Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Life...in general => Topic started by: Kendo_Bunny on October 29, 2012, 10:27:52 PM

Title: I can't help sounding this way
Post by: Kendo_Bunny on October 29, 2012, 10:27:52 PM
So, as I believe I've posted elsewhere on the board, I suffer from atypical migraines. They aren't particularly painful, but my motion and speech go completely haywire when I'm having one. I freeze up, twitch uncontrollably, sometimes make repetitive movements, and either can not speak at all, or stutter. Since I began taking migraine medication, the freezing/twitching stage only lasts about 10 minutes, but the stutter can last upwards of two hours.

I was at home last weekend, and my stepmother heard my post-migraine stutter for the first time, and burst out laughing. She told me I would never be able to hold on to a job if I persisted in doing it, and that I sounded just too funny. Now, I've had episodes at jobs before, and I've only had one other person so far be rude about it, but since I just started doing teaching work, this really worried me. I know that explanations of medical conditions are not necessary in most cases, but if my job is going to be giving lectures, then surely I must bring up that I sometimes have a stutter caused by a diagnosed medical condition, and that I do not normally have a stutter.

Also, if anyone gets rude about it again, what can I do? Much verbal response is out of the question, because I'm going to be stuttering very hard while trying to explain, or trying to gather my dignity.
Title: Re: I can't help sounding this way
Post by: Luci on October 29, 2012, 10:46:42 PM
How frequently do the migraines occur? Are they almost predictable?

If the answers are 'very rarely' and 'usually', I hope you could just take sick days as they happen. If no other answers, I can't make any suggestions.

Your stepmother was probably shocked and didn't have time to think about what she said. If you usually get along with her, just forget it (yeah, right - I forgave my stepmother for a LOT!).

Also, if anyone gets rude about it again, what can I do? Much verbal response is out of the question, because I'm going to be stuttering very hard while trying to explain, or trying to gather my dignity

Just a sigh and shrugged shoulders, followed by a cold look if pressed is all I can suggest.

Many hugs and best wishes.


Title: Re: I can't help sounding this way
Post by: weeblewobble on October 29, 2012, 10:51:15 PM
No advice, as there is really not much you can do beyond telling your employers about this issue and advising them how you normally handle these episodes.

Also, ((((((hugs))))) and your step-mother kind of sucks as a person.  Nothing like kicking someone when they're down and ill by laughing at them and making them feel self-conscious about their condition. 
Title: Re: I can't help sounding this way
Post by: Kendo_Bunny on October 29, 2012, 11:48:07 PM
They happen about once a month without triggers, but are almost always triggered by lavender (I'm severely allergic), sometimes triggered by dehydration or stress. I can usually stammer out "I have a migraine", but then people always want to ask questions about it. Would it be rude to carry around a little note explaining my condition for the persistent people? A lot of them are not rude, but are highly concerned, because they saw me having what appeared to be a seizure, and then were left with me stuttering too hard to be clear.
Title: Re: I can't help sounding this way
Post by: PastryGoddess on October 30, 2012, 12:25:20 AM
I am also a migraine sufferer.  I'm not atypical, I present the most common symptoms. However, I do have one or two a year where I have really really bad physical symptoms such as vomiting, vertigo, stuttering, shaking etc. 

I work for myself now, but when I did have a job working in an office.  I always let my boss/dept head and HR know what may happen.  I also learned very quickly to know where a safe dark place was in order to take my medicine and relax.

I know you don't want the whole world to know what's going on, but you should at least let your boss know what may happen and let him/her know what you need in order to recover.  Do you need to go home? Take medicine? go someplace dark and quiet for an hour?  By showing your boss that you are prepared in case something happens, you'll reduce their stress as well.

Are you taking medicine for your migraines?
Title: Re: I can't help sounding this way
Post by: Kendo_Bunny on October 30, 2012, 12:43:14 AM
I am on a preventative medicine for them, and am doing quite well in general, unless exposed to lavender (which is such a rare allergy that there aren't any options to treat it, only the worst symptom). The major problem is that I'm trying to get work as a teacher, and I'm currently working as a substitute.

I think I handled my stepmother laughing at me quite well - I quietly asked my father to speak to her and make sure she understood that this was one of my migraine symptoms. She apologized for laughing, because apparently she thought I was being weird, rather than doing something completely out of my control. But if I have a migraine in front of a classroom and begin stuttering (or repeating words, or forgetting words, or being entirely unable to speak) during a lecture, how can it be handled with dignity and grace? I don't mind explaining to people that I have atypical migraines, but if I'm stuttering violently, I do not relish talking, especially now that it has been brought to my attention how "funny" I sound. Like most, I do not enjoy being laughed at, especially for a disability, no matter how transitory it is.

I suppose this is mostly asking for advice for being polite and graceful when one has a speech-based disability, though mine is fortunately not permanent.
Title: Re: I can't help sounding this way
Post by: suzieQ on October 30, 2012, 05:22:12 AM
What age group do you teach? I would (if it were me) carry a few cards around I could hand out in case of people being freaked out, so they would realize I wasn't having a stroke or something. If the "kids" you are teaching are young adults, they should be able to handle an occasional problem like this - perhaps have your lecture written down and let a student (if they are old enough) finish reading it?
Title: Re: I can't help sounding this way
Post by: nyarlathotep on October 30, 2012, 06:29:22 AM
Carrying informative cards sounds like a good idea, with kids, and with adults who worry that you might be having a stroke.

For people who make fun of you, I'd suggest carrying a card that enquires whether they regularly make fun of people's disabilities, or whether this is a special occasion for them.*

*Disclaimer: may not be an entirely serious suggestion.
Title: Re: I can't help sounding this way
Post by: Queen of Clubs on October 30, 2012, 06:51:26 AM
I don't think it'd be rude to have a note written out to show people who are being persistent.  I'm sure they'd rather know you're okay, this is temporary, then have you fight to make yourself understood in the middle of a migraine.

As for during a lecture or class, could you have a small placard to whip out of your bag or out from the middle of your notes if the situation arises?
Title: Re: I can't help sounding this way
Post by: MNdragonlady on October 30, 2012, 07:37:29 AM
Maybe something like these (http://stickmancommunications.co.uk/epages/747384.sf/en_GB/?ObjectPath=/Shops/747384/Categories/All_products/Communication_Cards)?

They're small cards that can go on your keyring to help communicate with others what's going on. There are a few that reference speech issues; I don't know if they're exactly right, but maybe it would give you some inspiration.

Best wishes.
Title: Re: I can't help sounding this way
Post by: NyaChan on October 30, 2012, 08:43:55 AM
For people you know you are going to be around consistently (your coworkers & your set of students), I'd do a quick info session on it once you feel comfortable.  My teacher and one of the students in my grade school class (third grade I think...?) did this when they were explaining what they were doing with the poking of the finger and testing the blood.  We also got instructions on what to do (get a teacher) if the student passed out/other such things.  As a substitute teacher, I wouldn't worry so much about it - maybe inform the administration, and then step out of the room if you can/need to.
Title: Re: I can't help sounding this way
Post by: SleepyKitty on October 30, 2012, 12:06:43 PM
For teaching, I think a pre-emptive explanation would work fine, as long as you're comfortable with it. Think about how you would respond if it happened in class - if you couldn't talk or communicate easily, would you let them go early? Give them busy work? Try to go on like usual? Then, on the first day of class, when you're doing your introduction say something like:

"And just to let you all know, I have a medical condition that can sometimes affect my speech. Hopefully this won't be an issue, but if it is we will *insert response here - busy work or go home or whatever*." Then just move on.

In case you can't speak at all, designate a student that is responsible (ask around if you don't know them very well) and pull that student aside. Tell them that if you have a problem, you're going to hand them a note (pre-prepare the note and have it on you every day) that tells them you're having a medical issue and the class needs to *do whatever*. Then the student can make a brief announcement so everyone knows what's going on.

I think addressing it right away rather than trying to deal with it in the moment if you get a migraine will be easier on everyone.

Title: Re: I can't help sounding this way
Post by: O'Dell on October 30, 2012, 12:48:05 PM
I like SleepyKitty's idea of addressing preemptively with the kids when you start teaching. For all others, I think you'd be better off just saying "I have a migraine" as you do now, and brushing off other inquiring comments with "I'll be fine in a bit. Thanks for your concern." with a smile.

For others like your SM an icy "so kind of you to take an interest".
Title: Re: I can't help sounding this way
Post by: SPuck on October 30, 2012, 12:56:11 PM
Maybe you could look up how people in the work place with seizures handle their work/life/medical balance?
Title: Re: I can't help sounding this way
Post by: Mental Magpie on October 30, 2012, 07:51:54 PM
Wait, I must be missing something here.  Why does it matter if you stutter?  Does it matter if someone has a lisp?  Then why does it matter if you stutter?  I'm sure students will notice that you don't always stutter and can come to whatever conclusions they like for themselves.  If you feel compelled to explain, do it the first day of class.  "Sometimes I stutter, sometimes I don't.  When I do, it is a result of a diagnosed medical condition.  Please just bare with me when I do."
Title: Re: I can't help sounding this way
Post by: Shea on October 30, 2012, 07:52:44 PM
Where work is concerned, I think how problematic your migraines are really depends on the age you're hoping to teach. If you want to be a kindergarten teacher, I think that's something you'd definitely have to disclose to your employers, for the safety of the children under your care (not that a stutter is a serious problem, but the "freezing up" might be). I don't know how that would potentially work. If you're hoping to teach high school, then it would probably be much less of a problem, since high schoolers are less likely to wander off and stick their fingers into a light socket if you take your eyes off them for a couple of minutes. I'm sure there are people out there with epilepsy or atypical migraines like yours who manage to teach or do other high-responsibility jobs (I know a girl who has epilepsy and is currently in her last year of nursing school, but I don't know how she manages the possibility of a seizure while on the job). Maybe you could find some of them and get advice.

For your personal life, I'm glad your stepmom apologized. I think that it might be a good idea to have some business card-sized things printed up for when your migraines happen in public and people get worried about you. Since you can't speak well, having a pre-printed card might help you communicate what's going on, and let people know you don't need an ambulance.
Title: Re: I can't help sounding this way
Post by: Kendo_Bunny on October 30, 2012, 08:21:11 PM
I'm hoping to teach high school, and I'm less worried about them wandering off than the possibility of losing control of the classroom. I may be underestimating just how well most kids will behave in case of an emergency, but I think it's different with a substitute vs. the teacher they've had all year.

As for why it's an issue, it's a pretty severe stutter, and it can be hard to make myself understood. There's also sometimes an issue where I forget words (and not complex words, very basic ones), or where I can not speak at all. I can get through to my friends and roommates with charades when I can't speak at all - I can still write when I can't speak, and they know to bring me a piece of paper, or my cell phone when I give the sign that I can't speak.
Title: Re: I can't help sounding this way
Post by: Mental Magpie on October 30, 2012, 08:28:26 PM
I'm hoping to teach high school, and I'm less worried about them wandering off than the possibility of losing control of the classroom. I may be underestimating just how well most kids will behave in case of an emergency, but I think it's different with a substitute vs. the teacher they've had all year.

As for why it's an issue, it's a pretty severe stutter, and it can be hard to make myself understood. There's also sometimes an issue where I forget words (and not complex words, very basic ones), or where I can not speak at all. I can get through to my friends and roommates with charades when I can't speak at all - I can still write when I can't speak, and they know to bring me a piece of paper, or my cell phone when I give the sign that I can't speak.

If you're in a classroom, you have a board to write on, right?  Just a brief explanation at the beginning of the year like I suggested earlier.  I really think you're worrying too much about this.  I understand it impacts you a lot, but I don't think it will have much of an effect on your teaching.
Title: Re: I can't help sounding this way
Post by: Outdoor Girl on October 30, 2012, 09:01:10 PM
I remember a TV movie, based on a true story, about a teacher with Tourette's syndrome.  When he started in a classroom with middle school aged kids, he explained to them what Tourette's was and what kinds of things would happen.  The kids adapted very quickly and had no issues at all.

I'm wondering if the same approach would work for you?  Let them know from the get go that if you suddenly have trouble speaking, you'll write on the blackboard/whiteboard/on the computer with it projected - however you can manage to communicate with the kids.

I don't think the kids will have any issue with it at all if you are upfront with what's going on.  IME, kids get more upset when they don't know what's going on.
Title: Re: I can't help sounding this way
Post by: Kendo_Bunny on October 30, 2012, 11:09:49 PM
For your personal life, I'm glad your stepmom apologized. I think that it might be a good idea to have some business card-sized things printed up for when your migraines happen in public and people get worried about you. Since you can't speak well, having a pre-printed card might help you communicate what's going on, and let people know you don't need an ambulance.

That has been another thing that has concerned me. At a previous job, my only co-worker was a close friend. She knows I hate having a fuss made over me when I'm not feeling well, and so when I had a migraine while she was doing a photo shoot, she excused herself, helped me into the office, and closed the door. She tried to explain to the customers that I would like to be left alone, but one of them was a nurse, and wanted to see what she could do for me. The nurse was horrified that in her eyes, I was being shut in a back room, to prevent the store from being embarrassed, where my friend was being sympathetic and not letting strangers watch me.

I've had people try to call ambulances, try to lie me on my back, or try to persuade me to go to the hospital when I want most to be left alone until the worst has passed. It's very kind of them, and I truly appreciate the Good Samaritans who truly want to help the girl they are convinced is having a stroke or an epileptic seizure in front of them (I've been tested for every neurological disorder they could think of and had my brain scanned - it's definitely just atypical migraines). It can be hard to explain I neither want nor need help, especially because I look and sound much worse off than I actually am.
Title: Re: I can't help sounding this way
Post by: PastryGoddess on October 31, 2012, 02:35:10 AM
For your personal life, I'm glad your stepmom apologized. I think that it might be a good idea to have some business card-sized things printed up for when your migraines happen in public and people get worried about you. Since you can't speak well, having a pre-printed card might help you communicate what's going on, and let people know you don't need an ambulance.

That has been another thing that has concerned me. At a previous job, my only co-worker was a close friend. She knows I hate having a fuss made over me when I'm not feeling well, and so when I had a migraine while she was doing a photo shoot, she excused herself, helped me into the office, and closed the door. She tried to explain to the customers that I would like to be left alone, but one of them was a nurse, and wanted to see what she could do for me. The nurse was horrified that in her eyes, I was being shut in a back room, to prevent the store from being embarrassed, where my friend was being sympathetic and not letting strangers watch me.

I've had people try to call ambulances, try to lie me on my back, or try to persuade me to go to the hospital when I want most to be left alone until the worst has passed. It's very kind of them, and I truly appreciate the Good Samaritans who truly want to help the girl they are convinced is having a stroke or an epileptic seizure in front of them (I've been tested for every neurological disorder they could think of and had my brain scanned - it's definitely just atypical migraines). It can be hard to explain I neither want nor need help, especially because I look and sound much worse off than I actually am.

If that is the case then you definitely need to let your bosses and possibly your students know ahead of time. It might also make sense to have the school nurse in the loop as well.  Even if it's just to get people to back off and give you some space while you recover.
Title: Re: I can't help sounding this way
Post by: rashea on October 31, 2012, 07:31:55 AM
I think having a card that explains what's going on will help you. If only so that people don't call an ambulance. I used to carry one because if my knee got bumped I could pass out. And more than that, had to take a few minutes to get the pain under control. EMTs couldn't do anything, and neither could the ER, so calling wasn't helpful. Having a card to hand to someone with some quick information and instructions on what they could do to help (a glass of water, something to grip, bring my purse, etc.) and things that wouldn't help (calling the ambulance, trying to get me to my feet). It definitely helped.

I think it's worth warning the kids too. Just a head's up so that they don't get scared. Stuttering is fine, but if it was a change from normal, I'd be concerned you were having a stroke.

And don't underestimate the ability to teach an entire lesson by writing on the board. Or, see if you can assign a student to lead part of the class for a short while. When I was a TA, I had a bad pain day very unexpectedly. After running out of the classroom (okay, wheeling as fast as I could) to throw up (pain reaction) I had the students work in small groups to formulate solutions to the problems we were working on, and then present them. It worked so well, we did it more frequently after that.
Title: Re: I can't help sounding this way
Post by: Jones on October 31, 2012, 10:05:49 AM
I had a teacher throughout highschool who had diabetes. She would start out the year explaining it a bit, and if she had to she'd disappear to the faculty lounge for a snack. She'd try to keep it between classes but, well, who can eat a snack and walk up and down a large school in 5 minutes or less? We knew to go into class, sit and work on whatever assignment she'd written on the board for the day. There was always an outline on the board we could follow on our own initiative, in case she couldn't be there to give the assignment right away. She always came back once she'd taken care of herself and we'd be ready for her. Teenagers do have the ability to adapt if they are made aware of a situation.
Title: Re: I can't help sounding this way
Post by: Sharnita on October 31, 2012, 02:56:16 PM
I'm hoping to teach high school, and I'm less worried about them wandering off than the possibility of losing control of the classroom. I may be underestimating just how well most kids will behave in case of an emergency, but I think it's different with a substitute vs. the teacher they've had all year.

As for why it's an issue, it's a pretty severe stutter, and it can be hard to make myself understood. There's also sometimes an issue where I forget words (and not complex words, very basic ones), or where I can not speak at all. I can get through to my friends and roommates with charades when I can't speak at all - I can still write when I can't speak, and they know to bring me a piece of paper, or my cell phone when I give the sign that I can't speak.

I've taught that age and had some pretty nasty migraines.  The kids in my room were sometimes the toughest kids imaginable.  We are talking some kids on tethers due to criminal activities.  I found that they were actually better when they knew I was having a migraine.  They would kind of police each other and remind each other that I was in genuine pain.  Even the kids who were behavior problems at other times would do their best.  They tend to recognize genuine suffering and try not to make it worse.
Title: Re: I can't help sounding this way
Post by: O'Dell on October 31, 2012, 03:35:06 PM
I'm hoping to teach high school, and I'm less worried about them wandering off than the possibility of losing control of the classroom. I may be underestimating just how well most kids will behave in case of an emergency, but I think it's different with a substitute vs. the teacher they've had all year.

As for why it's an issue, it's a pretty severe stutter, and it can be hard to make myself understood. There's also sometimes an issue where I forget words (and not complex words, very basic ones), or where I can not speak at all. I can get through to my friends and roommates with charades when I can't speak at all - I can still write when I can't speak, and they know to bring me a piece of paper, or my cell phone when I give the sign that I can't speak.

I've taught that age and had some pretty nasty migraines.  The kids in my room were sometimes the toughest kids imaginable.  We are talking some kids on tethers due to criminal activities.  I found that they were actually better when they knew I was having a migraine.  They would kind of police each other and remind each other that I was in genuine pain.  Even the kids who were behavior problems at other times would do their best.  They tend to recognize genuine suffering and try not to make it worse.

That is sweet!! You restored some of my faith in humanity with that post. :) (I mean that sincerely!)
Title: Re: I can't help sounding this way
Post by: Onyx_TKD on October 31, 2012, 04:14:17 PM
I'm hoping to teach high school, and I'm less worried about them wandering off than the possibility of losing control of the classroom. I may be underestimating just how well most kids will behave in case of an emergency, but I think it's different with a substitute vs. the teacher they've had all year.

As for why it's an issue, it's a pretty severe stutter, and it can be hard to make myself understood. There's also sometimes an issue where I forget words (and not complex words, very basic ones), or where I can not speak at all. I can get through to my friends and roommates with charades when I can't speak at all - I can still write when I can't speak, and they know to bring me a piece of paper, or my cell phone when I give the sign that I can't speak.

I've taught that age and had some pretty nasty migraines.  The kids in my room were sometimes the toughest kids imaginable.  We are talking some kids on tethers due to criminal activities.  I found that they were actually better when they knew I was having a migraine.  They would kind of police each other and remind each other that I was in genuine pain.  Even the kids who were behavior problems at other times would do their best.  They tend to recognize genuine suffering and try not to make it worse.

That is sweet!! You restored some of my faith in humanity with that post. :) (I mean that sincerely!)

My mom used to be a teacher, and she too had some great stories about how nice and sweet a lot of the "bad" kids were to her (she didn't mention tethers, but at least one of her students had to sit out a field trip because she wasn't allowed to leave the state  :(). One story that gets retold in our household every year is about a student who got pulled into the principal's office because he'd brought a bunch of small paper-wrapped packages to school that they suspected were drugs based on his history. When my mom saw what was going on, she was able to clue them in to what was actually in the packages--homemade Christmas ornaments for his teachers  :).