Nichole’s Slices Of Life,9

29 03 2009

I started out last week by waking up with a stomach virus that put me flat on my back.  Throughout the day–I got stronger.  I was very concerned that I wouldn’t be able to take my husband to the Veteran’s hospital on Tuesday.  Thankfully, I was able to accomplish that goal.

We had arranged to meet my brother who works in Nashville for lunch.  He had a terrible accident of falling down his basement stairs in November.  Brad underwent three surgeries–one of which was the wiring of his jaw.  I couldn’t believe how normal Brad looked.  What a miracle!  He is able to drive, work a normal day and he seems very healthy.  We are so grateful for his health being restored. 

Our actual appointment was at the MeHerry Medical Clinic.  We were very impressed with Jim’s doctor.  He spent an hour and a half going over all of Jim’s medical history.  We had asked Vanderbilt to fax all of Jim’s records.  This doctor was very grave though about Jim’s aortic problems.  He wants Jim to see the VA cardiologist and Vascular surgeon.   The doctor also worked on Jim’s medicines.  Some of them had to be substituted according to the VA list.  Our last stop was at the actual VA hospital for blood work.  They told us that Jim’s medicines would come in the mail.

On Wednesday, I started my first day of an eight day assignment of being the librarian at one of our elementary schools.  Librarians teach classes throughout the day.  Much of my work consisted of using internet programs that are transferred to a big screen.  I then had a writing assignment for the children.  The older children worked on Kentucky worksheets.

When I got home on Wednesday, Jim informed me that his new doctor wanted him to get a CT scan as soon as possible.  We decided that Vera would take Jim back to Nashville on Friday.

I had a break from our grandsons on Friday as their mother took them to the dentist.  I had only been home a short time when the VA doctor called to tell me how awful Jim’s CT scan looked.  He urged me to have Jim go to the emergency room if he has any bad pains.  That phone call kind of took my breath away.  I wasn’t much good for anything the rest of the afternoon.  I gave Jim the news when he got home but tried to be low key about it.  Jim and Vera had decided to enjoy some shopping at second hand bookstores in Nashville–and that delayed their getting home early.  Jim didn’t seemed very concerned about the phone call.  Vera was a little shaken by the news.

By Saturday, I felt better because we were told by the surgeon in 2005 that anyone new looking at Jim would be horrified.  This afternoon I read the reports from Jim’s MRI in mid March.  It stated that nothing was significantly different from his MRI in October of 2008.  We now have a copy of all the Vanderbilit records and I felt so much better.  It is not that Jim will ever get any better.  However, if he controls his blood pressure–he shouldn’t get any worse.

Crisis- is the name of the game this week.  Vera decided that she wanted to visit her old parish in Murfreesboro this weekend.  During Vespers last night the ceiling and wall of the alter was destroyed by a bad storm.  Most everyone had the glass broken on their car windows.  Vera took our Chevy Blazer but told us that our car was undamaged.  She is on her way home  as I write.  She did call to tell us that one window is shattered and about to break.  I’m not happy about that report of damage but I know many have much worse window damage.  So I guess I’ll buckle up and try to be thankful that we have miminal damage. 

Tomorrow I start another week as librarian.  There will be testing in the library all week.  I have to travel to each classroom.  The teachers are supposed to mark my websites onto their favorite’s list.  I will be using their “smart boards” to show my internet programs.  I will need a cubby hole to hang out in during my planning and lunch time.  I’m never comfortable with that kind of arrangement.  I guess I will survive. 

What an eventual week it has been with sickness, new experiences with the Veteran’s medical system  and being a librarian.  Lastly, dealing with a storm that took a hit at our car.  The Bible teaches us to be thankful in all things.  If I were getting a grade this week–I would assign myself only a C for thankfulness.  I have much to learn in that area.

I hope everyone has a wonderful week and I will check in again next Sunday evening.

God bless each of you!


Nichole’s Slices Of Life, 8

22 03 2009

Happy Spring everyone.  I have already gotten bitten by a tick.  I was just taking a hot shower and discovered one.  Thankfully the hot steam drove the tick out of it’s comfort zone and I was able to dispose of it. 

Most everyone knows by now that I’m back to substitute teaching.  I had a full week–teaching each day.  I started out at a school just three minutes from my home.  I had 1st graders and thankfully I had a full time tutor with me all day. It is always nice to have another adult in a classroom. I taught math all day.  The 1st graders actually had a homeroom and changed classes.  So I was the math teacher.  On Tuesday ,I went out about six miles in the country.  I was a second grade teacher with a more traditional classroom.  I had the same children all day and we worked through all of the subjects that I remember learning as a child.  On Wednesday, I was at a school 16 miles from my home.  This school is surrounded by beautiful farm land.  It also was a traditional classroom with my having the same students all day long.  Both of these days–I taught 2nd grade. Another nice event was that   I had the surprise of teaching a little girl that I used to babysit for.  I had not seen her in several years–so that was a nice reunion for both of us.

On Thursday, I was back to the same school as on Monday.  I was a resource teacher who went to different classrooms to help children who can’t read or scribe for themselves.  I also had a few classes where children came to me.  These were very small classes and I could give the children a great deal of help. 

Lastly, on Friday–I taught the same 1st graders that I had on Monday.  They seemed happy that I was back.  I think my last name is hard for young children to pronounce so the children call me “Mrs. B”.  I got quite a few hugs this week from many children.  I try to mix firmness with gentleness.  I try to give each child a second chance before I give a discipline mark.  I’m getting more comfortable with being in the classroom again.

I regret giving up on elementary education so fast in my work as a substitute teacher– many years ago. I tried it and I didn’t like it– so I switched to junior and senior high.  None of us can live with our choices but I think I short changed myself.  I’m learning a great deal by working with these elementary children and I don’t think there is any turning back.

Nevertheless, after a busy week–Friday night is always a treat.  I stay on such a rigid schedule Sunday through Thursday evenings.  I absolutely won’t stay up past 8:30 p.m. because I get up at 4:30 a.m.  So it is nice to stay up and watch a movie with Vera and Jim.  It is also wonderful to sleep until 7:00 a.m. on Saturday.  When I wasn’t working–I didn’t have to worry about keeping such a strict schedule and forgot what the working folk have to experience.  It is good for me to once again have a little more realization of what most people experience.  Not that I ever was a lazy person.  I’ve always worked hard around my home.  However, I could stay up until 10:00 p.m. and get up at 7:00 a.m. anytime I wanted to. 

Jim used to be the one coming up our hill at 2:30 p.m. from working at the factory.  He was the one who had to be at work by 6:00 a.m.  Now Jim is home for the rest of his life and it is I who drive up our hill in the afternoon.  I’m the one who comes in and inquires about what has gone on in our home all day.  Never could I have imagined this change of roles a year ago.  Life is certainly interesting in this household.

Well, I’m booked up at the school close to my home starting Wednesday.  I will be the librarian until spring break with the exception of one day.  I have to have my quarterly cancer checkup.  I take Jim to the Veteren’s hospital in Nashville on Tuesday beforeI begin that assignment.   And tomorrow’s assignment is yet to be discovered.  So once again life will get very busy.

I hope each of you have a great week.  I will check in again next Sunday evening.

God bless each of you!

Nicholes Slices Of Life,7

15 03 2009

Naturally, I’ve been concerned about Jim’s blood leak.  However, the Cardiac MRI that he had at Vanderbilt this past week didn’t give any new information.  So we assume that it is a slow leak or nothing to worry about.  There was blood that showed up on the ECHO test he had the week before.  I’ve calmed down quite a bit.  People have been praying for our family.  I can feel it.  My sinus condition has been awful lately and it is just about healed for now.  What a relief.  I couldn’t go even 15 minutes without blowing my nose.  I have a new respect for people who suffer with sinus conditions.  This is my first big battle with a sinus infection.  I will never make light of that condition again.

So where do we go now with Jim’s aorta condition?  First of all, he will be officially dismissed from his work on April the 12th.  When that happens –his health insurance ends unless we pay for COBRA.   Jim was accepted into the veteran’s health program in January.  I’ve just now been able to get him an appointment in Nashville  as they have been very backlogged.  Jim will be able to get his medications and medical checkups at a very small expense to us.  However, I’m concerned about his not having any other kind of medical insurance just in case he has another one of his emergencies.  An ambulance ride from our house to the hospital is about $700.00 and we just live a mile from the hospital.  Those are the kinds of costs that I wouldn’t have insurance for.  I have lots of thinking to do before April 12. 

I know we are blessed in many ways.  Jim has enjoyed short term disability for almost six months now.  And the paper work has been completed and approved for long term disability.  Jim was reading that only 1/3 of all American companies offer long term disability.  We are so thankful that he will be getting this income.  The long term disability company also has a company they hire to fight for people like Jim to get their social security disability.  When that day comes that Jim gets his social security disability–he will still get some income from the long term disability.  Between the two means–he will get 60% of the pay he had at his job.

Most people couldn’t live off of 60% of their pay.  However, we started cutting back on our living expenses about 8 years ago.  Our home is almost paid for and we have a nice vehicle– a 2002 Chevrolet Blazer that is paid for.  I work as a subsitute teacher to fill in the cracks.  And we’ve had quite a few cracks since Thanksgiving of 2008.  Our dryer went out a few days before Thanksgiving.  Out hot water heater went out during the ice storm in January and our washer went out in early February.  These are the kinds of things that happen to all us.  Dave Ramsey loves  to say that Murphy of Murphy’s law has a spare bedroom in each of our homes. 

Our savings has almost been depleted with Jim ‘s medical needs and all of things that have broken down in our home.  But through sub teaching I hope to build our savings up once again.  Everyone  should have a savings plan–especially in the kind of economic times we live in. 

So what is positive around our household?  I’m still in love with my husband of almost 35 years.  He is more precious to me than ever.  I cherish each moment I spend with him.  Moreover, we have four wonderful adult children who are very caring towards us.  Lastly, we love our grandsons a great deal.  I took a day off from teaching to enjoy “Grandparents Day” at their private Christian school.  It was a wonderful morning.  All the classes sang for us.  Many of the older high school students played piano , flute and violin solos.  It is always a big event each March at their school.

As an Orthodox Christian–I believe God is in control of our lives.  I pray and read the scriptures each day for comfort.  Our Divine Liturgy on Sundays is always a highlight in my life.  We are in Lent season and this is the second Sunday of Great Lent.  Great Lent is a time to focus more on prayer, fasting and giving alms.  I truly want to focus on helping others more.  At our church we are collecting supplies for health kits that will go to people in times of disaster.  We are collecting handtowels, washrags, toothbrushes, bandaids, bars of soap and a few other things to go in each kit. We  will meet sometime towards the end of Lent and package the bags up.  Then we will send them to the Orthodox Mission Center for them to distribute around the world.  I’m excited about this project.

Each Sunday afternoon I begin wondering where I will be as a substitute teacher during the week.  There is always a bit of anxiety.  But I will make it through.  Hopefully, I will report on the upcoming week next Sunday.

God bless each of you!

Nichole’s Slices Of Life,6

8 03 2009

Just a short blog tonight.  Jim had his 3 month checkup at Vanderbilt on Thursday the 5th.  An echo showed that he is bleeding where he should not be bleeding.  His aortic aneurysms were wrapped up in dacron last October.  It seems the blood is coming from that area.  We are going back to Nashville this coming Wednesday for a MRI.  That will pinpoint more where the blood is coming from. 

I did get to substitute teach for 3 days.  I was very sick with my sinus condition but I had classes those days that had instructional aides –so that was a blessing.  I did finally go back to the doctor on Friday and I’m on another round of medication.  I can tell a big difference since Friday and feel so much better.

John, my grandson, who I wrote about being angry with me in last week’s blog had a better week. 

There are so many suffering these days with unemployment, sickness, grief etc.  I want to focus on praying and thinking of others today and in the upcoming week.  Hopefully, I’ll have more to write about next Sunday evening.

God blesse each of you!

Nichole’s Slices Of Life, 5

1 03 2009

It’s about 4:30 p.m.  We all just woke up from a Sunday afternoon nap.  I don’t usally get a nap for there is just too much to catch up on with household chores.  However, I declined a job Friday because of exhaustion and I’m also still fighting a horrible cold and cough.  Thus, I was able to get caught up with my household chores.

I guess I’m a whimp.  The exhaustion of being a sub teacher is getting to me.  Vera reminded me that I’m still a cancer patient and that I should be merciful to myself.  Yes, I do take a powerful cancer medication each day.  I’m sure it does take a toll on my body.  Still, I’m a whimp.  I’ve been out of the work force for two years.  It is just going to take time to get use to working again.  I’m not under contract.  I can decline a job anytime I wish too.  The problem is that If I decline too much–I won’t get many jobs.   So I have to build up my strength and try not to turn down anymore work. 

The pencil sharpener was another major battle this week.  I did have one second grade class that actually asked to use the pencil sharpener.  I also received the most delightful note from one of the second graders telling  me how much she enjoyed me being their sub.  I keep such notes.  They are very precious to me.  I’ve received three such notes in the past few weeks.  I also had a student tell me I look like the wife on the television show Home Improvement.  My hair is red and it is long and curly again.  I guess that was a compliment.

I plan to start taking pencils and paper to school with me in the future.  I failed to get a supply this weekend.  But it is my goal to soften this battle.  I don’t care that it will cost me part of my paycheck. It is just so annoying to have a child say that they have no pencil or that the pencil is only a couple of inches long.  I also plan to have sharpened pencils to just hand out.  The pencil sharpener is a nightmare.  On Thursday, I demanded to sharpen all pencils.  For the children just congregate around the sharpener and fight etc.  It seemed to help some.  Except I refused to sharpen more than one pencil per child.

I’m also fighting a battle with teachers who don’t leave good plans or expect a sub to hunt around the room looking for teacher manuels.  It is an awful experience to walk into such a room.  The way I figure it is that subs should have explicit details about what goes on in the classroom.  A sub folder with all procedures should always be available.  Lesson plans should be written as detailed as possible just in the event of sudden sickness.  And when a teacher knows that he/she will be out– a very personal detailed letter from the teacher is always appreciated.  I can dream on though–this perfect world for subs will never happen. 

I am glad that elementary school gets out at 2:10 ( it starts at 7:10).  So far I’ve been able to pick up my grandsons at the private academy most days.  John, who will be  seven this summer– is getting harder to deal with.  I think he is still having issues with his mom being pregnant again.  We have power struggles and his parents are having power struggles with him.  But his mom was the same way.  She told me that she can see so much of herself in John.  Hopefully, he will have a better week.  Friday afternoon–when I took him home he told me that he was never going back to school nor was he ever coming back to our home.  I told him that he was just a child and he better start listening to his adult authorities a little better.  He got really angry and told me that he would never forget our conversation.  I was secretly laughing to myself–for I knew that John would indeed be in school on Monday and that he would also be at our home once again. Alex hasn’t gotten as brazen with us.  He will turn five on April the 4th.  He still has that precious childlike spirit about himself

On the home front–Jim has not been feeling well at all this past week.  I came home on Thursday to find that Jim had been in bed most of the day.  It is hard on me to see him suffer so much.  I’m just whimpy all the way around lately–in that not only the teaching has drained me but I don’t handle Jim’s illness as well as I would like too.

Well, hopefully–I’ll shed some of my whimpiness this week and get a little tougher with myself.  Maybe my cold and cough will settle down.  Maybe my dreams at night won’t involve chasing students around the classroom and fighting the pencil sharpener.  Just maybe.  Let’s hope for a better week.

May God bless each of You!