In January 2017 a very unusual thing happened. I received a phone call from a teacher who taught a special education class. He asked if I could cover his class for two days. As the teacher’s medical condition was more complicated then he first expected, my assignment turned out to be multi-day assignment lasting seven teaching days. I probably had not taught seven consecutive full days in about fifteen years.
After two days, I was visibly tired. By the fourth day my wife almost begged me to cancel the remainder of my assignment. Although I knew that I was severely exhausted and that there was a real possibility that I could die if I finished the assignment, I told my wife that I was determined to teach the whole seven days, no matter what.
Although, I was able to fulfill my job commitment, I had not made a wise decision from the perspective of my own health.
Two weeks prior to accepting this assignment, I made another very foolish and risky decision which I would not recommend to anyone. I’ve been reading Dr. Peter Breggin’s books that talked about the dangers of taking psychotropic medication. Dr. Breggin had recommended embarking on a very gradual withdrawal of these medications only if one was under the close supervision of medical professional. For some strange reason, probably my propensity to take risks, I did not follow Dr. Breggin’s instructions. I attempted to stop taking all my medications at once. Consequently, I experienced horrible withdrawal symptoms for a couple of days. By the third day of drug withdrawal my wife became very worried about me and called for an ambulance. After spending several hours in the hospital the nurse said that I could go home. I have very few memories of this incident. I recall the paramedics talking to me before they transported me to the hospital and the nurse waking me up, but I don’t remember the medical technicians doing medical tests on me.
Shortly after this experience I made a rational decision to slowly and gradually resume taking my psychotropic medications. After I completed my seven day subbing extravaganza I contracted either a viral or bacterial infection. This illness was serious enough to require two rounds of different antibiotics. Even with this medical intervention, it took my body and mind three more months before I felt well enough to attempt a return to work.
My return to substitute teaching was successful, but painful.
I found that I constantly had to push myself to complete an assignment. As I needed the money, I probably accepted more teaching gigs that I should have. I was more than ready to go on holidays in June 2017.
I’m hoping and praying for the day that I would be capable of consistently working a succession of full days and still have the energy to pursue my hobbies after the work day is done.