I’m a history buff. Both because I studied history in college and because I attended CU Boulder.
As a furry buffalo friend who loves all things historical, I’m always a fan of learning about the significance of any day of the year. Like did you know that on August 12th of 1865 Sir Joseph Lister, a British surgeon, pioneered the first antiseptic surgery that would go on to promote sterile procedures, therefore saving the lives of thousands of patients across the world?
Or that on this day in 1908 the Henry Ford Motor Company built the first Model T car?
Or that on this day in 1918 the Allies defeated the Germans at the Battle of Amiens, the last great battle on the Western Front in the First World War?
Oh my goodness, look how exciting history is. Don’t lie. You got excited by that last one.
But more interesting to me than any of these events was the event that took place on August 12, 2014.
It was the day I had a brain hemorrhage.
It was just your average day. If average to you means a twelve hour work day, a broken down car, and a mediocre date with a stranger. Go big or go home I suppose.
On this day in history I woke up like any other day and began what would be the most important day of my life. I headed to work at East High school to start a long day of district meetings, planning, and organizing the classroom with my mentor.
As a student teacher I was eager and ready for the challenge. But after eight hours of running around like a chicken with my head cut off I began to feel a migraine sinking in.
I shrugged it off.
“Normal. Totally normal.” I reassured as I plowed through the day without stopping to address basic bodily needs like drinking water, eating, and going to the bathroom. Who’s got time for that?
By 5pm the work day at East had ended and my mentor drove me to a coffee shop. Because my car had broken down a day earlier and I had to bum rides until it was repaired. She offered me a Tylenol like the angel she is because I had been complaining all day about my headache also known as a brain hemorrhage. I insisted that I was fine.
Off to my next meeting.
I sat in the coffee shop for an hour killing time until my meeting. I remember ordering a champagne and fine tuning my first day of school PowerPoint. Because I’m a champion.
By the way, alcohol and brains don’t go together so well. Woops.
After about an hour I trekked several blocks to my next meeting. I sat in the back among a sea of stressed out student-teacher faces. I think I won a mug for answering a question about culturally responsive classrooms or something.
Teachers love free shit.
After that meeting I trekked another few blocks down to a nearby bar where I was meeting a blind date. As I waited for him to arrive I pulled up my first day of school PowerPoint again and questioned whether I should go with a blue or a purple background and which YouTube video would engage my students the most.
The date was as disappointing as the appetizers he bought for me. Tons of potential, but I just wasn’t feeling the spinach artichoke dip. I’ve had better.
At around 10pm my parents drove down to Denver to pick me up and take me home. I remember being so emotionally spent and in pain that I cried the whole way home for no good reason.
Well I mean, for a good reason. A brain hemorrhage reason. But I just didn’t know it yet.
The throbbing in my ears and lack of coordination continued for the next week as I continued to pretend like it was no big deal. As we all know it was a very big deal. The kind of big deal that changes everything about a person.
Here I sit exactly one year later. Today was the first day of school. Another standard day if standard to you means teaching five 58 minute classes back to back, shoveling food down your face in between, and having a nervous pit in your stomach as you try to convince 14 year-olds to like you.
Go big or go home and take a large sized nap.
Holy shit, you guys. What a day.
To make matters more significant on this day in history I actually had a headache today. And yes. Yes it did make me nervous beyond belief.
At certain points in the day I was entirely convinced that if I sneezed my brain would fall out of my head and onto the brightly carpeted floor. That would have been a nice show on the first day of school.
But while I was nervous I was also excited; thrilled to be at where I am in life today despite what happened a year ago.
Another tradition of mine is to give a quiz on the first day. Because obviously I’m as intimidating as the Godfather.
If you didn’t catch that, this is sarcasm. My classroom is so covered in polka dots that it makes Zooey Deschanel look like a punk. I am not intense. But I carry a big stick. Actually I do. It’s my yard stick and I carry it to feel cool and rebellious.
After announcing how “serious” this first day quiz was, my students groaned as they shot daggers out of their eyeballs and into my soul.
It’s an About Me quiz, you guys. Stop taking everything so seriously. Geaz.
As we got into silly questions about my favorite foods, my dog, and my history as a sports superstar, the kids lightened up a little bit. But only a little. Sometimes I swear this job is harder than doing stand up comedy for a room of five angry men.
I presented the following question:
Which of the following statements is true about Ms. H?
A.) She played 9 years of women’s ice hockey as goaltender
B.) She ran her own improv comedy group in college
C.) She had brain surgery last October
D.) All of the above
“Hey you guys, which one of these can we rule out right now? Which one is just a gigantic lie?”
The room shouted A and C as answers.
“There’s no way! She has all of her hair!” One lively student shouted.
"She's too tiny to play hockey!" Another added.
Others shook their heads. This lady is full of you know what.
I made a grand reveal. The crowd went wild. It’s crazy, I know you guys. My life is really freaking crazy.
So I explained myself a bit. I showed a few pictures of my scar, my Fall Risk bracelet, and told them about The Great Brain Costume that might make an appearance this Halloween. The kids were stunned and so was I. It’s hard to even believe myself when I say it out loud.
One year ago I had a brain hemorrhage that would knock my world upside down, show me humbleness, and teach me more about life than I could ever teach my students. I feel my scar everyday and am still in denial about the resilience of my body and soul. So here's to you, you stubborn lil' cuss! May you have many more crazy years ahead of you.