Sunday, 11 October 2009

Nine to Five

Stood in front of a year 11 class, sweat pricking my brow, shirt sticking to my back. I'm having to lean on the table, the cramps are cutting across my whole abdomen, the table is keeping me upright. I am breathing hard through gritted teeth, knuckles whitening as I bear down harder on the desktop. Some of the kids are staring at me, others just getting on with work, or not. I leave the room, pass a colleague who glances at my haggard features, pallid, a week-and-a-halfs growth, but says nothing, fight my way to the deputy heads office, ask to be sent home, phone my GP, and am admited to Royal Sussex County Hospital within a few hours...

And thus about six years ago I had my first massive flare-up and hospitalisation. I was in for about six days. It was the manifestation of a particularly stressful time at school. Stress crystalized in the failure of the above mentioned year 11 class (of potentially high achievers) in completing their coursework to an expected standard. They were truly some of the laziest little buggers I have ever taught, and getting them to even satisfactorily finish their coursework almost killed me. I remain convinced of the importance of my state of mind in that particular episode.

I reflect on this because this term has seen things getting more pressurised by the week. Last week our department took all of year 7 (330 kids) out on a combined geography and history trip over three days, a feat of human mobilisation to rival Dunkirk. This week has piled on where last left off. Due to un avoidable circumstances I had only one period of non-contact time in the whole week, and that was on Monday, so the rest of the week was solid teaching. This was exacerbated by the lovely-wife's shift pattern for this week (tues, weds, thurs, fri) which has also put me on primary child-care duty. Thus at the end of every teaching day I am required to stuff everything i might need into my school bag, charge down the corridor battering year 7's out of the way, and gun the motor out of the school gates before the bus driver has finally relented, facing the inevitable, and opened his doors to the orc-like hoard amassing around the front end of his bus. Driving across Hove is a rage-inducing experience at the best of times, but under time-pressure becomes potentially volcanic. The thumb-screw of fighting through the traffic is then tightened further by the utterly ridiculous task of finding a non permit-holder-only parking space (who the hell is driving to pick up their kids from school in these environmentally fragile times anyway? Oh, yeah... me). Once done, the gauntlet of the primary school playground is run - trying not to get collared by the parents of kids who have siblings at my school - why do so many parents want to conduct parents evening in public? Grab the boy and get the hell home. Where it's HW, cook dinner, pick up lovely-wife (about 8.30), and then finally sit down to at least an hours schoolwork. Add into the mix this week:

Open evening on thursday - remain at school until 9.30pm in order for local parents of year 6 kids to come and look round the school. This involves lots of glad-handing parents in my classroom, over seeing 'fun' geography activities for the year 6 kids to take part in and win sweets, tow the school line, make small talk with governors, blah, blah, blah (with the added pleasure of having to take my own boy (No. 2) with me due to lack of childcare and lovely-wife being at work)...

Boy 1 busting his new ipod touch (I told him not to buy one - he has no concept of money or saving, we link his pocket-money to household jobs, which he never does so gets very little. He also refuses to get a 'real' job (paper-round or something) and so when I am just getting through to him about the 'value of money' and the 'benefit of saving', his birthday comes around... people are very generous and he gets a lot of cash. Which he blows instantly on an ipod touch, despite having a nano we bought him for xmas... Well, I refused to make the appt at the apple shop. He wreaked his revenge by making the appt at 5.15 friday afternoon.

So, I make the dash to boy2, in the foulest rain we have had for weeks, and begin the tortuous run into to town at rushhour. Half way there my car is driven into by a Taxi. Literally DRIVEN INTO. I was stationary and he just drove, head-on, straight into the side of me... I get soaked standing in the rain trying to write the guys details on a rapidly disintegrating reciept I found in my wallet (this takes ages as he could not speak english). Then we continue onward having to sit in a traffic jam into town for a further 40mins... when I finally make it to the apple shop they, in all their wisdom, restore all the settings and insist it will be fine now, despite my protestations that I HAVE ALREADY DONE THIS... When I get home I have to spend an hour and half on the phone to the insurance company, until my phones battery runs out...

I mention all this (somehow looks so petty on the page...) not because I think my life is particularly stressful. But because these are the weeks when the UC starts to rear its ugly head (into my bottom!?). But... Not this time. Au contraire. Not only have i remained pretty damn calm (relaxation therapy every eve), I have actually reduced my pred dose to its lowest level in over a year! I'm gonna be off these bastards in less than two weeks...

10 comments:

Paula said...

holy crap!! I was getting stressed just reading that...until I got to the bottom. Way to go...good on you!!

Whittles Wobble said...

*gasp* That is SOOOO awesome! Well, shitty week, but had a great ending :) I am so happy for you!

Rich said...

Hi Paula, Hi whittles

Yeah a stupid week for sure, and i forgot to mention that I fell out with my boss because he's incompetent, but that's a whole other story! But as for the UC, I'm continuing to feel really good. I'm planning to be totally off the pred by 25th Oct... Then I guess I'll see how powerful the relaxation and other therapies are - and my brain of course!

Rich said...

Oh, and I should say a massive thanks to you both of course. never underestimate the supportive power of the UC blog community.

Paula said...

Just asked a question on Ali's blog and then something else occured to me...so I was just wondering..does UC run in your family or are you a 'newbie' like me. Did you get arthritis before or after UC...and finally do you have asthma or ecezma or does it run in your family?

Paula said...

I think I might have to do a blog on this...as this is interesting stuff...we all have this for a reason...but what triggers it...stress and nervousness for me I dare say..but there has to be more. I had nervous asthma as a kid...so that may be my starting point...they used to shove me up on a stage and make me dance...just loved it NOT...so I always triggered an asthma attack the week before the festival. I don't do limelight and can't for the life of me get up infront of people and do a presentation...I'm OK sitting down and presenting...but can't stand in front of an audience now, even if my life depended on it!

Rich said...

Hi Paula

I am, as far as i can tell the only member of the family with IBD - although I have some suspicions about my deceased maternal grandfather, and I have not been in touch with my father (and therefore his side of the family, which is huge) since I was 17, so its not easy to be sure. I had some weird arthritic thing going on in my knees around about the age of 17, but they gave up trying to diagnose that, though in retrospect a rhuematologist has told me he thinks that it is likely that was UC...

You mention stress and nervousness. I guess I had a pretty stressful time at 17 (mum had near breakdown, little brother to look after, total disappearance of father etc) but I recall at the time I didn't feel stressed. However, it is true to say that stress/nerves/anxiety has always manifested itself in my stomach... so, i don't know. I too have mulled this one over in the blog before - I have always had a sneaky feeling that my mind has had at least a role in the UC. Perhaps this is why I have found these relaxation therapies useful so far.

This, however, aples into insignificance when compared to the trauma of being FORCED to dance onstage... That is the stuff crazy psycho films are made of...!
(Er, I'm not actually insinuating that you are a crazy psycho BTW)

Paula said...

LOL..of course I'm a crazy psyco...just ask my husband...I'm a woman :D !!

P.S. I also think the relaxaion therapies are working for me for exactly the same reason as you. I'll have a big test in Feb when we fly back to Oz for a holiday...I hate flying now..scares the bejezes out of me..so that is my next big test. At least if UC does decide to go mental, I'm be booked in for the 1st of 3 appointments with my doctors the day of my arrival anyway as I'm going home to do all my yearly tests done...lovely colonoscopy!...UUURRGGG....

I have a mini test in about 6 weeks, but it doesn't involve flights, so I'm thinking now that I might be able to do some stuff to de-stress me for that trip. :D

Skinny Girl said...

Rich your writing is quite entertaining, but what a time you have had! Way to go staying calm! A week like that would test the nerves of anyone and you've held it together!

I believe that teachers are one of the most important occupations in the world and one that gets shown little appreciation. Where would we be without teachers?

Hope everything goes well with the car business and your other stresses! Let's get off those meds!

Rich said...

Hi Paula - I hope you are an expert at all the relaxation stuff by the time your trip to oz happens. Have you tried to rewind your flying fear? The ol' rewind started out as a fast phobia cure after all.

Hey Skinny girl, I'm sure my life is no more stressful than anyone elses but I was particularly pleased to be able to carry on tapering as the full chaos of my life really took hold!

Thanks for the big-up to teachers too. We're a much maligned profession in the UK these days.