step backwards

Today has been a sucky day. The suckiness was compunded by the fact that the "loaner knee" [think 'loaner car'--it's a beat up old knee sent out to anyone whose knee is in the shop] that my prosthetist installed on my leg yesterday is confused.

For whatever reason this knee has a few wires crossed. It thinks that when I step down on my toe I'm really stepping down on my heel. So everytime I take a step it hesitates and locks. It doesn't make me fall, but it's an odd sensation that makes me feel like me knee is about the bend the wrong direction.

So added to the fact that I was up almost the whole night last night writing papers, and I'm still jetlagged, and my kids are stressed about school, and John has had to compensate for my lack of mobility this week, etc...Everytime I take a step it literally feels like a step backward rather than forward. Also, my leg is sans skin right now and there's a big sticker running down the front of my metallic blue shin that says SERVICE. As if I don't know that this is the 'service' knee. As if I need to announce this to every passersby. Like it isn't hard anough having to teach a class to 60 undergrads when I can't even take a confident step and I've got such a bizarre sticker on my leg. As if I really needed that today.

I think I came the closest yet to throwing in the towel. To saying that grad school isn't worth it. To saying that I want to curl up with my favorite sweater and a trashy novel and STOP TRYING SO HARD.

A part of me wanted to go up to my teachers and tell them how today really sucked and I can't walk and I'm tired and don't we all just have days like these and do they mind if I'm not at my best today and can I turn in my assignments late or can I just take today off? But then that other part of me that listens to excuses from my students and rolls my eyes at their 'illnesses' or their computer snafus, or whatever, that part of my realized that I couldn't go to my profs with an excuse. I just can't tell them about what it's like to have a broken knee, to hardly be able to walk, to feel frustrated and ashamed by this dorky loaner.

I can't tell them that it's just not my fault that today sucks.

BTW, just now I peeled off the SERVICE sticker. It almost made me feel better.


John said...

Throwing in the towel is not an option. Believe me, I've done that enough to know the price of regret. But you (and your students) are allowed to be human.

I'm sorry that you're struggling with your leg right now. I wish I had the strength to carry you through *all* of your responsibilities and help the kiddos with theirs and somehow still stay on top of work and school, but I think I'm running out of steam. If nothing else, I am totally committed to your academic efforts.

I think we're communicating more via blog than in person...

Anonymous said...

I guess I don't know why you can't go to your teachers and tell them all the stuff about why your day sucks, and I don't know why you can't roll your eyes at some excuses that are obviously fake and/or excessive, and still feel compassion for the students who are encountering genuine and severe difficulty.

One of the best decisions I ever made was to stop requiring "excuses" when students wanted to submit work late, at least the first time. My policy is to grant at least one extension per semester to any student WHO TAKES THE TIME TO ASK FOR IT. If someone doesn't ask for it, just doesn't turn the paper in, I get cranky--I hate wondering where the paper is, if I lost it, if the student intends to turn it in--but if a student requests an extension, I grant at least one, no questions asked. Same goes with absences--you allow them two or three before you penalize them. I figure, stuff happens. Life gets complicated. We all need a little slack now and then. Flexibility in terms of deadlines can be an extremely generous and compassionate gift, so why not grant it from time to time so you can ask for it when you need it?

Caroline said...

I'm sorry things are so rough right now. Hang in there, Jana. I think you'd have a lot more longterm regret by giving up than by not being impressive to profs for a few days.

By the end of this PhD journey, your profs probably won't even remember the one time you didn't turn a paper in on time...