Changing gear

Carolyn Voisey's avatar

by Carolyn Voisey

So far, March has been busy/chaotic/stressful… even more so than usual! After an urgent admission to hospital for a feeding tube to be placed down Sam’s nose (horrific aspiration) and two weeks off work looking after him (despite being an SN school, they haven’t had NG tube training), this morning I came back to work. Talk about mixed emotions. 

While desperate to get back to normality and the job I love (also acutely aware of just how much work I have to catch up on), I walked into the office this morning and felt that I was going to pass out – heart racing, hands sweating, head spinning – for the first time in YEARS, I experienced a panic attack of sorts! Couldn’t believe it, my ability to come in and do my job despite what chaos is erupting in my private life is something I have always held dear and has gotten me through some pretty ‘orrible times over the past 4 years… but this morning, I didn’t cope. 

Another SN mummy put it beautifully, ‘as SN Mums we life in a different world, and sometimes we have difficulties changing gear and jumping into the parallel world of work’. Spot on that girl. That is *exactly* how it felt this morning, I couldn’t stop worrying about Sam (he is utterly fine), and struggled to get my head straight. It’s at times like these where I realise just what a strong support network we need to cope in our day to day lives.

Without my parents being willing to step up to the mark and learn how to tube feed Sam, I wouldn’t be able to be in work. Without the support of my line manager and colleagues I wouldn’t be able to drop everything at work and race to Sam’s side when the seizure monster attacks, or when another crisis hits. 

Over the past 4 years I’ve instinctively put in back up plans so if/when the crisis occurs things are already in place to mitigate any impact on work (my colleagues all know where my teaching materials are stored on the network so can deliver my materials in my absence). There are still issues of course, there are still unpleasant comments made about my time keeping for example; while these used to hurt, they don’t hold any power over me now.. after all, to truly understand someone, you need to walk in their shoes and that goes for me as well as them.

Sometimes, being a working Mum to an SN child requires military type planning. My first day back at work was a good one in the end.

My colleagues are also my friends, people have popped by the office as soon as they heard I was back to ask how Sam was and how J and I were, there were lots of hugs and offers of coffee/chocolate (having piled the weight on over the past 2 weeks with comfort eating, I was very good and declined!), and after my initial wobbles to get back into the right gear by mid-morning I was back on track and powering through work.

Sometimes, although it’s very hard to jump out of our world and into this parallel one, it gives us the confidence that we are still individuals in our own right, and that is something we always need to hold onto.

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