Friday, July 23, 2010

In Which I Start Middle School

Fifth grade. I can still remember my first day of fifth grade like it was yesterday. I was petrified! In the state I live in we have a lot of "consolidated districts" which have more than one town. Our district was made up of about five small towns. The town I lived in was the largest and housed an elementary school (grades 1-4) the middle school for the district (grades 5-8) and the high school (grades 9-12). Up until this point I had attended my quiet little elementary school. It had just one classroom per grade. I had known all of my classmates for 4-5 years at this point (some went to kindergarten with me as well in the neighboring town). 

But fifth grade meant that I was now going to the district middle school where all the little towns came together. I no longer had just one classroom either. We had to move around the school to various areas. We now had band and chorus and gym added in to our schedule. While the majority of our classes still did occur in one single classroom, there were new kids to get to know and so much else to learn - including eating in a cafeteria! All things that my comfortable little elementary school did not have but middle school did.

Thankfully within a couple of weeks, I knew the routine and was doing well with it and even thriving again in school.

These black & white photos were taken during a presentation we did for our parents. I think it was on Hawaii or history or something along those lines - a lot of that assumption is based on the photos. Here I am (on the right in the photo) with my friend giving a presentation on volcanoes. We made the volcano out of salt dough and painted it. That was actually really fun. 

The photo at the top I am giving a presentation and I think we were suppose to memorize it. Obviously I did not do that since I can recall reading it from the back!

Yup, we did a hula dance too.

Fifth grade also was the time when I started having really bad issues with my ankles. I started to walk on the sides of my feet (I had started having problems in fourth grade) and soon was in a lot of pain. My parents began taking me to various specialist to try to figure out what was wrong. 

I remember seeing an orthopedic who made molds of my feet. I had to wear special sneakers that had removable insoles so I could put my inserts in. That didn't help. Another orthopedic put me on crutches for six weeks as my left ankle was the worst. This was interesting as the middle school had two flights of stairs and I had to move about it. It meant I was able to leave class 5-10 minutes early and a friend got to come with me and carry my books. One doctor even mentioned sending me to the Shriner's Hospital to have my Achilles tendons cut to "loosen" them as they were so tight. This would have had me in a body cast for about six months. Thankfully my parents said no.

I finally ended up at a pediatrician who thought I had juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and I carried that diagnosis until I reached high school. I then saw a rheumatologist who told me that I didn't have JRA but I wasn't completely "normal" either (big surprise). He called me an "enigma" and said while I didn't have JRA, I also didn't have 100% normal blood work either, but he thought I wouldn't end up with arthritis or lupus or anything along those lines (although about 15 years later I did end up with Type 1 diabetes - another autoimmune disease). 

Fifth grade is also when we were able to start taking music. I began taking band and playing the clarinet. I also sang in the chorus. I throughly enjoyed both and I'll be talking more about this in upcoming weeks.

I am late getting my story recorded this week. This is the 7th week out of 15 in which I am recorded memories of my childhood for my children.

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