Perhaps 10 years is too long in this particular setting.
It has been awhile since I updated this blog. I have been busy, and the business is reaching a feverish pitch as annual reviews blend in with end of year checklists and tasks and re-evaluations and on top of that, my own campaign to find another job.
All of this adds up to more stress on top of a job that has been stressful all year long with all sorts of issues. But I have always met all of the challenges and dealt with them. Every year, I somehow make it through and marvel at how I ever did it.
Not everyone can handle the stress that is involved with serving individuals with severe disabilities. But most teachers I know do not cite the students as the biggest stressors. Lack of administrative support and the huge burden of paperwork rank among the top reasons educators leave the field of special education.
I have not talked about a former colleague of mine lately, although he does occasionally keep in touch. The stress on him was so heavy that he had a nervous breakdown and was carried out on a stretcher…more than once. I remember thinking those few years ago that I did not want things to get that bad. And maybe then it was that I began to look around at other options.
My first 6 years of teaching here, I drove the bus for our community outings, and so each year I had to get a bus physical. It wasn’t much of a physical, but it was at least blood pressure, pulse and weight. And none of those numbers fluctuated very much. I was generally healthy. However I did smoke. Smoking, besides all the health and social costs is also expensive and addicting. It was the fact that I was tired of being an addict that I finally quit a couple years ago. And then my weight ballooned so badly it was impacting my knees. So I began a diet and exercise program and managed to get the weight under control. All of these measures helped buy me more time and hopefully extended my shelf life.
But the load and stress this year has finally taken its toll. I was feeling a bit dizzy the last couple of days and had the school nurse take my blood pressure. And sure enough it was high. Not ER high, but a source of major concern nonetheless. The paras got a bit worried and called the nurse to check me again in the afternoon, and by then I was back in my normal range. I half-joked that they were overly concerned because if something happened to me, they might actually have to do some work! Ha ha!
So I am wondering: Are there a number of other teachers out there stressing more than usual this year? Has it taken a toll health-wise? I know I have a number of areas where I can improve my life style, mainly getting more sleep and laying off the caffeine. Those two alone can probably get me back in the normal range if I can also reduce some stress. Hopefully I can survive the next couple of weeks when all my annual reviews are done and I have less overhead….hopefully. They always like to pile on more and more at the end and so much of it seems needless.
I do want to write more, and that is one way to vent off a bit. And I also want to do a little series about the past ten years “by the numbers.”
But I need to make it through the next couple of weeks without having to be carted off in a gurney!