Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Stress and Relaxation

Today I had a pretty easy day working with kids but spent most of the time thinking about and writing plans for the five weeks of work I'm going to miss while recovering from neck surgery. It's a stressful task to lay out that length of time's planning for someone else to administer to my classes. I need to write stuff that is pretty much paint-by-numbers but which also allows flexibility for different teachers to put their mark on. Also, it has to be super easy to track kids' grades without the teachers having to take on a ton more of work. It's a lot and it was weighing on me today.

Along with that is the concern I have that if I don't lay out perfectly formed plans, my colleagues will think me a slacker and lousy person. This concern is a leftover of how I have felt about myself for many, many years (as I talked about some in yesterday's post) and it is absolute poppycock. I felt the idea coming on and took a moment to remind myself that I can only do my best, that my colleagues like and appreciate me, and that I'm unlikely to reach perfection in sub-planning. I let that sink in and kept writing my plans. "I can do this," I told myself. And I did it.

I had to get the word done on time because I had my pre-op appointment with the neurosurgeon and the hospital. At the neurosurgeon, a nurse ran through some procedures I would need to follow, a doctor came in and had me sign papers after he had discussed the surgery, and then my surgeon talked with me. Things were going alright until he said that my insurance was denying the surgery.


My heart picked up its pace, my stomach moved, and I began to spiral up into a quiet panic. The surgeon assured me that my particular insurance company is famous for this, that they were putting a call into him within the hour, and that he figured he would be able to get it approved. I nodded, but I was no longer calm. We finished talking and it was time for me to go up to the hospital for more pre-op.

As I drove up there I was going through the old habits of worry. Why had I done all that planning? How was I going to reverse everything at work? When would I fit in six weeks of physical therapy if that's what was required? And how could I schedule a new surgery time that would work as well as this one?

I pulled into the parking garage, parked the car on the third floor, walked down to the street and realized I had left my phone in the car. I needed it in case the surgeon called about the insurance.

I closed my eyes, standing on the sidewalk, and breathed a couple times until the angry shouts that had built in me subsided. I saw that I was only a handful of steps from the stairwell, remembered that my car was the second one from that stairwell, and decided that walking up a couple flights of stairs was actually good for me. And so I went.

By the time I was back down on the street, phone in hand, I wasn't worried any more about the insurance. I had gotten so distracted by the tragedy of leaving my phone in my car and having to retrieve it that the insurance thing had been pushed out of my mind. Once I had the phone, I decided not to let the worry over insurance back into my mind. Go figure, it worked.

After the hospital pre-op, I got a call from the surgeon saying that it had worked out just as he had figured. No problem. We're ready to go for Monday. I'm going to have my neck repaired. This is good. And no amount of panic or calm would have changed the decision they were going to make. All it could do is change how I would experience the whole thing.

There aren't the only worries I have in my life. In fact, they pale in comparison to the real worries I have. But the lesson is the same for me and I'm hoping that writing it down helps me to remember. I have choices to make. I've chosen surgery to fix my neck. I chose today not to worry about things beyond my control. And tonight I chose, most wisely, to write on.