Category Archives: Love

Tiresome Travel Troubling

I have known for the last 4-5 years that traveling tends to exacerbate the impact of my narcolepsy, in terms of both my sleepiness and its impact on my overall health. The situation makes tons of sense when I think about it — my schedule gets thrown off, driving and flying for long periods put additional stress on my body, I am not in my own bed, and even changing one time zone can affect my biorhythms. As a result of this reality, I do try to allow myself extra time for recovery when I take a trip. I also do my best to balance my activities while traveling so I do not exhaust myself. Even in the best scenarios, my efforts are only mildly successful, but this current summer has put me into an entirely different place.

Because of my new job, I have already spent far more of my summer working like mad to get things ready for the next school year. So, even before my extensive travel started, I was already run down. Added to that is the fact that my daughter is in between grades 11 and 12, so college visit trips have filled up the second half of our summer. My wife, my daughter, and I visited 6 schools in 4 days during our first circuit after spending a long weekend with friends. The experience was awesome in every possible way, but it also left me reeling for the entire week after our return. And, during that week, we decided that my daughter and I would head to 2 more schools this week preceding a conference my wife is attending. All three of us think this current trip is a good idea, but it also heightened the stress level in our house, particularly as my daughter and I reworked almost an entire week of work. And, I was (and am) painfully aware that the cold I got from our first trip continues to linger. Truly, my sinuses are a mess, and I am definitely worried that I will be paying for these trips with my health well into the coming school year. Underscoring that concern is the fact that our busiest trip is yet to come. My daughter and I will make our third and final trip in the first week of August when we plan to visit 8 schools in 4 states during a 5 day window.

Although I do fear what all this flying and driving will do to me physically, I am thoroughly enjoying the experience. Just today, my daughter and I toured a school in the pouring rain. We would definitely have preferred a sunny day, but we still had a great visit. The school impressed both of us, but even better was the fun we had with each other. We took a train there and back, navigated the local bus system, and even found our way to an Ethiopian restaurant (that my daughter wanted to try) near our hotel. We are both exhausted, and we are getting up early for another visit and tour tomorrow, but we are being good to each other and appreciating the experience. In fact, the trek from our hotel to the train station this morning took us across the campus of a college she had not been considering, but tonight she added it to the list because she was so impressed by it. Our final trip in early August will require me to do a lot of driving (since we will be hitting 4 different states), and that makes me nervous because I know how draining the car travel will be. Yet, knowing that the two of us survived our wacky experiences today, I firmly believe that we can make that last trip work, especially if we are conscious of being kind to one another.

These interactions with my daughter are the thing that makes me the most frustrated about how travel tires me and lowers me ability to stay healthy. She is amazing, and I love spending time with her. I just wish the toll for these trips was not so steep for me. That being said, I would not trade these opportunities for anything. More than anything, I need to step back and recognize how choosing to take these trips does have repercussions. And, I need to remember the importance of this time with my daughter when my health, sinuses, and sleepiness continue to spiral on me over the next few months. I also know that I must be more attentive to taking care of myself to minimize as much as possible the negative impact of these college visits. What I must avoid, though, is letting my compromised health steer me into short-changing my wife, my daughter, or myself in our daily lives.

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Filed under Balance, Driving, Exhaustion, Family, Frustration, Gratitude, Humility, Illness, Insights, Joy, Love, Narcolepsy, Parenting, Scheduling, Sinuses, Stress, Travel, 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

Travel Tension

>On the whole, today has been great, but as was the case on the way down to Tennessee, narcolepsy did choose some choice moments to rear its ugly head. In an attempt to create a smooth departure this morning, we all packed last night. Ironically, that effort paid off for us (those things usually backfire in some way). We were on the road by 6:25 AM – a significant improvement from a week ago Friday (when our 6 AM departure turned into 8 AM). My wife was on edge as we left, but I knew that she was definitely sick still, and her angst quickly passed.

The problem, though, was that due to my wife’s illness I needed to drive more than I had on the way down. I took my first driving shift right after we entered Kentucky. I managed to get us passed Lexington, which was over 100 miles of our trip. I drove for nearly an hour and a half. Unfortunately, I found myself in heavier traffic toward the end of that time (no doubt due to passing through Lexington). Still, I handled things well, but I could feel some tension building. My wife definitely gets worried as I begin to fade behind the wheel. Still, I was pleased that I drove that far and helped out that much.

Because it was so early, we continued to push on. My wife drove us into Indiana. We finally stopped for lunch at this great little restaurant in Scottsburg (Jeeves & Company). Our lunch was wonderful, and I took my second dose of amphetamine right after we ate. My wife definitely needed me to drive again. I knew that I was already exhausted, even with the stimulant, but felt I had no other choice. Thus, I got behind the wheel and knew that I would be fine in terms of safety. The problem was that driving would take all of my energy. My wife dozed during some of the time, but she woke up as we began approaching Indianapolis. Like Lexington, traffic began to get dicey as we approached the metropolitan area. Finally, a truck cut into the left lane (at 65 mph) when the car in front of me and I were both moving at 80 mph. Needless to say, I was furious. I then drove through the next 30 to 40 miles in rapid, lane-shifting traffic. I wanted to get us around Indianapolis before switching. But, the speed and my bad mood made my wife more and more anxious.

When we finally reached an exit that would allow us to switch, I was attempting to explain my awful mood to my wife. Sadly, the gas station we wanted to reach was not immediately at the exit, AND the bottom of the ramp was incredibly confusing. I did make the correct decision, but had no way to know that at the time. Because every ounce of energy that I had was going into keeping the car on the road safely, I derided myself for the rotten signage. This only upset my wife more. After the mile had almost passed, we were approaching a different interstate and could not see the gas station. Because I was so far gone, I cut my wife off as she was attempting to “help” me. I plead with her to say nothing and to let me figure out how to find the gas station. Seconds later, I spotted it just passed the other interstate, but she also saw it and chose to let me know where it was. That definitely sent me into a tailspin.

I got us to the station, and we snapped at each other about the situation. We soon reconciled, but as I got out right after the initial exchange, I was literally shaking aas I was pumping the gas. I had nothing left from the driving. In fact, I nearly exploded when the pump failed to print my receipt. Fortunately, my wife had already apologized to me. I managed to walk (or stomp) inside and nicely ask for a copy. I then apologized to my wife and again attempted to explain how hard such a situation is for me. It drives me nuts that my energy is so limited in moments like that. I truly did not have the ability to interact with her (or myself) civilly because I needed all of my mental accuity to keep us safe in the car. That is crazy, but it is also reality.

Fortunately, my wife and I are exceptional at sharing, listening, and forgiving. I know that she meant well, and she knows that I truly did not try to upset her. She also appreciates that I did much more of the driving today. She still did the majority, but I did drive for over 3 hours and handled over 200 of our miles. Narcolepsy will certainly continue to be a bane – in my travels, in my marriage, in my life. But, I must simply continue to accept what it gives me and make the best of each day. Gratefully, we got to our hotel by 3 PM and have had a slow evening to gather strength for tomorrow. We are all excited to get home. I hope that tomorrow goes well and that my narcolepsy lets me have enough strength to drive and to be kind even when the roads are tense.

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Filed under Anger, Driving, Emotions, Exhaustion, Family, Frustration, Honesty, Humility, Love, Marriage, Narcolepsy, Stupidity, Travel

Internet Interruption

I love that I am constantly learning new things about myself. While a portion of that statement is facetious, I do like that I am open enough to recognize important factors about my mental and physical health. So, we are on vacation. Gatlinburg has been great, but my sinuses has not. I am also furious that my resort DOES offer an internet connection, but for a fee. I realized this after returning from McDonald’s on Sunday. My rage only increased when I learned that the resort’s internet is provided by Wayport. While Wayport has been around for a while, apparently the company is now owned by AT&T. The irony is that I am supposed to be able to connect to AT&T wifi because of my own internet connection at home. In fact, I used the Wayport connection at McDonald’s! I finally caved in and paid for 24 hours on our room connection. I needed to do that.

My health woes have made for a long week, but it has also been hard because I don’t do well when I have “unstructured” time. We have done some hiking, gone white water rafting, and visited the Aquarium of the Smokies. Those activities have been awesome. Unfortunately, those things drained me (because I have narcolepsy) and left me sitting around our townhouse at the resort. When I don’t have ways to distract myself, I tend to get stuck in my own head. To avoid that I have watched a ridiculous amount of TV. I would have done far more productive things had I had an internet connection, but that was not possible. I also knew that trying to DO other things would be a disaster, since my limited excursions have left me wiped out. That might be the most frustrating aspect of this. This trip is the first long one that we have taken since I have begun to figure out how to live effectively with my narcolepsy. Unfortunately, I was not prepared for it. The lack of the internet connection, coupled with how much two LONG days in the car took out of me, has made it difficult for me to be upbeat. I also know that I am bring down the moods of my wife and my daughter. We are having fun, but my limited participation certainly impacts them.

I am now in hour 30 of a killer sinus headache too. It improves at times, but on the whole, the dull and constant pain in my left temple is getting old (to say the least). I skipped the hike this morning in hopes that I would feel better, but it made no difference. I am also afraid that I will get worse when we spend two days in the car driving home. Hopefully, tomorrow will be a good day. We plan to visit some of the shops on the craft circle – an eight mile loop of various artisans. It should be a blast, but all of us are under the weather. We certainly will not push ourselves, but it is definitely a burden on my wife. She clearly has a cold, but is trying to pick up my slack. I am doing my best to stay positive and engage with my wife and daughter, but there is only so much that my body can give. I will attempt to keep smiling and give everything that I can!

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Filed under Exhaustion, Family, Frustration, Illness, Love, Marriage, Narcolepsy, Parenting, Relationships, Travel

Meandering Moodiness

While today was slightly better than yesterday, I have yet to find any traction this week. That said, I did enjoy my day. My daughter and I continued to enjoy her new Wii game. Animal Crossing is ridiculously silly. You essentially fish, catch bugs, run errands for your neighbors, and dig up fossils. At the same time, it is hilarious. I must admit that the best part is spending time with my daughter. Although we did manage to limit the Wii time, it was still past noon when we “finished.” We then went to lunch and took in a movie together. I do believe that things went well, but I still worry that I am not connecting with her enough.

I did manage to do one thing for my wife today. I got groceries, which we desperately needed. At the driving in the afternoon, I was a tad worried about driving again, but I rested for an hour before going shopping. Still, the trip to the store finished me for the night. I was able to let go of my anxiety over the things that I have not even started yet for my meeting in the morning. I think I can get a couple things done when I wake up, but I doubt I will have it all finished. Hopefully, my colleagues will understand and forgive me. I also have an appointment with my sleep doctor tomorrow. I need to pull together some questions for him. The appointment should go fine, but I also wish I had a firmer grasp on my current mental state. I am not sure how well my meds are working, but worry about trying to ask for anonther stimulant. We will see.

This needs to be short tonight because I need to get to sleep. I am painfully aware that my own inability to re-establish any sense of a schedule has been reeking havoc with my entire state of being – mentally, physically, emotionally. The good news is that I still have a week and a half of July. Then, I will get three weeks of August before school starts. That is a tremendous amount of time, but I must start moving in a better direction.

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Filed under Balance, Depression, Exhaustion, Family, Frustration, Honesty, Love, Narcolepsy, Parenting

Slow Sunday

Everyone got up late in our house today. As always, I was the first one up – Xyrem in a midnight and 3 AM means I am awake at 8-8:30 am. Today was no different. Of course, the physical exertion of cleaning up last night and the emotional strain of watching my daughter left me completely washed out. My wife finally arose around 10:45, and we got my daughter up at 11:15. I have no doubt that the stress of the play drained both of them. While my daughter loved the entire experience, she expended ridiculous amounts of energy, especially in the last seven days. As Alice, she was literally on the stage every moment of the play, and she gave to the audience for the full 95-100 minutes both nights. For my poor wife, the drain can primarily from insane nervous energy. I have seen my wife stressed about her own presentations, but that is nothing compared to her fretting over our daughter’s performance. Since our daughter has definitely been bitten by the performance bug, I am hoping that my wife’s anxiety will start to settle down.

Once we got up, we did nothing. I don’t think any of us had much motivation today. We did decide to check out Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. We loved the film, but even that trip to the film depleted the minimal energy that any of us had. I got home and felt like collapsing. Thankfully, my wife was able to let go of her own concerns about getting work done. I definitely would have found it more difficult to shut down tonight had my wife tried to push herself to do more work, partly because she has done a bulk of the work that was required from parents for the play. I sincerely hope that I can get back into a better groove in this coming week. I certainly have done a decent job, but I want to find a healthier balance in my work efforts and my exercising.

Although today was incredibly low key, it is wonderful to realize that we were able to have a day like this as a family. Far too often, we have isolated on days like this one. Or, one or two of us will be frenetic, while someone else shuts down. Rather than begrudging each other, we celebrated our fatigue together. As the PWN in the family, I truly appreciate that. As I have said many times, my wife and my daughter are the two people who I still worry about disappointing. Thus, days like today can be dangerous for me. Instead, today was heavenly.

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Filed under Balance, Blessings, Exhaustion, Family, Hope, Love, Marriage, Narcolepsy, Parenting, Relationships

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