Calling all teachers

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by ArtTeacher, Jan 1, 2003.

  1. ArtTeacher

    ArtTeacher New Member

    I was curious about how many teachers are suffering from CFS or FMS. I'm 26, I teach Art Education K-8 in New Jersey. This is my third year and I'm up for tenure in Oct. 2003. I was dx in August 2002. The only person from the school who knows is a parent whose mother has CFS/FMS. I met her mother at a support group meeting at a nearby hospital. When I see the parent she wispers to me asking how I feel. That makes me feel good. I'm afraid to tell anyone at school. I listen to the other teachers talking about how tired they are... I agree with them but I can't go on talking about the constant pain and FATIGUE that I suffer from. Before I was dx my mom (who also has CFS/FMS) would constanly ask about graduate school. I couldn't understand how these other teachers can teach all day and go to a graduate class or two. If I was "normal" they must be super teachers. I usually stay at school until 5:00 or 6:00 because I of course have work to do but also I wouldn't have the energy to drive home. I would fight myself to stay awake. I would rest or take a nap and then leave work.
    Teaching is physically, emotionally and mentally draining for the healthiest teacher. But is is very rewarding. I love my job and wouldn't trade it for the world.
    I'm wondering how other teachers are coping. Expecially since we have a job which from the outsider looking in it's a 9am - 3pm day with weekends,holidays, and summers off. But from the person who gives their heart to children everyday, comes in early, stays late, takes home work for the night and weekends we know our job is just as important as the president's.
    If anything, this dx shows that in a teacher's life, students come first.
  2. greyhoundlady

    greyhoundlady New Member

    I taught nursing for many years. I have problems other than FMS and it was the combo that made me retire with disability. I can commiserate with you. I didn't think I would make it through the day, but I did. Often I would lie down during my 10 minute break or after school. That was the only way I could continue. I did find COQ 10 and L-carnitor were essential to boost my limited energy level. It is difficult to find people that understnd these invisible diseases. My nursing colleagues had no clue! No matter what I said, the majority just shook their heads.finding someone who does understand is important. At least you have that parent.It is close to impossible to pace yourself as a teacher,but you have to try. You probably are already.... Good luck, Greyhoundlady
  3. SusanNH

    SusanNH New Member

    Hi Art Teacher,

    I understand completely where you are coming from. I have FMS and some days, I wonder how I will even get myself dressed to go to school.
    I know that I am in a wonderful school because I have tremendous support with the other teachers. There are several who have FMS.
    My question to you is, why don't you share with maybe the school nurse and ask her how to go about informing and educating the other teachers.
    At my school, we are like family, we look out for each other.
    I wish you well and if I can be of any help, please feel free to contact me. I would be happy to share my home email address with you if you would like, just let me know.
  4. coyote

    coyote New Member

    I am still new to this board, but I have been wondering the same thing. I am a teacher also, and posted a message regarding this to Pearl's topic "Fibromyalgia and work".
    I know of only one other person at work who has fibro, she is an Sped Aide.
    It is a demanding job. You have to be "On" all the time.
    Interesting question.
    I wonder if other people think there is a correlation between their field of work and fibro.
    I know that we work in some very sick buildings. One of them had to be knocked down and rebuilt because of mold and asbestos pollution in the air.
    All the other buildings are pretty old, too, and were built in the asbestos era, except for two elementary schools which were built in the early 1900's. They both have their share of mold.
    A student at the Middle School had to be hospitalized because of mold growing in her lungs. She cannot return to school.
    Is there a relationship between these sick buildings and fibromyalgia?
    What do people think?
  5. teach6

    teach6 New Member

    It's really the only career I ever had. I taught preschool when my own children were young because the part-time hours allowed me to be home more with them, especially since my then husband worked late hours and traveled often.

    When I finally began working full-time I quickly noticed how tired I was by the end of the day. When I arrived home I had to have a few minutes just to sit and rest before even thinking about fixing dinner, or anything else for that matter. In fact for three years I taught at a school that was 13 miles and at least 30 minutes from my home. Many afternoons I battled falling asleep on the long trip home.

    I found that I preferred to take classes during the summers so I wasn't so worn out from teaching and trying to study. For years I was dealing with symptoms of gradual onset CFS and unaware of it. The last class I took for renewal of my teaching certificate was by far the most difficult I have ever taken. I now realize that it was because I was having cognitive problems when I was taking it. Before school had always been easy for me, but I could not understand how this one class could be so difficult.

    When I would talk about being tired after school other teachers would comment, "We all feel that way at this time of year." Many days I remember going into a good friend's classroom and lying down on her students' desks to rest. That was probably one of my early attempts to deal with NMH.

    When I was finally dx'd I realized I had been using lots of coping tools for years, I just didn't realize it. I had a stool in front of my room so I could sit and still see my students while I taught. When moving about the classroom to work with children I instinctively pulled up a chair to sit next to them. On the playground I frequently sat on a bench while watching the children at recess.

    Even when I had a dx and was no longer at the school I still had little understanding from the other teachers. One actually told me how angry she was with me for being ill. The real reason for her anger was because she was having to work more than she had in years and she didn't like that.

    Now I hear she is really having a bad year, my first year comletely out of the classroom. One teacher told me she suggested that this woman might want to think about transfering to another school. She should have done it long ago, but she had it too easy where she was, so why leave?

    I never I thought I would leave my job before being elegible for retirement. Now I have no choice, even though the road to disability retirement has not been an easy one for me yet. You are lucky you are still able to teach. I no longer have the stamina to do it. So I am finding other ways to teach that are not as wearing on my body. However they are mostly as a volunteer, so the pay is even worse than teaching! LOL

  6. pearls

    pearls New Member

    As a veteran teacher I must - MUST - caution you about your zeal to put your students first! Teachers as a group are selfless, but we get into a lot of trouble because of it. If you are suffering with fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome you will not be there for long to help those children unless you put YOURSELF first. If you can do that, then more children will be able to benefit from your teaching.

    I've been teaching since 1976 and think I was experiencing symptoms of FMS/CFS for some years before I came down with illness that never went away on Feb. 6, 2001 (I got how long I've had this mixed up in an earlier message to this board - sorry about that.) I used to be a music teacher, K-12 and had an unrelated problem - vocal nodules - that eventually led to my getting another credential for the self-contained elementary classroom. While I was spending some years undergoing therapy for my recurring vocal nodules, one thing my therapist stressed was the need to take care of my health problems first so I'd be able to take care of my job. He was right.

    In my school district of about 2000 students, K-12, a teacher and a school secretary have retired because of fibromyalgia and another teacher recently told me she had it, too. Another teacher in my school has informed me she has chronic fatigue syndrome. One of my doctors has commented that "Even the male teachers are complaining of health problems related to their school work," and another asked me, "What's going on in the schools?!" In California, at least, the pressure on elementary teachers has been horrendous.

    I would retire now, except that income for the rest of my life will be much better if I can hold on.
  7. pearls

    pearls New Member

    Arrteacher, I just thought you'd like to know there are more teachers who posted at "Fibromyalgia and Work," about two posts away from yours. They include Annl, Annette2, and LisaMay.

  8. Kim

    Kim New Member

    I teach accounting at a college in Florida. If I were in public schools I would have had to quit a long time ago. As it is I struggle by semester to semester. I only have to be on campus around 20 hours a week because I do two classes online. I was going fine until October when I started getting dizziness and it wasn't a vestibular problem. The neuros can't figure it out and one suspects the possibility of brain damage. Like the fibro-fog isn't enough!

    I'm at a point where I don't know where the depression begins and where the FM and CFS takes's all a blur.

    The one thing I do know is that those of you who teach in public schools have the hardest job in the world! God bless you for what you do. I get them after you've taught them the hard stuff!