Category Archives: Sinuses

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

Correcting and Convalescing

I awoke today and felt horrid , so I stretched my spring break by a day by using a sick day. I am still not sure how I will be feeling tomorrow, but I do hope that I can get to school. While I did spend the day resting, I was also able to get the grading done that I needed to finish. My focus was mediocre at best, but that likely worked to my students’ advantage. Nonetheless, it is a welcome relief to have the grading done. It drives me crazy that even working part-time is a massive strain on me and that I needed a “day off” even though I had the entire preceding week as vacation. Narcolepsy has many twists and turns, but the constant fatigue can truly drive one nuts at times. One upbeat item from the day is that I do not feel guilty that I stayed home from work. While I know that I would have completed the grading even without the staying home, I certainly did a better job because I was not trying to juggle events at school while I was working my way through things. Plus, I definitely have something crazy happening in my body these days. It could still be recovery from pushing myself to complete the previous trimester, but it could also be a sinus infection or some part of my body going haywire from my various ailments. I simply like that I have reached a point that using a sick day does not cause me overwhelming remorse. The reality is that I have a chronic illness (or two), and thus I need to use my sick days periodically because my body pays a price for me constantly engaging with my students, my family, and my life. The next step will be for me to come to terms with the resentment that I still harbor because I cannot “do” everything that I want to do. Even with my day today, I found myself getting upset that I did not get more done. Even though I did more correcting than I have done in weeks, I was frustrated with myself for not accomplishing more. Somehow, I think I will be walking on this particular path for quite some time, but I do hope that I will eventually find some peace around things that I have “lost” due to my medical condition. I also love that I written two posts in two days. That too is a small victory for me.

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Filed under Blogging, Education, Emotions, Exhaustion, Frustration, Illness, Insights, Loss, Narcolepsy, Sinuses, Wisdom

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

Pulsating Pain

My head feels like it is in a vice. The headache started around 3 PM today, and it is progressively building. Somehow, I managed to go get my daughter around 4 PM. Then, my wife, my daughter, three of my daughter’s friends, and I went to a play at my school. Thankfully, my wife drove. I survived the play and even managed to laugh, but the pain is making it difficult to see at the moment. As always the pain is completely centered in my sinuses. I have no doubt that something rotten is happening in there. My ENT’s office never did call with the culture results, but I am sure that they were negative.

I would guess that this headache is my body’s signal to me that I have pushed far too hard at the end of this week. I have not rested much, even on my “off days,” and for the past two days, I have had intense three hour meetings. My colleagues and I have been planning, which has been a blast. Because we are making significant progress, I have no doubt that this coming school year will be even better than last year. That said, though, I overtaxed my body during these past two days because I wanted to get even more done for school. Hopefully, a night of sleep and an extremely low key weekend will allow me to recuperate, so I can work toward a healthier balance next week. Of course, I have two all day meetings on Monday and Tuesday, a evening gathering on Wednesday, another team planning meeting on Thursday morning, and a road trip to Tennessee immediately after that Thursday meeting. I do not have high hopes for my body “settling” within the next week. Oh well, this too is just another joy of narcolepsy. I do get better at rolling with punches like this one (but I still don’t like them).


Filed under Balance, Exhaustion, Family, Frustration, Narcolepsy, Scheduling, Sinuses, Travel

Harsh Headache

>Occasionally, I get horrid sinus headaches. Often, they come in waves – I will be fine for months and then bang, they are back. Thus, today made me a tad nervous. I have essentially had a fairly strong one all day. Offsetting my concern, though, is the fact that my wife and I were out with friends until late last night. Thus, I only had one dose of Xyrem and subsequently only got 4-5 hours of sleep.

Also possibly exacerbating the sinus pain was the fact that I had an early morning meeting with a colleague. She and I were planning to meet at a coffee shop at 9 AM. We needed to work on a document for school. Apparently, I should never schedule initial meetings for coffee shops. As was the case last summer, I again spent a significant amount of time searching for a coffee shop that I could not find. Although I was not trapped in strip mall hell like last year, I was in the bizarre downtown of White Bear Lake, Minnesota. The downtown is split by a highway, which already make travel inconvenient, but the side streets have insane one way offshoots and goofy layouts.

So, as was the case last year (on my way to the MOONS planning meeting that I never found), I drove around in my car for nearly an hour trying to find this stupid coffee shop. I did eventually discover it (it literally has MINIMAL signage). It was closed! Fortunately, my co-worker and I found each other. I was already a half an hour late when I discovered the coffee shop was closed. Assuming my colleague had left White Bear Lake, I headed to the Caribou to send a grovelling email, but when I walked in the door at Caribou, I immediately spotted her. We wound up having a highly productive meeting. I also did not lose my cool when I finally realized my initial “defeat.” That is definitely progress.

Unfortunately, my headache intensified after the meeting. I tried to rest at home after that, but the pain would not leave. I took Tylenol before driving my daughter to her rehearsal. That made my afternoon meeting tolerable, but the drive back home once again helped to tighten the vice-grip feeling in my skull. I got little done this evening, but I know that is okay. I hope that a decent night’s sleep will mitigate the pain. If not, I know that tomorrow will be a long day.


Filed under Confusion, Exhaustion, Frustration, Healing, Honesty, Illness, Narcolepsy, Sinuses

>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

>Nasal Nightmare

>Typically, I avoid discussing my other health woes here, both because they are minor in comparison to my narcolepsy and because I rarely can do much about them, so I avoid dwelling on them. That said, my sinuses threw me a curve ball today. I have had chronic sinusitis for years. I actually think that it is connected to my compromised immune system (and thus my narcolepsy), but I have been “dealing” with my crazy nose for years longer than I have been managing my narcolepsy. Every day, I rinse my sinuses in the morning and at night with a saline solution (SinusRinse made by NeilMed) and with an antibiotic solution. Things have improved since I started that routine in 2004, but I still have regular swelling and inflammation throughout my sinuses.

Every month to two months, I go see my ENT. He is great and I appreciate his candor. Typically, he cultures my sinuses on the left side (which is often worse) and then literally vacuums out my sinuses. In the last few years, I have not had many infections, and my sinuses have looked “better.” They are still constantly swollen, but it is less than in the past and they are usually limited in their inflammation.

Today, I was expecting things to follow the usual process. I had a horrid cold in March, and I know that it took me weeks to shake it. I still have had a lot of congestion, but my nasal discharge has looked better recently. While I never feel “great,” I knew that I was on the upswing for my sinuses. When my ENT looked at my left side, he thought my sinuses looked better (still swollen, but not inflammation and clear mucus). He was actually considering NOT doing a culture. Then, he looked at my right side. Apparently, it was awful. He vacuumed some, then cultured, then vacuumed more. THEN, he switched tips to “get around the corner.” Less than fun, I assure you.

The silver lining in this is that I likely do have a sinus infection. We will see what the culture says, but the infection is probable to say the least. That means that some of my current struggles with energy are a result of my body battling a bacterial infection. It sounds bizarre to be “glad” about that, but I have been so wiped out this break that I was worried that my narcolepsy was getting significantly worse. That still might be the case, but learning that my immunue system might have been in overdrive for other reasons does give me a bit of hope. If I am indeed infected, the ensuing antibiotic will likely perk up my system. I could definitely use an infusion of energy. I will say that it is the first time I was genuinely excited about a possible sinus infection. The other bright spot is that I am managing my narcolepsy well enough that if this is a sinus infection, it did not completely knock me out as sinus infections have done in the past. Apparently, I am just giddy about bacteria growing in my right ethmoid sinus! Yippee!

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Filed under Balance, Exhaustion, Healing, Healthcare, Illness, Narcolepsy, Sinuses