'm still really down. I get so tired so quickly -- and every day is a new congested symptom.

But the clothes have been washed. The garbage has been cleared from the kitchen -- all that stuff that one finds left over at the end of the year. All the travel bags have been unpacked except for the carton of gifts we brought home from Houston. Plus sister-in-law found that we had left a number of things behind that she is now forced to mail forward.

Over the holidays, but after Christmas, I met for lunch with a dear friend from Sprint. We sat in the local barbecue joint and shared family stories and remembrances of days past. It was a sweet time -- and I'm so glad that we have actually both made the effort to reconnect after several years silence between us. We had always said that ours was friendship that could withstand separation and time apart and, luckily, that has proved true. She is, frankly, one of the dearest and most interesting people I've ever known.

On Monday morning we met our "concert - going" friends for breakfast and a chance to catch up. For the last seven plus years we have been attending area classical concerts together, usually preceded by a nice dinner together. We have tried to meet up at least once a month, but lately life has been cutting us all off at the knees. One couple is caretaker to the husband's mother, who is 93 and suffering from some serious medical complications that required hospitalization throughout most of December. The other couple has children here in town, the wife is going through a job transition, and the husband, though retired, also has some health complications that sometimes means he is not able to join us for the get-togethers. In fact, he has gotten the winter "virus" and was was home in bed for the Monday breakfast.

Tomorrow I'm attending workshops in the morning and expected to work in the high school building during the afternoon. I scuffled around this afternoon and found the laptop and have it charging in preparation for tomorrow. I have hopes that my second semester will be less taxing than the first one -- I'm working more with the sophomores than the badly behaved juniors, so I hope that my frustration level will decrease.

At some point during the second semester I'll start attending the district retirement seminars. That means Hubby and I will need to start looking into Medicare and supplemental insurance. I'll have to visit social security and see just exactly what the pension is that we'll have to live on. All of that makes my stomach knot with anxiety. But then I think about next September and NOT having to get up at 5:00 but instead wandering out to clean up the kitchen at 10 a.m. and then sort through the files in the computer room during the afternoon while listening to good music on the CD player, and suddenly, I'm floating on a sea of bliss. Isn't that just like life? Some of it really dreadful? Some of it simply wonderful?

Monday, January 02, 2012


Goodbye and farewell to 2011. I'm not sorry to see it go. In fact, it's not been the best year (nor the worst, either) and getting a fresh start seems advantageous at this juncture in our lives.

We started 2011 with Hubby's diagnosis of a-fib -- and which rapidly went into congestive heart failure. We spend most of the winter / spring months trying to regulate his meds. It was not an easy task but by fall we had pretty much reached a good medium and Hubby began to feel better and could ease up on the number of blood draws and doctors' appointments. Also I could begin to relax and not worry that every little cough, gasp, wheeze, and stagger meant something totally dire.

I spent the winter / spring semester in grad school, taking courses I hated and found irrevocably impractical. Though I've never enjoyed attending school, these six hours were so badly suited to my needs and wants that I had to re-evaluate just how much I wished to continue onward towards final SPED certification. I had to take grade extensions in both courses, and though I eventually ended up completing and Ace-ing each course, I finally decided that I was through with advanced education. I had earned 33 hours beyond my master's degree; it was time to quit.

At the end of the school year 2010 / 2011 I graduated one of my favorite students (SPED students remain on a case load for the four years they are in high school) and both my collaborating teachers resigned (well, one transferred into a new position).

Hubby and I met sister-in-law at Hubby's brother's Chesapeake Bay beach house for an extended week in July. We had purposely arrived too late to attend the family reunion but family kept arriving anyway. We had fun together, but the weather was way too hot and the Hubby's eldest brother came from Philadelphia and stayed with us the whole time which we had not anticipated. It was not the perfect vacation we had hoped for but we did get to see Washington, D.C., watch a gorgeous electric storm over the bay, eat crab cakes, and go to Mount Vernon.

Once school started, I found myself struggling to adjust to my new co-teachers and to my new case load. The added students, six incoming freshmen, were all came with huge behaviorial problems / diagnoses. The high school that had taken these type of students in previous years had been shut down for economic reasons and we now found ourselves "warehousing" students that needed significantly more behavior accommodations than we were prepared to meet. As the semester wore on, I became more and more disenchanted, and seeing that I was also unhappy about finishing my SPED certification, I eventually decided that retirement was looking more and more attractive.

In September my mother, aged 86 minus one day died on the eve of her birthday. Though I was not notified until after her death, I was at her burial here in Kansas City. She left most of her estate to others, including the home in Colorado that had been in our family since 1910. She also left my grandmother's antiques and family heirlooms to others. In an act of self-preservation, I have not asked to see the will or hear of her "fond" bequests to strangers. I missed her more than I thought I would -- but I'm clear that what I actually miss is the chance to straighten out our relationship. And I'm at least smart enough to realize that we could never actually have accomplished that. Still, it felt strange to actually be an orphan -- with no living family that knows me -- at age 65.

Our automobile remained the 1995 pink Lincoln town car. It has 187,000+ miles but Hubby keeps it running pretty darned well. We got a new TV in the summer but otherwise the house did not see any new acquisitions. We did not take our annual trip to Branson, something Hubby and I sorely missed. We spent money instead on Gussie and his teeth, Hubby and his doctors, and new eye glasses for us both.

The winter of 2011 had been miserably snowy and cold. We had to make up school days at the end of the year because of it. The summer weather was miserably hot. The fall has been fairly mild. So far we've had significant snow to end 2011.

Gas prices for the autos were very high throughout the year. Our water bill went up, as did our gas heating bills. We kept our land-line phone but we're not sure for how long now. Hubby pretty much depends on his cell while I have a 3-month basic plan that costs only $19 for the duration. This suits me just fine though I can't text or take pictures with my phone. We do maintain significant bills for Dish network TV and Earthlink for the computers. Because our Christmas gifts to each other were the Nook and the Kindle Fire, we are now investigation going WYFI -- but we haven't make a switch yet from our DSL line. Once that happens, I really see no reason to maintain a land-line phone.

In the fall, Luie jumped out the window of the rental car that Hubby was driving because he had been hit by a careless teen driver. We had Luie back within 28 hours -- but those hours were really bad, considering Luie was loose with no tags and he's blind. Luckily, the police across our state line found him and because we had a sea of advertisements 0n the web and around the neighborhood telephone poles, they returned him to us. Tears ensued all around.

Kansas City opened their new music hall to astonishingly grand reviews. We were very excited to have season tickets to their family series concerts, but have since found that we are not as "wild" about the hall(s) as the reviews led us to expect. The sound is gorgeous -- but the seating is terribly uncomfortable, with narrow seats and almost no leg room. Nearly all the seats require going up / down steps to get to them. Entrancing and exiting from the building is very congested. Parking requires miles of walking.

In December I got the flu and I've yet to recover. Also during that time Hubby managed the annual classroom Christmas celebration and it was a wonder. The kids were thrilled and well fed in the bargain. The entire celebration, though, rested totally in his lap. We also managed a week in Houston with Hubby's sister and her friends. We played games, we ate, we talked, we laughed, we shared, and we felt comforted being in each others' presence. We also had a bountiful gift exchange, even though we had each vowed we were "really and truly" cutting back this year. Both Hubby and Sister pampered me and took pains to ensure I didn't get sicker or wear out completely. We did the annual Christmas night movie (The War Horse) and we played cards and Sorry and Uno every day. It was, as always, the perfect Christmas.

We wrapped up 2011 by going to bed on the 31st at 9 p.m. -- and we were asleep when the new year rang itself in. Gussie was frightened by the gun fire that always occurs in the 'hood at midnight, so we cuddled him closer and turned over and snuggled back under our covers and went back to sleep.

Our dreams for 2012 are for good health and enough financial where-with-all to tolerate both Hubby and my retirement. Time will tell. Meanwhile, we are coping. We may not be thriving, yet -- but we are looking forward to a better year with greater personal satisfaction and inner peace. We are hoping that for us all.