What an experience I had today!

The day started off well. I left home with plenty of time to find a parking spot and get to class on time. Alas, while the parking gods smiled down on me, the ones in charge of elevators were not so favorable.

I've mentioned before that one of the symptoms of Chiari that I suffer from is poor depth perception, with the result being that while I can easily climb up a flight of stairs, getting back down poses significant challenges for me. I need an elevator to get downstairs once I climb up. My class is on the second floor of a very long building. I couldn't find an elevator anywhere, so I stopped in at an open office and asked the gentleman where the elevator was located. "All the way down at the other end of the building," he told me. Fine. I walked to opposite end of the building, found the elevator, and discovered that without a special card, I couldn't use it. So much for handicapped access!

I walked into another office, explained that I needed a card for the elevator and was told that I had to go to the Administration Building where I could purchase one. "What about handicapped access to the elevator?" I asked. "Isn't that a legal requirement in the State of California? If I came here in a wheelchair, would you tell me to go buy a card to use the elevator that I obviously need?" Evidently, the word handicapped has magical properties, as I was instructed to go to the Disabled Students Office where I could get the card at no cost.

The Disabled Students' Office is two buildings away from the one where my class is located, and I had about five minutes before class started. Frustrated, I zipped over to the office where I was given a form and instructed to take it to the Student Health Center for a nurse to approve. Once I got the nurse's approval, I could have the elevator card. "But my class starts in three minutes!" I said as I looked at the clock. Thankfully, the guy at the desk gave me a loaner card, and I headed off for class at last.

When I walked into the classroom and took a seat, the instructor had already handed out the syllabus and assignment sheets and had just begun taking roll. One of the best things about taking a class at a community college is the diversity in the classroom. This class has students ranging in age from 18 to 70ish. I sat down at the first available spot that I found.

About twenty minutes into the class, the door flies open and pushing a walker ahead of her, in comes a woman who must be at least 70. In a very loud voice, she greets the instructor by her first name and explains that she is late because the special access bus was running late. Stopping at the instructor's podium long enough to capture her in a bear hug, the woman finally settled in at a table in the front row, immediately to the instructor's left. What a card she is!

As the class progressed, I discovered that I just might have some unplanned for problems. With California's budget crisis, energy costs are being reduced everywhere, including in classrooms. This one has no windows to allow the circulation of air, yet the thermostat has been raised to save money on the electric bill. It quickly got warm inside, but I managed just fine until the instructor turned off the lights so that we could see a screen.

Warm room + dark room = sleep triggers for Carleen

I am ashamed to admit that today was the first time in my life that I actually fell asleep in class! It didn't happen because the instructor is boring or because I wasn't interested in the material; it happened because (1) I have zero control over The Brain and (2) when The Brain recognizes warm and dark, it says sleep. I felt it coming and fought valiantly; the page in my notebook, where I scribbled anything just to fight the urge to nod off, testifies to this fact. In the middle of several words, the pen makes a thick, distinctive upward line where the rest of the word should be. Embarrassed, I approached the instructor at the break, explained my situation to her and excused myself for the remainder of the class.

Unfortunately for me, The Brain had already done its work. I got back home shortly after 11 a.m. and promptly crashed on the couch, where I slept until 6 o'clock this evening.

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6 Responses
  1. Anonymous Says:

    When something can go wrong, it will. I wonder if the stress of having to do all that running around, worrying about being late, etc. contributed to your reaction to the warmth and dark? Could you perhaps carry one of those insulated lunchbox cooler type thingies with some cold packs inside for when it gets really warm in the room? Maybe when you feel the sleepiness coming on you could grab one of those -- the forehead, temples, and and held between the wrists (just below the palm) seem to be good places to cool down the feeling of warmth the quickest. I used to do that when I was teaching dancing and would have horrible hot flashes and sweating from taking prednisone. Might be something to try?

    How often are your classes? Do you have another today? Hope all goes well -- can't wait to hear!

  2. Oh my...Murphy's Law always works!

    I hope things do get better for you in days to come.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Well Zip...I cannot believe you had to go through all of that just to get a card for that elevator. The school should be ashamed of themselves. But thank goodness for what the word handicapped can do for you. Is there anyway you could take like an icepack or something in a cooler and put it on your forehead or neck or something when you start to feel warm? Maybe that would help. I'm glad you got to explain this to your teacher and it seems as if she understood. That lady that came in late sounds like a hoot. You two could be trouble for the class LOL. I'm so proud of you for doing this I must say...Don't forget the apple now.

  4. Carleen Says:

    Sherlock and Thom, you two are brilliant! I happen to have a small ice pack thingy in my freezer just waiting for me to put it to use. I'll drag it along with me tomorrow and see if it helps.

    I'm also going to bring my laptop to class so that I can work independently of my desk partner, as that just might help as well. If I am forced to follow instructions and have something to do with them, I should be able to fight off any desire to sleep. It should be interesting, though, as I'll be dragging a 5-pound computer and a book that weighs almost twice as much.

    S'ok, though; I've toted more than that around. However, I did have access to the elevator then, too!

  5. Anonymous Says:

    Don't carry that stuff around!! Get one of those backpacks on wheels and stuff it all in there!

  6. Anonymous Says:

    I agree with Sherlock...they have those backpacks on wheels...would be much easier on you :)

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