Daily Post 136: Post-Test and the Other Three Weeks

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I passed my state tests. I passed with flying colors on the skills portion, including manual blood pressure, and with an 88 on the written portion. The 88 sort of eats away at me. I would have liked for it to be in the 90s. But when they ask things like, “Your resident wants to vote. What do you do?” it’s not really fair. The class taught me that residents had the right to vote, not what I am supposed to do as a CNA. Do I request the ballet myself on their behalf or inform the charge nurse? Nothing in the book told me what to do. Nothing in the class told me what to do. So now I have a 50/50 chance of getting the question right. Or wrong. There were several questions like. Nothing about proper temperature or blood pressure ranges. No “What does this abbreviation mean?” It’s frustrating, but for the time being, it’s over. No more classes to stay up late for. No more three hours naps before work the next day. No more discussion posts which aren’t worth the time to read or reply to. It’s done. It’s over. I don’t have to think about school until possibly October.

And no more six-day work weeks. I made it through that stint of the holiday season and all of the emotional roller coaster that goes with overworking myself during one of the hardest times of the year for me.

I made it through my birthday. Lil’ Ox baked a cake for me with Mama Ox. I blew out my candles after everyone sang happy birthday to me. I opened the presents I was given. I didn’t cry at work while people told me happy birthday. I saved it all for home where Ox held me while I cried on the front porch and admitted to being sad and missing mom.

I made it through Christmas and the week of having the kids here while working every day and having no true alone time. Lil’ Ox and I stitched a fair amount. Ornery Ox and I made a trip to the gas station, just the two of us. I stayed home alone while everyone else went into town to spend a few hours with the rest of the family. I talked to my brothers and my dad. I’ve even replied to all of the text messages and Facebook messages I’ve received over the past few weeks.

I passed my annual skills check at work yesterday. Actually, everyone at my clinic passed their skills check on the first try so we’re getting pizza tomorrow for lunch to celebrate.

I also cannulated our patient’s new fistula yesterday morning so I should be NFACT certified now as an expert cannulator.

Our new tech was there yesterday. She’s going to be in training with me for the next month. We get along extremely well together. She’s also super into organization and to-do lists so I think once the clinic opens up to six days a week again that we’ll be able to transition into it fairly well. We have similar mindsets and are both open to creating / editing systems and finding what works and changing what doesn’t. She’s open to trying the systems that I’ve developed over the past 10 or so months of working by myself and I’m open to changing my ways and trying new things. As long as we maintain communication I think we’ll be able to work through any friction or challenges that will pop up in the coming weeks and months.

There’s a new RN who started training this week as well. She’s been an ER nurse for the past however many years, so I think she’ll actually do fairly well. I haven’t interacted with her all that much but my impression is that she’s sharp. She’ll catch on quick and she’s used to a fast-paced, fluctuating environment. She’s used to having to react quickly to critical situations. I think once she becomes comfortable with the machines that she’ll be alright. It would be nicer if she were a little more open and friendly, but she’s not un-friendly so at least there’s that. I can work with distant and maybe as we interact more we’ll warm up to each other.

So, things at work are going well. I’m planning to take the second week of February off for vacation. I’ll be staying at home and not really do a whole lot other than not working. There currently aren’t plans for amazing productiveness or any trips to stress or plan over. Just a week of self-care essentially. Taking a step back and recharging my batteries. The new tech will, ideally, be through training and comfortable doing things on her own and if not I would only a 20-minute drive away to come help if needed.

This is the first week in a while where I’m only working three days and it’s only this morning where I’m beginning to feel more like myself and less on the verge of burnout. The thought of grocery shopping doesn’t feel like sandpaper under my skin. The thought of socializing still feels heavy, but not as much as it did.

I’m planning to take the last week of March off to visit Orlando, as well. It will be Jon’s birthday. My dad will actually be in Florida with my half-sisters visiting Disney. We’re thinking of trying to meet up, all of us, one evening for dinner.

And there’s a Warrior Dash in Kansas this summer. Originally I wanted to try to run the one in Florida scheduled for February, but I like the new plans more. I haven’t been going to the gym or the dojo. I know I won’t be where I want to be within a month. The new game plan gives me more time to ease back into my self and to continue at a pace I can be successful with.

In addition to all of the events I have been a part of and gone through, it’s also a new year. I don’t have resolutions. My goal was to survive and I did. I didn’t get Ox’s Christmas gift done like I wanted, so it’s turned into my “one-year” gift for him. That’s coming up. Hard to believe I’ve been here in Nebraska for as long as I have. Looking back at the past year makes me realize how much I have accomplished for work and my career, but also with my health, and with my relationships, specifically with Ox. I have been far from stagnant in any area of my life.

I also submitted my essay for the leadership course I applied for. I don’t think I’ll be heartbroken if I don’t get chosen. I’ll know tomorrow so we’ll see I suppose. I don’t think it will be as heavy of an obligation as what my CNA class was, but I’m also ok with not adding more to my plate. Whatever happens, happens and I’ll figure it out from there. I do think the essay came out better than I thought it would. It’s definitely better than the first draft I wrote.

Ox and I are doing well. He’s been amazingly supportive and encouraging during this roller coaster of a ride. He was there for me after my state test. He kept the kids entertained on the days I needed alone time. He’s cooked me eggs so I have breakfast while I’m at work. He’s helped with the laundry and making the bed. He’s listened to me talk and cry and helped me feel secure. I don’t think I would have done nearly as well these past weeks if it weren’t for his support and I’m grateful he’s in my life.

We had Tuesday off together since it was a holiday. The morning started with a lot of tears and crying, mostly because it was the first day off where I could begin emotionally processing through nearly a month worth of experiences. It left me feeling fragile and tired for most of the day but it was a very nice, quietly productive, and connecting day in spite of those feelings.

We cleaned the inside of our computers which was something we had talked about a few weeks ago. We ended up going into town for breakfast at Cracker Barrel. It was crowded and busy but we had a pleasant server and though it was six degrees outside, it was nice to be spending time together out of the house. We went to Best Buy and Walmart. I got a peppermint mocha from Star Bucks with a gift card he got from his work. I now have a pair of warm gloves to keep my fingers from freezing; the last piece of winter gear I was missing. We were even able to get a case of Cotton Candy Bang from the gas station since GNC was sold out and not going to get a shipment in for a while. While I could have made do with the Sour Head flavor I still have a few cans of, knowing that I have my favorite flavor to look forward to gave me warm fuzzy feelings about waking up on my workdays.

Ox and I got a USB / outlet wall mount to go above our bedside table. That meant we could get rid of the alarm clock that was taking up space and never being used aside from charging the phones. Not that I have strong feelings about an unused alarm clock taking up my cross-stitching space or anything…

The wall mount also gave me warm fuzzy feelings and actually did a surprising amount of work in regards to battling back the grief/depression of the past few weeks. It gave me a small, little project to look forward to when we got home. It made me want to go home and to do something other than nothing. It was one, small change to make things in the room better. And I keep saying “me” and “our” though, in truth, Ox was the one to set everything up. I didn’t do anything other than spend money and carry a bag into the house. He ran the cord and attached the mount to the wall. He’s the one who got rid of the alarm clock and freed up more space for me and my things.

Still, I can’t deny that the changed helped me. One, small step forward that makes all of the other steps not seem so bad. One step got accomplished so other steps can be made. It doesn’t have to be giant leaps that require energy and motivation and a mass amount of effort that I don’t feel I have. Things can be small and manageable while still being fulfilling.

There was a lot of quietly productive things about Tuesday that helped warm me on the inside and fight back the sadness that I’ve been struggling with.

I know I’ve been… something recently. I don’t know if it’s depression or grief since they feel so similar to me. I know burnout was part of the mixture which always makes me more sensitive to events, but I think Tuesday things started turning around. Our small bedroom project helped. Passing my skills test yesterday marked the last major stressor I had to get through. I’m not going to say it’s smooth sailing from here because I work dialysis. There’s no such thing as “normal”. But things should settle down a bit and I’m grateful for that. I will have more time to focus on myself and my inner world and my homeworld; my relationship world.

I’ve already been fairly productive today, and that too makes me feel better. I’ve gone through my emails, replying to comments on my tutorials and such. I resubmitted the rebate for the contacts I bought with the proper receipts. I’ve already put dye in my hair so I can rinse it out before much longer. I made a to-do list for my car on Tuesday so I have a game plan for that. I’ve taken stock of the bathroom so far, writing down things I need to get while I’m at the store; things I normally forget until I’m taking a shower and remember, “Oh yeah, I’m running low on body wash. I should write that down once I dry off….”

I’ve gone through most of my “inbox” stack of papers. Most of the things that are left are recipes I need to make a decision about. Jon should be calling me before too long so we can chat for a bit and catch up with each other and our lives.

Overall I think I’m on the right track. I still have a long ways to go to get things cleaned up, situated, and back to how they were, but I’m taking the steps I need to and I think I’m being mindful while I do it. I’m going to continue to take this week easy. I may go to the dojo tomorrow night. I may go Saturday, but I’m not holding myself to an obligation of it. I would like to cook dinner for everyone since that’s something I haven’t been doing as much as I was when I first moved here.

This week is about breathing and letting go of all of the stress and anxiety I’ve had to contend with over the past three weeks while getting back in touch with myself and the things I want; the things that make me feel happy, or at least content with myself and connected with my true inner priorities.

And so, with that, I guess I’m going to go so I can keep plucking away at the small to-do list I wrote for myself today. Writing was one of the things on there and I’m glad I took the time to do it. I know there are a lot of details from the past three weeks that will be forgotten about and left unwritten but I feel like I got a majority of the events. I’m glad I wrote about Tuesday because that really was the first step, the first day towards getting back to myself. Maybe I’ll be able to write more regularly in the coming weeks.

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Daily Post 135: Pre-Test

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I slept roughly 12 hours last night. For the past few days, I keep having dreams though I don’t remember much about them when I wake up. I know last nights had something to do with putting gas in my car and having an issue with being on the wrong side of the gas pumps. It also had something to do with the bicarb cartridges we use at work and the wall boxes where the acid and RO water comes from the hoses into the machines, only we didn’t need the machines for whatever reason. It had more to do with how the wall boxes were all the way on the other end of the wall, far away from where I was and what I was trying to do. There was something about waiting for the bell to ring so we could leave class to get to the buses on time like I was back in high school only I wasn’t that young. I was still me and how we were all crowded around the door waiting to leave, but the clock on the wall was fast so it was past the time for the bell to ring and everyone was frustrated, waiting, waiting, waiting, watching the second hand on the clock tick further and further past the time.

Yeah… weird dreams. I didn’t wake up with bad feelings about them. I guess I remember more about them then I thought. I do feel like I’m waiting and to be fair I really am.

I’m waiting to take my test today.

I don’t think I’m going to study more than I have. I don’t want to stress out and worry. I want to cross-stitch. I want to relax. I want to be lazy and be able to get through my day tomorrow since regardless of what I do on my test I’ll still have to go into work and it will be two full shifts of patients with just the float RN since the medical director is coming to our clinic tomorrow for our FHM meeting with my FA.

It’s going to be a busy and important day and I don’t really want to start it off with burnout from today.

So… no. No more studying. I’m going to do what I do and I’ll figure it out from there. If I don’t know it by now then I’m not going to know it in the next few hours anyway. My instructors felt like I knew the skills enough to check them off. They were confident in my abilities. I need to have some confidence in myself, too.

Ox called not long ago. He’s off work and headed home. I asked if he would be willing to go into town with me this evening. The thought of not going to this test by myself makes me feel better. I know that’s kind of selfish; having someone sit around for two hours doing nothing… but I wouldn’t be alone. I would have someone to look forward to seeing once I’m done. A hug regardless of what the outcome is. He’s agreed to drive us in so I don’t have to do that either. I can sit in the passenger seat and stare out the window and listen to music.

I need to stop at Walmart to get a wristwatch since I need that for the 20 seconds of handwashing I have to do for my test. After the test, I’m going to go return it because I don’t wear watches. We are also going to get food together and stop at GNC so I can have Bang for the coming weeks as well as stopping at the craft store so I can get more of the thread I need to finish his project. There are a few other things I might pick up while I’m there so I can finish the projects I have going on for my patients Christmas gifts.

I’m looking forward to all of that. I don’t care about the test, at least not in the same way.

I guess I really don’t know how I feel about it. What does becoming a CNA get me? The potential to do LPN, but I’m not thinking I’ll be able to start that in April since finances are still a thing. So I’m looking at either part-time in October or fulltime in April 2020. That’s so far away. CNA gets me nothing right now so I don’t feel any sense of accomplishment at the thought of passing my tests today. I get another piece of paper to go along with all of the other pieces of paper that I have.

Right Brain: Woo. I helped kill another tree. Go me…

I like the thought of not having to go back into town on Tuesday and Thursday nights. I like the sense of relief from knowing that the class is done. I like the thought of being able to stay home. I like the thought of being able to go to bed at a decent time again and not simply taking a three-hour nap before having to get up for work. I like the thought of doing nothing.

I know this test is a step towards something I want, but at the moment I don’t feel like I’m invested in it as much as I was in the beginning. I don’t care about the result anymore. I care about the aftermath. I care about recovering. I care about getting me back to where I was emotionally and mentally before taking on this two-month obligation. And in about seven hours I can start that. With Ox. He’s been so supportive through this whole section of our relationship and continues to be into today.

Just the thought of knowing I don’t have to worry about driving there makes everything else seem more manageable; more doable. I don’t have to worry about getting myself there. It’s taken care of. I don’t have to worry about fighting off a headache by driving back home in the dark. It’s taken care of. I don’t have to worry about whatever emotions will be there after my test because there will be someone in the parking lot waiting for me. I won’t be alone. It’s taken care of.

All I have to do is answer 50 multiple choice questions, then an hour later, prove that I know how to wash my hands properly and do five skills that I’ll have a total of five minutes to review. I can do them in any order I want. While I was studying last night I realized that I knew a lot of the “critical” steps for each skill.

I’ll be alright. This test can’t kill me. It can’t take my job away from me. It can’t take my home away from me. Or my car. This test can’t harm me in any way other than emotionally and mentally and that’s only if I let it.

So I’m not going to let it. I’m going to go enjoy cross stitching for a bit while watching more episodes of Bleach once Ox gets home. I’m going to take a really nice, long, hot shower before getting dressed to go get my watch. I might get a little something to eat to hold me over for those two hours. After that, I have a really nice evening to look forward to. I’ll be able to be productive and get in quality time.

It’s almost over and that knowledge, that fact, makes me want to cry a little bit with relief. I keep typing that word, but that’s what I feel. This heaviness that I didn’t really know was there is about to go away. All I have to do is keep going for a few more hours. I can do that. I can make it through this and then all that’s left is work and work is easy.

I know what’s expected of me. I know how to do my job and do it well. There might be a lot of it, but it’s known. It’s not scary or nebulous. It’s almost auto piolet in some regards. I come in. I set up the machines. I test the water room. I make sure the clinic is ready for my patients. I get to say good morning to them and chit chat and be interested in their lives. I get to ask about their plans for the weekend. I get to help them live. And then I get to clean everything up, close everything down, and go home.

Easy. Known. Safe. Routine.

I can do that. I want that.

I’m almost there.

Daily Post 134: Procrastinating on Studying

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I passed my test last night. Got a 98 since I missed one question. You have to wait 10-20 minutes before taking someone’s oral temperature if they’ve just had something to drink. Not 5-10 minutes. You’re welcome.

I’ve officially completed my CNA course. I’m signed up to take my state skills test tomorrow at 6:30 pm. I have my state written test at 5:30 pm. I’ll know if I pass both of them before I leave campus.

I’m about to begin studying for my skills test. That’s a whole process in itself that I’ve talked to a few people about but I don’t think I’ve ever explained it here on my blog and for better or for worse, I don’t really feel like getting into it right now. Maybe the next time I write.

Work today wasn’t bad. It was the first time that we had nearly all of our patients back from the hospital. It was just me and my FA on the floor today and even though we didn’t have the extra nurse there to help things went fairly smoothly.

I’m still tired, though, and that tiredness eats away at everything. I should care more about my test tomorrow, but right now I sort of don’t. Whatever happens, will happen. Either I’ll fail, drink and cry about it and then figure out retesting. Or I’ll pass, drink and cry about it and then figure out what I want to do with my LPN course.

Jon and I have talked a fair amount this week. Ox and I have talked, too. We both think I’m contending with depression right now. Potentially burn out as well. I turned down working an extra shift this coming Saturday. See… I can say no… sometimes. Not without mild guilt, but since the only thing I want to do is hermit myself away from the world, the thought of having to give up any sort of time to be around people, even to grocery shop, is sort of a no-go right now.

I’ve been thinking about maybe going to the dojo on Saturday. If I took the shift it would have been a definite no and I wasn’t ok with that. I’m about to work a crapton of overtime in the next two weeks. I don’t want to give up one of the few days off that I’ll have. I need to go to my eye clinic and get a receipt for my lens fitting so I can actually get the rebate I was denied today. Jerks. I need to do laundry. I need to finish meal prepping for the next two weeks since I will have a single day off during each of them and I don’t want to spend any of that day having to do chores.

I need to take care of me a little bit more than what I’ve been doing. I think a lot of it comes back to sleep. Lack of sleep makes everything harder. If that means I need to give up the dojo for a little bit longer then I guess that’s what I need to do.

In a way, the coming weeks will be easier. All I’ll have to do is work. No worrying about tests or studying or discussion posts that are so lacking in content that there isn’t really anything worth replying to. The extra shifts are only about eight hours. I’ll have the rest of the day to myself. I could go to the gym to run or row. It would be beneficial to run since I want to take vacation in February to go to Florida and I could do the Warrior Dash while I’m there.

I’ve decided not to apply to go to a convention for work in March. Not sure if I wrote about that either. There was an opportunity that I think I’m going to pass on. I’m already going to be doing preceptor training sometime around April. I might get into this leadership course which would be a six-month investment. I just went to Dever… I think I’m ok with not doing something.

I think I’m ok with taking a step back for a little while. I think I would be ok with having days off that are legit full days off with no additional side / personal development obligations.

And with that, I’m off to go study so I can pass my tests on the first try and not have them looming over me.

Daily Post 132: A 16-Hour Surprise

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My energy is in high flux today because yesterday ended up being a surprise 16-hour shift.

The morning was alright. The float RN and I ran a little behind, but it wasn’t terrible. Around 7:30 when I went on break I saw I had a text message from one of the techs at the Cap City clinic. There was a tech who was supposed to work but wouldn’t be able to make it in because her flight got delayed. They wanted to know if I would be willing to close the Cap City clinic once I was done in Beatrice.

I was already tired and I hadn’t even survived change over yet. I really didn’t have a reason to say no, though. If I was already going to be tired and beaten by the end of my day then why not go for broke? It’s not like I was planning on going to the dojo that night anyway. I was already getting overtime. I would be compensated for travel time and gas to the other clinic and all I would really have to do its discontinue treatments, clean, and rinse the loop. I mean, it really wouldn’t be any added stress to my already potentially craptastic day…

I agreed to the shift and resigned to the fact that Saturday, today, I would most likely be beyond burnt out mentally and energy wise.

Change over at my clinic sucked but we did better than I thought we would. I’ve definitely had better days, but I’ve also had worse days so I’m not going to complain about how it went down. Take off at the end of the day was actually pretty smooth and I was able to get out of my clinic by 4:30. Woo.

I was able to make it all the way to Lincoln by 5:30. The other techs had already taken care of the closing chores and had prepped the water room for me which I appreciated. I closed with a nurse that I have met but have never really worked with one on one. The evening went smoothly and I’m glad to say that even though I don’t have to rinse the bicarb loop often since my clinic doesn’t have one, I’m getting better at it. I can manage my time more efficiently because I have a better idea on which parts take a while and where I can get something else accomplished during the “wait” steps.

I was able to get all of the stations cleaned up and closed down, lines and charts in the chairs, bio emptied, water room shut down, and bleach containers emptied and rinsed before the loop was done rinsing. I know that doesn’t mean much to anyone other than a fellow dialysis technician, but I’m going to sit here and feel like a badass because that’s pretty good. Totally high fiving myself with no shame. Especially since I haven’t rinsed a loop in a few months; not since the last time I covered at South Omaha.

Anywho, it was a long night and I was glad to finally, officially, clock out. I called Ox. He takes such good care of me. I was asking about dinner and he reminded me that there’s an Arby’s close to the clinic that I could stop and pick something up at since there wasn’t anything I really wanted at home because cooking after a 16-hour shift had a snowball’s chance in hell of happening. I picked up a brisket sandwich along with a small mint shake because fuck it. I earned it.

I drove home. I ate. I made a drink and even logged into WoW for a little bit. I’m having a hard time finding motivation to play the game since it feels pointless. I’m so far behind I don’t know where to start. I was in Discord for a bit trying to chat with guildmates, but I didn’t have it in me. I ended up getting up from the computer, not even bothering to log out of anything, and curled up next to Ox.

Ox: You’re going to fall asleep.
Me: Am not…

The next thing I knew I was waking up at 7:30 this morning… -_-;

So… I might have been more tired than I realized because I don’t remember falling asleep at all. That was pretty typical of when I worked 16-hour days in Orlando, though. I would sit down on the couch to decompress from my day and not realize I had fallen asleep until I was waking up hours later.

This morning has been rough to get started. I’ve been in and out of bed three times so far. Every time I get up to do something my body and mind veto my efforts. That, too, is typical. The small amounts of energy I recoup quickly deplete. Apathy has a strong foothold due to the burnout and the only remedy is time.

I’m happy to say that even with low energy stores I’ve already been a little productive. I’ve paid bills. Even with outright paying for the new keyboard and laptop I’m doing well. All of the extra overtime I’ll be getting on this paycheck will help balance that out, and once Jon gets his monthly expense check in December he’s agreed to pay me the $200 for the Surface I sold him a while ago, which is why I haven’t had a laptop.

I’ve called my eye doctor and let him know that I love the trial contacts he sent me home with. He wants to do a followup appointment to make sure the contacts are fitting my eyes correctly but he’s glad to hear that they feel extremely comfortable and that I am enjoying them. That appointment is set for December 1st, the weekend before I go out of town. It’s at 9:30 in the morning so that should get me up and out of bed and moving enough that the dojo shouldn’t be an issue. Not like it is today.

I didn’t go, which means it’s been over a week since I’ve gone. I’m ok with that though. I knew this week was going to be screwy with the holiday and with how yesterday ended up working out, I accepted the realization that I was choosing work over the dojo.

Since bills are paid my next action steps are to make a grocery list and shower so Ox and I can go shopping together. I’m not looking forward to being out and around people, but I’m glad that I won’t be having to face it all alone. We’re planning on going to an actual grocery store like Super Savers or Hyvee instead of going to Walmart like I normally do. Hopefully, that allows us to avoid most of the Black Friday shoppers that are still out and about since Black Friday is now apparently a weekend-long event. No resentment or anything about the holiday season fucking with my introvertedness. None what so ever…

Overall I think today will be alright. I need to be mindful of myself and respect my energy levels. I also need to be aware of when I’m being grouchy from over-stimulation because that’s a very real thing during days like this.

I was going to say that hopefully, tomorrow will be better, but that implies that today is or will be bad, and that’s not how I feel. Today will be itself and tomorrow be itself and even though they will be different from each other that difference doesn’t imply an inferiority or a badness that I need to apologize for. I’m recovering today and I think I’m recovering fairly well. Tomorrow I will be more recovered and able to do more.

Today will be a good day. A quiet day. A slow, low day.

Daily Post 130: Square One

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A lot has happened in the past 24 hours.

I worked at the Dodge clinic today in Fremont. Patient census said I should have left about 10:20. At 10:50, though, five patients were going to end their treatment within 6 minutes of each other. Since the FA was there I asked her what she wanted me to do. I didn’t want to leave and have my remaining teammates be screwed. I also didn’t want to stay and have people getting into trouble for having too many techs on the floor.

The FA was ok with me staying, so I stayed. I got out a little after 11. I called Ox and we decided to meet at home. We’re going to go into Lincoln later tonight to do some shopping (*cough winter pants cough*), and to get dinner together. I’m looking forward to it.

Currently, I’m sitting here eating lunch and writing to catch up on all of the developments in my life since nothing can happen gradually or spread out. Once I’m done eating and writing I’m going to go to the gym here at home to run.

I’ve been wearing compression socks at work for the past two days. I think they make a difference. My legs are less tired and my feet aren’t as sore in the morning. That’s something I’m still going to keep an eye on and be mindful of. Two days isn’t a lot to go off of or make a trend out of.

Tomorrow is a dojo day. I’m looking forward to that. Work should go alright since I’ll be working with my FA on the floor. Friday is going to be a disaster since I’ll be alone with the float RN. All FAs are being voluntold to take Friday off for the holiday. All I have to do is survive and then it will be the weekend. As long as I can make it through those 12 hours Friday, I’ll be alright.

I talked to Jon for a bit on the ride home. It’s becoming a bit of a routine for us to talk on Tuesdays and Thursdays since we both have very little going on in our lives on those days, at least in the mornings. It’s been nice. Normally I’m at home so I can sit outside and drink my coffee while I talk to him. Today it was pleasant having company on my drive home. I got to tell him about everything that’s happened and he’s happy for me.

Which, I guess I should stop being nebulous about events and get into everything that happened yesterday.

I woke up for work like normal. Nothing out of the ordinary happened. We got the clinic set up. We put our first shift patients on. I was with the float RN and my FA.

My FAs boss was scheduled to come to our clinic. That’s sort of a big deal. He’s stationed in Omaha, so it’s not like we’re nearby for him or anything. My FA came out to help during change over. She got me and the RN get to a pretty good spot before her boss showed up and she had to go have her meeting with him.

The RN and I should have been able to dance through the rest of the day. Most of the first shift patients were gone. Only one was left since he was having low standing blood pressures. He drives himself so it has to be above 100 systolic and 50 diastolic before we legally can let him leave.

Our ISO patient showed up, so the RN went to initiate his treatment. I stayed out on the floor cleaning and setting up for the remaining second shift patients who weren’t there yet. I had already initiated three of the second shift treatments.

Our ISO patient had to be stuck three times before his venous needle would work properly. Three times. Three.

And this is where I’m going to take a second and mildly rant as a dialysis technician.

What the actual hell? He has a super easy access. How can you mess up his venous needle? Like, for real. What. The. Hell.

I ended up having to swap places with the RN to finish initiating his treatment. It’s not like you can hop in and out of ISO. There PPE you have to put on. There’s handwashing you have to do. It’s time. Time is valuable. You don’t waste time. Having to restick anyone is time. Plus all the added stuff of it’s not good for the access and who wants to get stuck with three additional 15 gauge needles? I’m pretty sure no one, that’s who.

The third needle is the one I did and the one that ran smoothly. While I had been in the ISO room the RN got one of our other patients into his chair. He’s blind and requires assistance. The last patient we were set up for also needs assistance since she’s in a wheelchair at the moment. Instead of getting both patients into their chairs and making sure both machines were ready, she only got our blind patient; the one who has orders for only expert cannulators to canulate at the moment. So I was the only person, on the floor since my FA was still in her meeting, who could do his needles.

Fine. That’s ok. I don’t mind doing that. But nothing was ready for me when I got out of ISO. I still had to put all of his information into the machine and computer and clean his access and then do the cannulation. I don’t even know what the RN did while I was in the ISO room because it felt like literally nothing was done.

In the meantime, the machine for the other patient, the wheelchair patient, had failed its tests and had to be retested.

Right Brain: FML. Can nothing just go smoothly? For just a hot second could the RN touch something and have it not turn to ash? No… Oh… Well, fine. Fuck you too, Universe. Bring it.

I got the failed machine retesting while the RN went to the lobby for the patient. Once the machine was doing its thing I went over and got Mr. Blind going. The cannulation went smoothly. I got his headphones plugged in and made sure his TV was on the right channel so he could listen to Gun Smoke once it came on. I got his blanket spread out and his pillows situated.

Cool. I should have been done. There was no reason for the RN to have not been able to initiate our last patient. Only that didn’t go down how it should have either. Of course not. That whole “things turning to ash” thing… I guess the Universe took me up on my challenge.

That patient had a lab that was scheduled. Cool. Not an issue. You cannulate, attached an evac tube to the needle line, place the lab tube into the evac, draw the lab, disconnect the evac, attach the bloodline, initiate treatment. Standard. Routine. Nothing crazy or hard…

Universe: Hold my beer…

The f’ing evac tube wouldn’t come off. No joke. We even tried using pliers to twist it off since her access has such a short range. Having to recannulate would have been a nightmare. We would have had to pull her needle, wait for her to clot, then pray the RN hasn’t stuck her in such a way that we wouldn’t be able to get another needle in.

Well… that’s what we ended up having to do because of whatever she did with the f’ing evac tube.

Right Brain: I’m so sorry, Universe. I take it back. I take it back. Oh, God. Please. Just shoot me now. Please. Just end it. Please. Why, Universe? Why? What did I do to deserve this much suffering? On a Monday of all days… ;-;

I was able to recannulate her access and we got her treatment going. She was an hour late from her scheduled on time, though. It sucked. All of it from the time my FA left the floor went to hell in a handbasket and it wasn’t even a pretty handbasket with a bow on it.

No. It was a grimy, dirty handbasket that had been kicked around a few times and then stepped on just for good measure, and then used to beat me to a pulp. Yeah… It was that kind of a day. Beaten to death by a grimy, dirty beaten up handbasket sort of day.

I was so mentally dead by the time I got everything caught up. I just wanted to go to lunch, smoking through the whole 30 minutes of my break before having to go back onto the floor to end treatments and finish out the last five-ish hours of my day.

That’s about the time when my boss’s boss came out to the floor and wished us a happy Thanksgiving and went on his way.

Right Brain: Yeah. Thanks. Go die in a fire for stealing my FA from me, Jerkface. I mean, not really since I know none of this was your fault. But maybe just a little fire so I can feel better about myself and not be the only one suffering and having a shitty day.

As I was getting ready to step off the floor to go on my lunch break my FA came out and asked if I could talk to her. As we were heading into her office, with me contemplating what I was about to get yelled at talked to about, she asked me how it was going.

Me: Alright.
FA: So how is it really going?

I sat down in the chair across from her desk and sighed, rubbing my temples. I told her about ISO and our other restick. I told her that things really were fine and that I just needed five minutes to regroup since I hadn’t had a chance to decompress yet.

FA: Well that actually leads in perfectly to what I want to tell you. I just got done talking with Mr. Boss. We want to give you a raise for everything that you do.

Me: I love you guys so much.

She said they would be increasing my wage to $15 and that it was purely based on work performance and would not affect my yearly review in April. She said that she appreciates being able to depend on me to keep the clinic going for her and that I help make her job easier.

We ended up stepping outside and having a cigarette together. While we were outside I told her how I didn’t feel like I deserved the award I got. I told her that I, personally, feel like all I do is my job. Doing your job shouldn’t get you special recognition.

FA: Yeeesss… You do your job. But it’s the way you do it. It’s your attitude and how you carry yourself. There’s a difference between just doing your job and the way that YOU do your job.

I told her that I understood that, and that I was and am still grateful for her words at the meeting and even more so for the raise.

So yeah… I survived one of the worst changeovers I’ve had in a while and then got a 50 cent raise at the end of it.

That 50 cents equals out to the cost of my dojo membership. My FA gave me my dojo. That’s how I’m choosing to look at it since I’ve been sort of kicking myself about signing up for yet another financial obligation while I still have so much that I need to pay off.

My FA didn’t have to request an increase in my wage. Her boss didn’t have to approve it. But they did. They both went out of their way to make my life easier. I know it’s just money. It’s numbers. Digits in an excel sheet that affect the bottom line. But it’s more human than that. It’s a very real and tangible thing for me. It’s my recovery. It’s my social time. It’s my stress relief. It’s my coping mechanism for my grief.

I am beyond grateful.

I am now making what I considered my baseline. I started at Full Sail making a little more than 15 an hour, but since I started working for DaVita I have considered $15 my goal. If I could only get back to there. I wouldn’t be backtracked anymore. I would be back at my start at least.

And here I am, financially back to my starting line. I feel like I’ve accomplished something. I actually feel like I’m doing things right. Switching careers wasn’t a fuck up. I can, and am, making it.

I went to lunch while my FA went to the floor and took over. The float RN went home. I called Ox while I was on break and told him about the meeting with my FA.

When I went back to the floor there was an email from another FA talking about how our region was going to be hosting a leadership class. It’s very selective and only a few people were going to be chosen to participate, but they were accepting applications until December 7th. I poked through all of the attachments, read all the requirements, and sat for a bit thinking about the email.

I asked my FA if she had seen the email. She hadn’t, so she poked around at it for a second. I asked her if it would be ok for me to apply.

She said yes. We talked about it more and how it worked well with me getting ready to become a trainer for the clinic and how it could open doors for me later to become something like the Clinical Coordinator once I’m an RN myself. Leadership doesn’t mean I have to be an FA she said. There are lots of other positions I might be interested in that this class would be applicable to.

Soooo…. we’re going to sit down before the end of the month and discuss it in more detail and fill out the application together.

If my application is selected, I will enter into phase two where I will have to write an essay. If they like my essay, I will get an in-person interview. If they like my interview, I’ll be one of about six people chosen for this leadership course.

My mind is still having a hard time wrapping around everything, but I can say I’m honestly interested in seeing where all of this leads. I’m actually looking forward to seeing my work future and how everything plays out.

Closing the clinic went smoothly, but then it always does when I work with my FA. I was able to make it to my eye appointment on time. I got my eyes dilated which sort of sucked, but since I’m new at this clinic they have no baseline for me. I figured I would do everything while I was already there.

They gave me a trial pair of contacts which I have in right now and I love them so much more than the ones I was using before. It’s not the prescription change. It’s how they feel. I’ve only ever had one brand of contacts. These are a different brand and they’re amazing. I don’t remember the name but I know they’re supposed to be more durable than the last brand I had. I mentioned how the first year I had contacts went fine, but that during this second year four of them had ripped on me and I was a little less than thrilled about the prospect of having to go through that again.

These new, trial ones are a brand the doctor recommended I try and even though it’s only been about 12 hours of me wearing them, I already know that I’m going to stick with them this time around. They just feel… better. If you’ve never worn contacts I don’t really know how else to explain it. The old ones didn’t hurt me or anything, but there is definitely a difference between the two and if given a choice these new ones are the ones I would recommend.

So yeah, once I figure out the name I’m sure I’ll write about it again, but the eye appointment went well and I should have more contacts before too long and so far my eyes are fine. No eye cancer to worry about or anything like that. Aside from needing contacts my eyes are healthy. Woo.

I stopped at the gas station afterward and got gas for my car so I wouldn’t have to worry about it in the morning. I got Subway for dinner again since I was starving. Ox had me tell his parents about my raise. I stitched for a bit after dinner then went to sleep. And that was my day.

It felt like an exceedingly long day and here I am to the real part of it. The emotional part. The tears part. The mom part.

I’m back to square one, mom.

It’s taken me almost three years to do it, but I’m finally here. I don’t know what else to say other than I did it. I finally, really, truly did it. Everything from here will be forward progress.

I wish I could hug you. I wish I could beam a smile of pride and feel victorious while I have tears running down my face WITH you. I want it to be with you so much, mom. I want you to be here. I want you to know that I won and that I didn’t give up and that I’m finally back to where I started.

All those times that I told the Universe to go fuck itself and kept going when I wanted to give up has finally gotten me back to here. All those times I thought I was a fuck up when I first started in dialysis. All those times I questioned if I had picked the wrong career change.

This proves it to me; to us. I’m not a failure, mom. I’m a badass. I’m your badass. I’m your daughter and I will always be your daughter and I’m sorry.

I’m sorry for all the days that are hard and that I struggle. I’m sorry for still wanting to quit sometimes. I’m sorry for being angry and sad and hurt. I didn’t quit, though, and I’m not going to quit, and not quitting got me back to here. Not quitting got me the dojo. Not quitting got me an amazing FA who supports me and cares about me not only as an employee but as a person. As a human. You would like her, mom.

I know you’re proud of me and I’m happy that you’re proud. I just wish so desperately that we could be together in person still. It’s always so confusing to be happy and yet so sad at the same time. I’m happy I’m here, mom, but I’m so sad that it’s not the same. I’m sad that you’re not alive and we can’t talk on the phone or go out to eat. I want it to be like old times, mom. I want to hear you. I want to see you. I want to feel your arms around me because you always gave the best hugs. I want your words and warmth.

But at least I know you still know. At least we have whatever it is that we have and that I know you’re proud of me; happy for me. I know you’re still with me and I’m sorry if sometimes it seems like I’m ungrateful and that it isn’t enough. It is, mom. I promise it is and that I still love you, mom. I love you so much. Forever and for always, mom. I promise. It will always be forever and for always.

Daily Post 126: Slackin’

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Emotionally I’ve still been sort of all over the place. Tuesday was where it really started tanking downhill but I’ve been slowly recovering to the point where I’m at today. I screamed in my car on the drive home from the dojo Wednesday and I cried again Friday night, but both of those times were healthy cries that I feel I needed to have.

I’ve been struggling with feeling lonely and I feel bad for Ox because he seems to take the brunt of that discord since he’s the closest person to me. Jon called Tuesday before I left for class. When I answered the phone I was pretty much already in tears. He knew instantly that something was up and asked if I was ok. I told him that nothing was really wrong. I was just sad and he said he hoped I felt better.

It sucks when I’m like that. I feel bad for the people around me. There’s really nothing that anyone can do. It’s something I have to get through, breathe through. I still don’t know what to do to make the pain and loneliness go away. There isn’t a “fix” other than time. There’s a part of me who feels like I shouldn’t need another person; I should be able to figure my emotions out on my own and not require outside forces to pull me out of my sadness. Because of that mentality, I don’t reach out for the support that would probably help me get through my downs faster and easier. I don’t like thinking that I “need” someone. Needing means you’re dependent, so what happens when suddenly they’re not there anymore? How do you keep functioning then?

It’s another topic in the long list that I have that I eventually need to meditate on. All I can say is right now I still make it through those times. I might not make it through them with the grace I would like, but I still come out on the other side so that hopefully still counts as a win.

All of that aside, Ox and I are doing well I think. We spent most of yesterday shopping for me again. I got winter socks from Walmart. We went to a few stores looking for snowshoes but were unsuccessful in finding something I wanted to spend money on. I did get a pair of snow pants to go over my work clothes. Ox and I talked about that for a while. Originally we were thinking about getting me a few sets of thermals, but since you wear those under clothing, it would be annoying to put them on, then my scrubs, drive to work, undress then redress so I don’t overheat while I’m working the floor. Getting something that could go over my clothing seemed like a smarter option for the type of work I do. So I got a pair of black snow pants for $40 since they were on sale. I haven’t worn them yet aside from trying them on, but I think I’ll like them and I think they’ll work well of what I’m looking for. Right now they’re folded up and waiting for our next snow day.

I was also able to find a long-sleeved shirt that I like. It has thumb holes!!!! I got two of them since I figured I’ll only be wearing them, maybe, on my days off. Two should suffice. I really like them. I wore one yesterday once we got home from shopping to get a better feel for it. It’s soft and stretchy. The hand part fits snuggly, and with the thumb holes, I don’t feel like my wrists or fingers are being restricted. With having lived in Florida for so long, I don’t like wearing long-sleeved stuff much, and with how often I wear workout gear, I don’t like clothing that doesn’t stretch or move easily with me. It has made finding winter things that I like a little harder than what it most likely is for other people. I have very specific criteria for what I’m looking for. Luckily I’ve been able to find things that match what I want, it’s just taken a bit more time and not settling for “good enough”.

Overall, it was another day of win for the shopping list. Only snowshoes, scrubs, and potentially pants left to go.

We also stopped at a few places to price mark laptops since that is something on my radar. Right now it seems like I would be spending around $500 for something along the lines of what I want. Not bad, but not something I’m going to do right now. During one of our conversations, Jon brought up the fact that he has yet to pay me for the Surface I gave him while we were in Vegas. That would be $200 I could put towards a new laptop.

There are still a few other options I want to look into before settling on something. I would like to investigate more into a Chrome book since Google runs my life. Regardless of what I find, I most likely will hold off until Black Friday / Cyber Monday to see what deals pop up. Not “needing” a laptop means I can wait for a while. There’s also the marketplace thing for my work that might have decent deals.

One of the things we got last week was a gallon of apple cider with a bottle of caramel vodka. It’s an amazing mix. Just throwing that out there though I am very aware of just how many carbs are in 8 fluid ounces of apple cider alone. So worth it.

I didn’t have breakfast containers for yesterday or this morning so I made breakfast bowls with tater tots, onion, pepper, mushroom, salsa, sour cream, cheddar cheese, egg, and steak. It turned out really good. It’s the first time in a while I’ve had anything potato related. I guess it’s a bit of a guilty pleasure, but it’s been an extremely pleasing breakfast both times.

My meals for the week are done since I froze my leftover soup and chili from last week. Both of those recipes make eight servings, so the food shopping for this week was pretty light. The only cooking I have to do today is my roast and that’s pretty much just putting it in the oven and letting it do its thing until I need to cut it up.

I did laundry yesterday since I spilled my Bang a little bit on the bed. Talk about a party foul. : /

I still need to put the clothes away and repack my gym bag. Aside from potential school work, though, my day is pretty chill as far as chores are concerned. Roast, clothes, lunch for Ox, taking care of the cardboard tote… Yep, mostly just minor things.

The cut on my left hand is doing better, but now I have a cut on my right hand which sucks. I can’t win for losing apparently. I don’t even know what I did to get this one. I happened to look down while I was putting groceries away yesterday and noticed it. It sucks how something doesn’t start hurting until you notice it, then it’s the only thing you can think about. Still no signs of infection or anything. Just a little red around the edges from being angry because it has to bend so much. Stupid fingers and their bending… >.<;

Oh… on the subject of food. The chicken taco soup actually turned out really good as leftovers. I’m happy about that because when I first tried it I didn’t know if I would be able to eat it for a week straight. I think the next time I make it I’ll either use a different seasoning since I’m not a huge fan of the chipotle flavor profile or use regular cream cheese instead of the jalapeno flavor. I do think the base recipe is a good one and that with slight modifications it could be added regularly to my rotation.

I went to the dojo both Wednesday and Friday night. I only stayed for one class each time, but they were good classes and I’m glad I was there. I got to do drills with one of the guys on Friday. That was fun. He’s a teenager, most likely around 16 or so. After our first few rounds of drills, we were both more comfortable with each other. We’re both going to have bruises on our shins for a while, but that’s part of it.

I think the more I keep going, the more I’ll get to know everyone, the more comfortable and at home I’ll feel. I enjoyed working with the instructor and I do think I’ll enjoy being his student.

I still need to mess with JeFit but during one of the conversations with Jon the subject of it turning my music off came up. I guess it’s a setting I need to poke around with because his music plays just fine with the app. Good to know. If I feel ambitious today I might take a look at it.

I’ve still been cross stitching. I feel like I’ve been making a decent amount of progress on it. I didn’t take a picture last week, but I will later tonight before going to sleep. I’ve decided that since I haven’t been posting pictures for this project on my blog, I’ll wait until it’s finished to do a post with all of the progress pictures. That way they still get posted, but it’s not a “six here, one or two there” sort of thing. They can all be together.

School is going well. We had our first exam. I got 104% since I got the bonus question. Everyone passed. I didn’t see anyone else with my score though. A lot of 100%s, but it seemed like everyone else missed at least one question.

I still haven’t figured out my scrubs yet. I need to get that taken care of sooner rather than later. I also need to get my background check completed along with obtaining my school ID so I can participate in the clinical portion of the class once it gets to that point. I’m saving both of those tasks for Tuesday because my future self is going to need something to do.

Work has been surprisingly quiet and smooth. We hired a new nurse, though she has several years of dialysis experience so she’s not really new. I met her Wednesday. She’s pretty awesome. Friendly. Knowledgeable. I feel secure as a PCT with her. She’s going to be our float nurse for the next bit and I’m ok with that. I think we’ll work well together once we figure out a flow.

The acid machine got fixed at work, so I mixed a batch of acid Friday. I was having anxiety over it the whole time, waiting for smoke to start billowing up again. It went flawlessly, though. The pH tested within range and I was able to transfer it to the holding tank. I’m not sure if we’re going to use the jugs until their gone or switch over to the batch of acid I made when we open on Monday, but either way, the clinic is taken care of and ready to go. Woo!

I didn’t work overtime this week. It’s the first time in a while. I got permission to start using my PTO to round out my hours on the weeks that I don’t reach 40 from working at my clinic alone. I used five hours this week. Hopefully, that will slow down how quickly I’m earning PTO hours and keep them from capping on me. I would rather not have to cash my hours out since they’re taxed so heavily if you do it that way.

I was supposed to have a work outing yesterday night. There were plans for bowling that Ox and I were voluntold to go to. It got canceled though since I guess most people weren’t able to be there. Totally not heartbroken about it. I liked how my day went without the added stress of having to go be social, too.

Oh, and the FHM meeting was interesting. I’m hoping to be invited to more of them in the future, but even if I’m not, I’m glad I had the experience. It was nice to meet our medical director and to see another side of the clinic.

So yeah… I guess that’s about it. I’m doing alright in a tentative, low energy sort of way. I know I’m sensitive right now and I’m trying to be mindful of that fact. I’m looking forward to working on Monday and going to my class on Tuesday and to the dojo on Wednesday. I’m glad I wrote and I’m glad that the sun is out and shining even if it’s a cold and windy day.

It feels like a decent day.

And with that, I’m off to continue being a slacker. : 3

Daily Post 125: Snowy Nebraska

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I went to the dojo on Friday. I worked Saturday. It snowed today. I work tomorrow. I bought a winter jacket that was supposed to be $100 for only $50. Totally feeling like a badass over that still.

I don’t really know where to start or what to write about.

I guess I should mention that I cut my middle finger knuckle on my left hand Friday while I was opening boxes at work. That sort of sucks. You don’t realize how much you use something until it hurts you to put pressure on it. It’s a pretty clean slice and it doesn’t look infected. Just in a crummy spot for healing since fingers bend so much.

I got invited to go to the FHM meeting for my clinic this coming Tuesday. Facility Health Management. It’s basically a meeting with all of the higher ups who evaluate our clinic based on metrics. I’m essentially going to be a fly on the wall. My FA extended the invitation to me since she thought I would be interested in seeing the other side of the clinic. The business side. The only perspective I have is that of being on the floor interacting with our patients. I don’t know what happens with all of the data we record and keep track of. I’ve never met our medical director.

Even though I won’t be paid or in any way compensated for going to the meeting, I want to be there. I want the experience. I want to know the other side, the one my FA has to contend with in addition to working the floor three days a week.

The dojo was a good experience. It’s small. No one showed up to the Hapkido class at 6 this Friday so the instructor and I got to spend an hour working together. He showed me a very broad overview of the style. We even got into weapons. Switchblade and gun. I stayed for the cardio Muay Thai class. It’s more of a conditioning class rather than focusing on techniques, but I still enjoyed it. He helped me a lot with my footwork and I could feel a massive difference in the power of my kicks.

I want to keep going. I could make Wednesday and Friday classes. If I drove into Beatrice on Saturdays I could do the classes on those days as well. Since I ended up working this Saturday I didn’t, but it’s an option. It would be $65 for unlimited everything. $65 a month with no contract. That’s actually a pretty awesome deal.

It felt good to sweat that much again even though I know I’ve worked out harder in the past. I haven’t gone to the gym since Friday’s classes at the dojo. I did find a new app thanks to my brother. JeFit. It’s pretty nifty. Maybe it will help give me more focus when I work on my own.

I tried a new recipe this week. Chicken Taco Soup. It came out alright. Nothing amazing. The roast for my breakfasts should be fine since I didn’t overcook it this time. I’m doing chili again as well. Just sort of that type of weather. Since it’s cold outside I want things that are warm. Coffee included. I found a new coffee creamer. Dark chocolate peppermint. It warms a part of my soul. ❤

There’s a part of me who likes the cold weather and that there’s snow on the ground. It feels right. With it being so cold there should be some visible sign and here in Nebraska, there is. It reminds me of when I took my trip up here and had my interview back in January. It reminds me of when I first got “home” that night in February. I guess I’ll always have a special spot in my mind for snow now. So many of my recent changes happened while it was covering everything. While the world was white and sleeping my path changed and so far I have no regrets over seeing where it would lead.

Ox and I just ran up to the gas station to see how the roads were. There are some dry spots so hopefully, it won’t be too awful when I have to drive to work tomorrow morning. I’m still leaving about 15 minutes early and my FA has already messaged me saying to take my time. She would rather I arrive late than to get hurt driving too fast.

The South Lincoln clinic ended up having issues Friday and wasn’t able to run their first shift patients. Their FA called me specifically asking if I would be willing to help them Saturday morning. I told her that I didn’t have anything going on and would be willing to help but that I wasn’t cleared to mix bicarb and that I didn’t know any of their door codes. We got that worked out and it was a fairly smooth day. I didn’t mind going in. I’ve wanted to see their clinic for a while now. I got to meet their RN who was extremely kind and friendly to me. Their patients were also kind and welcoming. They appreciated my willingness to come in so they could have their treatments. It was a good experience and it gave me a few hours of over time.

This is the week where I got paid for my 5 and 4 day work weeks on top of getting the second installment of my retention bonus. It was a nice paycheck, which is greatly appreciated and needed.

Ox and I went with his kids to play mini golf yesterday as a belated birthday celebration for both of them after I got home from work. The weather was nice and it was a quaint, pleasant outing. I ended up winning and there’s a childish, silly part inside me who feels accomplished about that. My dad used to golf. When we lived in South Carolina he would take me behind the fence of our backyard. There was a pretty big field out there and he would let me hit balls with him. I didn’t realize that I still enjoyed the challenge. I didn’t realize how much going out and doing something so mundane and family oriented would please something inside of me. I’m glad I went. I’m glad I was a part of it.

After golfing, Mama Ox picked up the kids. Ox and I went to a Goodwill to try to find me some winter clothing. That was a bust, but I did find a decent pair of white shoes for cheap to wear when I begin the clinical portion of my class. One thing off the “to-buy” list. Woo.

We tried going to a few stores to find a winter jacket. Dick’s Sporting goods wanted $230 for theirs so we noped our way out over to Sear’s. All of their girl coats had fur-lined hoods or gold flashing clasps. I didn’t really like any of them. The guy selection was extremely limited. I didn’t see anything that I liked enough to spend money on.

We were about to call it quits when Ox suggested going over to JC Penny. I could tell my energy was fading pretty fast. He offered to drive us over to the entrance even though it wouldn’t have taken much for us to walk there. I’m glad we went. I found the perfect coat in the Men’s section. It’s a 2XL so it’s big and long. It goes almost down to my knees. It’s nice and roomy on the inside and soft and fluffy and it’s black with no fur lining or gold flashy stuff anywhere. Just a nice, big, black coat. And it has a billion pockets! So much love. And it was a super awesome price. I’m happy with it. I like wearing it.

With one of the most important things off of the list, we headed towards the Walmart near home. We stopped at Slim Chickens for dinner. It’s becoming my go-to choice for when we go out. They have good salads that are in line with the health goals I haven’t been working towards. You can get chicken tenders grilled rather than fried, so if I ever wanted something other than a salad I have options. It’s not as awesome as my sports bar from Orlando, but I like it. I already have a “my spot” at the one we seem to be frequenting. It makes me happy that I am finding spots since that was something I knew I was missing. It’s a place I could see myself going to and studying before going to class. It’s a place I could see myself writing at if I ever happen to get a laptop again.

I felt a bit better after Ox and I ate but it didn’t last very long. While we were at Walmart I started getting a headache. My hamstrings, which had already started the day off sore, were reaching the point of pain. I was pushing too far on too little sleep and my body was informing me, none too gently, that I wasn’t being kind to it. Ox agreed to save most of the clothes shopping for a different day and so we switched our focus to the foodstuff we needed to pick up.

We did get two new pillows for the bed. With him being on his computer and me making my nest of blankets and pillows while I cross stitch, we’ve noticed a shortage in the pillow department, even though Ox says we have too many when we go to sleep at night, which is total blasphemy because you can never have too many pillows.

I really like my new pillow. Like my jacket, it’s nice and soft and fluffy. I think it was a good investment. I got a husband pillow while we were there as well and I’ve enjoyed stitching with it behind my back today. It feels like I have a proper cross stitching nest now. I can sit cross-legged in my corner of the bed with my threads and highlighter and pattern papers and clipboard, all tucked in and covered with the blankets that smell like Ox and me and home.

Since we bought pillows that meant we needed to buy new pillowcases, too. I got a new brush as well since the one I’ve been using has started losing its bristles. I’ve had it for years. I don’t know how many. Five or more. I guess it was time to replace it. I’ve only used the new one once so far so I don’t know if I like it or not. We haven’t grown accustomed to each other I guess. Sort of like when I first got my car. We had to get to know each other, which might make me sound crazy since I’m talking about inanimate objects, but there you go. I bond with everything, hair brushes included.

I ended up spending close to $200 at Walmart with roughly half of that being on “frivolous” things like the pillows. I was sort of kicking myself about that on the drive home. I still need to buy thermals and wool socks and a good pair of snow boots. I shouldn’t have spent $100 on “nothing”.

The more I thought about it the more I felt like I was thinking about it wrong. I’ve wanted more pillows for a few months now. I’ve wanted the husband pillow. I worked a crazy amount of overtime. I’m allowed to buy things with my money. I paid all of my bills before we went out earlier in the day. I have everything covered. So I might end up spending $300 extra this week instead of the original $200 that I had set aside from my winter gear budget. I don’t think spending an extra $100 is all that bad. I’m still going to be putting a huge chunk towards the credit card and paying off my CNA class.

I’m allowed to buy a few things for myself every once in a while. I don’t know why there’s a part of my brain that has such a hard time understanding that. I don’t know why I feel like I have to justify it to myself. I bought those things because I wanted to and they made my day and evening nice.

I did most of my cooking today. The clothes are washed and dried though they most likely won’t get put away until Tuesday; maybe Monday evening if I’m feeling up to it.

Tuesday, after the meeting, I plan to try to do the last bit of winter shopping since I’ll be in town.

I’ve still been stitching. I’m on the last page of the pattern. It’s the page with the most work on it, so I wouldn’t be surprised if my progress seems to slow down, but I’m content with the progress I’ve made. There’s still a bit of work I want to get done before going to bed or taking my picture of it for this week. Since I still need to shower as well I guess I’ll go for now.

I feel like this post rambled sort of all over the place, but it was nice to write while my second cup of coffee sits in front of me getting cold. It feels normal. It feels nice. It feels like I don’t hate life and that I’m not as angry that I’m still living and mom isn’t. I know there’s still a lot of emotions for me to figure out and I know that it’s drawing closer to the season and days that hurt the most, but right now, I’m… happy? I don’t know. It feels more than content, though.

I like my stitching nest. I like my jacket. I like my coffee creamer. I look forward to those things. I liked my day of mini golf. I want it to not be wrong to like those things. I want it to not be wrong to want more memories like that and I know the only person struggling with the feeling of wrongness is me. The only one struggling with the feeling of happiness and belonging and home is me. It’s me, inside my head, that rages and screams and cries that it’s wrong. How can I be happy? How can I enjoy things? How can I look forward to things? How can I breathe and not feel anguish?

I still miss you, mom. I will always miss you. I miss you every day, every morning. Every time something happens and I can’t call you and have hour-long conversations about nothing. I’m finally to a point where I can go out and buy pillows and a hairbrush and not worry about skimming from my food budget to do it. I’m going back to school. I’m being invited to facility meetings. I’m doing good, mom. I miss you but I’m doing ok and I really, really hope all of this would make you happy. I really hope deep down that you would be proud of me for all the things I’m doing. I miss you mom, but I didn’t give up and this is where I am. In snowy Nebraska learning how to keep living life. I love you. Forever and for always.

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