by Hannah the Zebra
I had thought I had pretty well come to terms with the fact that I have a life threatening immune deficiency. I was diagnosed three years ago, and spent the first two years dealing with the fact that I might die in the near future, rather than several decades from now. I know that any one of us could die at any moment due to an automobile accident or a natural disaster. But when you are told that you are immune deficient and are going to be dependent on gamma globulin treatments to keep you alive, your perspective changes. Radically. It took me two years to get my head around that fact.
Done, right? Ummm… unfortunately, no. Not done. Not done at all. As I move into my tenth month of medical leave, I realize that I can no longer be sure how long this leave will last. I am still definitely improving. I now have several good days a week, which will enable me to return to work two days a week starting in the middle of May. I’m a teacher. I miss it. I keep thinking that I want to be in my classroom with the kids. So being able to go back two days a week for the last month of the school year is great!
But then I start thinking of all the changes I will have to make to my approach to teaching if I want to continue to teach. I will need to be less nit-picky in my grading. Not stay at school for hours after the students leave conferring with other staff, planning, cleaning my room, designing tests and projects, and all the multitudinous details that go into making a classroom run well and smoothly. Or at least the details that I think are necessary to make a classroom run well and smoothly. The changes feel overwhelming, but I know that if I don’t make them, or at least some of them, then my teaching days are numbered; I will have to retire long before either my finances or my emotions are ready to do so.
So here is the new part of the grief that is biting me in the back. My head had come to terms (of sorts), with dying. None of me had come to terms with living with the disease, and all of the life changes that it would necessitate. I really truly did think, that if I got the gamma globulin infusions on schedule, and just kept doing the things I was used to doing, that everything would be OK. I had thought that the infusions would give me a normal life. And they don’t. They enable me to hold on to life for far, far longer. And they enable me to do many things that I care deeply about. But I can’t seem to get my old life back, even though I thought I could. And that is so, so, hard.