This post by Abigail on Social Studies made me think about a student I had a couple of years ago. She had a host of medical problems, the most severe of which resulted in frequent fainting spells (Long QT Syndrome, which is bascially a long pause in the heartbeat, resulting in drop in blood pressure and unconsciousness). I wound up carrying an ammonia capsule with me all the time in the event she "went down" in class (she did... twice in class, at least that many times on the school grounds, even during our district-wide disaster drill!) When she came to my class, I got a literal laundry list of medical concerns with this student, and couldn't help but wonder how I was going to handle having this fragile thing in my classroom.
I really had nothing to worry about.
True, she did have plenty of medical problems- wound up having at least two surgeries during the time she was in my class, one of which was to install a pace maker at the age of 14!- but she also had a real desire to learn and a stubborn streak a mile wide. (Here's an example: she tried to break out of the hospital so she could come to school on the last day of the year! )
This kid got something out of my class. She still calls and visits, considers history her favorite subject. I reached her, somehow. I even gave her a nickname she uses to this day.
When I get frustrated and burned-out, I think about her, hope she's not the only one I've helped, and I can go back to work.