My New Job

I started work at my new job this week. I’m the friendly new librarian at the Howe Library. I’ll spend a few hours twice a week staffing the reference desk (aka the information desk) and the rest of the time I’ll be selecting books for my categories and planning programming for the library. They assigned me to three genres: mystery, science fiction, and graphic novels. They asked if that was ok and I said yes, heck yes! I’ll also be helping with social media, because I just can’t help myself. :)

I can only work 35hrs a week, so today I was scheduled to close (at 5:00pm) so they reminded me yesterday to come in later this morning so I didn’t go over the 35hrs. Umm.. ok. I texted my friend last night and we met up for breakfast in town this morning. It was very lovely. The folks at the library even take hour long breaks! It has been a running joke this week at my reaction when I heard that and my question, “What do you even DO for an hour?!?” They were equally shocked to hear what a teacher lunch break looks like.


I’m starting a new job next week. Adult Services Librarian at the Howe Library. I had a little tour last week and they introduced me to someone who does the shelving and other people who do the ordering and processing. Someone else does the checkout. By the end of the tour I found myself asking “What exactly will I be doing?” They were surprised to hear that I did all of that and more, and that was only one third of my job at school! Apparently I will be in charge of collection development and programming, along with several other librarians in my department. It will either be a calm, peaceful job or totally boring. We’ll see.

However, this week all of my colleagues in education are starting back at school and I am feeling a tiny bit of survivors guilt. As many of you know. for the past bunch of years this has been a very stressful week for me as I prepared to return to school. The school library role these days is almost three full-time jobs: librarian, teacher, and technical support. In-service week always found me trying to get the library ready, the computers ready, all the various tech related accounts ready, lesson plans done, bulletin board up, and all the school-wide commitments as well.

This year, this week I’ve been updating district websites (another thing I always do this week), doing house chores, and relaxing a bit too. It is such an amazingly different feeling than previous years. This new job might be amazing or a snooze-fest, but right now I am entirely happy with my decision and at peace this week.

Quick back update

I had an MRI on March 29th. It was the worst! The MRI showed two “bulging discs” (L5/S1 or L4/L5 depending on which report you read. 🤔) Then they sent me for a steroid shot and nerve block (4/18), xrays to check mobility (4/26), and a meeting with the neuro/spinal surgeon on April 26th. The surgeon recommended …. wait for it… surgery! The steroid shot and nerve block helped a lot to reduce the pain, but the tightness/numbness/pins&needles/tingling/etc. persisted. I also have what they call “weakness” in my left foot because I can’t lift my toes off the floor very much and can’t press up as firmly as I can with the other foot. The surgeon said the numbness etc. would possibly get better with PT, but the weakness was concerning to him and a reason for surgery. The whole surgery process and recovery sounds soooo much worse than the situation I’m already in. I told him I’d think about it. Truthfully I’m thinking about all the thing I can do to AVOID back surgery! I cried to my mom for awhile, took a nap, then chatted with doctor nurse Rosy for advice. Since then I’ve done some research on chronic pain, got a massage and schedule another, scheduled a PT appointment, and joined the aquatic center. I’m going to manage this pain and do what I can to get through it. Next year with Lex and Eve are both away, I’ve decided it’s my year to focus on ME. Someone please remind me of that when I’m a hot mess missing my kiddos. 😂

The MRI also found a suspicious adnexal mass that is completely unrelated to the back pain. It was an “incidental finding” they say. My primary care doctor sent me for a transvaginal ultrasound on May 10th. The doctor called me yesterday to say the ultrasound didn’t provide any useful information and he wants me to get another MRI or a CT scan. I told him no way on the MRI until the back pain is gone. He put in a referral for a CT scan. Sigh. I’m sure it’s nothing, because I don’t have time for anything else. I’ll keep y’all posted!

School project

This is really a school post, but I’m proud of it so I’m putting it here too. I did a project with the kids at schools that was creative and fun and took forever and was a little nerve wracking, but ultimately awesome!

I read a cool book called Someone Builds the Dream, one of this year’s state book award nominees. As a related project, I taught the 3rd and 4th graders how to use Tinkercad, a 3D modeling program. They each go to design their own project and have it printed. I wanted the little kids to do a project too, so I had them draw something cool, then I had the 3rd and 4th graders model their drawings in Tinkercad and print them.

At school we have lodges, small groups of mixed grade kids with a single teacher or two. Lodges meet several times a month and do a variety of activities. We stick with the same lodges year after year so the kids can build relationships with each other, and so that all students have a relationship with a teacher (or two) that is consistent year after year. For my 3D printing project I had the 3rd and 4th graders model the designs of their younger lodge buddies.

It took many weeks for the big kids to do the modeling and for me to print everything. Kids asked about it frequently and I kept telling them soon, soon. This past week the day finally came. I gave each lodge teacher a ziploc bag with the 3D prints for all of the kids in their lodges, and the related drawings done by the younger kids. I also printed an #Otters4ever tag for the 5th graders so they weren’t left out (they don’t have library class this year 😞). I was nervous that kids wouldn’t be happy with their prints, that they weren’t a close enough match to their drawings, or the wrong color, or whatever. The projects were not perfect and I am a perfectionist.

The kids in my lodge loved their projects! I stood in the hall at the end of lodge time as all the kids returned to their classes and saw so many kids proudly showing off their work to classmate and friends. So many came up to me and said thank you. Teachers sent me raving emails throughout the day, and one lodge even took the time to write thank you notes. Many teachers said they skipped the usual lodge plans and just let the kids talk about their projects.

“I want to give a HUGE shout out to Tessa for this project. It was AWESOME. The kids receiving the items were so excited and happy. One of my favorite moments came with a first grader yelling, “IT’S GOLD!!!!!!!! How did you know?!” But even more rewarding was watching the third and fourth graders pride in their work. I have a particular member of my lodge who almost always contributes with random comments that take us off track. When my second grader asked who made her design he answered, “I did. I made it purple because that was the color of your drawing.” I can’t tell you how much of a win that was! Thank you Tessa for all of your hard work on this project. My bucket was filled.”

– DBS Teacher

I was happy and very relieved that it all went well! It was one of those projects that I’m so happy I did and so happy it’s done. 😄


I learned a new word at work this week. Interception. Did you know the human body has more than five senses? I bet you did, though maybe you didn’t know the words for them. Through teaching I’ve learned about the vestibular and proprioceptive senses, but this week I learned about interception as well. It stuck in my brain because it seems to explain the reason why internal pains can be mentally all-consuming. Right now this sciatic pain is all consuming in my brain. When the ibuprofen wears off and the pain flairs up, it’s all I can think about. It’s hard to follow conversations, much less participate in them, or make decisions, or feel motivated to do anything but sit in the one pain-relieving position. This is obvious and I’m sure everyone has had internal stuff that was all consuming at one point or another, but it’s interesting to have a word for it now.

It would be more interesting to have a cure for it too! My hope for a miracle from the chiropractor has not panned out. I haven’t been going to the gym (see paragraph above!), and today he said don’t go to the gym until the pain is under control. He actually advised me to see my family practitioner and come back once the pain is under control. I was dismissed from the chiropractor. Not sure what to make of that. I guess it’s good he’s honest and not just trying to make a buck off me. I didn’t tell him that once the pain is gone I’m not going back to the chiropractor. :)

I have an appointment with the doctor on Friday. Maybe they will have the miracle cure this time around!

A day trip to Boston

Eve and I had an awesome day shopping on Boston yesterday. We aren’t big shoppers in general, but I was finally ready to buy new living room furniture and I couldn’t find anything perfect around here. We drove down to Ikea with a list and all the enthusiasm. We tested all of the couches and many of the chairs and tables at Ikea, both because we wanted to buy them and because my sciatic feels better when I sit down. LOL. So we did lots of chair testing while I waited for the meds to kick in. We got some little stuff and a BLÅHAJ (Swedish for “blue shark” and something Eve has been wanting for awhile), but didn’t love any of the couches.

Then we went to Starbucks (I needed a pick-me-up!) and Target for some clothes for Eve. She never asks for new clothes, so when she does I say YES! 😄

With caffeine, snacks, and meds in my body, we headed to Jordan’s Furniture, a store that is even bigger than Ikea and a true shopping experience. They even has an IMAX theater and an “Enchanted Village” thing and lots of other random “experiences,” plus furniture!! We explored for awhile, until we found the perfect couch!! It was soo soft and comfy and we both loved it. A nice sales guy from Southie came over and helped us getting it all ordered. It took awhile and I was running down, so I went out to the car to get our Starbucks beverages and buy a little snack at the fancy Jordan’s snack bar, while Eve stayed with the sales guy and discussed colors and end tables. She was an AMAZING partner in the furniture shopping process. She advocated for the practical when I wanted to luxurious, she was chatting with the guy and held her ground when the guy tried to upsell us on stuff, and she kept me going. Also, she’s just a fun person to have around!

We ended up buying two couches and two “cocktail ottomans,” which are the big, firm, padded ottomans that are popular these days. We didn’t find any end tables that we loved, so we’ll buy those somewhere else. We were going to get two chairs to put under the TV, instead of the couch that’s there now, but both of the couches we bought are bigger than what we currently have, so we decided to hold off and see how it all fits in our space first. Once we have the new couches and ottomans in place, we can decided what else we need. Jordan’s will deliver the furniture too us sometime in late February or early March. That will be a fun day! (hopefully the cat and dog don’t immediately “claim” them!)

When we finished furniture shopping at 7pm, we stopped by Petco to buy new (bigger) shells for the hermit crabs, then stopped at the Olive Garden for a little dinner. We got home at 11:30pm! We were both exhausted, but it was an awesome day. I can’t wait for the new furniture to arrive. :)

I’m lucky to have this girl in my life. <3

Getting old

We went to Niagara Falls for Thanksgiving. After 14+ hours in the car and three nights on a terrible mattress, I came home with a terribly aching back. I did lots of stretches and rolling and Advil, and by Christmas it was 90% better. Two weeks ago I got sciatica! Or at least I think it’s sciatica, based on my previous awful experience with it in 2008. Instead of months and months of physical therapy, I decided to go straight to the chiropractor, hoping for another miracle cure. After two appointments no miracles have occurred yet. :/ So far it is bad, but not emergency room bad, so I’ll keep stretching, going to the gym, going to the chiropractor, and downing the OTC drugs.

Medical update

This is a boring post mostly for my own reference. I went back to the doctor on Monday (8/22) for a throat checkup. I’m starting to feel symptoms again (harder to breath, light snoring, noisier breathing) and wanted to do the injections again. The doctor did the scope thing and compared it to six months ago. He said he didn’t see a noticeable difference in scar tissue buildup, but if I was feeling symptomatic again it was good to do the steroid treatment to prevent further growth. I agreed. I obviously don’t enjoy the steroid treatment process, but I do like the reassurance that we are doing everything possible to prevent the need for future surgeries!

I started working this week (in-service, no students yet) and my voice quality has been very bad. I think it’s because I’ve been talking a lot and kind of loudly due to the crowds of our district meetings. I hope the poor voice quality is a side-effect of the injections, not something else. I’m going to rest it this weekend and hopefully it will be fresh and good by Tuesday when students return and I start teaching all day every day!

HBD to me

My birthday was the other day. It was pretty awful, but I gave myself a re-do and did much better the second time around! 😁

I got my Covid booster shot (Pfizer) on Thursday evening, then went to school Friday morning because I was feeling ok. I have a light morning on Fridays so I figured I could take it easy, do some stuff around the library, and be ok. Turns out I was NOT ok! We had 11 teachers out and I was called to sub in kindergarten. I said I’m not feeling well and probably can’t teach kindergarten all day, so the boss said, “ok, how about subbing for the para in the other kindergarten?” So I did that, until the chills set in, then the shivers and aches. I ended up in tears in the office around 10am and heading home around 10:30am (after crying in both kindergarten classrooms!). Everyone was super supportive (I love that about my school!) but I felt guilty leaving anyway since there were already so many people out. When I got home I crashed on the couch for the rest of the day. Teenagers came and went, and I dozed on. I had aches, chills, sweats, vomiting… it was awful. I was feeling much better by Saturday. Alan came down and did a bunch of jobs around the house, I opened presents, we all laughed and had fun, then we went to watch Cinderella at the high school. Lex is running the lights again this year and Eve did stage crew. It was a great show. I’m feeling close to 100% now Sunday evening. The kids did their final Cinderella production this afternoon, then Eve and I went grocery shopping this evening. I bought myself some birthday cake. :)

It was a miserable day, but an otherwise good weekend and 100% worth it to keep myself and others safer from Covid!

My buff neck!

I went back to my Boston doctor today for another peek at my subglottic stenosis. Unfortunately the scar tissue is starting to build up again, which I was expecting due to the increase in symptoms I’ve been experiencing in the past month or two. It’s not super bad, but noticeable in the pictures (which I won’t show you here) and the doctor thought it was prudent to do another round of steroid injections. I agreed 100%! Steroid shots directly into my trachea, through my neck!, are not fun, but it beats surgery any day!

To do the procedure they spray two different disgusting sprays into my nostrils to begin the numbing process. Then a gargle and swallow of something else. Then a spray down the throat. All taste gross. Then a few (three this time!) numbing shots to my neck. The nurse gave me a stress ball to squeeze. Apparently I was not relaxed enough for neck injections. Then we wait a few minutes until my throat and tongue are all numb and weird feeling. THEN the fun begins! They take the scope (which they already used earlier to look down into my throat) and stick it back down my nose until they can see my vocal chords and, as best they can, through them. While the nurse holds the scope, the doctor uses more needles to inject steroids through my neck and into the interior lining of my trachea. I do my best slow breathing and wish I was a little more zen. 🥴 Then they are done. The doctor always shows me the video from the scope camera. It’s fascinating and creepy and disgusting all at the same time.

I made my usual stop at the fancy outdoor mall to change the car and get myself some Starbucks. The weather was so nice I decided to poke around in the stores too. They were all swanky, but also just mall stores. LOL. Outdoor, swanky, mall stores. I saw a neat clothing store, but didn’t feel like trying on clothes after I got a glimpse of myself in the mirror and realized I was walking around with a big bruise on my neck! The doc said that might happen, but it didn’t last time so I assumed it would this time either. But it did. I decided to stick to stores without mirrors. :)

My next appointment is for the second week of school. I’m hoping I can make it a whole year without another surgery! How’s that for a low bar?! So far so good. 🤗