Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Homeschooling is Exhausting

You know how sometimes you have this idea in your head of how something’s going to work, and then it works, and it’s just how you thought it would be? And you know how the other 99% of the time, it’s a giant mess and you’re left scrambling to adjust your expectations and figure out how to pick up the pieces and put together something that’s going to get you through?

Yeah-that’s me and the story of homeschooling right now. 

It sounded like such a good idea when it started. Princess C was diagnosed last spring with dysautonomia-borderline POTS, to be precise. I know I haven’t said a lot about it here. When it happened we were barely keeping our heads above water, and I'd be lying if I said I was any saner now. To be honest, it’s been a struggle. She’s sick one day out of three every month, and while it’s getting better we’ve still got a long way to go.
Image found at, and created by, It's a PERFECT representation of a POTS flareup.
POTS flare ups are awful. If you're not familiar with the disease, it involves a disorder of the autonomic nervous system-the one that controls your heart rate, breathing and digestion, among other things. So when things go wrong, they go terribly wrong. She’s dizzy. She’s sick to her stomach. She gets headaches, and walking the ten feet from her bed to the bathroom leaves her absolutely exhausted. And she has to have someone standing right next to her when she makes that ten foot trek from the bed to the bathroom, because if she doesn’t there’s always the chance that we’re going to find her unconscious on the floor.

It took us almost four months from the first time we found her unconscious to the time when we finally got a diagnosis. I’m not complaining-we’ve been blessed as far as that goes. The average time from onset of symptoms to diagnosis for many people with POTS is five years or longer. Ironically, it was a referral to a teen clinic for depression associated with being sick and isolated at the height of her illness that led to the diagnosis in the first place-one of the doctors at the clinic was familiar with the disorder and diagnosed her immediately.

Months of pain and dizziness, accompanied by endless visits to specialists and therapists, made school attendance a nightmare, however. I’m going to spare you the details of listening to me rant and cut it down to this-homeschooling her this year was a better option than trying to go ten rounds with the school system, especially because she’s still sick as often as she is. I was kind of excited when we first decided to do it. I could pick her reading lists, decide what subjects she studied (with an eye toward state requirements, of course), and help present the information in a way that would make it interesting and fun.

What I didn’t expect was the uphill battle homeschooling was going to be when you coupled it with nursing school, going back to work part time while still picking up freelance writing gigs, and still having two other children to take care of. She ends up doing a large amount of the learning on her own, and while academically she’s doing very well the isolation of being home rather than with her friends (for her) and the stress of trying to keep up with everything (for me) has made it more nightmare than blessing some days. 

I’m glad we have the opportunity to homeschool her, I really am. And from an academic standpoint the decision has been the right one. Unfortunately, her frequent illnesses and my insane schedule mean it’s difficult to take advantage of many of the homeschool activities and groups around here. The cost and the amount of time she’s still out sick makes it very difficult to commit to various homeschool group activities and workshops, since we never know what she’s going to make it to vs. when she’s going to need to stay home.

Maybe it’s just a bad night at the end of a bad week, but right now I’m tired and looking for something-anything-that’s going to keep this homeschool boat afloat. Moms who homeschool multiples, I tip my hat to you. You’re amazing.

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