Another school year is drawing to a close. Though typically professors may break things up by semester rather than year, for the past three years I've been teaching dual credit courses at a local high school though I am a college employee and do not work for the school district. For that reason, I'm in a unique position to get to know my classes over the course of a year rather than a semester. It is always a bittersweet time of year for many reasons, but this year seems more so. My students are remarkable and I've had some of my favorite classes ever, which is saying a lot because I don't get attached to anyone or anything easily. But I fear it may all be coming to a close.
The continued complications from my back injury are not getting any easier to live with. Quite the opposite. It is constantly two steps forward and three steps back. In some ways, I'm more limited than I was two years ago, as odd as that may sound. Add to that, the mystery illness which I've suffered from since at least June (probably longer) which was finally diagnosed in February. I'm not going to go into graphic detail, but it is an incurable auto-immune disease in which my body attacks itself. This means that I am am the only person strong enough to kick my ass. It is not fatal, but long term it can cause organ damage which can be. The list of symptoms are very long and I suffer from quite a few which causes issues for me in the classroom from time to time.
I'm frustrated and for the first time I am seriously considering leaving the classroom for good, though in my broken down state I don't think I'd get very far. I'll stick it out for another year if I can and then see what things look like. Part of it is due to concerns over my health and the other part of it is I'm tired of being "just an adjunct". I know I'm not full time faculty material. I'm too outspoken and I don't do politics. That alone rules me out. I don't have a PhD and, honestly, I'm not a "scholarly" person whatever the hell that means. I'm just a guy who likes to talk about history. Nothing more. Nothing less. I'm not a great teacher and I'm probably not even a very good one, especially not this year. I do think, though, that I'm an okay storyteller.
As much as I try to shield my kids from my day to day aches and pains, I fear that for the first time I let my health intrude into my classroom this year. This makes me feel really bad for my students. While I only missed once because of having a procedure done, there were days when I felt like being anywhere but in the classroom. The chronic fatigue which comes with my disease means that even moving is hard sometimes. But I'm still here and I'm still fighting. I'm Irish and we just don't know when we are beat.
So as I walk out of the classroom here in a few weeks, I don't know what my future will hold. It may very well be that I'll be back in the same spot next year. I may be teaching at a different college. Or I may not be teaching at all. I'll just keep taking it one day and a time and hoping that things will work out for me eventually. Lord knows I'm due for some good luck but as I bear the Hutchison Curse, I don't see it happening any time soon.
My name is Lee Hutch and I am a Half A$$ Historian.