Monday, 10 September 2012

Returning to Work

I went to bed early last night so that I would have the energy to make it through my first day of teaching piano.  I knew I was going to have a very full day and I have been a little apprehensive about my stamina and how I would do jumping straight back into a full day of teaching.  I started at 11:30 this morning and didn't finish until 7:30 tonight but then there was the accounting and bookkeeping to do as well as return phone calls and emails relating to work.

This morning, as I walked up the sidewalk into the school where I teach piano lessons, I felt the excitement and anticipation that I used to feel as a child returning to school after the summer.  I was eager to see my returning students as well as meet the new ones that are starting lessons with me this Fall.  As I pulled open the door and entered the school, I heard a voice say "Welcome back!!  Are you here for the full afternoon?  You look great!"  Having just come in from the bright, warm sunshine, I was slightly blinded until my eyes adjusted to the change of light.  The woman who was speaking to me was an EA.  She was so welcoming and genuinely pleased to see me that she came and gave me a big hug.  This brought the prick of tears to my eyes.  I was unprepared for my reaction but it doesn't surprise me that I became teary eyed.  Ever since my diagnosis became public back in January, I have become overwhelmed by everyone's concern and kindness.  I don't know how many times throughout my treatments that I would receive get well cards and I would start to cry.  Anyway, my emotions were close to the surface today as each and every teacher and EA that saw me warmly welcomed me back to the school.  My students were happy to see me back.  Some of the students seemed a little shy as they saw me with my very short and wavy/curly hair.  This is a much different look than what I was sporting last December.  As some students welcomed me back with big smiles and hugs, others were shy and appeared not to know what to say to me or how to treat me.  Still other students were afraid I was still sick and going to die.  Before each lesson began, we cleared the proverbial elephant from the room and addressed my cancer.  I told the children I was all better (I am as the lymphoma is in remission) and that I just have to see a doctor every once in a while to make sure I'm still "all better".  This seemed to put the students at ease and we were able to carry on with the lessons.  I had water with me all afternoon so that my voice would not get too tired or strained.  This has been a bit of an issue over the summer.  If I talk way too much, then my voice begins to weaken and become hoarse.  I taught at the school until 3:30 and my voice was fine.  As it would start to tire, I would drink more water and that seemed to revive it.  My other concern about returning to work is the side effect of the chemotherapy on my brain.  The most common lingering side effect is the loss of vocabulary and my forgetfulness.  This continues to happen as I have conversations and I was apprehensive going into today's lessons because what happens if I lose my words during a lesson.  This didn't occur during my lessons at the school but it did occur once during my lessons in my home studio today.

I taught out of my home today from 4 until 7:30 p.m.  Thank goodness the "word drop" only happened once and it was during a lesson with an adult.  She was very understanding and gave me time to try to get my brain working again.  My voice was tiring as the evening went on but I kept drinking my ginger green tea to keep it lubricated and warm.  This has always helped over the years as I've taught long hours.  The tea tasted wonderful.  I'm glad because I was afraid I might still be "off" of it due to the association with my treatments.  Another milestone and step forward!!

It feels great to be back to work and earning a living.  I normally wouldn't have had this many hours of teaching on a Monday but I had to move my Wednesday afternoon lessons to today so that I can go to my 3 month check-up with my oncologist on Wednesday afternoon.  I may have overdone it today.  My body and mind are tired.  The area where the tumour in my neck had been is swelling and achy.  I've probably aggravated the area as I've leaned forward, turned pages and been much more active than I've been for awhile.  I've walked the long hallways and I've run up and down the stairs at home to answer the door for my students.  I didn't expect the swelling and achiness because I've been walking briskly and long distances for a few weeks now.  So I'm now going to listen to my body and put some ice on the swelling.  I'm going to take some ibuprofen to reduce any inflammation that is occurring.  I'll be mentioning this to my doctor when I see him on Wednesday.  Well, I'm off for the night so that I can do this again tomorrow.  It's great to be back to work!

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