Tuesday, March 31, 2009

laundry list

I'd like my blog to not become just a place to vent, and I feel lately it is a laundry list of complaints. But sometimes I just gotta.

I mentioned last week that I was burnt out at work. I had a fabulous weekend with my sweetie, though - we had a blast just doing everyday things like food shopping and the gym together. Then Monday happened and I saw four patients and each one got harder, culminating in a man in his 30s actively dying of cancer.

Now I can say with complete honesty that the dying part of hospice doesn't get me down. I've never felt personally 'sad', or have cried over a patient. I empathize, and I hold their presence and stories and hand, but I feel like I have cultivated good boundaries. (I watched a documentary about vets at the end of life, and the lady was warning not to use platitudes like 'anyone would have done what you did'. She said you need to let people know 'you have a heart that can suffer their story' - I resonate with that.) So what I am saying is that I feel I have a heart that can suffer whatever people are going through, without trying to package it in pretty ribbons to make them feel better. I just witness...and I don't take on their suffering as my own.

Ok, that was what I've taken for granted about myself, and why (modesty aside for one moment) I am good at what I do. But I noticed with alarm yesterday as I sat in a day room with 25+ people with advanced dementia that I really just wanted to curl up in a ball and cry. I was just plain sad, as I imagined them all my age not imagining they'd be like this when they aged. And these people are usually my very favorite population to work with. (That statement also implies that where they are now is 'bad' and I'm not in the habit of judging that --- Not a good sign.) Another patient's wife was distraught because her husband of over 50 years rallied one day and wanted to funeral plan. I felt myself jump to say 'wouldn't you want him to plan when he can make his wishes known?'...before I let her tell her story of those 50 years and how hard this is now. Where was this impatience and lack of empathy from?

That was yesterday at work, and I went to the gym (awesome tai chi class) and then came home to cook and clean up. Gabe and I are usually so good to each other when we're both stressed, but we both sort of lost it after I voiced some frustration about feeling responsible for the cleaning. Ugh. Another pattern: I feel responsible for everything.

This morning I woke up with a swollen eye for the seventh or so time, now. I put antihistamine drops in but looked too monsterish for work. I went in for a noon meeting feeling a bit back to normal but everyone kept asking what was wrong with my face. Oh, and a rock hit my windshield on the way to work and cracked it.

Gabe also brought home some more shocking news, and the combination of everything had me in bed in the early evening..just really unwilling to move. Gabe came to the rescue with a horrendously ridiculous striptease and I couldn't help but laugh.

So, I'll keep plugging along with the work thing, because honestly I have no other option. I'm sort of stuck financially and geographically for the moment. Well, not for the moment...indefinitely. And that's the part that drives me batty. Add into it the drama and stress of wedding planning (among 15 other things I could write but won't bore you with details) and I'm waving the white flag. If there was a caricature of me right now... it would be me buried under a stack of papers (to-do lists and bills and parking tickets and wedding website printouts and IEATA newsletters). And I wouldn't be face up anymore... just face down - it was too much and I just gave up.

Ok, that's all very dramatic, but seriously something does have to give soon. Until then I'm waiting for inspiration.

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