SLP life in the time of coronavirus

week 2

Did your week just about kill you? Because I think mine did.

Maybe it’s the fact that I went part-time in 2018. When I did that, I took over a mostly high school caseload which, typically, takes a bit less time to manage. In my normal SLP life, I have far fewer (to date, zero) referrals and evaluations, a smaller caseload size, and students who need less, shall we say, entertaining. Worksheets, flash cards, and good ole conversation are suitable for many of my kiddos, with only those with more significant deficits requiring a bunch of prep. I cut out and laminate so much less these days. IEP season, of course, is still a bit crazy. But still, with an older population, I’m IEP holder for a very small number of students. And this year, even with about a third of my students being preschool to first grade, my workload has been manageable within my twenty hours a week.

Until this week, that is.

On Monday, the full weight of the week was yet unknown. I called many parents, but stopped at a decent time and enjoyed leftovers for dinner.

On Tuesday night, while my husband (J) and friends were playing remote trivia, I was sitting on the floor of our living room, trying to be involved, but mostly just being overwhelmed by the piles and piles of materials I had around me, trying to figure out what I needed to scan for packets of materials to be sent home. This was after waking up to a 5 AM email about how the regs we had been making decisions based on had suddenly changed and another morning telemeeting was required.

On Wednesday, my introverted self got a bit of a reprieve when both my Internet and cell service decided to go AWOL, leaving me with no option but to ignore the mounting list of parents I had yet to call and make the aforementioned packets instead. I sorted and printed and then sorted and drafted emails, complete with descriptions of each material and even page numbers I thought best. That night, I celebrated a little, feeling gloriously accomplished and had a Netflix Party with friends (PSA: North and South should be watched by all before it goes away in a few days).

On Thursday, I had to scurry to the porch to have a conversation with one of those waiting parents and somehow, by the grace of God, managed to maintain a professional manner whilst red wasps looking for a home in our rafters surrounded me. I did manage to contact most of my parents, which was a blessed relief, and I finished the day relatively happy. The ingenious J spent parts of his day setting up the ultimate remote board game experience, complete with 3 cameras in our dining room and a rigged lamp, so that we could carry on one of our games of Pandemic Legacy (apt, I know) with friends. By the time the game ended, I was wilting hard and fast.

On Friday, all of my glorious preparedness went out the widow when I realized that the carefully crafted draft emails I had created for parents were suddenly too large to be sent and I had to go through and rearrange and reupload my materials. I also painstakingly made checklists for everything I could think of and printed tons of paperwork - after realizing that I had only been checking and filling in some of the boxes in the online system 🤦‍♀️

That night, we had another socially distanced picnic with our neighbors and a couple of single friends who are struggling a bit. At any other time, I think we would look supremely strange - a handful of people in a yard, sitting in large circle spaced 6 feet from one another, all eating our individual meals and flinching if someone dared sneeze or cough. All the other members present seemed so happy to be seeing real-life faces that the picnic lasted well into the night; this girl, however did not. I excused myself to the house and planted myself in bed prepared to read until J came in so we could plan our morning shop, only to promptly fall asleep with my nose pressed up against Fellowship of the Ring on Kindle (I was reading Order of the Phoenix before bed, but had to stop a couple chapters before Sirius…. I just can’t right now, ya know?)

This morning was quite possibly the strangest grocery store experience I’ve ever had, with J sanitize wiping every package before it entered our bag and opening cooler doors with cloth and me giving every person I passed a critical assessment to determine their likelihood of giving me a vicious virus. I’m very consciously aware of every sneeze and cough in my vicinity now and, I’m happy to report, I heard none this morning. I was a little shocked at the number of people waiting outside the door (we got there at opening and I’ll also add that waking up at 6:30 on a Saturday after an overly full week of work is not my idea of fun), but was kind of impressed by the man wiping down buggies and passing them on to customers as they entered. We took the proffered tiny cart, but definitely should have waited the extra 30 seconds to get a big one. Something else we learned: the touch screen of the self-pay does work through a Clorox wipe. FYI.

This new life: it’s interesting on so many levels. Next week, I’m hoping to write a few IEPs in between learning how to do teletherapy for the first time. Today I might spend a little time checking out Boom Cards. Or I might enjoy a little speech-free life for a bit longer.

Day by day, week by week. We carry on.