Monthly Archives: January 2015

Othello And His Frenemies Are In The House

029My neighbor dropped by yesterday.  Or more accurately stated, marched up my front walkway with a stack of papers under her arm and a determined expression on her face.

The house was unusually quiet for a Monday afternoon, and the table was unusually clear.  Well, there was a spot in front of one chair without school books or art supplies, anyway.  The front door was open, so I called for her to come in from my corner of the table.  She slid into the chair with a sigh, dumping her papers on the table, and exclaimed, “I have to get these graded and I keep falling asleep at my house.”

I warned her of the impending barrage of piano students and siblings that were due in the next hour, but she assured me anything would be better than waking up on her couch again and discovering that she still hadn’t finished.

And so she corrected English papers and I fielded emails and worked on lesson plans.  She is an English teacher for a high school in Long Beach.  She has been teaching for over 30 years.  I have been teaching and tutoring English for the last few years myself, so we often commiserate on the state of the language.

After a few minutes she grimaced and said, “What the–?”  She handed me a test paper on the Shakespearean play, Othello, and asked,  “What does that say?”

The question on the test asked for a description of the character Brabanzio’s reaction to a certain event.  In answer, the student had scrawled the words “In the hose.”

After some deliberation, we determined that the lad had intended to write, “In the house.”  Wanting to give him the benefit of the doubt, I conjectured that perhaps during a lively discussion of this event in class, one of the students had summed it up with the euphemism, “in the house,” and that this student had thought the phrase so fitting to the event, that he assumed she would know what he meant by it.  And that also, he was perhaps dyslexic and therefore didn’t realize that he was leaving concepts out of his sentences. I then tried to come up with a connotation of this phrase, (“I have arrived!”  “The gala can start now!” “Everyone is glad to see this certain person!”) that would fit the event.

A few minutes later, she came across another paper with the same response.  “Ah,” I responded to her wisely. “This just adds credence to my theory.  This must have been a comment that was made in class, because another student remembers it.”

When she discovered a third paper with the same answer, I was about to claim it as proof positive, until she noticed that one of the other answers on the page was identical to the same question on the other two tests.

“Oh,” I responded flatly. “So they were just cheating.”

“Well, that’s bad enough,” she exploded, “but they copied something that made no sense, and this one kid didn’t even copy THAT correctly!  ‘In the hose,’ indeed!”

She continued correcting, then stopped again, puzzled, and read aloud another question: “Describe the relationship between Iago and Roderigo.”

I waited.

She sighed and read the answer: “They were frenemies.”

026“Okay,” I reasoned, “Perhaps the student truly does not realize that that is not actually a word.  They hear it used all the time – how would they know it’s not correct?”

“Oh, it may actually be accepted in the dictionary already,” she countered.

I looked it up.  It is.

Eventually she came to an answer that stopped us, speechless, in our tracks: “What is the play Othello about?”

The answer: “An African American guy.”

I just don’t even know where to start with that.

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Categories: Education | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Diagnosis Diabetes: After a Year

025It’s actually been a year and almost three months since the 12 year old was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.  A year and three months of shots, insulin, blood testing and Those Infernal Glucose Test Strips scattered all over the floor.

He swears he puts them in the trash can.  But there they are, on the floor, stuck to the bottom of my shoe, under the couch.  I have even found them inside my book bags. And of course, as I mentioned in a previous post, once in my salad.

Our floor has also been carpeted this year with the paper seals from insulin pen needle cases, and the little green caps from pen needles (which, just for the record, hurt JUST as bad as a LEGO if you step on them barefoot), and occasionally the needles themselves (I think we have already established that those hurt worse than LEGOS).

We had some real fun back in August, when the 12 year old left his insulin pen in its case on a bench at an outdoor mall, and five minutes later, when he ran back to get it, found the case, but no pen.

At least it didn’t have a needle attached to it, so whoever took it couldn’t have given him or herself a shot, because that could have been really, really bad, if not fatal.  But seriously, what kind of person takes an insulin pen that they find on a bench?

A month ago, the 12 year old was finally put on an insulin pump.

<pause for heavenly music and rainbows>

No more pen needles!  Only one needle every three days instead of 5-6 shots a day!

The blood testing remains a constant, however, 5-6 times a day.  So the Infernal Test Strips are still the bane of my existence.

The pump gives him a steady supply of insulin throughout the day, as well as delivering extra when he reports that he is about the eat carbs, so overall his blood sugars have been much more manageable.

Everything is wonderful.

027Well, EXCEPT FOR the times when the pump doesn’t work.  It can be bubbles in the tube, or the catheter (infusion set) not being set correctly, but when the pump fails to deliver insulin, it gets very bad, very quickly.

A week after he got the pump, there were bubbles in the delivery tube, which meant he wasn’t actually receiving any insulin. His glucose number was so high then the meter couldn’t read it. That means it was over 600.  Normal is 80-150.  Very bad, very quickly.

Although we gave him an injection of insulin and brought it down right away, he ended up with such bad stomach cramps at 6 a.m. the next day that I called 911 for the first time ever.  By the time the ambulance and paramedics arrived, the stomach cramps had lessened enough that they let us drive him to the ER instead of giving him a $1000 ambulance ride (phew).  And by the time we got to the ER the cramps were pretty much gone, so after some tests, they sent us home.

But still, the neighborhood appreciated the excitement early in the morning.  I know this because the 8 year old from across the street called me, much to her mother’s chagrin, in the middle of the excitement (no fewer than 9 people in my tiny living room) to ask me why the ambulance was outside our house.

And then there was the other day, when he rolled over in bed at 6 a.m. and knocked the infusion set out of his side, and then shoved it back in (all the nurses reading this scream “Noooo” in unison) and taped it in place with medical tape. He got up at 8:30 a.m. and told me “Oh, Mom, by the way, I don’t have any infusion sets left,” so I called the pharmacy, only to be told us we couldn’t get any more that day because the insurance company wouldn’t pay for more until the following Monday, six days away.  Just then he came out of his room and said, “I guess the infusion set isn’t working right after all, so I’m not actually getting any insulin, because I just tested my blood sugar and found it was over 500.” Well, that’s just an example of spectacularly bad, very quickly.

Diabetic supplies sharing the table with Halloween candy... the new normal.

Diabetic supplies sharing the table with Halloween candy… normal around here.

The day was saved by Shelley, our rep with Roche, the pump manufacturer, who drove over here that afternoon, in the RAIN (again, a big deal, here in So Cal this year), to drop off a couple of infusion sets to get us through the next few days.  Luckily the 14 year old had just baked some gluten-free cookies and we were able to share some with her.

All this to say, if you are diabetic and are considering a pump, we highly recommend the Accu-Chek Combo System.  Especially if you live in Southern California, because then you might get the World’s Best Rep, Shelley, who delivers miracles with or without cookies. 🙂

And that if you do get a pump, check for bubbles in the tube.  Often.

And also, that even with a diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes, life goes on.  After a while it stops being the “new normal” and just becomes “normal.”

And that life with diabetes is nothing, if not interesting.

Categories: Diabetes, Family | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

No Excuses

I must be the meanest Mom around.

First of all, we didn’t watch the Rose Parade.  Well, we couldn’t, because we don’t have a TV.  Halfway through last year, realizing that the only time we watched the thing was, well, on New Year’s Day for the Rose Parade, we moved it out to the garage and reclaimed a nice chunk of the family room for more important things (i.e. a bookcase).

Besides, I really dislike parades.  I don’t much like firework shows either.  And I’ve never been to a baseball game. This year I plan to apply for U.S. citizenship, and I truly hope these facts do not impinge upon my application’s acceptance.

059I did make donuts this morning, so I’m pretty sure my kids didn’t really miss the parade much. I would like to report that I put the proper amount of salt in my batch of donuts, but the fact that I accidentally doubled it, given the 14 year old’s unfortunate misreading of the same measurement last night, is completely inexcusable.  Fortunately I noticed right away, so I was able to fish the extra salt out of the bowl.  Most of it, anyway.

The 14 year old completed our nutritionally bankrupt meal this morning by deep frying some bacon.  Big pot of oil, just the right temp… how could she not?

Once I had them all sugared up on donuts, I dropped the bomb.  We would be doing our school work today. My resolve stayed flinty, even in the presence of heartfelt wails of injustice. “But it’s a HOLIDAY, Mom.”  “But even the BANKS are closed today, Mom.”  Nothing moved me.

I happen to know that both of my younger kids are quite a few lessons behind in their math, among other things. I also happen to remember hearing multiple promises of “I’ll catch up over Christmas break” in the past month or so. So I put my foot down and pointed out that if they hadn’t taken little personal holidays on days when there was no excuse for not doing their school, they wouldn’t be doing school today when everyone else had the day off.

Unfortunately for them, I possess the ability to compartmentalize doom for days, even weeks at a time, as long as there are enough fires that need to be put out and other deadlines that need to be met.  My last deadline was Boxing Day, when we visited with my side of the family to exchange gifts.  It took exactly five days of not having a deadline looming on the horizon for me to realize how many things I had been letting slip for the past few months.   I had my crisis yesterday, while they were at the movies enjoying The Hobbit.

Today it was their turn.

They will thank me later.  Like, next Thursday, when they get to their respective Classical Conversations classes and actually have something finished to turn in.

As firm as my resolve is today, given the freshness of my Biannual I-can’t-do-everything-I’m-supposed-to-do Meltdown, I sincerely hope and pray that it will continue, at least until the end of this semester.  Because I know myself too well to think that this one foot planting itself firmly today is going to remain that way without major changes being made, not in my kids’ hearts and attitudes, but in mine.

And I know how I am.

For example, my husband found this workout program in a drawer the other day, unopened.  I bought it at least four years ago.

065

At least I can use this with my Brit Lit students as a good example of the concept of “irony.”

 

 

 

Categories: Education, Family, Homeschooling | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

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