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Giving Thanks During Difficult Times

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Giving Thanks During Difficult Times
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Thanksgiving just passed, and I’m back to work after a peaceful week off. On Sunday, I experienced a real case of the pre-workweek blues, and I can’t seem to pick myself up out of this funk.

This time of year is normally stressful for a teacher, given both the excitement of the holidays and the stress of looming assessments. That stress, coupled with the conditions we teach in during these COVID-19 times, has left me exhausted and my morale tank empty.

As we were walking around the neighborhood with our kids, my husband and I both acknowledged we’re in a similar state of malaise. The root cause of everything is the nearly impossible balance of supporting our son, Brian, as he battles Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS) and trying to be stand-up employees at work during demanding times. Oh, there also happens to be a pandemic going on, too.

I’ve written before that during times of unbalance, reflection is key. We’re both exhausted and bummed out, and we know why. Although it’s a bleak conclusion, we’ve already accomplished the first step to moving forward.

My husband proposed we list the things we’re thankful for. It’s the most thankful time of year, after all. Even when gratitude can be hard to reach for, we both agreed that we’re thankful to still have our son.

We had a scare the week before Thanksgiving at his school, where I also teach. It’s nice to be on campus with him in case something goes wrong. I always hope that my proximity to him will not have to be used for emergencies, but when I saw administration running toward me and pointing to the bus circle where Brian arrives, I knew something was wrong.

I was on his bus in seconds. When I got there, his lips were still blue and he was unresponsive, but he had just restarted his breathing. A few others were on the bus with me, but at that point I had complete tunnel vision, and all I could see was him.

I thought my worst nightmare was coming true. I live each day with the reality that a seizure could kill him at any moment. I tried to wake him up by touching his face, rubbing his chest, and wiggling his legs — all things he would normally respond to. Nothing.

We unbuckled him and brought him to the floor with his head in my lap. He finally started to push us away but didn’t open his eyes until the rear door of the bus was opened to allow the paramedics through.

The change was instant. He sat right up and started chewing on his bandana, smiling at those around him as he usually does.

All of Brian’s vitals checked out and we were free to go. If my vitals were checked, I’m sure they wouldn’t have been nearly as stable.

Although Brian was OK, I left the bus trembling and still pretty rattled. I also wanted to keep an eye on him, so we went home for the rest of the day. Everything was relatively peaceful and has been since.

I am so thankful that Brian is OK. His constant resilience through this debilitating form of epilepsy is inspiring. Any day that I can witness his smile is a good day.

I am thankful to be employed and working alongside an endlessly supportive group of colleagues. I don’t know what I would do if it weren’t for their kindness and understanding, as I feel like a burden.

I am thankful to my husband for manning this ship called Raw Deal with me. It’s not the life we planned for and it isn’t fair at all, but we’re in it together and I know that’s something I can always count on.

It often feels like I just can’t get it right or that things just will not go right. This is certainly one of the lower moments I’m feeling in the stages of grief. But if I can still find something to be thankful for, then there’s reason for holding on.


Note: Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.

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