So I was dropped to my hands and knees, there in the hallway, just outside my classroom door. I was desperately trying to gobble in some air. For a moment, it didn’t seem to be working. My coworkers were around, and the students, too, staring down at me.
With the help of my classroom aide, I scrambled into the nearby principals office. I began to put it all together. It was hard to think, because their was this pain that dominated my whole consciousness in the side of my neck. And there was something lesser, but unpleasant, going on in the back of my skull.
As I half turned in the doorway I saw that they were restraining the student (let’s call him Nate.) And in something like a flash, I put it all back together. I had just been assaulted. He landed a closed fist on the side of my neck and I didn’t see him coming.
The idea that I hit the wall on the way down, I figured that part out later.
I teach at a residential facility for emotionally disturbed adolescents. Being assaulted isn’t an every day occurrence. But sooner or later, in places like this, it happens.
Several years ago, I spent three endless, pain-filled weeks on disability with a sprained back. About once every couple months, I participate in restraints, keeping our students from hurting themselves or others. I have had close calls. I’ve been hit, spit on, and my experiences are nothing compared to some of the heroes I work with, who daily, regretfully, put their hands on our students; who have dealt with all manner of body fluids, who have been hospitalized, occasionally for quite lengthy stays.
My back still feels sore when it rains, after all these years. I have been in a lot of pain today and spent the morning getting a cat scan to make sure I didn’t have a concussion. I know that I will be feeling this one for quite some time.
These injuries that I carry with me, they have changed me. Reduced how much I could, for example, wrestle with my youngest. I was (if you must know the truth) feeling kinda sorry for myself this morning, as I sat in the ER, waiting for my number to come up.
And then I had this realization:
I am not any different than anybody. Except that it’s just more obvious for me.
We are wounded by our work, whatever it is. For all of us, our livelihood take things from us that they should not. We give more than hours in exchange for our pay checks. We give away parts of ourselves, and we know that these are parts are families deserve, but we have sacrificed them because we really don’t have an alternative.
Mostly I love my job. I don’t have a solution, or a neat, happy thought to tie this blog post up with. I guess I will leave it unresolved… like life.