Yawns and rubs eyes sleepily*
I feel like I have been in hibernation for a few months now. I’m so tired guys….it’s just sucking the life out of me. I work like crazy, never taking much of a break, from before my start time until after my end time, daily. I’m trying, hard, to keep things going here and sometimes my efforts are appreciated and sometimes they are not. Most of all, I’m lucky to be working here because the hospital is being forced to cut many, many positions and mine is so damn busy, they can’t do without me. Silver lining eh? Well, silver plated anyway.
So that’s all I do. I work until I’m exhausted, get to the sitter to pick up my son, get him home and hit the couch. Some days I’m out immediately and sleep through until I get up for work again and sometimes I have a few hours to clean the house, cook dinner or even paint my nails if I’m lucky. The latter is a rare event.
I’m taking my meds (antidepressant, small dose of narcotic pain killers each morning, a heavy duty muscle relaxer and stimulants to keep me awake at work) on a regular basis and I’m eating healthy when I’m awake. The farmers markets are all open again and I live off of fresh fruit and veggies. I’ve eliminated soda from my diet almost entirely and my only real indulgences are coffee, tea and a bit to drink now and then – mostly whiskey, mostly on the weekend since I can’t stay awake long enough to enjoy it through the week. So, I’m doing okay over all. I’m not depressed, anxiety has been well controlled recently and the pain is fairly even, just flowing along. I’m not really needing any extra pain meds so that’s always a bonus.
I had an excellent meeting with Colt’s school on Monday morning and got him all set up for next year. Surprisingly, despite all of their warnings and threats, the school board has allocated an EA for Colt. I can’t believe the stress these people caused over this….but I guess no one really knew what would happen until it happened. They are going to introduce Colt to his new teacher before the end of the school year and they are trying to keep his current (amazing) EA on for next year so there’s some consistency for him. The principal is retiring and he adores her, so they’re going to have the new principal in before the end of the year to get acquainted with Colt as well. Lots of good planning going on, for once. He’ll be reassessed by the psych institute who follows him this summer and then we’ll be good and set up to start preparing him for high school. The psychometric testing will show us exactly where his abilities are and will help carve out the path we’re going to follow for the next two years. Finally, something we did has resulted in something positive for the boy. :) Doesn’t help that the government around here is going crazy, cutting services for autistic kids across the province. We’ve lost the only, very small, stipend available to us for his future. We were banking it for him anyway, but still…it’s frustrating. They’re going to place a huge burden on the school systems now, because there won’t even be the barely existent help we got with Colt available to the newest little ones on the spectrum. And these days, psychiatrists are throwing ASD at everything and anything, it seems. So backwards, it seems.
The biggest event in my world right now, outside of my son, is that I finally get my sleep study results next week. I’m waiting for them to call and cancel me or something equally as frustrating but I’m trying to remain optimistic. I get to actually meet with the Fellow who took my case…maybe even the consulting as well. All of the results should be in including all the blood work, the cardio and brain scans, the sleep latency testing and the overnight sleep study. I’m nervous but want to know what they have to say. I don’t want to take more meds, but, will do whatever they suggest I try to see if it helps. If it’s my back that is causing me issues, the pain control will need to go up at night. If the pain control goes up, the stimulants will need to go up to keep me from getting all groggy and stupid. If it’s not the pain or my body waking me because of random signals from my spine, it’s the sleep disorder they diagnosed me with as a child or something similar, I suspect. The only treatment for that as far as I know is sleep meds to help me stabilize my sleep cycle (I bounce directly out of deep sleep every time I reach it, if the issues are consistent with the past studies) and, possibly, more stimulants to wake me up for the day. I don’t like either of these options at all. If it’s something more direct like narcolepsy, not much changes. I might be able to get my work modified slightly to have different hours. Maybe working 10 hour days and having a day off through the week to catch up on sleep will help. No point in planning anything now though, as the answers are so very close.
That said, the thing I worry about most is that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with me. I am so nervous about sitting in that room to have another doctor look me in the eye for two seconds and then dismiss me with disinterest as the tell me my tests came back absolutely normal. If that happens, I don’t think I’ll ever go back for more investigations. It was so defeating, hearing over and over that the constant pain I was in was not being caused by anything. I was laughed out of one office and it nearly took me right out. The only fact that keeps me going is that there WAS something there, in the end and it wasn’t as if no one had seen it….they all just thought I was given the results that were in my patient chart and that I was looking for another cause. The damn report sat there for years before I finally called up my records and paid for a copy to take to a physician in the States who might actually take me seriously if I paid him enough out of pocket. My doctor hadn’t even been told about those results that outlined the arthritis and the huge amount of degeneration around my cervical spine (and other parts but the worst is from my brain stem to the middle of my shoulder blades – the surgeon I saw, with hope, told me I had the neck of a 90 year old woman with a history of spinal trauma.
…..anyway. Reliving that isn’t helping much. I just hope we get somewhere this time. Appointment is in 9 days. Counting down….
One more month to go before I get my sleep study results. It feels like so much time has passed since I had the thing. Some of the delay is due to them needing time to interpret the results and the rest is scheduling, I’m sure. I was going to start calling for a cancellation spot but I don’t want to be on edge, waiting for the call that never comes, so, I’ll just sit and wait.
I didn’t take any stimulants today so far, which is always a mistake. I hate them though…hate needing them so much. If I don’t take a double dose every morning I am absolutely useless by 1100 in the morning. When I went for the study, I went off them entirely for a week prior, just to ensure I was feeling the full symptoms; hoping it would help get clear results. I was so fucking tired at the end of that week it took me almost a month to recover. It’s a sickening, drugged out, sedated, fighting a losing battle kind of tired….actually, “tired” doesn’t cover it at all.
Sometimes, I almost feel like I’m slipping into another pocket of depression but I don’t really have the time and that seems to keep it at bay. I mean, work is so busy and difficult to manage that it entirely eats my time while I’m here and by the time I get to my couch at the end of the day I’m so wiped out I can barely sit up. I’m asleep soon after and the most of the living I do is in my dreams….and they are all over the place. I’m back to feeling like my dream world is reality and the real world is the dreamscape where all I do is run and run and run and run and try to stay upright before it all catches up to me and eats me alive.
One of the girls I used to work with at my last job (in real life) just got a layoff notice. She’s the second in the last little while….we’re having some huge (ever-lasting/ always ongoing) budget issues and support staff is usually the first to go when that happens, of course. It’s brought back so many feelings, hearing her tell me how scary it all is. I’m dreaming of my last set of coworkers and bosses and it makes me feel so crappy when I wake up. They really messed with me…..back stabbing assholes. They said they cared but in the end they held it all against me…the boss even made backhanded comments on my sick time on my way out the door. I should have never trusted them with what I was going through (physical illness only – I never disclose my mental/emotional issues in the workplace). Anyway – disappointing lesson learned there and I was happy not thinking about it anymore…until the ex-coworker reached out to me. Now it just makes me tired. Even more tired.
10:00 and I’m starting to fade. Screen is blurring and swaying in front of me; eyelids are pulling down as hard as they can and my brain is shutting off, switch by switch. Better take my meds before I crash.
I am so tired. It’s a double-whammy kind of tired this week….tired because I’m always freaking tired and fighting off sleep thanks to whatever is going on with my sleep cycle, but also worn-out, exhausted, haven’t stopped working for days that feel like weeks tired. Stressed out about work too, which also triggers the kind of tired I get when my brain has just had enough and the whole of me starts shutting down out of sheer unwillingness to participate any longer. My body is sore…my spine is killing me and it hurts to move….or not move….it hurts no matter what right now. I could get up and take some more pain meds but my purse is all the way across my office and what I would most like to do right now is just gently rest my fingers on my keyboard, right in home row, and stare blankly at nothing on my screen until the next two hours have passed by and I can go home. Of course I still have to pick Colt up from the kids who are watching him after school and then, after a quick rest in which I will have to stay standing so I don’t fall asleep, I have to go grocery shopping. I do not want to go grocery shopping. But. Whatever. We need stuff and if I don’t get it tonight I always put it off until Sunday and then hate myself for it by Sunday morning.
I feel like I have absolutely nothing left to give today. Not even to myself.
Ahhhh now that was a nice morning. You know when sometimes things just all come together and you end up feeling rather supported and whole again? This week has been wearing me down to the bones. Well, hah, month/year, really. Work is impossible and continues to get more impossible as the days go by. I’ve adopted a new stance after going’s on over the last week where one boss hammered me into building an entire website while the other left me pretty much alone, thinking she was helping me resolve the overflow of workload to let me catch up. I don’t like to play one against the other but by the end of it all I had an entire website created and populated with dozens of policies, procedures, guidelines, medical directives, staff resources, order sets, directories and pager listings galore. I had all the teams split and reporting payroll and vacation time weekly….there were some excel formulas so complicated I’m not sure I could even repeat them, but fuck it, there it is….you can now enter your shift and my spread sheet will auto-calculate your hours, unpaid breaks, flex time, benefit hours, patient workload, attendance ratio, treatment ratio, service and non-service time percentage and will even tell you the time frame you have left to take your accumulated stat holiday banked hours, paid and non-paid vacation, and accumulated flex time. There’s a nice rolling total too which will help when I have to pick through the finances at the end of each month.
It took overtime hours to get that up, for which I will not be paid as I have maxed out my flex time bank again. Whatever though, it was worth it to get her off my back about it…..or so I thought. The very day it went live (after she fucking deleted all my fucking files that were originally linked to redirects on the website effectively making half the shit up there not work) she sat down in my office to nitpick over the font I had chosen for the staff directory. Haha…soooo whatever. It was up, it was current and all documents were up to date, reformatted into better shape and it looked good too. After that, she wrote out her announcement to the staff about how we were finally able to launch (she actually wrote “finally” in her announcement…(sigh)) and then called me to ask me to do something specific when, after the mention of a meeting came up, she decided to take the opportunity to remind me of the other meetings she’d asked for that I hadn’t yet booked, like her meeting with a small set of staff over at the other campus that she has quarterly. ??? Seriously? There’s a secretary over there who knows the staff’s schedules and does NOTHING all day but, after taking up my entire weekend and week with her stupid, redundant website (all the info I put up there is already out there available to staff on our shared drive. It’s just that most of the staff don’t know how to click on the fucking S in the drive list to find what they need. Yes, I’m serious. I had to gather all that info to make it ‘easier’ for the staff to find) she wants to start picking at me about a staff meeting she’s been waiting a month for me to book???? I’ve SEEN her make her own meetings many times….why she’s just left this one floating so she can bother me about it is beyond comprehension.
So, the other boss, now realizing that my free time that she’s given me by taking on more work herself has been eaten up by the first boss, is now on me to get all of her stuff done. As I was struggling yesterday to get that done, plus stats audits and the rest of my too-goddamn-busy job, the first one comes in and asks me about what we will do over this period of time where the part time secretary role at the other campus is being covered. You see, part-time-do-nothing secretary has found herself a new job out of sheer boredom, I’m sure, and now there’s a vacancy. The boss decided to take my casual, who is the only reason I get payroll and stats audits done each month, and have her fill in there, making her totally unavailable to come help me. This will go on until May because the boss is taking two weeks’ vacation at the end of April and can’t interview people. (I’m tempted to apply. Seriously. If I can find another part time job and keep my benefits and pension I’m doing it.) So, not only will the girls here and I not get vacation this summer unless I am willing to cover them at registration (cries…no one covers me..), I can’t get any help while the casual sits across town doing nothing. THEN….oh then….the boss comes to me yesterday.
“Uh Grainne? Oh…hahaha…look at this. You’ve closed and locked your office door like we told you to and here I am walking right in anyway. Sorry. I’m sorry.”
(I had closed my door in the morning but the two of them just kept coming in so I locked it in the afternoon. They started bringing their keys after that.)
“So..Grainne. I’m sorry…I know you’re really busy but with *secretary* gone and *casual* covering, I have some access requests I need to get done before the next set of students start. Can you do those for me? Today? I did one but now I can’t find the form anymore.”
The online form. She can’t find the online form she found only moments before to do the first one and….okay. Whatever. I contemplated getting the casual access to the management side of the network but the hassle involved would take longer than doing the fucking thing myself, so, I did all the necessary paperwork to get the students cleared to work in the hospital.
“*Boss?” I tried to ask in a friendly tone. “Do you think it a good idea to get *casual* ordering access for the other site – just so she can take care of equipment and supplies without having to go through me while she’s covering?”
“Oh, well. We’re pretty lucky that she’s agreed to cover the hours. I don’t want to take advantage of her.”
My jaw literally dropped. WHAT? THE? FUCK?!! You don’t want to take advantage of HER? What the hell makes that your go-to when all you do is take advantage of me??? So you’ll put all that additional work on my over-full plate just so the casual doesn’t feel taken advantage of? Holy hannah…. I nearly hit her.
*Breathes iiiiiiiiiin Breathes ouuuuuuuuut*
It’s now Wednesday and I’ve not started payroll that closes Friday morning. I closed my door upon arrival and posted a sign that said: “If you’d like to get paid, please do not disturb” lolol. It works like a charm for the staff. The bosses….not so much. They’re both in meeting now though so I’m taking the moment to vent my frustrations.
Oh, the good part! Back to the beginning of this post :) I had three staff members stop in to say hello to me this morning and all three came to see how I was doing and to ask how things were going. I don’t complain to many here….I’m not stupid enough to put my job in jeopardy….but these guys can see I’m struggling. Two came in because they were worried aggressive-boss was mad at them for something. One was near tears when she told me about how the boss had yelled at her because she titled a vacation request email “vacation request”. The boss wanted it to be called “Time off request” (only because that’s what she happened to search at the time when she got caught with her pants down and likely told the other managers that the staff member had made no such request and went to prove it by searching her email). There was an email war that waged for a few days, back and forth. I shared my story about how we recently had a 25 minute argument over the name of a file that’s been called the same thing for the last five years and the staff member felt better.
Talking to the three of them, two of whom made me laugh so hard I nearly choked on my coffee several times (I adore these people) and one who had an even worse story about the boss than I have ever heard….she’s so unprofessional, aggressive-boss. She said the most outrageous things to her staff all the time. After they left I felt better…lighter. I’m human I guess; I like knowing I’m not alone in things and that the nasty behaviour isn’t only directed at me. Several insist on calling it ‘abuse’ and I can’t go there. I’ve know the angrier sort in my life and although my ways of coping with this are definitely linked to my past experiences, it’s really just a shitty work environment. The huge department filled with amazing people who all work under this shitty umbrella, like me, make it worth it enough to deal as long as I can. Both of them are nearing 60 anyway. They won’t be here forever and my career will well outlive theirs.
Now that I’ve had the ‘pleasure’ of working for two asshole doctors who screamed profanity at me on the phone, a director who eliminated my job because I was sick, two horrible bully secretaries who made me cry every day (when I first started here nearly 15 years ago) and now, two deranged, miserable women who get a kick out of being in charge, I can take just about anything. I even had a manager who once did nothing but stare directly at my chest every time he spoke to me. Every time. No wavering. I called attention to it and he started avoiding me in every way he could. Happily, I managed to get myself out of there before anything got worse.
Now. Onto to pay a hundred people so they don’t all turn on me when their mortgage payments come due.
I got a call from the Clinical Fellow who ordered my sleep study this morning. I was surprised to hear from him because my results weren’t due to be finished until mid May. They did a lot of different testing and want all results back and reviewed by the various services and then the consulting physician before I come to get them, so I have an appointment at the end of May for that. Anyway, I answered, wondering why someone from the sleep lab might be calling and he said he had just received the final study for sleep apnea and that everything looked good there…no sign of apnea or a decrease in oxygen saturation while I sleep, which is quite a nice relief. I thanked him and told him it was good of him to call….he’s going to make a really good specialist when he finishes his fellowship. By the time they reach this point in their training, most people are already jaded in some way or have grown that shield necessary to stay detached from the drama involved in people’s health, life and death. To find someone who actually cares about how his patient’s feel is pretty rare and it tends to make for the best kind of physician, when it comes to bedside manner. I appreciate it, anyway.
So yay! One down. No sleep apnea and no C-Pap machine for me. The rest of the results will come late May. I’m really so thankful for all of this
Things at work have been okay this week – busy as anything but the bosses are busy elsewhere and haven’t been on my case too much. I’m enjoying every moment lol! On that note … it’s back to the piles of work for me.
I’ve been sleeping a lot…even for me, in the last month or so. I’ve been pretty stressed in work/life/living/feeling/thinking/everythingeverythingeverything of late so I think that makes it even worse.
When I was married to my first husband, Harry, and things got stressful, I’d instantly start to feel that pull to sleep. He was incredibly immature for his early 20’s having been coddled by his mom and life until I took his pathetic ass off her hands. He moved directly from his parents home into mine…should have realized it at the time that we were on different planets having had been on my own since 15 years old. Still, I didn’t understand myself then and I didn’t know how I loved…how I attached and bopped along in life without actually feeling much of anything. All that came crashing down on me in my 30’s after becoming a mother to a disabled, screaming little boy who seemed to hate me. Ohhh the memories eh!? Anyway, Harry was an asshole. He would argue with me if he didn’t get his way and it was always over such silly, self focused crap that didn’t really matter. One time, he decided he wanted a bbq to put on our 3 foot square “balcony” that exited the living room of our 12th floor apartment. It’s not like he cooked or anything, but wow once he sunk his teeth in…
“Grainne? Grainne? Hey Grainne? Grainne grainne grainne grainne? Hello Grainne? Graaaaaaaaaainne? Grainnnnnne? Grainne? Hey! Hey!! Hey!!! Grainne? GRAINNE! GRAINNE! Grainne??” He would demand in a whining, three-year-old-wants-a-cookie voice.
I’d ignore him as long as I possibly could but would eventually snap, every time.
“WHAT? Harry? What do you want?”
“Can I have a barbecue?”
First, we had no money. I worked at the mall full-time and he only part-time. That does not equal much money at all. We had no car but did have cable TV (no satellite back then for the poor kids) and had to pay rent, heat, hydro, food and laundry. That left a negative number in our accounts each month as it was and then he would go out and spend more on beer – a necessity he refused to live without. Once, he told my mother that “No creditor was going to stop him from enjoying his life” a quote he learned from his abusive, alcoholic asshole of a father who had never been even close to out of debt in his miserable life. My mother was unimpressed…lol…to say the least. Anyway….no money. Plus we had an apartment and couldn’t bring propane up the elevator, of course, so would have to pay for a delivery where they would hoist the tank up to our balcony for a very dear price. It seemed ridiculous to me, considering we would barely use the damn thing.
“Come on Harry, that’s just stupid. We’ll get a bbq when we have a house okay?”
But no. That was never good enough and it never, ever, ever ended. I think I held ut for a year before he wore me down and I, in the midst of near hysterical tears after an 11 hour onslaught of his stupid nagging, just gave in.
“Get your fucking bbq and leave me the hell alone!” I remember yelling loud enough for all the neighbours to clearly hear.
The bbq was purchased later that week and we had to pay for a cab to bring it to us, since we didn’t have a car. It was winter at the time so we couldn’t use the thing anyway and when spring came we paid the ridiculous fee to have our tank of propane hoisted to the balcony from the outside. Harry used the thing exactly twice before we moved and decided not to bother dragging it out when we moved into a house. We bought another one.
(I should write a book about not getting married until you have at least ten people who care about you vet the person as being good for you. Parents the world over would buy it for their stupid kids who thing they’re all grown up and know what they want despite all the warning signs.)
Of course, that was just a silly thing…things got much more serious down the line, particularly after I married the idiot, but that’s another story. The point of this memory was that, after our first year or so, I would instantly start to yawn and feel my eyelids drag down the moment he started one of his temper fits and called my name incessantly in a whining voice until I gave him what he wanted. Stress of that intolerable nature has always pulled me to sleep. Work, these days has the same effect, along with the endless exhaustion I feel. When the two combine I’m pretty much a walking zombie, arguing myself from the brink of unconsciousness in a constant jumble of thoughts and internal words.
With all the extra sleep comes extra dreams and the more I dream the less I feel able to drag myself from them, even when I’m awake. I’ve been having constant dreams of having to hide children, which is a strange one. Sometimes I’m the child that needs to hide so they aren’t taken away by some powerful force (like an army? or mob of people?) The other constant theme is the place I used to live. I’m forever finding myself back there, hiding inside, not wanting to be seen by the ex landlords but not having anywhere else to go. I woke the entire house up several times last night when I sat up and screamed bloody murder while in the grip of a dream. Once, I woke in the kitchen….just standing there, in front of the sink. It was exhausting for everyone and it makes me feel bad. Colt and Dayne are so used to this that they automatically know what’s going on and don’t ever wake panicked, even if I’m screaming.
“Mom? Mommy? It’s me, Colt. You’re having a bad dream mom. Time to wake up.” A very familiar disembodied voice said, floating into my dream.
I was dreaming I was sweeping up a mess in the old house, the walls had collapsed (disintegrated, really) and I was alone in the house. I heard Colt and froze, confused, knowing he wasn’t there but was elsewhere with his dad.
“Colt?” I said both in my dream and aloud – I could hear my dream voice and my actual voice in sync.
That’s when I woke and realized I was in the kitchen, in the dark, and my boy was standing beside me with his hand on my arm, concern filling his eyes. My 11-year-old should not have to take care of me. It feels wrong and backwards, but there we have it…his heart is in tune with mine and he is instantly there when I need him; as I am for him. It turns from embarrassment to a beautiful, graceful bond at that point so…at least there’s that right?
I made my way back to bed and Dayne sat up, bolted really, realizing I had been gone.
“It’s okay dad, mom was just having a nightmare.” Colt said, yawned, and knowing I was in good hands, walked back to his bedroom and went back to sleep.
Dayne’s face changed from defense and surprise to tenderness and he held out his arms to me. For some reason, I burst into tears and threw myself into them and he wrapped me up and held me, arranging the blankets around us, until I was safe, covered and back to sleep.
It wasn’t an hour later that I woke myself up, yelling again, tears drenching the t-shirt Dayne wore to bed.
“Oh my god please don’t leave me here? Please? I can’t do this I’m so afraid…” I stopped talking as soon as I realized the voice I was hearing was my own and I was awake, clinging to Dayne and not where I thought I was in my dreams.
I think it’s the absolute lack of control I have when I dream that messes with my head the most. I don’t know what I’m about to say, do, scream; where I might wander and what I might do. When I was a kid I’d take off all my clothes every time I sleep walked…thankfully I seem to have stopped that but it carries the same helpless feeling. Vulnerable. Exposed. I hope that something in that sleep study helps me understand how this all ties together and they find a way to either knock me out so cold at night I can’t even move, let alone dream, or at least allows me to get some rest between these nightmares.
At least I’m not alone at night anymore. Alone is much, much worse. Much worse.
Ah well. Back to awake for a while.
Pain and I are friends. She’s not someone I really liked when I first met her; she was clingy and uncomfortably so. She was always in my face when I needed peace and would take up all of my energy with her endless nattering and calls for attention. There was nothing that satisfied her aside from having my entire focus set her way. I tried to make her leave me with thoughts and intentions and abject neglect but when that didn’t work I tried to chemically vanish her…erase her existence from my consciousness. That was okay for a while but very temporary and it just seemed to make her angrier. She would come back full force, bruised and insulted, and her scream would be louder than ever before. I sought advice from medical doctors, osteopathic practitioners, chiropractors, surgeons, physiotherapists and even psychiatrists but the all came up short, leaving me with a shrug of the shoulders and dismissal clearly set in their eyes. It came down to just her and me, over and over, time and time again. Finally, one day I decided to reason with her.
“Pain. You are exquisite in your way and I know you want to be heard; to be known. You and I are fighting for space in the same body and it is causing so much torment. Why don’t we compromise and find a way to exist here together?”
She thought about my words, paused her aching, vibrating hum, and I thought I felt a small smile touch the corners of her lips. She was willing to try.
I reached inside myself and felt around my soul until I knew, exactly, the space it took. I found that I could shift a little to my right and when I did I felt her slip out of my spine and into the space I had made for her. The space grows and shrinks as my lungs expand but she is careful not to put too much pressure there; keeping a wide open space for my lungs and heart and when I can, I pull myself up tall and tight to try to allow her the same courtesy.
We are both still learning how to tessellate into the same body but so far, it’s working. I breathe in and I can feel her; I breathe out and I can feel her but she never overwhelms me and tries to fill every inch of space inside me anymore.
I have tried to make friends with exhaustion in the same way but pain and exhaustion seem to feed each other and then grow out of control. Exhaustion isn’t inside me, but all around me, dragging on the ground as it clings to my ankles, making me stumble and fall.
“Could you not just walk beside me?” I asked it one day, but it didn’t have the energy to answer.