Tuesday, December 16, 2008

RIP, Fall Semester 2008

Done! Grades turned in, last talk given. Good-bye, Fall Semester 2008—and not a second too soon. It’s been a memorable semester and seeing the back of it is a good feeling.

Predominant among the good feelings is a strong strand of gratitude: it wouldn’t have happened without so much support and help from so many. Thank you all. There are lots of loose ends, of course, and they’ll take some time and energy, but nothing like what it took to get to this moment. I’m looking forward to a quiet semester break, resting, tidying up and concentrating on the book project. It would be grand to be able to pull two chapters together over this break, though I don’t know if that’s a realistic goal. In part, that turns on how many of the bits and pieces I’ve accumulated are usable and how many of them fit together. Most of all, though, I just want to stop for a while and consolidate the progress achieved so far in this recovery. Shea and I always do a big puzzle over the break and some quiet family time will be a wonderful thing.

Going forward, it has becoming clearer just how careful I’m going to have to be for some time. My stamina is strong at home, with great productivity. Going out in the world, though, consumes energy in ways that are not always obvious. Sticking to slow hare-dom as the steady state doesn’t come naturally, and I haven’t really figured out how to manage it properly or even to really understand it. Some days, I wildly overdo with a schedule that, on paper, looks realistic, and other days, I undershoot. Even in hindsight, it’s not always easy to tell the two apart or figure out the factors that make the difference.

Some advice shared by C after a major medical event in her life is relevant here: she warned about what it’s like to lose several months of your life. While tremendous assistance from a lot of people kept my classes going this semester, most of the other areas of my life experienced three months of almost total shutdown. Picking up their strands, trying to remember where things stood, assess what’s required next, etc., sometimes in and of itself takes tremendous quantities of energy. Somehow, I have to figure out how to hold that thought and factor it into my goals.

One thing that will help is that the course of physical therapy will be ending tomorrow, and thus will cut down on the number of standing appointments every week. So far, it looks like we will not need to seek new insurance approval for a continuation, as the original goals have largely been achieved. Much of what comes next in terms of continuing work on balance will shift into my strength training regimen. It’s not so clear how much longer occupational therapy will last: we seem to have hit a plateau and just need to keep plodding away.

When I was growing up, looking for patterns in behavior was a mainstay of family life, though I’m not now sure who brought that to the table. It was usually a bad thing to have a pattern of conduct described, as they usually turned into pejorative labels: Tina has a tendency to x, y or z. Carol likes crises. That kind of thing. Generally, I try to resist the habit, but all the same, it was a little startling to realize that recent decade turns in my life have involved major medical events: my gallbladder came out at forty and a brain tumor at fifty. Two events do not make a pattern, though, so I’m not going to fret about what sixty may bring. At least for now.

To celebrate the end of the semester, I slept in this morning. That felt great. I’ve done my morning exercises, read the papers and answered student emails about grades. On to the next thing. Slowly, deliberately, and with as much grace as I can muster. Happy Tuesday to all.

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