The blessing of not selling our home to go bigger and better, was 6 years from being fully realized. As I look back on many phases and decisions in my life, I am frequently reminded of blessings that, at the time, seemed like regular old occurrences. When the Lord tells us, “…He will never leave you, nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6) He truly means it. His ability to patiently bless us beyond our present vision… frankly… astounds me.
By the end of March, I ‘passed’ a follow-up MRI with flying colors. So, per the doctor’s orders, all systems were set on “go” to continue my life as it was, pre-injury.
Lucie’s 13th birthday party welcomed in April. We successfully surprised her and let her and her friends stay up ALL night (a persistent request of hers since age 9). It was a great party with nonsense and noise and even a dance party in our garage with me instigating new and crazy moves to the increasingly louder music.
That was Thursday of Easter weekend. By the time Monday rolled around, I found myself unusually tired and having periods of 3-4 hours/day of blurred vision. Very strange.
Shortly after that, it began to occur to me that attending our church services nearly made me pass out. When I sang I got light-headed. Weird. I wondered why and quit singing.
The next Sunday, halfway through the service, it dawned on me that I had just about no idea what our pastor had been preaching about. Instead of concentrating on the teaching from the pulpit (something I looked forward to every week), my eyes wandered all over the place, taking my brain with them. Zero focus. Just random thoughts about whatever and whomever my eyes landed on:
- “When did the church get ceiling fans? It’s not hot today. Why are they on and why are they spinning so fast?
- “Oh, there’s Colleen, I need to ask her about getting the kids together on Saturday.
- “Is that Lani? Is Rich with her? I have to remember to ask them if they can sub for us next week and lead our Bible study.
- “Why don’t they turn Fred’s mic down. It’s so loud.
- “Sara’s got a new haircut. Very cute. What did I need to tell her? Oh, that’s right. I can’t bring Gabe to AWANA Wednesday night, can she?
- “When did we get all of these ceiling fans!?
- “There are the Pedersons. Shoot! … I was supposed to bring our girls’ outgrown snowpants for their kids”.
When church ended and I’d talked to the people I remembered to talk to after the service, I would find myself in a surreal sort of daze, wandering to the car. After arriving back home, I went straight to bed for the rest of the day due to sudden and extreme fatigue and nausea, clueless as to the cause.
- At school (my workplace), I found myself making odd new requests of my students: “Kids, while I read this story, could you do your best to sit super still?”
- “Why, Mrs. Drake?”
- “Well, today I feel a little bit like I’m on a boat all the time, and when you move, it’s like the water moves.”
- “Oh, we understand that, Mrs. Drake! One time when I was fishing…”
- “My mom and dad said they felt like that on a plane one time…”
- “My grandpa took me canoeing when it was windy once and…”
(One of the things I love most about children is their willingness to accept you as you are when you are open and honest with them. It’s like one, big, compassionate and endless hug. I miss those hugs).
It was while I was at work, busy writing reports, emails and other notes for the adult literacy coaching portion of my day, that I discovered that I’d begun to frequently leave off the last letters of the words I was writing. Often entire words were missing. Also very weird.
In early May, after an all-school assembly, I found myself feeling like I was floating. A week later at another assembly, I could feel a wave of nausea slowly creep from my stomach to my head, followed by a feeling guilt for having to ask my colleague, Sue, to take over my class of 28 kids in addition to her 29 while I rushed out the nearest exit to throw-up. Both occasions left me feeling dizzy, unable to function, in need of a driver to get me home, and in need of 24 hours in bed to recover… with me still clueless as to why.
I found myself in a variety of similarly bizarre situations throughout the remainder of the year. As the 2010-11 school year came to a close I was exhausted and perplexed and looking forward to the relief of summer break more than I ever had before. And thanks to the combined efforts of my mom and my hubby, it was actually going to be a summer off, with none of the usual teacher training seminars and tutoring that I typically filled my “time off” with.
My only summer commitment was a no-pressure, fun commitment. Lucie, Lydia and I all tried out for parts at the local community college’s production of Annie. And to one degree or another (little Lydia was a stage hand) we all got parts! Lucie had a growing interest in acting and I thought it might be a great stress reliever for me, so why not? What better way to keep my body and brain active and be a kid alongside my girls?
Funny though, with a cast of about 25, it soon became obvious that I was the one getting yelled at most often by the director… even more than the 15 rambunctious kids playing the parts of the naughty New York orphans! Why? What did he have against me?
One day at practice, Lucie figured it out and came gently to my rescue. It seemed that I was not following the script. I knew my lines but I did not know when and where to deliver them … which was odd, because all my life I have been blessed with a deadbolt lock on my ability to hold things into memory and retrieve them as needed. Now, (this increasingly unrecognizable NOW) though my memory seemed fairly normal, the retrieval process was becoming an obvious mess.
Lucie, Lydia and I proceeded to make four maps and posted them at my four different stage entry points. Each map had explicit instructions – for me alone – as to when, where and what I was responsible for. The director’s voice no longer rang in my ears.
At the end of July the play was over. I felt that the past months’ experiences had left me refreshed and recharged and ready for the 2011-12 school year. On August 1st the lights turned green and my school year began. As usual, it was 0 to 60 in 3.9 seconds – engine screaming and tires smoking.
I felt good. I felt in control again. All went so well at the beginning that I felt like the old me. Lisa Drake was back! I was confident and moving forward fast as a 50% classroom literacy teacher and 50% literacy coach for teachers. The strange symptoms that came with singing or shouting or talking and laughing with friends; the symptoms that came with listening to the wonderful sounds of a classroom; all of those stormy, seasick symptoms… they all seemed to subside. Whatever all those weird reactions to normal, everyday things were, they must have all been just ‘in my head’.
I was ready to roll…