Friday, March 14, 2008

Finishing College

This is Chapter 12 in my history.

After the whole debacle with the professor, my college life change drastically. Instead of having stress from that situation, I had stress from teaching, working, staying alive, and I thrived on it. I was so busy that it really didn't matter that I felt socially isolated because I would not have had time to hang out with anyone anyways. But I was also starting to make life long friends at work and some of my friendships that we once strained were starting to heal.

I spent the last two terms of college insanely busy. I was living in Monmouth, student teaching in Corvallis, and working in Salem. My days were as follows...

6:30 AM - Get up, shower or do a treatment if I took a bath the night before, and get dressed
6:55 AM - Get on the road for my 30 minute drive to Corvallis. Snack on random food I grabbed while running out the door. Stop at the grocery store on my way to school and grab something for lunch.
7:30 AM - Arrive at school, get my last minute stuff together to teach or assist all day.
4:00 PM - After a long day of teaching either head home on my few days off from work or head to Salem for work. Salem was about an hour drive from Corvallis. I would get some sort of fast food to eat on my drive to hold my appetite over while I worked.
5:00 PM - Rush into work just in time to clock on. Work my over 5 hour shift running the women's department. I was a benefited team member which made me basically an assistant manager of the department. I was responsible if my manager wasn't there and spent my shift directing the department and moving constantly clearing the contents of the fitting room as I was our best "runner" in the store, something to this day I find ironic on my 50% or less lung capacity.
10:30 PM - I'd usually get out of work at this time. I would drive home, sometimes stopping at the store for a snack or dinner for that night or meals for the next day. After my nearly 30 minute drive home I'd get home and do any remaining lesson planning, treatments if I was up to it, then crash into bed.

My weekends were often filled with 8 hour shifts at work on both days, catching up on sleep, doing any lesson plans I could to get me through the week, and enjoying my own cooking after a week of processed and quick-cook foods.

Needless to say, this type of schedule would be harmful to a healthy person, but to me it was flirting with serious complications. But there honestly was no way for me to avoid the situation. I had to live in Monmouth for my low rent, I wasn't about to give up my dream of being a teacher after fighting so hard, and I needed to work at least 24 hours a week to hold on to my health insurance. As hard as it was, I was deeply proud of myself that I was able to do it. When classmates complained about how hard they worked when they were only teaching I laughed at them on the inside, wondering what they would do if they were in my position. I learned that I was more powerful than my situation, that if I really wanted something I could do it. I was stubborn, but it's the only thing that got me through.

After several months of this schedule, only weeks before graduation, my body finally started to protest the abuse that I put it through. I managed to hold off lung infections, I think through sheer willpower and grace from God, but my body needed a break and chose a very violent way to get it.

I had just wrapped up my 3 weeks of solo student teaching and had just returned to team teaching with my mentor teacher. School had let out for the day and I was spending the time after school working in the office at the paper cutter. I looked forward to my evening without work and was relaxed, when sudden, blinding pain rushed over me. It felt as if I had been stabbed in the back. I reached back to feel what was happening, but only found the tense muscles of my back. I knelt down to the floor, as waves of nausea rushed over me. My back was killing me and I could feel the muscles of my back and stomach tense. I stood up slowly, gathered my things, and willed myself to walk to my classroom where I laid down on the couch, waiting for the pain to pass.

After about 15 minutes the pain remained at high intensity. My mentor teacher saw me, noticed how poorly I looked, and sent me home. I made my way to my car in a fog of pain and used every last cell of my body to focus on the road... one more mile, one more instant, I could do it. I made it a few miles down the road where I felt the intensity of the nausea kick up. I stopped at a grocery store and rushed to the bathroom. I couldn't vomit, but I did use the bathroom, and rationalized that I was just backed up and going would make the pain better. I went out to my car, pain still gripping me. I continued my drive home, glancing at the hospital on my way, wondering if I should be driving to the ER and not home. I decided to go home, as I knew I was probably just having stomach cramps.

A few more miles down the road the waves of nausea turned into a huge crashing storm. I pulled over in the first safe place and was puking out the car door before I even got the car fully stopped. Two big heaves and my stomach was empty. I figured that I just had intense food poisoning, after all my ranch at lunch did taste funny, and I drove home, figuring the pain in my back would go away. I made it home, not even remembering the last 10 minutes of the drive. I hopped into the bath as soon as I got home, scalding my skin with the heat. The pain and tenseness in my back didn't go away. I climbed into bed, put a hot pack on my back and watched some TV. As soon as the water was hot again, I took another bath. Then to bed... and 15 hours later I awoke in bed in the same position I had passed out in. The pain was still there. A little voice in the back of my head started whispering "kidney stone". I dragged myself to my computer, looked up the symptoms. They matched me perfectly. I called my friend and we drove to Salem where I was quickly diagnosed with a kidney stone and gave heavy duty oral pain killers. I spent the next 2 days in bed, pain at a less loud roar from the drugs. The fourth day, I still had not cleared the stone and I was still in pain, but I had to go to school as we only were allowed 3 days off. I was useless, and my mentor teacher realized it, but I was still there. Finally that weekend my stone passed. It took me several days before my body recovered from such pain.
A few weeks later, college was all over, and I was off to start my adult life...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I know exactly how that feels,I've had 2 kidney's horrible!!!Marcia