I've been doing a lot of spring cleaning now that my seizures are under control, getting rid of reminders that I was such a misfit as a special education teacher. The most painful ones are the papers in which I had to explain my medical absences to my principal and assistant principal.
Regardless of how I went about explaining myself, somehow I was always doing it "the wrong way." Even when I had an at-home EEG around Christmastime, with wires attached to my head for days, I had to constantly respond to emails regarding things I had done wrong or was doing wrong or would certainly do wrong upon my return to work, which of course must be ASAP.
I don't really need to save any of these papers because, as noted in an earlier post (Family Ties), what goes through email is in there forever. Any search for my own mistakes will surely lead to the ugly story underneath.
Finally, by February, I could no longer face the daily harassment nor what it was doing to my own family and to my students, the quiet ones who could not go home and tell their parents that something was very wrong in their classroom.
So my advice to anyone with "an invisible disability" such as mine, is to keep it to yourself unless you absolutely need to tell someone. Because if you happen to make a mistake, your enemies will hone in on your personal flaws the same way they do students without voices.
Yes, I went to lawyers for answers, especially after being fed all those lies my professors at the University of Virginia and my union representatives told me about the rights people with disabilities in school and in the workplace.
They don't exist.
The conclusion I came up with is pathetic, but here goes...The only way I could have kept my job as a public special education teacher would have been to fake a pregnancy. For some reason, the system still backs away when it comes to possibly harming the unborn.
Maybe it's afraid of doing prenatal damage that will create more misfits like myself and my former students to complicate things and lower test scores.
UVA blew its chance at winning the NCAA championship yesterday, but I couldn't care less. Here in my world, the sky is always Carolina blue. My team won last night, and it was in Chapel Hill that I learned how to really use my voice.
I graduated with honors and epilepsy from the University of North Carolina, something that's possible when your professors insist you follow the rules no matter what some misguided editor might tell you to do.
At UVA, I learned the rules but was told to listen to my principal first and keep my mouth shut if necessary to keep my job.
It feels so damn good to be a Tar Heel this morning!