Pneumonitis. For seriousness, Mia? What now?
Inflammation of the lung. In my case, as a reaction to radiation. I finally spoke to my oncologist (who is currently on probation - I'm not so quick to forgive), who concurred with my radiation oncologist that my shortness of breath is due to my lung getting all pissy about being zapped. Can you blame it, really? I mean it's just been minding it's own business, processing oxygen, fending of the no-good doers of the mediastinum when all of a sudden it gets blasted with death lasers. Poor tissue.
So I feel less anxious that it's related to the cancer, but of course, my most harmful symptoms have all been a side effect or result of treatment. So I shouldn't really be surprised.
I went in to visit my kids at school yesterday and they were excited to see me (as I was to see them). It always lifts my spirits and makes me feel like myself again when I'm with them. The fact that I get treated like a movie star probably has nothing to do with it.
They all want to know when I'm coming back. I told them, as soon as I can breathe normally again, I'm here. And I do want to be there, with them, and with my fellow teachers. What I don't want is the paperwork, the grading spreadsheets, the benchmarks, PSSA's, the directives sent from waaaay high up that we MUST follow, lest someone find out we are using our own brains to think, speak and make choices on our own. I'd love to be back in the classroom, teaching. Watching kids make discoveries and connections. Helping them to do their best, academically and socially. Setting goals and expectations individually, then sitting back and watching them blow those goals out of the water.
I know in my heart that we will never get anywhere with our children if we spend more time testing and grading what they can do (I haven't even gotten to how awful this is for a teacher yet!) than time to experiment, investigate, explore, discuss, analyze, reflect and write. It makes me long for my own private school days. Oh, Oak Lane Day School, I will never forget you. I didn't become a math whiz there, but I did develop a love for school. In fact, everything I know about art history today, I learned in the little slideshow room off of the ceramics area. We helped out the "little kids", dissected sheep's eyeballs (sorry vegetarians), spoke in Russian, even traveled to DC and stayed in a youth hostel for 4 days. I honestly didn't learn how to subtract large numbers in my head until graduate school (and for that, I'll be paying a monthly fee until 2027, no joke).
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying subtracting isn't an important skill that all of us should master (preferably prior to higher education). What I'm saying is, we need to make time for life experiences and personal relationships in school, especially if we want to instill a love for learning in our children. This is supposed to be FUN, people!! Lord, if you don't like what you're doing and where you spend 8 hours of your awake time 5 days a week, something's gotta give.
Forgive me my tangent. I didn't have an answer for my kids as to when I'd be back. I'm hoping this lung business clears up in the next month so I can regain some sense of normalcy, but I can't go back (especially to a stressful and - I'll go there - germ infested atmosphere) until I'm truly ready, physically and mentally.
What I did have for them was a book of poems that I may have borrowed from my child (given to him as a baby), Once I Ate a Pie, by Patricia MacLachlan and her daughter, Emily MacLachlan Charest. I reviewed what it means to be written from the point of view of someone other than the writer's (say, for example, from a dog's perspective), then asked them to listen to the poems with the job of figuring out from whose POV each was written. They quickly caught on, and all enjoyed the adorable puppies depicted next to each poem. It was just like old times, at least from my point of view.
UPDATE: Since the initial composition of this letter, the pneumonitis has continued. Dr. Henry is sending me for some pulmonary function tests to see just what is what in my chest. I harbor many, many fears about potential results, but I'm trying to distract myself for the duration (OH BUT FOR THE WAITING...) with craft projects. See photo below of a sampling of pillowcases I made for ConKerr Cancer. Bringing them back to the fabric store this afternoon to be delivered to children undergoing extensive stays in area hospital, only to pick out more fabric (and Judah now wants one, too). Thanks for the sewing machine, Mommy!