Daily Post 158: Saturday Burnout

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Writing from Saturday morning:


Work wasn’t awful yesterday. My FA was there for a bit in the morning but then had to leave to attend meetings in Lincoln. That left me with Float RN and New RN. We got everyone through their treatments and the clinic closed down on time. Go us!

I was dead by the time I got home. Sadly, the kids are here this weekend, so going to bed early wasn’t an option. I did crawl into bed with the lights off, but the TV in the living room was on and I could hear it. The kids kept running in and out of the rooms and chatting and being kids. It’s one of the pieces of friction with the home situation. I’m not able to have the solitude and quietness away from people when I need it, and yesterday and this morning were definitely times where I needed it.

I didn’t sleep well last night. I think I’m starting to fight off a cold again. I was congested for most of the night. I woke up several times even with using the Vix Vapor thingy we have in the room.

When I finally gave up on sleeping this morning, everyone was already up. The thought of having to cook breakfast and dealing with people being under my feet while I tried to do stuff or answering questions and just in general interacting with anything living that wasn’t a cat sucked. It all felt heavy. And that’s how my whole day was going to be; constantly surrounded by demands on energy I didn’t have to give.

The pervasive thought this morning is that it’s almost the three-year mark. Three years since mom died. Soon I will have to find another rose to add to her vase; a sign that I have once again survived to reach another year. A sign that I made it through all of the hard days, all of the good days, each and every day that ticked us closer and closer to “this” day.

It sucks. And knowing that I couldn’t have the one thing I wanted, to be left alone, made it worse.

I did end up making waffles for everyone. I used whole eggs this time instead of egg whites. I didn’t eat with the family, but I was told the waffles were good. I stepped outside with Ox for a cigarette after he had eaten. When I came back inside I curled up in bed under the covers with one of the cats. Mama Ox came to the doorway. Since the lights were off she couldn’t see me.

Mama Ox: Where did she go? It’s like she’s hiding. I thought she came in here but I can’t see her.

Right Brain: Um… yeah. I’m hiding. That’s sort of the point of hiding. To not be found or bothered.

Ox and I had some alone time. He let me cry. I had told him about a dream I had last night which might have added to the frustration I woke up with. I had been in the kitchen trying to do something, but there was trash everywhere that no one had thrown away. There was clutter and friction and all of this “stuff” that I had to work around or take care of before I could begin to do what needed to be done. It felt like I was the only one who cared and that made it all feel pointless. I can’t care for everyone. I can’t be the only one doing things all the time. That’s how people burn out and that’s what I woke up with; a burnt out feeling.

I’m glad to say that things are getting better. I’ve worked through all of the emails in my inbox that I didn’t get to on Tuesday. I’ve replied to posts and even an email from one of my uncles. I have a new niece. I doubt I’ll ever be very close to her, but I’m happy for my cousin. I hope she’s enjoying being a parent. I hope her daughter grows up to have a close relationship with her.

I proofread and posted my last writing. I’ve written this one, not that there’s really much to say. I feel tired. I feel emotionally drained. I still feel slightly confined though not as much as I was when I first woke up. I’m hoping to get through this weekend of rainy ickiness where the kids complain that they’re bored and how there’s nothing to do. I’m hoping one day I will have my dragon’s den and it won’t matter if the kids are here; I’ll still be able to sleep after an exhausting day of work. I’ll still be able to have my silence and solitude without interfering with everyone else’s life.

Today isn’t that day, though. Tomorrow isn’t going to be that day either. Right now I just need to breathe through the tension and realize this is a moment in time. Nothing is bad. Nothing is wrong. Everyone here loves me, it’s just not structured to the needs of an extremely introverted INFJ.

For today, I will be grateful.

I am grateful I had my mom in my life as long as I did. I’m grateful I still have her in my life in the ways that I do. I’m grateful that Ox loves me and tries as hard as he does to make me feel safe and cared for. I’m grateful for my life, even if it’s different than what I thought it was supposed to be.

Hopefully, I can remember those things when the tension starts to swell up again. I AM grateful. Even when things are hard and sad and I’m not alone like I want to be, I am grateful.



Written Sunday morning:

Today is off to a better start than yesterday. Granted, it’s only 6:30 in the morning, but already I have been equally as productive as I was for all of yesterday combined.

I woke up yesterday feeling out of it, and maybe that’s not the right way to describe it. I felt alright, just not up to the task of doing anything or socializing with anyone. It was one of those days where if I still lived in Orlando I would have slept all day and stayed in my room cuddling with Scarlet. Maybe if I had been feeling frisky I would have eaten something.

That’s not possible in the enviornment I live in now, though, and it most certainly isn’t possible while the kids are here.

I helped with breakfast yesterday, but I didn’t eat anything with the family. The bit of time I was in the kitchen with Mama Ox going back and forth and inserting her two cents on topics that didn’t matter and were mostly small talk that I had to fain instrest in had me frayed and feeling overwhelemed. It didn’t help that when I tried to go to the room to get away from it all, she followed me and commented about how I was hiding.

Yes. I’m hiding. Please respect that and leave me alone. >.<;

I wrote yesterday and continued with my posting for my leadership class. I have a handful of reflection sections left to post from the first book. I did buy the second book yesterday even though we won’t be working on it for the class until April. I figured since I’m going to be starting my Human Anatomy class soon that it would be better to try to get as ahead as possible. The next book is Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott. I don’t know much about it, but the audio book is over 13 hours. I may start it up today depending on how things go.

I did start a load of laundry yesterday, but that’s all I did with it. I just switched it over before putting my roast in the oven, so both of those things are going. I’m trying something different with my roast. I used a Grill Mates marinade with it this time since I like how it turns out with chicken so much. We’ll see if it’s a success in about an hour.

Ox and I did go to the store here in town yesterday afternoon. We needed milk and eggs. Mama Ox wanted a new container of cashews. I wanted shredded cheddar cheese for the leftover chili that no one is eating. I got a small bag of the Reese’s snack popcorn that I like.

Other than that, I took a three hour nap yesterday and did a bunch of nothing. I haven’t cooked dinner all week, which I guess isn’t as awful as it sounds. There were leftovers for some of the days, and the others Mama Ox cooked burgers or other simple, quick things that the family liked.

This wasn’t really the best week for me to do much, what with working late and having to travel. Maybe that was part of yesterday; burnout from a rougher week than I had thought it was.

I told Ox last night that I feel like I don’t handle things as well as I used to. I don’t know if that’s me getting older or still being broken from the ordeal that was mom’s death. I don’t remember crying as much during high school, though. I don’t remember feeling as overwhelmed and bombarded by small, simple social interactions. I also didn’t have to deal with them very much for the seven-ish years I lived in Florida. I was able to have my own room and to avoid the world when I wanted to. I still don’t have that option here and so maybe I’m the same it’s just the situations are different. Different stressors, different coping behaviors… I wish I knew.

Ox, for his part, was himself. Ridiculously understanding, supportive, and reassuring. He let me sleep during the day. He dealt with my grouchiness. He held me, encouraging me to take deep breaths when the tension started to build in my chest. He said two months. He doesn’t want me to sleep in the addition with it being so cold. He didn’t want me to sleep in my car either for the same reason when I brought that option up last night. I didn’t want to be away from home, so the thought of a hotel room didn’t sit very well with me.

I just want a quiet space here. A safe space. A “my” space where I belong and I have my things with me instead of them being packed away still in a storage unit I haven’t seen in roughly seven months. I keep thinking in the back of my mind that I’m going to unwrap my china and all of the pieces are going to be broken because of how cold it has been. It’s a shitty thought that doesn’t help anything when my brain is already being a terrorist.

I don’t really know where to go from here as far as my writing goes. Ox said two months. I have my trip next week to see my brother and dad and Mother Earth and Sir. I don’t have a lot of time while I’m there. Maybe I should have tried to plan this better. I don’t think I’ll have time to visit my home clinic. I don’t know if I want to see Warren while I’m there. It will most likely be like pulling teeth and I doubt any headway will be made in regards to the money he owes me. I would like to see my therapist before she retires. I would like to go to the dojo, but I don’t know if I should or not. I haven’t been going to the one here, and though I’ve been better about the gym this past week, I still feel like I’m behind in regards to the workout section of my life.

It was rainy and misirable all day yesterday and it’s suppposed to stay that way for a while. The tempratures are supposed to rise, though. Hopefully spring is arriving and all of this snow will melt and it will be sunny once again. I hope so. I really, really hope that I’m almost at the end of whatever this is and that I do good in school and my yearly review goes well and I eventually get my safe, quiet place and all of this tension and stress and apathy melt away with the snow.

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MUSING MOMENTS 124: LFTIO – Character Vs. Coping

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DSS Leadership – Assignment 3
Book – “Leadership from the Inside Out”






Coping



Particularly in times of stress, which of these qualities of Coping are more prevalent for you?

Fear: In extremely stressful situations there is usually an internal sense of fear. Fear of failure. Fear of not being good enough, fast enough, smart enough. Fear of people thinking less of me or my character. Fear of damaging my honor. Fear of the people I care about not being there for me. Fear of being alone. Fear of experiencing grief all over again. Fear of loss.

Control: Control is another quality I turn to in order to cope with stress. If I control things I have a better idea of what’s going to happen. I have a better idea of the outcome and the obstacles that will arise and how to handle them. With control, I don’t have to worry about something not getting done, or being done incorrectly, or to a subpar standard. With control, I take most of the unknown out of a situation which gives me a sense of security in an otherwise insecure time.

Safety/Security: Both safety and security become more important to me during stressful situations. I want to know I’ll be ok and I want to know how I’ll be ok. I don’t want just nebulous pretty words and phrases. “Oh, it will turn out fine. You’ll see.” No. No it won’t. How will it turn out fine? I want a solid, detailed to-do list with bullet points and cliff notes ensuring that there are no hidden potholes for me to stumble into on my path towards “ok-ness” or error recovery. I want to know exactly how things will be fine or better or ok.

I want to know I can contact the people I want to contact. I want to know everything will be where I left it. When situations begin to turn stressful or unfamiliar, unclear, unsure, there’s an increased want for things to be the same and familiar. No more unknowns. I’m already dealing with unknowns. I want to know I’ll make it home and everyone will be there and that I can have a hug and that even if it was a horrifically horrible day that everything is alright because I can count on something, anything, being normal and stable; like a light at the end of the tunnel. There needs to be some small measure of consistency that I can count on.

Winning at all costs: My drive to win can come to the surface sometimes. This can come out in the form of speeding if I’m running late which is essentially breaking the law when you get down to it. Staying up late to finish a project before a deadline at the expense of not getting enough sleep and suffering for it the next day. Clocking out at work yet staying to finish highlighting flowsheets because I refuse to let time win or prevent me from starting the morning the way I want to. A lot of the things I can think of for “winning at all costs” involve self-sacrifice. I would never be ok with “winning” by being underhanded to or with someone. That would make it a hollow victory and lower the standards I hold myself to. If you have to cheat someone else to win then it’s not winning. It’s dishonest and wrong.

Distraction: When my emotional pain and grief are particularly strong, distraction can become a coping mechanism. In those instances taking something like Benadryl or drinking alcohol so I can sleep have happened. Distracting myself, more accurately, removing myself, from the situation provoking my grief is my way of coping. It happens less than it did in the beginning, but that does not excuse the times it still occurs or when the thought to do so enters my mind. Distracting myself from the situation does not address the underlying emotional discord. It doesn’t fix anything, only prolongs the emotional anguish I am trying to avoid. Avoidance is not honorable. While for a majority of the past two years I have chosen to be brave rather than be a coward, I won’t deny the fact that being brave is hard and that sometimes I still feel like a small child on the inside that doesn’t want to face the monsters. Sometimes it feels easier to hide from them, the monsters, the problems, the emotions, and to pretend they aren’t there.

Overwhelmed by Circumstances: Being overwhelmed is something I contend with as an introvert. If change over at work is extremely rough I can feel myself fraying towards the end. Each additional request from a patient takes more and more from my already tapped out resources. I can become short. I can feel myself shutting down and grasping at the thought of “as soon as this person is on I can go to break and it will all be ok”. Or when I am at home and I cannot get the space and solitude I want, I can begin to feel trapped and confined. I need to work on not shutting down when I feel overwhelmed. If I shut down then communication breaks down and there is a greater chance of conflict or additional stressors being created.


What is going on during those times? Inside you? Outside you?

When situations are stressful externally, there is usually a lot of people involved or a lot of input I am having to process through. The trip to Devor for Academy was a stressful situation for me. I have PTSD with flights which I had to contend with. I had to share a room with someone I didn’t know. I had to participate in group activities with people I didn’t know. I had to be in a room with 600 other people I didn’t know for not one, but two days. Distraction was implemented in the form of smoking more than what I normally would have at home. It gave me a reason to go outside and be away from the majority of the people.

There is physical tension in my body. Mostly my shoulders and upper chest. I tend to be more guarded and less open to additional external stimulation. I strive to resolve situations so there’s less input to worry about. I can be controlling because if I’m in control I know what will or will not get done and when. I have an issue asking for help because I don’t want to be seen as weak or deal with others who may have a negative attitude in regards to being asked to do something. This can backfire however and lead to people feeling excluded or thought of as inadequate since I did not request their assistance. They could have made the situation easier but I denied them the chance to help and feel useful and needed.

When a situation is emotionally stressful there is usually pain and feelings of coldness. I feel small and alone even if I’m surrounded by people. Feeling safe and like I belong become extremely important to me. I need to know I matter and that I’ll be ok. Certain dates are stressful for me. Certain topics are stressful for me. Admitting or consciously accepting certain things can be stressful for me. Certain situations can bring emotions to the surface as well. All of these emotional triggers, both known and unknown, and invoke feelings of isolation which as paradoxical as it may sound, cause me to withdraw.

How do you feel? What do you notice in your body? What do you notice in your relationships?

I feel overwhelmed. I feel fear. I feel insecurity. I feel hopelessness. I feel determination and a burning drive to prove Life wrong and that I will win no matter what it throws at me because I refuse to be defeated. I feel injustice and frustration. I feel anger and exasperation and tiredness and burnout.

Physically, I feel muscle fatigue and headaches. I become lethargic and apathetic.

In my relationships, I notice I pull away and close myself off because I do not want my negativity to affect others. I feel I am seen as a person people can turn to. It can be off-putting for them to realize that I don’t always have my shit together. I have learned who to turn to during these stressful times and who not to. I am getting better about admitting when I need help and when something is stressful to me and understanding why it is stressful in the first place.

What fears, limitations, inadequacies, or beliefs arise when you are in a Coping pattern?

I am not good enough. Everything is pointless. It doesn’t matter. My feelings don’t matter. My struggle doesn’t matter. I should give up. I won’t be able to achieve what I’m trying to do. No one cares. I’m alone. I don’t make a difference. I can’t change things. Nothing will change.


Character

Which of these Character qualities are more prevalent for you?

Serving Others: This is important to me. It permeates through almost every aspect of my life.

At home, I actively do chores before being asked to do them because I know if I do something that needs to be done, someone else doesn’t have to do it or worry about it later.

At work, I take on every task I am able to as a PCT because I know there are things I am unable to do as a PCT. I can’t draw or give meds. I can’t assess patients. I can’t chart. I can’t put in new orders or change existing ones. I can, however, spin and pack labs. I can generate for the coming day. I can test machines and enter the values into the computer. I can clean stations and unpack shipments when they come in. All of these actions are able to be done by anyone, but since they are some of the few things which fall within the narrow scope of practice I am allowed to work in, I strive to make sure I am the one to do them, not others who have other tasks which need to be done which I cannot help with.

At the dojo, I help keep the younger members focused and on task. If sensei is busy training with other students and I am in the back doing bag work, I can help correct improper forms. I can remind students that while roundhouse kicks are fun and cool, sensei wanted them to practice their hooks and it’s disrespectful to stand around chatting or doing other things. We’re at the dojo to be focused and to learn. I am serving not only sensei by allowing him to be elsewhere within the dojo, but I am also serving the younger students by teaching them self-discipline, respect, focus, and accountability.

Purpose: I feel purpose can be synonymous with intention. Everything I do usually has a purpose. Even the act of doing “nothing” serves the purpose of allowing myself to relax and decompress and regroup so I am better able to handle future situations. Everything I do has an intention and I feel that’s important. Why do something, anything, if there is no reason to be doing it?

Inclusion: This is another driving factor for me. I want others to be and feel involved. I want them to feel like they matter, that their effort meant something and was not only noticed but appreciated.

Anything from putting the dishes away or baking muffins to surviving a hellish change over at work. Communication plays a huge roll in a task’s success and progress. Communication helps ensure everyone involved understands what the end goal is and how they make the end goal happen. Taking the time to communicate to my team members “If you are ok with taking care of these things, I can take care of these things,” allows us to have a solid understanding of how to handle individual and collective situations, which moves us closer to the end goal of ensuring we provided caring, safe, and timely treatments for all of our patients.

“If you help me unload the dishwasher and put the clothes away, we’ll be able to play games sooner,” lets the kids know that if they help with chores, there’s a positive outcome for their time and effort. They know what their part in the process will be, and they know what we’re working towards. I give them the option to be part of it and it is up to them to make the conscious decision to be part of that process or not. Inclusion to me, is an option, a compromise, not a demand.

Tolerance/Openness: Tolerance is something I try extremely hard to practice. I try to be understanding and tolerant of others because I know there’s a lot behind the scenes that I may not be aware of. Past experiences, discord in personal relationships, internal struggles with emotions or negative thoughts… We all have our own stories and baggage. Just because I get what I view as crummy service from a server at a restaurant, does not mean I should immediately pass judgment as “they’re a crummy server.” Just because a patient is snippy with me does not mean they are a jerk and intentionally trying to make my day harder. Events and situations merely are. They exist. It is our own perspectives and emotions which have us color these situations in hues of good or bad. Being tolerant, patient, and open to the fact that my perspective and hue may be different or even incorrect I feel is vital to finding harmony and understanding of true intentions.

Wisdom: There is a difference between knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge is having facts or ideas through actions such as studying, researching, observing, or experiencing. Wisdom is the ability to use knowledge to understand what is right or applicable to a situation.

Knowledge is passive. Wisdom is active. I try to be wise in my choices. I try to gather as much information about a situation before using my knowledge to make what I feel at the time is the best choice. I willing share that wisdom with others who seek it or who seem like they would benefit from understanding my perspective and experiences.

Humility: I try to remain humble through all of my successes. Firstly, I did not reach success by myself. Even if it is merely the emotionally supportive statement of “I believe in you,” that support played a role in my endeavor. Success does not make me better than any other human. We all struggle. We all strive. We all breathe, and in the end, we all die. Humility is my reminder that we are all mortal and therefore, all the same. I treat others how I want to be treated; with respect, honor, and dignity, regardless of what I have or have not done with my life.

Presence: I enjoy being present. I enjoy experiencing life, and maybe enjoy isn’t quite the right word. While I did and still do enjoy many aspects of my schooling, career and personal life, I did not “enjoy” the abusive relationships I was in. I did not “enjoy” my parents’ divorce. I did not “enjoy” my mother’s hospitalization or her resulting death.

I am, however, grateful for the lessons those situations taught me. By being present and confronting those situations, rather than shying away from and avoiding them, I was able to grow as a person. I was able to transcend the narrow-minded thoughts and perspectives that I had at the time and to truly empathize with what others go through during those situations.

By choosing to be present and to fully experience my own emotions and thoughts rather than distracting myself from the inner and outer work which needed to get done, I was able to find peace within myself, in my relationships, and with my place in the world.

I try to take that mentality into every situation I enter. If I am with another person, I will not actively play with my phone, texting other people. If I need to make a phone call or receive one during our time together, I ask if they would mind rather than off-handedly saying, “Give me a second. I need to take this.”

If I am taking care of a patient, I will not think of the 8 million chores I need to do once I am home. The chores will remain undone because I have yet to meet the elusive Chore Fairy that my mom constantly mentioned. While I am with my patients, the only thing that matters is making sure they are cared for; that I listen to them and legitimately hear what they are saying. What matters is that I am present with them because this is the only moment I will get with them. I can’t go back and redo the moment later.

The same is true for every interaction with every person in my life. Life isn’t a video game. There’s no saved file to reload. No checkpoint to return to. No undo option to set the situation back to the beginning. Life can’t be redone. There is only ever this moment and I want to experience it, understand it, and be part of it.

What is going on when these Character qualities are present?

When I am at my best self, things are usually going “right”. I typically feel like all areas of my life are figured out and fairly balanced. No one area is receiving more undue attention than the others. Everything is in accordance with how it feels it should be. I feel like my energy is going to the “right” places and that my causes and projects are honorable and worthwhile.

I have a clear understanding of what is supposed to happen in a given situation. I have minimal external and internal conflicts demanding my energy or focus to resolve. I’m not sick. I’m not tired. I’m not overly stressed or burnt-out. I don’t have an endless to-do list looming over me with the thoughts of “how in the world am I supposed to get all of this done?”, yet even if I do, the tasks seem manageable because I understand how it will all get taken care of. Not many things are nebulous. There are solid time frames and quantitative progress is made at a rate which feels fulfilling and rewarding.

How do you feel?

I usually feel good. Energized. Motivated. Upbeat. I want to do things. I want to make progress. I want to get out of bed. I very rarely have to convince myself to do things or that it’s worthwhile. The situation on its own feels worthwhile. I don’t have to use mind games or tricks or reward systems to get things done. The completion of something on its own is reward enough to give me the drive to see something to completion.

How can you continue to lead from Character in more situations?

I suppose now that I am more aware of why situations are stressful and how I tend to respond to that stress, I can try self-correcting more. When I begin to feel overwhelmed or when I begin withdrawing into myself, I can pause for a moment and breathe through the tension. I can make the conscious choice of how I want to continue forward in the situation. Do I want to merely cope through it, or do I want to actively practice what really matters to me?

What is more important, my sense of self-preservation and getting to my break as quickly as possible so I can have a few minutes alone, or being fully present and realizing that even though there might be a lot of stuff going on, there is still a moment to experience and if I shut down I might miss out on something I’ll never be able to get back?

Daily Post 049: Learning to Care

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I wrote on Tuesday. Tuesday evening, specifically.

Wednesday seemed like another awful day full of overwhelme. I went to the gym after work again. Well, actually… first I went to the dojo. I had kept that as my shining light at the end of the tunnel all day. I could make it through all of the hectic, crazy bullshit because at the end of it I could go to my dojo.

I didn’t get out of work early enough, though. I’m sure rain during rush hour traffic didn’t help with getting me there in record time. By the time I made it to the dojo there was only 30 minutes left of the Muay Thai class and I didn’t have my gi for the following jujitsu class. It sucked realizing my time was going to be so short; almost pointless. I did stay until the end of Muay Thai and it was a good workout, though light and short.

I did stay until the end of Muay Thai and it was a good workout. I bruised the crap out of the top of my foot. I wanted, needed, to get as much out of my body as I could for those few minutes so I pushed harder, kicked harder, and allowed the pain to start washing the day away.

It wasn’t enough to get rid of the angst and tension from work, though, and that was frustrating. It wasn’t enough to make me feel ok.

Sadly, frustratedly, I bowed out for Muay Thai then headed to the gym so I could try running the rest of everything off. The machine I picked to run on hadn’t been reset and I didn’t realize that until I had already been on the treadmill for a song or two. I didn’t care. I wasn’t on it for the numbers that night. I was on it so I could be ok. So I could go home. So I could not cry.

I ran well. I ran faster than I think I ever have, going past 7 mph. At least I think that’s what the number on the treadmill means. Who knows.

By the time RunKeeper told me my workout was done I knew that I needed to stop, otherwise my legs were going to regret it and I would be forced to take extra recovery days. I still wasn’t ok, though. Why couldn’t I shake these feelings, damnit?! What did I have to do?

I didn’t have an answer for myself so I went to the sauna and sat for a bit, trying to meditate my way to inner peace, but that too didn’t work. Nothing seemed to work.

I hurt and felt like a failure and nothing was soothing over the wounds of the day. I was still bleeding out emotionally.

I left the sauna and sat on the first steps of the pool in the gym, soaking my feet in the cold water as I sent a text to my younger brother. I couldn’t call mom. I’ll never be able to call mom. But I could still talk to Jon. I could still hear his voice and tell him that everything sucked.

Me: Busy?

After a few minutes, he replied with no, asking what was up.

I said nothing important. It had been a rough day at work and that I wanted to hear his voice.

He called and we talked for about an hour as I sat in the pool not caring about who heard my conversation.

I explained the past two work days. How I had to work with my head RN and how it always seemed like I did everything wrong in front of her. How days seemed bad now even though recently they had been good, amazing even. We talked about why my RN’s opinion means so much to me. How mom had been an RN and maybe this was my way of getting “mom’s approval” and praise.

It was a good conversation, one which I had silent tears for part of. We talked about his trip back home for the eclipse. We talked about his part time job at the school. We talked about his roommates and mine. By the end of the conversation, I was feeling better. I felt solidly grounded in reality and not falling through the chaos in my head.

I went home and slept deeply not caring about any chores that may have needed to be done. They could wait. Tomorrow would be another 24 hours.

Thursday I slept all day. Ok… not all day. I did get up and rewash the load of laundry that I never switched over to the dryer. But aside from that I really didn’t do much. Pretty sure I showered. I think I chatted with Warren briefly. But for the most part, it was me recovering from Monday and Wednesday.

Yesterday put things into perspective. I worked. It was another rough day. I was sitting in the breakroom during my lunch break when two of my coworkers also came in for lunch. One of them mentioned how I looked “perturbed”.

I said that it felt like the day had been a disaster so far and I could never figure out what happened on rough days to make it domino into such a crap-tastic time. I also acknowledged the fact that I really didn’t know how badly we had done with getting patients on the machines at their scheduled time and that it was entirely possible that things were fine and it was just my perspective on how things were going that was skewed.

They both gave me advice, mostly revolving around “don’t sweat it.”

There’s only so much that my team can do, and the only thing we can consistently do is our best. I’m not going to stop caring because that’s the whole reason I changed careers, but I think I need to adjust what I care about. I can’t care about literally everything because if I do this job is going to kill me. I need to save it for the important things.

Turn over is always going to be organized chaos. There are too many variables for it not to be. One patient might become hypotensive while another takes a longer time clotting and bleeds through their gauze a few times while at the same time another patient wants to come off the machine 15 minutes early, adding to the chaos.

Other times it might run smoothly with no deviations from the expected or intended schedule.

Every day is different. I can’t hold onto the thoughts of, “This isn’t how it’s supposed to happen.”

I guess that’s a lot like having to let go of the life I thought I would have. I thought mom would still be alive. I thought I would have her for another 20 years with her and that she would live long enough to see Jace graduate and become a karate ninja samurai. I thought things would be different, but they’re not. Things are how they are.

I guess that’s the mentality I need with my work days. It doesn’t matter what I thought the day would be like. The day goes how it goes regardless of what I want or expect. “Go with the flow.” “Don’t sweat it.”

It’s not that I don’t care. It’s more like I won’t waste energy on trying to change the course of a river. I can’t change it, I can only go with it and let the current do all of the work. The destination is still the same. I’ll still reach the end of my day. I’ll most likely still be tired at the end of it, but I think one method will leave me with much less stress and inner tension than the other.

I don’t know if I’ll actually be able to implement this new mentality right away. I think it will take some time, but it’s something I’m going to try. Those moments where I feel overwhelmed and like chaos is raining down all around me I’m going to try to remember to step back and let go of trying to control it all. I can’t control it, I can only go with it.

The rest of the day went better after the conversation with my coworkers. All of the third shift patients got put on their machines. I was able to make needle packs for the following day as well as close down the machines we were no longer using. I was able to go to the stockroom and get the supplies we were out of or low on. I was able to update all of the documentation. I was able to finally breath is what it felt like.

I left work around 5 pm. I didn’t want to go to the gym. The dojo was doing randori which I don’t feel I’m ready for. Title Club was still closed as they transition to a new location, and to be honest I don’t think I would have wanted to do anything physical anyway.

Instead, I thought about what I wanted to do with my evening. I needed closure. Something to signify my night was done and that I was now able to relax.

I ended up getting dinner at a little place called Viet-Nomz. They have amazing food, and it’s an extremely small establishment near my apartment which encourages social dining. I’m not sure if that’s actually a thing but it reminds me of one of the customs in Germany where it’s socially acceptable to share tables with strangers as long as you ask if you may sit with them.

Since it was dinner time they were fairly crowded, but I was ok with that. I sort of wanted that feeling; being part of, lost in, the crowd. I sat across from two girls who were chatting together. I put my headphones in and ate my rice bowl. This was my reward for surviving; a bowl full of carbs and protein. Good music and a moment of not having to worry or care.

It was an extremely fulfilling meal. Once I was finished I headed home. I did make a detour to CVS for some Icy Hot patches for my back. It’s been bothering me lately and those have helped in the past.

When I got home I didn’t bother with the kitchen. I took my shoes off and headed straight upstairs to my room. I didn’t bother with anything other than showering and putting one of the patches across my lower back. I changed into comfy clothes and scrolled through Facebook for way longer than I care to admit until I finally crawled into bed. By that point, I didn’t even bother to take out my contacts I was so tired.

My alarm went off at 2 am since I forgot to turn it off. That’s when I figured taking out my contacts would be a smart move. I drank so water while I was up then when back to sleep until about 9 am.

I’m currently at Perkins. My breakfast has been eaten. I’m working on my second up of coffee. I have an appointment for a deep tissue massage at 6:30 this evening. I’m going to be going to kickboxing at 1pm since it’s the grand reopening for Title Club. I have a few odds and ends as far as doing chores goes, but overall it’s a pretty low energy / recovery day. Same with tomorrow I think.

I was supposed to have a sleep over with Mother Earth this evening, but she’s feeling under the weather so we’re going to reschedule our girl time. Big Bad and I have plans to see each other for our scheduled Monday evening. One of my coworkers wants to split my Monday shifts with me, so instead of 4 am I would go in at 10 am and still leave by 5 pm. That gives me time to go to the gym in the morning, shower, eat, and start my week off the way I would really like to. I think that will be a fantastic change for me. I won’t be getting as much overtime, but I also won’t be nearly as burnout as I’ve been fearing I would be. I’m really looking forward to seeing how this change works for both of us since she needs the hours.

I still have the blog award nomination I need to write for, but I think I will save that for either later today or tomorrow. I think I want to go back home for a little bit and rest before going to kickboxing.

I guess looking back at it, this week hasn’t been bad. It’s been long and it’s had a lot of stress, but it’s had a lot of positive moments, too, and for the next two days I’m off and I plan to fully, thoroughly, enjoy them.

Part of learning to care is learning to care for myself. I think a few days of introverted downtime is what I need and I’m not going to give myself shit for it.

Daily Post 042: 16 Hour Days = 8 miles

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Monday was my second day on my own at work. My second 16-hour shift.

It was the first day that I remembered to wear my Fitbit with me to work. Apparently, I walked eight miles that day.

It was the second time that my teammates were amazing and had a little pow-wow with me to help boost my confidence.

Monday was the first day where I forgot the clamp the saline lines, not once, but twice, which resulted in a major headache for my trainer who had to help fix my mess up. Monday was the first time where not one, but two, of my patients, wanted to pause their treatment to use the restroom. It was the first time I got done taping someone’s access up and wished them a good day only for them to come back two minutes later, their gauze soaked in blood because they bled through.

It was the second time that I used organizing the stock room as my destresser from it all. It was my first heart to heart with one of the RNs who’s become way more friendly to me now for some reason. It was my first time interacting with Mr. C who said I did a good job taping him up.

It wasn’t a bad day. I was joking with my boss earlier, just after my first break, saying that I hadn’t killed anyone yet, I hadn’t broken down into tears, and I hadn’t quit, so, all in all, it was a good day so far.

He laughed, and I laughed with him even though we both knew how serious I was about each of those statements. Since he started as a PCT he knows exactly what I’m going through and it’s a nice feeling to know that he legitimately understands the whole, “It’s not a bad day but I’m totally going to break down into tears once I get out to my car” feelings.

Part of the routine at the clinic is each team member gets a specific chore for the day. My chore on Monday was making CVC kits. It’s sort of like making the needle packs.

Two packs of 2×2 gauze, two packs of alcohol, two tempadots, one piece of 4×4 gauze, paper tape, plastic tape, one syringe, one iodine pack.

Making needle packs is an extremely structured and repetitive task. It one of the moments in the day where I get to breathe and take a step back. A moment of decompression. Just like mixing the bleach water. I get to measure everything out. No higher level thinking. No inserting needles into arms or thighs. No human interaction for those six minutes. There’s only running water, measured bleach, writing initials, date, and time onto a piece of plastic tape to go on the container.

Monday was such a crazy busy day with me trying to keep up with my patients that I didn’t have time to do the CVC kits. I stayed after I clocked out to do them, holding up in the stock room and listening to the same ambient techno song on my phone while I did five packs at a time.

Two of those, one of that, three of these.

Counting. Repetition. No beeping alarms. No “next obligation”. No “I hope I’m doing this right and don’t mess up.”

My brother called me during my CVC making. There’s a former guard instructor who lives really close to him. She helped Jon get a job working with a high school marching band this past summer. She’s sort of become Jon’s adoptive mom. I’m not as close to her, but she’s an extremely nice person and I’m glad Jon has her in his life.

She was taken to the ER for a kidney stone. I can relate all too well to that situation.

Jon said he needed someone to talk to because it brought up a lot of emotions for him. Seeing her with IVs in her arm, just like mom had. Being there when she was discharged, an action we never got to experience with mom.

I had silent tears running down my cheeks as I continued to count out alcohol packs and tempadots. I know what it was like for me to be in the ER on my own. I haven’t seen any of my loved ones in the hospital yet. I’m sure it will bring up powerful emotions when I do have that experience, but I still ached for my brother and myself over our loss of mom. It still hurts remembering what it was like to see her in the ICU, what it was like to sleep in the hospital every night for two weeks. To stand in front of the drink mix aisle at Target and to feel like an awful daughter because I didn’t know what flavor mom would want. To know that mom never got to be discharged.

It brought up a lot on an already overwhelming day and I didn’t even bother to wipe the tears away as the rolled down my cheeks while I listened to him and shared in his pain.

I’m glad my brother called me and I’m glad we have each other to understand the emotions we can’t share with anyone else.

When I finally left work it was 8:30 pm.

I drove home. I talked to one of my friends from California while I did it. He made me laugh which kept the tears in check. It helped remind me that the day hadn’t been bad, just overwhelming and the way to fight overwhelm is to let go of the tension and breathe.

I took a long, hot, relaxing shower when I got home, washing away the day. Work will stay at work, and I think showering will be one of the actions I use to solidify that for myself.

I then went out to dinner with Warren since it was his birthday. We talked about finances. We talked about the Internet issue. We talked about him having a friend over on Wednesday (tonight). We talked about a lot of stuff. It was good to be out even though I was exhausted. I think it helped him feel cared for that even if it was a small outing that we at least did something for his birthday. It didn’t go unnoticed.

When we got back home I went to sleep almost immediately.

I slept almost all day Tuesday. At first, I thought about getting up and doing something with the day. At 7:30 am I went downstairs to make coffee but only made it to the futon. I laid back down for a few hours before finding enough energy to go back upstairs to my room. No coffee. No breakfast. In fact, I didn’t eat anything until 6 pm that evening and the only reason I did was because Warren agreed to pick up a pizza for me.

By 7 pm I was feeling a bit better energy wise. I stayed up and played Torchlight until about midnight before going back to sleep.

I woke up at 3, 5, and 7:30.

I’ve felt better today but still tired. It’s the type of tired that feels like it will be fixed with a good night’s sleep, so I think tomorrow will be ok.

I work tomorrow. It’s a “short” day. Only two shifts of patients rather than three. If I close tomorrow then I’ll be out around 4:30 pm. Friday is a day off, then Saturday is another “short” day. I’m hoping the new schedule is out so I can know what I’ll be working for the next six weeks.

I’m glad with the way the schedule worked out this week. I enjoy closing. I enjoy the calm and being able to stock and clean and not worrying about having the pod set up for the next wave of people. 16 hour days are brutal. Maybe I’ll get better with them as I improve my workflow and things become less overwhelming. Right now it feels like a lot and I needed these past two days to recover. Just like I needed Saturday and Sunday to recover from this past Friday.

I saw my blacksmith Saturday night. It was supposed to be Friday night but he was in a car accident.

I knew something was wrong that evening as I was leaving work. We had been texting earlier in the day. When I was leaving I sent a message to let him know I was on my way home. After thirty minutes I still didn’t have a reply. I knew that was odd. After an hour and thirty, I knew something had happened and our evening most likely was going to be postponed. At 11 pm I sent a message saying I hoped he was ok. At 3 am I still hadn’t received a response.

It wasn’t until the morning that I got a message saying he was being released from the hospital. No one was seriously injured. His shoulder and chest were sore but that was it. A 17-year-old was texting on her phone and pulled out too soon, smashing into the passenger wheel of his car.

I’m glad he’s ok. I’m glad we saw each other Saturday night. It was another session where I feel like my soul was melted into liquid iron and reshaped. Insecurities that I’ve had for years seem to have vanished over the course of a single night. Even with the weight of work I can feel a difference in myself. The breaks and cracks and chipped pieces where past experiences have hurt me have been undone through this one interaction and I really don’t know why or how.

I feel accepted with both my blacksmith and Big Bad. I feel a level of peace with both of them. Like it’s ok to be me, pure me, vulnerable me. No walls keeping people out and protecting hidden, secret hurts me.

I like how they both make me a better person. How they want me to reach the goals I set for myself. How they’re supportive and inquire about what I’m doing. How they help me through the hard times and share in the good times. I’m grateful for both of them and this is another instance of where I realize just how rare a dynamic like this must really be.

I still feel the hurt of mom being gone, but excluding that wound, I feel more whole than I have since I can remember. It’s another foreign feeling where I’m still me but it’s a different version of myself that I’m not used to. There should be pain in certain areas of my soul and there isn’t. In a way, it’s disorienting and yet relieving.

It’s something I am consciously aware of, so I suppose I’ll meditate on it and form other thoughts and will write about it more in the future. For now, it’s enough to say that I continue to grow and change and develop into the person I’m supposed to be.

Today has been a more productive day than yesterday, though really it feels like any day would have been “more productive” than yesterday.

I returned my fourth pair of shoes today. I actually really liked the ones I had. The only bad thing was they were a 9.5. The store I had been at previously only had half sizes in stock, so it was either a 9.5, which was a little too big, or an 8.5, which was a little too small.

I decided to try out the 9.5, but nope, too big. The shoes almost slipped off my feet while I was walking around the clinic. Everything else was amazing though. I loved the cushion and the slip resistant bottoms. The style was what I was looking for, too.

So today I went to a different store to return them and see if they had the elusive size 9 I wanted. They did, so hopefully, that mission can be labeled as a 100% success. We’ll know tomorrow when I try out the new pair. I have high hopes.

I did grocery shopping after that. This week is almost over and with still being low energy like I am I don’t really have it in me to do a bunch of cooking. I got mostly frozen stuff that requires baking in the oven. Not the healthiest of meal planning weeks I know, but it’s better than eating fast food every day from having nothing prepared. I’m going to try to be a bit better planned for the coming week.

I also got my car looked at today. One of the things my blacksmith and I do is go out to Waffle House for breakfast before he leaves. As we were driving there he mentioned how it felt like I should get my brakes looked at. Since I’m not a car person I tend to default to other people’s judgments on things like that.

My rotors were fine but the pads did need to be replaced, along with my brake fluid and my oil. It wasn’t supposed to have taken very long, but when one of the mechanics when to pick up the brake pads the store didn’t have them, so we had to wait for them to be delivered from somewhere else… it was sort of a cluster fuck on their end and I ended up waiting about four hours to get my car back.

Wasn’t really how I wanted to spend my day to be honest…

I got a half price oil change out of it, along with a card for a second half priced oil change. Would have rather had my car back two hours earlier, but at least they acknowledged the fact that it was sort of BS to keep me waiting as long as I was.

I’m glad the car got taken care of. The struts need to be replaced soon, but since that will be about $1k I’m going to hold off on that for a bit.

Oh… I bought more of the Shefit bras as well since they’re working out so nice. Three isn’t enough to get me through the work days as well as working out.

Aside from cooking food and doing laundry, there’s not a whole lot else about today to write about.

Warren is going to have his date night. I’m going to go to sleep, and then it will be tomorrow.

So with that I guess I’m going to go and hopefully tomorrow is less overwhelming than what Monday was.

Musing Moments 106: A Letter to My Blacksmith

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I was supposed to see my blacksmith tonight.

That one sentence holds so much weight for me that I don’t even know how to being forming thoughts to express how I feel.

We haven’t seen each other since the beginning of December. He’s had to work double shifts due to a hiring freeze at his work. He’s been fighting through burn out. My schedule hasn’t helped matters. It’s a complex situation and so while we’ve wanted to spend time together we haven’t been able to.

Finally, though, tonight, we were supposed to.

And yet we didn’t.

I’ve been tapped out at the end of my days. They’re fun, long, intense. Training is going amazingly well. I’m doing outstanding. My brain is a puddle of goo by the time I get home. I haven’t been sleeping as much as I should, my body still adjusting to 4 am and 5 am mornings. I’m exhausted by 5 pm even though I rarely am able to sleep before 11 pm.

I feel like a slacker because I haven’t gone to the gym or dojo since Friday. Almost a week.

Add to that the therapy session I had this afternoon and all of the chores I still needed to get done before our evening together. The lack of time to decompress from any of it…

We decided to reschedule for another evening where I would be more able to fully enjoy our time together and even though I’m grateful for his understanding I hurt. I’m angry. At myself. Because after four months of waiting for everything to work out I cancel.

It’s confusing, the swirls of emotions. Different colors and sensations dancing around, never staying still.

I wish this didn’t feel like a failing on my part. I wish it wasn’t tainted with thoughts of, “If I was adulting better I wouldn’t be so overwhelmed.”

Those thoughts don’t change the fact that I am, though.

I’m overwhelmed. Mostly with worries.

I’m worried about my training. I’m worried about not sleeping enough and being too tired during the day. I’m worried about falling behind. I’m worried about falling short of the expectations I have for myself, of the expectations my trainers have for me. I’m worried about not living up to the image my classmates and friends have of me.

I’m worried about the building anxiety of returning to the dojo. I’m worried about not being able to afford my membership because of finances. I’m worried about having to sacrifice my goals because I let myself get into the same situation I seem to always find myself in.

I’m worried about mistaking giving up with self-preservation. I’m worried that I need to hold on just a bit longer, believe and have faith for just a few more weeks and then things will be better. I’m worried that my past makes me jaded and that I’m not being fair to Warren.

At the same time, I’m worried he’s taking advantage of me or that our friendship doesn’t mean enough for him to not break it. I’m worried about being able to afford rent in October.

I’m worried about my dynamic with Big Bad overshadowing my dynamic with my blacksmith because I do think that is a very real concern.

I’m worried about a lot of things and I know that worry would have spilled over into tonight if my blacksmith and I had met.

I feel all of these worries, all of these wounds, so intensely right now. I’m grateful for the space and understanding to let me deal with them. I’m angry that I needed it. Disappointed even though I’m trying so hard not to be.

Maybe it’s all because I am tired. Maybe sleep will help. Maybe another weekend, one of solitude, will help. Time. Space. Decompression.

I have plans to fix the dojo/gym issue. I have options to explore with the financial issues. All I need is more time in regards to my training to allow my nerves to ease and settle.

But none of that could have happened tonight. Tonight I’m still a stressed mess and I ache because of it.

I’m not failing. I’m not disappointing anyone other than myself and I know that. It’s a sharp, cold pain, though. Icey. Isolating. An ache in my chest, a thin sliver through my heart chakra.

I know I already apologized and expressed my gratitude but I need to pour all of it out on this page, bleed all of it into my keyboard the way I couldn’t do through our text messages.

I’m sorry.

I know you don’t want me to be. I know you said you didn’t mind, but I’m sorry. This wasn’t how I wanted the night to go. I don’t mean to keep us apart for longer. I’m sorry my training started when it did and that the effort of keeping everything together feels like a lot.

I’m sorry I still miss my mom and that I hurt due to my grief.

I’m sorry that normal days still feel heavy and that some mornings I still wake up and wonder what the point of all of it is. I’m sorry that sometimes I’m tired from surviving.

I know you love me and I know I’ll find you through every life and I know this moment in time is temporary. I know it’s not my place to feel ashamed, and yet, the only thing I can feel is sorrow for having in some way failed you.

I will work through these feelings. I will address the worries I have and resolve them. I won’t let them stand in the way of our time together again.

I promise.