Hello! And welcome to the next part of my story. In this section, we continue following my journey with autoimmune disease through my student teaching experience. Want to know how this story begins? Check out prior editions of my story below:
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We Made It to Student Teaching!!
Oh my goodness! On the first day that I walked into my assigned student teaching classroom, I was overjoyed and overcome with so many emotions. It had literally taken me 7 years to get here. SEVEN. Health problems may have tried to hold me back but I felt like I had won; I had finally won this battle with my body and had made it to the final stages of obtaining my teaching certification and education degree, the very degree I had to give up 3 years earlier because I couldn’t physically make it this far. I felt like I was on top of the world and was so ready to pour my heart and soul into my teaching experience. This was going to be the break I needed to get to where I wanted to go.
Or, so I thought…
Student teaching started just like any new semester. We passed out textbooks, explained processes and procedures, got used to following a bell schedule, and knew what was expected of us for the school year. We also dove straight into one of my favorite novels, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and I couldn’t have been any happier that I got to teach it. Just when I thought everything was going well, I started experiencing some female-related symptoms that I hadn’t experienced before. My gastrointestinal problems returned and I found that the more I stressed about my work, the harder it was for me to physically stand in front of my class of students.
One day, halfway through the school day, things really started to hurt. I felt extremely dizzy, sick, nauseous, and confused. To top it off, I was not on a monthly cycle and began experiencing severe hemorrhaging. What in the world was going on with me now? I already had recurring gastrointestinal problems that no one could really figure out. What else could possibly be going wrong with this body of mine? Well, by the end of that day, I had to drive myself to the Emergency Room and begin yet another journey with more health problems than I ever could have imagined.
The Start of Endometriosis
At the Emergency Room, medical professionals were confused as to why I was experiencing the symptoms I was. On the outside, I looked like a positive bill of health; but on the inside, my body was a hot mess. It felt like the more I tried to figure things out, the more diagnoses I acquired. In the Emergency Room, they tested me for conditions like endometriosis, ovarian cysts, adenomyosis, and other female-related diseases. They even checked to make sure I hadn’t randomly had a miscarriage of some kind. Even though I was married by now and my husband and I were planning on having children soon, we hadn’t been in the process of trying and I was still on birth control.
After many tests, an IV-full of fluid, and some medication to ease pain and nausea, they determined that I definitely was having symptoms of endometriosis and adenomyosis. I was discharged but was told to follow up with my gynecologist as soon as possible. When I saw my doctor, he immediately recommended we perform laparoscopic surgery and look for both conditions. If one or both of these conditions was causing the hemorrhaging issues I was experiencing, he was going to have to use a laser to treat any areas he found to calm things down.
It was at this point that I faced yet another dilemma. I was 1.5 months into my student teaching experience and now I faced laparoscopic surgery with a recommendation that I take a few weeks off to ‘rest and recover’ yet again. In most student teaching experiences, you have to complete your internship within one semester of starting. It was usually unheard of for students to have a break from their student teaching experience and there was not time after the semester was over to finish completing any time that had been missed.
So, here I was again. Half-way through my student teaching experience and faced with the fact that I could not finish. When I went to college the first time, I had switched into a general business degree for this exact reason. I feared that I would be unable to complete my student teaching internship because of the health problems I was experiencing. After 3 failed years in business due to ongoing health issues and procedures, I finally returned to school, hoping to just get through this final student teaching experience step I needed to complete the original degree I had wanted. And now, after fighting all this way, I was faced with more time off due to extensive health issues; time off that I didn’t have.
A Blessing in Disguise
At this point, I approached both the school I was student teaching at and the college I was attending. I explained my situation, the need for surgery, and the severity of my situation. Fortunately for me, both entities agreed to extend my fall semester and give me more time to complete my student teaching experience. What this meant was that I would take the month of October off from student teaching, have my surgery done while utilizing a few weeks off to ‘rest and recover’, and would then finish my fall semester in January instead of the usual end in December. If it was not for the flexibility and support from both places, I honestly would have had to drop out of my student teaching experience and probably would not have tried again. I mean, how many times can one try to achieve a goal before they give up from defeat especially when many of the roadblocks they are facing are not within their control?
So, just as quickly as I had started my student teaching experience, I took a break and had laparoscopic surgery. After surgery, my doctor informed my husband and I that we did not have much time to have our own children. I did, in fact, have endometriosis and adenomyosis and he had to laser off over 20 large spots that were considered to be more severe. At the current moment, these conditions had not started to affect the function of any female-related organs; however, he stated that we definitely did not have much time before it would. To be that severe at only 28 years of age was not a good sign. My husband and I now faced a decision on how quickly we would move forward with our hope of having at least one child of our own.
After 3-4 weeks of recovery, I finally was able to return to my student teaching experience and honestly did feel quite a bit better. I still had a little bit of pain but overall, the hemorrhaging had stopped and I was back to normal monthly cycles. Everything seemed to be going well and my husband and I decided that we would start trying for kids as soon as possible. The longer we waited, the less of a chance we had to have our own, so we did not waste any time. When I returned for my 3-month check-up from the laparoscopic surgery I had, the doctor determined that I was, in fact, 3 weeks pregnant. Even though I was now considered high-risk and we had a long way to go before we could feel ‘safe’ about our little ‘mini’ making it full term, we were very excited.
And finally, in January, I finished my student teaching experience and was FINALLY able to apply for my state’s teaching certification. Not only that, but I was already set up as a substitute teacher for my local Educational Service Center so I could get to work right away. For once, my health problems did deter my original plans of completing my certification in December; however, they did not deter me from persevering through the pain, through the surgery, through being flexible, and through accommodations to make it work.
I had done it!
And to top it off, this health crisis led us to a pregnancy that may not have been possible without it. Through most of these experiences, I have always tried to look at things positively. I’ve always felt that if you lose positively in these situations, you basically lose your life. No one deserves to go through life so depressed and miserable that they can not make accommodations for themselves and still experience all of life’s wonders. Even though health problems and especially things like autoimmune disease and chronic illness can be very difficult to manage, it is always better to stay positive and think about what you CAN DO instead of what you can’t.
As you are reading, please do remember that I am not a medical professional, nurse, health coach, or any other health professional of any kind. I am a patient with years of experience with autoimmune disease and will be sharing information and resources from a patient’s perspective; however, please do keep in mind that anything that I share here should not replace any medical advice you should receive from a doctor or other medical professional. Please consult with your doctor before changing anything in your routine or care. You can read more about this here.