Musing Moment 114: Inching Closer

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I don’t do well on the days where I go back to sleep after I wake up, and though I know how to fix this, I sort of don’t.

Today is my first day off of four. I have my race on Saturday so I requested Friday off. Thursday, today, is a normal off say and so is Sunday. It’s like a mini-vacation.

Today is also a day where I am truly alone. Papa Ox has a field project he needed to go out for. Mama Ox and Ox are both at work. I don’t have training until 2:30 this afternoon. I have no other obligations unless I’m alive enough to go to the dojo after training for kickboxing, krav, and jitz, in that order.

When I go back to bed after Ox leaves on my days off it’s hard to not feel apathetic. It’s better on the days that I have training earlier in the day. I have a reason to get up. To shower. To eat. I have things I need to do and so there’s a level of motivation I guess that gets me up and moving.

Today I didn’t have that.

I went back to sleep. I woke up again. I had a cup of coffee for the first time in weeks. I had part of my breakfast but not all of it because I wasn’t super hungry.

I pretty much passed out right when I got home yesterday. I’m not nearly as sore, but I’ve also slept for somewhere in the ballpark of 16 hours. Small wonder I’m not really all that hungry. I haven’t done much.

I still really don’t have much motivation for anything. I “could” clean my computer desk, but I really don’t want to. There are clothes that “could” be put away, but again, I’m not really feeling it.

I made myself eat lunch since my trainer would give me shit later today for not eating. Saving myself from future heartache I guess; maybe that’s a mild form of self-preservation. I feel like he’s going to push me pretty hard today since I did so well on Tuesday. We did sled work at the end. My chest hasn’t been that sore in ages. I haven’t had to dig that deep on the emotional side in a while either.

I feel like the times where I have to fight against my grief and the darkness are the times that really matter. When I pushed the sled down the gym the first time I knew I was going to struggle more emotionally than physically. When my trainer turned the sled around and said I only had to do it three more times I wanted to cry.

My Brain: You say it’s “only” three more times. But that’s THREE MORE TIMES. THREE. I’m already fucking burnt. I can’t do three. No. It’s not that I can’t. It’s that I don’t want to do three. What’s the point? Why do three, or two, or even one? What’s the point in doing any of this when mom’s dead? You know, it’s so easy for you to say it’s “only” three. It’s “only” something. It’s so fucking easy for the rest of the world to just keep going like everything is easy and “only” three when just waking up is sometimes the hardest thing to do and then not only do I have to do that, but then I have to get out of bed. And then I have to shower. And then I have to do all of this other bullshit and interact with all these other people and pretend that living isn’t hard and doesn’t feel heavy and hollow and pointless. It’s already “only” fucking hard, ok? I don’t need to do your three. I don’t NEED to do anything because I’ve already done more than you can even imagine just by standing here. I don’t have to prove to you I’m strong. I’m already strong. Being here, standing here, makes me strong. So you know what? Fuck you, Life. No. Seriously. Fuck you and you know what? I’ll do three more just to prove to you that you can’t win. I won’t let you win. I WILL NEVER LET YOU WIN.

The last three pushes were some of the hardest pushes I’ve ever done, more because I was trying to breathe and control the urge to break down into rage-filled tears, though my body was totally ok with not having to push the sled anymore once I was done.

There’s a part of me who likes being pushed to that point. My mental and emotional breaking point I guess. It makes me confront my grief and the harder emotions that lurk in the dark, dusty corners of my mind that get ignored during everyday life.

I had a thought Tuesday as I sat outside recovering from my training.

I wonder if mom hurts, too.

I talk about my wound and what it feels like for her to be dead. I wonder if she hurts from us being apart, too. I wonder if being dead is hard for her because she can’t be here. I wonder if she has her own wound in her chest where she aches for one more phone call. One more hug. One more, “It’s ok”.

I wonder if I’ve been selfish and small and inconsiderate of the other side of the situation. Maybe it sucks just as bad for her as it does for me. Maybe worse since she lost so much more. She lost Jon and Jason and Jace and Lio and her coworkers and her brothers.

I only lost mom. Mom lost everything.

There’s a sick part of my brain that feels a little bit better thinking that mom and I are struggling together. I’m not alone in my hurt. I’m not alone. It sucks for both of us and we’re doing the best we can with what the Universe will let us have.

It sucks that I have to go for now so I can actually shower and get to the gym on time for training where I’ll have to push again when I don’t want to. I don’t know why I do this. I don’t know what I want. Or maybe it’s that I keep forgetting or losing sight of what I want and so it’s easier to say I don’t know what I want rather than to look for it or remember.

I miss you, mom. I miss you so much. I’m going to go to training and I’m going to run my race and I know I’m doing these things for me, but I’m also doing them for you. That’s why I’m able to do three more. Because I tell myself it’s for you. That’s why I get out of bed sometimes. That’s why I eat. Because I told you I would. Sometimes the only reason I’m able to do things is because I say they’re for you and I don’t want to let you down.

Today isn’t a hard day, but I guess with finding the dojo and everything else that I’ve been doing recently, I’m inching closer to… I don’t know what. Closer to something, though. The emotions are there, near the surface. They’re not the raging, chaotic, swirling beast they were in the beginning. They’re calmer now, more settled. They don’t overwhelm me in the same way anymore even though they’re no less powerful.

I don’t understand that foreign aspect of myself any more than I did before I started writing this, mom, but maybe I’m on the right path to understanding it.

I love you. Thanks for being there for me. We’ll get through it together.

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Letters to Mom 019: Good Morning

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Hey mom,

I don’t have a lot of time and I’m sorry for that. I went back to sleep after Ox left for work and have stayed in bed for longer than I should have if I wanted to have more time to write.

I talked to Jon for a little bit just now. I know it would make you happy to know we’re getting along better than we ever did while you were alive. I know it would make you feel like you had done something right to know that we love each other as much as we do and that we support each other as much as we are. We’re there for each other and I think, in the end, that’s all you ever wanted for us to learn.

The past few days have been hard. I’ve been missing you a lot and I don’t know why. I know it’s almost the fourth and so that means it will be two years and three months since you died. I know that a lot of people think it’s unhealthy to count that way and to be so aware of the numbers like that. But when I have to write the date, everyday, on everything I open at work, when I write the date at the top of my to-do list everyday, when I’m so hyper-aware of what date it actually is in relation to when you died… it’s hard to not be conscious of it; to not know. At the moment my brain processes the information in that way and I don’t know how to make it not do that, just like I don’t know how to not breathe or blink or how to make my heart stop beating on its own, firing off electrical impulses to move my blood through my body. I don’t know how to make my muscles not use energy.

I don’t know how to make my body not do all of these automatic functions, and knowing how many days it’s been since I last held your hand is one of those automatic functions now. Maybe that will change with time, but so far it hasn’t and it’s one of the things I live with; this constant knowing, constant counting, constant ticking further and further away from that day.

I miss you a lot. It hurts and I don’t know how to explain to anyone what it feels like. I know it’s pain. I know it’s in my chest. I know I can feel the edges of this wound. It feels circular. I know it doesn’t pierce all the way through to my back but I don’t know how far in it goes. It feels deep. It feels like it reaches into something past my self, into something that is no longer physical; a part of myself that can’t be seen or touched. I know it feels like it’s on the inside and that it’s under the surface of my skin; beneath the bones of my rib cage. It’s higher up in my chest, sort of below my collar bones. I know it feels like the edges are trying to close rather than growing bigger. I know it feels like spasms when I do feel the pain of missing you, like the muscles around this invisible, untouchable wound are twitching, contracting. It makes my shoulders hunch inward. It makes it hard to breathe. It makes silent tears run down my face and I have no control over them. I can’t hide them or stop them any more than I can stop anything else. They’re an automatic response to the pain just like the short shallow breathes I have to force myself to take to get through the aching twitching spasms in my chest where something used to be.

The pain makes everything feel heavy. The pain makes me feel injured because even though I can’t see it or show it to anyone, even though it seems like it’s not there, there is a wound and I am injured and when I hurt the most I wonder if I’ll ever heal at all.

Ox tried to hug me after one particular episode of Violet Evergarden and I pulled away because I knew his hug would be too much. It would hurt too much because I felt my wound more than ever and accepting the hug would acknowledge it; would acknowledge the pain that has no cure. It would admit that I’m lonely and that I miss you and that I hurt in ways that I try so hard to hide and work through on my own.

That hug would have meant it’s all real. Your death. My pain. The invisible wound that connects us… It’s all real and I can’t hide it.

I love you, mom. I never knew or understood how much until you died and I’m sorry for that. I’m sorry for all the times I was selfish and didn’t do the things you asked me to. For not taking care of the dishes or cleaning the litter boxes. I’m sorry for all the times you asked for my help and I didn’t only to turn around and ask something of you and for you to selflessly give your time and energy.

I know I wasn’t an awful child. I know that you’re proud of me and that you feel you raised me right. I feel like you did, too. I feel like I’m the person I am because you were, because you are, my mother. I’m grateful for having had as much time with you as I did.

The past few days have been hard and I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that with the kids being gone and me not working overtime as much as I was, I finally have the time and space to address the wound that I haven’t given much time to.

I think there’s still a lot I need to address in regards to your death. I don’t really agree with the stages of grief but I also don’t have anything else to express what I’m going through. I feel like, on the inside, there is more anger now than in the previous years. I know that I do feel regret now even though I try not to.

I regret that Ox will never be able to meet you. I regret that you’ll never be able to play Cards Against Humanity with him. I regret that you won’t be able to banter with him because his sense of humor totally fits our family. I regret that I am with someone I know you would be proud of and that he’s the one person you’ll never be able to meet face to face.

It sucks and I’m angry about it even though I don’t want to be angry. I fight and try so hard not to be and that most likely makes it all that much harder.

I’ve fought for so long, mom. Ever since you died. And now I don’t have to. I don’t have to fight to pay rent. I don’t have to fight to get to the gym. I don’t have to fight through the exhaustion of work.

I don’t know how to not fight. I don’t know how to not have things be a struggle and I guess that’s part of learning how to live this new life that I’ve moved to. I guess it makes it harder, feeling like I can’t call or ask for advice on how to do this.

How do I be a parent, mom? How do I be happy? How do I love someone after everything I’ve been through? How do I stop fighting and let people get close again?

Did I make life easier or harder for you when dad left? Did I give you purpose, a reason, to get out of bed on the mornings you didn’t want to? Did I make life feel heavy and like an overwhelming burden on the days that were hard? Did I help you after Mawmaw died? How did you get through those days? When did you cry? Did you every scream because it hurt so much to not have her anymore?

Did you ever feel like giving up?

Why can’t you be here to answer all of these questions? Why can’t you come back? Why did you have to leave? Why? Was it a choice? Did you know how everything would turn out? Is there some major thing in the distant future where it will all make sense and I’ll understand why and that the pain was worth it and things really are and were ok?

I wish I could hear you say those words one more time. I wish you could tell me “It’s ok,” just once more. I promise I would believe them. I promise I would cherish them.

Hate that I need to go for now. I hate that I have training at the gym at 10. I hope I do better than Thursday. I hope I don’t break down during my training and yell about how it sucks and it’s unfair and what’s the point and how no one understands because how can they? They weren’t, aren’t, your daughter. No one but me will know what it feels like to be me in the wake of your death. And in a way, I think I’m ok with that. It makes me feel privileged. It makes me feel honored.

I’m ok with being your only daughter. I’m ok because I’m YOUR daughter. Even if you had had another one she still wouldn’t have been me.

I don’t know. I didn’t know what I wanted to write when I started this.

I guess… I guess I just wanted to say good morning, mom, and that I love you and that I miss you and that I’m going to try to make today a day. I hope you’re doing ok. I hope that you don’t worry too much about me. I hope that I’m making smart choices and that even if I am giving you more gray hair that it makes you smile because at least it’s me doing it.

I love you. Forever and for always.

Musing Moments 112: My Favorite Color

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It’s the last day the kids are here.

I’ve survived the two weeks without getting a hotel room or an extended stay and with minimal freakouts over not having my own space. This morning has actually been pretty nice so far. Lil’ Ox and I played Little Big Planet 3 for a while. I made her waffles for breakfast and ate my own premade steak and egg breakfast container next to her.

It’s been a low key morning; one that makes me think maybe I’m not so bad at this parenting / mentoring thing. Maybe it’s not the horrific end of myself and my independence that I feel like it will be. I enjoyed this morning and a lot of the days they’ve been here so, theoretically, it’s possible to enjoy others.

I was still able to go to the gym and train. I was still able to work on my tattoo design and on the nights I was super tired I was left alone in the room to sleep.

Yes, there were hiccups and not everything went smoothly or flawlessly, but it went well enough that I’m still ok for the most part. Ok enough to not be terrified or completely against the future or the “next time”.

We made decorations with pearler beads and went swimming. We got work done out in the garage and in the addition. Work has been going alright even though I was shorted 15 hours on my last check.

I can’t really think of anything major to write about even though I haven’t written in most likely three weeks.

Jon is doing well. I’m looking forward to seeing him and Jason in August. I’m not going to be going to Orlando afterward and there’s a lot of factors that go into that choice. I’ll most likely use the leftover money in my “Me Fund” to switch over my car’s license plate.

My race is in roughly two weeks. I know I won’t be able to run all of it but I think I’ll be content with what I’m able to do. I’ll be running alone which is nice. Ox mentioned going with me and hanging out while I run so he can watch. Nothing has been decided, but I do like the idea of not having to worry about pacing myself to match someone else. I want to do this for me. I want to do this alone.

There’s a lot of things I want to do that I haven’t been doing. Alone time is one of those things.

I’ve been missing mom a lot. It will be her birthday soon.

I feel bad for Ox. When I lived alone I could seclude myself away in my room and hide until I was better. I would drink or cry or sleep or whatever it was I needed to do to survive the waves of grief. I didn’t have to worry about messing up anyone else’s day with my sadness.

I don’t have that option here. We share a room. He has to deal with all of it. There’s no real way for me to “get away”. It doesn’t help or make things easier. I haven’t learned how to cope as an introvert with no safe space. So on top of dealing with his own stuff, Ox is stuck with me on my “hard days”.

I don’t know what else to write about on that part.

I wish mom were here. I wish she was still alive. I wish things had been different and at the same time, I don’t because I wouldn’t be where I am if they had been different and I kind of like where I am.

I think I know why it’s hard to hear my name. Everyone calls me Jen. Ox is the only one who will say Jennifer sometimes. Every time I hear my full name I hurt. I think it’s because my mom was the only one who called me by my full name. I can remember the first night at the hospital when the painkillers finally started wearing off and I asked her if she knew who I was. I can remember how she rolled her eyes at me like it was the silliest question ever.

Mom: You’re Jennifer.

I am Jennifer but that seems like such a hard and impossible person to be. It’s easier to be Jen, the PCT or Kitten, the not girlfriend / not wife nebulous life partner.

It’s easy to get caught up in the trivial, surface level pettiness of Life and to forget that I’m injured, but hearing my full name reminds me. I can’t pretend when I hear it. I can’t fake my way through that pain. I have to face it and I don’t want to.

I guess there’s a large part of me who doesn’t want to be me. I don’t want to put in all of the work it will take to heal all of the injuries I have.

I don’t really know what I’m doing with my life at the moment. I go to work. I pay my bills. I try to eat healthy as I have a bowl of mint ice cream at night that I don’t log on My Fitness Pal.

I’m still doing well at work. I’m still losing weight and gaining muscle. I’m still making ends meet.

I don’t know what it feels like, this life I’ve been living for almost five months now. Maybe that’s because I’m not allowing myself to fully feel it. Sort of like how I ignore my injuries. Maybe I’m just existing through my life at the moment rather than fully immersing myself in it and experiencing it.

There’s a part of me who doesn’t trust it. I’m waiting for it to run out; to end. The good times can only last so long.

I say “I love you,” but I don’t feel it the way I used to. There’s a part of me who doesn’t want to. I love as much as I feel I can. I’m broken. You’ll die. There’s only so much I can give. It doesn’t feel like enough, though. It feels like you deserve more. It doesn’t feel like it used to before mom died and I don’t know if it ever can or will.

Ox: Are you happy?

He’s asked me that a few times and I don’t know how to answer. I’m not “not happy”. I would like my own room. I would like for things to stay organized. I would like for the dirty clothes to not be on the floor. I would like for there to not be pop tarts on the kitchen counter tempting me every morning. But in the scheme of things, I have a roof over my head. I am staying here rent free. I have food. I have a car. I have a job. I have a support structure and people who care about me.

There’s no reason for me to not be happy. But most of the time there’s this feeling of distance. Like I’m holding my breath. A tension.

I hate this part of myself, but I already know what I would try to do if the relationship failed. I already have a “backup plan”. I wouldn’t move back to Orlando. I would try to move to Beatrice so I would be closer to my clinic.

And maybe that’s something else that keeps me from giving fully into whatever this is.

A relationship is supposed to be a compromise. Give and take.

I moved away from my lovers and brother. It feels like I’ve given up my solitude. I have taken on the responsibility of helping to care for two children. I have changed work environments. I agreed to pursue another obligation which I’m going to leave vague because I don’t want to write further about it. Sorry if that’s frustrating.

I knowingly accepted a lot of things before moving.

I want it to feel fair. But when asked if I’m happy the most I can bring up is apathy. I don’t hate where I’m at, but no, I don’t really think I’m happy. I’ve lost too much too fast with very little to compensate that loss to feel happy right now.

I’m happier then I was in Orlando. I don’t hate Life. I think that’s an improvement.

I want to see my brothers. That’s about it. I want to see others but I can’t go to Orlando and see the people there because if I do I know I’ll fuck everything that I have up. Ox and I talked about that aspect about it so he knows.

And I guess that’s something I can admit to and acknowledge within myself. If I went to Orlando I would most likely have sex with Big Bad and my Blacksmith. I don’t know if that’s weakness. I don’t feel like it is. I still care about them. I cared about them before I moved. I still care about them after my move. I didn’t move because the relationships sucked or because they treated me poorly.

I know they had their own issues. Big Bad never said “I love you” back. He sent the drunk text message the day of the Warrior Dash lashing out in his hurt. My Blacksmith and I were never able to spend much time together and that dynamic had its own complications. Then there’s Sir who chose not to see me to say goodbye before I left and all of the history from when we dated.

Maybe this is another aspect of me that’s broken and needs to be worked on.

They still built me up the most during a time where I was at my lowest, though. They let me be myself and didn’t give me shit for it. I still care for them and I still have the mentality that you can love more than one person without it affecting the love you feel for another.

Ox and I agreed to be monogamous so it’s better to not go. I feel like if I went to Orlando I would be choosing myself over the relationship and that the relationship would die because of my selfishness. There’s still a part of me who feels like I’m losing something else, something more, because I am making the choice to not go. I’m giving up more on top of what I have already agreed to let go.

I don’t feel whole. I feel like I function “good enough” and that’s the best I can do. The jagged, broken pieces of myself grind against one another rather than being well oiled and cared for. You can tune out the sound of friction if you try hard enough. I feel like that’s what I do most of the time.

I ignore. I pretend. I go day by day and it’s “good enough” so I should accept it. I’m never going to have mom back so I should learn to be ok with what I have.

I think there’s still a lot of stuff for me to work through and like so many of my other writings I don’t feel like I’ve figured anything out. I still feel like it’s all pointless and a waste of time because I never seem to figure any of it out.

I just keep finding more and more things to try to fix with no solution for fixing them. They’re just problems within myself that keep me from fitting in properly with the world I find myself in now. The world I’ve placed myself in.

I still love people, but I’m not allowed to express that love so I’m wrong. I’m an introvert living in an environment where I can’t be alone so I’m wrong. I don’t want to be a parent but I’m in a relationship with two children so I’m wrong to try to not be a parental figure.

I guess that’s the core of it all. I feel wrong. I feel like I’m the problem. I’m the only one with issues so it’s me that needs to change. Everyone else is fine. I’m the one who’s not.

What do I want?

I want to be ok. I want my mom back. I want to be able to cry and curl up with her urn alone without the fear of someone coming into the room or hearing the TV playing Modern Family.

I want things I can’t have and so I feel defeated. I can’t win so what’s the point of feeling anything?

Am I happy?

No. But I can’t have what will make me happy so I’m “good enough” and right now that’s the best I can do. I’m sorry I can’t do better. I’m sorry I feel this way. I’m sorry I can’t be normal like the rest of the world. I’m sorry I’m myself and I’m sorry for being sorry about that. I’m sorry I make things harder and more complicated than they should be. I’m sorry I don’t game as much as I did in Orlando. I’m sorry for wanting sex more than you. I’m sorry I’m always trying to complete a project or organize something. I’m sorry I don’t know how to relax more. I’m sorry I’m not more social and that I don’t want to find a dead bird for us to play with and hopefully writing that makes you smile knowing that the rest of the Internet is going “What the actual fuck?” right now. I’m sorry everything seems to come back to my mom being dead. I’m sorry I can’t seem to get past that. I’m sorry that you’ll read this and feel some sort of failing on your part. I’m sorry for messing up your day. I’m sorry if now we’re not ok.

I love you and I’m sorry if that’s not enough. I’m sorry if my love is broken and not the same as yours.

Thank you for everything you do and have done for me these past almost five months. Thank you for the nights you let me sleep on the couch without making me feel bad. Thank you for trying so hard to make safe spaces for me. Thank you for your patience and the times you’ve held me while I’ve cried. Thank you for not giving up on me. I promise I’m trying to get better. I promise I’ll try to be ok today.

It’s one of the few things I look forward to; seeing you at the end of my days. No matter how shitty they are, no matter how much work sucks, or how much I feel like I didn’t push hard enough at the gym, or whatever other nonsense my brain plays inside of my head, I always look forward to seeing you. I always think about you, about how I’m almost home, when I see the cell phone tower you pointed out to me because that’s how I know where to turn. I look forward to your hugs. I look forward to your voice. I look forward to you because you’re my favorite color.

I will see you tonight. I love you.

Daily Post 093: Enjoying Summer

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This past week has been one of my rougher ones since moving to Nebraska. I worked five days this week. I survived until Thursday, my first day off, and since that was my main goal I feel like the week was a success.

On top of surviving, I got the news that I’m down a pound in body fat and up two in muscle. That’s validating and motivating.

I went to the Anytime Fitness for the first time to work out on Thursday. I like the gym. I like how it was mostly empty and I was able to do my own thing. I rowed and worked on my arms. What makes that workout even better is the fact that I did it after working with my trainer, so that’s two workouts in one day. I feel like I’m getting back to my “pre-work” level; back when I was able to spend three hours at the dojo pretty much every day sparing with people I now miss.

I feel like I’m back to making progress and that’s a good feeling.

I feel like this next week is going to go smoother in some ways and harder in others. I’m almost done with all of my cooking. I have the laundry to switch over to the dryer. I just got back home with Ox from running out to get new work shoes since my feet have started to hurt again. Since my days are shorter then what they were in Orlando and because I’ve had my shoes for over a year now, I’m pretty sure it’s an issue with the shoes themselves. We’ll see how tomorrow goes with the new ones I suppose.

Ox is going to have his kids for the next two weeks.

That’s where things are going to get harder. I’m prepped better for the coming week but we’ll have the kids…

That’s two weeks that I still have to work and wake up early while they’re on summer vacation. That’s two weeks of them being home on my days off and wanting to do things. Two weeks of “I don’t know how to be a parent what the fuck and I’m supposed to do I need an instruction guide someone please save me”.

I’m thinking about looking into getting an extended stay room close to my clinic for the coming weeks. That would give me a quiet place to retreat to when I need silence and space. That would give me a place to sleep without raining on everyone’s fun.

The downside is that it would be expensive and unlike the hotel rooms I’ve been booking for the nights before my shifts in Omaha, this wouldn’t be reimbursed. I also feel like it would be running away and hiding from something that I have to eventually face.

I haven’t made any decisions yet. But I’m going to have to figure something out soon. The kids will be here Thursday evening. I work both Friday and Saturday. Being tired and sleep deprived and mentally / emotionally tapped out from not having recovery time isn’t an option I really want to entertain. Arg >.<;

Saturday went well. And I guess I should back up to Friday. Friday went well, too. I worked with a new nurse that day since my FA had to go out of town. The nurse was familiar with the machines my clinic uses so that was a plus. The day went smoothly and I was grateful that it went better than I had thought it would.

I drove home and packed for my overnight stay in Omaha before driving into Lincoln to have dinner with Ox. He went with me across the street where I filled my car’s tank up and then wished me well. I’m glad to say that I was able to make the whole trip to the hotel without GPS. It helps that I’ve been staying at the same hotel each time. I’m getting familiar with the staff there. I like their facility. They have a pool that I haven’t been in yet. They also have a fitness room that’s 24 hours which I almost used this time.

Saturday started out nice even though it was a rainy and windy morning. I slept deeply and woke up feeling rested; at least rested enough to make it through the day. I didn’t need the GPS to get the clinic. Go me!

Even with the complications of a machine not working the day went well. I’m more familiar with how tasks are divided up and I have a better idea where things are located. I know how to be helpful past the point of setting up machines and taking care of patients. I can help prep the clinic for the next day. I can make needle packs and organize the morning shift setups.

I was able to close down the water room fine on my own. I was confident this time rather than holding my breath and hoping I did it right. I’ve gotten to the point where I know which steps take a while, so I don’t have to have everything on the floor done before beginning the water room. It doesn’t require my focused, undivided attention. I can get to this particular step then go back out and finish wiping down chairs. I can get to this step then go empty the bleach containers. Once I get to this step I can count the dialyzers.

I can be more efficient with my time, which means I can close the clinic faster than the hour or so it’s been taking me. That’s another good feeling. Efficiency is a big thing for me. I knew I would be slow at first. I knew it would take me a few times to get comfortable with the process. Now I’m getting to the point where I can improve my workflow. I’m no longer “learning”. Now I’m tweaking and figuring out what works for me.

I’m thinking about offering to work Saturdays for their clinic until they can get people through training. It would keep me making overtime while working a fairly chill shift with people I like. I don’t mind the thought of being there. I don’t feel a sand-pappery aversion to the thought. There’s not the crushing, draining weight of “I don’t want to do this,” that makes me cry silent tears on the way to do anyway.

There are grocery stores on the way home I can stop at after my Saturday shift. I can work that back into my weekend routine. Meal plan on Thursday’s most likely since Friday is a 12-hour shift. With meals planned out, I can make a grocery list. With a grocery list, I can do the shopping on Saturday like I used to, along with any prep work that needs to be done once I’m home. Put meats in marinades. Cut up veggies if I need to. Then Sundays can go back to simply being cooking days rather than everything all at once.  With a little bit of planning, a little bit of proactiveness, I think I can make this work for me.

I want to see if I can.

I have already been approved for having July 13th and 14th off. That’s the Friday before my race and the day of my race. I’m actually looking forward to it a little bit. More than I was when I first signed up. I signed up because I knew I wanted to do a Warrior Dash this year. I missed doing the one in Florida. I wanted to see my patients one last time instead. I wanted to give them their thank you cards in person. I didn’t want my Warrior Dash to be the last time I was with Big Bad. I didn’t want the weight of knowing we were saying goodbye to hang over the entire event, which it would have for me. It would have hurt to run it that way. So I didn’t.

But it’s something I think of as “my” race. It’s where I started. That first one; that was my moment of taking me back for myself. That was me giving a giant “Fuck you” to the person so undermined so much of my self-confidence for so long. I could do it. I did do it. I can do it. And there was, is, still a part of me who wanted to run the race even though I didn’t in February.

That’s why I signed up for the one here, in Nebraska, in July. Because there’s a part of me who still needed to run it even though I was feeling bad at the time. I had regressed. I knew I needed to address that and I’m glad I did even though in the beginning it sucked. I’m glad I met with my trainer and I’m glad he’s working with me. I want to do better this race. I want to keep improving. So yeah. I’m a little more jazzed about it than I was when I first signed up. I’m looking forward to it even though it’s a small, soft, vulnerable thing at the moment.

I hope it continues to grow. I hope it becomes a confident and stable thing. A, “I know I’ll do well” feeling rather than a, “I hope I do well” feeling.

I finally was able to spend most of a day outside today. Ox worked a bit in the addition but we’ve run out of 2x4s so he can’t keep working on the walls. We were trying to get work done in the yard, but that required moving a piece of equipment which ended up taking most of the day. We didn’t get done with that until 2 pm. It would be easier to write about if I knew what half the stuff we used was called, but I don’t. All I can say is that my arms and core are sore from all of the work we ended up having to do manually, but it’s a good sore.

We got something done, something pretty major, and we got it done together. We sweated together. We got tired together. We accomplished something together and that makes me feel good. It makes me feel connected and like I’m part of something.

It was a fantastic day outside. Warm. Sunny. I wanted to get more done, so I did. I moved some piles of scrap wood and raked up last years dead leaves and sticks. I’m not through with the raking and there’s a part of me that feels bad for not getting it completed. There’s part of me who feels like I add to the mess and disorganization by leaving something half done, but I could tell my body was wearing down. I was sunburnt. I needed water. I needed food. I still needed to still finish my cooking. At some point, I needed to shower again…

I needed to do all of these things that take time and energy and I only have so much of each to spend and use each day. So as much as I wanted to get everything done, the yard was something left at a state of half complete; contained and better, but not finished.

I would like to finish the yard Tuesday after my shift at Cap City, but I’m not sure how that day is going to go, so… We’ll have to wait and see. I might not be able to really get back outside until Thursday. But yeah, even with that task incomplete I feel really good right now and I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that I was finally outside doing something.

The day actually started later than I thought it would. I woke up at 2 am since I’m conditioned to wake up early. Thankfully I was able to get back to sleep. I slept until almost 9 am; way later than that I thought I would or could have. That’s an additional seven hours of sleep. As Ox said, though, I guess I needed it if my body let that happen. With how little sleep I got for the first part of the week maybe that’s more true than not. Maybe it’s not just pretty words to make me feel better, but a truth I should accept.

That’s harder to do when the Evil Voice nags about how much time was wasted doing nothing. Fucking Evil Voice… I will break out the Q-tips… >.>

I spent the first part of the morning cooking before going outside to help Ox. I think that helped since I had a break from cooking and didn’t have to spend four solid hours in the kitchen.

I used a spice mix last week for the deer roast I cooked which turned out amazing. So amazing I’m actually using it again. I’ve seasoned some steaks with it and chicken thighs as well. It really is that awesome. Since it helps to marinate the meat a bit first, I seasoned everything before Ox and I ran into town.

We went to the Skechers store where I got new work shoes. I was surprised to find out that I get a discount because of the company I work for. A 30% discount. Woo!

We stopped at Walmart after that so I could get another packet of a glaze I tried last week as well. Again, something that turned out to be pretty amazing.

So the cooking is almost done. Just have to bake some stuff now. The laundry is almost done. My hotel for Friday night is already reserved. My bills are already paid and though I’m lower on funds than what I would like, everything is overpaid as far as my debt is concerned and nothing is due until next paycheck which will have my billion hours of overtime on it with my double incentive shift.

I didn’t get my bike rack this weekend, but I’m ok with that because I got the window AC unit with Ox and new shoes and two cases of my Bang energy drink. I got new sunglasses that I actually like. The hotel had my laptop charger in their lost and found when I checked in Friday night since I couldn’t find it when I got back home last weekend.

There’s a lot of warmth going on in my life right now. A lot of progress. A lot of security. I’m not worried about my job anymore which helps.

It’s summer. It’s my time. My season. I’m not sick or working so much that I can’t enjoy it. And though I grieve every day in my own way, I’m not the shattered version of myself I was when mom first died.

It feels like this is the first summer since mom died that I’ll be able to go out and do things and… live… I guess. It’s… it’s a good feeling even though it makes my eyes sting with tears. When I was raking earlier today I remembered how I would help her rake when we lived in South Carolina. I remember how she hated to do yard work and how I would help her because many hands make light work. She would always say it went by faster with help and so I wanted to help her.

I don’t know what else to write or where to go from that train of thought. I guess that’s it. I don’t really feel like writing anymore. My heart aches. It’s not good or bad. It’s just life…

Mom is dead and I can’t rake the yard with her anymore, but I can still enjoy my days and be outside in the sunlight and I can remember her and all of the things she taught me. I can remember all of the moments we had and what they meant to me; what they still mean to me.

Today was a good day. Saturday was a good day. Friday and Thursday were good days, too. I’m looking forward to tomorrow. I’m looking forward to going to work and telling my patients about my weekend and how I got new shoes.

I don’t dislike my life anymore, mom and I’m sorry that there’s still a part of me who feels guilty about that. I know this is what you want for me. To be happy. To live. To keep going. I’m sorry that it still hurts and sucks sometimes. I’m sorry there’s a part of me who feels like it’s a betrayal to you to be able to keep going. I promise I still love you. I promise it still hurts as much as it ever did; as much as it ever will.

I’m thankful at the same time. I’m here because of you. I know it. It’s one of my truths and I don’t care what other people think or feel about those words. You’ve done so much for me in life and in death. Thanks for helping get me to a point where I actually have the option to enjoy summer again.

I love you, mom. Forever and for always.

Letters to Mom 018: Coping With My First Infiltration

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I’m crying right now as I write this. I feel like I need to admit to that.

There was a comment from a reader on my last post, linking to another post about a woman who also lost her mom and how “she’s still her mother’s daughter”.

At one point she says, “I still need you.”

I’m not the only one who thinks that; who feels that and I don’t know why but it makes it feel like things are ok. I’m not weak or “holding on” or whatever other stupid things I tell myself.

It’s ok to still need you, mom.

I needed you yesterday.

I infiltrated my first patient. In a year and a half, I’ve never infiltrated. I’ve missed. I’ve had the fistula and graphs roll on me like normal veins. I’ve had to restick patients… But I’ve never infiltrated and I’ve never caused a patient to not be able to run their treatment.

Until yesterday.

My patient came in like he always does. I wasn’t able to call him in early. He used to run on first shift, but with having to close the clinic down to three days a week with an ISO patient, he had to be moved to second shift because he is (un)lucky enough to be immune.

He hates running on second shift. His lunch is cold by the time he gets home. It messes his morning up. He’s one of the nicest, quietest people I have ever met and it hurts to know that I can’t make the situation better for him. Whenever there’s an open chair in the morning he’s the first person I call.

Me: *teasing voice* There’s an open chair for you if you happen to feel like coming in early.
Him: I’ll be right there!

It always makes my day to greet him, to spread out his blanket after his treatment is initiated, to help carry his bag to the scale as he’s leaving and saying our farewells.

Yesterday there wasn’t an open chair so I couldn’t call him in early. We flipped the station as quickly as we could. We got everything set up. I smiled a warm and genuine smile when he came into the clinic. We exchanged small talk as I took his standing blood pressure.

I can tell his smiles are real now. They’re different than the ones in the beginning when we were both still strangers. After being there for almost four months I think we both are getting used to each other. I’m not a random stranger stabbing needles into his arm. I’m his tech and he’s my patient and I actually do care about what he’s doing in his garden and what are you talking about? The weather is amazing. I’m from Florida. 100 degrees is basking temperature. You guys are the ones who are weird for thinking it’s too hot.

We moved through all of the different stages of the pre-treatment process. I cannulated his arterial needle fine. I cannulated his venous needle and… hesitated. It didn’t… feel? right…

There was flashback… I pulled the needle back a little… I wasn’t against the wall of the vessel or anything… There was no resistance on the advancement of the needle… But I couldn’t shake the feeling of “wrongness”.

I drew labs from the arterial needle. No resistance. Everything was fine there. I administered his prescribed heparin through the venous needle. Again, no resistance. When I asked if the needle felt ok he said yes.

Ok… Maybe it’s just me…

I connected the bloodlines to the needle lines and initiated his treatment. I watched the machine as the pump started. The needle pressures were within normal ranges. I still wasn’t sold on the whole, “everything’s ok” thing.

I turned the pump up to the prescribed flow. Still ok on pressures…

If nothing is wrong then why do I feel like something is wrong?

With no answer to that question, I reluctantly secured my patient’s lines. I put his feet up and spread his blanket out like normal. I asked if he needed anything else.

Me: Anything else I can do for right now?
Him: Nope. I think that will do.
Me: Arighty. If that changes you let us know.
Him: Will do.

I took my gloves off, rubbing hand sanitizer over them before I began to chart on the computer next to his machine.

That’s when the machine’s alarm went off. Venous pressure had reached not ok levels and the machine automatically shut the pump off. I looked at the machine, reading the alarm message it was giving. I immediately looked at my patient’s arm dread already making my stomach turn to ice. My patient’s arm was so swollen at the venous needle sight, so “not right” that all I could do for the first half a second was stare unbelieving at what I was looking at.

Irrational Right Brain: … But… But everything had been fine…

My next thought was a mild freak out of, “omg is he in pain?”

I asked him if his arm hurt. He said it had for a little bit but it felt fine now.

Irrational Right Brain:  Your arm is not fine. I let this happen. I cannulated you. I did this to you. I hurt you. This is my fault.

Rational Left Brain: It doesn’t matter if it is or isn’t your fault. You’re patient needs you to keep your shit together and not have a fucking meltdown right now. You can do that on break. Right now you need a nurse. You’re not a nurse. Get the nurse.

I called the nurse over. She confirmed it was an infiltration and that his blood could not be rinsed back and he could not run his treatment.

I can’t express the soul-crushing feeling I felt at hearing her words. I hadn’t felt emotions like that since I first started training and would have to be reminded to increase the blood pump speed or hearing the words that I had messed up stringing a machine or being told I had left the saline clamps open… again…

I haven’t felt those feelings of absolute failure since my RN mentor would point out all of the things I was doing wrong, in front of the patients, while I’m trying to already not fall apart because I fucked something up with the last patient I was with, too, and I can’t do anything right and this was totally the wrong choice and why did I think I could ever do anything medical related. I’m just a total failure at life and all of these “wrongs” prove it. I’m a fuck up and I’m sorry and I can’t seem to get it right, just once. I’m sorry I’m a failure.

Those.

Those feelings…

I got through them somehow in the beginning. I had long talks with my coworkers on break. I had my patients thank me at the end of their treatment and tell me that I was doing well. I had several nights of crying in my car after work and talking to Jon. I had all of these moments that helped me get through and fight back that voice in my head that cried out “failure” over every mess up. And eventually, I messed up less. I learned. I got better. I got faster. I got more confident and familiar with the totally new work world I had thrown myself into.

But yesterday… Yesterday I failed.

I failed my patient.

It was so hard to not cry as I explained to him we wouldn’t be able to run his treatment.

Him: Well… It happens.

Irrational Right Brain: NO GODDAMMIT! It doesn’t “happen”. Be angry at me. Be mean to me. I hurt you. I don’t deserve your kindness. I don’t deserve your understanding. I hurt you and I’m so sorry and there’s no way to make it right and I’m so so sorry.

I had to go into the back hallway and cry for a few seconds alone before pulling my shit together to get through the rest of change over. I didn’t have time to feel like a failure. I had other patients who needed me to be there for them and in a way that helped. I had to cannulate three other people and all of those cannulations were flawless.

It helped quite the voice inside of my head saying I should rethink my entire career choice and that I was a horrible fuck up.

After my break, after talking to my brother, I talked to my FA about the incident.

Me: Have you ever infiltrated anyone?
Her: Oh god, yes. That’s part of the job. It happens.
Me: That was the first time it happened to me.
Her: Really? If I had known that I would have been more compassionate. Are you saying in a year you’ve never infiltrated anyone?
Me: No. I haven’t. Which is why I’m having such a hard time right now. I’m trying to complete the NFACT “expert cannulator” thing and yet I infiltrate this patient and have been having a hard time with another patient’s access. It’s hard to not feel like I’m doing a bad job or that I shouldn’t pursue it further.
Her: If you were doing a bad job I would have told you long before this.

I felt better as our conversation continued and she shared her own experiences with me. It reminded me of when I was in Orlando and my trainers would caution me, “You’re going to infiltrate. Everyone does and it’s ok.”

I had accepted, back then, back there, that I would, eventually, one day, infiltrate a patient. And I guess in the year and a half or so since I’ve been working, to only have one on my record is pretty unheard of. I had accepted with phlebotomy that sometimes you miss. It’s not that you’re a bad phlebotomist. Some days are better than others. Some patients are easier to stick than others. The same goes for cannulating a dialysis patient.

Missing doesn’t automatically mean you’re bad. Infiltrating, also, doesn’t automatically mean you’re bad. And that’s something I’m having to work through. I’m not bad at my job. But yesterday I felt like it.

Yesterday I started questioning pretty much everything. I need titles and labels and to understand my roll in all of the dynamics I have; in all of the spots I fill in Life.

Who am I? What am I? What am I working towards? What’s important to me? Why do I wake up in the morning? What’s the point of getting out of bed? What’s the driving force behind doing anything, achieving anything, caring about anything?

Those were the questions going through my head last night.

Everything felt so nebulous and tentative and ready to shatter around me and I don’t know why.

I had already accepted that this incident was not a direct reflection of my skill. Hell, it could have been something as simple as my patient moved his arm while shifting in his chair and the point of the needle infiltrated on its own.

The important thing was I reacted professionally. I made sure the situation was controlled and that my patient was safe and gave the proper instructions for the care of his infiltration while he was between treatments.

Yet, there I was at home, questioning who I am. What I am.

It reminded me of what it was like when you first died, mom. I was no longer a teacher. I was no longer a student. I was no longer an employed member of society. I was no longer anything…

Currently, I’m not a mother but I have an eight-year-old who thinks she’s my daughter. I have a significant other but I’m not a wife or a girlfriend. I’m a nebulous in between. I’m not a nurse but that’s the easiest way to explain things to people because Patient Care Technician is long and confusing and you can see their eyes glaze over with that “not processing” look.

I’m “not” so many things, but then what am I if I’m not those things? What are the constants in my life that I can cling to when everything feels unstable? What are the cornerstones I found for myself during your death that have pulled me through all of the hard times where I wanted to give up?

That’s when I started remembering them…

I AM your daughter. You ARE my mother. I AM a warrior. I AM an earth dragon. And Life can go fuck itself if it thinks I’m going to give up.

It doesn’t matter what other titles I have. It doesn’t matter what other people think I am or am not. I AM your daughter and that is one thing that WILL NEVER change.

I don’t know what else to write, mom. Things aside from the craptastic day of yesterday are going well. I made my first rattan sword this past Saturday and it was awesome. I’m down seven pounds as of today and up one pound of muscle. We’re supposed to be starting serious work in the addition this weekend. The new countertops for the kitchen got installed and they’re pretty awesome. I figured out why I haven’t been back paid for my certification from March. I’m level 20 something in Final Fantasy 14 and I’m still having fun with the game. Jon and I are making solid plans for visiting Jason.

Things are still going really well overall. I feel like I should say sorry for letting this one event shake me so hard, but I’m not sorry so I can’t say it. I can say I will try not to let it eat away at me. I will try not to let it cloud my perception of myself and make me question my self-worth or skill.

But I know myself. This is still an unclosed loop in my head because I have not atoned for the wrong I feel I have committed. I need to figure out something to bring closure to this for me. Maybe writing… Maybe a post for my patient, similar to the posts I make for you, or for the people I can’t say things to…

Maybe saying all the words I wish I could say to him would help me move past this so I can still be the confident, competent patient care technician that I am and that he needs me to be.

I don’t know… But I promise I’ll figure it out, mom.

I love you. And I still need you. And you’re still here even if it’s not the same as it was and I think after reading the post shared with me by my reader that I’m getting better about accepting that.

Thanks, mom, for listening. For everything. I love you. Forever and for always.

Letters to Mom 017: A Late Mother’s Day

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I wrote this on Tuesday, but for some reason, it didn’t post properly. I cherish this writing even though it was painful at the time I wrote it. It’s another writing where I grieved and bled invisible blood onto my keyboard, but it’s important to me and so even though it’s from the past, I feel the need to post it.

 


 

I didn’t write on Mother’s Day.

I had a dream about mom the night before. I still remember it.

I was in a house. I was with other people though I don’t remember who they were. I remember that I knew them, but I’m not sure if it was family or close friends. We were supposed to be going somewhere, but mom had said she would be visiting and I really wanted to see her before we left the house. I knew I wouldn’t be able to see her again for a while. It was important that I be there. It was my one chance.

I remember the feelings of anxiety and worry. Mom was running late. Her flight was delayed and there was traffic and all of these things keeping her from getting to the house on time. The people I was with were getting annoyed with me because we ourselves were going to be late if we didn’t leave soon, but I kept asking for more time. Just a few more minutes. Please. She’s so close. Just a little longer…

I remember in the dream I was almost in tears but the other people wouldn’t wait any longer. It was so hard, so heavy, to close the front door, to turn the lock. It sounded so final; the door closing. It was like I had allowed myself to give up. It was me giving in. It was me walking away and not waiting. It was me caving to pressure.

I wanted to wait. I wanted to be there. I wanted to see my mom. But I wasn’t staying and that felt like a betrayal. I was making the wrong choice and I hated it but I didn’t know what else to do. I had to leave with them.

There was so much confliction inside me and still, I turned to walk away from the door. But just as I did there was a knock.

I knew it was her. I knew mom had finally arrived and I didn’t care if I was late to whatever it was I was supposed to go to. I turned around as fast as I could and unlocked the door, throwing it open without regard.

She was there. My mom was there. I threw my arms around her and hugged her and cried.

I heard her say my name over my tears.

I KNOW she said it. I can still feel it in my chest even though I honestly can’t remember what it sounded like.

I just… I know my dream was real and that mom is still here, in whatever way the Universe is allowing.

This Mother’s Day my mom gave me a gift instead of the other way around and I still cry when I think about it. Fucking tears…

I’m grateful for my dream.

Thank you, mom, for everything that you did in life and everything you continue to do for me. I’m sorry I didn’t write on Mother’s Day. I’m sorry I still get sad and have hard days like Tuesday.

I’m sorry I’m not doing better even though I know writing that will make you frustrated with me because I know I’m doing amazing right now. I’m doing so much better than I ever have before and that makes me angry and sad at the same time because I wish you were here so I could show you; so you could be part of it. I wish I could call you and tell you about everything. I wish you could come visit and watch me beat people with sticks at SCA practice and meet Ox and just… everything.

I love you, mom. I wish it hadn’t taken your death to make me the adult I am now. I wish we had had more time. I wish I had thought to ask you all the questions I have now. I wish I had listened to your stories more. I wish I knew more about the hardships you faced while you were growing up. I wish I had you the way so many people still have their mom, but at the same time I know we’re closer for what we went through.

Thank you for raising me. Thank you for the dreams I have of you. Thank you for helping me get through the hard times.

Happy late Mother’s Day, mom.

I love you. Forever and for always.

Daily Post 090: Learning To Be Wiser

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Once again not proofread.  ❤


 

The longer I go without writing the more confusing and distant and disorganized things are going to get. I know it’s already drastically past my bedtime, which is sad because it’s only 9:40, but I have work again tomorrow at my home clinic, thank the Universe, and that means a 3 am wake-up call.

Even still, I know I’ll feel better after writing. I’ll be able to sleep better, deeper knowing that I did this even if it ends up taking a while.

Combat was fun on Tuesday. I keep forgetting that it’s only Thursday. It feels like so much has happened. So much time has passed… But it’s only been two days. Two long, full, near breakdown days.

Tuesday had a lot of new, but it also had a lot of what is becoming routine. I went to training at the gym and even though it happened later in the day, it was nice to go through the same set on the machines. Tuesday I was back up to 200 pounds again but it wasn’t as hard to do as last week. My trainer and I talked about how I had to wear a knee brace for Friday evening and Saturday the week before. We talked about different muscles and more of my past experiences.

We didn’t talk about my metrics so I didn’t have to have the look of disapproval for the piece of pie I shared with Ox; at least not yet. Still dodging that bullet.

We continued doing plyometric work after the machines. I can feel myself getting back into it.

By the end of the session I was feeling better then I had before it. Less tired in some ways, more tired in others. It was a positive improvement and I’m glad I went.

After the gym, I went grocery shopping. My right knee started feeling iffy; sore, much like how my left leg had started acting up the week before. I didn’t have my brace with me, though. I went ahead and bought a second one and put it one before going back into the store to do the grocery shopping. I’m sure I could have completed that task without the brace, but I wanted to be proactive with listening to my body. It was sore and needed to rest, which wasn’t an option, so I did the next best thing and supported the areas that were the most tired.

After the grocery shopping, I dashed home where I put my food away. I didn’t have time to do any prep work with it. Ox needed me to meet him in town before combat practice so I could give him a change of clothes and I still really wanted to stop by the scrub store I had found online so work wouldn’t be additionally stressful with having to bend space and time to do laundry at some point.

I was home maybe 10 minutes before getting back in my car and driving into Lincoln. I was able to pick up a new set of scrubs. I actually really, really like my new set and I will eventually replace the ones I have. I think I’m going to wait to do that for a while, though. The ones I have are still good and if I’m going to be losing a bunch of weight, it seems silly to get all new of something just to turn around and replace it because it becomes too big.

I at least have a very good idea of what I will eventually be getting. The new set is super lightweight compared to what I have. The tops are longer, the pant legs looser. I don’t know. It feels more “me” I guess… I’m more comfortable and ok in them. I’m looking forward to the day I actually do replace my current ones with this particular brand. Not that I dislike the ones I have… I just happen to like the new ones more.

To be fair I’ve only ever owned two types of scrubs. Maybe three depending on how you count them. I had the cotton set that I got from when I took the CNA and PCT classes in Orlando. I had the cotton set from work when I started with DaVita as well. Since they were the same material though, I don’t think they really count. Then I got the set from the Orlando scrub store; Healing Hands 360. And by comparison, there is no comparison. HH360 is way better and I love/loved them. I can’t find the tag with the brand name for the new ones, they’re a set above HH360.

So much love for them. ❤

So now I have four sets of scrubs. I might get one more set just to be safe, but we’ll have to wait and see about that one.

Anyway. I got scrubs on Tuesday. Woo.

I met up with Ox after that and we took my care to the park where the combat practice was going to be. Inside my head I was worried about it turning out like the first one I went to Orlando; that is… rained out with a message saying the practice was canceled being sent out via a Facebook group I was yet to be a part of…

Luckily the weather gods were on my side. The practice was held and Tuesday was the first day I was put in actual armor and put against someone to fight. My teacher/opponent is an experienced fighter who was impressed with how well I did for a starter. She said not only was I swinging multiple blows in varying locations, I was using the shield at times and moving around rather than staying in one place. I know I have a ways to go, but it was a lot of fun.

Ox and I got to meet a handful of cool people and I think his interest is peaked.

We went to my new sports bar after practice for dinner since neither of us had eaten. If we had waited until we had gotten home I wouldn’t have been to sleep until much later than I already was.

I woke up the next day and did my morning stuff before heading to work. It was a fairly smooth day. I was told I would for sure be working at the South Omaha clinic and that a hotel was booked for me. Ox wanted to go to the moot the SCA group was hosting at the library which meant I wouldn’t get to see him for very long.

I went home, packed up what I needed for the night and next day then headed to the library so we could see each other for a few minutes before I left for the night.

He said it was an interesting meeting so far since it was still going on when I got there. He went back inside, I got back in my car and drove to the hotel. I checked in. I talked to Jon for a while, then Ox when he called me. He had gone to dinner with the group after the meeting and it sounded like he had a good time.

I slept deeply. I woke up literally one minute before my alarm went off.

My ankles were bothering this morning instead of my knees so I went to Walgreens and bought ankle compression stuff. I think it helped to have them versus not, but they’re still sore so it’s hard to tell.

The day went well. I love the RN I worked with. She’s super nice and helpful. Both of the techs were new to me, but again, they were amazing to work with and I’m glad I got to meet them.

The day didn’t go badly until the end. I had to close the water room by myself for the first time. I followed the sheet they had but there are steps missing which caused at least one alarm to go off which frayed my nerves a bit. Then there was an issue with the CWP being low on its disinfect. I know how to fix that but I didn’t know where their chemicals were stored. Once the RN and I finally figured it out I couldn’t get the machine to not alarm for “low chemical”.

Me: It’s a new jug. It can’t get any fuller than it is. What the F’ do you want from me, Machine? Please just let me go home. ;-;

The RN and I figured that issue out. So the rest of the tasks should have been easy. And to be fair they were. All I had to do was finish cleaning one station, empty the bleach containers, then leave. That’s it.

The RN asked if I would be ok closing on my own. I said yes, and I was confident in my “yes”.

She asked if I was leaving through the front or back door. I said front because that’s where I parked. She said, in that case, I would need to arm the alarm for the door.

Me: Ok. I don’t know how to do that for this clinic yet.

She gave me the code for it; writing it down on a square, yellow PostIt note which I saw her place on the nurse’s station counter. She went about doing a few other things. I did a few of my things. She asked me again if I would be ok, repeating the code to me verbally.

Me: Yeah. I’ll be fine. Go ahead and go. I’ll be done shortly.

I finished what I was doing. I faxed the papers I needed to fax. I looked for the sticky note… only to not find it… anywhere….

It wasn’t on the back of a book, or under the keyboard. It wasn’t in any of the trashcans. It wasn’t in the breakroom. It. Wasn’t. There…

Ok… Keep calm. You can figure this out, Jen…

The only number I have is the FA’s number… Ok. Not the best option, but I can explain myself if she answers and hopefully resolve this issue easily. Smoothly…

No answer…

Of course not. Who would keep their work phone on while they are on vacation…

Ok… Don’t panic. Call YOUR FA because maybe she’ll be able to call someone else. Again, not the best option, but this is an issue that needs to be solved. You can’t just drive back to Lincoln and leave the clinic unlocked…

No answer…

She’s at a convention for the company and most likely also does not have her work phone on her…

Fuck…. ok… Call the other FA who’s in training…

No answer.

Ok… There’s got to be a book with a list of everyone’s number who works at the clinic. They mentioned it before… Can. Not. Find. The. Freaking. Book.

Me: … *desperation* …

There’s the app on the intranet… People, Places, Things… I can look up the clinic and get a list of everyone who works here. Maybe I can figure out a way to find their number through that or be able to Facebook stalk them enough to send them an SOS message or just… something…

I have no idea what the password is for their computers and it’s not written on them anywhere so I can’t actually get on a computer.

Ok. Now’s a valid time to break down.

I tried calling Ox to have a voice of reason keep me sane and stable with how close I was to tears over not being able to figure my situation out.

No answer.

Fuck my life.

I called Jon who, thankfully, blessedly, answered his phone.

He listened to me explaining my store. While I was in the middle of it, mind you, my phone is at 4% battery, the FA in training calls me back. I tell Jon I’ll call him later, that I need to answer this call and switch the phone over. I explain what’s going on and what I’ve tried to do already.

She said she would reach out and see if she could get ahold of someone for me.

Long story short and a few phone calls later, I’m told that I can leave. Training FA called another FA who can reach out to a member of the South Omaha team who lives close by to can lock the door for me.

Me: Omg. I’m out. So out. Like “I can’t drive out of Omaha and back to the middle of nowhere fast enough” out.

So, two hours after our last patient had left for the day I was finally able to leave and start the roughly hour-long drive back home.

I called Jon back and we talked for a while. During that phone call, Ox tried calling me three times. I called him back after my talk with Jon and we stayed on the phone until I was all the way back home.

I cried while he hugged me. There was a feeling of relief in that hug.

I don’t know why, after all of the shit that I’ve been through in life; my parents divorce, caring for my grandmother, seeing mom in the hospital, everything that happened after her death… why a fucking door code is the thing that makes me want to break down and feel like Life is too much to handle.

I’m actually a little aggravated with myself over it looking back at it but whatever. I didn’t drink when I got home so I’m giving myself massive points for that.

Instead, I unloaded and loaded the dishwasher. I made dinner since I didn’t have any meals for tonight or tomorrow. I prepped the shrimp I plan to use for a second meal. I ate, and now I’ve written.

The end of the workday sucked and I have learned a very valuable lesson. I knew I needed to make an Evernote with this clinic’s information in it, but I didn’t. I knew that I should have gotten contact information from people, and didn’t. And when I needed that information, I didn’t have it.

NEVER. AGAIN.

That level of stress over something so minor was not worth it and totally avoidable.

Knowledge is having information. Wisdom is applying that knowledge.

Today I was not wise, which means tomorrow and every day from this point forward I can be wiser.

And with that mindset… I’m going to go have one last cigarette and shower before going to sleep to do another 12-hour shift tomorrow in the safety and familiarity of my own, small, eight station home clinic.

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