Monthly Archives: May 2009

>Many MOONS Memories

>Today was wonderful (and exhausting). Approximately one year after making it to my first MOONS-MN meeting, I presented my story. I also shared the many online resources that have been such a tremendous help in my journey. I honestly feel like the presentation went extremely well.

Initially, the attendance looked to be low, but by the end of the meeting, the entire room was full. Even better, we had some returning members who had been unable to make the last few meetings. We also had two brand new people. One member informed me that he had been present when the Minnesota Narcolepsy Association was formed in the late seventies. I am super excited to work with him to get others from the earlier group re-connected to this newer version of the Minnesota support group.

I also must confess that I enjoyed sharing my own story with other PWNs. I find such power in speaking about my condition with peers who truly “get it.” The many nodding heads throughout the entire presentation definitely affirmed my experiences. Because MOONS, this blog, the Narcolepsy Network, and Facebook are so intertwined in my journey, all of my comments brought floods of memories into my head. I found myself quite emotional as I reflected on my initial experiences with the support group on Facebook. The knowledge that only one year had passed since I first attended a MOONS meeting stunned me.

I have made great connections online, but the core people at MOONS at so dear to me. My head spins trying to remember coping with narcolepsy without having them in my life. Yet, that was the reality for me during the first nine months after my diagnosis. Those months were so dark and difficult, but I survived. That initial meeting inspired me to join Narcolepsy Network and to attend the national conference. While I still know that narcolepsy challenges my patience and limits every single day, I have so much more hope. My online support is part of that, but MOONS itself has done more for me than anything else. I am blessed to know these other persons with narcolepsy.

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Filed under Blessings, Blogging, Education, Emotions, Gratitude, Heroes, Hope, MOONS, My story, Narcolepsy, Narcolepsy Network, Technology

>Sad and Surreal

>Somehow, it is still May. Although I have not written for weeks, it feels like it has been a year. While I know that I have managed life, work, home, and health reasonably well, I am frustrated that I have not found time for me. I need to blog. I need to exercise. I need to practice yoga. Thankfully, summer is literally around the corner. My primary personal goal is to set clear patterns for those three things for me.

Even though I have coped with my narcolepsy well, many moments overwhelm me. One happened yesterday. I left home at 7:20 AM, and other than a brief 45 minute stop for dinner, I did not return until 10 PM. In the midst of it, I honestly worried that I would have a sleep attack. Gratefully, everything went well, and I found a second wind.

Today was a radically different situation. Even though I had Monday off, I found myself stunned this morning when I remember that today was Thursday. I honestly felt like Tuesday and Wednesday last for weeks. Yet, today was the longest day yet. Much of the morning went well, but in my afternoon class, I led a discussion during which MANY of my boys attempted to fault a female character in a novel for a rape. I was and am aghast. Although the group has certainly had moments of sheer male stupidity, this horrific scene was completely off my radar.

We are reading Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. The book is tremendous, and most students can’t put it down. The discussion began with some wonderfully insightful comments, but a boy in the class who has often made short-sighted comments then offered that the protagonist was at fault for her rape. Assuming that his peers would immediately reject his comment, I called on two other boys. Both of them agreed with the first. The ensuing discussion entailed young women respectfully and intelligently refuting the lunacy that these boys were spewing, but the boys chose to ignore everything that the young women offered. I know that I handled the situation as well as I could, but I regret that I did not simply reject the initial comments. Unfortunately, I all too often try to be “fair.” Since my own biases tend toward feminism, I refrained from shutting down this boy. Hoping that the boys would “learn” from the discussion, I proceeded to allow tremendous pain to be inflicted on the young women in the room.

When class ended the boys strolled out the door without a care in the world. Many of our young women were reeling from the boys’ remarks. One broke down immediately. Two others spent 15 minutes in dialogue with my co-teachers and me. Three more wrote lengthy emails upon arriving at home. I highly doubt that the boys even pondered the class period for more than 10 seconds. Thus, in an attempt to “help” the boys, I subjected young women to tremendous pain. That is male privilege in its most sinister forms.

Thus, my co-teachers and I will adjust our schedule for tomorrow. Instead of playing our trivia and knowledge game, we will separate into gender specific groups. Hopefully, the young women can be reaffirmed by the testoterone-free period. The boys, on the other hand, should be interesting. I definitely think that those boys need to hear in no uncertain terms that rape is an evil crime and that a rape is NEVER the fault of the victim. It should be interesting.

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Filed under Anger, Confusion, Depression, Education, Emotions, Exhaustion, Faith, Frustration, Honesty, Hope, Love, Narcolepsy, Rage, Stupidity

>Whacky Wednesday

>As much as I am getting used to time racing forward, I still find myself stunned when the opposite happens. Days when I feel like I live a week in a few short hours completely unnerve me. Today definitely fell into that category. At school today, we held a “founders” celebration for the two religious orders that started our school. I also felt like I was constantly on the go during the entire day, conversing with a colleague during my first prep, planning three things at once during our team session, attempting to organize ideas and thoughts during my second prep, processing racism and its impact with students throughout the day, assisting a few students during their homeroom time, reviewing the work of my independent study student during my lunch, and finally delving into more ideas and angst in our other class. Then, I went to lead my daughter’s Poetry Club. I finished out the day by running a number of errands.

I honestly struggle to accept that our “founders” breakfast was THIS morning. Invariably, I was (and am) exhausted. And, the craziest part is that, even though I accomplished a vast number of things today, part of my brain truly believes that I should have done more. I have so many stray “unfinished” tasks, but it would be impossible to accomplish them. Not just in one day, but in a lifetime. I must work to accept that reality – my brain will never be “satisfied.” It is simply the truth of my situation. Hopefully, my awareness, and ensuing actions, will keep the madness and anxiety at bay.

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Filed under Balance, Exhaustion, Honesty, Humility, Narcolepsy, Wisdom

>Flailing Frustration

>Knowing that I have narcolepsy, I work diligently to have realistic expectations for myself. Certainly, I continue to overestimate (grossly) what I can accomplish – in a day, in a week, in a month. That said, though, I have gotten significantly better both in my estimation and in my acceptance of what I can accomplish. Nevertheless, I continue to have difficult and aggravating experiences focused on my inability to do even simple tasks.

Over the past weekend, I desperately wanted to clean our home office – finally. It has been a major goal for months. I will get close, but never quite finish the job. Even with the exhausting week that I experience at the end of April, I made some progress on Saturday. Sunday proved to be a whole other matter, though. I awoke with a tremendous headache which only got worse. I did try to continue my efforts in the office, but would find myself aimlessly drifting from one thought to another. Rather than being able to clean a small section, I struggled to form even basic thoughts.

Eventually, I found the pain subsiding. But, I was not content to clean one or two more things. Instead, I worked to restring one of our cellular shades. I quickly figured out what I needed to do, but the process itself was tedious and nerve-wracking. When I finally finished, and had (stall HAVE) the shade working, I went to see if my wife wanted to look at it. Turns out that it was 1 AM. I had completely missed my first Xyrem dose – oops. I am proud that I got the cellular blind ready for us, but I know that the price I paid for that was likely too high. I functioned decently on Monday and today, but I also know that I was not entirely comfortable with my focus. My judgment and cognition go out the window when I am overly run down. I just wish that I could be lucid when I WANT to be, but that is no longer reality.

Thus, I must continue to work on acceptance and balance. Those things will come with time. I am stunned at how well I do on most days, but that does not mean that I have to like that reality.

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Filed under Balance, Exhaustion, Frustration, Honesty, Loss, Narcolepsy, Scheduling, Wisdom

>May Magic

>Yet again, time has had its way with me. My calendar seems to jump entire weeks at a time. Thus, May has arrived and my brain is still in the middle of April. The frenetic pace of school has not lessened, rather it has picked up. Today, I managed to finish putting comments on numerous papers, to copy our quiz, to help plan the day, to re-write the same quiz, and to connect with a number of students. The added “bonus” is that I did all of that during a day that was shortened for various reasons. We also had conferences yesterday, and my daughter had to go to the ER the night before. So, I slept little on Wednesday, talked to parents for hours on Thursday, and eked every ounce out of my body on Friday. While I am grateful that I can handle a day like that, I also know that I will be worthless for much of this weekend.

I also realize that I am getting more and more run down as the end of the school year approaches. I find it fascinating that I am beginning to know myself and my body well enough that I can recognize when I am pushing too hard. Unfortunately, I am still too stubborn to do much about that. I know that I will continue to push when I should stop – like I did today. I “survived,” but that came at a price. The lingering congestion and illness that I seem to still have will worsen. There is no question in my mind about that. I also know that I will do my best to exploit the boost I get from the improving weather.

While temperatures did dip during the past week, the averages are now consistently in the 60+ range. That is glorious. I have come to abhor winter. The warmth coupled with the ever growing daylight definitely lift my spirits. Of course, that too has a down side. More light means that I am tempted to push myself even more. Even the idea of May gets me pumped. More daylight and milder days portend summer’s arrival. Summer means a time to re-charge and MITY. Yet, my extroverted, crazy brain transforms those good vibes into an insane drive to complete everything before the school year ends. While the idea is lovely, the reality is that I should NEVER listen to grand ideas like that. My body can’t handle them, but my stupid brain never seems to remember that. Hopefully, I am gaining enough wisdom that I will intervene on my own behalf. Nonetheless, I am thrilled that I am entering the final month of school, even if it means that I somehow lost the latter half of April.

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Filed under Confusion, Education, Excitement, Exhaustion, Frustration, Honesty, Loss, Narcolepsy, Scheduling, Sinuses