I am so angry right now!!! Pissed. Yelling, throwing things. So mad. Why? Because I am exhausted. I am totally and completely, fall into bed and not getting back up, exhausted. And that infuriates me!
My school year ended a week ago today. I’m on summer break! For most teachers this means a time to relax, vacation, take classes, and be at home with their children. And while all these things apply to me, summer means something different altogether. Summer means remission.
As someone living with early onset cervical dystonia, my school year is filled with pain and dizziness. Stress, movements, noise, and the constant activity required to maintain a 4th-grade classroom are not good for my dystonia. My husband tells me to quit my job. My neurologist tells me to quit my job. But it’s the only thing I have ever wanted to do. If I quit my job, I quit my life. And despite the pain and dizziness, I love my job. It makes me happy. Not to mention, over the last 3 school years, my symptoms have lessened as I continue to find ways to move my body that avoid triggers.
Summer is my saving grace. When you take out the factors involved in teaching, the severity of my cervical dystonia drops. A lot.
In summer, I am warm and my body loves being warm. I can abandon my heated, cumbersome neck wrap that I am tied to from September to May. The warmth of the sun and less stress, helps release my involuntary shoulder shrug, which brings much needed pain relief.
A day of teaching requires constant head and neck movements up and down and side to side. I took those simple movements for granted until doing them brought on months of dizziness. Summer brings a slower pace which makes my neck and shoulders happy. The episodes of dizziness that can last for months during the school year reduce to mere minutes of dizziness that are few and far between. Not to mention I have begun weaning my high dose of Valium down to a smaller dose for the summer. And as a walking Valium zombie, you have no idea how happy that makes me!
This is all so fantastic. So why am I upset right now?
Well, summer also serves as a mile marker for my life. A chance for me to look back on where I was this time last year and frankly, I was not this exhausted last summer. I did not have this much trouble walking last summer. I did not have this degree of language difficulties last summer. And while I can try to deny these changes, they are still there. Taking the girls to the waterpark on Monday resulted in an evening with much time spent on the couch. A morning at the mall on Tuesday resulted in being too tired to wash my hair that evening. A wish of taking my girls to the zoo to see the baby animals today became just that, a wish. Because I just can’t do it this week.
One week into summer finds me completely exhausted and frustrated. That’s my doing. I pushed too hard. So, I will adjust just like I always do. I’ll swap out school symptoms for summer symptoms. And I’ll throw myself a pity party and concede temporary victory to my dystonia. But it will be temporary because I was able to take my girls to the waterpark. I did get to take them to the mall. This may not always be the case.
And the zoo will still be there next week.