Itsy-Bitsy

The other night we were holding vigil in the ER (A&E) waiting rooms while a family member was being treated.  Having spent plenty of hours in the waiting places of life, I had brought with me my latest amusement, a sorting box containing a bunch of old necklaces that I was dismantling for salvageable parts.  Aside from the whole reason for being in the waiting room, it was a pleasant experience, and I sat there rocking slightly, filled with the delight of organising bits into rainbow order.

I parked myself in an empty waiting area down the hall from the seats by the ER entrance, free of drafts from the automatic doors, the distractions of anxious people bursting in, and germ-laden sneezes.  I sat there snipping strings, slipping off beads where they rattled into a tray, sorting them, scooping the pieces into small containers, and carefully snapping lids shut.

So I was sitting there at a table where I could keep an eye on the hallway, when a guy shuffled into my airspace.  The first thing I noticed about him was that he reeked of old cigarette smoke and looked disheveled, which I discounted slightly as no one spiffs up for ER visits.  As he began talking to me, I noticed that his speech and comprehension were a bit off, and quickly realised this wasn’t likely a manifestation of an intrinsic impairment — the grungy bloke was drunk.

Oh, joys ( /sarcasm).  I don’t like chit-chat*, and here I was being engaged by a garrulous drunkard.  We then had the most incredible conversation, which he began by asking me,

“Are you counting pills for the pharmacy?”

(Yeah, this was my first clue that the guy was drunk.) Read the rest of this entry »

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Sleep Bends

Maybe you’ve heard of “diver’s bends”: decompression sickness that affects divers (or fliers), resulting from gas molecules that collect into bubbles in the body, much like the carbonation that results when you pop the top on a container of soda.

Waking up lately has been similar to the bends, albeit not for the same reasons, nor as deadly (I’m not making light of a serious medical issue).  But for whatever reason, many of the symptoms are quite similar:  joint pain, headaches, nausea, dizziness, muscle fatigue, seeing spots, and sometimes numb or tingling fingers.

Not surprisingly, it’s hard to get out of bed.  I lay there, hoping it passes quickly.  Rarely does the dizzy-nauseous aspect does abate after 15-30 minutes, and sometimes the extreme nausea lingers all day and then I’m taking meclizine because the school hallways remind me of an unpleasant trip on the English Channel ferry.  Not only does this make it hard to get to work on time*, but it also makes it difficult to get downstairs and eat some breakfast so I can then take my regular morning meds for pain and such.  (Yes, irony, and the not-so-terribly-humorous sort.)

The last time I had a particularly hideous vertigo attack that landed me in the ER (A&E), my GP later decided it was an effect of the previous day’s migraine.  I don’t know if there’s such a thing as “chronic migraine-related sleep bends”, but I sure as hell wish it would go away, ditto the tinnitus that’s been particularly obnoxious lately.  It’s making it difficult to get to job #1 on weekdays, or temporary job #2 on Saturdays, and by evening I’m so exhausted I don’t know how I’m going to do potential job #3 (for which I’m interviewing on Wednesday).

Maybe I should check back with my GP, so see if there’s anything he can recommend besides, “Have you tried nibbling on some saltines … okay, some gluten-free crackers?”

* My record for morning hygiene, dressing, packing lunch and getting into my car is just 20 minutes, but that only happens if the night before I have parcelled bits of food into wee plastic boxes, and also done up all but the top two shirt buttons (to reduce arthritic fumbles), and tracked down and laid out all of the components for my change of clothes.  For some reason, choosing clothes or lunch food is way too mentally taxing and manually difficult in the morning, compared to something “easy” like driving in traffic.  Don’t ask me why.

Don’t scream.

It’s only Thursday.  Screaming isn’t allowed until Friday afternoon after all the students have left.  (Please don’t scare the custodians, without whom we would all be in dire straits.)

We passed our “Code Red” practice drill with flying colors this week.  A “Code Red” is an “OMG there’s a terrorist” lockdown, the 21st-century version of the old “duck and cover” drills we did decades ago during the Cold War.  I suppose it’s actually more useful — locking the doors and being quiet is definitely better than pretending that a rickety school desk will protect one from nuclear radiation.

On the other hand, in the past three weeks we’ve had as many pre-teen perverts scurrilous knaves who thought they could get away with trying to Google up p*rn from the school computers.  As if we’re not going to catch them?!  Well, that’s three students who won’t be using computers except for absolutely required functions, with a staff member at their elbow the whole time.  A “required function” would be something like a math-practice program or standardized test that is required by the school district.

Right now we’re administering a reading assessment, and already we’re tired of reciting the standardized instructions, for all I do a decent imitation of a Star Trek computer.

If you want more stories of academia, the latest Carnival of Education is going on over at The Core Knowledge blog.  I guarantee “they’re a scream” (hilarious).  Or, enlightening.  Probably both.

Otherwise, here’s a great sign that will be appreciated by anyone who has either sat one of those long standardized tests, or proctored one:

Sign taped to table, in poorly-translated English:  Check every think before go into the grading room.  Avoid to get screaming

Sign taped to table, in poorly-translated English: "Check every think before go into the grading room. Avoid to get screaming"

Down a hall, noisily

It’s amazing just how much hallways comprise the problem-solving part of my day, compared to the actual amount of time I am in them, instead of the classroom.

But in our program for secondary students with emotional and behavioral problems, hallways (like lunchrooms or busses) comprise that part of the space-time continuum that is just so fraught with issues.  Part of the reason for this is the somewhat unstructured quality of the time.

Sure, they are supposed to just go between the classrooms.  We don’t even have a full “passing period”, because allowing these students to loiter around the hallways or hang out together in the bathrooms just invites problems with bullying, making interpersonal or sometimes illegal deals, petty theft, tardiness and so on.  Instead, we just herd the troops to and fro, like so many wayward cats.

And still there’s all sorts of nonsense that goes on in the hallways: Read the rest of this entry »