Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Up all night, sleep all day, just another strange day at NRA

I started to fade a little yesterday at the end of class. I was exhausted. I was reading aloud from The Last American Man and had been reading for about an hour when all of a sudden I felt like I was about to keel over. But the water was warm, the sun was out and the wave was in, so I decided to get in my boat and I'd probably start to feel better. I strapped on my wet booties, put on my shorts and my still damp poly-pro top, then headed over to my cabin to get my PFD. Then I saw the bed, my sleeping bag, so inviting, so soft....and decided to just have a quick lie down. Just for a moment. So, wearing my cold, damp river gear I fell straight forward onto my pillow, like a tree falling, or a dead person. And I realized I couldn't get up. I couldn't even move. No worries, I figured, the kids will be paddling for hours out there, no harm in just....

.....3 1/2 hours later I woke up. The early evening sunlight was softer, and most of the kids had already paddled home, showered, and were lying around in their pajamas staring at You-tube videos.

Waking up in the middle of the day, particularly when you had not planned to sleep in the first place, is disorienting. I spent a few hours running my eyes over The Grapes of Wrath and fiddling with the aperture on my camera to prepare for the next day's classes, but I couldn't concentrate. Then I taught an SAT prep-class, then I read aloud for another half an hour to my English II boys, who were half asleep themselves on the couch. At 10 o'clock I staggered across the banks of the Ottawa to my cabin and fell hard asleep.

I woke up in the middle of the night. I hardly ever do this. For a minute I felt nothing, and I wondered why I was awake. Did I have to pee? No. Hmm. Puzzle. And then, I felt it. A stab of pain through my stomach unlike anything I had felt before. It was like a bolt of lightning, like someone had hooked me up to a telephone and was running shocks through me. Then another. Then a blinding storm of pain that lasted the entire night. I was up, wide eyed, trying not to move, and nothing (NOTHING) I did made the pain abate. Nothing gave me so much as a moment's relief. I could barely breathe. Hours went by like this, until I saw dawn creep up over the Ottawa valley and the mist begin to rise off the grass outside my windows.

Finally, when I heard everyone else waking up and head off to workout, I got up long enough to tell the first person I saw to cancel my classes, and then I lay back down. Finally I sifted back to sleep and slept and woke up and slept and woke up feverishly for hours. Finally, at 3pm, as the final class period was ending, I woke up for good. My dog had slept next to me the entire time, 17 hours since we had initially lay down for the night.

I felt a little better but still off kilter. The dog and I went inside and I read aloud for half an hour to my class. Yes, it would make a lot more sense for the kids to read to themselves, but we don't have enough books, somehow. So I read to them. They say they like better that way, anyway. Of course they do. All they have to do is curl up on a couch and shut their eyes and pet the dog. I like it too, though, it's a nice change of pace. They don't dread English class, that's for sure.

So after my strange day of dreaming and pain, I geared up and slid into the water in a new boat, a Pyranah 420 I borrowed from Nicole Mansfield, who is up visiting with Dave Fusili. The water, I noticed for the first time, was the same color as the beef aspic in the movie Julie and Julia, and warm as bath water. With no one else on the river besides Nicole, Dave, Andy and Matt, we had complete reign of the waves. For the first time I hit babyface dead on and got three long surf sessions in.

And now I can barely keep my eyes open, the rats seem to be tromping back into my stomach for another all-night chew session, and I wonder when I'll start to feel better. I took the whole summer off and had a team of natureopathic doctors working with me, I took pills and oils and gells and medicinal teas and had all sorts of things donw, but I never got any answers, and I didn't get much better. I can't just wait around forever and hope I start to feel better, so life goes on and I'm back at work, which coincidentally is the worst place to be when you're sick. Life goes on....but it would be so much easier if I could just feel better.

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