Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Bark: Run for cover (work)

I tend not to blog about work, for patently obvious reasons, but today is an exception, because I've actually had to take a day off due to illness (only the second day I've taken off all year). Like most teachers, I tend to go to work even if I'm feeling a little peaky (which isn't often, since sharing a school with 1500+ filthy teenagers tends to give your immune system a good workout - I really don't get ill that often anymore, compared to when I worked from home), because it's a pain in the arse setting cover work. Writing cover work is more difficult than planning a normal lesson, because there are no guarantees that the lesson will be taught by a subject specialist or even a fully qualified teacher, given that most schools these days have dedicated, full-time cover supervisors (and dedicated is the right word - I think it's a far tougher job than teaching, as you have to be ready to teach anything to anyone, for a fraction of the pay of a qualified teacher).

Having to take today off is particularly galling, because I'd normally be teaching five out of six scheduled periods - which is a hell of a lot of cover work to plan and write up. It's not ideal for anyone, really, especially the cover supervisors and the technicians that have to put together new sets of resources for my lessons. Unfortunately, there's not much choice in the matter, because I'm well beyond the point of feeling peaky.

I got bitten by a tick a couple of Saturdays ago when I was visiting Virginia Woolf's writing retreat, Monk's House, (yes, I am now officially old, if it wasn't already confirmed - I'm a member of the National Trust) and I could probably place where I picked up the little bloodsucking bastard up to within about 50 feet, since there was only one piece of long grass on the site that I walked through. I went to bed on the Saturday night not noticing anything unusual, but when I woke up on the Sunday, there the little chitinous fucker was, attached to my lower left leg. Now, as a science teacher (who, ironically, was supposed to be teaching my Year 7s about parasites today), I know ticks are disease vectors and carry all sorts of horrible bacteria of the distinctly unfriendly variety, chief among them being Borrellia Burgdorferi, the cause of Lyme Disease.

Being fairly knowledgeable about ticks, I knew how to remove it safely (that is, without leaving mouthparts or even the whole head behind) and got the little bastard off, disposed of it and disinfected the site of the bite. Given that the infection rate of Lyme disease is quite low (generally ticks need to have been feeding for more than 24 hours to pass on the bacteria), evidently I was unlucky, because last Friday I started getting secondary symptoms of Lyme disease - tightness of the muscles around the bite, headaches and some muscle stiffness (which I attributed to getting a poor night's sleep and a pollen count so high it would give me a migraine anyway). Over the weekend, however, that turned into headaches, loss of concentration, muscle and joint pain and a fever, with the skin around where I'd been bitten coming out nicely (read "horribly") with a blood-red rash. It's not uncommon for symptoms to wait a couple of weeks (or even a month) before manifesting themselves (again, something I knew after reading up about Lyme disease when I'd heard it talked about on House), so on Monday I took advantage of a gap in my timetable to get in to get in to see my GP, who told me it probably was indeed Lyme disease, gave me a blood test on the spot (the results of which I should get on Friday) and prescribed me Doxycycline, a broad-spectrum antibiotic so powerful that it can be used to treat bubonic plague, MRSA and malaria.

The medicine itself has some nasty side effects, not least photosensitivity (just as well that I'm a natural sun-dodger) and instructions to not lie down for 30 minutes after taking the medicine to prevent irritation and ulceration of the gullet... It also makes me so nauseous that it's difficult to find the will to eat - and I've got two weeks of this. Though I suppose the bit that really adds insult to injury is that I've got to completely avoid alcohol while I'm taking the medicine. Great news for my liver and my waistline, maybe, but it means I can't even celebrate the end of my NQT year. I had my final assessment observation yesterday (the only reason I went into work at all - couldn't the symptoms have waited another week before really kicking in?) and it went pretty well, considering that it was a shortened lesson at the end of the day (30 minutes rather than 50, because of an early finish for the day, as our year 11s had their celebration assembly in the afternoon) and that I was running a fever and felt like crap.

Anyway, I think I've written enough for now, so I'm going to do some cover work of my own: bed covers...
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