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Jessica1220

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 #1 
After seven long years of struggling with symptoms, I've finally been diagnosed with Lupus & Sjogrens's Syndrome.

I'm in my fifth year of teaching 6th grade & now have a wonderful one year old at home. Now that I know my pain, fatigue, and additional symptoms are related to Lupus, I am wanted to be mindful to how I am treating my body (I am very stubborn and tend to ignore health issues).

Everything I read is to reduce stress to help lower the risk of flares. In the education world (and when you teach 130 twelve year olds), stress is eminent.

I wanted to know if anyone has had to make a job change or if I'm over reacting with this idea. I just want to make sure I'm able to put all of my energy (literally) to my family at home, and not just the kiddos I care for so much at school.

Any feedback is greatly appreciated.
Bookchick

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 #2 
Hi Jessica. I totally hear you on stress in the world of education. I'm the reading specialist in my district and work with over 200 students daily (grades K-7 --I don't have any 8th graders this year). People who are not teachers (or don't know a teacher) think our jobs are 9-3 piece of cake, no stress. They have no idea of the amount of time we spend before and after school, evenings, weekends, breaks.They are also unable to comprehend that there is a great deal of stress involved. I found myself in the emergency room in November from stress. That was somewhat of a wake-up call to the administration at my school. The assistant superintendent actually had me show her how to enter students for progress monitoring and entered all of my students in grades 2-4. It isn't that it is difficult to do, just majorly time consuming. By her helping me, it reduced some stress. She stills "checks in" with me at least weekly to see if she can help with anything.

I had considered a job change but I really LOVE what I do. I'll have to see how it goes with the stress. I would love to open a school for students who are dyslexic or struggle with reading. Since I have no idea regarding laws, etc. that isn't in my future. I am toying with the idea of opening a dyslexia center. I have had a great deal of training in dyslexia (although you can never have "enough" training; new research, etc).

I hope you are able to find a way to manage your stress at school. If not, perhaps tutoring independently or a place like Sylvan or Huntington learning centers could work... Or a complete change in career. 

I am also newly diagnosed; 5 weeks ago.

Good luck!
taffylinden

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 #3 
Hi, Jessica! I think Bookchick and I aren't the only teachers (former, in my case, as I retired last spring) here, so you may hear from others. I also couldn't consider leaving teaching, my passion and my avocation. There IS a tremendous amount of stree! First, teaching middle schoolers or high schoolers (I did both, consecutively.) is like juggling buzz saws while reciting Shakespeare AND herding cats with ADHD. Then you have the very long hours, the planning, grading, parent contacts, helping kids before school, at lunch, after school, duties you have no time for,  ungodly paperwork, collaborating with colleagues, etc., etc., and yikes! Exhausting even without lupus! AND you've got a baby, and cute as they are, they come with stress and worry. 

In my case, students always energized me, and I loved them and loathed missing work. I can tell you're the same. It's tough to think of a low-stress job that wouldn't also be physically exhausting. 

I looked into tutoring at Sylvan a year ago as a possible retirement career. I'd tutored before to fill in the gap from the low pay of adjunct college faculty, so I knew the attractions and drawbacks. Most of the work was late afternoons and evenings, and the pay wasn't great. You might look into test-scoring at Pearson. I don't know where you live, and scoring essays all day would be grueling, but it's something to consider. Or you might serve in another capacity at your school.

Whatever you decide, make sure it's something engaging and challenging. You'll feel restless, bored, and hollow if you aren't working at something you love. 

What meds are you on? And do you have florescent lighting in your classroom? That can be draining in itself. Fflorescents are about as bad as the sun.




Jessica1220

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 #4 
Thank you so much for your reply. I love my job, but the unwanted stress is overwhelming. After hearing your experience, I think it's definitely time to stop acting invincible and let my admin how much I'm struggling with my symptoms.

Although I do have some great natural night, my room is indeed all fluorescent lights. Any suggestions to reduce their effect? Thanks again.
Robinj

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 #5 
There are fluorescent light filters. We have them at the Day Treatment where I work. We have them mainly to create a more soothing atmosphere since we are a special ed facility, but there are also filters for UV rays as well.
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Bookchick

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 #6 
My principal just told me about the fluorescent light filters. She actually has them in her office. I have two classrooms but I think the expense will be totally worth it since I Have been getting rashes on any skin that is exposed to the lights. I'm going to check to see if Amazon has them.
rclaric

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 #7 
I haven't been officially diagnosed as I can't see the rheumatologist until August, and I'm new to this site. I spent 4 months sick with colds, headaches, muscle and joint pain, extreme exhaustion, insomnia, etc. My lab tests show a definite likelihood of lupus. I also already have Hashimoto's thyroiditis and PCOS. I am a middle/high school teacher. Teaching has been hell since January with all the symptoms. I am curious about career changes as well, especially since I am thinking about going back to school for a PhD. I am so stressed out right now with end of the year things, and it is all I can do to get through each day. The only thing keeping me going is the support of my family, friends, and boyfriend. I don't know how I'm going to keep going or what I would do if I left teaching.
pianist

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 #8 
I'm not a teacher now and never have been, but in reading through this thread I just wanted to add that lupus changes and you can get better. Hopefully you will find some relief now that you've been diagnosed and your doctor (hopefully a rheumatologist with other lupus patients) has a direction to go in to give you treatment for the disease and not just the symptoms. I admire teachers. Teachers put in long hours and are underpaid. I hope things work out for you!
taffylinden

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 #9 
Bookchik, when you say the expense for florescent light filters will be worth it, I hope you mean worth it for the district, as you should not be paying for those. Some teachers use natural light and dim classroom florescent lights, but as my blinds were broken and closed, that wasn't an option for me. And you will SO get this: it took me 8 years to get new ones! Anyway, I think the filters are your best bet. 


Jessica1220

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 #10 
@pianist, thank you for your kind words! I am still on the search for a doctor with a grasp on this Lupus stuff.

Rclaric, I am so sorry you are having a difficult time with your symptoms. One thing that has really helped me is speaking to others going through similar situations as myself (aka realizing I'm not crazy!).

I've had two bad flairs since my original post and I have been making a conscious effort to try and determine what had attributed to the flair (extreme fatigue, headaches, joint pain, cans chest pin). I quickly realized two things I need to stay away from to avoid these rough days: alcohol (what teacher doesn't like a glass of wine after a long week) and prolonged sun exposure.

While everyone is different, these two triggers definitely didn't help with my Lupus symptoms. I do not feel as his my rheumatologist gave me adequate strategies on how to cope ( it was more of a 'you have this &a you may experience these symptoms')...

I hope that these summer months bring you some relief! I myself am going back to school as well. We can do this!
rclaric

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 #11 
Jessica1220, I feel like I've been having mini-flares every few days for the last few weeks since the major flare seems to have resolved. I'm still struggling with exhaustion and insomnia, plus my fever flares up every few days usually along with other issues. It's exhausting since I'm switching schools in fall to be back at the high school level. As it is, I'm packing up my classroom and trying to arrange meetings with my new grade level teams. It's ridiculous. I'm hoping summer will bring resolution and rest.
Auntyrae

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 #12 
Hi All!
I'm so glad to have found this message board, and this thread in particular. I also work in Education. I'm a Speech Therapist and I work with preschool and high school students! Both age groups can be demanding, but like taffylinden stated, the kids really do energize me. Work has been my saving grace. I absolutely love what I do and couldn't imagine not being able to work. I was formally diagnosed last June after being ill and hospitalized off and on since 2009. Last July was the worst that my condition had ever been and I nearly went into kidney failure. Somehow, I managed to start work at the end of July at a new school district. I knew quite a few people who already worked there, so that was helpful. I made it a point to tell the people with whom I worked the closest (preschool class teacher, classroom assistant, other teachers, program specialists, etc) about my condition for a few reasons. For one, I have SLE as well as discoid, so I know that the obvious rash/lesions on my face probably had people wondering. I was also somewhat sluggish and easily worn out. Brain fog (UGH! That is the WORST!!) was a problem at times too. People were so extremely supportive. I have never worked with such a considerate group of individuals in my life. I started Benlysta in October. Fortunately I haven't missed much work because I was able to schedule infusions around school holidays and breaks. The Benlysta has helped me tremendously! I haven't had the brain fog since the week of Thanksgiving. In my opinion, that is one of the absolute worst effects of this whole thing. I would rather be in pain than feel so helpless and lost cognitively. My energy levels got back to "normal" and walking across campus no longer seemed like a 5 mile hike. I've done pretty well managing my stress levels through work. I believe it is partially because I am so thankful to be alive and able to do what I love after getting so ill last summer. There were a couple of times that I felt really overwhelmed toward the end of the school year (just a couple of weeks ago), but I managed to get through and get everything done. I'm finally in a mode where my brain is relaxed and I'm not having any dreams involving IEPs or reports due! I wish everyone a relaxing summer break! :)
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