Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Need More Spoons....

As some of you know, I struggle with autoimmune issues. Eight years ago (and after 12 doctors not knowing what, if anything, was wrong with me), I was first diagnosed with fibromyalgia, then with chronic fatigue syndrome, then with rheumatoid arthritis. Whether I have one, two, or all three of these illnesses has never been clear, but I have to parcel out my energy with the utmost care.

And lately, I haven't been careful at all.

Over the past two months I have been overworking myself to the point of insanity--up until 2:00 AM many a night, and up until four and even five in the morning a time or two--and I had to teach two co-op classes the day after the 5:00 Am "bedtime." The combination of two brand new Brave Writer classes that I've had to prepare from scratch and which overlapped for for first two weeks of May has been the main reason for the late nights, but my two co-op classes with Heritage Christian School, our homeschool private study program, has added to the mayhem. The high school writing class is one I've taught many times--it's just the grading that consumes my time and energy--but the 4th-6th grade poetry course is requiring more of me than I thought it would. It's been wonderful and fun, but it also needs time and energy (and creativity) infused into it to make it enjoyable for the students as well as an adequate learning experience.

Add these four courses to already home educating our four young people, including our first high school graduate next month--which includes designing, ordering and addressing graduation announcements, planning a 1950's sock hop graduation party, and signing her up for her final go at the SAT so that she can receive an academic scholarship from PLNU where she will be attending college in the fall--and life gets dicey for anyone.

But especially for me.

You see, I only have so many "spoons" for each day. If you aren't familiar with the Spoons Theory, check out this link: But You Don't Look Sick. It's the very best explanation for how people like me--people who don't look sick but who have to "measure out [our] life with coffee spoons," to quote T.S. Eliot's "Prufrock".

And I have used up so many spoons in April and May that I'm not sure I'll be caught up and restocked by mid-August when we restart school--with only three students rather than four. (Sob! But that's a whole 'nother post....) I'm hoping to rest much--sit in the sun and read mystery novels, go to the beach and read mystery novels, relax at the park and...read mystery novels. But please notice the "I'm hoping" phrase....

Because I have a book to write this summer. Well, not really a BOOK book, but a small handbook written to homeschooled teens on writing an MLA research paper for Brave Writer. I taught the six-week class in the fall and suggested writing it up as a book to Julie who seemed somewhat interested. And then she used my materials to teach the MLA research paper to her co-op...and now she's quite enthused about a downloadable book edition. So really it's a matter of revising my already-written lessons and formatting them into a PDF file. So it's not like I'm having to start from scratch or anything, but still, it's work. I'm planning to do it in July, after resting for a couple of weeks in June and before I have to pull together our own homeschooling materials for late August.

I suppose we'll see if I have enough "spoons" to carry it off.

Today I woke to one of the "bad" RA days--when every movement makes me wish I hadn't, when taking a shower saps my energy for 3-4 hours. And I have a great deal to do for my online Shakespeare course which is in its last week. I'm also finishing my MLA rough draft conferences with my Class Day high schoolers in which I meet with them, one-on-one, and read through their rough drafts together, catching formatting, content, grammar, spelling, and other problems before they turn in their final drafts this Thursday. Fortunately, the class is small--only ten students--but it's still an exhausting process when one is already running low on "spoons." I have one more student to meet with tomorrow, then two more next Tuesday as they received a deadline extension due to their debate schedule.

So that's where I am: spoonless and desperately in need of a spoon or two (or three) to get me through today--in writing the lesson plans and handouts on Free Verse for my poetry class on Thursday, in writing and posting information on my Shakespeare class' exploratory essay assignment due Friday, our last day of class, and in responding to their Discussion Question replies on Acts IV and V of Hamlet.

I don't know where I'm getting the "spoons" to do these things today; I think I'm borrowing from September's spoons right now....

The "spoonless" one,


sarah said...

(((Hugs))) As a fellow fibromyalgic, CFS sufferer (although I hate that word) I have great sympathy for you. One thing that is seldom clear in the literature about these illnesses is that mental energy is just as exhausting and problematic as physical energy. I truly hope you can find the time and rest and energy and support and spoons you need.

Susanne Barrett said...

Thanks, Sarah. My mental energy is definitely needed for teaching these classes. I can't wait to "jell" at the beach all summer. I *SO* need it! That, or more pain meds....:)

It's so nice to know I'm not alone, too. :)

Jane D. said...

x x x x x x


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