Thursday, November 26, 2015

My Thyroid

I come from a family with a history of thyroid disease. My mother has been on meds since she was 18. My daughter has been on meds since she was 20. My brother nearly ended up in a psych ward because men are not routinely tested for thyroid function. As it turns out his behavior for ten years including profound depression, job losses and more, were the result of a non-functioning thyroid. My 25 year old son is on medication for thyroid disease. Even my dog is on medication for thyroid disease. I have had symptoms of thyroid disease for twenty years. But every time my GP tested me, it came back normal. I have had dry skin, high cholesterol (something I never had earlier), thinning hair, weight gain in spite of diets, exercise, starving.

That changed last week. After years of talking and begging and arguing with doctors, finally my doctor realized I had a nodule on my neck. He sent me for an ultrasound and lo and behold, I have two massive nodules on my thyroid. Further analysis would show that I have hardly any actual thyroid tissue having had it replaced with toxic nodules. Toxic thyroid nodules not only replace healthy tissue, they can produce hormones which will read as a normal thyroid screen on tests. What is more, depending on your age and sex, thyroid disease is often misdiagnosed as many of the following conditions:
-Adolescent angst
-Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

She said it's one of the most underdiagnosed and easily repaired conditions. Furthermore it makes me wonder how much of my son's ADHD as a child was really thyroid issues manifesting as he reached adolescence. This whole situation has been a revelation. I didn't understand why I couldn't swallow, why I always felt like I had a frog in my throat. It turns out my thyroid nodules are starting to choke me off. Kind of scary, but it makes me hopeful because now I can schedule surgery and finally get this situation in control. I've missed out on so much over the years because of the fatigue. 

Monday, November 16, 2015


I've never been to Paris, France. I have been to Paris, Texas. I'm pretty sure it's not the same.I hate to say "I told you so" but when you don't respect the borders of your own nation, when you don't defend it by vetting those coming in, when you don't list expectations that include assimilation into your culture and acquisition of your language, you end up developing a parallel culture. Quite often such cultures end  up poverty stricken because they are poorly equipped to participate. Too often they come with expectations of being given free stuff for little or no work. People get tired of being taxed at higher rates for people who do not want to assimilate. Paris has entire neighborhoods where police do not go. We already have enough problems here. Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Baltimore, New Orleans could all make more headway in improving everyone's lives. France accepted refugees and for their kindness was attacked from within. Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden or Italy could be next. I just don't want MY COUNTRY to be on the list.Prayers for the victims of this heinous act.Prayers that somehow, some way, the world will be rid of these human locusts.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Loss of Control

While life on the outside has definitely lost it's edges, life on the inside has as well.
I have what is termed "nodules" on my thyroid. Now they could be benign-not with my luck-but they could be. They could also be what's been screwing up my metabolism for the last fifteen years. Either way I have to have a biopsy and it doesn't sound pleasant. It is possible that I will then either down a radioactive iodine shot to destroy said damaged organ or have day surgery to remove it.

Day surgery is a liberal construct where they make you starve all night, wake up early and then wait for hours until the doctor gets around to your procedure. Then you get to go home to quake and vomit from the aftermath of general anesthesia at your leisure. What going to be interesting to see is how my principal responds. See he's pronounced that no more teachers can have a planned absence on any of November's Fridays due to the numerous band and athletic activities requiring coaches and directors to miss school. So what happens when my doctor says this Friday, come hell or high water, I have to be there. Given the way things have gone lately, I am willing to bet the conversation starts with "Welllll.....Mrs. .....couldn't you schedule that for over the Thanksgiving break? "

First of all, having had to deal with my son's ankle break over a New Years holiday, I know doctors often opt to take their own families out of town. Imagine that. Doctors like time off too. This means that while we're having turkey at home (and saving up money for procedures) they will be at Purgatory or Keystone shusshing the slopes. I don't blame them. I would want time off too. And I would rather take time off to RECOVER during Thanksgiving break than to have the surgery, feel miserable and miss seeing my own kids.

Nobody really knows about this. My own kids don't know and my husband doesn't know the odds. I don't think he wants to know. I'm trying to keep this light because honest to God since 2008 we've been hit by so many things that one more might just upset everything. But I am scared. And I am praying. The wheels have come off, the center will not hold seems to be the story of my life.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

About Teaching

A friend sent me this story:
Teaching Is Like an Abusive Relationship

I read it.
Then I read it again
It's not from an American source, it's from the UK. And teachers there are seeing the same behavior or worse than we are experiencing here. Just this week the head of Special Ed at my school, who runs the BIC or behavior intervention room for seriously mentally ill students (she has three at the most at any one time) publicly complained about having to teach my subject, high school art, in her contained setting. "It's hard." She said. "I don't know how to handle things," she whined. She ignores that quite often she orders seriously disabled and quite disruptive students into our classes of 30 or more. Furthermore she wants to bring her class down to one of my teachers and drop them off for art ignoring that this teacher already has a full class of 30 students many of whom come to her with paperwork. But because she has the ear of the administration and a doctorate in Special Education, I'm sure they will listen to her first and ask us later. I keep telling my husband I can't do this anymore. We're going to be heading for a new schedule next year. Instead of 90 students a semester I will see 180. That means twice as many students will paperwork. Inclusion is not working and although it makes the parents feel good, it causes a great deal of resentment by the other students who often wait a couple of years to get in a class and then have it constantly disrupted by special needs students who have no ability or interest in the class.

This is why our education system is failing. When we place the needs of a small group who will never work outside a sheltered environment over those of the kids we will depend on to keep this nation on its feet, we are investing in a losing cause.

God help us.

Monday, October 12, 2015

I Can't Do This Anymore

As I sit here I wonder what in the hell has happened. It used to be you stayed out of trouble, paid your bills, did your job and things were fine. Now known felons are celebrities, paying your bills is for dopes and doing your job doesn't get you merit based increases, but plays favorites based on a slate of attributes that have nothing to do with job performance. I have worked since I was 16. Even those years when I was a stay at home Mom, I worked. Anyone who doesn't think caring for three kids largely on your own while your spouse travels is kidding themselves. I worked part time when we needed it and even moved to full time in jobs where I was far too often overworked and underappreciated.

This last week has been a doozy. I joined a local choir as just a means to relieve some stress. As it turns out what was a modest initial outlay has become a multi-level marketing type of demands for more and more. I'm the only one working at my house. I don't see bills or taxes getting any lower. My husband has given up seeking work-and frankly having watched him send out resumes and go through interviews on the phone I can't blame him. In our group of friends-all about 50 to 65 years old, many of them are either unemployed (often without compensation since they were sales reps) or working at part time jobs for subsistence salaries. Because of that I keep working.

Our property taxes have risen 15%. Our house is falling apart. We have an entire bathroom with a leak in the wall that we cannot afford to fix. We have ceilings falling and holes in the wall. And we can't fix them. We don't have the personal skills or money to make that happen. Groceries have gone up from $85 a week to $125. Even my blood pressure meds have tripled in price even though they are on the insurance formulary. People wonder why there's so much hostility it is because those of us who have worked so hard are simply tired and yet the increasing demands of the next generations place us in the situation of always having to be the provider for any of a slew of liberal schemes.

We are not spendthrifts. I drive a 17 year old car. I can't afford the cost of a new car payment and yet I can't afford the payments on a used car. It seems at every turn there's a roadblock. I didn't feel this way even ten years ago. But frankly the personification of every bad thing that has happened to me and my family has come down to this president and this administration. They will not be content until they have left us with nothing.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Fourteen Years Is Evidently Too Long To Remember

The reason we have forgotten 9/11 is that someone decided it was too painful to remember. So children were not exposed to the stories and images. While their zealous teachers and professors have made sure they were shown every conspiracy and controversy laced version of 9/11, the images shot by French videographers who just happened to be a Ground Zero as the towers were hit and fell and hell started breaking loose, were banned from TV after just one showing. Someone decided we weren't strong enough. So now I teach high school seniors who have never seen the footage. They talk bravely of progressive issues and archly judge earlier administrations, clueless of what we as a nation went thought and heedless of why the actions taken after 9/11 were taken. They talk distastefully of war, ignoring that for a long time after 9/11, we were waiting for the next attack. That it has not happened on the scale of 9/11 is more in the nature of a happy accident than of real security. We have a current administration that is actively ignoring what happened 14 years ago. They label obvious acts of terrorism as "workplace violence" and roundly criticize anyone who echoes the fears we felt 14 years ago when we say we want to know who is in this country and we do not want people coming here from known terror sponsoring states. While those of us who remember still stay vigilant, too many others ignore the peril. And so it will happen again. I don't know where, I don't know when, and I pray it is not as bad as it could be, because with the allowances this administration has made for rogue nations in the Middle East, I fear it could be very bad indeed.

Friday, September 11, 2015


I can't do this anymore.
I didn't get into teaching for fame or fortune.
I didn't even get in there to be Teacher of the Year. I always considered those types far more interested in their own welfare than the welfare of those they teach. As hokey as it sounds, I got into teaching because I like kids. And I teach art because in a world that is so often ugly and unfair and art isn't like that. You don't have to be rich to be creative. You don't have to be popular to be good. And I guess I had hoped at some point that teaching art would make the world a little bit better place. I hoped that kids would learn to appreciate what they have and seek to make better those things that are broken.

Yes, I was an optimist.

After today, I simply don't know anymore. I've endured the countless cases of the most disabled kids being parachuted into my most advanced classes and although I've complained, I've survived. I have kids with criminal histories, deviant behavior and even a kid so violent he had to be walked to and from class because he was so delusional that he would believe the very walls were attacking him. But today was the last straw.

I've worked very hard to build an AP program that was both flexible and rigorous. I gave the students projects in much the same way a client hires a graphic designer. They are free to do what they want. The projects are designed to build up their portfolio Breadth. I'm not clueless-many of these project have gotten my students into schools like School of Visual Arts, Kansas City Art Institute, Ringling and Rhode Island School of Design. Yet today an AP student-one who bailed on AP portfolio and our state competition last year, leaving the department stuck paying the fees, accused me of having a class that was holding her back. It seems she wants some sort of "open portfolio" class where all they do is whatever work they feel like doing. My experience with that is you get two kinds of artwork: Utter crap and Nothing. This one page rant went on and one.

My take, after discussing this with other department teachers, the girl's counselor and her AP is to let her go into another class, which is fine by me. In a way I think this may be calling her bluff. She expects me to back down and let her do whatever she wants. Instead I'm essentially of the mind not to kick her out, but to let her go. I understand the only class open that period is Personal PE. I hope she enjoys that.

But on a larger scale, this is a problem that is growing. I don't know if this is a problem with me, the kids , the school or all of the above. From the overweaning burden of testing to the sophomoric level of favoritism (by the faculty no less!) teaching just isn't much fun anymore. It's become a job where status is real, income is nebulous and based on how much you brown nose and the daily grind has become literal. I come to school each day with hope, only more often than not to see it dashed on the rocks. We live in an age when gratitude is a rare commodity. I'm not sitting here waiting with my hands out, but a thank you would be nice now and again.