They hold me, still.

(Your Hands – JJ Heller)

Like I’ve probably mentioned before, when I was a third year, multiple students from my class died. And my counselor told me I wasn’t grieving. Years later, now that I have realized that she was emotionally abusive and have some distance from that time, the sentiment has become almost like an encouraging mantra when things are going wrong. Don’t worry, at least you’re not grieving! You can do it! I mean, yeah, how messed up is that…it is a bit nonsensical and not overly true when I’m saying it. But just like an animal used to its cage will stay inside even once the door is unlocked preferring the known of the cage over the very alluring and probably so much more awesome freedom waiting outside the door, sometimes I am still so used to being marginalized and put down that it just feels more comfortable to do it to myself…and it probably sorta became a coping mechanism to start putting myself down so it didn’t hurt so much when she did…not sayin’ just sayin’. So I tell myself I am not grieving and don’t deserve any sympathy or support for anything in my life, because that is the response I learned.

 

And you’re probably wondering where the h**k I am going with this. Well, I kinda wonder where I am going with this too…but I at least have the background knowledge to understand why I am writing even if I have no idea where the writing is going. So I’ll share the why so that we’re on a level playing field. One of my cousins died Friday night. There isn’t a lot we know about exactly what happened. We know where he was. We know he tried calling his sisters before it happened, but was so drunk he was incoherent. We know there were 911 calls regarding someone acting strangely on the side of the interstate. We don’t know exactly the sequencing of events or how at fault he was for his demise. My mom left on Friday to go on vacation for the weekend. Some vacation she got finding out Saturday morning about the death and spending all day Saturday on the phone trying to figure out travel arrangements to the funeral and then back home – complicated when she is completely across the country from home and also very far away from the site of the funeral in a smallish town also very far from home and no one willing to help her safely get to a major airport.

 

So I’m going to completely change the topic because I’ve really thought all the possible thoughts and thinking them again isn’t going to change anything anyway…I’ve got a lot of blog post ideas written on scraps of paper or in word documents or whatever all over the place and since my mind is bouncing all around anyway, it’s probably a good time to waste a bunch of them by using them in a lot shorter version…and besides, realistically I don’t really blog *that* often anymore, so there’ll probably be a million other things to write about by the time I’m ready to write again anyway.

 

Lol, and lets be honest…I struggle on a good day to focus for very long, and so yeah, I definitely was just on a facebook and youtube (simultaneously) break and found that more details have been released. Still no one knows exactly what happened and very possibly we never will, but at least a little more of a story line emerged. And I listened to a great youtube video and scanned the facebook…and it’s time for bed.

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They don’t know the real you. All the rain in the sky can’t put our your fire

(Gold – Britt Nicole)

 

Today I had some hard moments including some of the OCD fears coming back briefly. Sometimes I feel like a loser or a failure when that happens, but I realized this afternoon that I really have overcome a lot and I have beat the odds, and no one can take that away. Sure, I certainly had a lot of help along the way from people who really cared about me and wanted the best for me, but I can’t forget to give myself some of the credit.

 

This past week I’ve had more difficulty sleeping than usual and had some of the overwhelmed, defeated, trapped, frustrated feelings re-emerge. I cried last night and this morning. Then at church someone mentioned the V-word (vomit) and externally I rocked it (no washing, still touching things), and even internally I wasn’t completely flooded with fear, but there was definitely some very real fear threatening me. Because of that fear I felt angry that someone would enter the room I was in who had been near someone who felt sick. It is probably worth mentioning at this point that I don’t even know if this person ever actually threw up or just felt bad…and considering I can sometimes feel pukey just from my normal hormones and usually can hold back from actually vomiting, I do logically understand that feeling extreme nausea doesn’t even necessarily involve any threat of contamination. The OCD is going too fast in analysis to entertain the possibility of non-contagious nausea and the train going full speed ahead can’t be stopped. And I refuse to believe that once vomit has happened that it is not an infection hazard. Airborne saliva is infectious in my book, and vomit is even more airborne and even more infectious whether it comes from an infectious cause or not…which is why it was not at all reassuring when someone told me one day that I shouldn’t be scared because someone’s vomit was because she was pregnant, not because she was sick…umm, yeah, I had already figured out the cause of the vomit thank you very much, but that didn’t alleviate my fear, because the vomit still happened.

 

A few hours later I am doing totally fine again, OCD thoughts dissipated, but it got me thinking. I am so thankful that a few tears that I was able to stop this morning, and a VERY minor OCD incident are the worst I currently have to deal with. At this time last year I was only a couple weeks away from the deadline I set for God to take me home. I was still fighting every day to get enough food and water in my body, and sleep was much improved from the worst, but still most certainly not the best it could be. I was hanging on each day just thinking if I could hold on second by second would turn to minute by minute and I’d make it through the day and soon God would take me home and it would all be over.

 

Obviously God did not meet that deadline I set for him. He kept me alive. If I could live through that for this long, I know I can continue to face the battles of life. I made it through a pumpkin phase as a baby. I made it through thinking I was the only kid in my kindergarten class followed by a falsified report to ensure I stayed where it was thought would be best for me and subsequently being kept from play and craft time instead being asked to write book reports*. I made it through a second grade where the timeout desk might as well have had my name on it because falling down earned you a timeout and I fell (or got tripped) a lot. I made it through a friend telling me her other friends wouldn’t be friends with her if she was friends with me so we couldn’t be friends anymore. I made it through bullying including being hit in the head with a rolling pin. I made it through a traumatic change of churches taking me away from everything I thought was a given in my life. I made it through changing my college plans only to find out the school I went to wasn’t fully honest about what credits could transfer in. I made it through not getting the RA position I wanted because “I didn’t think you’d want to be an RA” despite the fact I’d essentially been RA’ing without the title or benefits for the past year. I made it through being abused by a counselor at my school. I made it through ending that counseling relationship and the chaos and restrictive punishment imposed on me while watching my abuser receive the princess treatment and continue to hurt me and other people. I made it through failing to match repeatedly, losing my dreams for myself and any self-worth I had left.

 

I will survive.

 

I was going to end my post at that, but something was nagging at me to say one more thing. The counselor that abused me is still at my school and still in a position to continue to hurt people. My school also used mandated counseling as a punishment. I firmly believe that mandated counseling should NEVER be used as punishment. First of all, it will not achieve any real goals and will thus waste the counselor and the counselee’s time and effort. Additionally, for me since it was mandated to do it off campus instead of being mandated on campus like they usually do, it was exorbitantly expensive…for something I had no desire to do. Even if someone did have legitimate mental health needs, those needs are likely to go just as unaddressed in mandated counseling as punishment as they are with no counseling. Let me say that one more time. Counseling should NOT be used as a punishment. Okay, now that we are clear on that, one of my friends was mandated to I think it was 2 or 3 counseling sessions as a punishment. She didn’t know about my getting abused by certain someone because of the gag clause. I am so thankful she is very well adjusted and that she came to me. She was like hey, this is what happened, is this what counseling is supposed to be like, because it felt really wrong. I assured her it was totally not how things are supposed to be and totally not okay. She was given the option of seeing a different counselor for free, but I am so proud of her, because instead she decided that two could play certain someone’s games. She went back intent on trolling certain someone back. Oh, I wish I could have been a fly on that wall, because my friend could be totally sassy, and oh did certain someone deserve to be put in her place. I am still frustrated with my school because they continue to promote certain someone’s “services” despite knowing what she did to me and other students. It angers me that not only do they allow her to continue to be in a position to hurt more students, but they also continue to encourage students to engage with her.

 

Okay, rant over. I just needed to get that part off my chest.

 

*side note…also not originally intended to be part of the post, but just popped into my head as I was about to hit publish…when you are a kindergartner and therefore don’t really have much understanding of numbers with commas, your book about kangaroos (it was actually a book on Australia) becomes quite confusing…how do they not know if the population is 64 or 307 or 599?! I thought each set of numbers was a guess and they just had a bunch of people make up a guess…Lol…It is also interesting being asked to identify the plot points of a book of science experiments…and this is why you probably should at least help kindergartners choose their books…

I’m workin’ on switchin’ them letters

(LeCrae – I’ll Find You)

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Doodle in my journal in January to commemorate my goal for the year and try to make it fun instead of some kind of obligational burden.

 

 

They say don’t get bitter get better. I’m workin’ on switchin’ them letters.

 

I thought maybe it was time for reflection and an update. I still cry sometimes. I still mourn my losses, but I keep putting one foot in front of the other and slowly I am healing. I am doing my best to hold it together, and sometimes I am almost successful. Sometimes I am less successful. And that is okay. Like it says in one of the books by Sheila Walsh that I read, people may say there is no reason to be sad or angry because joy comes in the morning. I’ve told them it is still night. While I would love to have a button to press to magically turn off the pain of the abuse and of the loss, I don’t have that. Healing cannot be rushed. And because of that I am very thankful for people who have been willing to sit with me in the dark when I really couldn’t access the bright side.

 

If I remember correctly, my goal for this year, better not bitter, was not inspired by the LeCrae song, but when I heard it in the song a couple weeks ago, I listened closer to the rest of the song, and it’s been a really good song…

 

Last year at this time some of my favorites were Skillet – The Last Night, We As Human – Take the Bullets Away, and Skillet – Not Gonna Die. I do still love those songs, and not that they are bad songs or anything, but I’ll Find You has so much more hope. Last year’s favorites had some hope, but it was kind of buried. That was the most I could really connect with, because the totally happy life is awesome kind of stuff just felt fake or like a slap in the face that I was doing it wrong or like no one really gets it. I’ll find you still has some focus on how life is hard, but moves from that to holding on for things to get better.

 

They don’t know the battle I face; They don’t understand what I’m going through.

 

Oh, there is so much depth to the lyrics of this song. Because of the gag clause, most people didn’t know how much I was fighting against through school and how that impacted what I was feeling when I didn’t get a residency. Even the few people who did know couldn’t necessarily really understand what the loss was like. Time passes, but the pain doesn’t ever end. It can’t be totally fixed. Even if I got a call today telling me there was a mistake and I actually should have had a position last year and it is mine for the taking effective immediately, it wouldn’t totally erase the pain. But I am starting to see some positives in not going directly into a residency. There is the obvious that I will be a lot more financially stable when I do finally get a residency, but beyond that, I am learning to be a real adult. Real adults don’t eat ramen every day. Being a resident is essentially an extended student position, which is a role I enjoy, but I think it was good for my personal growth to spend some time as an adult before jumping back into a student role, and putting me in the sink or swim position being an actual pharmacist instead of a resident with a preceptor forced me to learn to communicate without someone at my side giving me words, or at least being there in case I get stuck. Sure, I am certainly a communication avoider, because I don’t feel like I know what I am doing and I don’t really get much of a chance to observe and mimic to really get comfortable, but the skills that I am learning will help me no matter where I go in life…not just in helping me someday get a residency…which was in my mind, the only purpose in staying in pharmacy rather than getting a job at Caribou.

 

I’m tryna remember the way; I’m tryna get back to my home, but I can’t do this on my own.

 

Figuring out how to navigate from completely devastated and barely making it through the day to actually surviving and maybe even sometimes doing more than just surviving is something I couldn’t do without support, but it was also isolating. Grief is isolating. Partly because you are a hard person to be around when you are grieving – people are uncomfortable with pain and unsure how to respond and want to make the pain go away to alleviate their awkwardness, but they can’t…and partly, because in grief you tend to lose the energy to make any real effort to be around people and it is just easier to be alone. Sometimes even people way removed from my support network can be incredibly helpful. I was reading a blog post recently by someone who experienced a loss 12 years ago. She still struggles emotionally particularly around the time of year the loss occurred. It was so helpful to read that, to know it is normal to still cry so much later, to know that someone else understands there isn’t a mark on the calendar by which everything will be awesome again. I do still cry sometimes. I still have deep hurts that resurface particularly around meaningful dates. And that is okay. It was helpful to realize that she mostly posts positive well-adjusted posts – she has moved on from experiencing the pain as regularly as I still do, and someday so will I. She does post maybe a couple times a year about her loss, but mostly she shares about the other things in life – at the beginning of her blog I think she was like 5 years out from the loss if I remember correctly, and it was mentioned maybe a little more frequently then. Seeing the post made me feel like I had a kindred spirit. I am sure most of the people in her life would be like why are you still bringing this up, how is this still relevant to your life now, but as a fellow loss survivor, I get it. I get that no matter where you are in life, you might be struck down by a memory of that painful time and no positive can ever completely cover up the pain. Sure, some details of the memory may fade over time, but it will always be there.

 

I’m smilin’ in everyone’s face; I’m cryin’ whenever they leave the room.

 

Once I got far enough along that I could hold in the pain, this was totally me for a long time. I’d paint on a smiles in front of people, but as soon as either something happened that broke through to the darkness hiding behind the smile or I was no longer around people, the tears poured down. It was kind of a problem, because when wake up in the morning and cry is your modus operandi, it is sometimes hard to turn that off to be ready in time to go to church or to work or to wherever else needs going. I am so happy to be past that point. I do still cry sometimes, but not every day, and that is huge.

 

When that ocean of doubt comes don’t let me drown in my sorrow.

 

For a long time it felt like I was drowning and suffocating. It is a painful terrifying feeling. I finally started getting moments of reprieve from that feeling eventually. It is only over the past couple of months really that the drowning feeling has become more of a once a month or so thing rather than a more frequent or even near constant experience. I am so thankful for that progress. My external situation might still be similarly hopeless, but my internal situation is a lot better. To be honest, although I would have been angry if anyone had violated my trust and placed me in any kind of mental health crisis hold center, but looking back, I can definitely see where they might have been coming from and while it would have been devastating, I don’t think it would have been a wrong choice. I wasn’t eating, drinking, or sleeping well. I was undeniably living in crisis mode, barely making it through the day. Something needed to change. I don’t think not forcing me into that was the wrong choice, and I am glad that it didn’t happen, but I also know I was dangerously teetering on the edge. I had zero desire to be alive and wasn’t doing a good job taking care of myself. If it hadn’t been for caring and compassionate and patient friends, my outcome could have been a lot different. I don’t know exactly what that outcome might have been, but it would certainly have not followed the same trajectory I ended up on. Now I finally feel okay or even good again a lot of the time. I eat. I do what I can to take care of myself…my job isn’t very conducive to getting good sleep and stuff, but I am doing a lot better than I was.

 

I’ll be there for you no matter where you go…Just fight a little longer my friend.

 

I feel like this post is a little bit all over the place, but long story short, I am doing a lot better than I was. Life can still be hard and painful, but I am so thankful that I am not in nearly as deep as I was a year ago. Last year at this time I was quickly approaching the deadline I set for God to please just take me home…but he didn’t. I kept fighting and I am still here. And God is with me even though life is hard and painful and frustrating. He is good. He is not good because I am doing better though. God was good when I was at the bottom. He was good when I didn’t match. He was good when I went through phase II and the scramble with nothing to show for it but a drained bank account and exhaustion. He was good when I graduated and was still crying every day. He was good when I lost my pediatric job with all my friends. He was good when I almost got it back then lost it again. He was good when I struggled through another residency season, and when I failed again. God’s goodness isn’t based on the goodness or badness of my life. He is good and that is a truth. It is hard to believe sometimes when life is so bad, but God is good. God understands and cares about what I am going through, and one day he will bring me to forever home and the pain here will make paradise seem even better by contrast, and it will all be worth it in the end.

 

P.S. Even if you don’t wanna listen to the song, I totally recommend just reading through the lyrics to “I’ll Find You” by LeCrae. So good, so powerful, so full of depth. K, I’ll shut up now.

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This is from my journal in early November 2015, written across two printed emails from people who were way nicer to me than I deserved and took time out of their busy schedules when I was supposed to be serving them to actually serve me in a big way. Just taking the time to say hello and include me meant the world to me, and these people did that and more. And there were so many other incredible people I got to work with there. I so miss that place and yearn to be able to go back and serve some more even though a lot of the people have left. Buying everyone there a starbucks treat for their Monday morning meetings is still on my list of things I want to do someday to give back to the people who gave me so much even though so many of the people have left in the past couple years…

Now things have changed, won’t stay silent this time!

(Not backin’ down – Blanca)

I feel like now that I *can* talk I don’t. I guess partly because it is less relevant now that I am both not living at or near school where the rules impacted my every day and no longer living under those rules. Partly though, because I got used to pretending nothing ever happened. And when the residency thing happened it was easy enough to act like that was its own issue, not linked to the abuse. And, okay, let’s be honest, also because communication is still hard for me so I’d have to be really close to someone and have the right situation before I’d be likely to talk about what happened.

I was working maybe like a month ago on a version of my story I could share. What I started with wasn’t something I was comfortable posting on my blog, because I felt like even attempting to hide some details it was just too personal…but then I was re-writing it again, and this version seemed like a good place to start. More may come later…or maybe it’ll open opportunities to use my spoken words to share my heart, but this is what I am ready to share right here right now.

For the entirety of my third year of college I was in a counseling relationship with a woman who abused me. Life was hard. I escaped the counseling portion of that statement after third year, but I never really escaped the relationship part. I was not allowed to communicate with her (among a large number of other restrictive oppressive rules intended to intimidate me, keep me powerless, and protect the college from anyone finding out what they had allowed to happen on their campus). She, on the other hand, had no restrictions whatsoever and no consequences for any of her actions. She would follow me around and try to get me in trouble claiming I was following her – interesting considering I was always there first…but she was the princess who could do no wrong, so no one really cared that her stories didn’t check out. I stopped using the cafeteria because I got fed up with her coming in and sitting at the table next to mine. Then she decided to hang around to use the microwave next to where I was sitting despite the three other microwaves without lines closer to her workstation. There was fresh running water in her office yet she came to walk past me to fill her waterbottle. I was broken. I needed the metaphorical heart and lung transplant that graduation would give me. My official count down started well before 400 days.

 Fast forward to sixth year. Working on getting a residency was hard and stressful. For this girl still learning social skills, an interview is a challenging proposition. For this girl who thrives on routine and predictability, travel and interviewing in new places with new people was also not my forte. The months leading up to match day were like finally preparing for that transplant. It was hard and scary but there was that light at the end of the tunnel that everything would be so much better if I held on just a little longer.

Then match day came and I didn’t match. It was like they took out my heart and lungs in preparation and the organs to transplant weren’t viable and the only option was to use ECMO for heart and lung bypass. I had a week to stabilize before I had to be ready to transfer back to school. I was struggling and hanging on for dear life. I was prepping again at the same time and the second match day came and went with more failure and disappointment. Another failed set of organs. Nothing to keep me alive.

 Somehow, gradually, my body healed a little. I was functioning a little better, but still in tenuous position trying everything to just hang on a little longer.

 Finally I got a job offer. A barely viable set of organs were available for me. They didn’t really fit. They weren’t what I wanted. But they were my only option. ECMO wasn’t intended as a long term solution. It was even harder when my body had to wean off ECMO and I lost my job working with kids because HR didn’t think I was necessary anymore. 

Now I am here. Still healing, but realizing more and more that the organs are not a good fit for me. At the same time I know a re-transplant surgery (applying or residency again) would be a risk. And at the same time I know these organs are just going to keep making life hard as long as they last. I tried prepping for another surgery; another failed attempt this year.

 I know even the perfect fit wouldn’t put me right back where I was before. Anti-rejection protocols take a hefty toll on the body and are a lifelong requirement regardless of how incredible the match is once they’ve been started, and the more transplants, the higher the doses may be required to be to successfully suppress an immune response against the new organs. Life will never be the same as it would have been, but I still am holding onto my tattered shreds of hope that one day I will get the residency experience and ultimately the pediatric critical care position that I have been working towards my whole life. It won’t be the same as if it had been that first year, and I won’t be the same candidate anymore, but I have to believe there is more for me than this.

 Praying for patience as I try to decide how to get on the waiting list and prepare to live out my dreams.

 

When the Voices in Your Head are Anything but Kind

(Be Kind to Yourself – Andrew Peterson)

 

I learned that I wasn’t worth it and wasn’t good enough. The words of the woman who abused me became the words that I used on myself. Her view of me became my view of me. Before, I was hard on myself, but I did believe that my hard work paid off and produced results to be proud of. After, I was even harder on myself, but I now had the view that nothing I did would ever be good enough. I had learned a deficiency mindset and saw the good in other people but was only able to zero in on the negatives in myself. I believed the words I had repetitively heard about myself. I was trying to learn to fight for myself, but when you still have the voices in your head telling you your opinion doesn’t matter and you should be ashamed of yourself, it is hard to break free.

 

But I am learning to give myself grace.

 

Today at church was youth Sunday. I somehow agreed to help do the welcome at the beginning of church. It was scary. The youth group students were super brave. I wish I could be that brave. Anyway, the message was about how we are all awesomesauce even when it is hard to believe it. Sometimes we might not feel like we matter, but we do. During the service, a group of girls danced to a song called “Be Kind to Yourself” by Andrew Peterson. It was a wonderful reminder that those words I heard on repeat in school, those words that burned into my life song, those words were not the truth about who I am.

 

It is okay to be proud of my performance and accomplishments even when what I did wasn’t perfect. It is okay to do what feels right for me without needing it to be the right thing to do.

 

So I gave myself grace. It would be easy to look at my two sentence welcome speech and be like wow, that was lousy and you messed up the whole service. Instead, I can look at it and say wow, you did something you never imagined you could do and you worked really hard and did a good job. It wasn’t perfect, but no one expected perfection. That was your best today, and that is enough. I was able to be so proud of myself. Could someone else have done a better job? Maybe…okay, yes, but they knew that public speaking wasn’t my forte and still included me. Even knowing I couldn’t deliver a perfect welcome I was given a chance to participate. How cool is that?!

 

And sometimes giving myself grace means listening to myself. There was a lunch and celebration that sounded really fun at a grocery store on the other side of town this afternoon that I planned to go to between church and work. Last year at this time, being in motion was one of the only things that made me feel okay. It helped me down-regulate my grief to a level where I wasn’t crying so hard and was able to get some food and drink in my body. TBH, it is a big reason I walked to work most days and still do. For a long time I was afraid to stop walking because I was afraid that when I was doing more sitting still that the grief would grow bigger than I could handle. All that to say that now being in motion isn’t always a good thing. Sometimes doing anything but laying on my bed sounds like a chore. Sometimes being in motion feels like a reminder of that painful time when being in motion was my only escape from the tears and oppressive pain of grief…and that is okay. It is even okay when like today I got all ready to ride my bike. Clothing selected and put on, keys found, backpack packed, hair tied back, helmet on. And I made it about a yard outside of the parking garage on my bike before I turned around and decided I didn’t really want to bike. Part of me really wanted to ride my bike and was excited for the party. The other part of me associated the motion with the deep pits of grief and just wanted to be alone. I recognize it isn’t healthy to sit on my butt all day every day and isolate myself from the rest of the world, but all things in moderation, and I am trying to figure this out on my own and I’m doing my best.

Broken souls with smiling faces…all scared to say how they really feel

(You are loved – Stars Go Dim)

There are about a million things in my mind right now I want to write about…

 

I don’t know where to start, so I’ll start on the surface…I was reading a news article that claims that the number of school shootings being reported is inappropriate and should be a lot lower. Their rationale is that one particular shooting had no deaths. In the shooting the article references a third grader was playing with a gun at school and accidentally shot it, so it shouldn’t count. I don’t see how you can even consider not counting that as a school shooting. A gun was fired. It was fired in a school. That is very clearly a school shooting. Was it a deadly school shooting, luckily no, but it is the very definition of a school shooting. This is a problem. The very fact that a third grader had access to a gun long enough to shoot it whether accidental or intentional at school means that we as adults are not doing our job of protecting children. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again, there is no reason for anyone to own their own gun. The (very outdated) constitution gives you the right to bear arms. As far as I interpret that, it does not give you the right to own those arms. If you want to go shoot something I see no reason why you can’t rent the gun like we rent out all sorts of other types of equipment. And if we agree that shooting people is wrong we shouldn’t be arming our police officers and giving them permission to do something we agree is wrong. I’m not even going to say not sayin’ because I definitely am sayin’. We can’t keep having a school shooting every week. It is not okay that there are kids who aren’t even shocked something happened because it has just become part of what happens sometimes in schools. I am absolutely not a gun hater. When I went to summer camp as an elementary schooler, I always signed up for shooting guns as one of my camp activities. We shot BB guns and rifles. I didn’t go home and ask for my own gun, because we learned gun responsibility, and that holding and shooting guns is a privilege, not a right. It seems that is something that a lot of people don’t understand.

 

Totally unrelated, but there is a concept I saw on pinterest recently that really resonated with me. There are two kinds of people, those that ask whether the cup is half empty or half full, and those that ask if you know the cup is refillable and who or what stops you from accessing the tap. In reality, I don’t really fit into either of those categories. I am someone who believes the cup is always full, just sometimes it is full of air, sometimes it is full of water, other times it if full of koolaid…et cetera. But anyway, I really liked that idea, and choosing between the two options in the original post, I think I fit more into the second category. I want to encourage people. I want to understand their perspective and help them live their best life.

 

Speaking of living people’s best life, I was reading an article about mentoring maybe like a month or two ago. It focused on non-millennials vs millennials working together and conflicts that can arise. I found that I don’t fit completely into the sides of the conflicts that I am “supposed to” as a millennial, but can definitely see the merits in being aware of these differences when working with other people. Some seem a lot more legitimate than others…but anyway…Millennials tend to prefer ad hoc as needed accessibility with frequent short meetings for direction whereas non-millennials tend to prefer scheduled structured engagement. I’m not sure that is even a true stereotype. From what I’ve experienced and my knowledge of myself, I prefer a scheduled meeting for everything to be discussed then leave me alone. I don’t want to be micromanaged. My mom on the other hand is always nagging me to go talk to someone and I whine and scream that she doesn’t get it, you can’t just show up, you have to wait until it is your turn to have a meeting! I guess it is important to recognize that some people do need to just show up even if it isn’t an emergency so if you are someone like me you can plan around that instead of getting frustrated, and if you are one of those people to limit how frequently you just show up with someone like me who feels trapped if we don’t have lines defining the boundaries of in a meeting and not in a meeting.

 

Next, millennials tend to prefer collaboration and diversity whereas non-millennials prefer siloed hierarchy. On this one I do fall closer to the millennial model – I see no reason why we wouldn’t want to go directly to the person who has the information we need instead of asking someone who will ask someone else who will ask someone else. Playing telephone just seems like a way for both the question and the response to be garbled and to extend the conversation into a much longer process than it has to be. I also think that some people naturally will fall into a leadership position whether given that official title or not, and it is silly to tell them they are not leading when it is clear they are. On the other hand, however, I think to prevent chaos we need a defined structure. If everyone is in charge without any real structure, rules, or defined leaders, chaos will ensue because really no one is in charge.

 

Whereas non-millennials value process, millennials value purpose which they define as results. At first I wasn’t so sure about this one. I felt like I was totally a process girl. I want to follow the rules to a T even if breaking the rules might be a more efficient way to work. After reading the article’s example though, I definitely fall into the category of valuing purpose. The way they explained it is that if someone discovered something that could help people, the non-millennial would work on studying all aspects of this and publishing the information whereas the millennials focus would be on using the discovery right away to start helping people without stopping to write a formal paper on the topic. I totally agree…partly because I think the formulaic approach to writing taught in school is dumb, and the “scientific method” writing is even worse. I can’t stand writing it, and to be honest I find it a frustrating writing style to read which is why I much prefer textbooks that say it like it is over research papers that say the same thing ten times and debate with themselves what is going on instead of getting to the point. Also why I LOVE the society of critical care magazines and do not like the AJHP magazines. If you want me to enjoy reading it, then avoid the scientific method style at all costs and just write what you want to say…For that matter, I would love if reference sources just wrote in bullet points as if someone was taking notes rather than structuring everything into sentences…if it is a reference, then people want a quick answer, not an English lesson. Not sayin’ just sayin’.

 

The rest of the article was an assortment of things like if you are getting frustrated because a person seems X, then consider how their behavior might actually be a sign of Y. For example, because someone does not see social distinctions and hierarchy the way you do, they may seem entitled to you, but instead of being frustrated with their entitlement if you try to think of them as motivated you might be able to value and embrace their attempts at autonomy. Similarly, a person who doesn’t respect “time in rank” and is annoyed by “busywork” might be seen as lazy, but instead you can try to see them as balanced noticing how purpose, mission, and skills motivate them. Other X,Y combos the article introduced are impatient vs efficient, narcissistic vs empowered, social vs collaborative, and needy vs engaged. I felt like in working with difficult people this list of negative attributes with ways to find the good was the gold of this article. It is super easy to get frustrated with someone who seems to have one of these negative characteristics, and that can be a huge barrier in effectively working with them and allowing both of you to be the best workers you can be, but if you can look for the positive side even if it seems like a stretch to call any part of their behavior positive, it totally changes your perspective. I think if you are looking for the good, you are more likely to find it and that will take your focus off of how frustrating the person is to work with which in turn over time might make them into someone you actually enjoy working with or at least don’t dislike quite so much. Not saying it’ll fix every problem relationship, just that it seems like it has a lot of potential for relationships that might still be salvageable.

 

So…let’s see, what other totally disparate topic should I throw in before calling this post over…lol…About a month ago I was looking up pharmacy school graduation statistics…I don’t really remember why. From 2000 until 2005, there went from about 7000 pharmacy graduates to about 8000 graduates. So some growth, but considering this was the time pharmacists were getting cars or even cold hard cash as sign on bonuses, no kidding pharmacy was a growing degree program. Soon though, growth in pharmacy graduates took off like wildfire despite the fact that jobs have become much more scarce. The last definite number of graduates was in 2014 with nearly 14000 pharmacy graduates, with projections of continued growth after that based on enrollment data. This is even more impressive when you consider that this includes both bachelor and doctorate degrees in pharmacy, the former of which is a starter degree that very few people actually receive anymore and which has not been valid credentials to actually enter the profession since I think somewhere around 2000 to 2003, so really the number of qualified graduates has grown even faster than it appears. I guess no wonder it is getting so difficult to find a residency. Although building a new pharmacy school is very possible to allow a much larger number of students graduate with a pharmD, opening a new hospital to let that many more students go into a practice is not quite so easy – there isn’t the same overabundance of patients, nor are there necessarily enough of the other healthcare and administrative professions to make that possible. There is a distinct limit on the number of pharmacists any one institution can support. Even more so on the number of residents, as a resident, unlike a student, requires a paycheck, but the resident, like the student, while present 40 hours a week (or more or less) does not actually perform the work of a pharmacist all 40 of those hours and does require some minimum amount of time from other pharmacists removed from the work pool to educate and mentor them…so while residency programs are trying to help accommodate more graduates as residents, it is impossible for them to create nearly as many new spots as the growth in graduates requires, particularly as the pharmacy organizations start pushing for residency to be required rather than recommended…another one of those things that is a problem without an awesome solution. I mean, yes, it was irresponsible for so many schools to open and churn out graduates knowing there wasn’t a market to support them, but at the same time, now that they are open you can’t exactly expect them to just close ’cause you said so, and also these decisions don’t happen in a vacuum. Very likely the ideas to open a new school started when there was a shortage of pharmacists, and just wasn’t tabled when the market turned back down a couple years later, because even if the schools knew this wasn’t a good plan, there was still plenty of money to be made because there were still students either passionate enough about pharmacy not to care about the economics, or either not knowing or not believing the economic situation…

 

Okay, rants over. This was probably the most useless post I’ve ever written, but sometimes there is just so much detritus in my brain I need to get some of it out to be able to do anything useful…

 

I’m losing control…and that’s what it’s like to believe

(I’m Letting Go – Francesca Battistelli)

I was recently reading a book called something like Tale of Three Trees. It is a children’s book, and I didn’t make it all the way to the end because everyone lost interest because someone mentioned snack…and that’s okay, because snack is important to me too. That was what made the decision a definite no for me to not apply for the one summer camp that is both still looking for volunteers and happening at a time at which I could attend. They strictly prohibit snacks except for documented medical necessity and this girl is definitely not interested in trying to survive a camp experience without snacks, especially once you consider that camps tend to think waiting until almost lunch time for breakfast is acceptable. There was a video that circulated recently of a little girl probably 1.5-2 years old being asked what she was going to do that day and her response between mouthfuls of food was “eat, eat, eat.” That girl is after my own heart. I can’t imagine a world where I only get to eat three times a day and don’t get to decide when those times are or what is served. I have always survived camp and other travel situations by packing my own snacks in case of foods I won’t eat or just being too hungry to wait until the next snack or meal time and most camps actually include snacks in the day…just sayin’. And that wasn’t the only persnicketiness of this camp. They also require you wear bug spray, but it can’t be aerosol bug spray. And all toiletries must be packed in a clear plastic bag for inspection. Most of the time I don’t like people scripting the minutiae of my life. I very do not like bug spray. Also, I can’t even remember the last time I even saw a bug spray that wasn’t aerosol…actually I do remember, it was like 6 years ago. So yeah, I guess I will not be headed to any kind of summer camp this summer even though there are some super awesome camps out there that I really really want to volunteer with.

 

Anyway, I don’t know how the book ended, but guessing based on the fact that it was in the church nursery and by the fact that most children’s books are somewhat simple, don’t end sad, and have super contrived messages especially if they are trying to be Christian but not too Christian so that other people might accidentally buy the book and then be disappointed when they get home, I am guessing that the first tree that wanted to be a treasure chest became the manger that held baby Jesus, the second tree that wanted to be a massive ship became the canoe Jesus stood in while teaching or something along those lines, and the third tree that just wanted to grow tall became the cross Jesus died on…just guessing based on the part of the book I read. I only made it as far as the first tree being made for animals, and the second being at a dock, so I don’t even know for sure if the second tree was made into a boat at all and not something like a ladder or whatever…but I couldn’t stop thinking about that third tree. It just wanted to stay where it was and grow tall. That’s a lot like me. I just wanted to stay with the healthcare facility I already worked for. I wanted to stay and live out my dreams. Instead I was knocked down. That little tree bravely stood tall…umm…I had to pretend really hard to bravely stand tall when on the inside I was crumbling. The lumberjack who chopped the third tree said anything would do. I felt that way too, like “they” were right that no one would really want me and I wasn’t good enough so I could only get the job that really just needed a warm body to fill the position…so I guess this is where I am supposed to spin this positively, because that is how literature is supposed to work…even if it doesn’t seem like positive is how the world works in reality…but okay, positive…ultimately, that tree was taken from everything it knew and every dream it had. That kind of sucks and that is where I still am…but that wasn’t the end of the story for that tree (assuming my assumption of the ending is correct). God needed that tree. It wasn’t a glamorous role, but a tree was needed to create a cross for Jesus to die on so that he could take away sins so that we could have eternal life in heaven with him. Maybe if I hold on long enough, I will find there is some important reason God put me here not because it is good for me, but because it furthers his plans. It isn’t that the tree was a throwaway tree. It was brave and strong and just happened to be chosen. Similarly, this doesn’t make me a throwaway person, it just means someone who couldn’t see my talents and couldn’t see me for me took away my potential to fulfill my dreams but gave me a different purpose.

 

Unfortunately, grief doesn’t just end, and I still long for a career in pediatric critical care, NICU or emergency. Sometimes it is hard. The events leading up to Easter were hard for everyone. Jesus and the criminals were facing death on a cross. Pontius Pilate was facing knowing he made a decision he knew was wrong in an effort to be popular. The Christians lost their Lord. Judas realized he had denied his identity and faith. The criminal set free was likely dealing with the confusion and guilt of being free but unjustly and at the cost of an innocent man being sent to death. And I have to believe in the crowd’s hearts there was at least a seed of that twinge of conscience letting them know they’d done something wrong in cheering for an innocent man to be killed. But like it said in a book I read recently, Jesus paused Easter to listen to one man. As Jesus was bearing the humiliation, pain, and suffering of death on a cross, he engaged with someone. Not one of the people on his inner circle. That felt hopeful. Jesus pressed pause on one of the biggest events in history to attend to the needs of one person. That is how much he cares. He might not always choose to take the pain away, but he also willingly suffered on our behalf when he could have taken the pain from himself.

 

I can’t believe I am saying these things. It seems like just yesterday I was crying because God “got” to die on Good Friday but I was still stuck here despite praying for God to take me home. That was over a year ago now. The healing seems so slow and prolonged as it happens, but looking back in the bigger picture it is so clear how amazingly far I have come. It was hard to believe at first that healing in any sense would ever come, but it has.

 

I guess I kind of feel like I should go back to the topic of my week off this summer. I have no idea what I am going to do with that week. If you asked me in person I’d probably shrug and leave it at that as if I hadn’t put much thought into the week and was thrilled to just have a week with minimal to no plans. In reality, I have been thinking about that week a TON…Sometimes I talk like that TV show is reality and I really do have to pay to use vowels. That’s why I love writing. I was Quiet Girl. I was the girl who didn’t talk. I was the girl who brought her laptop to write to people in person if email wasn’t going to be fast enough but talking was too hard. I was the girl who’s achievement was celebrated when she said “I haven’t thought about that” instead of “I don’t know” (or silence) in response to her best friend’s question. Writing, whether to myself or in a slightly more public forum has always been my way of expressing myself. Sure, even those written words can be terrifying and take a lot of courage to share and were often written and deleted choosing no communication over the fear of communicating, but I can write a lot more easily than I can talk, so I’m going to share in writing my thoughts…

 

August 10, 2008 my family started going to a different church. The next year I tried out VBS for the first time. In my oversized t-shirt I spent a couple nights with the yellow lightbulbs and a night with the purple feet (both preschool classrooms). The next year I did 3 year-olds all week. After that I started leading the 0-2 year-olds and added on the 3 year-olds when they decided 3-year-olds no longer needed their own class. There have only been two years since then that I haven’t led that age group, although one of those years I was given a room of 2-3 kids alone so I was kind of leading but the actual leader made it clear we were to do nothing but play except for we were allowed to join the other 0-3 year old class for snack. (My group was the younger kids who might get trampled in the other class plus the one older child who struggled with separation anxiety but knew me well enough that I could keep him happy the entire night whereas in the other class he’d be inconsolable). When I started leading the game plan was play time, carnival, music, snack and play time, then pick up. If my memory serves me correctly, the first year I wasn’t leading they stopped having a carnival and the leader decided this age group didn’t need to do anything but play and have snack. It was hard for everyone. 3 hours or so is a long time for a kid to play in the same room with no structure except for a snack right at the end. When I came back to leading I added story time and coloring time and moved snack earlier in the evening, and brought back music. It was a lot more successful, and felt really fulfilling, because parents thanked me for how well I was incorporating their younger kids into VBS and keeping control of the room, and loving on the kids and volunteers. I missed taking the kids out to the carnival, but I was really happy with how the week went and thrilled to be there. I felt like I made a difference.

 

Then there was last year. My memory of last year is not of how much of a difference I made or how much fun I had. Instead, my memory is of trying to protect the dignity and safety of one particular child and his family. That is not what the week is supposed to be about. I was volunteering with the 0-3 year olds again even though I was in no position to lead. The person leading decided we were going to split up with 0-1 year olds in one room and 2-3 year olds in another. Not how I prefer to do it, as I found it made logistics more difficult (siblings or close friends that really need to be together to do well, “older” 1’s vs “younger” 2’s, staffing two rooms and/or having to split kids up after an initial drop off, etc), but okay, not a bad plan on the surface if that is how you want to do things. Here is the problem. A child with special needs was dropped off. He was in the older age group and his mother made it very clear that she wanted him to be with his age-appropriate peers. I saw no problem with that as he quickly warmed up to the room and played appropriately with the other kids his age. If you didn’t know he had special needs it wasn’t like it was immediately obvious or anything. He fit in. The leader came in and was angry that I let him in with the older kids because he should have been with the younger kids. My mama bear came out and I fought for him, but I lost. This child had medical needs that were very important. Before handing the child off to the younger room since staffing required me to stay in the older kids room, I needed to share his medical needs with the volunteers in his room. The leader refused to let me do this. I was really terrified for his safety. Without going into the details since that ain’t any of yo’ business, he had a condition that was important to recognize because it could be life-altering or fatal if an event happened and wasn’t recognized and treated appropriately and quickly. I only got as far as the people in the next room had no idea at all about recognizing or responding to the condition before I was cut off. The rest of the night I was so thankful for the small windows between the two rooms so I could periodically keep an eye on that kiddo. It was really sad because this kid clearly understood that he was in a room for babies. This room had no age-appropriate activities for him and he was clearly bored out of his mind stuck with the infants and early crawlers. If there’d have been some older 1-year-olds in the room it might not have been quite so bad as he’d at least have had a playmate, but they were all under 1 or just newly turned 1. I was angry, and so was this child’s parents at pickup. I wanted to apologize and explain that I was at least trying to watch out for him. His parents were so brave to entrust him to us – they’d had a hospital visit with him two days before, and I felt like we broke that trust and defeated the whole purpose of VBS – to serve families and reach children. By taking him out of the older kids class he missed the opportunity to have a story, too.

 

That night I knew I needed to cool off before I said anything I would regret, because I was absolutely livid, but I knew after having a conversation with the leader I would get nowhere with her, so I went above her head to the director of children’s ministries the next morning and explained the gist of what happened. She assured me that she would reach out to the family to apologize and to the leader to ensure it didn’t happen again. That sounds like a positive ending, but everything leading up to that really took away a lot of the joy of that week. Unfortunately as well, we also lost the trust of that family, and they didn’t come back until the last night. I recognize it might not be fair to classify the whole week based on that one situation, but it is my predominant memory of the week. It was a very good week for me because working full time an hour and a half to two hours away combined with the 4-ish hours at church each night meant that I was so crazy busy I didn’t even really have time to think about my loss or my career situation or anything which was super helpful at that time in my life (although coming off of that with not enough sleep, less connection time, and more free time was rough).

 

Also, while the director of children’s ministries understands what I have done for the children’s ministry, and some of the previous nursery directors got it, the majority of the current staff didn’t appreciate me and somehow couldn’t draw the connection between the success of their ministry when I was around and how they were struggling when I wasn’t around. There were/are also a lot of problems with them just not understanding the needs of parents. Sure, the service doesn’t start for 10 more minutes, but parents can’t be in two places at once, so you can’t turn them away until the service is actually starting. Also, while I agree that prayer is important, it is totally not cool to tell a new family that no, you can’t show them where to drop off their children because you are busy praying. And it is also not cool to tell a family that their child will not be allowed to drink anything because you think their bottle looks weird (the kid had a swallowing issue and his bottle had thickener in it to make it safe for him to drink – understandably the family said if he can’t have his bottle we aren’t leaving him here).

 

So yeah, all that to say that not even knowing who will lead the 0-3’s this year I can’t say with certainty it will be an utter flop or anything…and I am not sure that most people will even recognize or connect me being gone with a less smooth week…but although I originally put this week on my list of preferred PTO weeks because of VBS, I plan on taking the year off of VBS. I am thinking about Summer Jam, but IDK on that, because based on the videos, I think the game time would be super overwhelming for me and I don’t think that would be a good role to set me up for success unless there is more of a behind the scenes role I could take that wouldn’t involve being around the chaos of the games. Also, I would have a hard time coming to church for Summer Jam and not helping with VBS stuff, because I do tend to gravitate towards finding ways to help out and VBS usually has plenty of things for me to help with that I can excel at, but I’ve never seen anyone involved in Summer Jam need help with anything…

 

I know there are people who hire a babysitter or have some other plans set up so their younger kids don’t have such a late night or so that there is less chaos in getting ready for the night and getting everyone out the door and stuff…that also sounds like something I would love to do although I definitely wouldn’t accept any exchange of cash for it. I offered that, too, but I kinda doubt anyone’ll take me up on that, because TBH, a lot of the families with kids that age don’t really know me that well anymore and might not be sure about taking me up on that.

 

So yeah, like I mentioned in the first part of this post, there aren’t any summer camps that I could find still looking for volunteers that week, I don’t think I am doing VBS, and I have my doubts about Summer Jam or watching children working out. I have no idea what I am going to do. My mom thinks I should fly to Georgia, but I am someone who really hates traveling, so the fact that I only have one assigned week off makes me really want to have something that feels like an actual break. Flying is SUPER stressful and not fun for me (Well, the flying part isn’t *so* bad, it is the airport part that I really hate, and then the lack of independent transportation ability following that). Not what I want for my time off. Sure, I could drive to Georgia, but that’d be a long drive, which would be similarly unfun. I could punctuate the drive with a stop somewhere, but I can’t expect people to be available on the exact day and time I want to see them, and so many people have moved all over the country that I can’t really just go one place and have a whole list of people potentially available to say hi to anymore…I feel like I should have some idea what I want to do, but I really don’t. I feel frustrated. I kinda feel like I am wasting my week off since I don’t really have any specific plans.

 

So yeah…I’m not going to declare on the public internet when my time off is because I know it is bad form to announce in advance when you potentially may not be present at your home since that invites criminals to take part in the opportunity to break in while no one’s home…but if you are someone who knows me in real life and can therefore figure out which week is my week off and have any ideas for me, I’d love to hear them. I super love people, especially infants, small children, and my friends, and so yeah. It doesn’t have to be some glamorous trip across the globe. In fact, I’d be more thrilled with an hour with an infant in my hometown that the entire week alone in Paris.

Safety is not for Sale

(in the end – JJ Heller)

 

Sometimes facebook sends me emails about people I should consider friending. I have always wished I could turn it off, because it drives me crazy. It is usually random people I don’t know and have no way of knowing – like not even someone I have mutual friends with or who lives near me. It has never been anyone I was actually interested in friending. If I don’t know this person then I don’t want to be facebook friends with them. If I do know them, there is probably a reason we are not facebook friends yet, and sending me an email suggesting them as a friend isn’t going to make me friend them. Most of the time people I know are not my facebook friends because of my social unsureness. I am afraid the other person won’t want to be friends and that maybe it will undo the hard work I’ve put in to find community in real life.

 

Anyway, that isn’t the point. The point is that recently facebook sent me a friend suggestion. It was my abuser. Or at least it was someone with the same name as my abuser. I was afraid to even open the email, because once you have been hurt as much as I have, you learn to be wary and wonder if you are somehow being tricked.

 

That paragraph there. It is a sign that I am beginning to learn how to live free. Until I graduated, I really avoided using that a-word, abuse. For the most part, if I was going to talk about myself I didn’t come out with the word abuse, and if I was going to use the word abuse I was going to avoid directly talking about myself. Why? Well, I was told that my abuser didn’t like when I insinuated that she had abused me. She had a lot more power than me, so I was instructed that it was best to keep from making waves. And I did my best…although it was hard to completely not make waves, because she would turn the tiniest ripple into a tsunami like wave. For example, one day I was blogging about music. I mentioned that everyone has their own opinions about music, but like here are some types of music I am not a fan of. She got all butt-hurt because she likes that kind of music and tried to use it as a reason I should be kicked out of school.

 

I am lucky to have had an advocate who realized how ridiculous that proposition was. She protected me. I had to lay low and be even more careful for a while, but obviously I ultimately didn’t get kicked out of school. So yeah, it was in my best interest to be careful with what I said. Rule #1: Don’t vilify your abuser no matter how much she hurts you.

 

It is probably partly my fault that she had so much more power than I did. Sure, she had some extra power because she was older than me and had a lawyer husband who is the stereotypical American: Sue Happy. But, it feels like my fault, because I am too overprotective of people. Despite what she did to me, I didn’t want to hurt her. Also, she had two daughters and I didn’t want to hurt them either. She probably still has two daughters…lol…but anyway, I know about how kids can sense stress and tension in caregivers and take it on themselves or otherwise be negatively affected. I also didn’t want to take away a stream of income and cause a period of chaos in their lives even if it wouldn’t be that big of a deal…so yeah, at first I kind of refused to tell anyone what happened. I pretended it was all pretty much okay and nothing really happened. Probably also didn’t help that she pulled her little fake crying routine to make people feel sorry for her.

 

Again, I am so thankful to have had an advocate who somehow sensed there was a lot more to my side of the story than what I was sharing. That woman must have had the patience of a saint working with me. It took a few months before I started opening up to what had been happening behind closed doors. By that point it was too late. The school’s minds had been made up that I was going to be punished for my immature attempt at escaping and she would get pretty much whatever she wanted without any punishment. It isn’t fair, but life isn’t fair.

 

She had the freedom to follow me around. To walk into the empty cafeteria where I was studying and sit down at the table next to mine. To follow me to the parking garage. To wait in line to use the microwave next to me when there were multiple other microwaves without lines equidistant or closer to her workspace. To intercept faxes from my counselors and read them with her friends. And she accused me of stalking her and threatened to press charges. I wasn’t allowed to say anything and wasn’t allowed to access student services. I was powerless. I could run, but there wasn’t anywhere to hide. I could *try* to avoid her, but wasn’t super successful. Sure, I knew she tended to work 10am to maybe 3pm or so, but when someone seeks to hurt you and knows the last thing you want is to see him or her, they aren’t going to make their schedule 100% predictable…especially since her office window faced the quad so really she had a huge home court advantage in actually having a pretty reasonable ability to track at least what building I was in most of the time, and with our very window-y buildings, maybe even more than that. That is why from my perspective, the abuse never truly ended.

 

But I am gradually learning that I really am free now. I can express myself without fearing consequences. There will not be retaliation if I say something offensive. Now that I have a diploma, she doesn’t have much influence over me anymore. Now, I can use the word abuse. It feels a little dramatic after years of saying I was “hurt” to say I was abused. But it also feels really right to give it that name; to acknowledge that what happened wasn’t just me being too sensitive, but was something legitimately wrong that should never happened. It feels like it gives me back the power I surrendered so many years ago. My voice is not dangerous. It is okay to express myself. It still feel a little scary and a lot rebellious every time I use those words, but “safety is not for sale, you cannot buy peace of mind.” It is something I’ll have to continue to get used to a little at a time.

 

To be honest, despite the abuse, I still care about her. I can’t help but see that she is still another human on earth who deserves love just as much as I do. I kind of want to click over to profile and try to judge any public posts or images to determine if she seems like she is doing okay, but at the same time, just seeing her name was scary and I have zero interest in knowing what is going on in her life. I just want to check the box okay vs not okay. A few years ago I longed for reconciliation. I still think that has some potential to be a healing experience, but I also think that it could go wrong because I am so terrified of her…and who is to say she wouldn’t use the opportunity to find a new way to hurt me? I think I have grown enough in my confidence that I wouldn’t let her put me down, but I worry that my strength in the moment might not be enough to protect me from sinking into those hurtful words when things weren’t going so well.

 

On Sunday it’ll’ve been a year since I graduated. It feels like an eternity since I was in school, but at the same time it feels like yesterday. I feel like I am living in limbo. Not a student, not on a path towards my desired career, but also not settled into a career. I don’t want to forever be longing for the job I don’t have. It is times like this when I start really wondering if there is any way I could make it work to go back to school for social work and just start over. I’ve at least gotten a year out of my pharmacy degree, so I mean I wouldn’t be totally throwing away my education. Last night wasn’t so bad though. If every night could be like last night I might be okay with keeping my job longer. Last night I spent quite a bit of time in the ED with an infant. Not a newborn, and not a very involved patient, but just having the opportunity to be around an infant again and being a part of the emergency care team made me feel like I was at least kind of sort of living out my purpose. I really wanted to call everyone at Children’s and be like hey, number one if this patient comes to you, please be careful because this patient (like all my littles) means the world to me, and number two, I miss you and wish we could have taken care of this patient together…but I mean, it wouldn’t have been very appropriate to call, because I really didn’t have anything to hand off…I miss everyone at Children’s so much!! I loved what I did there so much. And I need to stop writing so I can finish eating dinner, because, priorities.

You’re not good enough…and you should be ashamed

(Fear is a Liar – Zach Williams)

 

I don’t remember what brought it up, but a few weeks ago I was thinking about type 1.5 diabetes. Thinking about it breaks my heart.

 

I guess I should back up a little for any non-medical professionals…

 

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune (body attacking itself) disorder where the cells of the pancreas that make insulin are destroyed. It is generally though not always diagnosed in childhood, earning it the term juvenile diabetes though that term is a bit of a misnomer as it can be diagnosed later in life, lasts a lifetime once it starts, and not all children with diabetes are type 1. Anyway, the onset is usually quite rapid, so children are fine one day and in anywhere from a couple days to maybe a month become severely ill and are often so sick at diagnosis that they require stabilization in an ICU if not recognized quickly. Since the pancreatic cells are destroyed, there is an absolute deficiency of insulin. Patients require insulin from outside of the body to control their blood sugar.

 

The other type of diabetes that lay people are at least moderately aware of is type 2. Type 2 diabetes is a disorder of insulin resistance. The cells of the body don’t respond as well to insulin, so higher amounts of insulin are needed. To some extent the pancreatic cells might be able to keep up, but eventually the cells of the pancreas can’t keep up, causing a relative insulin deficiency. It is correlated with obesity, and is generally diagnosed in adults, though it is possible for it to be diagnosed in younger children. Type 2 diabetes has a more gradual onset and has often been present for many years prior to diagnosis. Because the cells of the pancreas are still able to make insulin, these patients can often manage their blood sugar with a combination of diet and exercise as well as medications that decrease insulin resistance or stimulate insulin secretion. They may over time require insulin as the insulin resistance tends to continue to increase and may eventually be too much to overcome with oral meds alone, but insulin is not usually considered at initial diagnosis.

 

As you might expect, type 1.5 is kind of like an in between of type 1 and type 2. Biologically, it is more like type 1, but at least initially it presents somewhat more similarly to type 2. It is also called LADA or latent autoimmune diabetes of adults. It is an autoimmune disorder as is type 1, but the destruction of the cells of the pancreas is a lot slower, which means that the onset is a lot slower. If I remember correctly, it is more common in females than males, and is generally diagnosed around age 25-30 years, so older than you’d stereotypically expect for type 1, but sooner than typical for type 2. Unfortunately, because the onset is slower and the patients a bit older, it is often misdiagnosed as type 2. If diagnosed very early on, it is possible that medications to increase insulin secretion in combination with diet and exercise may temporarily allow patients to control their blood sugar, but if correctly diagnosed initially, patients usually start on insulin as a first resort rather than a last resort.

 

Unfortunately, this (oral meds plus non-pharm changes) won’t work very long. Quite soon, the patient’s blood sugar starts creeping up. The provider, assuming that type 2 diagnosis, admonishes to remember to take the medication, and be careful with diet and exercise. Perhaps doses are increased, but with fewer and fewer functioning cells in the pancreas, sugar control gets worse and worse. The patient tries harder and harder to do what they are supposed to, but it seems like they do everything right and still can’t be good enough – and at the same time while the patient is trying harder and harder, it is unfortunate, but possible, that the patient may be (or at least feel) shamed for not controlling her blood sugar appropriately. Imagine that you are doing your best and have no idea what you are doing wrong, yet it is never good enough. Everything you are doing people are telling you is wonderful, but the results aren’t there.

 

It is a really hard place to be. The discordance is difficult to reconcile. It is very much how my career has gone. I had good grades in school. I was very active as a volunteer. I was leading a variety of on campus organizations. I had a clear career goal and had been pursuing my dream for years and therefore had significant relevant experience. All of my preceptors loved me because not only did I have excellent clinical skills, but I was a reliable worker who sought out opportunities to enhance their work as well as my own, and I brought a positive, friendly, presence. I am self-motivated. I get my work done efficiently and then seek out more to do. I had research experience. I had teaching experience. In phase 1 of 2017 I had as many interviews as applications out, although two interviews were with the same place, so there was technically one institution without an interview. Each place told me I was an excellent candidate, but I found out later that I didn’t match. In phase 2 I applied to a similar number of places including re-applying to two places I applied in phase 1. One of them being the place I didn’t get an interview the first time, but I did get an interview in phase 2. My stats were just a little lower in terms of interviews vs applications, but again, every place I interviewed told me they were thrilled I had applied and that I had strong references and was a great candidate. I threw my all into interviewing, and I failed again. It was really disheartening.

 

Anyway, back to the point, the reason type 1.5 diabetes breaks my heart is that by the time people are correctly diagnosed, if they ever receive an accurate diagnosis, they have tried and failed so many times and believed they were a failure for so long that they often have added depression and anxiety to their problem list by the time they get a correct diagnosis. The correct diagnosis of type 1.5 is often a huge relief because it means they haven’t actually been at fault for their failure all along, but by this point, failure may be ingrained enough that the feeling doesn’t just go away. I get that actually testing C-peptide levels which would help determine type of diabetes is somewhat more expensive than a simple glucose screening and trial of medication to see if it does anything where doing *something* is assumed to indicate a correct diagnosis, but it hurts my heart to know that there are people suffering when it could have been avoided with an extra blood draw or two and a bit of cash, and arguably though in some populations it might not be practical unless there is a high suspicion of type 1.5, I personally would rather pay the price to find out up front in order to save my mental health later.

 

I wish I had some great comparison of this to my career like I did for the earlier part of my explanation, but I guess the best I can come up with is a bit of medical student syndrome…the past like 2 days I have been wondering if I might have diabetes, probably type 1.5…considering it has been the past two days and how much sleep deprivation I’ve been living with in that time, obviously there is a good chance there is a lot more fiction than fact in this conceptualization…but anyway, usually when I participate in blood glucose screenings, my numbers are low enough that I get asked if I am okay…as in I know one of the times I tested I was at 59mg/dL – diabetics are trained that they are too low if <80mg/dL and to react and treat the low if <70mg/dL. But this past year there was once I was all the way up to 79mg/dL. Still low, but a lot higher than my body’s set point. Add to that the fact that I had a headache and felt like my world was spinning the past couple days – probably sleep deprivation, but also symptoms of high blood sugar.

 

Then there are the three P’s of hyperglycemia (high blood sugar): polyphagia, polyuria, and polydipsia. So we’ll start with that last one. Polydipsia is being excessively thirsty. While this could make sense because I wasn’t drinking enough for a while and needed to catch up, I was drinking way more than enough while on my trip to Rochester, yet was still constantly thirsty. I had probably about 4 to 6 cups of fluids with dinner Wednesday night, and still got up like every 2 hours at night for more to drink. Polyuria, or excessive urination…okay, well this is embarrassing, but yeah, I might have taken a lot of breaks to use the restroom, but it is hard to say the real cause. I suppose one possibility is that I am developing diabetes and my body was trying to eliminate the excess sugar, but it is also possible that drinking a lot leads to peeing a lot, and that my body does seem to confuse boredom with time to take a potty break…and also being female, it might be partly a hormonal cycle thing. Finally polyphagia…umm yeah…that means eating a lot. Diabetes is a disease of starving in the land of plenty. The body has too much glucose (sugar), but because the body can’t actually use it because of the lack of insulin, it feels like it needs more glucose which stimulates hunger. I definitely can put away food, but is it diabetes, or is it just me? I will raise my hand and admit that I eat to entertain myself, and I eat for pleasure. Plus see above that who knows if I am extra hungry at any given moment because my body is giving all its nutrition to the baby I am not going to have, or whether there is something else going on. I won’t deny that I can put away food. For breakfast today I had around 12 ounces or so of orange juice and two cups of hot chocolate (one at home, one at church…or maybe it was two at home for a total of three…idk), and some potatoes and chicken. For lunch I had three platefuls of spaghetti with sauce and meat, as well as a few vegetables and three cups of juice and a cookie…and almost three whole sleeves of gluten free communion crackers…That’s a lot of food for a girl who has just slept 11 hours and when not asleep has mostly been laying on the bed in front of the computer or similarly inactive. And I still came home hungry and looking for more to eat…

 

Lol, it is probably just medical student syndrome (the “disease” of the health professions, where we kinda diagnose ourselves with like every disease we know about on rather faulty premises or very limited signs and symptoms)…but if someday I am right, you heard it hear first…lol…

 

And this entire post was written on Sunday (except this paragraph) and after another night of around 11 or so hours of wonderful sleep, my brain is functioning enough to realize that diabetes is a very remote possibility. Stress and sleep deprivation seem to fit this picture a lot better…

Make a big mess and do lots of dishes

(How You Live – Point of Grace)

 

I haven’t been sleeping well. Hydration has been a challenge. Today I got home from work, and cried for about an hour. And that is okay. As much as I wish the grief would just go away and never come back, the fact that my life was irreversibly changed is not going away, and I am learning that trying to hide from the grief might help when I really need to act professionally or when I need (okay, want) to fit myself into the social norms, but giving myself space to grieve is also important. It is okay to hold it in at times now that I can – I am pretty sure it would be a lot harder to find community if I walked into a brand new church with tears rolling down my cheeks, and I might not be employed very long if I couldn’t see through my tears to do my work…but it is also important not to hold it in forever. I know in one of the books I listen to a lot, the author states that if a child’s cries remain unanswered consistently the child will learn in about 30-60 days to stop crying. I also read a heartbreaking article on the internet recently about sleep training. Study found that while the infant being sleep trained does gradually cry less and less as sleep training progresses that the only cortisol level dropping is the parent’s. In other words, the infant’s cortisol level, which is a surrogate marker for stress levels remains at  very similar level, but crying fades out and becomes uncoupled from internal distress. So yeah, after I was done crying, I actually did feel like some of the tension had drained out through my tears. As much as I hate crying, especially the deep painful suffocating kind, it was kind of relieving. I still feel the pain of grief and the sting of loss, but my body feels at least a teeny tiny bit calmer.

 

Before anyone freaks out that I should have gotten help by now if that is what is happening, I guess I should clarify that crying for an hour after work is not an every day activity for me right now. Sure, part of that is certainly that I do want to pretend I am fine, pretend it doesn’t still feel like my world shattered and I am now trying to live in a world of shards that continue to pierce my skin, leaving wounds in my heart, but I promise another part is that I am doing a lot better than I was a year ago…and not just in the amount of control I have over the tears.

 

I think the trigger making it more intense recently was the picnic the pharmacy staff had last night. Mostly because the last staff picnic type event I went to was the resident picnic last summer that I originally intended to attend as an incoming resident…and there has been information sent out about this year’s resident picnic that I can’t really go to seeing as how HR said I am no longer needed and therefore am no longer employed at that institution. I am still not a resident. I am still the reject no one wanted. Also, the picnic was to meet the youngest pharmacy staff family member. Seeing an adorable baby reminded me of how I no longer have any baby interaction opportunities. I really miss having infants to love on.

 

Speaking of the picnic, let’s just say the reason this post got the title it did is because my ability (or lack thereof) to cook is probably kind of impacted by the scatterbrained-ness that grief gave me…patience and measuring are useful skills in the kitchen. I may not exactly have measured the water I was adding to a recipe for a loaf of bread that I figured I’d use to make rolls. So I ended up with a sticky bread dough soup that I tried to fix by adding flour. Well, bread is more than just flour and water, so eventually I realized even though it was still super sticky that if I kept adding flour I probably wasn’t going to end up with something good. I had flour and bits of bread dough all over my kitchen and self at this point and tried to make roll shaped bunches of dough, but mostly ended up with wads of dough which were more biscuit like. And because the recipe was for a single loaf of bread rather than a bunch of little roll-biscuits with not nearly enough rise because of all the extra flour and water, the amount of time they spent in the oven was a lot longer than it should have been. I guess yay me, I tried.

 

I had another kitchen fail a couple weeks ago too…so I tried to make meringue. I started trying to use my mixer in a bowl in which the fluid was pretty close to the top already. Fail. Liquid splashed all over the kitchen. I upgraded to a slightly larger plastic tupperware bowl. That worked for a little while, but eventually as the fluid grew, I was at the top of that bowl too, and flinging sugary goop everywhere again. I’m not sure if I missed a step in the directions, or what I did wrong, but part way through cooking the meringues I discovered that they were completely flattened…and although an hour or so was still left on the timer, they were starting to look dark brown. Yeah, that was great…it took about 2 hours to have kinda sorta clean baking sheets after that because the stuff was stuck on there so much.

 

Sometimes it just seems like my whole life is a fail. I can’t sleep. I can’t stay hydrated. I can’t get a residency. I can’t make rolls…but at least the bits of this fail that I could get off the sheet tasted okay. I wish every fail were sugary. While at times even sugary treats aren’t enough to get me to eat anything, a lot of the time, sugar is a good anesthetic to emotional pain. I’m pretty sure there are some studies that it works for physical pain too…

 

Well, I should probably finish eating dinner and then get packed up since my suitcase has been halfway packed while in the brain fog of lack of sleep and grief and stuff and while I know there are things I am missing that are on my list to pack, I wouldn’t be that surprised if I opened up my suitcase and found no underwear or an abundance of socks without any matches. And since I leave tomorrow I need to do my best to have a usefully filled suitcase by the time I go to bed so that when I arrive at my destination I am not stuck with a target run for a shirt besides the one already on my body…or possibly worse, showing up without any credit card or other way of paying for anything, because girl is going to need a place to park her car and stuff. And I probably need to pack some food, because who knows if I am going to be willing to eat anything I didn’t provide myself direct from its packaging…I think I am doing okay on the germ front right now, but yesterday on my way home I started talking quietly in French (difficult since my vocabulary has contracted from fluent as a high schooler to very limited now), which is a sign that my social anxiety is flaring, and I really think the OCD was 97% really an offset of social anxiety rather than actually being a disorder on its own. As in while I do not doubt I met criteria for a while, I think there is a possibility I never truly could have been diagnosed using the DSM criteria because of that clause they throw into pretty much every diagnosis “the disturbance is not better characterized by the symptoms of another disorder.” The underlying reason I do not want to get sick is not even really the fear of getting sick, but the fear of communication and stuff like that comes with getting sick. I guess I should explain that the way French was taught in school was like if this is the concept you want to express, this is how you say it to a teacher, this is how you would say it to your boss, this is how you say it to a parent, this is how you say it to a friend, this is how you say it to a best friend, this is how you say it to an acquaintance, this is how you say it to a stranger, et cetera…so I started actually almost feeling confident expressing myself in French because I knew the right way to have a conversation with practically anyone. I longed for English to be taught that way. Unfortunately, once you leave the French classroom, people expect you to be able to speak English, and direct translation of the French phrases is likely to sound a bit stilted…but still, I’d work up my courage starting by repeating the French phrase to myself trying to find the courage to translate it conceptually to English as best as I could…