Daily Post 168: Work Update

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I suppose now is a good time to write about work since I’m sitting at a desk in a very nice, overly nice, hotel room getting ready to go to bed so I can cover a shift at a clinic I’ve never been in before.

I’m working five days a week for the next forever. I did that to myself. I won’t be able to pick up overtime much while I’m in school. At least, I have the feeling that I won’t want to pick it if I don’t have to.

I also have the expense of the apartment I need to recover from. The security deposit was $450. I still would like to get internet over there. I had to buy an air mattress so I could sleep. I bought a set of Pryx glass baking dishes from Goodwill along with some baking sheets since I needed things to cook with. Silverware so I could eat. Things like that.

I still would like to buy a few things for the apartment, which are additional expenses that only money can help facilitate. I know the apartment is a temporary living arrangement. But a year, maybe a year and a half which would be the length of school, is still a decent amount of time. I want it to feel like my space. Safe. Structured. Organized. Clean.

I want it to be mostly how I want it. I doubt I’ll paint the walls or anything super personal like that. But I would like for the pots to have a place to go other than the top of the stove. The kitchen doesn’t have a lot of space so that’s something I need to work on in the coming weeks; making the limited space I do have a bit more usable.

Anywho…

Yeah. I’m looking at 50+ hour work weeks for a while.

Also, State will be at my clinic to do surveys this coming Monday. Originally, our new tech was supposed to work that day while I covered a shift at one of our sister clinics. I offered to trade shifts with her so I would be the one being surveyed since she’s still so new to the world of dialysis. She was on board with the idea. Not that I’m stoked about being scrutinized, but I feel it’s the kind thing to do for the newest member of our team.

So that’s going on.

The TTS shifts are going well. We’re getting two new patients soon, so those days are no longer going to be super short. That’s both good and bad. Good because both New Tech and I will be able to get all of our hours at our home clinic. Bad, because short days are really nice. ;-;

I applied for and was accepted, to be part of a PCT Advisory Committee for our region. The hope is to find solutions for issues with teammate retention, work/life balance, and, in general, making the PCT experience less hellish and more sustainable. Unlike being surveyed… I AM totally stoked for the committee’s first meeting which is in July. This is something I’m super passionate about; making life suck less for my teammates. Totally willing to fight this battle. I WANT to fight that battle. The people I work with are too awesome to not also be able to live their lives and be with their families.

I will also begin training to be the Vascular Access Manager for my clinic. My FA actually called me and talked to me about that. She said she knew I had a lot on my plate. I’m still working through the leadership class. I’m now part of the committee. I’m about to begin school. Not to mention my crazy 50 hour work weeks…

I’ve wanted to be the VAM for our clinic pretty much since I found out it was something within my scope to do. It’s fallen to the wayside in lue of more immediately important things. We didn’t “need” a VAM since my FA was covering everything. Since I didn’t “have” to do the VAM training, I took the CNA course for school instead among other things which I’m sure I could think of if I tried to think back hard enough.

I feel honored that my FA trusts me enough to delegate this role to me. It shows a lot of trust on her part and I’m grateful for it. Since it’s a role I’ve wanted I’m not upset about having another thing added to my plate. I’m looking forward to it. I just don’t know when all of that is going to begin. Sometime soon I’m sure. Most likely after this whole survey/audit thing.

Work went well today. New RN and I work really well together. I was able to deep clean all of the machines and chairs on the floor except for the stuff in ISO. I’ll get that on Thursday when I’m back at my clinic. Well… I mean… I’m there Wednesday, but it will be easier to do it Thursday so that’s the game plan I’m going with. I’ll most likely end up transferring the acid batch that I made last week on Wednesday instead.

The apartment has helped a lot with allowing me the time and space to recover from my days. I actually made it to the gym three times last week. Three. What the fuck, right? It feels like that’s more than what I’ve done in the past six months. I know that’s not true, but that doesn’t change how it feels.

I don’t know if there is a gym here at the hotel. The receptionist wasn’t the most friendly of people. I guess I interrupted her idle phone time. My bad… I’m pretty tired as it is. Driving up here to Florence was rougher than I thought it would be. Since it’s so close to Omaha, traffic sucked. There was also construction.

Much lame + Suckage /= Relaxing Drive

I’ve already driven to the clinic I’m covering at, so I know how to get there in the morning. That makes tomorrow morning seem less stressful.

I did forget to bring a Bang with me. Tomorrow will be the saddest of mornings. ;-;

At least the hotel room has a coffee maker I can use to limp by with.

Regardless of being Bang-less, I’m looking forward to being at a new clinic and getting to meet more of my fellow teammates and new patients. It’s a short day, ending around 10:30 or 11ish. I’ll get to drive home and be there around noon. I’ll be able to go to my own gym and maybe even cross stitch a bit tomorrow. I started a new pattern a few days ago. Which reminds me… I most likely didn’t post any of the ones I’ve completed since the year started…

The new one is a really small, simple pattern. I’m already almost halfway done with it. I think I’m going to do that for a bit; small projects so I can feel accomplished with getting little things done.

And with that, I guess I’ll go for now.

Things are going well. Busy, but well.

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Daily Post 165: Moment by Moment

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Today was alright. It’s rainy and dreary. I went into work to help with change over. My FA is back from her week-long meeting in DC. I’m glad to have her back. I think it did benefit the team for her to be out of the facility. We learned to trust each other. We learned how to function without her. At the same time, she learned that she can trust in us, too; that the clinic won’t burn to the ground without her here.

Currently, I’m in a bit of a low mood, though, and I know I am. One of our new patients passed away on Saturday. I didn’t know her well, but it still sucks. It still makes my body and heart ache with shared sorrow. She had a family. She had a life outside of the clinic and her absence is going to be felt by many people, just like mom’s was and continues to be.

It leaves me feeling… something which there aren’t words to express. Shared sorrow is the best I can do and like so many times before in my writing, it doesn’t feel like enough. Those words do not express the depth or complexity which are emotions. Maybe nothing ever truly can. Emotions are felt, not explained.

The rest of everything that has happened in my life feels trivial compared to the realness of life and death. Almost like it’s disrespectful to write about how my life continued to go on while her’s ended and yet I couldn’t have stopped my life anymore than the doctors could have kept hers going.

I went to Walmart and got two new skirts and a pair of shorts. I’m in smaller sizes than the last time I bought clothes. I went to the gym and had a good workout.

Sunday I went to my first “family gathering” with Ox. I met his aunts and cousins. For the most part, I spent the three hours sitting on the front porch enjoying the sunlight and breeze while cross stitching which sparked all sorts of comments from the family members. I felt extremely accepted. There was good food and good conversation. It wasn’t the horrific social event I had envisioned in my mind. I wasn’t shamed out of the home for having purple hair or tattoos.

I also had my first run-in with a tornado warning while Ox and I were out shopping after the family get-together. There’s a big difference between practicing a drill and real-life camping out in a Walmart layaway listening to nature rage around you. I made a post on Facebook to let everyone I was fine and that I made it home safe.

Saturday I spent the whole day sick and in bed. I slept about 16 hours and was better for taking it super slow and easy. Ox was amazingly fantastic in caring for me and allowing me to sleep the day and sickness away.

Lil’ Ox and I got to color a bit together Friday night once I got home from work. It’s the first time in a while that we’ve done something together. Ornery Ox even talked to me for a little bit Sunday during the family time. It was nice. I know I haven’t been extremely involved or present with the kids for a while. This weekend was a small step towards correcting that.

The past two weeks have been sort of rough, work-wise. I’ve been working five days. I can only imagine what they would have been like if I were still trying to take the Human Anatomy class. This coming week is most likely going to be more of the same, but next week should be a little lighter.

At the moment I don’t really think there’s much else to say. My heart isn’t in it right now; in writing, I guess. I don’t necessarily hurt, but I ache. One day at a time. One moment at a time. One task at a time. I’m sort of back to that I think.

Friday is my next day off. I think if I can make it to there then I’ll be alright. I know I’ll be ok. I know I’m not not ok right now. I’m just sad and that too is ok. Sometimes life is sad.

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.

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.