Category Archives: Excitement

Stress Saps, Stinks, and Slows — for Sure!

The past two weeks at my new job have been insane. As the “technology integration specialist” at my new school, my primary responsibility is to get technology into classes and curriculum, but to do that there needs to be devices for students and teachers to use. Thus, much of the past couple weeks has involved updating, preparing, and evaluating equipment at the school. And, while I do enjoy being helpful when it comes to setting up a computer or moving a piece of equipment, the needs at my new school have been extreme (to say the least). The most amazing part, though, is that I have both been able to put in some extreme hours and been able to stay reasonably calm and upbeat during the process.

My work yesterday, with extremely dated Microsoft Windows PCs, did stretch my patience to its limits, but I wrapped up much early than I did on my other two excessively late nights the previous week — 10:30 PM this time (rather than 1:30 AM and 12:30 AM for the other nights). All of it, though, underscores for me how toxic my previous job had become for me. Had I attempted even one night where I worked close to midnight (doing anything), I would have been recovering for days. Now, at my new job, I have have had three ridiculously late nights within a 10-day period, yet I still have energy and enthusiasm (which is truly remarkable given that overwhelming tedious nature of the work each of those nights). I fully realize that I cannot afford any more nights that stretch far into the evening, but the fact that I have done so multiple times and still have something in the tank is mind-blowing to me.

I share all of this to underscore how deeply stress can impact a person with narcolepsy. The amount of physical, mental, and emotional energy that I expended in my previous job is staggering. Certainly, narcolepsy makes my life difficult, but battling those internal elements (brought on by external realities and my perceptions of them) exacerbated every aspect of my narcolepsy. And, the cycle of facing those stressors, wasting more energy on them, getting more run down, and then finding those same stressors even more insurmountable became its own form of torture. I find it staggering that so much of my limited energy went into simply surviving each day.

The exciting insight for me is that embracing something for which I have enthusiasm (rather than battling aggravations) gives me energy rather than sapping it. The lesson is made even more clear to me in my current situation because the reason for the late nights is mind-numbing boring work — updating software, setting up student PCs, and setting up digital services. Although those activities could prove to be stressors for me in other circumstances, I can (and do) find purpose in them at this time because they will benefit my new colleagues and our students. It also gives me hope as I begin looking for areas of “passion” within my non-work life. And that prospect is truly thrilling. For much of the last 6 years (when I was diagnosed) and even farther back than that, I have only given up activities I have loved and enjoyed in an attempt to survive. Suddenly, I feel like I could start looking for ways to spend free time that would bring me even more strength and energy.

After so many years of facing what narcolepsy “has cost me,” my world has turned on its head. Losing the enormous deadweight of overwhelming stress has unyoked my head and my heart. I am doing my best to stay calm in the midst of this new development, so I do not lose perspective. Balance is most definitely the watchword for me these days, but it is wonderful that hope, joy, and enthusiasm are now things I need to keep in check (rather than items completely missing from my daily life).

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Filed under Balance, Blessings, Emotions, Excitement, Exhaustion, Gratitude, Honesty, Hope, Insights, Joy, My story, Narcolepsy, Serendipity, Stress, Technology, Wisdom

Ready to Return

While I have no idea if anyone has visited my blog at all recently, I feel like the fog and haze of the past three years is finally lifting. I decide in February (with much consultation with my amazing and wonderful wife) that I needed to leave my teaching job that I have had for the past 20 years. While my health certainly played a role in the my struggles of the past three years, the reality is that my job had become a deeply toxic environment for me. While I still love my colleagues, my students, and the essential nature of teaching, the leadership and decision-making of my former school continued to drag me lower and lower into depression and frustration.

After I turned in my resignation, I felt a tremendous weight lift, but I still needed to finish the school year. Things went well, but the experience remained overwhelming. In the midst of all of that chaos, more and more signs clarified for me that I made the correct decision. While the school leadership seemed completely nonplussed by my resignation, the much clearer (and far more positive) message came in the form of potential new positions. From my classroom experiences of the last five years, I knew that my next job would involve technology integration, rather than direct student instruction. I had not planned to do any job searching until the school year ended, but potential positions kept finding me. I was interviewed for two positions in public school settings, and although I did not get those jobs, I was not only flattered, but also realized that I was definitely qualified to be a technology integration specialist. Then, as a result of submitting some of those other applications, a friend and former colleague offered me a position at a Catholic grade school. I took the job and started there on August 1 of this year. Even though the school year has not officially begun (and there is a great deal of work to do), I know (without any doubt) that I have made the right choice. I am significantly more at peace and in a far more supportive and well run environment. The added bonus is that my new colleagues are also more open as a group in pursuing technology integration.

Underscoring these positive professional changes, my personal life has also improved markedly. I made the decision to engage in professional therapy again at the end of the school year, in large part because of the impact my previous job was having on my family. The experience has been and continues to be tremendously rewarding. I have found myself, particularly in the past three weeks, looking at the world in a far healthier and more balanced way than I ever have in the past. My therapist is wonderful — in his ability to support me, to draw out my emotions, and to challenge my previously established views of myself and the world. What is most remarkable is that my therapist  has helped me to confront some of the darkest message that I send myself and to integrate them into who I am, allowing me to feel far better about myself. After many years of experiencing joy infrequently, at best, I fins myself overwhelmed by joy on a daily basis.  It has been glorious, to say the least. Even more importantly, all of this has made my relationships with my wife and daughter stronger than ever.

I am thrilled that I my life and world are in such transition and upheaval. And, I am proud to be posting to this blog once again. My goal is to post at least once a week. It will be good for me on many levels, and I still believe that it is important for me to explore and process how narcolepsy impacts my life. As was the case when I began this blog long ago, if no one else reads this, that is just fine. Nonetheless, I do hope that I can help a few other PWNs (and other folks with sleep issues) in some small way. On that note, I am already signed up for this year’s Narcolepsy Network Annual Patient Conference in Atlanta from October 18-20. Hope to see others there!

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Filed under Balance, Blessings, Education, Emotions, Excitement, Healing, Honesty, Hope, Humility, Joy, Love, My story, Narcolepsy, Narcolepsy Network, Non-narcolepsy stress, Relationships, Support, Therapy, Wisdom

Magic Moment

First and foremost, I finally made it back to work today – way to go, me. Thankfully, the day was relatively low key. I still am struggling mentally and physically, but I know that getting back into some level of routine will help me in many ways. We also were introduced to an interesting program today – the Green Dot initiative (www.livethegreendot.com). The program targets power-based personal violence with strategies to encourage bystanders to become allies. While the presentations left something to be desired, I love the core concept and the message of one small action at a time is a tangible and powerful one. Hopefully, it can be one more tool in the constant struggle U.S. society, in general, and schools, in particular, use to combat bullying and verbal, emotional, and physical violence.

While the day was tiring, the highlight came at the end of my work day. A dear friend (and former co-teacher) shared an exciting event from break week. This teacher has been accepted into a doctoral writing program. Like me, this person has also had a difficult year; in fact, I would argue one that is much worse than mine. Thus, I am thrilled that this colleague will have options moving forward. The individual still needs to hear from some MFA programs too. Another piece of our discussion made my heart race even faster, though. One possibility is that this friend could join my teaching team again. If that were to happen, I would be elated. In fact, this person even proposed an option that would involve me arriving each day at 7:30 AM, and I am actually considering it. One, I would do just about anything to work with this person, but two, I have an incoming ninth grader in my home who needs to get to school around that time any way. For grade school my wife has been the primary morning driver, but I was already worried how our family would handle the change to high school. Clearly, many other things could happen, but I am feeling more hopeful today than I have in a long time about what the future might hold. It is amazing how a single five to ten minute period can make such a profound impact on me. I also love that narcolepsy has made it more likely that I am able to appreciate those moments. Rather than dwelling on a multitude of negatives from the rest of the day, I can cherish a shining instant of joy.

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Filed under Blessings, Education, Emotions, Excitement, Family, Friends, Gratitude, Hope, Insights, Joy, Narcolepsy, Parenting, Wisdom

Bite Size Blogging

Apparently, today is moving day! As I mentioned in my previous post, Bite Size Life is a promising, new location on the web for narcolepsy support. I have been intending for sometime to get my blog transferred there, but the stars refused to align. Suddenly, as so often happens in my life, everything came together within an hour of my previous post. Thus, Narcoleptic Knights can now be found at www.narcolepticknights.bitesizelife.com. Hopefully, I am bright enough that I can continue to have the posts I write there, show up here too. The good news is that ALL of my Blogger posts are already on the bitesizelife. com site! Hooray! I do hope that this change does not cause major problems, but I am excited for a new adventure. Also, I am more determined than ever to provide some live blogging from the Narcolepsy Network conference. Cheers!

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Filed under Blogging, Excitement, Narcolepsy, Narcolepsy Network, Relationships, Sharing

Craft Craze

I had an excellent time today going to look at crafters. Unfortunately, my wife was too ill to join us, so my daughter and I ventured out alone. We needed to exchange a shirt at the aquarium first, which was also an excuse for my daughter to get an awesome funnel cake (it looked like a pound of powdered sugar!). Then, we headed east for the eight mile artisan loop. Since it was hot, we knew that we could not go to many places, but we did check out a few shops.

The woodwork and art that we found blew my mind. I am glad that we made the trip because I will now push harder to make it a priority the next time that we come here. Gatlinburg has amazing talent in this eight mile loop. We did make a few purchases, but I was tempted to get far more. Wisely, I realized that my wife would need to okay the larger purchases. It simply means that we need to return here again.

The best part of the day, though, was simply getting out. My sinuses definitely seemed to be better today. I felt good being more alert and having the chance to connect with my daughter. I continue to worry that narcolepsy will prevent me from knowing as well as I might. Gratefully, days like today remind me that I can find windows. I am excited to head home, but feel like I had a great vacation in spite of my medical woes. We have already packed most of our stuff, allowing us to plan for a 6 AM departure. I hope that I can be ready since I was the delay on both days of our driving down here. Tomorrow is definitely the “longer” day, but we should hit our worst stretch (Pigeon Forge – 5 miles in one hour) before anyone else is actually awake. We will stay in northern Indiana again, but booked a hotel slightly closer to Chicago. I like that I am ending this trip on an upbeat note. That has not been my previous experience very often.

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Filed under Balance, Driving, Excitement, Family, Gratitude, Illness, Marriage, Narcolepsy, Parenting, Relationships, Sinuses, Travel

Magical Madness

The hour is late. We just got home from the set strike from my daughter’s play. Technically, my wife and I got home just now from set strike; my daughter just got home from the cast party. Today was an insane whirlwind of activity. After having the first full night of Xyrem after three days of half doses, I was slow to rise this morning. I eventually got up and let my wife and daughter sleep. They were both wiped out after the stress and the exultation of yesterday’s performance. I played a little on the Wii, did the crossword, and got a couple of things together for my MOONS-MN gathering. Then, when my wife did wake up, we had our weekly “talk time.”

I truly enjoy our weekly ritual, but today was extra special because we basically talk about how much we both enjoyed seeing our daughter perform. Soon, though, I needed to get ready for MOONS. I got to the MOONS meeting early because we had to use a different room this time. Park Nicollet Methodist Hospital was doing maintenance work in our usual room. The new spot was tough to find. I did try to put up some signs, but then stood near the entrance to the hospital to make sure people knew where to go. I also wound up going up and down the stairs repeatedly because our usual meeting room is down one floor. Thankfully, I spotted most folks and got them to the room. The afternoon was a blast because we had 11 people there simply sharing their stories and chatting about life with narcolepsy. One of the best things was the age range. We spanned from 21 up to 80. I have high hopes for the direction that MOONS continues to take.

After the meeting broke up, I had to hop back in my car to get home. Traffic was rotten, so I got home at 5:05. Fifteen minutes later we were in the car heading for my daughter’s show. My wife and I helped clean the floor before the performance because there was still popcorn crumbs in many spots. Then we did other odd jobs. The performance was even better tonight, and our daughter was radiant yet again. I am thrilled that this was such a good experience for her. Finally, our daughter got to hang out with her friends on the cast, while my wife and I helped get everything in order.

Although it is late, and I will definitely pay for the energy I exerted today, everything was worth it. The time with my wife and the MOONS meeting would have made for an awesome day if only one had happened. But the fact that both took place today, AND I got to see my daughter light up the stage yet again, makes this a day to remember. Crazy and chaotic though it was, the day was glorious.

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Filed under Blessings, Cleaning, Excitement, Exhaustion, Family, Friends, Gratitude, Honesty, Joy, Love, MOONS, Narcolepsy, Parenting, Relationships

Properly Proud Papa

I rarely post twice in the same day, but I needed to write this immediately upon returning home. My daughter was amazing. The entire show came together phenomenally well, but my daughter’s performance took my breath away. Her acting already has impressed me in the past, but what she did on stage tonight blew my mind. She stayed in character the entire time, even though she is on the stage the entire time. She even created some ad lib when one of the performers was late to the stage. If I had only seen her act tonight, I would be walking on a cloud for weeks. She was that good! And, the fact that the entire cast pulled together as they did tonight is a true testament to the hard work these kids have all put into the show.

What I was completely unprepared for, though, was the stunning beauty of my daughter’s voice. I have heard my daughter sing before. I have even heard her sing the songs to this show. But, my daughter apparently has a WHOLE different gear for “performing.” She sang with power, grace, style, and energy tonight. Her range is impressive, particularly considering her lack of any formal voice training. Even more impressive, though, was the richness and strength in her tone. She injected tremendous emotion into her words. Her big solos are in the second half of the show, after spending a full hour under the lights speaking and performing non-stop during Act I. The fact that she could still speak is incredible, but her first song in particular literally made people cry it was so touching. And while the lyrics are a small piece of that, far more of the tenderness was due to the way my daughter sang it. I am awed by her.

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Filed under Emotions, Excitement, Family, Gratitude, Joy, Love, Parenting