Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Back in the saddle..

Still tired today, the problem module had me on my knees last night as I received the lecture slides for this mornings lesson. I had to teach myself standard deviation, correlation coefficients and interquartile range; Until last night I didn't even know what a distribution curve was.

Yes I'd heard these terms before but as I've never had any call to deal in statistics they meant less than nothing to me. Mathematics was the bane of my life at school - 20 + years ago I just about scraped a D at GCSE and I never touched it again so you can probably imagine how I felt after 5 solid hours of self teaching through the power of the internet.

This means it's probably no surprise that this morning I tore my class a new one when they failed to show me the slightest courtesy as I tried to share this hard won knowledge with them for the sake of their assignment. Yes, I snapped and you know what - I'm not sorry.

It's hard to believe that these are degree level kids; that they are over 18 and legally classed as adults. There were only 4 adults in that class today and I was one of 'em. Kind of scary to realise that these are the managers of the future. *sigh* no wonder our economy is gasping for breath and society is tumbling into hell.

On the plus side, after this class (and a HR meeting) there was a module team meeting which ironed out (hopefully) all of the module issues we've been having - fingers crossed it's now plain sailing here on in...

THEN I had a mentor meeting and my day went south again. Seems I need to learn to create a ton of documentation for each class - I have to create a ridiculously detailed scheme of work that covers every nuance of every single module I teach and a lesson plan that not only covers the activities in each individual class but is a full A4 document (landscape orientation) detailing the learning outcomes of each activity, the class differentiation and numerous other things that quite frankly I was too tired to really take in.

So today I was in work for 7 hours but I only get paid for 3h15m of that - and they say teachers are overpaid and underworked! My time sheet for this month shows 57hrs - I've easily done double - possibly triple that with all the meetings and lesson planning that I can't claim for and I'm supposed to be a part timer! I really have no clue how the full time teachers cope with the workload - it's inhuman!

..so yeah, no shock I crashed on Friday; thank god next week is half term; I can finally catch up on my admin. (because yeah, having an actual break would be too much to ask for when I'm not getting paid to work eh?!)

Look at me whining *grin* nearly 2 months in and you'd never think I'd been unemployed lol I'm officially a worker now, got a gripe on and everything ;0)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

crash average update

2010 2011 2012
Amount of crashes in January88unknown
Amount of crashes in February99unknown
Amount of crashes in March1379
Amount of crashes in April10510
Amount of crashes in May11146
Amount of crashes in June15104
Amount of crashes in July8910
Amount of crashes in August1674
Amount of crashes in September1093
Amount of crashes in October1415tbc
Amount of crashes in November818tbc
Average crash per month:1110tbc

So far this month only 5 days wasted in bed with this; although one of those was a work day which sucks, but on the whole less than 10 a month is a result as far as I'm concerned. So far this year only 6.5 days a month lost to ME/CFS.. Ok, so it may have been more if I'd had the data from January and February to also calculate the average of, but even so - it's continuing the downward trend and having a pattern to my days and a goal to focus on really helps with the pacing.

..at least that's what I'm telling myself... 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Fed up.

I had to miss my first class due to the ME/CFS on Friday. I guess I knew it was coming, the Menieres has been slowly getting worse and I've had to up my meds for that to 6 a day instead of 3 in an effort to combat the nausea and dizzies and I'm finding a few things a tad difficult on the brain fog front by the end of the week because one illness always kick starts the other - they're nice like that...

The last couple of weeks I get to Friday afternoon and the work based learning class and my brain is practically mush; I'm so tired that I get through it (just about) and I'm on the bus home and in bed already praying for the following weekend. I definitely work better in a 1-2-1 situation than in front of a group when I'm like that; less stimuli to process makes it much easier to function.

It wouldn't be so bad but one of my modules is turning out to be rather stressful - every time it seems the issues are ironed out someone throws some kindling back on the fire and we're just fighting a rearguard action and never getting ahead - that on top of the ongoing 'landlord selling our flat' saga is doing my head in.

I've been sat in a puddle of misery and dread since Friday morning when I realised I couldn't move or speak and I was supposed to be taking Bella to nursery and getting the bus to work. I finally managed to move but it was a full on crash - just rolling over in bed took 10 minutes to recover from and it was a good 30 minutes from finally being able to sit up that I eventually managed to communicate in more than grunts.

I immediately called work to tell them I wouldn't be able to make it in before the ability to communicate left me again and (of course) ended up balling my eyes out in misery and frustration when Donna was nice to me because I couldn't even get the words out necessary to explain properly - this bloody aphasia sucks great fat donkey bollocks! I'm just lucky that I've had a conversation with her about how the crappy illness affects me and she could read between the lines (and my hateful sobbing) to finish my sentences for me. I must have sounded like a complete moron stuttering and grasping at words between sniffles.

I honestly think I'd still have been OK again this week if it hadn't been for the assignment feck up with the 1st years module. Instead of having Wednesday off I was panicking about a class on Thursday that should already have been sorted; going over and over my options regarding the lesson plan and trying to ensure I'd covered everything - then to top it off I had an email from 2 people about 2 websites I'm supposed to be helping with which just added to the stress head I was building over falling behind.

I really don't want to lose another module this semester, if I can just make it through until semester B I'll ensure I only accept at the most 2 modules and as I won't have the website stuff to worry about then things (should) be peachy. I knew it would be a slow process figuring out my limits but I didn't realise just how shitty doing so would make me feel.

I'm back to feeling useless again. I know how overworked all the staff are in there, I know that my issues are likely to be adding stress to at least 2 other people and I hate being that person, I hate causing problems - I'm supposed to be the person who fixes things and makes it all better not the one adding roadblocks!

Meh, self pity will get me nowhere. Time to suck it up and crack on.

I'll get the LUF site out of the way tomorrow and do my Tuesday lesson plan. Stef will just have to do everything for the kids Halloween party on Monday while I recuperate and think of some way to make it up to him and then if I can just get through next week I'll be able to get the vegepa site up and running for Lynne next weekend THEN I can just concentrate on the marking I'll have coming in without the stress of those 2 unfinished jobs at the back of my mind.

The housing situation... well, there's nothing I can do to alleviate the worry of possible homelessness is there? Our situation will not magically change and I have to just live with complete strangers tramping through our home and the uncertainty of whether we will be given a months notice or a rent increase with each visitation.

Sucks to be me right now. I just hope the work stuff levels off so I can concentrate on actually teaching, right now I feel a bit of a fraud as I'm barely catching breath between classes to refresh my knowledge on the things I'm supposed to be teaching before the next email of doom comes through ripping apart all my carefully laid plans...

Next year will be better - everyone says the 1st year of teaching is the worst so if I can weather this with all my health crap I'll be bloody awesome next year when I know what I'm doing and exactly what's expected from me. Especially if I can use the summer to create some E-learning resources to help bolster the days I feel like this...

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Still feeling positive...

I'm actually looking forward to this week; possibly helps that I'm starting off with something fun as I have a beading group meeting on Monday - missed the last 2 so REALLY looking forward to this one.

My slides and documents are already prepared for Tuesday and Thursdays business applications class (was up until 3am last night doing that) I'm being 'unofficially' observed Tuesday morning so hoping it goes well,  but just knowing that I now have the Wednesday to prepare for the Thursday/  Friday lessons has taken off the stress and panic of last minute prep; not to mention saved me money and cut out some lengthy bus travel; I can now relax into my job and find a rhythm so that I can PACE!

It's all good!

I'll even have the time (and energy) to play with my wee lass when she asks now because I'm not playing catch-up with my work (at least I hope that's what will happen) it's amazing how just one day can have such an effect! Losing the FE module has seriously improved my chances of avoiding the usual November dip (ok, mini-relapse) I'll admit, the worry is still there and I'm trying to be more optimistic; it helps that I've got a sense of control this year - just in time too!

I really think I have a shot at making this a career instead of just a job, things are looking up people! From here the future has a slight rosey tinge around the edges now and I intend to cultivate that colouring!

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

How d'ya like THEM apples?!

feedback so far from my new colleagues has been overwhelmingly positive. my class management is ok, my lesson plans are fine; not bad for someone with no formal teacher training in the bag eh?!

Thankfully, I'm mostly liking the job.
It's really just an extension of the way I worked while studying; helping other students with the material and finding resources to aid in understanding - except this time I'm actually creating some of those resources myself; for one module the 4 of us teaching it are starting totally from scratch so it's quite a challenge.

But it seems I took on more hours than I can really cope with.

I’ll be honest, I only took into account classroom hours when I agreed to my timetable – I naively didn’t realise there was so much more to being a lecturer than just tweaking my slides, showing up to impart knowledge followed by the odd bit of marking: there's student monitoring, seemingly endless meetings, millions of daily emails, course admin - and that's before I even THINK about looking at a lesson plan or my resources!

I ended up having an ME/CFS incident after my first class last thursday and had to go lie down in the medical room for an hour to stave off the shakes and imminent crash so I'd be ok to teach in the afternoon. Brought home that I need to be careful at this early stage though so it was either lose 2 HE groups or the one FE unit, thankfully it’s the FE unit I’m to lose so that’s going to free up a lot more time to allow me to pace myself; would be a total pisser if I finally get a job and get off benefits only to end up back in bed and on ESA for good.

The really annoying thing about losing the FE class though is that I nearly killed myself 2 weekends ago getting into London for a one-day passport appointment for the CRB check; cost me a sodding fortune as well! I don’t need a CRB for HE teaching so all that money and effort turned out to be unnecessary *sigh* always the way eh?!

Nothing has happened on the 'landlord selling our home' front since the agents came round to take pictures and measurements so thankfully that stressball has yet to hit; just praying it waits until i'm a little more settled at work; getting to grips with this workload AND trying to find somewhere to live would probably kill me!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Working Girl

I've submitted all my paperwork for the CRB check, just waiting on the contract and my work ID to make things official - I'm teaching my first class tomorrow afternoon but thankfully won't be flying solo until the aforementioned items are sorted.

But so much for the 3.5hrs a week I was initially told about! I'm doing 3hrs a day Monday-Friday, you have NO idea how happy this makes me! I'm just glad that Stef can drive me there though; it's a 2hr bus journey each way otherwise. Having to endure that journey before and after work would make it impossible for me to function after 2 days.

I know the usual response is 'but just use the journey to rest, you only have to sit there..' How do you explain to a 'normal' that the constant stopping and starting, the motion of the bus when it's moving, the smells, the noise - it's all taxing and 'just sitting there' is not resting when you can't relax back into the seat or brace yourself on an armrest - 2 hours of sitting without proper support is very tiring! feet swinging an inch from the floor and unless you get a window seat there is nothing to lean on - but even then, the bus vibration makes it so uncomfortable that you can't lean for long.. I guess I can't blame my travel sickness on the Menieres disease because I even had it as a kid - but battling nausea on top of tiredness makes a bus journey REALLY unpleasant! If only trains were more affordable!

Yup; I need to learn to drive. I wish there was some government scheme to help with that *sigh* never going to happen though.

On the plus side - the landlord sent me a text a week or so ago announcing his intention to put our flat on the market. I didn't think of this as a plus at the time; I panicked and stressed and almost brought on a relapse. But since being offered all these hours it makes sense for us to move closer to my work so that if Stef does get a job I can continue to work without transport being an issue.

Now we just have to find accommodation in our price range that we can both agree on which fits my transport criteria and is near to a good school for Bella ... um... Wish me luck...

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

updates and employment

Figured I should do some updating, been slack on the website front for a variety of reasons. Anyhow this is my current 'crash' breakdown (excluding jan/ feb due to loss of data when phone died):

2010 2011 2012
Amount of crashes in January88unknown
Amount of crashes in February99unknown
Amount of crashes in March1379
Amount of crashes in April10510
Amount of crashes in May11146
Amount of crashes in June15104
Amount of crashes in July8910
Amount of crashes in August167tbc
Amount of crashes in September109tbc
Amount of crashes in October1415tbc
Amount of crashes in November818tbc
Average crash per month:1110tbc

having more of the days where my limbs feel too heavy but I'm able to move about and my head feels 'distant' (brain foggy) so I can carry on a conversation but the effort needed to concentrate is so tiring that I kind of dip in and out so people think I'm either being ignorant or rude. I hate it. I don't like blowing hot and cold but I can't help it - it's bloody hard work trying to be normal when every sense is being bombarded with stimuli I'm struggling to process; just want to stay in bed on days like that because although I look normal it's sooooo hard to BE normal. *sigh* one day I'll be free of this shit. Until then, carry on as 'normal'.

Despite not hearing anything from the ESA folks about a back to work appointment (something I thought would've happened by now since i'm in the work group) I've continued to apply for jobs left right and centre and I'm supposed to be starting a small job in september - 3.5hrs a week for a semester; teaching foundation degree students on their final year project module. It's not much but it is a foot in the door and I really can handle that amount of work easily so, if I do well.. fingers crossed, i'll get more hours and if i don't at least it's something else on my cv, they've also said I could get a PGCE paid for so... Just waiting on getting the paperwork to fill out to make it official.

Just trying really hard not to think about how much income i'll lose doing this - I have to start somewhere and it's either bite the bullet and TRY or just sit around forever waiting for something safer to come along. Hoping Stef will finally get a job soon too, would be nice to be free of the benefits trap - being able to move somewhere bigger would be a dream come true; I dream of a craft room...

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Contributing factors

I've found a cheap vegepa substitute to try out at our local superdrug: I'm thinking that if it works then it's not so much the lack of DHA in Vegepa that made such a difference to me as the Vitamin D I gained from using such high doses.

Something which could be explained by this nifty little infographic:

Vitamin D  - Vitamins and Supplements Infographic - Healthspan
Vitamin D - the sunshine vitamin - Healthspan
Vitamins & Supplements by Healthspan

There was talk in the CFS community a few years ago about the importance of vitamin D with regards to this illness; it's as good a thing to try as any other I guess. ..And at least I'll know once and for all if the ridiculous expense of Vegepa was worth it or not.

I'm having a 'normal' day today; Nearly killed myself doing the Galleria walk yesterday; I get all the way there without a problem and that's a good 30 minute walk, I visit 2 shops, sit and have food and drink for 20 minutes then start walking back; I make it about 10 minutes down the road and the fatigue kicks in - it's like walking through treacle, every step is an effort in will power - by the time I get to the small hill leading onto my street I'm crying inside from the effort but because I have bella asleep in her buggy I can't just lie down or sit on a verge until I have the energy to get home, I have to push through it and get us both home safely.

Then I'm dead for a good couple of hours. BUT I made it home, I did my self imposed exercise AND last night I slept 8 hours straight through without any issues and woke up this morning REFRESHED!

I can't do that walk every day but I do it when I can and it's easier with the buggy to walk faster than I do by myself so I can push through the fatigue wall. It's tough but if I don't keep pushing myself every now and again I'll be useless and even weaker physically than I am now.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

calorie counting

Been doing a little thinking (dangerous eh?!) and perhaps the lack of Vegepa isn't contributing as much to my current ME-ish state as much as I thought; I put on a LOT of weight during my last year at uni and the trend continued afterwards.

Stef and I are currently trying to lose the excess and I'm hoping it'll give my body a fighting chance against the slew of consecutive illnesses I've had to contend with since completing my degree. I need to lose a stone and a half minimum to be down to my borderline 'ideal' weight - that may not seem much to some people but when you consider just how sedentary my life is you'll realise that losing ANY weight is going to be tough.

I walked to and from the Galleria yesterday; I was out for 3 hours and when I got back just managed to eat a slice of pie and collapsed into bed for the afternoon until Stef woke me for pancakes at 5:30pm, I was back in bed again by 10:30pm and struggled to get out of bed 15 minutes ago (10:30am) but yesterday I was 329 calories under my 1200 allowance despite it being pancake day so go me!

I'm all signed up with my fitness pal and keeping a careful track of what I eat and do (very much missing the convenience of the bar code scanner on the android app now that my phone is broken - and the crash calendar/ period tracker I was using to record the episodes of CFS, luckily most is backed up and I have recorded the numbers on here so it's not a total loss of 2 years data) calorie counting is a pain though - I'm just lucky Stef is doing most of the cooking because just working out my breakfast of yoghurt, banana and honey this morning taxed my poor brain - I'm so TIRED! ..and I'm struggling to eat this even though I need the food to give me some semblance of energy.

Lets hope the anticipated weight loss has the desired effect and I get back to feeling brighter and more 'with it' and less prone to every bug my darling daughter brings home from nursery; if nothing else I'm aiming to fit in the most gorgeous dress I own that was aired just once pre-pregnancy so I don't have to buy anything for the 3 weddings we have to attend this year - I'm on a budget don'cha know.

One thing I have discovered is that drinking a mug of Clipper 'sleep easy' tea with a teaspoonful of honey to sweeten it before bed does seem to help me drop off; ok so it may just be that the exercise I'm forcing myself to do when I can is the real reason but at least I'm getting SOME decent sleep - for the last few weeks I've been ghostly pale with black circles under my eyes; hopefully this new routine will alleviate the death camp look and bring me back to a healthier complexion and more refreshing sleep.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

What's the hold up?

I was told at the start of December that I'm beginning the move to ESA, I filled in and returned the ATOS form and now I'm still waiting to hear back from them. I'm stressing about the family budget, I'm stressing about the fact that I'm just not coming out of this ME/CFS funk; every time I think i'm heading into a period of remission i get a cold/ virus and it's straight back into relapseville.

I can't afford any more VegEPA and haven't been taking them since at least Novemeber (maybe longer; my memory fails me) and it really shows; my mood is slanted towards the pessimistic, my brain is sluggish and I'm back to being too easily distracted to really concentrate on things - and the thing that for me fixes all these issues I can't afford to get until I have a job - but without it I'm probably not likely to get a job - it's a vicious circle!

I put in a bid for some freelance work after having no joy with 'real' jobs but 'surprise' I've had no response back; even if i did, I've since looked into how that will affect our finances and unless Stef finds work I'm better off not wading into the 'self employed' quagmire; My brain just couldn't take in the requirements for it and it seems i'd be punished by the DWP for attempting to work my own way; I may be wrong there but like I said, brain glitching a lot lately.

I was taking between 6-8 Vegepa a day, now I'm taking none; I was able to complete a degree with 1st class honours and lead sessions at conferences; now every item is a 'thing or 'thingy' because the aphasia is kicking in almost constantly and I just can't find words (thank god for online thesaurus eh?!) ..and i'm lying in bed half the night trying to sleep and only dozing and dreaming and waking feeling sluggish and unrefreshed.

My diet has improved, the only stress I have is self imposed over financial possibilities; the only major difference in my oral intake is zero Vegepa - you do the maths.

If ESA folk would just tell me where I stand and what's happening even the stress would vanish as I could then get organised; but obviously my body now relies on that bloody supplement; either I've been taking it too long or it really does help on its own - or it's one hell of a placebo effect. I need to find £11pw for a pot of the stuff to help me get my brain and sleeping patterns back! if only the NHS provided it *sigh* it's a dear do being ill.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012


Just had a fabulous boost to my self esteem in the form of an email forwarded to me by the team leader of the inclusive culture project:

Dear Team,

I have met with Vicky Stringer for a longer talk on my bit for inclusivity. Wow - what a 'can do' attitude! She is full of ideas and was often one step ahead. (Not difficult in my case I KNOW!)

Then, last Wednesday she came to the Health and Human Sciences conference, was very supportive of inclusivity there, made contacts all over the place and was a superb ambassador for the whole thing. Has sent me help with taking part in twitter. For a student who is not always very well, she is investing a tremendous amount in all this. It's an absolute priviledge to work with some one so tuned in and full of excellent ideas about how to push things forward. So dear colleagues, I'd like to say that who ever thought of her for the student choice on this project has made an inspired choice. As if you did not already know....

Yup, I still 'got it' *grin* not bad for someone who can't even get out of bed for half the month eh?! I am SO getting me a job. ..Somewhere.