Thoracic Outlet Support

If  you would like to join a support group on Thoracic Outlet please check out…

It’s a very positive, warm, intellectual environment for people suffering with TOS.

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Past Month…

I’ve been on sick leave for the past month and it has it’s ups and downs.  It’s a mental and emotional thing that I need to over come.  The past month has been a work in progress and I don’t know how I ever worked over the past few years.  I have been attending many doctors appointments to receive help but that is getting frustrating.  No answers…lots of tests…constant pain, is not a way to live my life.  It’s hard to write this blog as I use one hand to type.

I currently hold the final papers that will be sent to disability.  My wife and I will work together to add a concise statement about my health and job before the papers are sent off to the government.  I hope they truly see the nature of my disability and how I do have a love of work and education…but at this time it is not possible for me to teach or work. Just last night I slept for about 2-3 hours and finally stopped trying at 4am.  Each day is different but most days are down.  I’m try not to tell my wife when I’m in pain, nauseous, dizzy, have a headache, tired, migraine, and sick.  I’m sorry that she must hear that all the time from morning, noon and night.  I hope disability can see the empathy I need at this time.  My plan, of course, is to get better…but I need help from my government at this time.  I pray for help.

I’m doing PT at this time and it’s not doing much but causing flares and migraines… I hope she can get it worked out for a positive experience.  But as my TOS doctor said…your condition is too complex.  It’s very tough to live with such a disability.

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Sick Leave

The last time I was on sick leave I missed teaching my students very much.  I visited my school whenever I received a chance to see the kids.  But that has changed this time.  With my health concerns I am slowly coming to terms that I have a disability and that I may not be able to return to work for some time.  That time maybe months, years or possibly never and it is very hard to go through the thoughts and feelings that come with that.  I’ve spent 11 years of my life dedicated to the education of my students.  My wife said, that maybe I spent too much energy during that time. 

Recently I visited my school and students for about 30 minutes.  The kiddos were roller skating and having so much fun.  The teachers and subs were doing a great job without me.  Those 30 minutes were very important to me.  Was I going yearn to come back to work, miss my students, hate my health, and despise my condition?  I felt none of that…I felt at peace about my decison to take sick leave.  I feel at peace of possibly not returning due to more sick leave a leave of absence or having a disability. 

It was an important step as I wasn’t sure how I would feel but I’m happy to say that I am at peace and look forward to what the future holds.  It’s not easy to have your world turned upside down, especially when you look “normal”.  To have a doctor tell you that your pain is too complex to fix is difficult to understand but I’m at peace with teaching which was a difficult step for me.  However, I now understand my health is more important than working.    

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First Day Back

Today was my first day back to work since December 23 because of Winter Break.  I do have the paperwork to take off work and am in the midst of changing pain management doctors and medication.  Taking time off in Jamaica was outstanding for my health and marriage.  It also gave me the push to get through Winter Break.  It was difficult to get back to work today.  Thoughts of calling in sick swirled around my mind at 1:00 am, 4:30 am, 5:30 am and 7:00 am.  However I didn’t want to call in sick and extend my vacation.  I also feel bad for the other physical education teacher when I am not there because we team teach and are responsible for 45+ students.  

At this point, I am angry at my thoracic outlet syndrome and my chronic pain, however, I’m learning I can’t change that.  So the next thing I’m upset about is my job.  Don’t get me wrong…I love my job!!!  However, it’s the constant pain and exhaustion that my job is absorbing.  By mid-week, I am beyond tired and wish each day was Friday.  It was my trip to Jamaica that showed me that if I don’t work, then I have time for my wife and my life.  If I couldn’t sleep at night, then I slept in the next morning.  I could pace myself throughout the day to have energy for a nice dinner with my wife.  I had energy to talk, to laugh and to love.  Unfortunately that didn’t happen much over winter break as Tanya was sick with a flu or a bad cold.  

I guess my plan at this time is to make it through the school year as far as I can push it.  In a perfect world, I would have stopped working after break but we don’t live in a perfect world.  Money affects too many of our decisions and these decisions are just to pay the bills.  I’ll try to go as long as possible, and thankfully I have few different ways to navigate the future.  For instance, we can move to Tanya’s home area…Erie, PA.  

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Thoracic Outlet Syndrome Picture


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Blogging for me…

After finishing my Master’s degree in Educational Leadership (to be school principal) I found this love to write.  I’ve kept journals next to my chair to write down things that I’ve been thinking.  I have an issue of overthinking problems so I learned that I like to write them down.  My educational courses refined my writing skills which I still think aren’t that great but I do get so complaiments about my writing.  It is amazement to my parents on how well my skills have developed over time.  There was always the running joke that I could barely read “Cat and the Hat” in high school.

I digress which will often happen as I blog.  I’m not sure where blogging will take me and I have to find out what I want to write about.  There are thousands of ideas spinning around my head.  I want to focus on my journey with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome but know that I can’t write much as my left hand is affected by pain.  I’m glad to find that I can save a draft of my writings to come back too.  This is a learning experience which I don’t know where it may lead.  How much do I write, how much do I say, what is interesting, what is helpful? When I get tired do I post my blog and edit later? or do I save as a draft and post later?  How much of my personal thoughts do I want to share with the world?  How do I make this blog more accessible to others?  I guess we will learn together over time.

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Why such a turn around in thinking?

As a teacher I am refreshed by a 2 month vacation every summer, though I believe year round schooling would be the best for student learning.  However, I digress, a 2 month holiday is always an important time as an educator to re-energize, re-boot, and educate ourselves to be better teachers.  We should learn about the importance of such important time off from our European brothers.   I did use my daily summer time to travel, heal, and adjust to medication.  As August 15, 2011 quickly came along I knew that I would have to atleast try to go back to school and teach.  I mean, how can I leave my students, live without my paycheck, lose the P.E. program that I helped develop over 11 years, be unemployed.  But I returned, excited, nervous, with overwheleming thoughts of what if I have to quit.  What if I start and can’t make it through?  It was a good start.  The best thing about my job is my students, their hugs, love, and excitement for P.E get’s me through the day.  I have definitely focused more this year on forming relationships with children and I notice it with the amount of hugs I receive each day.  The children fuel my energy for the day, unfortunately for sometime, that energy has been waning.  The majority of the feelings I have today probably began to start around mid-October.  Currently I’m severely exhausted, depressed, unhappy, irritable, have severe debilitating pain, and migraines.  During the past 3-4 weeks I have noticed that once Wednesday comes around, I am exhausted and I wish it was Friday.  It’s an extreme struggle to get to work and I would rather close my eyes for 5 more minutes then to get up to take a shower.  This struggle shouldn’t really come as surprise as to change my clothes for church is exhausting, taking my clothes off for the hot tub is exhausting, sex is exhausting and painful.

So I’ve noticed a pattern, I continue to wish for Friday and once the weekend arrives I crash.  I sleep for hours upon hours. Forexample, Saturday, December 3rd I sleep a normal evening until 1:30pm then Sunday night I feel asleep at a normal hour and woke up at 3:30.  This is pure chronic pain, depression and exhaustion.  I just can’t explain why I can’t sleep during the work week.  I sleep 45min or so at a time during the work week and often only receive 3-4 hrs of sleep.

After 3-4 weeks of this behavior of pushing myself to work, praying for Friday to arrive, crashing on weekends, and feeling completely exhausted.  I have decided I must stop working and I’m not turning back!  I have pushed myself like superman, swallowing 15+ pills a day to survive, becoming resentful of work because it is sucking the life from me and my health.  I have no relationship with my wife, my dogs, or any other person in the world.  My recliner is my friend, table, bed, and safe zone.  So Tanya asked, “Why such a fast turn around in thinking?”  It hasn’t been a quick turn around it’s my lack of communication that seemed like it was a quick change.  We will go day by day and will be in Jamaica on December 10th which will help but I can’t see myself going much further than after Winter Break.

Tanya spoke with a lawyer today and he said we should get the ball rolling with disibility through Virginia and SSI but to really rely on the schools Human Resource Department.  I feel this is the right thing….only time will tell.

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