Wait, what now?

On Wednesday, August 12, I went back to work. I was not ready but I went. I felt crappy on and off for much of the day, and was so happy to get back home and into bed at the end of my shift, which thankfully was only 7 hours long.

The pain had hit me around 10:30am, and I popped 600mg of ibuprofen. An hour later, on my lunch break, I took 200mg more of ibuprofen. I was super tired both from the pain and from the ibuprofen.
After my break, I had to return to the classroom and help put the children down for naptime. This entails sitting on a hard floor and rubbing two backs at a time.

Sitting on a hard floor for me has always been difficult because I have scoliosis and a tilted uterus. Sitting upright with correct posture, whether legs are folded or stretched out before me, produces moderate to sometimes severe low back pain after just a few minutes.

I whimpered several times while having to rub backs for naptime. On top of that, we had an especially unruly child who refused to nap and insisted on trying to wake up the other children. I was seriously unhappy with him.

So that was Wednesday. When I got home, I took Tylenol 3 and stayed in bed the rest of the day.

On Thursday, I felt much better and went to work.

I was teaching in the outdoor classroom around 10:15am when I felt a bit of thick warmth hit my underwear. I was wearing a panty liner so I thought nothing of it. Sometimes at the end of one’s cycle, there is a little bit of mucus-like substance. Nothing to worry about.
Once outdoor classroom time was over with, I sent the children in to wash their hands and I cleaned up and put things away. I then joined the rest of the class to help supervise the children during a lesson presented by the head teacher.
During presentation, I left the group to check on a boy who was sitting in the time out chair for disrupting the class. As I walked over to him, I was suddenly gripped with a knifing pain on my left side, which took me down. I literally doubled over and had to sit down and breathe.
I began drip sweating. My face went red and my body felt like it was overheating. The pain was of a stabbing nature, centered on the right side (ovarian area). I held my abdomen and tried to breathe. The pain moved into the pelvic/uterine region.
I got up and went to the bathroom, thinking I might vomit. I checked myself and found that the bleeding had returned. I assumed my body was trying to pass the last of the menstrual cycle, which by this time had likely clotted up inside of me, hence the severe pain, because it had to pass through my cervix first.
Ugh.

I took 600mg ibuprofen and went back to class. Two assistant teachers approached me separately and urged me to go home.
Once the teacher finished her presentation to the class, I asked if I could go home. She told me without a doubt, yes, it was totally okay to leave.

I went to the office and told the secretary what was going on with me. She told me that lunch duty would be short one person and they needed me to stay. I told her that this time frame was my normal lunch hour this week, that I would be on break anyway, and I just wanted to go home. She told me again that lunch duty was short staffed and they needed me to stay if I could.

I went back to my head teacher and told her I was not allowed to leave. She was incredulous. I told her that sitting on the hard floor rubbing backs would be too much on me with the pain I was in.
My co-worker, a fellow assistant teacher, asked if I’d like to work the lunch hour duty and go home after that. She said SHE could take my lunch break now and I would not have to rub backs, she would do it.

In my mind at the time, it made sense. I was too nauseated to eat or sit down, so giving up my break seemed logical.
I needed to either lay down or stand up. I should have said I would take my lunch break and lay on the couch in the break room, and then go back at 12:15pm when I normally return off break this week, and go to the playground instead of rubbing children’s backs for naptime. But no, I let this assistant direct me and push me to what she wanted. I know she is self-serving at every opportunity, but in my moment of severe pain, I could not think straight. I was a bit too frayed to lay down in a high traffic area anyway – I didn’t want to be looked at or commented on continuously by everyone else in the break room.

So I went outside instead of going in to lay down.
I told the teachers outside that I would be of very little help to them, but that I was told I could not leave. I stayed standing and tried not to bend over at all, because it hurt too much.
Within a few minutes of being outside though, I had to take half a Tylenol 3 to help quell the pain.

I was out there for lunch duty for an hour. I was supposed to be there for an hour and a half but after one hour, I could take no more. I simply told the other assistant teachers goodbye, went to the office, signed myself out and went home.

Once home, I took a full Tylenol 3 and spent the rest of the day in bed. As I lay there, I began to stew over how I had handled the situation at work, and how I’d let my co-worker passively-aggressively bully me like that. I got pretty mad about it, actually, so when I returned to work on Friday, I had a talk with my head teacher and with the secretary. I did not address the offending co-worker at all. My head teacher confirmed that yes, the fellow assistant can be pretty pushy, but the only thing to do is stand up to her. Of course, yes, I need to work on that.
The secretary said she had no idea I was in that level of pain, because when she said, “stay if you can” and I agreed to stay, she thought that was a logical conversation. Whereas I, in the brain-fogged debilitating state of pain I was in, took it as a guilt-induced directive to stay on. She said she had not meant it that way at all. We talked about how to better handle the situation next time. I told her when in that much pain, I’m a very poor advocate for myself, and I need to learn how to get better. She told me to just give her a rating on a scale of 1-10 next time of the pain I am in. I thought about it for a moment. On Thursday, my pain level had easily been a 8 or 8.5 out of 10. She said anything above a 5 and she’d have sent me home on the spot. So we agreed to use the pain scale next time.

Friday was much easier – there were fewer children and I was not in a lot of pain, though I was still fatigued. The fatigue has lasted through to today – Sunday. I’m waiting to feel strong again. Hopefully by tomorrow.

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