* Weekend Coffee Share – Eeyore’s buddy

I’ve been drinking a lot of Tetley’s tea this week. It’s soothing and balances out the ice I’m keeping on my shoulder. I’m fairly not really patient about this painful process of healing, trying to keep my eyes on the prize: being able to swim again.

BUT there is a potential glitch with swimming again. It’s been 3 years since I had Eustachian tube surgery that left a tube in my ear. How many times I’ve prayed for that tube to fall out so I could swim! That prayer was recently answered, rather unexpectedly, when an audiology intern accidentally ripped it out. Ouch. I still have a pesky hole so I may need a graft….

Apart from my body falling to pieces around me, I’m enjoying my part-time work schedule. Yes, I am officially abandoning my third retirement. But I now have time to clean the house! And cook! I’d be decluttering if I could properly lift anything. I like to think I’d be extremely productive if I weren’t hurting so much. Probably not.

Yesterday my physical therapist asked me about my weekend plans. I said I was getting my hair cut. Seriously? My life sounds pretty edgy, right? I tell you, though, her EQ is really strong. She looked blank for just a fraction of a second and said, “Well, getting a haircut can often make you feel better.” I could have told her I was getting my legs amputated and she’d say, “There are some cool prosthetics these days.” She’s used to working with Eeyore’s buddies.

This little babe is a great cure for the blues. I’m teaching her to say, “Aunt Katharine.” Thankfully, I’m sooooo loved by Jesus! I’m his favorite, actually.

* Ouch

It’s been too long since I last blogged! I’ve been recovering pretty well from surgery and trying to stay on my part-time teaching schedule. I’m grateful to be ambidextrous, since my right arm is pitiful.

But as much as my shoulder feels uncomfortable, my biggest OUCH is long distance tutoring with the kiddos. It’s frustrating for all of us. I really wish I could have a serious chat with their teachers. Poor ‘Isaac.’ Despite his obvious math struggles, he keeps getting more of the same. More worksheets and ‘do overs’ will not change the fact that he can’t multiply or divide in sixth grade.

I have blogged about how hard it is to catch up in math once you start climbing the ladder without all the rungs. Isaac could never memorize any addition and subtraction facts when he was in third grade, so how could he successfully climb to the next level? Not only that, but I was WAY off base when I estimated that he could relearn and acquire some proficiency in 6 months.

Sadly, Isaac began to strongly resist any intervention. He was tired by the end of a school day. He hated to think that he needed to learn ‘different’ strategies because that meant he was broken. He already felt broken enough from his uncertain family situation.

Now he cries endlessly, worried about failing 6th grade. You know what happens when you try to learn and your limbic system is in overdrive? Ouch.

* This or That

I have surgery today. It is either scheduled for 6:00 AM or 12:30 PM. I was supposed to get a call…. The third person I asked about it said, “I’d go with the one you just spoke to.” Okay then.

I am either getting just a rotator cuff repair or an additional procedure to fasten the bicep to the bone somewhere. Three out of three folks I spoke to today were unaware of the biceps problem. So maybe it has gone away. Or not.

I was initially told I would have more range of movement than my procedure in March. I can drive immediately, for instance. Now I have heard that I will be immobilized for three+ weeks. It’s a 10-week recovery either way, optimistically speaking. I do need this fixed so I can swim again, so I’m good.

One thing is sure: I must bring a $250 copay. That reminds me of the game of Monopoly: Do not pass GO to collect $200, move directly to jail.

I’ll be going to Bull City (Durham, NC) for the operation. I DO like the hospital’s rendition of a bull. Just put that sucker in a sling and we are all set. I already have a pair of crutches!

* Puppet Show!

If you shop with Amazon, please consider donating a (small) portion of your purchase price to Puppet Show. You’ll need to login at https://smile.amazon.com to select the charity of your choice. There are SO many great ones to choose from, but being on the Board of Directors for Puppet Show, I support them of course!

We have been recruiting volunteers from UNC-Chapel Hill and the local school district. It’s awesome how many young folks are serving others! Sure, high school students are required to work in the community, but their enthusiasm is awesome. College students flocked to their recent CarolinaServes event. Way to go!

* Warning signs

Without doubt, early intervention is key to identifying dyslexia and providing the specialized instruction that creates new neural pathways. This spelling test is the work of a second grader who is struggling mightily. She has had ‘guided reading’ out the wazoo but nothing to address her phonological and phonetic weaknesses. She would certainly qualify as twice exceptional, with abundant signs of above average intelligence and desperate signs of being in distress.

Certainly, there is much more evidence of her disability than this test, but an analysis of her errors is quite telling. Sadly, by the time she may receive support, her self-confidence and behavior will likely be in the tank.

I have had limited success convincing parents who are in strongly emotional denial that their child has a disability. In my 49 years of teaching, I’ve noticed that even if they support appropriate interventions, it is hard for them to accept a special education label. And without that label, such students are not usually going to receive the help they need. Public schools receive funds for special ed teachers because those students qualify under state and federal guidelines.

What to do?

  • Wait. Many parents have accepted this ‘loss’ after a few more years of agonizing over it. Educational struggles truly are a matter of grieving for most families, especially for children on the autism spectrum. Sometimes parents admit to having similar struggles at school or refer to relatives with a similar profile.
  • Work to reduce stigmatization. The more we routinely show students and parents that everyone has learning differences, the less likely they are to freak out.
  • Provide info about and cool examples of brain-friendly teaching in back-to-school events and teacher conferences. Learning challenges are no fun but they are not the end of the world.
  • Don’t gloss over significant signs of struggle just because there is push- back from classroom teachers or parents. Collect data and do your best to provide the right kind of support, even if the label is incorrect (or, more ‘politically correct’).

* I am loved

I wept my way through church yesterday. It was inevitable, because I had lost sight of how loved I am. Losing sight of His love was inevitable because my mind still compartmentalizes pain.

I grew up in a nightmare home where physical, emotional, and sexual abuse were nuclear weapons, blasting my heart and mind into shreds. I only ‘survived’ in compartments, in little and bigger places where memories could be ‘lost’ and pain could be controlled.

After these recent uncertain and painful emergency room events, my mind did what I perfected years ago: tried to seal off the pain. I had told my dearest teaching widower that it felt like his heart was a nuclear device, ticking to some unknown timer. I didn’t know I had activated my own device, losing faith in God’s provision for us, for His perfect timing, for the marvelous eternity that awaits us. I started to feel numb, even as laughed my way through outlandish interactions and sleep deprivation. I tried to take control by being good and brave. Instead, I became numb. I forgot that my righteousness is a free gift.

We have a very real enemy and he whispered lies and condemnation. Religious accusations told me I wasn’t praying enough. I had failed the kiddos who need me. In fact, I was reviled for not feeling enough. That should have been a dead giveaway.

So today is a new day. My heart has been washed with healing tears, with a renewed knowledge of just how precious I am in His sight.

I am loved. So is she, the sweet babe.

* TToT: pebbles in my mouth

I can take my inspiration from Messy Mimi’s Meanderings for this week’s Ten Things of Thankful. It seems that we both had our struggles! Like right now, I cannot get the L in Thankful to join the rest of that link. I’d better go ahead with my list before I chuck the computer. I’ve numbered my ten things for which I’m thankful, just in case you can’t find them.

I wrote the book on how NOT to survive a trip to the emergency room. I thought I would do better the last time around. I took a nut mix (no, not me and my dearest teaching widower) plus water for the long night. [#1] I was relieved that its packaging did not set off the metal detector. [#2] In the end, though, my teeth were to blame for what happened. Sort of.

While trail mix may be delicious, you can’t just pour it down your throat. Of course, you are in the ER, so you’ll get medical attention [#3] about an hour after you choke to death. But your fingers must come in contact with the food, assuming you haven’t accidentally (or on purpose) chopped off your digits.

Everything in the ER is contaminated, including your pinkies, so the best policy is to wash your hands until they are bleeding. There was still some risk, but around 2 AM, I dug into my nut mix. [4] However, I have these tight-fisted teeth, the kind of molars that trap every irritating particle. I needed a toothpick, but you saw how the Swiss Army knife worked out on our last visit. I kept telling myself not to touch my teeth. [5] After a couple of hours, those nut scraps felt like pebbles in my mouth. It took all my willpower not to dig them out. [6 & 7]

Fast forward to a nearby person (uncomfortably close to the edge of our bed) waiting for his spouse to get medical care for her puking digestive issues. For some reason, he kept shaking our bloody hands! He crawled on the floor to hunt for his missing phone and then held out his hand. Again! So I used more hand sanitizer and then braved the nasty bathroom for additional scrubbing. [8]

And on my way back to my dearest widower, I did it. I plucked an offending nut from my teeth.

I got sick. I got really cranky. I got better. [9] My dearest teaching widower asked me today how I was feeling about retirement. [10] I growled.

* Do you feel like hurting yourself?

That’s the first question we get during our intake at the ER. No matter what. My dearest teaching widower had another medical emergency so it was Round Four. The follow up question is: “Do you feel like harming someone else?” I felt like killing someone as I pictured the interminable night ahead of us. The nurse stared at me as I stifled giggles.

No matter how you feel upon your arrival, the ER ‘rooms’ are cleverly designed to drive you crazy. Every hallway has been partitioned into these spaces where we listen to the intimate details of others’ misery. Some poor woman groaned for about two hours, begging someone to stop. A neighboring roommate talked incessantly to us about burial plots for several more hours. I tried to read but I kept hearing, “Do you have a history of vomiting at work?”

Eventually we were offered a choice, a no-brainer, really. Did we want to stay in the hospital for two more days or go home and come back. See ya later, alligator!

* Not the sharpest blade….

My dearest teaching widower has heart disease and so we’ve spent our fair share of time in the ER. Our current visit has been long and we’re dealing with a new medical issue now.

And then there was the issue of me being a threat to public safety. With my Swiss Army knife. I didn’t realize it was in my backpack when we got here but the X-ray machine caught it. I rambled on to reassure them I wasn’t a danger to anyone except myself (I had sliced my thumb trying to open all the gadgets). They stared at me while I explained I’d been a Girl Scout/Girl Guide and always wanted another special knife. Eventually a police officer showed me doodads on my weapon that I didn’t know I had! Who knew there was a toothpick? Or tweezers? Of course, they confiscated it but concluded I was harmless and certainly not as sharp as my blade….

* TToT: my week

I’m joining a blogging challenge to share Ten Things for which I’m thankful this week. Here we go!

1. My stitches were removed from the finger I nearly lopped off almost 2 weeks ago. Whew! Glad to be on the mend.

2. This bunny friend comes daily to feast in our overgrown yard. He’s adorable!

3. Speaking of animals, oh say can see our patriotic deer? Thankfully, this one is in a neighbor’s yard.

4. The smoker my dearest widower won for Father’s Day was full of water and rust when we opened it yesterday. And it still worked! Here’s why the water got in. Not thankful for Dorian.

This photo was taken from the inside of the cover.

5. I prepared a rockin’ potato salad today! Thankful to Gimme Some Oven for the recipe.

And following ClarkScottRoger’s awesome book of rules, numbers 6- 9 are open for someone else to contribute! PLEASE!

As for number 10, I am grateful for my new, mostly-retired status: just hangin’ around!