Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Memory? What memory?

Last year at work was crazy busy with IEPs. I lost count of how many I wrote and hosted. I know that covering my 12 IEPs and 2/3 of the 30-40 speech IEPs kept me in IEPs at least once and often twice a week. I'm the special ed. teacher and I write the IEPs (Individual Education Plan). (This is an important statement.)

A student moved away-to another school in district and is now back. I remember sending off his file with notes on assessment and, "he needs an IEP asap, so sorry, family moved."

I have been waiting, waiting, waiting for a copy of the IEP since he re-enrolled at my school. Finally it shows up in our computer IEP data files program. I'm reading it thinking that I can easily implement this IEP. I wonder who wrote it and why am I not familiar with whoever thinks like me?

Then I check the multipurpose and notes pages. I always put "meeting minutes" type notes on the "notes" page and a summary of assessments plus an expanded write of up present levels of performance on the multipurpose page. So, I think other people might do the same. No notes, ok, no problem, some IEPs are straightforward. Multipurpose page? Yep, oodles of notes. Mine. Assessment data, present levels, yep-all here. (Important statement from above, "I write the IEPs"-one might think I remember them.)

I only have the vaguest of memories of this IEP. Certain things are familiar but that I wrote an entire IEP and we held a meeting and signed paperwork is gone from my head. Five weeks after Mom died I had held the annual meeting for this student.

It's a bit crazy feeling to not remember. I keep telling myself it was the grief and the stress I was under last year. It's normal, it's normal, it's normal. Still feels freaky.

As far as I can tell other goofy, freaky, or weird grief and stress effects include this and probably other memory gaps, having difficulty with forward planning, the oddest lack of a sense of time, and losing things. I've been loose with time management for a lot of my working life but I always get done what needs to get done. Now I'm fighting to make sure I get done what needs to get done, scheduling it, and documenting what I'm doing.

I've always misplaced things but could normally find them. Just in the last 24 hours I've printed two sets of papers for different groups of children and can't find them. And the lack of a sense time passing? Never has been me. I've always been punctual. I've always known about how much time has gone by. I've always know what day it is and what day of the week it is. Don't always know the date. Now? Um, no.

Wednesday evening is choir. Wednesday evening has been choir for about 15 years. Two Wednesday's ago I knew it was Wednesday but it felt like Tuesday. (don't even ask what Tuesday feels like) I knew I had to go to choir but I also knew it was Tuesday. So, I got in my car and went to choir. As I pulled into the parking lot the right amount of cars were there but they looked wrong. I almost turned around and went home but decided to go in just in case half of my brain was right.

Sure enough, it was Wednesday and we did have rehearsal, and I stayed even though it felt like Tuesday.

So, here I am thinking I'm moving forward pretty well and, yes, I am. But there is a lot of evidence that grief and stress have changed my brain a bit. I'll be happy to get to a place in the future where my mind isn't playing tricks on me and that moving forward from grief doesn't have so many residual effects.

This Mom photo...I've had several people tell me not to keep photos like this one that remind me of how mom was toward the end of her life. Like I'm gonna forget this? I get it-remember and remind myself of who she was not what disease made her. Displayed photos are of hale and healthy Mom. But, this Mom is part and parcel of the grief, stress, and moving forward. I need to remember, too, why my grief is what it is and why it's ok that I struggle with memory, planning, and time management. It's ok.

Pointsettia, to give me a time reference on the above photo. Dec. 08.

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