Saturday, January 30, 2010

Sick Days Reluctant

I never take sick days. To me, sick days are for caving in to whatever is making you sick. I'm a fighter and I always try to stick to my regular schedule, even when sick. (Funny, the only thing I cave in on is working out because I don't want to use up my energy).

At any rate, the temperatures last weekend swung over 30 degrees warmer than they have been. What that means for someone with sensitive allergies to mold and other fun elements of nature is an instant sinus infection. I don't handle temperature swings well. So last Thursday, as the temperature broke the dreaded 40 mark, my lungs started to show asthma symptoms. By Friday, my nose got stuffy and my ears started popping like crazy. Now, the later two signs are normal for oncoming chronic sinusitis. But the asthma takes it to a whole new level. One that should mean "book a doctor's appointment!" which I had done a few days earlier just to be safe.

So Friday night I had a fever. It lasted all day Saturday, too (hey, I saved some $$ on heat!). Sunday I caved in and went to Convenient care. Pretty painless, actually, except for the fact that I still had an ongoing asthma attack and they made me wear one of those little face masks which made it doubly hard to breath. Hello people! Asthma symptoms = make it less difficult to breath not more! I told the doc there what I had and he said I was wrong. That I just had a cold and would be better in 7-10 days. I questioned his assessment and despite my pressure he told me I was probably misdiagnosed in the past. Huh. 

On Monday I had a CT scan. It surely proved the diagnoses I knew I had: bad sinus infection. They gave me a few power pills (I'm allergic to regular antibiotics that would normally be given) and I began to fell a little better. Except for the asthma.

And so it was that I took off work on Wednesday. I'm a controller (shocking, I know). I've got most of my semester plotted out and I didn't want to get off course. But I needed a day to try and sleep and crack open my lungs. It was a good decision. On Thursday, I attempted to work all day but was still feeling pretty lungless. At that point, both of my mentors told me I couldn't come in on Friday. And despite the inner turmoil I had all day with myself over that decision, I took Friday off too. Again, a great decision. I slept (Finally!!) and worked on my lungs all day.

Today it's Saturday. I can breath. Air is the most beautiful thing you can't see. I'm still sick but feel like myself. So much so that I want to go do my usual 4 miles. I'm smart enough not to dive in yet. 

I'll get my classes back on track and recover from this bout of sinusitis. It's never fun but I needed to be humbled and experience a few days without the reigns in my hands. The typical me would save those sick days and see if I could carry them over year after year. I'm a saver - in everything. The challenge now is to investigate costs for sinus surgery #2. The last one was not fun. But after this round, I'm prepared for another surgery. I know it's the right move.

See you on the next post. Rested and Recouped.

Friday, January 15, 2010


My motivation for this blog is to write about the "big picture" of my experience teaching in Urbana. And as teaching goes, this has been a big week, wrapping up my 1st semester as a full-time teacher with Final Exams. Yet, every day I have come home from work and sat in front of the television watching the horrific scenes of Haiti. So this blog will be dedicated to the people of Haiti, those struggling to help rescue and provide sustenance and the people from around the world contributing funds to help such organizations meet the needs of the poorest country in the West.

I administered a written reflection final for my students for their Cooperative Ed work grade this semester. It was not my original plan, but I think it was a better measure of what students have learned and connected from the classroom to their jobs than a worksite visit would have done. Most students did A's and B's on the reflection exam. I had 2 students who refused to even do the exam, knowing they were going to get an F in the class anyway because they hadn't had a job.

The Cooperative Ed classroom final was decent. The average for both of my classes as well as my Law final exam was a low C. I was hoping students would have done better. They all had the chance to write vocab or other terms on a 1/2 sheet of paper to use on the exam. I gave them a few days to work on those sheets. It is amazing to me that many of them forgot those sheets at home the day of the exams. There seems to be such a little connection to school=future success. I think, based on the reflections I received, that understanding is slowly seeping in. But, boy, there is a long way to go.

I had everything graded by Wednesday. I had my 1st week of documents and lessons completed yesterday. Today there was a staff meeting in the morning and I made some copies and graded a make-up exam. I was really bored and not motivated enough to get 2 weeks ahead. I thank God I am not a procrastinator. Several Math and Business teachers went to lunch together today and just recapped our final results and various other topics. It was a good way to cap off the week.

Through all of this I realize that had I not had the time to develop lesson plans at work this week, I would have struggled to get things done at home. I am so drawn to the images being sent back to us from Haiti. I want to be there. Helping. I want to go there and just help clear streets. Create some form of organization so that supplies can start being distributed.

This country has been devastated by historical events so that there is little chance to escape poverty. Yet, I recall the way New York emerged from the block of the city that was devastated. The way Chicago emerged from the Great Fire of 1871. What has happened in Haiti is so much greater than either of these events. The earthquake damaged an even greater area of land than either tragedy in a country whose infrastructure is no where near the superiority Chicago's was even in the 1870's.

Yet I wonder that with the help of people from Israel, Jordan, Belgium, the U.N. and the U.S. all working side by side as they have for the last 3 days, I can't help but think that this is a chance for Haiti to rebuild. Bigger. Better. And with a better foundation than it has ever had. It is a time for a new government to step up. One that demonstrates leadership and compassion for the people in their country. With hundreds of different aid organizations and thousands of people, they will have a chance to stand stronger than before. To rebuild buildings stronger and more stable should this same tragedy repeat in the next 50 years.

Even in the wake of the tsunami that hit earlier this decade, organization was in place. A government was able to mobilize. There is none of that in Haiti. In Sri Lanka and Indonesia the dead were photographed and tagged for others to identify at a later time. In Haiti, people are being collected off streets and placed in mass graves. There are no photos. No questions being asked if anyone knows who the people were. Lives of people who will never be accounted for or recorded. As a genealogist this is heartbreaking.

I can only hope and pray that some change comes to this small nation. I am thankful that people are still being found alive. That many of the images coming back to us are of people praising God or calling out to God. Faith is strong. I am grateful for people who are there helping and using their bare hands to dig. And I will join thousands of people around the globe praying for this region of the world. I hope it convinces more of us to move and live outside of our comfort zone, thankful for every thing and every minute we have.

It's a 3-day weekend. Let's hope lights are shining brighter when I next write.