I have shingles. Again. Almost exactly a year after the last time I had them, for the first time.
What causes shingles? The chicken pox virus living in your adult body, just waiting to, come back out and run amok and cause nerve pain and generalized awfulness.
What triggers it to come sneaking out on your skin, on one side of your body, usually in the MOST PAINFUL PLACES EVER, which for women is anywhere your bra touches (and it can go on your face, which is super dangerous near your eyes, but thankfully I just get bra shingles)?
STRESS. Lots and lots of stress.
I am struggling to stay on top of things. Probably because I've piled up a mountain of things I need to stay on top of. I am bad at saying no. I actually have said no to a whole bunch of stuff, but I made a list and the things I am still yessing are...many.
This school year is complicated and challenging, as every school year has been it seems, but the extra layer of COVID and students whose last normal school year was 3 years ago adds to it. My 8th graders haven't had a normal Sept-June school year since 5th grade. Which means there's a lot of teaching about how to do school and how to interact with other humans in acceptable ways. Which is not too far from the normal 8th grade experience, but this year it is particularly exhausting. Other teachers I have talked to have said, "It seems a bad sign that we are in October and feels like the bone tiredness of March."
I have a caseload with a lot of social-emotional needs, a lot of kids who ask for help in the least appealing ways, who speak through behavior, who have many more needs than just academic. I will confess I wanted a number of these students because I enjoy working with "tough kids." And while I don't take the hard parts personally, it is exhausting to stay patient and firm but kind but holding kids accountable all day long. And then to manage the lead teacher pieces with my department, which I really enjoy but there have been a number of Union issues and things that are frustrating about communication from district level, and needing to do more things with fewer resources, and I am the person to come to who then goes to the higher up people with proposals. I really like advocating, for students and teachers alike, but again... it's exhausting.
And then there's the tiny piece that came out while crying to my therapist about my shingles and my exhaustion -- I feel like I HAVE to do more because I CAN do more, because. . . I don't have kids. That somehow it's an unspoken responsibility that I have to take up time and do as much as possible since there's no small humans depending on me at home. I've been going home late every day, because Bryce works late and has his PhD work, and so if we eat dinner at 7 or 8 that's fine, but I have soooo little down time. Which I am not saying to be like, "oooooh, look at me, I'm just so BUSY!" like a badge of honor...I'm legitimately upset about it and need to make a change.
My therapist actually said that when she was raising her daughter, she was an excuse to not do more -- that of course she wanted to spend time with her and mother her but also she could be like, "NO, I'm not staying later because I have to pick my daughter up/take her to dance class/help with her homework/whatever parent-y thing." It helped her set boundaries. And granted, then she had this other responsibility at home to take care of, but she was like, "That was my home time. That was enjoyable for the most part." She was like, "just because you don't have kids doesn't mean you have to take on more because you have that time, you can do other things with that time. You can take care of yourself with that time. You need to let some shit go. You need to maybe adjust your expectations of what you should be doing, because it's literally showing up in your body."
You would think I would learn this lesson. I'm smacked in the head with it way too many times.
So today I left at 3:45, a rarity for me, but mostly because I had my image review/ordering session for my boudoir shoot. And that was awesome -- I had to pare down 100 images to 20 (I was between two packages, one with 30 and one with 20). I decided to go with the cheaper package at 20 images and a smaller book, but then add in a travel kit (7 wallet sized photos with envelopes) and a wall piece (I did a triptych). It was a good boost to see all the amazing photos and pick out what I wanted for each element. I cannot WAIT to have everything in hand to give Bryce.
I'm also super grateful the shingles chose to erupt AFTER the shoot, because that would have been awful. For the actual rash, and also because I'm on a boatload of medications including my nemesis, Prednisone, therefore I feel insanely gross and not sexy at all. Which sucks because our legal anniversary is Saturday... so we rescheduled our fancy dinner out for Saturday the 30th. Bryce will cook this weekend and I will hopefully feel better, not worse. I caught the shingles faster than last time (it only took me two days to realize that I didn't have an invisible spider biting me in a linear fashion on only one side of my torso, that it was indeed shingles again), and so I got to the doctor WAY FASTER. Which means I'm on the heavy drug cocktail faster, which hopefully prevents the level of pain I had last year. So far it's not fun, but it's not excruciating. I hope it doesn't get to that level.
So, my mission in the next few days is to figure out what I can do to lessen my load and do...less. Without feeling guilty, without feeling like I'm letting myself and everyone else down. I have to, or I'm going to get the shingles every damn year until I can get the vaccine at 50.