I submitted this blog entry to AdjunctNation.com about twelve days ago and have yet to hear anything regarding its posting. So, I’m posting it here.
I had been dealing with intermittent blurry vision in my left eye for about two months. It wasn’t too annoying, and it usually went away after a few minutes. I was hoping it would continue to be a minor nuisance (or go away) until the end of the semester so I could properly deal with it without having to cancel any classes.
This was not to be.
Two weeks before the end of the semester, I was doing some grocery shopping. I came around the corner to see what yogurt was on sale and I lost complete vision in my eye. I couldn’t read the expiration dates on the yogurt. I moved to the checkout, hoping my vision would clear, as usual.
It did not. Driving home was interesting.
After hours of crying, my vision slowly cleared. I knew I couldn’t wait until the end of the semester to deal with this. I made an appointment with my neurologist and canceled my classes.
The sad thing is I was more worried about canceling my penultimate week of classes than I was about my vision. I had had an attack of optic neuritis before (I have MS), so I figured I would go on IV steroids and it would clear up and everything would be fine. I was, however, worried that I wouldn’t be hired back for canceling a week of class meetings at the end of the semester.
It wasn’t optic neuritis. It was (it is) Ohthoff’s Phenomenon (we think). Not only did the steroids not help, they made me nauseated, a side effect I’ve never had before (I’ve been on IV at least once a year since 2007). I spent four days in bed (not grading). The whole time, I was so worried about the security of my job, worried that I was failing the students, worried that I was inconveniencing everyone. The (very real) possibility of a blown vein barely crossed my mind.
The worry probably made me sicker than the steroids.
It turned out that my worries were unfounded, at least at one school. A colleague expressed her sympathy and just wanted me to get better. “Your students will understand,” she said. It concerns me, however, that I felt it was necessary to worry at all. I was having a legitimate medical emergency, after all. I wasn’t canceling classes for a girl’s weekend in Vegas. But the instability of the adjunct contract is so centered in my thinking that I will teach classes with strep throat rather than cancel (and that’s not hyperbole). I don’t want to appear undependable. I don’t want to remind anyone that I am expendable. I do, after all, need the money to pay for insurance so that I can go to a neuro-ophthalmologist to figure out why my peripheral vision is still blurry and if I will ever get better.
Good thing it’s summer; I won’t have to cancel classes for the appointment.