Well hello. Not sure if anyone is still out there but I thought I’d get back in touch with my blog after a super long hiatus.
Last time I posted I was embarking on what ended up being a whirl-wind of a school year on many fronts.
Here is a run-down of my life this past year:
I survived my first (and probably last) year as a high school teacher. Wow. Looking back on my experience, I think I did OK. There are so many things a first year teacher has to figure out and do – the work is completely overwhelming. I don’t think I had a very good concept of the type of students I would be teaching and that was a bit challenging for me emotionally. I had some very good experiences and, at times, it made it feel like it was all worthwhile. I enjoyed using my brain again, thinking of fun and engaging activities. I ended up teaching not 1, but 2 different AP (Advanced Placement) courses – this is a LOT for a new teacher. I learned a new programming language (JAVA). But it was beyond a full-time job. I could have worked 24/7 and still felt completely inadequate on all fronts. I think I could have been a great teacher in another 3+ years but I only have my own children at home for a few more years and I don’t want to be spread so thin. The hours are long, the weekends were at least 50% working and this notion that teachers get the summers off is a bit misleading. Just to keep my extremely low paying job, I would have to take (and pay for) a bunch of classes to convert my provisional teaching certificate to a regular one. Teachers spend a great deal of their summers with continuing education and preparing for the next school year. Were I to continue, I would probably be taking groups out of state for national competitions – and all of the responsibility that goes with that. For those in this profession, it is truly a labor of love. I wish I had unlimited time, patience, and energy … but I have other priorities at this time. I turned in my resignation in early February to give admin enough time to look for a new teacher (definitely a tough position to fill). I still hope to be involved in the program and will probably do some substitute teaching but I could not commit to another year of full-time teaching.
As I was finishing up my first month of teaching, my experience with frequent heavy periods took a turn to the scary – and one night I thought I was hemorrhaging. I ended up taking myself to ER at 2AM and was put on some heavy duty progesterone pills which, fortunately, slowed down and stopped the bleeding by late the next morning. And, yes, I still went to my teaching job that next morning despite not leaving the ER until 5:30AM. My OB\GYN (a new one that I had to find) found some cysts on my ovaries that, when compared to past ultrasounds, were not shrinking. She determined that the best course of action would be surgery. So I scheduled that for my winter break because, again, I was completely tied to my classroom and needed/wanted to save my time off for gymnastics and college travel with my girls. So, I spent half of my winter break having and recovering from surgery to remove my left ovary. While I was having so much fun, she went ahead and did an ablation, thereby eliminating my periods moving forward. Best.Thing.Ever.
While working towards a course of treatment for the ovarian cyst, my doctor suggested that I have some genetic testing done to see if there were any mutations in my sequencing that we need to concern ourselves with (specifically the BRCA breast cancer gene mutations – since that often increases the risk for ovarian cancer). She also suggested a panel of other genetic tests for cancer at the same time – which the required genetic counselor that I had to discuss all of this agreed to. Well, a couple of weeks later I received some interesting news and was called into my doctor’s office to “discuss” – never a good sign. I did NOT have the breast cancer genetic risk (my mom had breast cancer), so that was a relief. BUT, what I did have is crazy – melanoma pancreatic cancer syndrome! The tests uncovered the specific mutations and the proteins involved – so crazy. This is interesting on several levels. I have already had melanoma twice. I always felt mine was not due to sun exposure and that my body was producing these deadly cancer cells for a different reason – I confirmed that. My lifetime risk for melanoma is something like 70% (maybe I’m done? Ha Ha). I also never knew that there is a genetic link of melanoma to pancreatic cancer. I did so much research back when I was first diagnosed and I saw nothing about this – but, of course, it has been a while. Genetic screening and sequencing is moving at lightening speed now so I’m sure the data will be hard to keep up with. Anyway, I am likely to enroll in a pancreatic cancer surveillance program at a nearby hospital to keep tabs on it all. It is scary but I feel very fortunate to have this information. I will be eligible for earlier screening that could potentially save my life. I also know that the other 20+ cancers that they screen my DNA for were all fine. Doesn’t mean it won’t happen, but I am not at an elevated risk for anything else, so that is kinda comforting I guess. If you are interested in the testing I had done, this is the company that did my test.
And, because this blog always was an over-sharing of my family … youngest is still doing her gymnastics. We are heading to Milwaukee at the end of the month for nationals. My son is still playing football at the high school and practices every day. Fortunately for me, he got his driver’s license several months ago and that has been a big help. And, my oldest … what a year she had. She graduated from high school at the end of May and celebrated many “lasts” – the choir concerts and drama productions this year were all so great and she just shined on stage. We were very proud of how much she grew into herself – in fact, she received a senior superlative from her high school class for the “biggest change in high school”. She also received the “best person to take home to mom and dad” award, pretty funny. We toured a few more schools, she applied to 17 colleges and was accepted by most (not all) and had some amazing scholarship opportunities. As decision time approached, she narrowed her choices down to 3 and, eventually, landed on my alma mater, SMU in Dallas, TX. She will be studying computer science in the engineering school. I am so very excited to launch her on this next stage of her life.
So, I’ll leave this post there and I’ll catch y’all up on my weight maintenance and fitness status in the next post (spoiler alert, it ain’t pretty….)