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Saturday, October 09, 2010

Sitting, Waiting, Wishing...

Title compliments of Jack Johnson. And though his song has nothing to do with my particular circumstance, I cannot help but get those lyrics in my head on a more-than-daily basis. I’m still sitting, obviously. But as the days go on, I’m losing patience rapidly.  You know that ants-in-the pants feeling you get after a long flight or car ride when you just want to move your legs? I have that feeling all day long. Every day.

Waiting. I am desperately trying to hold onto a semblance of hope that this will get better, but in the near-term, the list of things I wait for is ridiculous. It starts at 6:00 a.m. when my obnoxious alarm wakes me up with a jolt. Some people hit snooze a few times and fall back to sleep for an additional ten minutes, and honestly there are days when I try. But the alarm sends me into a near panic-attack every morning, because the next hour and a half is debatably the most stressful part of my entire day (which says a lot considering I’m a teacher). I start waiting for Meg. Once the NPR announcer says it's 6:15, my stress level elevates and I start to worry about the list of things I need cooperative legs to do in order to get to school on time. Usually Meg saunters in around that time to help me get out of bed, but we don’t speak – there is an unwritten code of silence between the two of us until she’s had her coffee. When I finally arrive at school, I also wait (although generally my new helper, Rebecca, beats me to school). She helps me transfer from the driver’s seat to my chair, and pushes me into the building towards the main office. I sign in, she gets my mail out of my mailbox, and we head towards my room. Though at this point it has been less than two hours since my alarm went off, my level of exhaustion and stress convince me it’s late afternoon.

Once the bell rings, though, there is no more waiting. The time between 8:15 and 3:05 flies by and there is never enough time within a 47 minute class period to accomplish everything I intend to accomplish. Every day I want to be a better teacher than I was the day prior; at this point my job is my top priority and, as such, my students truly get the best part of who I am. They get my drive, my patience, my enthusiasm and my confidence, and at the end of the day this passion is almost immediately replaced by fear, self-doubt and frustration. They also get every iota of energy I have, and possibly even some that I don’t. That means that at the end of the day – in addition to my aforementioned grumpiness – I am also physically drained. Thus, the foray into patience-cultivation resumes.

I wait for Destiny (another new helper) to straighten my desks, and for Jasmine (referenced in my “Little Homie” story below.) and Antonisha to eventually bring me back out to my car. There, Jasmine actually picks my entire 5’10” frame up off of my wheelchair and heaves me into the driver’s seat as if I’m a toddler. Then I often head towards Hopkins to pick Meg up from work (where I generally wait in the hospital parking lot), or I head directly home. If I’m alone when I get home. I need to wait for someone to spot me during the seat-to-wheelchair transfer (my attempts to do this alone after school have ended in disaster – or near disaster – far too often). As the list of things I cannot do independently grows, the list of things I need to wait for grows conversely – putting pants on, getting on or off the toilet, going anywhere in my car, getting into or out of the shower, changing into pajamas ETC. Since I have zero control over the execution of these tasks, I also have zero control over when any of these things happen.

Which brings me to the last word in Jack Johnson’s aptly titled song, Wishing. But something tells me that one doesn’t require much explanation.

2 comments:

Carolsmiles@gmail.com said...

Hi! i am a friend of Liz Kaufman who told me about you. I admire your bravery and your dedication to your students. I wanted you to know that my prayers are with you....

Carol Del Priore

Anonymous said...

Miss Hooks, I've been reading you're blog for the first time and although you've been my teacher for two years and I know how hilariously sarcastic you are, through this I've learned a lot more about you. I love your candor; It's made me laugh, and cry too.
I cannot imagine how frustrating it must be to entirely depend on others; I thought waiting around for my parents to drive me places was bad, and I have a heightened respect for what your everyday life must be like.
I know that you don't like asking for help, I think I'd be that way too, but there really are so many people ready to lend a hand, myself included.
-Allison S :)