Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Sicko


So much for the holiday.

Our plan was to spend the weekend at a condo in Sunriver, driving up to Mt. Bachelor for cross-country skiing and/or snow-shoeing. That didn't happen. Oh, we drove to Sunriver Friday night, as planned; but by Saturday morning, it was obvious to both of us that I shouldn't be outside in the cold dry air, exerting myself on the trails. My chest was full of mucous and what voice I had was a hoarse whisper that was too painful and frustrating to attempt except in emergencies. So we packed up and drove all the way home. The end of January is nearly here, and we have not yet been to the snow.

Frequent colds are part of my job. During the four years I was away from elementary music, I'd almost forgotten this. I took hardly any sick days during my two years of half-time high school teaching, and I don't think I missed any days the year before that when I was 0.1 FTE at a Portland middle school, so it had almost slipped my mind. Now, however, I'm on my third full-blown cold of the school year, and it's a doozy. That's the price of being in a new school with nearly five hundred students. And here's a bonus: in less than two weeks, I'll be starting at yet another school, as I swap with a PE teacher. That's a whole new biosphere with its own set of viruses to colonize my respiratory tract.

Almost every cold I've had has, eventually, robbed me of my voice. I'll have a few days of congestion, think I'm over it, head back to school--and then, in the middle of the day, find that I suddenly can't summon the falsetto I need to model a melody for primary voices. From there it's just a matter of time until I'm literally speechless, relying on mime, a notepad, and occasional whispers to convey messages.

It killed the weekend, and now it's taking a bite out of my last week with kids at Margaret Scott School. I'm home today, my speaking voice just starting to come back (it's a croak right now, and I can't speak with any volume at all), still days away from being able to sing. It means I've got time to blog, but apart from that, I'll be having cabin fever by the end of the day.

As far as being a patient goes, I'm not very demanding of my partner. For most of my adult life, I've had to take care of myself whenever I got sick. If there is one area in which I may become a burden, it's my mood. On a beautiful day like today, it aggravates me no end that I can't be out on a running trail (or, Saturday, a ski trail), or that I'm not at school spending time with children who will soon leave my life for at least eight months (possibly a year if, as my principal hopes, we switch next year's schedule so I don't come back to Scott until February), if not, as in the case of fifth graders, permanently. Not having a voice creates even greater frustration: I have to repeat myself more often to be heard, each time taking far more energy than when I'm well; and not having any modulation at all, being utterly unable to sing, is like losing a limb. I'm just not a whole person.

So here I am. There's nothing profound that I'm trying to say here. I'm just frustrated, venting in a public way. My apologies.

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