Been a While…

I haven’t updated in a while and I swore that this would be something I really purposed myself to do. I really have to admit that working a night shift job and the shift being 12 hours, really beat me up physically and psychologically. I have now been working a 12 hour shift during daylight hours and my body often leaves work sore and tired, but the recovery is already noticeably shorter. I hope this trend continues and I am able to recover even more quickly. On the psychological front, I am not seeing the same level of results. When I switched shifts I really hoped that it would be the magic ticket and so far it may be a ticket, but it is not magic.

Right now, my right leg is stiff and sore. I only suppose it is from a fire drill where I had to demonstrate the ability to move an adult with no mobility in a rescue chair down 2 flights of concrete stairs properly. I had practiced the use of the chair 2 weeks ago and had a crash course. Needless to say, I had less recall than I thought I would, wheels that should have rotated for a smooth ride were jammed because I didn’t remember or suss out one of 6 different bolt and lever configurations I should have. So, my dominant leg assumed a larger duty in strength and it was just too much. Also, the following day, I had time for morning coffee and oatmeal, but not time to drink any water, let alone the required amount of water. My body has responded in kind to my abuse. The ice and water dispensers were down and it was a long walk to the other side of the floor in my facility to get water from another unit’s working water and ice dispenser. And I wasn’t going to task a subordinate to “get my water”. I don’t regret that decision.

So, overall, I walk more, I lift more, and I am more active at work than I had been. That is not a bad thing for my health, unless, I am skipping totally or falling short on hydration. I don’t have much time to stress eat. I don’t know that I am eating an impressively healthier fare, but my intake of pizza is drastically lowered for sure. I will celebrate that as progress. I have a cafeteria available which offers some variety with hot meals, deli, and salad bar. It also offers “The Grill” which is not for veggie kabobs and chicken breast or filet of salmon. It’s hamburgers, philly cheese, onion rings, curly fries, BLT, fried chicken patty or fingers, grilled chicken filets, and a turkey burger waaaay at the bottom of the menu that I could not fully transcribe. I am doing my best to select from the hot meal menu and avoid a full order of cheese fries. If a coworker is going down to the cafeteria I give them some cash and order healthy so that I can’t make a list minute detour for a “shorter line” or because I  suddenly smell salty, weighty, warm, comforting fried foods and decide to “treat myself”. That actually works really well and one coworker in particular is extremely happy to take orders because this gives her a real break – she’s left for a common good and won’t be called on repeatedly while on break since most everyone will know where she is gone and she will need a little extra time for several orders. She deserves it, she is a hard worker and sometimes ends the day a very unsung hero.

On the psychological front I would say the disadvantages so far have been the upheaval of my internal clock as it has been set for the past 3 and a half years. This, like sending the coworker for lunch orders, is for the greater good. I think I misled myself that doing something for the greater good meant it wouldn’t be rough. It’s rough. Any major change is going to increase overall stress. I have new coworkers, new schedule, and many new or at least very different job duties. I have a framework that did not change and so I did not have a lengthy orientation – 2 days – and I can say that if the 2 days was meant to leave me feeling oriented to what is going on and make certain new or slightly different tasks seem familiar, that did not occur. So, that added to my “at work” stress level. And then there is something I refer to frequently as “being-all-people’d-out”.

My job is one that does demand being outgoing, and I have worked hard my adult-life to grow the weaker extrovert qualities because as a child and up until the point I began college, I was a terribly shy and introverted person, terrified of public speaking, afraid of one-on-one with most strangers, and relying on other people to start conversations or a friend to make the simplest introductions. I saw that I would not go any farther in my personal or professional life if I did not put in the work and change how I handled social situations. With years of effort including finding help, following a plan, and doing the hardest part of sticking with it – I am a far cry from where I was. I still feel socially awkward some of the time, but I dwell on it much less and keep working at it, and will probably always will. With that said, I am still at my most authentic level, someone who NEEDS peace and quiet. It’s not just nice or obviously a better environment than chaos. I NEED it daily or I am to the point of pain or feel attack and respond by being defensive.

Point being, I am around much more sensory stimulation after this change. That is stressful to me. It’s not just while at work. Being awake in the day time  means shifting from doing things “sometimes” in the day time “when I have to because I can’t do them at night” to doing almost everything in daylight when a vast majority of people are also doing things – driving, at stores, restaurants, offices, etc. That is something I didn’t even think of. I was so focused on what would change at work (where I earn money for bills, luxuries, and health insurance and therefore am very dependent on how I adapt and succeed) that I didn’t much think about what would change in my personal life. I thought of the benefits – better for meeting people, dating, possibly having a monogamous relationship, children, getting back into a church home, more outings and better contact with friends and my relatives – but did not adequately realize or prepare for the culture shock.

So, I still find myself having a need to be alone, not leave my house, not watch TV even (and one of my main pastimes had been keeping up with several TV series), or play video games. I find something to do like cook, tidy up, read a book. If I leave I go for a drive or put on headphone and do my grocery shopping. I just need that space from having to think and talk, carry a conversation, interact with people and really hear what is being said, not just passively listening to noises and recognizing that they are language.

I am slightly better at journaling. 100% not better at reading a therapy book and “working it”. I still don’t do that. I consider it painful ahead of labeling it productive as well. And after 12 hours for 2 days or 3 days of doing something that ends up being painful I am so very easy to talk myself out of doing something uncomfortable. I try to write at least one line every night. I missed it last night. That, however, is the official goal that I gave myself. Even if I am not blogging here regularly, if I can just write a line in my journal about something that happened in my day, something I am feeling, or anything of substance not just a filler to “cross it off the to-do list”, I would be very pleased with myself.

It isn’t all doom and gloom. I have spent more time with friends. I have gone on more outings. I have noticed an upswing in overall motivation. It is easier now to talk myself into household chores. I still like to lay around on the couch or in bed being lazy, but I finally bought a new mattress, I finally got around to taking my money-pit car from high school that I won’t trade in to be serviced, I don’t feel as put upon making healthcare appointments. I went to the dentist this week, found out I had cavities, and was able to book the appointment for fillings for a few days away rather than a week or more. I went almost 4 weeks without a therapy appointment (there was a vacation, the therapist moved offices, the office space wasn’t fully completed in construction so she is a vagabond for now, and busy busy going to work and coming home to crash). But I think I was able to go longer than I would have because I sleep the way my body wants me to and not the way my paycheck dictated I had to.

 

Fingers are sore so I’m going to bring this to a close. I’m sure I could wax intellectual on more aspects of this grand experiment, but I also have groceries to shop for. Maybe without headphones, but I wouldn’t bet the farm on it.

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Traveling Alone

The crazy thing I have ever done thus far – go on a vacation out of the country by myself. It isn’t likeI went to war-torn Iran or somewhere with a major travel advisory. I went to Canada. However, my dad had a friend whose daughter and wife disappeared on a gymnastics trip to Thailand and that was enough for him. I survived London and Paris with a friend so why is Canada so bad solo? It’s THE FRIENDLIEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD!!! The world makes jokes about their friendliness and politeness.

And I am a woman.

The list of people who balked at my solo travel plans grew from parents to coworkers to my physician. Yeah, she couldn’t believe it, said I was crazy. I was in her office discussing my current antidepressant prescription so I wasn’t sure how much I could take offense to that. Friends were more supportive. I’m careful and responsible, aware of my surroundings, overthink things, plan ahead… I’d survive.

The craziest thing about this trip is that I can do whatever I want, when I want, and don’t have to drag someone on an adventure I want or suffer through an item on their bucket list that I have zero interest in. I haven’t actually been disappointed with anyone else’s travel ideas but I’m sure it happens. It’s awesome to have total control over my itinerary. No one to answer to and no one to feel guilty in front of if I am worn out and legs sore from the day before and don’t give a damn to do any more than lay in bed.

Talking to my friends who like to travel opened my eyes and took me aback. I’m the newest traveler. I got my first passport last year and I’m in my 30s. I’m the first one to go it alone. I couldn’t believe that. Me? Anxiety ridden and panic prone ME? Neurotic cat guardian ME? Single and hating it but no mate in sight ME?

Brave little old me? Balls of steel ME? Nauseous the whole 24 hours prior ME?

I mentally slaved over NOT letting my parents, coworkers, and other concerned parties’ fears and admonitions over take me. One week before I was to fly out I was in tears trying to cancel my trip or postpone it until I had someone to go with me. I would have been out $200 on air fare so that settled whether or not I went. $200 or my possible death or new life as a human trafficked mule or prostitute – I couldn’t lose $200 bucks. So, my self-esteem could use work. Or I knew I would be fine and most of the horrified facial expressions and advice that it was suicide probably had more to do with sexist programming that women shan’t travel unescorted. If I was a man in my 30s would anyone be concerned for my safety traveling to Canada?

In the taxi on the way to the hotel, I took a selfie to commemorate I had survived the flight (four hours in a tin can with air blowing on my face and repeated ginger ales on ice practicing purposeful breathing and relaxation while my stomach knotted) and I started to tear up. I choked it back lest the cab driver become concerned or whatever. I felt ready to explode by the time we arrived at the hotel. I wish I could say with excitement, but I was back on the ready to barf track. I kept it together through check in and finally when I got to the room, took in the view, removed my shoes and flopped on the bed, the anxiety of the whole thing started to melt away.

My sleep schedule prior to flying was AWFUL. I work nights. I had to stay awake through most of the day after my last shift. I would fly the next morning. My body wouldn’t shut down when I finally could take sleep that night. I’d basically been up 24 hours with two hour-and-a-half naps mixed in. But my body wanted to stay up. I took half a sleep pill so I wouldn’t wake up drowsy. I slept but not proper restful sleep. Not until I fixed a tall glass of alka seltzer and laid down in my hotel for a nap did I feel relaxed and actually take rest.

It felt like I fought for weeks for this. It felt good to be in it and not arguing with myself and others about it. It felt good to know I was the brave (or blissfully ignorant) one to go it alone. I felt glad I had gone through with it but also aware of and hoping to remedy not valuing myself at more than $200 bucks.

Nightmares

I noticed a pattern recently in my sleep habits. It’s not a big shock or anything, but when I come home from a hard night at work it takes me longer to wind down. I am wired even though I am yawning and my mind is so spent that I’m even thinking sluggishly. Not to say I don’t have several thoughts or train of thoughts all going at once. It is precisely the situation where sleep and rest are in order.

Sometimes I lie awake and mentally I am rehashing a certain event and trying to work out how it could have gone better or I’m just outright beating myself up for what in going back are some really obvious crap decisions. There are times that as I start to drift off I can hear the sound of the call light ringing at the desk. My reaction is to become more alert and it causes a real issue completely falling asleep. I have memory of thinking to myself “I am at home in bed, this sound is not real” but continue to hear it in my head. At this point I usually take something for anxiety if I have not already taken something to help me sleep. I have prescriptions for both.

I generally don’t have awful nightmares when I take my prescription for sleep. Unfortunately, I know that I absolutely need a certain number of hours for it to wear off. So if I am kept late at work more than an hour, I don’t take the sleep medication if I am working again in under 7 hours. I will sleep through my alarm and arrive to work still groggy. It’s just not worth it. So, at that point I’ll try to fall asleep with nothing to help or I’ll take an anxiety medication which will knock out the stress and wired replay torture and I can fall asleep. It usually doesn’t help too much with nightmares though. That tends to eventually happen.

I wake up and for a little while remember a good dream that turned into a nightmare. Then I forget the details and I’m left with the uncomfortable feeling or mood left behind. I had one nightmare in the last day or so that I just now – about 24 hours later – realized was a nightmare and not fact. I had a patient who at around the time I was getting ready to leave started to do poorly. I had just placed a new IV in the patient in order to give medications. I’m not the most gifted with IV placement, but this time I got it on the first try. Hearing that the patient was having issues (unrelated to the IV) bothered me and I wondered if anything I had done before leaving could have caused it or if I could have prevented it. After finally getting to sleep – I had a dream about being at work and going through my night and at some point had gone in to the patient’s room to check  on her. I looked at the IV site with great pride and realized it was on the opposite arm from where I had placed one and been so proud of doing it first try. I looked at the arm where I placed it and saw a tiny pinprick scab where it had been and it was a little red around. And in my dream I sighed really heavily and felt very incompetent that the IV I placed didn’t last very long at all and had to be replaced.

When I realized that in reality I had most certainly left without checking again on this patient and therefore had not seen an IV to replace the one I inserted – I thought about what that meant. It’s my subconscious way of working out that I feel and worry that what I did for her through my shift did not benefit her at all. When I checked on her, she was well enough, no real breakthrough change for the better or turn for the worse, just new IV there and I knew mine had not lasted long and had to be “fixed”.

I wrestled for a little while with how my brain had served up insecurity for me. I want to use my knowledge of this to improve myself and how I respond to less than perfect responses to treatment that I’m rendering. I know that sometimes you can do everything right and things just don’t work out well, but when it happens to me I would rather blame it on a shortcoming of mine. It’s easier than accepting not everything can be controlled and contained.

I hate nightmares where I am at work or stress nightmares that are me trying to accomplish a task and running into obstacles over and over through the nightmare. I’d rather just take a break in my dreams and do something fun. After a shitty night at work, why can’t I dream about sunning in the park with a good book or swimming with dolphins? Why do I have to relive it or re-enact it in a different scenario just to experience the same upsetting emotions? My brain is an asshole!

Third Time Trying to Post is the Charm

Still here and just slammed by work because hospitals are crazy during winter and this flu winter super sucked. Also, the hurricane’s in September caused shortages in medical supplies. I did not know that was going to happen. It’s been very exhausting to say the least. The hours have been longer and the hospitalized people have been sicker and worse off it seems. It’s emotional doing your absolute best and still not having the outcome that everyone wants.

In vulnerability news, I was actually going to move from my small “town home” and get a room mate and live in a house – an honest to God detached single family home. Unfortunately, the friend that I saw as solid and about this life – same schedule working nights; he is having trouble not giving his down-on-her-luck ex wife money from every pay check and backed out on me. He made some comment about how I didn’t deserve this or wished it didn’t end up hurting me and I just replied back “Why? Obviously I can take it”. He of course said “but you shouldn’t have to”. Well NO SHIT. I’ve been saying that for years and no one else has gotten on board with it through said years. He knows all my various getting shit on by people and let down stories so I’m really just at a loss. Maybe those stories made him think it was okay? Other people did it so it was expected or not out of the ordinary, acceptable? I’ve not been talking to him as much off work and not much at work either, but the latter is because as I mentioned – I’m worn out and still slammed.

The hardest part of vulnerability is when it lands you disappointed or hurt. This time I haven’t broken down in tears or anything. I’m sad. I don’t think so highly of this friend anymore. I stopped all the updates on new properties for rent and am not looking for a new room mate. I don’t know if I am comfortable with the idea of relying on someone else somewhat since this attempt didn’t get past putting in the application for the place. I think that is the fallout from this vulnerability episode – I withdrew my willingness to consider putting faith and trust in someone else for half the bills on a living situation. And I say that I don’t want the drama. I have been living alone for 10 years now with a few interloper boyfriends that stayed nights but never moved in. Yes, it makes it easy to isolate myself which is one of the things I do when I’m anxious or depressed. No, that is not a good thing at all.

I really want a new job that doesn’t hurt my feelings so much. I could also try to change how I am responding and maybe not get so personal about it. I take bad outcomes on myself and take it home with me and beat myself up about it. So that’s the kind of personal that I mean. I also want to stop staying an hour after I should get off work charting. I feel like a complete idiot with shit time management (flaw, failing!) when I am there until 0800 or 0830. I need to be home and asleep so I can do it all again the next night.

I hope the next post is less doom and gloom about me and whining and more humor about a subject. Any nurses or high stress career people have any words of wisdom on how they reasoned with their own perfectionist minds?

Uncomfortable Mission Statement

I didn’t really come up with the idea of starting a blog. No, that inspired piece of advice came from my therapist a few months ago. For a quick minute I thought about it – me, writing a glorious blog, that thousands or millions would end up reading, all the humor, all the wit, all the interesting reports of things that happened to me, disappointed me, or brought me joy, and becoming an internet legend if not cultural phenomenon. Then I realized that was probably never going to happen and I thought, well, why bother. “If you ain’t first, you’re last” Am I right?

So the suggestion sat in the back of my head. I couldn’t find the right blog name. I never found anything that resonated with me. The blog isn’t going to be about cooking or coupon-ing or raising children or even raising 2 beautiful cats who are the apple of my eye. That is also mostly because I don’t do any of those things and my cats are actually just these 2 furry assholes who share a town house with me in a volatile love-hate relationship.

I went out to the grocery store in the middle of the night because that is when I am awake. I work a night shift job and am at the day of the week where I flip my schedule back to awake at night and sleeping during the day so I can function when I go to work. I usually avoid going at night to the grocery store for one reason – Sonny, the stalker. And of course, tonight he was working and of course I not only saw him in the store a few times and had to talk to him, he was strolling through the parking lot when I left, I guess coming back inside after a break or something. Suffice to say, I was cursing and not under my breath as I hurried to my car. I thought, explaining the whole thing on a blog would have been cathartic. I packed my groceries in the trunk and it all came together.

“You’re in a fucking cat lady death spiral”.

I had a blog title. Finally.

The sentiment resonated with me. The idea of it was so broad that it could actually work as a domain or title. So, now I was out of my last in a long line of excuses of why not to do it.

  1. No one is going to read this. How is this going to help me if I don’t have any readers or comments, no witnesses to my pain and anguish? I have become so comfortable with constant social media validation – likes, comments, emojis. How am I going to even know with this?
  2. Someone from work may come across this or I may one day decide to run for public office and then someone will definitely find it and link it to me.
  3. I won’t keep up with it because I have no constant validation and it will be one more failed hobby on my long list of failed hobbies.
  4. What if people do read it and I start opening up even if it is to strangers or this is finally a way I can be honest and upfront with actual people in my life?
  5. I don’t have a good name for it. Can’t do it until I have the perfect name.

And that was my list of reasons not to do this and I reckoned with all of them.

 

So, what is this going to be about? Well, it’s going to be rants, narratives, epiphanies, garbage maybe some recaps of shows where I rip them to shreds, letters I’ll never send to people, letters to myself, or maybe just memes and cat pictures.