Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Count your blessings

One of the things that has come to light during the past nine, almost ten months, is that I have a lot going for me. I was listening to the chorus of my high school rehearse, and they are singing my wedding song in the concert. It brought me back to a place when my body was fully functioning and I was . . . younger. So, here is a brief counting of my blessings:

1. I have a wife that I love more than any words can say. She is my rock. If it weren't for her, I would be some boat just floating in the middle of a hurricane (and I am talking "Perfect Storm" hurricane here).

2. I have three amazing children. They are gifts that brighten my mood on a daily basis. They are blessings from the heavens.

3. I have two amazing parents who support me and respect what I do. I tell my students that your parents will always be your parents, and I happened to get lucky with the pair that I got.

4. I have incredible in-laws (and that includes my sister-in-law and brother-in-law). They treat me like part of their family without hesitation. I know some people are not so lucky.

5. I love to teach. My job is a passion. There are plenty of people who roll out of bed, into their car, and drive for a countless number of miles and hate what they do. I love what I do. My students are not always perfect (of course nobody is). I can't even say that I never have a bad day with them, but they are good people deep down. Many of them are struggling to find how they are going to live their lives once they leave the safety of this "prison" as they call it. For a prison, there are many who seem to want to stick around. I just hope I can play a small part in their journey.

6. I have amazing friends. One of my closest friends sent me an email today wishing me a happy birthday and just saying some remarkable things. This friend is no stranger to struggles and health problems - Her family is going through quite a fair number of them now - but she still tried to make ME feel better.

7. I find new ways to make the day work for me. I am very thankful that I can find ways to work with the pain, with the struggles, with the memory and concentration issues.

I never know what the next day will bring. Some of the days that are ahead will be rosy, and there will be days that I will have more thorns than rose. I know this. I am trying to embrace this. The seven things above (which is only portion of a list I could generate) help me make my journey in the new world in which I am exploring.

Monday, April 27, 2009

A day without the cane

I decided today would be a good day to test my walking without the cane. There is probably no really good day to give it a shot, but the sun was out and it felt like a steam bath in my class, so why not. The good news is I made it until 2:00 PM without the cane (just some limping). Knowing there is good news, most people assume that there may be bad news as well. At 2:00 PM my knees and legs decided to weigh in on my little experiement. They weren't real happy. Now I am sitting and giving my legs the rest they need (and were demanding. If they go on strike, then I have some serious issues.).

I took my tired legs to see my family doctor today to fill him in on my trip to the big JH. I need to tell you how wonderful this doctor is. He has managed this case and kept pounding at things like it was his job (wait -- it is his job. My point is he was really, really, really, really excellent.). He gave me a script for PT, so I am going back to the balance activities, hand bikes, the crazy leg lifts and arm stretches, and the healing power of hard work.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

They don't make me like they used to

So, one of the hardest things to deal with is how the things that were once a piece of cake, now seem like a chore. I just went with the family to the carnival, but it felt like a trek of a thousand ages. It's times like this that I just want to scream. Oh well, every day can't be perfect (I would just like one every three weeks or so).

The big JH

Johns Hopkins. Those two words can leave people stunned. You can't get any better than Johns Hopkins. One of the top hospitals in the country and the world. No one can figure out what is going on, then go to Johns Hopkins. It doesn't say anything about those doctors being . . . human. When I say that, I mean not all knowing entities. They don't always have all the answers. It is a wonderful facility, amazing medical professionals, and provides truly exceptional care. That still leaves people, like myself, a little deflated when even they have no answers for the illness that has now plagued me for almost ten months. Intrigued?

I guess a brief synopsis is in order. It started in July with sudden chest pains that signified a heart attack. After two days in a wonderful hospital, the heart attack was ruled out. During the course of the next week, I began to weaken on my left side. It all culminated with what appeared to be a full out stroke. Not so fast! After three more days in the same facility, all test came back clean with no sign of a problem - unless you consider my whole left side giving out, slurred speech, and a cool half smile (and I don't mean in the Harrison Ford/ Indiana Jones sort of way) a problem. Prescription: Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and the hope it was a one time event. Wait! I can almost hear you now. That's right! This one time event returned.

In September, after returning to school (I teach), I had a full blown relapse. My doctor pulled me out of work to get to the bottom of the problem. Little did any of us know that we were dealing with a bottomless pit. Anyway, fast forward two weeks and I am back in the hospital. This time I went through more MRIs, MRAs, and had the additional bonus of a spinal tap. And the answer was - - there was nothing physically wrong.

Let's jump ahead to this month, and I have been suffereing from symptoms since the end of March, and things are just going down hill. I recently returned from Johns Hopkins hospital with no more answers than I went with.

This is not a woe is me type thing though. I know there are people way worse than me out there. I have a lot of wonderful things in my life. I am married to an amazing woman, I have three fantastic children, I have fabulous parents, I love my in-laws (which a lot of people cannot say),and I am in a job I adore. But, if any of you have the number for one Dr. Gregory House, I would love to have it. I will even take the numbers for Dr. Cameron or Dr. Chase, I'm not picky. Come to think of it, if you could get me Hawkeye Pierce or Trapper John, I would take them too. And maybe any of those doctors from ER; they seem to have some free time on their hands recently.