Originally posted on Open Salon on July 25, 2011:
I have not posted in some time, as I’ve been away for several weeks due to illness and travel. I’ll use this post to tell a brief story whose moral is that we all ought to set some limits for ourselves.
I had a week off at the end of the school year, and I used that time to scramble and try to catch up on a number of priorities that had stacked up over the previous few months. I was overly eager to accomplish as much as possible and prepare for my summer jobs as a learning center teacher and a private tutor. I felt safe working at home that week, away from the students I had spent so much time with, so many of whom had come down with a severe cough during the final weeks of school.
The pressure was on for me to get things in order because after just a few days of work at the learning center, I was scheduled to fly to Italy so I could attend the wedding of a relative. I felt awkward about having to make special arrangements with my boss, but she was gracious and understanding. I’d be away for six instructional days, then I’d resume my work for the rest of the summer.
So this week before the summer session at the learning center was my time to pull it all together. By Thursday of my so-called week off, however, I realized that I would not have as many materials prepared as I would consider ideal. No problem, I thought. I also teach well when I simply read the moment and let it guide me. I took it easy Friday and figured a little rest over the weekend would have me in ship-shape by the beginning of the week.
Regrettably, it was not to be. By Friday evening, I was overcome with fatigue. I retired early only to be awakened dozens of times overnight in the midst of indescribable febrile dreams.
I’ll keep the remaining details to a minimum. I got that cough after all, with a fever that lasted four days. At no extra charge, the affliction fairy threw in a migraine that lasted just as long, while turning up my tinnitus to about the volume of the spin cycle on the washing machine my family had in the 1970s. I did not teach that next week, I did not do any tutoring, and my doctor told me when I made it to his office that it was unlikely that I would be able to travel. I told him he had to put me back together within three days, which he did. By the day of my departure, the fever had abated, and the migraine was gone.
I arrived the next day—weak, but in good spirits—in Verona, Italy. It was only then that I recognized my illness for what it was.
Every few years, I experience the Crash. A stressful and difficult school year ends, and some back-room deal between my body and my unconscious has to be fulfilled. The negotiations probably include the words, “All right, all right! He’s pushed us both too hard, but let’s just get him to June 30th. Then, Mr. Body, you can implode and he’ll be forced to give us both some rest. But for God’s sake, we gotta get him to the 30th!”
What can I say? This was just one of those school years. It probably serves me right.