Tagged ‘Chronic Illness’

Planning vs. Not Planning

As I write, my partner is most of the way across the country helping care for her mother, who is gravely ill; a week ago someone from hospice said she had a week or two to live.  My partner’s daughter is due at college in a week.  My classes start in two weeks, and the Jewish holidays are very early this year; I will miss the first day of one of my classes no matter what.

Let’s go with understatement and say that this is not a typical way to start a semester.


MOOCs and Bodies

Note:  I have many more ideas for writings about education than I actually ever complete or share, due to my inclination to make everything part of a bigger and bigger picture, as well as my perfectionism.  I am experimenting in the next three weeks with writing a post every weekday in less than an hour to force myself to put ideas out there, learn to write smaller things, and to see if I like this medium.   Friendly feedback (including disagreement) is welcome and appreciated.


This summer I signed up for two MOOCs – “Massive Open Online Courses.”  I signed up partly out of curiosity and partly out of fear: curious to see what this purported revolution in education was like up close and hopeful that I might get some ideas for using online resources in my own courses, but also afraid of a vision where one superstar “teaches” 100,000 students at once online, and a whole lot of other folks lose their jobs.


Responsible People Don’t Get Sick

When someone shares a syllabus with me, it’s usually to show me the course content, not the attendance policy, but these days I also think about the message the syllabus sends to students with chronic illnesses or medical crises.

That message is often, “Responsible people don’t get sick.”

When the syllabus says 100% attendance is expected or that after X absences students should drop the class, I ask instructors what happens when students have chronic illness or medical crises, and most make exceptions on a case-by-case basis.   They deal with such students compassionately and reasonably, but not according to what the syllabus says.


No Sitting, Minimal Bending, Mostly Bed Rest: How I Coped

Last year I had surgery that resulted in unfortunately placed stitches; in order to avoid tearing them, I couldn’t sit or bend at the waist (and for the first two weeks, I couldn’t shower and had to minimize standing and walking). The initial time frame for my recovery was four to six weeks, but for reasons that are not well understood (but are likely related to my autoimmune disorder and years of being sick), my healing was very slow, and I ended up being mostly on bed rest for three months, with another two months of transition time before I was ready to go back to living alone.


Teaching with a Chronic Illness

Last semester, I taught my first two classes wearing sunglasses and a baseball hat tilted to cover half my face, with the lights turned off. The students thought I looked cool. Read more >>

A Few Practical Strategies that Helped me Teach with a Chronic Illness

Note: This is the second post in my series on teaching with a chronic illness. Here is the introduction to the series.

When you have a chronic illness and a job, by definition you work when you are sick. Before I went on medical leave, I struggled every day to balance my desire to take care of myself with my desire to keep my job and do it well. Sometimes the balance felt impossible, and eventually it became so, but along the way I found some strategies that genuinely helped. I share some of them below.