Friday, May 11, 2007

Very Pretty . . . But took four weeks off

I don't normally blog about my other life. It wouldn't be fair to my students, and it's far from the focus of my blog. But they weren't fair to me, and I can't focus on much anything else.

If you think it's bad to get nasty comments here, try getting them on course evaluations.

I've only alluded to this in earlier posts.
As you know, I didn't travel, in part because I couldn't at that time get the required shots due to immunosuppression. I accepted that fate and hope(d) to travel next time.
You'll need to remember that in a minute.

In January I became very sick very fast. An unexplained high fever brought me to the emergency room (never tell your kids "It's okay, I'll be right back" if you're not sure. I was gone for two weeks). My wbcs, rbcs and platelettes were falling, and no one could figure out why.

By the time the bone marrow biopsy results came back three days after I was admitted, we were sure the news would be an aggressive form of leukemia. So were my doctors. But it showed healthy baby blood cells, even if there weren't many.

The fevers continued. So did the falling counts. I kept an 8x10 of my kids taped to the wall, and I pointed them out to every nurse, doctor, medical student, and aide who came into my room. "Make me better for them," I said at times. At others I pleaded: "She's already lost one mother. Please don't let her lose another." And I obsessed about what it would mean for our attachment. She hadn't been cared for by anyone else for the first six months. I told her I'd be back, and I disappeared . .

The next day, a preliminary answer for part of the problem. Gigantic splenomegaly. If I'd been to Africa, the ID doc said, he would have thought malaria. But I hadn't gone, because I didn't want to get sick. He said I was lucky I hadn't gone then. I said I'd almost died in Bloomsburg, and I should be glad I missed the trip of a lifetime?!

But at least then we had a direction. The CMV PCR came back elevated. CMV isn't usually a problem for healthy people, but I got really unlucky, and it suppressed my bone marrow. A few days later, I had EBV mono too, probably because the CMV had caused immunosuppression significant enough to allow our old college friend to return (more likely than a primary infection in someone my age, though I'd never been noticeably sick with mono before). By that time I was neutropenic and had to be isolated, because of the perfect storm of viruses that don't do much to most people (and don't usually happen at the same time). I had a PIC line put in (far less painful than daily sticks, also allowing emergency access, but still no fun) and we waited it out. Eventually I was discharged with home fluids through the PIC, then readmitted, then discharged again.

For a total of four weeks, then, I was on leave from life and from work. I came back to both too soon, but I wanted to return to normal as soon as I could pretend to, and I wanted to return to my students. Throughout the time I was on homecare, I stayed in email contact with my students and their very able sub.

I considered starting a blog exclusively about mono. I wanted to call it monospot.blogspot. But then I realized that there isn't much to say about malaise.

So all this is to explain why I'm so frustrated by this: After the end of the term, I get this as a student evaluation: Instructor strength: Very pretty. Weakness: Took four weeks off. The former was only one student's opinion, but several mentioned the latter. And also "Takes [her subject] too seriously."


Anonymous said...

Jeez! I can't believe you are still alive!!!

And those students are jerks. Remember that they are students and completely immersed in themselves and their emo drama-filled lives.

You gotta do what you gotta do and it sounds like you had to stay alive at that moment time...



abebech said...

Ah Jamie, you knew just the right thing to say. Thanks!

Falk Gagnon family said...

Oh my god, that was so mean - did they know you were sick??? I wouldn't worry to much about it - and hey at least your pretty :-) :-) Mono SUCKS - I have never had it but a couple good friends have and it really SUCKS!!!

abebech said...

They didn't know what was wrong specifically, but they knew I was hospitalized and then confined to home. :(

Michelle said...

Oh man! Kids are selfish (*most*)and don't seem to care about anything but their own little world. Makes me that much more determined to raise my child to think outside of her box and to care for other's feelings and needs. What a journey and ordeal you went though, it is amazing how you pulled through!

Anonymous said...

I teach. Last spring I missed several non-consecutive days of class to meet with a surgeon and then have surgery on my thyroid. I told my students I would be out, explained it was medically necessary, came back with a scar on my throat.... And still students wrote on my evaluations that I missed a lot of classes. They just don't understand anything.

abebech said...

Melina, I am so sorry that happened to you (both the surgery and the students). But I'm also a little glad it isn't just my students . . .

Anonymous said...

"took 4 weeks off" -- the nerve of you, having an illness!! Sheesh!!

Oh my word. How old are these whippersnappers, or did you give us that tidbit and in my usual fashion I read too quickly and didn't take in that bit of info?

I work with college level students and still some of them are incredibly immature. Makes me crazy.

abebech said...

Yep. College.