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  • Writer's pictureA.K. Lee

Change of Heart

I quit teaching again.

To be honest, I had some concerns stepping back into the world of education after three years of COVID-19. I wondered if I still had any classroom management skills, if I could keep up with a new subject and a different school, if I had any interest left in instructing learners.

It turns out that I was still good with teenagers, at least the students in my class, who were happy to discuss their progress with me and didn't mind my nagging. I was generally able to follow the new subject's scheme of work and my new colleagues were friendly and helpful. Some of my passion for teaching returned; I was happy with the challenge and that I could exercise my curiosity and guide others again.

But I caught COVID for the first time in March from my husband despite my best efforts. Two months after that, regardless of how I feel about teaching, I knew I had to stop. The inflammation in the tendons and joints of my right arm that took me out of full-time teaching nine years ago returned, thankfully not with a vengeance, but annoyingly frequent enough to keep me from having adequate rest and taking away my focus. I was popping painkillers every 2-3 days and I could not function at full capacity when I am on painkillers. With the sinking feeling that I wouldn't be able to recover sufficiently to tackle the much more stressful second semester, I handed in my notice. My department heads were very understanding and I was still holding a little bit of hope that I could go back to teaching after June if I were able to recuperate fully.

Ha! Fat chance.

At first there were glimmers of hope. The joint pain tapered off to me needing painkillers every 4-5 days; the days when I didn't take a pill were not because I felt no pain, but because the pain was tolerably low and I could stop whenever I had to.

I figured it was as good as it was going to be, and then I was struck by...

The Vampire Cough.

(Thunder and lightning, bats, evil cackling, you know the drill.)

The Vampire Cough, as I've since dubbed it, is a persistent bugger of a virus. It's not COVID (I've done three tests, three days apart), so that is one small mercy. However, it is extremely annoying. The symptoms are worse at night, and especially so when I lie down; I cough, I wheeze, my nose runs like an open tap, and I am incredibly sensitive to the sun and hot weather. (I sweat at least twice as much as I used to before the cough.)

At first I relied on OTC medications: Zyrtec, Clarityn, Panadol, Woods Cough Syrup... They worked, and then like Lucy Westenra, I start to feel worse after a few nights. Then I went to the doctor, who prescribed cough syrup and lozenges because there was no irritation in my throat nor wheezing in my lungs when she examined me. Again, I was fine, and the symptoms worsened. I went to see a different doctor who put me on antibiotics, a different cough syrup, and a pill to stop my nasal drip. So far so good, except my cough has got me up at 3am trying to force my lungs out through my mouth.

I'm about to try holy water and garlic soon if this course of antibiotics doesn't work. Anyone knows where I can find the Pope?

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