Yesterday I went to the neurologist after two long weeks of visits to different doctors. I had an EKG, an EEG, some inner-ear/balance test, blood tests, an echocardiogram, that thing where they put stickers on your chest and make you run on the treadmill, and an MRI. All of this to determine what was causing my adrenaline rushes, chest pains, headaches, and vertigo. The MRI found a larger than average cyst on my Pineal gland, which, if you didn't know, is pretty much right in the center of your brain. But the neurologist, who was pretty much my last stop in my tour of Upper East Side specialists, told me confidently that my symptoms had nothing to do with anything but stress.
"Are you sure? I don't feel stressed out? Isn't there some surgery you could do and make this all go away?"
"Nope," he said. "What you need is a vacation and a girlfriend."
I guess I wasn't being totally honest. I do feel a little stressed out, but not stressed out to the degree that I would expect to be having such serious physical conditions (the kind that are beginning to seriously interfere with my life). But I've always been at least a little stressed. Who doesn't have some stress? Yes - I try to do too much, but that's been the case for the last ten years of my life, and I've never had these symptoms before.
If this is stress, it makes me wonder what's going on in my subconscious. As I was leaving the neurologist yesterday, I began laughing, a little at first, and within about a minute, I was cracking up. An overwhelming sense of joy came over me. In the moment, I couldn't explain it. Why the hell am I laughing? And then it hit me: this must be a manifestation of the relief I'm feeling after finding out that I'm not due for an aneurysm (which I seriously, in the middle of some crazy anxiety attack I had a week ago, thought I might have). And if I wasn't cognizant of how relieved I was when the doctor told me all of this was just stress, and I've been equally as unaware of the amount of stress I'm apparently under, I'm starting wonder what the hell is going on in my head that I don't know about.
WHO AM I?
The symptoms I have seem to increase as the week goes on, and taper off over the weekend. When they started, I attributed it to lack of sleep during the week, which I suppose is still probably a factor. But I'm beginning to wonder how much stress I actually accrue at work, and where that stress comes from.
I'm quite sure the stress does not come from the act of teaching. Teaching is usually the time of the day I enjoy most. I'm not one of those teachers who dreads going to school for fear of the kids or the administration. I work with competent administrators, and I don't think I have any kids this year who I'd call malicious, which is about the only kind of student that gets under my skin.
So what's the problem?
I think I think too much. My AP has told me at least a few times that the system is only messed up if you think about it. If you just do what you're supposed to do, and live in the moment, this job is a whole lot easier. But if you devote your time to thinking about it and analyzing the stuff that goes on not only in the New York City Department of Education, but nationwide, it can really rack your brain.
Just this morning, my principal informed me that there will be no more Regents exams in January in New York State and that up to forty percent of a teacher's evaluation will soon be made up of student test scores.
Just three questions: Will this apply for high school students taking Regents tests? Does anyone except for teachers know that teachers grade their own students' Regents tests? And lastly, and most importantly, doesn't anyone else understand how stupid this is?
I better stop writing. I think I'm about to have aneurysm.