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And so she listened…

Weird, how a week or two ago I was filled to the brim and overflowing with stress and anxiety and this week?  Total turnaround.

If you didn’t read the posts and wish to spare yourself, I wrote three posts; one about how stressful my workplace is and the bosses that make it all the more difficult; one about my son and his disabilities – looking forward to the future and having his abilities retested and so much raw reality hitting us all at once; and finally, there was a post about family, my general health and the stress connected there.

A while back, the bosses were eating me alive on a daily basis.  I had many days that I ended up in tears in my office, scrambling to get everything done.  I worked many free hours, and was ultra exhausted, trying to keep up.  Dayne had some very late nights at work so I was stuck being the only caregiver for Colt and that made it all so much harder.  I used the time to clean though, and wow did I ever get this house clean.  Last week I ended up being the on working late and Dayne picked up nothing at all so it’s all still sitting here waiting for me, but my back is hurting so much today I don’t think I’ll bother.  Small burst seem to work best.

Anyway, the bosses.  Boss number one, the aggressive one, lost a close family member at the end of last week.  Not only did I take over everything I could for her, the support team and I managed to attend most of the meetings, rather than cancel.  It was hard and I had a lot of my own job to do, but in the end, it all (mostly) got done and she thanked me so sincerely I nearly fell over.  One of the other coordinators and I went to the viewing on Friday together, through the day so it would no be so busy, and the hug this boss gave me was so real.  She held onto me when I tried to pull back….that kind of hug.  She whispered in my ear a thanks for keeping things okay at work and for letting her take care of life without worrying about the rest.  This is extremely unheard of with this woman..she is the Queen of Micromanaging and spends half her time checking over every task everyone else does just to be sure sure sure it’s all as she’d like it to be.  I got over that years ago, feeling untrustworthy and like she was hunting for mistakes, but she let go of everything and handed it over to the three of us, my colleague, my other boss and me to take care of.  Mind you, when she comes back on Tues there might be hell to pay but I was there at the right time and to me, that’s what I’m proud of.

This department that reports to her had a conference  last Wednesday that went off really well.  The staff loved it and even the catering was great.  My boss got a call on her personal cell mid way through the event to be told about her family member entering the ICU and she left the conference, letting my colleague and I run the show until it was over.  The one thing she did before she left was awarded the “Staff Recognition” awards we hand out each year.  They nominate their colleagues and we usually have one winner and two nominations that had enough votes to be considered ‘runner-up’.  First runner up…as expected; a staff member who has had some amazing achievements over the last year; becoming an associate professor at the medical school, heading a few very good studies and authoring several papers.  Second runner up was being announced and the boss was doing her little slide show thing, highlighting the great things done by this person, when I heard something about Excel and HR stuff….welcoming to new staff, a dependable, knowledgeable and talented person who went way above and beyond to ensure the program was run like a well oiled machine….and then she called MY name.  I was in the middle of jamming a nanimo bar into my face, camera ready to take a photo of the winner (I was the photographer for the event) and I barely knew what to do.  The place erupted with cheers and applause, like I’d just been nominated for an Emmy and I gratefully accepted my certificate that was delivered with a GIANT hug from the boss.  I later discovered that she had pushed my nomination up so I would win.  **here come the floods of empathy**  It was the next day her family member passed and then all of the previous info happened so, for now, I feel very lucky to work with the team I have and I feel deeply appreciative that the boss went out of her way to make sure I knew I was respected…even by her.

There was another entry, some time ago, about the second boss, the passive aggressive one, who came into my office mid-morning and tore me a new one after she got bitch slapped by boss number one.  She took every drop of frustration out on me, reducing me to sobbing tears, trying to calm down and remind her of how much work I had been trying to keep up with.  It was all over an unscheduled meeting, by the way….and not an urgent one in the least.  She did apologize…twice that day and then we met to discuss how to work better as a team.  She’s been pretty understanding since then and delivered a flower with a card the following week thanking me for all I do for her.  She wrote that she realized how she sometimes forgot how much I do for her on a daily basis and wanted me to know I was appreciated and she was very thankful to have me supporting her in any way possible.   It mended fences.  Nothing else has changed in my workload, aside from making it less possible to accomplish, but the gestures were appreciated very much.

So.  Work is okay again.  For now.  I have no expectation that things will go perfectly but the fact that they both went out of their way to make me feel appreciated (whether it was a plea to not turn them over the HR or otherwise) helped greatly.

The best part of last week, even though I was working nonstop for up to 12 hours a day, was that everyone in the department of staff who pretty much hate boss number one, all cared enough when she suffered a family loss.  It’s been said over and over again … she’s a crappy boss, but still a pretty good person.  We ended up collecting over 500$ for her – some went to a gorgeous flower arrangement for the viewing and funeral, filled with flowers from the country the family originated from.  The  support team and I went in on a gift certificate to a lovely nursery so she could pick out and plant a tree or flowers in her garden in memory of her loved one.  The rest has been transferred to a pre-loaded VISA card so she and her family can donate to whatever charity they wish, in whatever denomination.  There are five cards I’m collecting on Monday filled, inside and back, with messages from her staff.  She’ll feel loved….that one is for sure.  Many, many people went to the viewings and it felt like family; in fact, the flowers we sent had a card attached that said:  With love from your (Department name) family.

Just that moment of watching so many people drop their grudges to reach out to a fellow human in need melted me.  I’m so proud of the team….she treats a lot of them rather poorly in the workplace but each of them recognized the pain of losing a loved one and wanted to be a part of the healing we were trying to provide her.

We’re all the same after all.  Under the walls we use to cover our fears and the behaviours we adopt to do the same, we still all love and with love comes loss.  When people rally together to support one soul who has lost another….it’s pretty magical.

Update on Colt coming up next…..


Okay World, enough please..and thanks

Where shall I start?

Well, first, I’ve just arrived home after throwing my hands in the air and leaving work 30 minutes early after a terribly unproductive meeting with one boss who couldn’t get out of the room fast enough, after having spent an entire day in meetings for them (FOR them, not with them) and then got back to a smiley bitchy boss who, oh so kindly, told me that everything in last fiscal year’s info on workload measurement was fucked.  This is a point of contention between me and my bosses.  I am tasked with ensuring the staff are accurately capturing their workload which is reported to the Ministry of Health (who allocates our funding in this socialized healthcare system we hold so dear in Canada – and SHOULD, mind you, in my humble opinion).  I accept this willingly and I’m very, very careful when I audit to ensure we’re accurately reflecting the right numbers so that we don’t suddenly get our funding decreased.  I happen to like a great deal of my coworkers and really have no desire to eliminate their job because of an entry error.  Now, one would think it would be their accountability to ensure they are entering their numbers correctly but that’s an argument with one boss and a bitter point with the other.  They like ME being the accountable one.  Okay….I’m alright with that.  I really am.  It’s a part of my role and it has to be done by someone so I really, honestly, truly don’t mind spending three days slaving over the numbers to make sure we’re not missing anyone or counting things twice thanks to some student or new staff member….it’s all good.  But here’s the catch:  I have way too much to do in the rest of my job to get even half of it done on time and I have to drop everything to audit once a month.  Logically, the bitchy boss tells me this has a simple solution…..just don’t do so much work for the second boss and audit twice a month.  It sounds great in theory, until applied to boss number two (who actually does a lot of her own stuff, knowing the venom of number one).

Stopping.  Breathing.  Focusing.

The point here, is that it’s a shit-ton of auditing and I can barely squeak out a freaking bathroom break in my day, let alone a full half month audit.  I go in early, I sit down at my desk, I work like a fiend, occasionally eating or drinking something one of my awesome coworkers brings me out of fear that I’ll die of starvation in my glass cage of an office (okay, a bit dramatic.  I do bring food and have the ability to make tea so I’m not totally their prisoner) and then I look up and I’ve missed my lunch and it’s suddenly time to go home.  Actually, it’s almost always 30 minutes after it’s time to go home.  I only leave because I have to pick up Colt….seriously.  If I didn’t have that to do, I’d likely be there until the next day….every day.

I’ve had so many meetings about this in my three years there it’s sickening.  They KNOW i’m overloaded.  They admit it.  They tell the staff not to talk to me because I’m too busy to even say hello (yes, seriously, that is a standing agenda item on one of the staff meetings).  The two bosses HATE everything I do for the other so it’s a bit of a game between who I tell what and Heaven help me if I happen to get dragged into a project for one and then don’t have the time to listen to the other one complain about their day while I’m trying like mad to get payroll in, audits done and my ten page to do list started. I have 300 unopened email in my inbox.  Of those, I have something to do with about 90% of them (add this to that list or move this to that folder or change this to that schedule or budget this to that cost centre etc etc etc).  Every day at least ten people say to me:

“Did you get that email I sent you?”

I smile.  I answer.  “Probably, yes, I’m sure it’s somewhere in there.”  and just hope they go away.

Everyone understands.  The staff are amazing….they constantly rally behind me and try to make a difference but the end issue is that my bosses aren’t really just assholes who want to take advantage of me, they have no funding allocation to help me.  I know this because I do the fucking books too.

So back to today – The one boss came to me and informed me, smiling but not really, that ALL of her *particular stat I shouldn’t mention for confidentially* are WRONG for the last fiscal year.  Funny thing that.  The stat she’s talking about is audited monthly by my predecessor who only came back as a casual after retiring to help me out because she felt so bad about leaving me with that mess of a job.  I don’t know what the hell is happening, but I know it’s not her.  This puts me in a bad spot because I have to tell the bosses that she is the one doing the audits.  I don’t want them blaming her because ultimately it’s my responsibility to ensure it’s all done correctly.  So….I get to have a meeting with them so we can sit down, go over the audits (for the tenth time) and identify (for the tenth time) which ones absolutely must be done before the month closes so it doesn’t affect our budget.  I’ll do it (for the tenth time) and tell them (for the tenth time) that the reason I can’t get them done along with the other 11  general and 200 staff audits along with the rest of my role for the two of them.  And, we hit deadlock again…no funding.  No help.  No solution.  I know it’s not them, but there is definitely an element in there that is me not fixing this problem.  I don’t know what else to do but tell them, again, that I can’t do what they are asking of me and show them again the number of free hours I put in, trying hard to do what I can.

The mental health part of me that malfunctions here is that I feel like a failure when they are pissed off….and they are always pissed off.  I can’t seem to get them to communicate and when I do manage to get them on the same page, they just start fighting against each other.  I went from one, simple payroll system to two terribly divided systems with multiple issues and access points that is confusing everyone and they both insist that it is intended to HELP me somehow and get the timekeeping off my over full plate.  Now, not only do I have a bunch of payroll to enter, I also have a half dozen timekeepers messing up everyone’s pay, asking me questions ten times a day (by email, which I can’t get to) and a whole bunch of irritated staff who feel like they’re being micro-managed.  It’s chaos betwen those two.  They don’t even have anything to do with each other aside from having to share me as an assistant so it comes as no surprise….just a lot more work for yours truly.  I’m not even sure how I’m managing to get anything done, at this point.

And…..that’s just work.  The rest of my  life is still ongoing and I can’t quite find any solace there either.  (to be continued next post…..)

The little things

This cutie sang his song all through the rain showers today.  I could hear him from inside the house (the windows are open because it’s lovely out, despite the rain, and we want to smell that turkey cooking outside on Dayne’s smoker.  The entire neighbourhood smells like my dinner and it’s such a kick to hear them walk by saying “Oh that smells sooooo good!”  🙂


I feel a little weird, smelling a delicious turkey cooking while enjoying another of it’s species singing away in the trees, but….life right?


I’m so glad I don’t have to go to work tomorrow.  Another day will be spent around the house, relaxing and maybe a run out somewhere pretty for more photos.  The camera is taking away the stress from work…..I become absolutely present in that moment before the shutter snaps; nothing matters but the beauty in front of me for a few seconds.  It’s important to me and was badly needed.  I spent one day in tears in my office last week but it was more a matter of one boss taking a swipe at the other one, where upon the weaker of the two sprinted to my office to take it out on me.  She had me sobbing by the end.  She’s the type who will say stupid things that she already knows the answer to so that you feel like you’ve done something wrong.  She told me she had NO IDEA what was keeping me so busy at work since she was not giving me much in the way of additional tasks while spoiled/snotty number two was on vacation for a couple of weeks.

“You can’t honestly stand here and look me in the eye and pretend you have no idea how much work comes through this office?”  I tried her a bit.  Pushed back.

Her arguments were crap and were easily dispelled by the dozens of meetings we’ve had on the topic of my job (just the running of the two departments, without the ‘additional tasks on top’) being far, far more than what can be accomplished in a 40 hour work week.  But, even though I stood my ground and allowed her to vent her frustrations all over my office, she eventually got to me and broke down, sobbing.  In the end, which didn’t take long to come after I easily showed her exactly what work I had accomplished in the previous 10 days (more than seems possible, I assure you) and then she apologized, told me that was not the way she had intended to handle the situation and started backing out of my office.

“If it’s any consolation, she comes at me like that at least once a week.”  I said, making damn sure she knew I knew what was going on.

“No, actually, that only makes me feel worse.”  was her reply as she closed my door.

I collected myself and returned to my endless list of tasks after completely covering the little window in my door that people peek through to see my face.  They could all see me from the floor to ceiling windows behind me, but it’s the door window that gets the most peek ins.  I locked my door and plastered pink paper requesting privacy as I was very busy.  She came by, knocked, then went to get her keys after I didn’t answer.  She came in to apologize again, several times; now in tears herself.  I barely looked at her aside to say “Okay, thank you.” and kept working.

I know the other boss is hell on wheels when she’s pissed about something, but the fact that boss number one can’t even stand up to her and had to come ruin my day over getting her ass whipped by the taskmaster just shows bad leadership, judgement and emotional intelligence.  Mind you, my bawling episode wasn’t exactly professional but the shit she was accusing me of!  It was ridiculous.

The worst part was what the entire thing was over:  a meeting I didn’t book.  A fucking meeting.  No word about the hundreds of things I DID get done….just one meeting that didn’t get booked.  The other boss ended up doing it (taking all of 60 seconds from her day) and was mad about it.  Enough so to attack the other one who MUST be who is keeping me so busy.   ???  We’ve been over this ground so many times.  I wish I could retire.  Only what?  15 years to go?  *Sigh*

Anyway.  Back to the present and the delicious smells of turkey, stuffing, gravy, baked potatoes, steamed brussle sprouts and roasted rosemary carrots.   It’s a heck of a lot nicer in here than rolling those thoughts around my brain.

Here’s another few lovely photos from one of my recent photo excursions:

You know…

I don’t get this. I have been fine, mostly, with the ptsd issues for years now. I mean, there are the things I think I’ll always carry with me: the hypervigilance, the nightmares (narcolepsy plays an accompanying role there too) and the kick-in-the-gutt panic reaction to either vanish into thin air or burst into flight like a startled bird when someone or something reminds my deepest memories of something dangerous that may or may not be a threat in the moment.  I still startle easily, even in my  endlessly busy office, even thought there is a constant stream of people, phone calls, email messages, knocks at my door and now, most irritating, an in-house instant message system to keep in constant touch with colleagues no matter where  you are.  **Good news staff, it even sends notifications to your phone if you happen to be sitting on the toilet so you’ll never miss a moment!**  It is actually kind of nice to be able to pop off a message to someone I like but can never find a moment to say hello to but the day my bosses discovered it turned the entire thing in more of a servant call bell.  Okay, maybe not quite that dramatic but still….annoying.  Point was, now I have another thing to make me jump….the alert sound when a message (or email, voicemail or IM) comes in is intentionally loud to be heard over the constant activity of a busy hospital, scares the living crap out of me.  Nothing, however, beats the times patients (or staff!!) decided to bang on my windowed office, sometimes with a cane or other gait aide, on the window behind me.  I think my butt leaves the chair by at least half a foot when that happens.

*Bing – email*
*Ding ding ding – IM*
*Bing – email*
*Riiiiiiing – phone Bing – email Bing – email*
*Ding ding ding – IM*

*Door opens – Grainne, can you help me with (one of a fucking gazillion things no one seems to ever be able to remember how to do themselves INCLUDING changing pager batteries or using the photocopier- I shit you not.  The worst part?  There are TWO secretaries sitting directly beside the photocopier…. who also ask me how to use it)

I deflect the request or answer, depending on the moment.  When I look back I have ten more email, have missed three calls and have a dozen IM’s when suddenly….

*BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM* on my glass walled office – from behind me.

I LEAP into a standing position (helps wake me up at least, when the narcolepsy is calling me to sleep, and turn to find a grizzled old man, angrily waving his cane at me because he’s trying to check in for his appointment and no one is at the front desk.  (for like, eight seconds because they are helping someone else).

I help them, of course, because I’m a nice person and hate to see someone have to wait for five fucking minutes when they want something NOW and, just to add injury to insult, I have to ask if they’ve had their flu shot this year.  They answer honestly the first time (they catch on fast, these patients) and, if not, have to force them to wear a surgical mask in the department.  This never…ever….ever….EVER goes well.  You should hear the things I get hurled at me.

“Oh I can’t wear those because I can’t breathe through them.”

Riiiiight.  Yes, I follow.  We do like to asphyxiate our surgeons in the middle of complex surgery so I understand your issue.

“I’m allergic to them.”

You can’t be allergic to a mask.  I’m sorry.  It’s not possible.  It’s non latex, paper based, completely unscented, no dyes or chemicals, nothing but paper fibers for crying out loud.  But I just keep telling them that it’s not to protect others from THEM its to protect them from getting the flu from all us flu shot carriers who likely have the virus coursing through our veins but are not getting sick because we got our shots.

They pause.  Squint their eyes at me, quickly look the fact up on their smart phone, and put on the goddamned mask.  (usually only until they’re out of my line of sight).

I go back to my office to find I’ve missed a dozen calls, a million email and ten million messages from my bosses demanding to know why I’m not answering their calls or emails. Generally this is when I go hide in the locker room with a coffee and try to pretend I like my job.  (Okay, I really do like my job, I just dislike that I have to be five different employees at once and somehow my bosses are still always annoyed that I can’t get everything done.)

I had a meeting with one of them on Friday – the passive aggressive one, and it was to be 30 min.  “Just a few minutes, I swear Grainne, I know you’re swamped.  I just need to blah blah blah.”  aaand it started at 100 and ended at 345.  *sigh*  In truth, the last hour was mostly me scrolling passively aggressively through my mile long to do list, asking her how, exactly, she’d like me to prioritize things.

“Well, these ten things are top priority to me” she’d say.

Okay…makes sense.  Now, tell me how to get that done plus payroll for over 100 staff and patient by patient audit of all clinical patient stats entered by each of the 120 clinicians in the last month, all in the next four working days.  She just looked at me because there is no answer.  She was quite kind, really, and acknowledged that we keep having these same meetings where we discuss my workload with the other boss and strategize on how we can make things accomplishable, let alone reasonable, and we come up with things that never get put into action and then I drown in work until the next meeting.

“If there was one wish I could grant you Grainne….anything that would make this better, what would it be?”  she asked, kindly.

I couldn’t come up with an answer.  “I’m not sure there is one thing.  I just hate struggling and working so hard every day, putting in free OT, not seeing my family and now I don’t even get to see the staff because I’m closing and locking my office every day, madly working away with no breaks, no company and no interaction other than to tell you and other boss ‘no,  I didn’t get to that yet’ twenty times a day and to help people out the fastest way possible without any conversation or meaningful contact”

She openly recognized it was not okay for me to be trapped in there, socially isolated.  She realized I’d not gone to any of the parties, lunches, gift exchanges.  She knew I’d been in my glass bubble working away like a trained animal who was still being poorly treated and denied food and water for not being fast enough, good enough.  I mean, people walk by my office and look in, giving me sad, sympathetic eyes all the time and they’ve started bringing me coffee and cookies as if sneaking food into a prisoner.  In the end, you know what she said?

“Grainne, I know this isn’t right.  I’m sorry….I don’t know how to fix it.  All I can say is, Chin up, as little as that helps….” and she left me to use my last 15 min which turned into 45 min of free overtime to finish my day.

But that just set the mood.  That night, on my way home…the way I take every day to and from work, I got to a back road that takes me into my town and was stopped by an officer for what I assumed was a sobriety check.  It was actually the beginning of a road block though, because there had been a fatal accident just down the road.  There is a bridge on that road that is terrifying in the best of road conditions; blind turns both sides, narrow and with cross intersections appearing out of nowhere on the north side…..many people have crashed there.  This spring, a 21-year-old kid was driving his mom’s BMW along in the morning, doing just over the speed limit (which is 90 kmph out there on county roads) and for unknown reasons, he lost control of the car just before the bridge, veered off to the side and threw himself over the railing, crashing down into the train tracks below upside down, killing him instantly.  It was so sad….so sad.  Every time I’ve crossed that bridge since I think of him and wish him and his family peace.  But, back to the road block this past week – I was detoured around an even scarier route covered in ice right next to the river and could see many rescue vehicles across the fields.  I hoped people were okay, whatever had happened, and then, later that night heard there was an accident on the bridge where one of the two vehicles had slid on the ice, turned his car sideways and t-boned himself on the driver side, directly into an oncoming minivan.  The driver was 18….died instantly at the scene (as they were both travelling at around 80 kmph and he got crushed by the front end of the van).  They had to use the Jaws of Life to pry his mangled body from the wreck and the driver of the van, alive but injured, was left with a front row view of the carnage…which confused me since she was clearly alive and he was clearly dead….I guess they had to get him out first before they could find a way to get her out.  She was in her early 40’s…my age…driving along the route I take every day and usually would have been exactly where she was when I leave work on time.  I’d been delayed by a few minutes that day, thankfully.

So yes, sad story….so close to Christmas a family has lost their barely adult son and it is heartbreaking to thing of how their holiday will now be attached to his death for the rest of their lives.

The next day, at work, I got a text from a friend saying she’d not be in that day.  She had been in an accident and was on bed rest for two weeks while she healed.  I really care for this one and asked her if she was okay….turned out she was the driver of the minivan.  I called her immediately and she sobbed into my ear for 20 minutes, trying to explain how her husband thought she had lost her mind and how everyone was trying to check her into the psych ward for PTSD.  Then she told me what she could not stop seeing play out in her mind over and over and over.  The kid who had died had been a friend of her son of the same age, further complicating the guilt and trauma.  I soothed her, calmed her, told her she was okay.  I told her I had been in a bad wreck years ago and came away with ptsd from it (neglecting to tell the entire rest of the story which is the real thing I struggled with all those years – but that wreck was still fucking terrifying and I remember every single sensation to this day including the sound of the metal ripping from the roof as the rescue crew tried to get me and my friends out of our obliterated vehicle).

So I’ve been trying to be a good friend….allowing her the room to talk to me when she needs to and not prodding her to go to get help or asking how she is every five minutes. She’s got a good family around her but they are offering terrible advice so I’m trying to offer alternate options, learned from years of CBT and other personal battles won.  Of course, I’ve not told her any details of my car accident….that certainly won’t help her heal, I know, but it seems to have reactivated a panic centre in my brain I thought I’d been able to settle years ago.  The crash was a LONG time ago…I was a teen!  We all lived and went on with life…everything worked out as well as it could have, but the failure issues at work along with the trauma my friend is living through and me trying to  help, plus other personal issues at the moment have sent me spinning.

Yesterday, Dayne, Colt and I went christmas shopping.  It was icy out.  By the time we got home I was barely able to stifle a scream every time someone stopped quickly in front of us. Dayne and Colt understood, took turns hugging me when we got home.  Colt was the sweetest….arms around me,

“Shh shh shh mom…it’s only.  I know exactly how you feel.  Sometimes it gets so big inside you just have to let it come out of your eyes as tears.”

He’s twelve guys.  He’s autistic… detached from most empathy and feeling, and this is what he told he as he hugged me and rubbed my back.  Dayne was next in line, holding me tight, letting me cry without even understanding why, really.  I had a hot bath, took a sleep med and crashed out to have nightmares plague me all night, waking screaming as my brain thought I was about to die over and over.  It’s 130 and I still can’t shake it.

It’s just hard sometimes, right?  I know this.  I’m lucky….I have beat back so many of my demons and have so much better a quality of life than I used to have.  I rarely panic, rarely fall into depression. I have the arthritic pain totally under control….that bitch is mine now and I don’t let it stop me ever.  I can feel it now, all through my spine, my head is aching, jaw and face pulsing, shoulders, knees, arms and chest aching that deep bone ache.  Everything physical hurts and I don’t mind.  I’m sleep and tired and struggling to stay awake even though I just took my meds to wake me up.  The narcolepsy isn’t sharing control with me yet but I’ll get there.   It’s the internal stuff that’s just swirled out of control….out of nowhere.

Shit. I have to stop typing or I’ll never stop.  If you read this far, thanks.  I don’t have anywhere else to put this stuff.  Going to drag myself into a shower.  See if I can unscramble the thoughts some more.




Stress overload today.  You would not believe how long I’ve been trying to post something to this blog and have been entirely unsuccessful.  I can’t even get an entire email out to staff without being interrupted a dozen times and all I have managed to write for myself, to get my head clear and feel like I do more than just work like a dog all day and then pass out to run through nightmares all night, is get a few lines written and then I end up drafting/deleting it.  I can barely manage a full thought… fact; THIS is the farthest I’ve managed to get in a while.  (So, if nothing else, I’m posting this as it is.)  I’ve closed and locked my door and my phone is forwarded directly to voice mail so, I’ll type like the wind and see what I get out.

Work is impossible right now, as I’ve likely made clear above.  The bosses vacillate between being pissed off that something didn’t get done and understanding that what I’m being asked to do is an impossibly unless I find a way to operate in three separate realities at once.  They get it….I mean, I’m doing my job, the job of a financial officer, a pay clerk, a scheduling clear, an HR consultant, a union coordinator and a statistical analysis.  Did I mention that I actually only work half-time for each of them?  A total of 20 (ish) hours per week, for each department?  Any one of those roles above could take up those 20 hours on their own…..all together and then doubled by department???  It’s not happening.  The biggest issue with this is probably me….I want to do it all and I want to do it all well.  I really want to manage all of this somehow but no matter how I blend it and revise my processes, it’s quite obvious that it’s an exercise in futility.  That it makes me feel like I’m about to have a stroke, burst into tears, vomit all over my desk and kick myself square in the confidence for being a ‘failure’ is all mine to own….however….my passive aggressive and full-on-in-your-face aggressive bosses are not helping the matter.  One likes to try to make sure I know she is better educated than I am and the other quietly seethes and tells me how disappointed she is when things don’t get done.  I work over time quite a bit and have forced them to pay me but there is no money in the budget for that (I know, I reconcile and track it monthly) so they compromised and allow me to build up 15 hours of ‘flex’ time, paid at regular time, which I can never seem to take because one day off from this chaos can put me so far behind again it’s ridiculous.

The other frustrating side to this is that there are people who do some of my job here over at the other campus.  They are not admin officers (and get paid a bit less than I do because of it) so all the HR and budget stuff is mine across the board *sigh*, but they do have some similarities in role.  The glaring differences are hard to swallow.

Here – We have two registration clerks who handle all the patient booking and we easily have 60-100 patients coming through per day.

There – They have the two secretaries, same hour allocation as here, and they have maybe 10 patients per day between the two of them.

Here – It’s absolute chaos here with over 150 staff to manage who all have office and treatment space located in the department where my office is.

There – It’s a freaking ghost town and the staffing levels are less than half.  They also do not congregate at that site but have office/treatment space on the unit they work for, so there is NO ONE around the two secretaries aside for one or two clinicians who see the few patients that come in each day.

Here – My phone rings non-stop and the registration desk is constantly in motion.  When the clerks step away for a bathroom break, patients start coming to me and I end up stuck there, helping them get to where they need to go.

There – No one calls.  Ever.  One of the two secretaries tells me that the other doesn’t even do the minimal tasks she is assigned and spends the entire day texting on her phone.  The other secretary, the phone texter, tells me that her counterpart spends her entire day chatting with her mother on the phone.

***I can’t even get a lunch in.  I work before my hours, after my hours and can never take flex time back.  When my bank is at 15 hours, I start working for free.  I discuss this with the bosses and they tell me….get ready for this….the other site is TOO BUSY to add tasks onto the secretaries over there.

…. (I almost asked them if they were joking when they said it).

So, I know that’s a load of crap but I also realize that it would be in the secretaries best interest to make their jobs seem busy so they don’t have to take on any more work (any at all, to be more accurate).  I sucked it up like a big-girl and just did my work as best I could and tried to draw some satisfaction from that rather than focus on how unfair the workload split actually is.  Then, one of the two over at the other site got a new job and my boss had to hire a replacement.  For some reason I cannot fathom, she hired a woman who, although quite lovely in personality, has the skill-set of a toddler in her role.  She does not understand any of the software, processes at the hospital, phone system, paging system or payroll.  She has to use the software, processes, paging system, and enter payroll  so…..kind of not a great start.  That can all be learned though, so, I absolutely thought nothing of it.  Then she was asked to do me a favour and run a Committee meeting when I was drowning and missing all my deadlines one week.  She didn’t have to do anything aside from record notes for the minutes and send them to one of my bosses.  She did…..but the notes were so useless, we couldn’t even understand them.  First, she didn’t capture any detail at all…not even enough interpret what the group was talking about.  Second, she has a hard time with english (she’s a secretary whose job includes booking patients and using the phone!) and, apparently, cannot grasp the written any better than the spoken.  She spelled everything wrong, mostly phonetically; i.e. Lori was spelled Lawrie, and she didn’t use any punctuation at all.  She capitalized random letters and sentences she did manage to form were in broken english and the grammar was….well, there was none, let’s put it that way.  She also has no idea which tense to use…ever.  “Bob say meeting Was cancel and Every body emailing to said to processed to department”  ……is an actual quote from the minutes (names changed, of course).

The boss who was on the receiving end of these minutes is the aggressive-aggressive one and this secretary knows how she is.  She didn’t even spell check it….didn’t ask someone to proof read it….didn’t even send it to the passive-aggressive boss first to see if she could double check the notes…nothing.  I wondered aloud why she didn’t just write it in Spanish (her native tongue) and then run it through Google Translate before submitting it.  That made me wonder if she even understood half of what she was hearing.  Maybe she just grabbed random words from the conversation and that was the best she could manage.

Right.  All fine though!  Not everyone can record minutes and if you’ve never done it, it can be challenging to keep up.  That’s okay.  That’s fine.  Except for the fact that she’s in a role where this skill is a requirement!  I had to take a test to prove my ability before I was hired here, into a lower paying, lower ranking job after my old job was terminated and I was put on layoff notice.  I ended up with a decent salary because my scores were very high…..I’m over qualified for this role, by far, but I was just happy keeping the work, pension and benefits so I sucked it up.  This woman makes 4$/h less than I do.

Four.  Dollars.  Less.   That’s what I can’t swallow.  The difference in workload …. we’re not even on the same planet there….and all of that is only worth FOUR dollars an hour?

I am suddenly quick sick of this shit.  It’s ruined my motivation entirely and I get angry now, at myself, when I get all stressed out about being behind.

(Exhales…..)  Wow…that was a lot of info I managed!  I got interrupted a dozen times but just refused to stop this until I was done.  And look at that….I DO feel better and more clear headed.  Just needed to remind myself that I have absolutely nothing to feel guilty for around here.  Time for another meeting with the bosses I think.  Will try to plan my course of action here so I stay in this level head space.  For now, however, I have two weeks’ worth of work to do in four days and it’s not the kind that can be delayed or put off so……back to it.  For now.

Wednesday Mini-Meltdown

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.

Ah.  Workplaces.

Now.  Onto to pay a hundred people so they don’t all turn on me when their mortgage payments come due.

My life on a Saturday in March

Okay, maybe it’s just me.  Maybe there’s some logic here I’m just not seeing, regardless of my most diligent efforts to make this work.  Yesterday was a busy day at work, as always.  I worked with my head down, completing task, task, task, task; sending answer after answer that always seemed to generate more work but I didn’t even pause to breathe, just kept working at top speed for a solid six hours.  The meeting that had been rescheduled for one day after I fell apart from lack of time to do anything and the completely blind reaction from one of my bosses who was simply annoyed that I had not completed her work yet, was on at 2 and right on the dime, she showed up at my office door, notebook in hand.  We had our stupid, useless meeting on her needless project, but, and this is what boggles my mind every time, the 30 minute meeting that SHE scheduled and selected the time for, was not over for 2 hours.  She went from 2 until 4 when I am to go home.  ….  I don’t even know how to react to that.  How does that work now???  She’s FURIOUS with me for not being able to get things done, right?  We have endless discussion about my workload which, on all sides, is agreed to be far too great for a single person to do.  I don’t mean beyond my skill level either, I mean, I’m a freaking admin, not a brain surgeon….I went to school for software and I can work freaking magic with it, but the sheer amount of work is what is in question.  I cannot more clearly lay it out for them….I have spreadsheets !!  Big, long ones that are filled with detailed information on everything I have to do and exactly how much time it takes to do it…down to the minute!  I’m serious, I’ve broken it down to that level for them so they can stop wondering if its inefficiency or some weird process error I’m not realizing.  I’ve asked them to show me how to more efficiently enter 110 people’s payroll every two weeks, for example.  (FYI there is a full time role for that.  A 37.5 hour per week job here where all you do is time keep.  It’s called a staffing clerk and they only make $10/h less than I do and that is ALL they do.  The last job I had in staffing had 53 people to keep time for.)  So, obviously, they can’t tell me that I’m doing it wrong when I manage it, somehow, in three days over two weeks.  It goes on and on like that.  I type at over 130 wpm (average is 38-40).  I can type faster than people talk and am quite fine taking direct dictation.  I used to do that for physicians I worked for, right at my office door between patients. No lack of efficiency there either.  In fact, there is very little that I can’t do here better than anyone else could.  My bosses don’t understand their own budgets or accounts and I am forever schooling them in accruals and benefit hours.  They literally have nothing to complain about but the fact that I cannot do 70 hours’ worth of work in 37.5.  ….and then she takes up another hour and a half of my time.  Not to mention the hours spent watching her run a meeting earlier this week.

How does that work?!  How can she be all pissy with me and yet waste the fuck out of my day….and wait till you hear what it was about…this 90 minute episode.

I’m building them a website, this one department, and it’s looking really good too.  I have been forever picking at files on our network drive and having them reviewed by whatever group needs to review them to have it all up to date – processes, procedures, guidelines, medical directives….you name it.  Over the last year I’ve assembled enough to actually put content on my website. All of my files are neatly stored away in folders and sub-folders, all of which are linked directly to the webpage.  On Monday, when they first wanted to meet but ended up forcing me to take a day off after a large amount of overtime was accrued and not paid to me and someone at HR noticed, they went through my files, my boss and her second in command.  They decided I had some of the wrong versions there, which I may well have done, as some were pending and were acting as placeholders until the new versions were ready.  So what did they do?  The deleted them.  They fucking DELETED them.  The best part?  All of them were in duplicate, one word file, one adobe PDF (for the website).  Not only did they delete the adobe copy, breaking all my links and royally fucking things up on the website, but they trashed my word (original) copies too.  Now, the only way to recreate them is for me to TYPE THEM ALL AGAIN.  I didn’t have to fucking do that in the first place, you see, because they were all in existence, just not updated.  Now I have to go through, file by file, remove everything I’ve put up and replace it with the new files that I have to create.  Again.  A year of work, gone.

Had they though to mention this to me on ohhhh, Tuesday, say, I could have gone to IT and had the cache pulled or asked for access to the network back up to find my deleted files, but no.  The network dumps the back up every three days (we’re a huge hospital and use a lot of space on the servers) so, all gone.  I just closed my eyes and sat there….trying not to respond.

“I’m really sorry Grainne.” Said the boss in a small voice, her accomplice staring directly at the floor in front of her, unwilling to take part in the blame.

“Right.  Okay then, I guess I’ll start again.”

So we spent the next hour and a half picking through files, one by one and then it was time to go home.  I had put off the other boss (the mean, angry one) twice that day and she happened to walk by ten times in this two hours, glaring daggers into my office windows.  So, next week will be fun.

Now I’m here on Saturday and it’s 11:00.  I’m barely awake and I’m going to try to answer some of the 240 email waiting for me when no one  is here to answer back.  Monday is going to be a treat!


So yeah.  Taking a swing by the ol’ job posting board me thinks.   Damnit.  So much for emotional stability and all these great people who fill all the holes in my head and heart.

Oh, and then, just for a treat, Dayne had at me last night about the fact that this job is taking up all my energy and time.  Nothing left for him and Colt by the time I come home, you see.  Nothing at all.  He’s apparently feeling neglected and forgetting that every single bit I have left after clinging to the job that supports our family, pays all my medical needs and prescriptions, and is our only chance for retirement through my pension, I give to listening to him bitch about his job and how much he hates it.  Well, that and raising Colt and dealing with all of his needs and schooling and all the bullshit that comes with that piece.  I cram in cleaning the house and shopping for groceries somewhere between all that, usually while counseling Dayne and/or Colt on some issue, and then when my brain shuts my body off I don’t have a choice any more.  I go until I literally pass out on my feet.  I do nothing for me.  I don’t play video games, I don’t watch movies, I don’t write, listen to or play music,  I don’t go anywhere, ever, with anyone.  I don’t have any friends or any family aside from them so I don’t talk to or visit anyone.  I don’t email anyone, text anyone or do anything…I don’t have long, hot baths….I don’t do anything but work, clean, listen to them, love them, work and sleep.  Then he decided that it’s my job that’s making me so tired.


I can’t even explain the reaction that one tore out of me.  It wasn’t pretty.

Then he went for depression.

“You’re all depressed again and it’s making you sleep!!”

Why, the fuck, do people keep wanting me to believe that?  M used to say that all the time too, completely dismissing all the physical issues I have.  He told me, before I knew my spine was deteriorating faster than should be happening to a 90 year old and that I have no discs left in my cervical spine up to my brain stem, that all my pain was depression related too, M did.  I’m actually not depressed at all right now…and trust me, I know when I am.  For Dayne to tell me I’m just not realizing it is ludicrous.  I’ve been at this for over a decade, getting beyond it all and working through it and, quite frankly, the meds and the therapy help.  I’m able to cope while I struggle….and now I have a decent handle on the PTSD (maybe I’m in full on denial, but I really don’t think so).  The sleeping shit started a year ago…not ten years ago when I fell into a black hole I couldn’t get out of and wanted to die.  I mean, I guess I could be unable to stay awake and literally fall asleep in the middle of the day because I’m depressed but you’d think one of the specialists I keep seeing might cotton on to that at some point no?  Plus, I know depression can cause withdrawal and make you very, very tired, but can it make you sleep for 40 hours straight and still feel tired all the time?   Even when you don’t feel depressed…at all?  Some kind of hidden, walking depression that has no symptoms other than making you fucking sleep all the time?????

(Okay I’m getting all riled up.  No need for that).

So yeah.  That turned into a mess and I fell asleep at some point during it and woke up this morning in bed not knowing how I got there.  Then, I came here.  Oh joyous day.

Dayne is now all contrite and worried that I hate him, which I most certainly do not.  All this has come about, I think, because he’s just been offered a pretty decent job but the drawback is that most of his work will be on weekends and night shifts, making our life all the more difficult.  I’ll lose the very valued ability to rest when I get home and will have to single parent Colt while Dayne is at work.  The up side is that he’ll be home days so can take Colt to the sitter and deal with the school (which always turns out not so wonderful but fuck it…what harm can be done now, in grade seven?  All the relationships I build are burned anyway and it was their choice, not ours). So, if Colt needs someone through the day I won’t have to drop my impossible work to deal with it.  He feels guilty, not being there to support me and my needs, I know.  It comes out of him as anger or accusation…I know him well.   I love him too and know he’s worried now, hoping I forgive him.

We almost never fight these days….fifteen years is a long enough time to sort out those kinds of differences.  We can get pissed at each other, be furious, in fact, but by dinner time we’re over it because there’s no use carrying that sort of thing around.  We talk when we’re mad and then let it go.  This will be over by today too.  He told me five times on my way out the door that I’m the most important thing in his life but he didn’t need to….they are, the two of them, the only thing I need.

…I could use a bit less sleep, more energy and a shit load less pain but fuck it, I’ll take what I can get at this point.  As long as I have my little family with me, life will be good, not just okay.

Jesus.  You think I need a friend?  LOL!  This blog is my friend now, so thanks guys.  You’re exactly what I needed.  xxx