Are you tired? I am. My accelerated course just ended. Many of my colleagues are probably in midterms. Another group of us who still hold out hope, or perhaps just out of habit, are also applying for the sparse crop of permanent jobs. In the middle of all this, two of my children got sick. The eldest threw up at school and I had to go get him. Never mind that throwing up is something he has always done a lot, if a student upchucks at school, someone must go get that person. That was my Wednesday morning. Already my middle child, who is still a preschooler was feeling poorly. Since both of those kiddos had a checkup scheduled for Thursday, I thought "Hey, we'll make it to that and get it all taken care of at once."
No. No that was not to be. Instead my Wednesday evening included a trip to the local ER and then one to the children's hospital in the city. The preschooler was not well. It was one of those things that happens. It just happens. No reason. No nothing the child did wrong. No nothing we did wrong. He just got very sick very fast. We returned home again a little after 4 a.m. on Thursday. Ever since then, I have been following a care routine that the child is not a fan of. I have been giving him very sticky medicine that he is not a fan of. For three days he seemed to be getting better, but then this evening, as I hoped to settle him in early for some rest, he complained of being too hot. He was. The nagging worry I have carried in my stomach over him for about a week chomped harder. I took a temperature and sure enough it was elevated. I checked the discharge instructions but it was, thankfully, not high enough to call the doctor. Some Advil was given and I decided to stay up and check him every little bit. So here I am up, writing some things and thinking.
He's small. I had forgotten really, how very small. As I tailed the ambulance to the city I could see his car seat strapped to the stretcher with him on board. I could not make out his little face nor his hair that's too long and needs to be cut but hasn't been because I need more hours in my day and another me to get him to the stylist that doesn't make him cry. So very small in his greenish hospital gown lying on a big gurney-type bed in the examination room. So small that we had come all that long way to specialists who could work on, sedate and employ the right tools for little folks.
I wanted to scoop him up and pour all the energy and light that I had left into him. And even though I'm supposed to be the grown up and know that the hurt caused by the treatment would make him better, I wanted to hide him from their hands and instruments that were making him cry out in pain. "MOMMY!"
And after it was over, I sat stroking his fluffy hair, watching him sleep the sleep of the drugged, I thought, "Oh my god, I have five papers left to grade and they're due Friday and I'm an adjunct and what if I don't get them done and they're at home and I'm not and who knows when I'll get back there?!" That is what ran through my mind. I was fairly certain that the child would be fine. I was waiting for him to awaken, and my work intruded. Here I was, miles from home for who knew how long, and my grades were undone. Accelerated term students need their grades quickly before the second round begins. I doubted I could get an extension. I wondered how that would make me look. I wondered if it would cost me my job. At a time when all I really should be able to focus on was my kids, I was worried if our emergency would be a problem. Perhaps my employer would've been understanding, but I don't know, nor do I have any protection as of yet. Just one more wobble as I walk the precarious line of adjunct faculty life.
Now, it's time to go check my small patient's temperature and hope it stays down. We have another checkup scheduled Tuesday and I hope we can just go there without further adventures. The oldest one is fine after the barfing. The papers got graded and the final grades submitted. As always.
This is how you eat the Adjunct Elephant: one giant bite at a time.