This past year has been a doozy. I’m eager to see it over. I don’t like wanting time to pass quicker than it already does, however this year has been one of the worst for me.
In March, a former student died by suicide. This was a shock to everyone who knew George, and a devastating loss to anyone whose life he touched. I was profoundly affected by it because he was a favourite: he was the one with a smile on his face always, the one who would ask how you were, and the one who always said hello to you. He was a sweetheart. He was kind, empathetic, intelligent, inquisitive, and funny. Losing someone I thought would be the last person who would take his life was eye opening and heartbreaking.
In June I found out I had an abnormal mass in my nasal passage. It could be sinister…or it could be nothing. For several months I didn’t know what to think, but I tried to remain calm and think positively. (Okay, I faltered a few times.) I had surgery to biopsy it and remove it all in September. Then I waited. I worried. I thought the worst but hoped for the best.
In September I didn’t join my colleagues going back into the classroom. I haven’t been able to return to work at all. My headache situation has only worsened and it is beyond frustrating and gut-wrenching to not be able to do what I love and see my former students and co-workers/friends. I honestly feel like teaching is my calling, and so not having “kids” right now is really tough.
The headaches are bad. Very bad. They’re the “I think my head might explode” kind on a regular basis. Living with chronic pain is not easy or enjoyable. I take a lot of medication and go to a lot of medical appointments…with no change.
So 2017 has been challenging. That said, I try to be grateful for all that is good. I went so far as to get the words “gratitude” and “kindness” tattooed on my body. And there is a lot of good.
After the loss of George, a few teens, George’s dad John, George’s sister Grace, and I connected and formed a mental health and wellness group in the community. We’re planning some big events to raise awareness of mental health issues and struggles and garner more support for those suffering. We want to erase the stigma of mental illness and work to make people see that it’s okay to ask for help. We are very fortunate to have lots of support in the community, and we will be partnering with some organizations in the near future, which makes me so thankful. We’re also making sure that George is always remembered, and that his legacy is one of helping others. Hopefully we can make a positive difference and prevent further tragedies.
Also, my tumor was non-malignant, so that’s worth celebrating. It could have been bad news but it wasn’t. Not knowing pushed me to take a family vacation to a few places I have wanted to see for a long time: Banff and Lake Louise. If not for the tumor we likely wouldn’t have gone, and so for that mass I guess I should be thankful (as strange as that seems).
The headaches and work situation? Well I need to be grateful that I have employers who are understanding and that I have a doctor who is exploring every avenue to try to ease my pain. I have a whole team of medical professionals with whom I spend a large amount of time, and I enjoy their company so the appointments are not so bad. In fact, they make me smile and keep me on the “positive train”, so I am incredibly grateful for that and for them.
Tonight I will do an early New Year’s Eve celebration with my family, and then I will ring in 2018 with friends who have listened to and supported me during this difficult time. I know I am lucky to have these ladies in my life, and that I have been blessed with many amazing friends who make me laugh and make me feel loved. For them I couldn’t be more thankful.
I hope wherever you are and whomever you are with, you are happy and grateful today and every day, and that your cup overflows with goodness and blessings. Cheers to 2018.