Tag Archives: Communication

Talking and teaching

1 May

Thursday is the day I stand up in front of undergraduates for four hours and talk about calculus, so it presented a big test for my newly mobile jaw. For the most part, things went reasonably well, but there were times when things had me worrying.

In my first section, I found that talking occasionally brought pain to the left side of my jaw. I didn’t think too much of it, but it was definitely a reminder that there’s still plenty that could go wrong with this injury, and a smooth recovery isn’t guaranteed. Toward the end of the section, two of the three rubber bands in my mouth snapped. Ideally, I would have replaced them right away, but I chose not to interrupt my teaching and waited until I had a break to replace them.

My break, unfortunately, was only ten minutes long, and replacing the rubber bands took close to half of this time. While it wasn’t particularly difficult, the new rubber bands kept breaking as I tried to put them in. My second section, fortunately, went relatively smoothly, and without any broken rubber bands.

The biggest scare of the day came in my third, and final section. I started off badly with this section, having discovered on my way to the classroom that I had lost my lesson plan. Fortunately, I had already been through it twice in the day, so this didn’t present too much of a problem, and I’m not sure if any students even noticed.  However, with about fifteen minutes left, I started to feel discomfort in the left side of my jaw near the site of the fracture. I noticed that the discomfort increased when I turned my head. This all seemed eerily similar to the way things felt in the three days between my accident and the surgery, and I wondered if my bone had broken again and shifted out of place again. A couple of minutes later, a rubber band snapped. I finished the lesson, trying to move my jaw a little bit less than before, and by the time I was done, the discomfort had subsided somewhat. I quickly tried to find a men’s room to replace the rubber band, but was unable to find one in the unfamiliar and infamously maze-like Dwinelle Hall. I ended up replacing it in the hallway using the back of my iPod as a mirror, my fingers still covered with chalk and visible to anybody who walked by.

As for the pain in my jaw, I managed to convince myself that I hadn’t broken my jaw again by tilting my head back, and observing that this didn’t cause the sharp pain that it gave me before the surgery. My guess is that there’s just a little bit of swelling resulting from the increased activity in the area, but I’ll probably call the oral surgeon tomorrow just to be safe.

A drug-free me

11 Apr

Yesterday, I struggled mightily to stay awake in my classes. At first I thought this was just because I stayed up late Thursday night, but then I began to wonder if Vicodin, which I had been taking twice daily, might have been playing some role. When I was in the office, I thought that the only side effect on the label was dizziness, but it occurred to me that it might actually have been drowsiness, and I had misremembered or misread.

When I got home, I checked the label of my container of Vicodin, and sure enough, it warned that the drug may cause drowsiness. I wasn’t experiencing much pain, so I decided I’d try to stop taking it.

I haven’t taken Vicodin since yesterday morning, and so far everything is going well. I don’t feel tired, but that may well be because I slept better last night. The most noticeable difference when I woke up this morning, though, was that I was able to talk reasonably well. My speech is still far from normal, I think that most people would find me comprehensible. I do struggle with certain sounds. For example, I can’t pronounce the “th” sound, so I have to use the “d” sound as young children sometimes do.

For the first time, I feel genuinely hopeful that I’ll be able to teach my classes next week.

In all fairness, I don’t know if my ability to talk has anything to do with my newly drug-free status. It may well be that it’s just a consequence of my mouth being a little bit less swollen. However, I do think it’s very much plausible that a narcotic like Vicodin would make it harder to exercise the relatively precise control required to speak clearly.

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