This is Real Life

I was thinking today about being a connected educator. It’s always talked about as such a big, important thing, this being a connected educator. It means you’re in the know and at the forefront of educational trends. You are being influenced and influencing others professionally.

I consider myself a connected educator. I’m active on Facebook, not just sharing pictures of my cats and keeping in touch with family, but sharing blogs and articles about teaching, connecting with teachers and students, and following educational sites. I’m on Twitter (@nataleestotz) and Voxer. I blog (although not as consistently as I’d like).

But this week I was floored by the true meaning and value of being a connected educator.

Friday, July 3, my husband had a doctor’s appointment to follow up on the cough he’d been having. A cough we were all attributing to spring allergies. But he wasn’t feeling better, and our GP ordered chest x-rays. On his way home from having the x-ray, he got a call to return to the hospital for a CT; the x-ray showed a significant amount of fluid. They drained nearly 2 liters.

At Monday’s follow up to the ER visit, our GP referred us to a pulmonary specialist. Wednesday, July 8, while sitting with the pulmonologist, he got the final lab results from the fluid.

Stage IV.

That night we called our families and closest friends. We texted other friends, I emailed my colleagues. I notified my ELAFlip PLN and my RuralEdChat co-mods I wouldn’t be involved much for a while. I put a post on Facebook.  It wasn’t long before the love and support was pouring in from literally all over the world.

That’s what it means to be a connected educator. It’s not just about sharing great ideas for lesson plans or classroom management, about following big names in education or the publishing world. Even though many of these people I have only communicated with through Twitter, Voxer, or Facebook, we have built relationship. John and I are just overwhelmed and humbled by the outpouring of love and support we are getting.

Things are happening fast. He had surgery today. It went well. They drained more fluid, took tissue to biopsy, and sprayed surgical talc into his chest cavity to stop the pleura from continuing to weep. He is resting comfortably and is in good spirits.  Monday he is scheduled for a PET scan, and next week we get the results of these tests and hopefully find out what type of cancer, exactly where it is, and what our course of treatment will be.

We know it hasn’t fully sunk in; we haven’t fully grasped the depth or severity of the situation, but we have accepted it. This is what we have to face and the road we have to walk. We are walking it together, we are surrounded by a tremendous group of family and friends, both near and far, and most importantly, we are trusting in a loving God who is so much bigger than this ugly thing called cancer.

Just last week we heard YA author, Chris Crutcher speak at Boothbay Literacy retreat, and then read his autobiography, King of the Mild Frontier. He spoke about some of the horrible things he has seen as a child psychologist, things that often work their way into his books. He brought up the question that people so often ask, why do bad things happen to good people (or good things to bad people!). The conclusion he has come to is this: take out the adjectives and ask the question again. Why do things happen to people? They just do.

We’re not asking why. It’s happening. We’re asking how are we going to walk through this. We know the answer: head held high, side by side with each other, our loved ones, and our faith.     


7 thoughts on “This is Real Life

  1. From an educator in Florida – know that you are not alone! You and your husband are in my thoughts and prayers. Blessings to you both and thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dear Natalee,
    I remember sitting under the canopy with you at Boothbay talking about your struggles as an educator trying to pull so many things together in your school. Life takes such unimaginable turns that puts it all into perspective. I am hoping for better news for your husband and for you. Just as Kylene and Bob were leading us to think about the things we can control in education, other things slip beyond our control. You are both in my thoughts and prayers for nothing but better news.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Natalee and John,

    After church today, Lorie told us about your new “adventure” of faith. Although we are greatly saddened to learn of John’s illness, we take comfort in knowing that our God is in absolute control. Tim has survived two cancers (prostate and kidney) but nothing as serious as what you are facing. Please know that you are in our thoughts and prayers.

    We are praying that God will enable you to be bold in your witness and that He will give you the courage and strength to continue your walk hand-in-hand with Him.


    Tim and Wanda Calderwood


  4. Thanks for sharing – Although Tim & I don’t write or post much, he enjoys reading your posts and keeps me updated from time to time. It’s great to hear your thoughts & ponderings on education (since we’re still in that journey ourselves) and books you’ve read, etc. We were both shocked & saddened when you posted the news about John – we’ll definitely be praying down here and are sending our hugs & love!!! ~ Mel & Tim Snyder


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