As of today we have begun a new semester - as teachers and students. It is the first beginning of a semester we've had since David's stroke. His stroke happened toward the end of last semester and sent us into crisis mode in which we were focused on the basics of survival and putting one foot in front of the other. That was very difficult. This is difficult in a different way.
We don't know how to do this. We've never done it before. It was evident tonight in both of us that we are both extremely stressed under the surface. I'm sure we'll figure out how to adjust, but it's going to take a while.
I am usually prepared for the upcoming semester a month before the previous semester is over. This time around I prepared nothing. There are also lots of additional details I've never had to deal with before that have to do with my grad work and how it overlaps with my teaching as I move into the process of writing my thesis. It seems I have 47 different forms to fill out immediately and get to a dozen different places, and there are things on the forms I don't know how to fill in - call to get help - and the help doesn't know how to fill it in either.
Normally none of the above would be a problem for me, because I would have been ahead of the game, but so much just fell out of my brain last semester that, although I knew this day would come, I literally forgot until today many of the normal things I had to do to be ready - and many of the extras that were looming. So I'm in major panic mode, and my stomach is in knots. I'm not even yet planned to teach tomorrow, and it's about 8:00 in the evening right now.
The stress is evident in David too, and he doesn't typically feel or show stress too readily. Over the Christmas break he had been doing exercises for 4 hours a day. That in itself is half of a full time job. Although he hasn't said this, I sense that he too is going to have quite a task to find his way as to what the balance is going to be between continued work on his therapy exercises, medical appointments, his job, and home life. He has a very strong work ethic, so I'm sure he's going to want to be at work as much as he possibly can. It's also the case that the more he can gain in terms of returned functioning on his left side early on the better, so he needs to be diligent about those exercises. Balancing just those two things is going to be tough, I think, but there also needs to be enough time to have at least some "margin" to life and to be able to engage with each other as a family, a thing we are particularly aware of after nearly losing one of us.
Today when he got home from work both he and I went to the gym. It's important for both of us to get into that routine. He can do some of his therapy there, and his presence there will encourage me to go and be more healthy. By the time we got home getting dinner on the table ended up being a rather stressful event. (As I write these words I am overhearing him in another room saying in a frustrated voice, "That's about the 20th thing I've dropped today!" I don't know if he'd agree with me or not, but I think he's fatigued and trying to do too many things in the normal way. I think we could both learn from what one of my friends said to me last semester, "You're trying to live as if life is normal, but it isn't normal, so stop it." Both he and I have a hard time easing off and holding back, but we need to, and we'll have to figure out how that is going to happen in such a way that we can still feel at peace about ourselves on the inside given who we are.)
Tomorrow he has a PT appointment, his third at the new place. He was not as pleased with the second visit as he had been with the first, so we'll see what tomorrow holds and what decisions David might make about that.
It's hard to put into words exactly what I'm trying to say, because a lot of the above probably sounds like normal work and life stress, but there's something different about having our first "beginning of a semester" since David's stroke and figuring out what our pattern and routine are going to be. We're no longer in the crisis state we were in at the end of last semester, but we don't quite know yet what we can handle where we are now. I know this is just one of those bumps and that as we journey on we'll get past it and we'll find our balance point with all this. It's just pretty overwhelming right now. If you are someone who is praying for us, would you please pray for wisdom as we seek to make these decisions about time and priorities and balance, and would you pray for God's peace to be with us as we go through the process of getting to that point?