Friday, August 24, 2007

I have rocks in my head

I have made it through another week of teaching my intensive summer class (to all you who are starting fall semester: Haha! Neener neener! I have three more weeks of summer session and then, I think, two more weeks before FQ begins. Take that, people who all crowed about being done in May! Ok, kidding.)

The problem with summer teaching (ok , there are many problems, and money is probably more pressing than exhaustion, but what the hell) is how worn out I get and how it becomes The Class That Ate My Life --- leaving me too exhausted to do my diss work or anything fun and relaxing beyond staring slack-jawed at various blogs and mindless websites, too burnt to even post my own ramblings most of the time. You'd think I'd go relax on the beach or see a movie, but I can barely pull myself off the couch to heat up some dinner. You know, if I had a lot more money and was more photogenic, I could afford to check in to rehab for my "exhaustion," or afford the substances our paparazzi teens have been using that produced their said "exhaustion," but, when one is a grad student, one cannot afford the Betty Ford, nor does anyone care if she's tuned in or checked out, so whether or not us cogs suffer from exhaustion is a moot point. Subaltern cannot speak, and when she does, no one cares, and all that. (Dean Dad was musing on "exhaustion" the other day, and this is my half-assed response.)

However, I may have some additional health problems that are exacerbating said exhaustion, and they sure as hell don't include going for three days on only lettuce and Special K. A few years ago I had strange, horrible dizzy spells that seemed caused by nothing ---- just out of the blue I'd turn my head and feel the overwhelming urge to puke. Rolling over in bed felt like I was on the boat in A Perfect Storm or watching The Blair Witch Project. After figuring out that this was not morning sickness (whew!) but also wasn't any normal flu or food poisoning, I finally went to student health, sure I had some mysterious and rare cancer or brain tumor.

In a way, what I had was worse, as it's not treatable and is one step up from complete psycho-somatic malingering. My dr. told me I had labyrinthitis ---- that I had calcium buildups inside my inner ears (who knew!) and sometimes these break off and float through the liquid in the inner ear; you know, the stuff that sloshes around as you move and you use it to keep your balance. Swishing a rock around in your inner-ear juice produces the same effect, to your brain, as riding a crazy roller coaster or turbulent airplane. Yes, I was getting travel-sick off the mere act of rolling over in bed ---- and I certainly wasn't doing anything exciting in bed otherwise, more's the pity.

"Eventually these deposits dissolve on their own," the doctor told me. "There's no way to treat it except wait it out." When I pointed out that I was constantly waking myself up at night and having to fight off nausea (except for the one horrible time I did not fight it off successfully --- your body doesn't know the difference between real seasickness and inner-ear-imbalance queasiness; it'll puke either way), she shrugged and wrote me a prescription. "I thought there's nothing you can do about this," I protested (well no, I gladly took the paper). "There's not; this will just make you not care," she replied. I looked at it, hoping for some Valium or something they popped in Valley of the Dolls; it was Dramamine.

Sigh. If I had any cred in this world it probably dissolved when I told my friends that the simple act of rolling over in bed could incapacitate me. I'm just not cut out for the high life, I guess. This is another of those "my god how could you live outside the protective bubble of grad school" injuries that nonacademics like to mock, like paper cuts.

And why would I bring all this up now? Well, the last time I had labyrinthitis, even turning my head, much less rolling over, made me sit bolt upright and grab for the bucket. But I think that I'm having a much less severe version right now that is messing with my sleep. I think it's enough to disturb my sleep at night, but not to actually wake me up fully, and is adding to the feeling of exaustion and why I feel like I haven't gotten any sleep when I get up in the morning (which is why both Wed. and today involved going back to bed and not doing any work at all --- well, I have high hopes for this afternoon, as I don't have to teach and should be alert by then). So, I have a plan, being a great one for plans:

I'll keep you posted how it goes.


gwoertendyke said...

good grief i'm so sorry sis--that sounds awful! and i can surely relate to the massive fatigue and strain that is summer teaching.

heu mihi said...

Oof--that's horrid! Hideous! I like the photo at the end, though. Nice touch.

Earnest English said...

Sis! Mostly I just wanted to say hi. But these strange academic ailments are probably related to that heinous condition that you have: dissertatingitis. It's enough to make anyone totally incapacitated.