Trying

The law of attraction essentially states that individuals attract the sorts of experiences that they expect.

In other words, someone who views the world as a positive place will have primarily positive experiences and someone who views the world as a negative place will have primarily negative experiences.

For example . . . you expect to have a bad day at work. You spend all evening dwelling on it, being short with your family, not enjoying your time off. At night you end up tossing and turning, plagued by bad dreams or an upset stomach. In the morning, you’re tired – both physically and mentally. Getting ready seems to take forever and you have to turn around twice to get things you’ve forgotten. Then, of course, you get stuck in traffic. If you aren’t late to work, you nearly are. Once you’re there, you feel like you’re already behind and have to play catch up. Stress and chaos ensue. Once back at home, you’re frustrated by the events of the day, or depressed. You know you have to go back tomorrow and dread it. The cycle continues . . .

OR.

You tell yourself that you’ll have a good day at work, or at least recognize that you’ll do the best you can to make it a good day. In the evening, you’re able to relax with family and eat a decent dinner. Overnight, you get quality rest and you’re able to wake up when your alarm goes off. With a clear mind, you prepare for your day – or just grab the things you already laid out last night. On the way to work, you listen to the radio and seem to catch all the green lights. When you arrive, you find that you have a challenging assignment, but you feel ready to make the best of it. As the day goes on, you work productively. The shift ends and you go home, feeling that you’ve gotten a lot done. Thinking about tomorrow doesn’t make you feel like puking.

So . . .

Two scenarios. Honestly, I’m currently firmly in the first one. It’s 8:15 (about an hour or so before my planned bedtime), but I’ve already been in tears over the thought of going in to work tomorrow. Those who are regular readers may recall that I’m a fairly new nurse and that I have an anxiety disorder that has been compounded by that fact.

It is, in fact, so bad that I’ve missed several days of work due to it. I literally cannot afford to miss anymore days – both from a financial and a personal perspective.

Unfortunately, however, that doesn’t make it easier for me to mentally prep myself for tomorrow. Perhaps the notion that I need to prep myself is, in itself, adding to my stress levels. I don’t really know.

Those things said, I’m going to try to make the second scenario happen. Instead of imaging all the ways that tomorrow can go wrong, I’m going to try to be grateful that there is a tomorrow. I’m going to get things ready for the morning, tonight, so that when I do wake up, I can enjoy a little bit of peaceful time prior to going to work.

Last night, even though I did not work today, I ended up having nightmares that made me toss and turn all night. All day, I’ve felt like I was in a fog. It has been a struggle to be productive today, but I have managed at least my minimums. In just a few minutes, I will eat dinner and shortly after that I will be able to crawl into bed.

By this time, tomorrow, I will be home from work.

In about twelve hours, I will have finished getting report and will be starting to pass out morning medications. Or, if something comes up, I will be doing something else. I don’t know. That lack of knowing is my biggest source of anxiety. I need to learn how to embrace the unknown, or at least how to not dread it. That, I think, would be helpful.

For now, I’m going to leave this post.

Rambling, slightly incoherent, mess that it is.

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Foundation

“Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.” – J.K. Rowling

I knew what this post would be about before I sat down to write it, but was having some trouble with the first line. Personally, I always find the first line the most difficult. Those who have followed me for a significant length of time may haven noticed that I tend to open with quotes or stories . . . that’s why.

I have found my own personal rock bottom. I didn’t expect it to be at 8:15 on a Friday morning in August, but I guess that’s one of the funny things about rock bottom . . . you don’t know when you’ll hit it (if you ever will), but you know it when you do.

I wrote a post several days ago to commemorate the first time I called out sick due to having an anxiety attack (A Lost Battle). I did not realize that post was only a prequel.

While I do feel physically awful – nausea, throwing up, short of breath, headache, stomach cramps, diarrhea – I am not technically sick. I am suffering from severe anxiety and panic attacks and agoraphobia.

(Deep breath.)

Since writing that first post, I wrote several motivational posts and gave myself many pep talks. I created a bit of a bullet journal, started reading a new self-help book, tried to forgive myself for calling out . . . but then called out again. And again. Until today made six days . . . which is entirely and undeniably too many days.

While writing posts about chaining good rituals/habits to reach goals (Combos), I accidentally made a bad chain. I recognized that, yesterday. I forced myself to go to work. For context, I’m a new nurse working on an oncology unit at my local hospital.

In a surprise twist . . . it was a really good day.

Sure, I still felt physically crappy, but I was productive. All of my medications were passed on time, I got all my charting done before lunch, I coordinated with doctors and case managers to get a patient discharged. No one died. I handled mild emergencies well. My co-workers (both nurses with over a year experience) had to stay later than I did due to being behind and playing catch up. I told everyone I’d see them tomorrow.

But then I woke up at 4:00 this morning and called out sick.

I threw up twice. I was running a low grade temp. I was sweating. I had diarrhea. I was shaking. I couldn’t feel my feet. I was freezing. I was coughing. I was cramping.

. . . but I wasn’t technically sick.

Then, three hours after calling out, I received a text from my direct supervisor.

“I need u to call me.”

Of course, I did not call her back. Not right away.

First, I paced around a bunch. Secondly, I threw up again. Thirdly, I asked myself why I was so terrified of losing a job that I disliked so much that it was leading me to call out.

I realized, directly after asking myself that question, that I do not dislike my job. I love my job. Everything about it – my coworkers, my patients, my hospital’s mission/values, my opportunities to further my education through it, my schedule . . . just all of it.

The problem, then, is that I am so afraid of losing it that I’m trying to avoid the possibility of making any mistakes . . . by simply not showing up.

Logic on par with that of a toddler, right?

Still. You can’t defeat an enemy without knowing it.

I called my boss. She gently asked me what was going on. I let her know about the physical symptoms and that I would bring in another doctor’s note (which I will). I also added that I’d spent half the morning in tears, because I was so terrified of losing my job. I pointed out that I’ve never missed so much time at any of my previous jobs and that I hoped she wasn’t calling to terminate my employment.  I kept the crying to a minimum.

Mostly, I felt confident that I was at least being fairly truthful . . . just leaving out the part where my anxiety was causing the physical symptoms I was describing to her.

That’s when she introduced me to rock bottom.

“I don’t want you to take this the wrong way and I don’t want to overstep, but . . . have you considered speaking to your doctor about the possibility of an anxiety disorder?”

All my years of carefully hiding my anxiety, of minimizing it, of denying it . . . as tactfully as she could, she tore those all away. Probably, she never should have broached the subject due to some densely worded human resources policies . . . but . . .

I told her the truth. I have anxiety that I’ve been struggling with for years, but never to such a degree that it created physical symptoms like a fever.

She, very helpfully, pointed out that being stressed out and run down in general can make me more susceptible to illnesses. She told me that she has no doubt that I am physically ill. And she encouraged me to rest and informed me that she would see me again on Tuesday (my next shift). She also stressed to me that I am doing a great job and that she doesn’t want to lose me as a nurse. She wants to help me figure this out.

It took about five seconds, after we ended the call, for the relief to hit me.

There’s a feeling of things being finalized or concluded.

I am lying on the rock that’s at the bottom and I am recuperating from the impact, but the impact itself wasn’t actually harmful . . . it was kinda like falling into bed at the end of a very long day. That said, I see the appeal of rock bottom.  Beds are comfortable places.

But . . . I  don’t intend to stay in bed.

So, I’m going to take my boss’s advice. Today, I am going to take care of myself. I also have the weekend off with my SO. I am going to make the very most of it and then I’m going to go to work and make stuff happen.

J.K. had it right, I think.

If you happen to find yourself at rock bottom, it does make for a good foundation.

 

 

 

A Lost Battle

I woke up at 5:15 this morning – more than half an hour early.

Interestingly, I felt pretty much wide awake. Motivated, even. Within fifteen minutes, I’d made my other half’s breakfast drinks (a bottle of OJ, a bottle of protein drink, and a small bottle of creamer for him to take to work with him). I even packed a lunch for him and turned on the television to catch a few minutes of a Dr. Phil rerun. I was considering making a quick cup of coffee or actually eating breakfast.

And then . . . and then the anxiety found me. It attacked.

Within ten minutes, I found myself on the phone with the nurse supervisor, telling him that I was ill and would be calling out for my scheduled shift. I did so standing in the kitchen, talking in a hoarse whisper, hoping that the sound of my voice wouldn’t travel down the hall and wake my other half. The entire call took all of thirty seconds.

After, I continued standing in the kitchen, feeling my heart beat as hard and as quickly as it might’ve after a marathon run. My palms were sweaty, my legs felt rubbery. Thoughts of coffee and breakfast couldn’t be further from my mind, because my stomach was attempting to do an Olympic-worthy somersault routine.

More than anything . . . I felt the relief that so often accompanies a moment of surrender.

Of course, that was short-lived. Within moments, the other feelings came at me.

Let’s break them down, shall we?

  • Guilt: I shouldn’t have called out. I let the anxiety win. I should’ve fought harder.
  • Confusion: I hadn’t even felt anxious, five minutes ago. How’d that even happen?
  • Shame: I bet all my coworkers will know why I called out. They’ll know I’m weak.
  • Frustration: I only felt the need to call out, because my work environment is crazy.
  • Righteousness: So-and-so called out last night, because of the same things anyway!

And, for course, there was still some lingering feelings of relief.

Yesterday was not a good day, at work, by a long shot. I’ll break the day down, as well.

  • The first thing the day shift tech said to me was, “Yesterday was hell and today will be too. You’ve got the worst group of all of them, I think. We’ll see if we survive.”
  • I was assigned six patients in “the corner” – the rooms in which the most acute/critical patients are placed, because it’s right near the nurse’s station.
  • Unusually, I actually had to take report from three different nurses, because the group I was getting had been split between them overnight. Not very comforting.
  • After getting report, I was left to face the reality of my six patients.
    • One motorcycle accident victim with head-to-toe bandages and an overbearing wife who wants to know every detail of his care.
    • One with altered mental status due to a combination of neuro-syphilis and AIDS. He was insisting on being naked and kept trying to climb out of bed.
    • One who was coughing up blood clots every five minutes due to his throat cancer. He also had a PEG tube and needed all of his meds crushed.
    • One with a collapsed lung, in addition to AIDS and a heroin addiction. The night nurse had threatened to have her Baker-Acted if she left AMA, because the doctors were refusing to remove her chest tube. She was not happy.
    • One paraplegic with sepsis. His colostomy bag has to be emptied every four hours or it will burst open and make a hell of a mess.
    • One with cellulitis so bad that it looks like someone took a blowtorch to his leg. An inmate, so he has two guards in the room and is cuffed to his bed.
  • Morning medications were given out. Not entirely on time, but at least they all got them. I learned how to crush meds in order to given them through a PEG tube.
  • Wound care and dressing changes were taken care of.
  • The addict’s room was searched, pain meds were found, a sitter was ordered. She was informed that her visitors would be restricted and that all her pain meds would be crushed and given in applesauce or pudding. She cried and all I wanted to do was hug her and say I was sorry for our tough policy measures.
  • I cleaned up the confused patient, because he was essentially finger-painting with his feces on his bedding. It took both myself and the tech to clean up the results.
  • Had to let my inmate know that, though he has phone privileges at the prison, he doesn’t at the hospital and couldn’t talk to his brother or his wife. Also had to listen to his guards loudly talk politics and religion while I was in the room.
  • Three o’ clock came around and I still hadn’t taken a lunch.
  • Finally, at half past four, I was able to run down for food. Ate it while trying not to cry, because I couldn’t stop thinking of the other dozen things I still needed to do.
  • Had to give report to three different oncoming nurses – which took about 45 minutes, instead of the usual fifteen, because of having to track them all down.
  • There had been no time to chart, during the shift, because of how busy it was. Instead, I had to stay until 8:30 to get it all done properly.

On paper, almost everything got done that had to get done.

In practice . . . it didn’t really feel safe.

Honestly, I think that’s the thing the anxiety latched onto this morning. It was the knife it used to attack and I couldn’t think of a good reason to disagree with its sharpness. The fear it inspired is as real as any fear I’ve ever felt. Attempting to take care of six high-demand patients when I have just about two months of experience on my own made me feel like a failure, because I wasn’t able to care for each of them in a way I felt was proper. I don’t think they actually suffered for it, but the possibility was there.

For instance, while attempting to deal with the situation surrounding my patient who wanted to leave AMA, but couldn’t (which I’m still trying to wrap my head around, because she was of sound mind), I wasn’t able to check on my confused patient every half an hour. I also wasn’t able to remove the Foley from my motorcycle guy, because I had to help our tech bath the paraplegic patient.

I didn’t have a chance to check my patient’s vital signs, to order needed labs, or to replace the batteries in their telemetry boxes. Any one of those things could have resulted in them not getting proper care. And that thought drives me nuts.

Still, I have to admit that calling out, running away, losing the battle wasn’t the best choice. It was understandable, maybe, but not wise or helpful. It would have been better to show up, to fight another day. I just . . . didn’t have the mentality to do it.

Later, probably, I’ll write a more optimistic post. I’ll go over the things I’ve thought of since this morning – alternatives to having called out, different mindsets, a new perspective.

For now, I’m going to make some coffee and use my unintended day off to be productive.

 

(Im)patience is a Virtue

Merriam-Webster defines patience as the capacity, habit, or fact of being patient. In turn, Merriam-Webster defines the word patient as bearing pains or trials calmly or without complaint, not being hasty or impetuous, and as being a sufferer or victim.

Which, essentially, allows for the statement that patience is habitual and active passivity.

So, why then, do people sometimes cite patience as a virtue?

A virtue is defined as a beneficial or commendable trait. Other examples of “virtuous” traits include loyalty, honesty, valor, integrity, so on and so forth . . .

Individuals and societies often hold different views on what is virtuous. Circumstances can also influence what we see as virtuous. For instance, telling a child that they’re dying is technically honest . . . but it may be seen as more beneficial or commendable to spare them that knowledge. As another example, one culture may view stoicism as commendable while another views expressiveness as preferable.

Patience as a virtue, then, is reflective of the ideals of those who cite it as such. Out of curiosity, I consulted the denizens of the internet to ask if they agree that patience is a virtue and to find out why, if so. The answers were interesting and ranged from the belief that patience is indicative of self-control to the statement that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Others took the route that impatience is a bad thing . . . thus making patience a good thing by default. One of those individuals went further and declared that impatience is downright dangerous and has no place in modern society.

As you’ve maybe guessed, from the title of this post, I’m of a different opinion.

First, let’s consult Merriam-Webster again. It defines impatience as a state of restlessness and short temper – especially under irritation, delay, or opposition. It goes on further to note that impatience can be defined as eagerly desirous.

Which, essentially, means that impatient individuals are unwilling to accept passivity.

It seems to me that, somewhere along the line, signals became a bit crossed. American society, largely, purports the importance of seizing the moment. Quite literally, the pursuit of happiness is part of this nation’s underlying foundation.

(Pursuits, by the way, don’t usually reward those who take a patient approach.)

Even those who tend to say everything happens for a reason are inclined to admit that opportunity doesn’t always come knocking without first receiving an invitation.

I can’t speak for other cultures, but Americans are told at a young age that chasing after our dreams is worthwhile. We’re encouraged to take action, to do the impossible. Success is seen as something gained, not something merely offered or accepted. Relaxing is reserved for weekends and the rarely earned vacation. “No pain, no gain,” is part of our national character . . . yes, even for the millennial generation.

______________________________________________________________________________________________

This post was initially inspired by my impatience to move out of my 1/1 apartment.

Don’t get me wrong . . . I liked the apartment. I can even remember when I loved it. After four years of being crammed into it with my other half, however . . . well . . . I didn’t love it anymore. Due to new management that took over in January I actually kinda hated it.

And I realized that – with the money I’m now making – I didn’t have to stay there.

Once I realized that, I became a tad impatient. Borderline unreasonable.

But, actually, it worked. It really, honestly, worked.

I’m typing this in the living room of the newly remodeled 3/2 house that I’m now renting. The house has new floors, new paint, new cabinets in the kitchen and bathrooms, new appliances. Even new lighting fixtures! The neighborhood is great and still close to where both of us work. The landlady is the sister of the man who owned our apartment complex prior to selling it. The yard is absolutely giant and completely fenced in back.

We would not have gotten this particular place if I had been more patient. It wasn’t even listed yet. I went to our former landlord and asked if he had any rentals available or coming available and he told us about this one. We actually got it for $250 less than asking, because we offered to do the lawn maintenance ourselves.

(Hence, I’m now the proud owner of a new set of hedge trimmers.)

So, while some people may still tout patience as a virtue . . . I think I’ll make use of impatience more in the future. You gotta give it credit . . . it gets shit done.

 

 

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

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.