It was so nice and cool when I was in Narita-- almost like an eternal early spring-- and, though there were thunderstorms almost every afternoon, I think I only had one migraine my entire stay. Ohio welcomed me back with sweltering heat, high smog alerts and several thunderstorms that also featured hail. I found myself almost totally out of comission from the pain... these were migraines the likes of which I hadn't had since I was a teenager. I had to go to the hospital in mid-June: one went on for a record of two days, culminating in a pain so intense I was screaming in my sleep. My brother drove me to the hospital, where they shot me with demerol. (Now, that stuff kills the pain, but it also takes your mental well-being and puts it in a blender. I can't even stand when I'm on that stuff-- though I can report that the weather on Neptune is nice this time of year. ^_~;;;)
Long story short, my doctor has since tried three different meds out on me, all of which have had wacky and unpleasant side effects. They have not, however, had any effect on the migraines themselves-- and some of these pills cost $80 with insurance. Finally, I think we've hit on something that works, but I don't like to take it unless it's dire, because it makes me so lethargic. I like to be up and active, and it drives me nuts that we can't find something that kills the migraines *and* lets me function. Some of our other alternatives have been eliminated due to the history of heart disease in my family... *shakes head*
My doctor-- a tiny, patient Phillipino woman who could stare down Wolverine-- says my body is going through a "major hormonal shift" which, just like in adolesence, triggers my migraines. Because I needed to be reminded that I'm getting old. *pout* ^_~
So that's why it seemed like I fell off the face of the earth. I vaguely remember something from January about hoping 2009 wasn't going to sit on us like a Sumo wrestler trying to make a point-- ah, that was a nice delusion. ... Eh.
The first two weeks of June brought more graduation ceremonies than I can count. Each of my three nieces moved up from their respective buildings-- Elementary School to Middle School (Genevive), Middle School to Junior High (Justine), Junior High to High School (Samantha). I am getting old! ;_; In addition, Yana graduated from Elementary School and into the fifth grade, which means I won't get to see her anymore. I worked very closely with Mrs A (new retired), Tyrone (now a full fledged teacher) and Tierney, but the Middle School staff has a long-standing feud with the lower grades and has made it clear I'm not welcome. I knew I'd have to say goodbye to her eventually, but it seemed to come so soon.
It's hard to believe she was in first grade when I met her originally. She was such a tiny thing, too! Back then, she could haul herself up by holding onto my hips and stand... nowadays, she's too tall for me to support. She has a little more mobility in her legs, kicking and occassionally stomping her feet, where before she seemed genuinely puzzled by her lower half. Her hair is longer and-- after three years of fighting with her family!-- finally lice-free. She's still such a beautiful little girl... which sometimes worries me. I just don't want to see her taken advantage of.
Anyway, I was able to go to the ceremony-- I actually went in early to dress her and do her hair. As you all well know, her family simply doesn't take care of her; I sponged her off (she'd come to school in a wet diaper, again), braided her hair, and but her in the dress I bought her that she likes so much. All those things that I used to do with her, and she even handed me the hairbrush with a big smile. I used to sing to her-- she started humming "You Are My Sunshine" while I was lacing up her leg braces, so I sang one last time, too. We'd made a point not to send her home in the clothes I'd bought for her before (since we knew we'd never get them back), but I packed them all in her backpack since she's moving on. I don't know if her family will let her wear them, or give them to one of the other numerous children-- I kind of hope the others are too big for them, so she'll wear them and be warm this winter. After the ceremony, we sat out on the playground and I handed her different colors while she scribbled circles with sidewalk chalk.
She really has come a long way; she says "please" and "thank you", drinks from a straw, can eat with a fork if her food is cut properly first, put her glasses on, navigate her wheelchair down the hall. She can lift her hips and hold items to assist while you change her diaper; she can pinch finely enough to move a zipper and has learned to sort items of different sizes. She'll never speak in full sentences (or even have a vocabulary larger than fifty words), walk or be potty-trained, but she has gained a lot of mobility in her wheelchair, and has managed to grasp self-care skills like brushing her teeth. I just worry-- she's so delicate, so obviously a source of income for her family. I hugged her tight, put her on the bus for the last time... and then spent fifteen minutes sobbing into Tyrone's shoulder. I don't regret it, because she taught me so much about the beauty of innocence and childhood, about life in general. I could never regret it, though it hurts. I hope she forgets about me quickly, and never wonders why I'm not around. It's always hard to tell how much was getting through, though she called me by name and always seemed happy to see me. I know it can't be helped, I just never want her to think she did something wrong.
I just love her so much.
Like she was my own.
Tyrone asked me, while I was drying up, why I don't go back to teaching, because it's so obvious I love working with kids. I pointed out that I got too close to Yana and was not objective.
Tyrone said, "You weren't really her teacher. And she needed someone like you."
Yana was a very special case, a child I came to care for as a volunteer, without that student-teacher structure. She 'adopted' me as much as I 'adopted' her.
I'll never have room in my heart again for someone like Yana-- I've learned some distance, learned not to show it on the outside. Still, I'm not ready to go back to teaching just yet.
I need... time.