Sorry for the long absence - I returned to work

I hadn't realized that I hadn't written in almost two months. The reason? Well, school started for me on August 14th. I hit the ground running. I don't think I've stopped since.

Chemo treatment for me lasted 14 months. They had put me on a study. I was grateful for the study, but that did mean not really returning to work for a year and a half. When you are a teacher, there's no 'starting back when convenient'. You either start at the beginning of the semester/year, or you don't. I'm still not sure if it was the wisest thing I've ever done. I'm still on maintenance chemo. While it isn't as nasty as full on chemo, it's still has its share of ups and downs. I'm no longer chronically neutropenic, but I do have chronic mouth sores. In particular, tongue ulcers. And I'm working in a petri dish of germs -oops, I mean, I teach in a school.

I teach part time, but gosh, it feels like full time. I teach at a high school for the arts. I teach voice. Can I tell you how hilarious it must be to hear your voice teacher teach diction with a semi-permanent lisp from the bulging hole in her tongue. I know my high school self would have had a field. day. But I'm still immune-supressed, so I live in constant fear of flu season and the kids' lack of ability to wash their hands (and CPS's lack of ability to provide adequate soap for the students to use). Miracle of miracles, I haven't gotten seriously sick and I haven't missed school yet for being sick. I did lose my voice somewhat and had to ask a colleague to play piano for my class so that I could be 1. closer to the kids so they would hear me 2. he could yell at them if they started being stupid (it's my 'problem' class. Every teacher has that class that just does them in. This year, this is mine.)

Coming back to teaching after a long absence has been interesting on many levels. First and foremost, I look very different. My long straight hair has now been replaced by very, very short curly hair. People tell me that my hair will 'go back to normal', but I don't actually think it will. I still have my old cowlicks, so it just does whatever it feels like and sticks out in all sorts of directions. I try to reign it in with a headband or scarf. Sometimes it actually works. My old students are now getting ready for college and are all grown up. Time doesn't stop and they are now moving into that 'invincible' time in their lives where they think that health and beauty last forever. I seriously miss that feeling. Cancer made me realize just how fragile we all are. Though, I also learned that we can bounce back from things. But no one ever said you bounce back without a little bruising.

My colleagues fall into three categories: Those who think I'm 'back to normal' and can do all the work that I did before (I teach theatre and singing - there is often heavy lifting involved and pushing of grand pianos and such), those who think I'm permanently impaired (sometimes mentally) and are afraid to have me do anything, and those who know that I'm in transition. These three states have led to a lot of frustration on my end. I must admit that I came home one night so irritated, forgot that I'm supposed to be limiting, if not eliminating, my alcohol intake and had two (well...maybe three) glasses of wine before I remember that, hey, my liver doesn't really do well with the chemo AND wine. (God, I miss wine! It's the taste. It's the combination of the wine and my meals. Yes, the buzz is nice, but that's not what I miss.)

I haven't been cooking lately. Here and there, but not with the consistency and the consideration that I was doing while I was sick. I did make this heirloom tomato cheese pie from the cookbook 'My Two Souths' which I will review soon! I made that yesterday because I seriously NEEDED to cook. I got a CSA this summer (which, again, I will write about soon). Btomato-pieecause I got the stomach thing, and then got super busy, I just had science experiments in my fridge. A friend came to visit me two weeks ago and felt bad for me and cooked my fridge into lovely meals. Bless her! I cried when I got home. I really miss baking. It's just been too hot in my kitchen, and I discovered a bakery at my farmers market that makes a sourdough rosemary bread to DIE for.

Because, the long and short of it all is: I've been exhausted. It's hard to admit that you aren't 100% and I'm the queen of denial lately. But I have gotten home and collapsed from the sheer exhaustion of it all. It's better lately. I'm catching up. But I'm still on the cancer journey. Thought it was behind me - but I'm still very much in it.

Filed under: Living in cancer world

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