Thursday, January 17, 2013

Prayer in School

Well this week has been one for the books, I'm so over it. 

Today I had to answer one of those sticky questions in my classroom.  After explaining to my kids why I had to leave yesterday morning without warning (explanation coming....) one of my students asked if they could say a prayer for my brother, Will.  I immediately wanted to yell of course, unfortunately, due to the fact that we aren't really allowed to talk religion in school, I questioned my answer.  I in turn told my student that asked this question yes, she could pray.  I can't tell someone they can't pray, just as I can't tell them they have to pray.  That's my perception on it at least.  Right after answering that question though, I was asked another, "Ms. Pepper, can we all pray together for your brother right now?"  Ugh.... I would have loved nothing more than this, but I then had to explain that unfortunately we aren't allowed to all pray together.  This brought on more and more questions.  To date, this is probably one of the hardest conversations I've had to have with my kids, seriously.  (Like harder than telling my kids 2 years ago I was pregnant and having to explain how that happened without me being married.....)  It makes me sick, literally that I had to tell my kids that we couldn't all sit and say a prayer for him.  I had to explain to my kids that "a moment of silence" is for those wish to pray to pray.  I told my students that they were more than welcome to go back to their desk and pray, that they could pray at anytime during the day that they wish to, about anything they wish, and I couldn't do anything about it.  As my students headed back to their seats, it made my heart melt.  The fact that I have such loving, innocent, and caring children makes me love my profession even more than I did before (which was a lot)!!!  I can't imagine a more rewarding career than the one I have chosen!

You may ask, why am I sharing all of this?  I don't know exactly...
Partially because I'm furious that I had to tell my kids that we couldn't pray together in school....
because I hated the heartache in their eyes when I had to explain this.....
because I'm curious how others would have handled it....
because it helps me to deal with things like this by writing and sharing about ...
because one of my kids said I don't know how to pray....
there are many reasons why, but the biggest reason being that it is devestating to me that we don't have the right to do this with our kids.  Yes, I know we are allowed to pray on our own, no one can stop us from doing that, but I just feel like it is so unfair that I have to tell my kids that I can't pray with them, despite the fact that I would love the opportunity to be able to.  

Ok... so let me rewind a little... How did we get to this conversation?  What happened?

To tell the full story, I have to rewind to Sunday.  Sunday was a rough night, B refused to go to sleep.  It wasn't until around 12, almost 4 hours after I laid her down that she actually fell asleep.  I felt as though I tried everything to get her to sleep and nothing worked.  Just as she was going to bed and I was falling asleep, I received a phone call from from my brother, well from my brother's phone at least.  It was his friend, she was letting me know that she was worried about him.  She told me all the things she observed, all the things he said, and all of her concerns.  After we talked for a while, I told her that she needed to take him to the ER.  After almost 5 hours in the ER, they diagnosed my brother with Serotonin Syndrome based on all of his symptoms.  Over the next 48 hours he seemed to be doing better.

For those of you that don't know a lot about my brother let me share a little (all of this including what happened this week is shared with his permission! :) ).  My brother is one of my best friends, he is 22 and my only "full" blooded sibling.  He is currently going to college and is less than a year away from graduating with both his bachelors and masters degree.  He is the best little brother I could ask or wish for.  He is an amazing uncle, someone who Berklee absolutely adores.  He is one of the most sensitive, hard headed, hard working, strong, dedicated, and loyal kids I know, seriously, I'm not just saying this because he's my brother.  In some ways, we are very much a like, in others we are very different.  My baby brother inspires me more than he will ever know!  I would be lost without him!

Tuesday came and went.  By the time Wednesday arrived I was exhausted.  Wednesday was going good, nothing to complain about, we had actually gotten a lot accomplished.  Not long after we arrived back in our classroom after specials I received a phone call from the office.  I was sure I was going to get in trouble because I STILL had not done my attendance, despite getting two reminder emails and a reminder over the intercom.  I picked up the phone and the secretary told me my mom was on the phone and she was going to put her through to me.  My heart sank, for my mom to call my school and them to interrupt me in class, something was wrong.  She called to let me know that my brother had another episode, this time at school, and she was in the ambulance with him as she called me.  Immediately tears began streaming down my face.  I tried to turn so my students couldn't see it, but it was too late.  My wonderful  neighbor and friend next door, Gwen, covered my class as I went to the office to see what I could do about leaving.  Thankfully I have a wonderful and supportive administrative staff that said they would take care of everything.  I went back upstairs and quickly threw things together for an aide to cover my class for the afternoon.  Luckily another one of my amazing friends and co-worker, Diana, took my kids to lunch.

As I arrived to the ER yesterday, my brother seemed to be doing much better.  He was being is sarcastic self, laughing, and joking.  They ran several other tests in addition to what was run on Sunday night when he was admitted.  The Dr was basically baffeled about what it could be.  He decided he was going to discharge him and refer him to the neurologist.  As we waited for him to be discharged, my brother all of the sudden got very cold and decided to close his eyes.  No sooner than us dimming the lights did he have another episode.  His chest began to spasm (one of the major symptoms he had been having), I ran to get the nurse/dr while my mom watched over him.  The Dr. came in and asked him some questions, he was able to respond but only in one word, it was a struggle for him to get out what he did, all while his eyes were closed.  It was good for the Dr to actually be able to observe what had been happening, but it was a very scary experience for myself.  I felt so helpless.   When my brother has these episodes, he doesn't recall them actually happening.  He doesn't remember the feeling, he doesn't remember the conversations he had, nothing, it's like that whole period of time is blacked out.  The Dr. decided that he was still going to discharge him, but he needed to see his primary care physician and the neurologist as soon as possible.  The ER Dr. didn't think that it was serotonin syndrome anymore...he had also ruled out seizures...

Today, my brother had the appointment with his PCP.  Basically he believes that it is all still the serotonin syndrome.  Apparently, it can take up to 5 weeks for the serotonin to get out of your body.  My brother will still be going to see a neurologist, just to cover all our bases.  We would greatly appreciate any prayers sent our way. 

In addition to all of this, I received a message from B's babysitter that she was running a fever today... A quick trip to the Dr. and the diagnosis is a virus... awesome.  I had to go back up to school, put in and get ready for a sub.  By the time I had plans done, picked up my classroom from the after effects of Hurricane Berklee, and we ate, we finally made it home a little after 8.  This three day weekend just turned into a four day weekend for this chick.  I think it is much needed after this week, but I really HATE that I feel as though I haven't been in my classroom at all over the past two weeks.  

So my to do list over the next four days is to GRADE, GRADE, PLAN, GRADE, CREATE CENTERS, oh and GRADE!  I also hope to get in a little sewing, cleaning, laundry, LOTS of playtime, and LOTS loving on my sweet baby!! 

Before I forget, I wanted to end this on a good, inspiring note (well inspiring to me at least).... As my mother messaged my brother's professor on Wednesday to let her know how he was doing (his episode at school happened in her office), she received a response that was one of those messages that just makes your heart happy.  After my brother left in the Ambulance, all of his teachers that were there, past and present, including some teachers that weren't his took a few minutes to stop and pray for him.  This was very special and not something you see everywhere, while it should be.  

I hope you all have a great weekend! 


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