Conquering Fear/Anxiety – pt. 6

How anxious are you, right now, on a scale from one to ten? One being at peace and ten being, “Oh god, oh god, we’re all going to die!” Take a minute. Think about it. Really.

(This is, as evidenced by the title, part six in a series of posts I’m doing while reading a book titled the Complete Idiot’s Guide to Fear and Anxiety. I checked the book out from my local library, because I’ve been struggling with agoraphobia and panic attacks and generalized anxiety disorder for as long as I can remember. I’m moving forward in my life, but these things are hindering me and so I thought some self-help couldn’t hurt. The first part in the series is here: Conquering Fear/Anxiety – pt. 1. You don’t need to read the previous posts to still appreciate this one, but it may be helpful.)

My answer to the above question is about a three.

Mild anxiety . . . butterflies in my stomach; muscle tension, definitely nervous.

I would also consider this to be just about my base-line when I’m at home. There’s the nagging sensation that there is something I need to do, but haven’t. My jaw is tense, my back is stiff. I feel restless and yet mentally worn out. Still, I have the wherewithal to be grateful that I’m not higher on the scale. Especially since I go in to work tomorrow.

Level four is the level at which the book suggests you take action to prevent further escalation. At level four, you are experiencing marked anxiety and may feel “out of it,” have an increased heart rate, tense muscles, rapid breathing, and a worry that you’ll lose control. In other words, level four is not a happy place, but it’s still a manageable one.

It is me, in the car on the way to work. Or in Wal-Mart. Or studying for an exam.

The book suggests removing yourself from the situation that’s causing the anxiety, but I don’t think I agree with that as a tactic, because it seems like the road to agoraphobia. Surely facing the anxiety and coping with it is better than avoiding it? Another questionable suggestion, in my mind, is to do something repetitive. This does release serotonin, but seems like it could lead to the development of an OCD-like compulsion or ritualistic behavior that will also have negative effects in the long run.

I feel the other suggestions offered by the book are more useful and practical.

Talk to someone, get active, focus on your surroundings instead of your symptoms, do a puzzle that requires concentration, indulge in something pleasurable, visualize a calming scene, use positive self-talk,practice diaphragm breathing.

I do use some of those when I feel a panic attack starting or cresting.

At work, in the hospital, I offer to run an errand – such as getting a telemetry monitor or restocking a cart – in order to get moving and focus on something tangible. I also picture my significant other and use positive self-talk . . . when I can calm down enough to. It also helps me to talk with my patients, when I’m at work, because it shifts my focus to their problems rather than my own. On the other hand, charting is a welcome distraction and can absorb some of my restless within the routine nature of it.

The mind and the body are linked. As such, it’s not surprising that the physical and mental elements of a panic attack feed off each other. Recognizing that, the book suggests, can help to reduce or manage both elements during an attack. In that vein, the book provides lists of mental and physical “symptoms” that people experience during panic attacks, has you rate them in terms of their frequency or strength, and then brings your attention to their relationship.

My top five physical symptoms include the sensation of a lump in my throat, nausea/diarrhea, a feeling of detachment, heart palpitations, and tingling of the hands/feet. My top five mental symptoms/thoughts are I’m going to die, I don’t understand what’s happening to me, I’m going to have a stroke, something is really physically wrong with me, and I’m really scared.

I do see how the physical symptoms I experience as a result of my panic attacks (in addition to my general anxiety/agoraphobia) cause the thoughts I have. Feeling as though there’s a lump in my throat makes me fear dying – even thought I know from a logical standpoint that there’s nothing in my throat and that my breathing isn’t being hindered.

Of course, as noted in the book and as I’m sure most people who have suffered from panic attacks are already aware . . . sometimes nothing does prevent a full blown attack.

In those instances, the book also has some suggestions for shortening the duration of the attack and lessening the overall severity of it. Many of them reflect the above suggestions for preventing the attack from occurring, but one other struck me as interesting and a kind of novel idea. The book recommends resisting the urge to “fight” the symptoms.

It can feel unnatural, the book notes, but will generally lessen the attack’s duration, because you’re adopting a passive stance rather than an aggressive one. In a way, you intentionally lose the fight in order to end the attack.

Another exercise in this section of the book relates to the diagnosis of GAD – generalized anxiety disorder. Once I learned about agoraphobia and panic attacks, about a year ago, I dismissed the notion that I had GAD. But . . . in filling out this particular worksheet . . . I did score 21 out of 35 possible points. This indicates that I am at least chronically anxious. The question is then whether or not it is due to the agoraphobia and panic attacks or if it is an entity in its own right.

I was inclined towards continued dismissal, but then realized that I experienced all of the same things prior to what I consider the first panic attack and I attribute that first panic attack to my eventual development of agoraphobia.

So, maybe, I do still actually have GAD.

Also, disclaimer, I don’t think that self-diagnosing medical issues – be they physical or mental – is entirely advisable. I should, honestly, go get evaluated.

Helpfully, the book explains that anxiety prone people are likely that way due to a combination of nature and nurture. It explains that people who are genetically predisposed to anxiety may be more sensitive to loud noises, bright/flashing lights, textures. It goes on to note that people who are predisposed towards anxiety tend to see others as disapproving or indifferent and to worry about the safety of themselves/others more than average.

Technically, I’m not finished with this section, but this post is about as long as I’m ever comfortable making them. Instead of continuing on, I’m going to end this post here.

Not only due to the length of the post, but due to the fact that it’s approaching ten at night (which is my bedtime on work nights). Also, my SO wants to sit in my front of me so I can play with his hair and rub his shoulders.

A quote . . . to finish things out.

“It’s no use putting up your umbrella until it rains.” – Alice Caldwell Rice

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Tacos are Simpler

Conflict . . . a struggle between two opposing forces.

Or, the thing that drives the plot.

An individual life, much like an individual story, is built upon conflict and the reaction to it. Page turners are those books that build up the suspense surrounding a conflict. Most of us are familiar with the concept of “binge watching” a TV show for the same reason.

Conflicts create questions. So. Many. Questions.

Who will get what they want? What will they do to get it? How will things be affected?

A couple days ago, I posted about how I got an amazing job offer after my very first interview in the field. It’s the hours I want, more money than I’d hoped for, and on an oncology unit of a well-respected hospital. The elation was tangible.

Enter, conflict.

I have a friend – an acquaintance, really – who works at a competing hospital that is literally right across the street from the one I was offered a job at.

I did also, in fact, apply at this other hospital, at the same time. But, two weeks later, I still have not gotten so much as a, “Thank you for your application,” memo.  That’s okay.

But . . . I posted on a certain social media site that the interview went well and the aforementioned acquaintance responded that he hoped he’d be called for a reference. Wanting to be tactful, I sent him a private message explaining that the position was at the other hospital, but that I appreciated his congratulations nonetheless.

He replied and asked me to hold off on accepting the position until he could get me an interview. He asked my top three unit choices. He wanted to know how much I was offered. He said he could get me what I wanted, no problem.

I gave him the information. As my other half put it, I didn’t really need to give the other hospital my answer right away. A bid war could be a good thing, for me. And there is a certain appeal in the thought of working at a somewhat lesser hospital, because maybe I could make a positive change there. Plus, it’s the one I was literally born at! And he is a friend . . . in a manner of speaking . . . I can hold off . . .

Well. I did. But –

Enter, more conflict.

I received an email this morning from the oncology unit’s HR rep. Asking me to please respond to the offer letter that I was sent to verify that I do, in fact, accept it. I need to do this by then end of the business day in order to reserve my slot for the upcoming orientation cycle and set the ball rolling with the other paper work.

Alrighty, then. A bird in hand is better than two in the bush, as my mother says.

Still, as a courtesy, I let the acquaintance know. I messaged him and explained that they needed my response. The call he assured me I’d get yesterday never came. The neurology position he told me about isn’t listed in the application portal. Still no word from the application I did submit. I let him know I truly do appreciate his efforts and told him I’d still consider the hospital in the future or if something caused this offer to fall through.

He sent back, “Hold off for a second.”

Commence nail biting.

I sent back that I will. I also pointed out – politely – that none of my other classmates who applied for the same hospital have heard back either. I noted that his own wife, who became a nurse two years ago, ended up getting a job elsewhere due to the same issues. I admitted that it concerns me, because I’m worried it indicates a company-wide problem that hasn’t been corrected in the two years since she had the problem herself.

He hasn’t seen the message, yet. It’s been about forty-five minutes . . . .

Stay tuned, for what happens next!

… … …

And, now, back from the break!

Nothing. Still no word.

There are different things that different people do when confronted with a conflict. Some people take a “hero’s” approach and confront the problem head-on. Others, take the “coward’s” path and avoid the issue in hopes it will in turn avoid them or disappear.

A lot of people, if not most people, do a bit of both.

The point is, there are options.

In fact, for some, this particular situation may not even constitute a conflict. There may be no struggle in choosing a path to follow. Their motives or values may be such that the way forward is clear to them.

One person may go, “I’ve given this person a chance to follow-through with getting me in at Hospital B, but they haven’t, so I’ll go with Hospital A.” This is a practical choice.

A different person may go, “I know this person, so I’ll trust their judgement and pass on the offer from Hospital A.” This is more of a loyalist choice.

Some other person may go, “I think I’ll have a taco while I wait a while longer for something to happen, one way or another.” This is a hungry procrastinator’s choice.

Currently, my conflict is that I’m torn between option one and option two. If I’m being perfectly honest, I would love to just accept the original offer. I want to make it official on that social media site everyone shares too much on. I’m ready to make it real. On the other hand, I don’t want to ignore the effort that the acquaintance is making on my behalf. As some people who have maybe read my other posts know, I’m a submissive individual in about every sense. It kinda ups the ante when it comes to the loyalty I feel towards people I know . . . even when they’re people I don’t like particularly well.

No matter how I look at it, personally, I feel the right choice is to thank him again for his effort and then sign my name to the acceptance letter. Despite my feelings of owing him for his time and help – neither of which I actually asked for.

The conclusion.

If this were a movie, you’d get a close up of me typing my name in the “sign here” field. You’d see me take a deep, bracing breath. And then you’d see me hit the “submit” button and collapse backwards onto the couch as if I’d just run a mile.

If this were a book, the chapter might end with a cheeky little, “Well, now that’s done . . . but how will I avoid Mr. M for the next few decades worth of fourth of July barbecues?”

This is neither; however, and I’m going to go ahead and have some tacos.

Epilogue.

Technically, I’m giving him until lunch.

So he’s got another hour and twenty minutes to reply to me.

I’ll post the exciting conclusion in a sequel post, so look forward to that, ya’ll.

16/52 – Adversity&Determination

If the road is easy, chances are you’re going to wrong way. – Terry Goodkind

The road I’m currently on certainly isn’t an easy one. I feel like I keep stumbling over my own feet and walking right into spider webs. And I forgot to bring snacks!

Last Friday morning, I signed into my health insurance portal with the intent of making a payment to bring my account up to speed,  because I’d fallen a month behind. Once I signed in; however, I was greeted with a little message stating that I could not make an online payment due to a change in my account status. Well, that was unexpected. I did some snooping around in my account and discovered that my coverage was canceled as of March 31st of this year. Erm . . . what?

Immediately, I checked my bank history and saw the payments I’d been making.

Dismayed, I called the customer service number only to be told that the office wasn’t open until nine. Okay, that’s the same time I start work, but I’ll just take a long lunch and get this issue sorted out and my health insurance reinstated, because I can prove I’ve been making the payments, despite being a month behind. There’s such a thing as grace.

Lunch time, call in, speak to a very nice young man who places me on a brief hold and returns sounding genuinely sorry for me. “I’m sorry, ma’am. The cancellation wasn’t in error. You haven’t made the minimum required monthly payments at all this year.” He explained that I’d been paying roughly $90 a month, which was my bill amount last year, but my minimum payment had increased to roughly $91 at the start of the year.

I have no idea how I didn’t know that. I explained to him that I never received notice of paying the wrong amount and always just got emailed receipts that thanked me for paying. He couldn’t do anything else, though, except let me know that my $90 from April and May would be sent back to me via check within the next ten business days. He also transferred me to a not-so-nice woman who put in a ticket for a special enrollment period for me in an attempt to get it reinstated on the basis of my confusion over the total due. It will be thirty days before I know the outcome of that.

My first instinct was just to call it quits and curl into a little ball of self pity.

But I took a deep breath and took a step back and asked myself . . . what can I do?

Not in a sarcastic way, not in a self-defeating way, not as a throwaway, but really.

And I came up with a few options. All of which were better than nothing. I actually made a plan of action. Determined how I was going to handle this situation now that I was in it, instead of spending time dwelling on the problem itself. I looked for the solution.

First, I’m going to deposit the refunded money into my savings account. I’m going to add to that the amount that I’d planned to pay when I originally signed in. In thirty days, if my health insurance does not get reinstated, I will continue to deposit the $90 dollars I would have put towards it into my savings account, instead. I will not let it turn into Starbucks coffees or Redbox movie rentals or day trips to Daytona. I’ll have about $810 in savings at the end of the year, from putting my “health insurance” bill into it.

If my hasty research into the matter is correct, then that will be more than I need to cover the tax penalty I would be charged for not having insurance for nine months. If, that is, I actually get charged the tax penalty, which I may not. My income has dropped drastically, since I started school. I may qualify for hardship status. In either case – fine or no fine – I am prepared for the situation. If I don’t get fined, then I’ll be starting the new year with more in savings than I’ve ever had.

  • I won’t continue to pay my health insurance bill into my saving account after December, even though taxes are filed later than that, because I’ll get insurance again during open enrollment at the end of the year.

The true downside, of course, is that I won’t have health insurance during the next six months, if it doesn’t get reinstated. That sucks, for a couple of reasons. I have asthma and keep an emergency inhaler on hand for . . . well . . . emergencies. I have about a third of my current one left, which will last me – maybe – the next three months or so. I also; however, have two daily use inhalers saved from when I went to the doctor and he prescribed them. I don’t like taking them, which I know isn’t good, but if I do start taking them as I’m supposed to, they should be enough to keep my lungs and bronchi in good shape for the next three months, which saves my emergency inhaler for the last three months. I also have access to a nebulizer and albuterol, if needed.

I won’t die, essentially, from not having health insurance. Indeed, from the age of eighteen to twenty-four I did not have health insurance. I managed. Not always comfortably, but always adequately.

The other downside, the one I’m really upset about, is that if the insurance isn’t reinstated at the end of thirty days, I will have to confess to Him that I messed up and lost it. He isn’t going to be happy, because he will be concerned for my health. I will, at least, have a plan to present to him. I think he will appreciate that and the fact that I was able to think things through and not just freak out.

A few months ago, this situation would have derailed me for weeks. There would have been tears and panic and eventually acceptance, but no real solution formed. Now, I can deal with this bear in the middle of the road without losing my head. I’ll skirt around it and be more vigilant in the future. I won’t get eaten by it.

Adversity is defined as difficulties or misfortune. Determine is a firmness of purpose, or resolve. I may face other adversity during the next six months as I continue along my Road to Elsewhere, but I am determined that I will make it to the end of the road.

At which time, I’m sure there will be other roads to explore.

15/52 – Pulse Check

“You know, the downward spiral is essentially a chain reaction.” – Jacob, from Ink

I can’t really grasp that it’s been three months since the last time I posted, but somehow or other that’s the amount of time that has slipped past. School, work, sleep, repeat.

It’s the first week of my two week break from college, but all that means is that I actually get to work 40 hours for the next two weeks. Which is great, really, though I’m daydreaming of a proper vacation. Disney, the Bahamas, New York City . . . away.

Things are more or less the same as they have been. Same friends, same anxieties, same dysfunctional family dynamic that always seems to work out in the end. I ended last quarter with an A and two B’s, which I’m okay with. I’m a little more nervous about this upcoming quarter. Nursing II and Maternal/Newborn are my only classes, but they each also have a clinical and lab component. I’ll be at the campus two full, eight-hour days during the first week. I’m fine with that, as long as it gives me a chance to get organized.

I’ve been thinking more about six months from now, when I graduate, but I need to remember that I still have a million and one little steps to take before I reach that point.

One of my many goals for these two weeks off include getting a schedule nailed down for this, my sadly neglected blog. I enjoy writing, as much as I enjoy reading, but I’ve gotten so caught up in school that the only of either I manage is related to . . . . well, school.

I also want to finish my competency Humanities course (which consists of three papers).

And it would be great if I could get around to deep cleaning the apartment . . .

12/52 –

All I wanted was a set of index cards with lines on both sides. That’s it. I’d even have been happy with wide-ruled ones. I just wanted to make pretty flashcards with witch to study for my upcoming pharmacology final exam.

But, alas, such things as index cards with lines on both sides don’t seem to exit. Not at Wal-Mart, or the Dollar Tree, or even Staples – that shining beacon of office supplies.

Unfortunately, while I’d accept defeat after going to Wal-Mart, my SO had not. It was starting to rain and we were in the Mustang with the leaks, but he wanted to make the effort to stop at Staples. I tried to bite my tongue. I’d already wasted more than an hour hunting for index cards that don’t exit. I wanted to give up and go home and study some other way, but my SO was convinced somewhere would have them.

Well, somewhere might, but not Staples. He had to ask an associate, to make sure. The associate nodded, somewhat sagely, and said, “Yeah. I haven’t seen those double-sided cards in like ten years. Must not have been too popular.”

Of course not. Why would I have the sense to want something that was popular?

The associate also; however, directed my SO to the computer system where he could search the 1.3 million products on the Staples website . . . something that I’d already done on my phone while they were talking.

I bit my tongue harder and followed my SO to the computer. I lost it, a little, when he started typing at what felt like snail’s pace. “Do you want me to do that?”

He said, “No. I want you to calm down.”

I lost it, a little more, “I just want to go home. They don’t have them. I already pulled it up. Even if they did, they wouldn’t ship here by tomorrow and they’d want ten dollars.”

He threw up his hands, started stalking towards the entrance . . . which you can’t use as an exit. I didn’t follow, waiting for him to realize the mistake. He did and came stalking back, toward the actual exit. He was angry and I was suddenly depressed, on top of being miserable from not being able to find the cards and from being so congested that I couldn’t breath through my nose.

Outside, I trailed after him. “I’m not trying to piss you off. If you’d just listen for a minute, you’d get what I’m trying to tell you. I -”

“Well, you’re doing a great job of it.” He cut me off, having only listened to the first part of what I said.

Instantly, the depression turned from something nebulous to something heavy in my chest. Two minutes later, at home, he started to pull up front and I pointed out, “Don’t you want to park in the garage?”

He said nothing, put it in park, handed me the house keys. I took them automatically, but must have looked as confused as I felt, because he said, “I told you! I have to park in the garage!” He rolled his eyes and I just sat there and blinked.

“You didn’t listen to what I just said, did you? I said, ‘Don’t we need to park in the garage?’ You didn’t say anything back. I was going to walk up with you.” I tried to keep the hurt from getting into my voice, but I didn’t totally manage it.

“No,” he said, sounding even more exasperated. “Walk up with me, if you want. I don’t care.” He waited, staring ahead.

No point in walking with him. No point in trying to communicate, right then.

The second I stepped foot inside, the tears started. I didn’t try to stop them, like I usually do. I’m just too tired. I let them come and folded over the bed and bawled for about two minutes. Dried my eyes, splashed water on my face. Came into the living room as he did.

“What?” He demanded, as soon as he saw me.

“What, ‘what?'” I muttered.

“You’ve got that sad look on your face,” he grumbled, passing me and heading to the bedroom. Annoyed by the display of feelings that I hadn’t quite concealed.

No more words. Just sitting on the couch. A run through my notes. The ones I’d wanted to turn into pretty flashcards. Oh, well. Now I just want to get rid of this ache.

Fifteen minutes pass. My phone rings. Someone or other wanting money that I don’t have.

“Who is it?” He asks.

“No one. A fundraiser thing.”

“Oh. Why do you still look sad?”

“Because I am still sad. I didn’t mean to make you angry.” There’s no point in saying anything else, right now. It doesn’t matter. People have arguments. We’re both stressed out and taking it out on each other when we shouldn’t be. It happens. Life moves on.

_________________________________________________________________

Last night, laying in bed, I asked, “Yours?”

“Of course, mine,” he said. “Why do you always worry?”

I didn’t say anything else. I could have. I could’ve explained that I worry, because I don’t really feel that I’m lovable.  I could’ve recounted that, when I was eleven, my dad and I had an argument that culminated in him saying that he guessed I didn’t have a soul. I could’ve said that I don’t tell him that I love him, but that asking, “Yours,” has become a stand-in for those other words that I don’t ever let myself say to him. I could’ve reminded him that he’s told me that he doesn’t love me, except as a “pet.” I could’ve told him that all of those things add up to create this fear that he’ll one day decide he doesn’t want me anymore and then I’ll have to relearn how to live, without him.

________________________________________________________________

It’s been about six hours since breakfast and he’s in the kitchen, getting ready to make something for lunch, but I’ve go no appetite. I remember him saying, the other day, that heartbreak is one of the fastest ways to loose weight.

We’d been talking about low carb diets and I steered the conversation back that way.

He was talking about before me, when he was with someone else, and she left him. He’d lost twenty pounds in two weeks. I didn’t want to talk about the “Heartbreak Diet” though, because I didn’t want him to realize that part of the reason I haven’t been eating much lately is due to that very issue. He’d just get angry again, and tell me to grow up.

_________________________________________________________________

I think my mantra, since I was a kid, has been to “be better.”

Still feels like I’m best at fucking up though.

_________________________________________________________________

Of course, I’ll feel better. This happens. I get over it. LIfe moves on.

Time to review my notes again. Respiratory, GI, and Cardiac, oh my. . .

 

 

8/52 – Anxiety v. Panic

I’m sure that a lot people – particularly people who write, it would seem – feel anxiety or panic on a fairly routine basis. Something about those “emotions” seems to drive people to write . . . either to reflect or as a distraction or whatever. I use the quotes there, around emotions, because I’ve never really considered my anxiety an emotion.

I tend to see it more as a conglomeration of things – feelings, thoughts, ambiguous fears.

Panic, on the other hand, I do think of as an emotion – the specific feeling of being both frantic and worried. It’s unpleasant, sure, but I have attacks of anxiety and not of panic, so I don’t take panic to be something complex or harmful, in itself.

This morning, for instance, I’m panicking a little. I realized as I wrote down my assignments for the next two weeks that I’ve made an error. We had to do two community education group projects this quarter – one for Pharmacology and one for Fundamentals. In my brain’s usual way, it blurred those two projects together and I thought they were one in the same. They’re not. I did the one for Pharmacology, but the one for Fundamentals isn’t actually due to be presented until this upcoming Wednesday.

Okay. Not awful. There’s time . . . but . . .

Now I’m at the mercy of my classmates, who apparently formed groups and picked out topics without my realizing they’d done it. I understand how this happened. One of my group members from the Pharmacology project was absent on the day the groups were formed. She was the leader of the group and the only one I know personally, so I just assumed that she knew what was going on. I didn’t worry about, because I thought we’d done. I’m an idiot, sometimes, but that’s part of being human.

I’m not anxious about this. But I’m slightly panicked, because if some group doesn’t take pity on me, this could fail me for this class. Not because my grade can’t take the hit of 30 points – it actually could do that comfortably, based on how it’s weighted – but because the actual presentation is part of our required clinical hours. *gulp*

I’ve sent out an S.O.S. on my class’s FaceBook page. And now I’m waiting and passing the time by blogging and obsessively checking my notifications.

To contrast this panic that I’m currently feeling, I did actually have an anxiety attack both yesterday and two days before. They both started at about 1:00 P.M. and they both lasted about an hour. Sometimes the anxiety is like clockwork, sometimes it’s not. It’s always a surprise. On Wednesday, it was during my afternoon lecture; on Friday, it was at work.

Both of the attacks were quiet, because I’ve learned how to utterly fall apart without making a single sound. Twinlee (not her real name, obviously) noticed that something was wrong, because I wasn’t taking notes and was starring off into space. She uses aroma therapy oils and insisted I use one she calls “Chillaxin’.” I did and was amazed, because five minutes later I felt better. Way better. I’ll have to find out what’s in it.

Unfortunately, at work, I did not have the benefit of aroma therapy. Instead, I just forced myself to work through it. It let up gradually, realizing, maybe, that I wasn’t going to feed into it. I was fine the rest of the day.

Anxiety and I have a strange relationship. I used to medicate with Xanax, but I haven’t had a Xanax in almost six years – not since I was twenty. I’m proud of that, because at one point I was taking triple my prescribed dose, just to try to take the edge off enough for me to go grocery shopping. Now, I still have attacks, but I’ve gotten to the point that they only truly get the better of me once in a blue moon.

Sometimes, I go weeks between attacks and that’s lovely.

Other times, I have them every couple of days . . . not so lovely.

(Also, side note, why is “sometimes” one word, but “other times” is two?)

My SO has awoken. Coffee is poured. The game plan for today is laundry and – hopefully – working on this group project that I went brain-missing for. Also, sex, if my SO has his way. It’s not that I’m not interested in having sex – I like sex, honestly – but there are other things that I would rather be doing, usually. Like watching Let’s Play videos on YouTube, or eating mac n’ cheese, or going for a walk.

Is that odd of me? Maybe.

But really good mac n’ cheese is practically sex on a fork anyway.

7/52 – Friday Morning Blurbs

  • The alarm went off at 5:15, because I forgot to reset it.
  • Not fifteen minutes later, the upstairs neighbors began having a screaming match that included such gems as, “Get out of my apartment you fuckwad,” and, “Bitch, I’m taking the VCR back!” He rumbled off on his Harley about ten minutes after that exchange and not five minutes after that, the woop-woop of a cop car made me get out of bed while my SO snored on.
  • Made some coffee before the sun came up, which always makes me feel like an adult.
  • Started watching Game of Throne reruns and finished some remedial work for a school exam that will take place on next Thursday.
  • Had to tell my SO to put on some clothes five times in twenty minutes, because he kept getting sucked into FaceBook and stopping midway through putting on pants.

Hopefully the rest of the day isn’t quite so discombobulated.

3/52

Sometimes you have to rip off the band-aid.

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For the majority of the past ten months, I have spent a lot of time worrying about my job security. I started school in April and I’m set to graduate as an RN this December (on the 17th, to be specific). At first, it was just leaving work an hour early on Friday. Then it was leaving work five hours early on Thursday. And then it was being at the campus for a total of what would have been about eight work hours. Now . . . it’s more like the equivalent of 20 work hours. And they’re unpredictable.

The joys of clinical hours . . . not.

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My boss of almost three years had me fill out a calendar on Wednesday and she firmly told me that she won’t approve any time that’s not on the calendar. I reiterated that I don’t know what days I might have clinical or when exams will be, but she shrugged.

I understand. I really do. She is trying to manage an office full of people that have unique needs regarding scheduling, she’s dealing with a demanding supervisor, and she’s got personal issues of her own. I can’t expect her to continue to accommodate my life.

In that spirit, I just messaged her and explained the situation. I asked, bluntly, if I need to come in tomorrow, or if I should spend the day job hunting. I didn’t mean the question to read sarcastic or rhetorical and it doesn’t. I apologized for the situation, but explained that I can’t just leave the program at this point. I can’t even offer her a proper two week’s notice, because I can only give her information as I get it from the school.

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This is a rambling post. It’s past my bedtime. My SO is already snoring in bed. I’ve also just found out that one of my friends from high-school (who I’ve known for more than ten years) just had to get a medically necessary abortion due to pre-eclampsia. She was given the choice: try to carry to term and die (leaving her three year old daughter motherless), have the baby early and watch it die (she was only eight weeks pregnant), or abort it and donate it to research to try to find a cure (this is her second case of pre-eclampsia).

That puts my problem with work/being fired to shame. Perspective is important.

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As I was channel surfing, looking for something to distract me, I came across the animated version of Anastasia. So much nostalgia. I had two different barbie versions of her (in her “street” wear and her yellow ball gown). My top three favorite movies as a child were Anastasia, My Neighbor Totoro, and Mulan. I’m all about some girl power.

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And she’s sent me six messages. But I don’t want to open them.

I feel like I’m about to have a heart attack over this. I don’t even like this job.

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*Ten minutes later*

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Checked the messages. I’m not fired. How am I not fired? I don’t understand.

 

2/52

As someone who usually likes to keep things neat – if not, precisely, organized – I was alarmed to realize that it’s somehow already the 22nd of January. I’ve been marking off days in my planner, but I’m only writing down my assignments the Sunday of the week they’re due and it’s created a strange sense of time being on a standstill. I’m literally looking at my days as a series of tasks, rather than a compilation of hours, and it seems surreal that it’s already just a few days before February.

(Speaking of which, I am one of those strange people who doesn’t mind seeing all the Valentine’s day stuff already in stock at my local Wal-Mart. Why? Because I absolutely adore giant stuffed animals. Seeing them always cheers me up and I have high hopes of getting one from Him this year. Plus, I like chocolate. And Valentine’s day is second only to Hall-o-Ween in terms of yummy chocolate goodness being available in bulk.)

I digress . . .

I’d intended to write weekly, this year, but I’m slightly behind on that. Still, I’m considering this 2/52 and as long as I make it to 52/52 posts by the end of the year, I’ll consider myself successful. I also have managed to stick $5 into my saving account from each paycheck. Granted, this only brings me to a measly $30 in savings (literally), but it’s still progress. My bills are all paid or on track to be paid on time as well . . . which I’m impressed by, because I’ve only worked a total of about 40 hours so far this month.

Ah. The demands of nursing school. I am a part of my graduating class’s Facebook group. It’s a convenient way to keep in touch with my classmates about what assignments we’re working on, who’s in which group for projects, and the occasional bit of humor.

Two things on the page made me laugh, this week.

The first was one of the e-cards that keep popping up. It showed a cartoon nurse and read, “I don’t post on Facebook when I eat dessert, because it didn’t happen, if it’s not documented.” The second was a picture of some male celebrity (Ryan Reynolds, maybe?) looked both skeptical and uncomfortable. It was captioned, “When people ask my why I chose nursing . . . It seemed like a good idea at the time.”

The first one made me laugh, because all of the instructors are stressing the importance of documenting – our actions, our findings, our plans. We’re told to keep in mind that not documenting can lead to medical errors and patient endangerment and the loss of our licence. Which, ten months and several thousand dollars into the program, is one of our biggest fears, because it makes it all for naught, in the end.

The second one made me laugh, because it’s so brutally true. I can think back and remember all of my reasons for deciding to choose nursing. The money, flexible hours, having a friend in the program, the money, the job prospects, the benefits, the money . . . and, of course, getting to help people in a tangible way. Now, after three quarters and a lot of stress, it’s easy to lose track of why it is I’m actually putting myself through this madness and mayhem. As others noted on the post . . . it feels like we’re drowning and we’ve lost sight of the island paradise we were initially swimming towards.

There’s a few reasons for that. The stress of having two lectures, two labs, and two clinical portions . . . and all the associated homework, exams, and hands on experiences. Trying to still find time to work enough hours to make ends meet. Needing to also arrange time for all the “other” stuff – sleep, meals, family, blogging. Twenty-four hours doesn’t seem like enough time to fit in everything.

Even now, as I type, it’s ten in the morning and I’ve already finished two online quizzes, written in my assignments for the week, and had “breakfast” (a can of Vienna sausages and half a tube of Principles – don’t judge me). I still need to get a lot of other stuff done though. Which means . . . it’s time for . . . a list!

To Do List for 1.22.17

  • Write a two page paper about patient safety using three peer reviewed articles, an approved organization, and APA formatting.
  • Clean the apartment – at least do dishes, take out trash, and tidy up in general.
  • Make lunch for he and I . . . probably pasta salad.
  • Return our latest Redbox rental movie.
  • Print out flashcards for my Pharmacology exam.
  • Make flashcards for my Fundamentals exam.
  • Study both sets of said flashcards.
  • Make sure my school uniform is clean and pressed, and pack for clinical.

It doesn’t seem so daunting, like that. Which is good. Inaccurate, but good.

1/52

There are all kinds of inspirational quotes to be found online regarding staring new and exciting things at the beginning of a new year. Some of them are wise, some of them are trash, most of them are somewhere in between. I, personally, don’t have any.

I feel like I stumbled into the new year, rather than stepped into it.

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I would recap the end of last year – it’s been a month (or two) since my last post – but I really don’t want to. I am so overwhelmed by what’s happening right now that I can’t afford to pause and reflect on the things that have already passed. I don’t know if that’s a bad thing, or not, but it is what it is.

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I have just three New Year’s Resolutions, this year.

The first is simple: Write at least one post a week here on this blog. Hence the whole 1/52 title. If I can make it to 52/52 . . . that’s great! If I don’t . . . well, that’s less great.

The second is also simple: Put at least $5.00 a week into savings. This should be doable. In the end, I’ll have $250 in saving . . . . Not a lot, by some standards, but more than I’ve had.

The third is not so simple: Get my associate’s degree in nursing and pass the NCLEX.

I have successfully completed three quarters of school and started the fourth on Monday. I have never felt so terrified in my life. Well, not true. I have felt more terrified numerous times. But! I have never felt more pressure before. This quarter, I am taking just two courses . . . Fundamentals of Professional Nursing and Pharmacology. Each of those courses; however, have three components – Lecture, Lab, and Clinical.

It is – where I am – almost 8:00P.M. on Sunday night. I have managed to complete all of my assignments for the week. I think.This is the first quarter I’ve had that everything is campus based, rather than online. I’m not completing confident that I’ve remembered everything I needed to complete, but I think I have.

Everything that could go wrong this week, has gone wrong.

I didn’t get my official schedule sorted out until the day the quarter started, my SO got sick and now I’m coming down with what he has, the ball python we rescued last month died, my best friend of twelve years said she’s thinking about moving halfway across the country, and my laptop keeps crashing in the middle of my note-taking.

That said . . . I believe in looking for the good in things, too. So here are five things that have gone right or been positive or made me smile within the past week.

  1. My boss at the call center has assured me I won’t be fired due to my schedule.
  2. A Starbucks with a drive-thru opened that’s en route to both campus and work.
  3. The first grade I got of this quarter was a 100%.
  4. My favorite YouTubers both uploaded new content.
  5. I was able to use my new planner for the first time.

Sometimes it’s the little things that are good that make the big things that are bad seem less unmanageable or scary. “Don’t hold your head so low that you can’t see the sky . . .”