Perspective

It has been a packed and dramatic last couple of weeks. Just over a week ago, my union settled with the district (not officially until next week because we are on Spring Break). After all of the intensity, the stress, the rallies, the concern for my AP students, and the disappointment that I would have to use a decent amount of money we had saved to live off of for an indefinite period of time. There was also the fear that this superintendent and board were fighting an ideological battle (far right trying to destroy a union) and we would be out for a while. The deal we got is OK. Decent. The best we would get from this board, certainly a lot less then we figured to be fair, but the next step was a strike. We also have a bigger fish to fry – the board itself. Three seats are up for election in November. A chance to shift the balance of power, perhaps have an inefficient superintendent removed.

Then there are the TWO stacks of AP essays and pile of college prep projects. I’m trying not to look at them – maybe they will go away.

I am distracted. I can’t seem to get too excited about the deal. I am avoiding the essays and lesson planning I need to do. I am ignoring my bloglines account and the fact that baseball season has start has barely registered.

All of this is because there is something that is currently redefining my life. My oldest son has been having stomach issues for a couple years. We knew something was wrong, but his doctors couldn’t figure it out (one was honestly trying, the other wasn’t). Finally, my wife figured it out. He has Celiac Sprue. First, it isn’t deadly – it won’t kill him. It is intolerance to gluten (found in wheat, oats, barley, rye, and malt) – it is essentially poison to his body. His life was all about gluten – Cheerios for breakfast, sandwich or wrap for lunch, and pasta for dinner. He is a creature of habit and routines, so this is what he ate almost everyday.

My wife and I have been trying to wrap our brains around our new lifestyle. This disease (it is hard for me to say that word) is relatively common (although not mainstream) and there are many web sites and books that have helped us immensely. Luckily, my wife was already an avid cook and baker. She has already spent countless hours experimenting and trying new recipes for bread, cake, brownies, and cookies (you know, the important stuff). The stuff that will help normalize his life. Rice flour is not the same as sweet rice flour apparently. A specific brand of brown rice past has seamlessly replaced the regular variety. Corn tortillas have replaced flour ones. My son has been wonderful. He is smart enough to understand that he has to help take care of himself at five years old. He asks the grandparents if there is gluten in the special treats they try and give him. He even willing gave up some Easter candy he got from preschool yesterday.

We have gone through grieving, anger, frustration, and a bit of acceptance. But the biggest emotion we feel when he is in the room is relief. He had stopped growing. He was skinny; his almost-three year-old brother was quickly catching him in size. Getting him to eat was a battle. He complained of stomachaches regularly. He was lethargic. He was always tired. He avoided playing in big groups. He was off. Today he is a new kid. In two weeks he has gained five pounds. He won’t stop playing, running, laughing, and, most importantly, eating.

We missed so much of him in the last couple years, but we have him now. Welcome back kiddo.

5 thoughts on “Perspective”

  1. Poor Little Guy ! Glad you have found a solution for his ailment. IF only some of us older ones could make a lifestyle change as easily…..

    Re: New Contract. SD U-T reported you all get a few dollars and district pays your health insurance and 80% of dependant health insurance. If I may ask, how much will your 20% of family health insurance cost you? We (out here in the desert), have Blue Cross and it is going up like 20% for next year…..estimated $300-400 month payroll deduction to cover this increase (since our district slavemasters and board don’t want to cover it).

    Also, are you guys giving up contract language or adding new language to your contract….ie, you will sponsor clubs or coach, atend open house events, give up prep period, more teaching days for same pay, etc. ? I ask because “our” corrupt local always gets a few dollars for those at senior end of salary schedule in exchange for worse contract language for those who must teach another 10-15-20+ years….

    Thanks and enjoy Spring Break!

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  2. It’s so easy for us to get caught up in our careers, but when it comes down to our our children, our spouse, and our homes are what really matters. I’m glad you discovered what was wrong, and I hope the changes your family will have to make can continue to occur as easily as possible.

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  3. Your lucky to catch it early. One of my ex-bosses found out he was suffering from Celiac Sprue after he graduated from college. Despite his constant throwing-up in college after nights of pizza and beer, he thought it was the normal college experience. Ha ha!! Now he knows better. Luckily his family adjusted to it. He always prepares his own lunch and rarely eats out.

    That is a nice side benefit for you. Not only will your wife find new and interesting meals to cook, maybe your son will take an interest in cooking too. That will definitely cut down the costs on eating out.

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  4. I know someone whose daughter, now in college, was diagnosed with celiac sprue when she was about your son’s age. If you’d like me to put you in touch, e-mail me at joanne at joannejacobs dot com and I’ll pass your e-mail on to Debbie.

    — Joanne Jacobs

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