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Teaching with Chronic pain

Feb 04, 2017 3:11 PM

Hey, any teachers out there? I know how lucky I am to be able to work, when many others aren't in the position too. However it's a struggle. I often think of giving up work as a primary school teacher and finding something less physically demanding with less hours.

Any teachers out there with tips on how to cope? Gadgets they use in the classroom? I have occupational health coming to my work soon so hopefully they'll have some advice but would appreciate tips from anyone in the same position. Thank you!

Feb 05, 2017 7:43 AM

I'm here. As the pain has become increasingly worse over the past couple of years I haven't been as successful at hiding pain as I wish I could be. Teachers, as with most professions, are usually completely consumed with their jobs. Most of my time during the week and weekend used to be devoted to my career and the constant struggle of meeting the needs of all. It has been difficult, but I have slowly let go of "perfection" in my career. I have stepped back and let others take leadership roles. I used to refuse to take a day off for a doctor's appointment or sickness, but I allow myself to do that now. I am learning to rest my body and mind. I go to a yoga class, spend time with family and friends, and pray.

As for medicines, my doctor has me on Cymbalta for Fibro pain and I take ibuprofen when the pain moves beyond moderate ( I have to be careful with my stomach). I have tried melatonin as a sleep aid, but it doesn't always work. My heating pad and I are in a committed relationship and it's where you can find me after work. It has even traveled to my classroom!

At work, I deliver whole group instruction standing. However, I use a lot of small group instruction, and I sit for that. At the beginning of the year, I teach procedures and independence so I don't have to use my energy on the small stuff. Many teachers are ready to jump into content, but I've found the extra time spent at the beginning has paid off. I invest in quality shoes , not the cutest, and dress comfortably while still being professional. My students have jobs ( teacher helper, clean up crew, etc). This keeps me from using precious energy on small tasks and teaches students responsibility.

I hope something in this helps you. It's really all about finding balance, and I struggle with that many days.

Feb 06, 2017 12:57 PM

Having students help also teaches compassion, empathy something our world seems to be really short on.

Feb 06, 2017 7:43 PM

I know that it's different but I teach swimming lessons at a local pool. when I'm on deck (teaching outside the water) I have to constantly be moving around and often crawling on the deck... I find something that helps tremendously is having a yoga mat available to crouch on. if your teaching kindergarten or other young kids I'd really recommend getting something to kneel on so you don't have to be bending and crouching constantly. I've also seen some of the team use foam blocks to give some support while doing certain activities (like leaning over to show front crawl or semi-crouching to talk to smaller kids.

Feb 07, 2017 12:16 PM

I am on a medical LOA due to disc herniation. I teach kindergarten. I am sad as I dont think I can go back to classroom. I have not been to work this school year. It is hard and I am wrapping my head around a new career. I am too young to retire but also old enough to not be hired...

Feb 08, 2017 6:16 PM

Sadly I have had to leave the profession for a while. I could only fight and adapt for so long.

Feb 10, 2017 12:11 PM

Thanks all for your advice. I'm definitely hoping school will provide me with something to kneel on. My physio has suggested something that looks like it will work well. I teach 4-5 year olds so my day is quite full on and physical. I think moving up a few year groups may be the way forward.

I'm sorry that some of you have had to leave teaching and wish you luck finding something that will suit you better. I'd love to hear what you're looking into doing instead as I'm not sure how long I'll be able to stick it out myself! X

Feb 10, 2017 9:37 PM

I teach kinder. I have herniated disc and there is no accommodation for me. It has been a difficult 6 months.

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