Day 286 – Julia

1.My serious neurology patient from Friday turned out to really just be having a migraine. He was very amused by our findings on Friday, and we were very relieved not to be able to replicate them.  He had no idea he was making no sense.  Anyway, I whizzed through a NP form in an hour with no babysitter (it’s amazing, how much easier it is to do stuff when nobody is talking at you all the time). 

2. The head of student services continues to be amazing and explain how everything ever is suddently resolved and/or ok.  I think I want to marry her.

3. Neuro patient left me with lots of work to do, but just as I was panicking about how I could get everything I needed to done before the clinic closed, the security guard rang to say he’d be an hour late. Hallelu!

3. I made it to the gym tonight. The receptionist took some convincing, as last entry is at 9 and it was 8:59, but I threatened to cry on her desk and start smoking again if I couldn’t blow off some steam. I feel 10% disingenuous and 90% proud of myself for standing up for my rights. It was, after all, only 8:59.  And besides, I belong to a gym that’s open til 10 for a reason, damnit! And I left wayyyyy before the last five grunty men did.

4. Been going since 7:30 this morning, had a good productive day, and am still pretty much upright sixteen hours later.  Can safely say I was 95% productive with my time, so I don’t feel as bad as I should about there not being enough of it.



Day 277 – Julia

What a hectic day.  Meeting in which I got 30% more grown-upness back, and we managed to work around the problem of the risk matrices showing very low risk but the system still being necessary for unclear reasons.  Now I just need a large, clumsy, preferably epileptic patient with Parkinson’s disease and drop attacks, and I’ll be a full grown-up again. Whew.  Had a full patient shift afterwards, with only one of four expected patients but lots of patients all the same. Good experience in the end.

Finished at 6:30, jumped into the car and legged it to Blenau Ffestiniog via Swansea.  Arrived in north Wales at midnight, to a beautiful house and a full moon. Friends all in bed, but the light was on.  Had a drink with my wife, and then went to bed to rest up for an early hike.



Day 264b – Julia

Today (well, yesterday by now) I turned up to school early, had 20 minutes to just sit and think about my patients without the chatty babysitter interrupting my every thought, and decided to change my treatment plan for a patient who was really suffering. When that patient arrived, I managed for the first time to tune out the pressure of having both a babysitter and an assessor monitor my every move with pens poised. At the end of the treatment, the patient burst into tears of relief and gratitude when she sat up. This has never happened before and will probably never happen again, but it was pretty rewarding to know that despite all the red tape I’m still fundamentally good at my job.

I had an underclassman shadowing me for the rest of the afternoon, in addition to the floor tutor/assessor and the observer/babysitter. I am pretty damned confident that I resolved any outstanding concerns about my balance when I managed to treat my next two patients AND safely negotiate around five people and an ultrasound trolley in a room designed for one clinician and one patient. A new level of ridiculous, but a new level of competence and confidence too.

So, I have a lot to be grateful for this week. I know that the head of student services has my back, and is going to get me out of this ridiculous situation as delicately and quickly as possible. I know that I am still competent and confident despite the pressure of having to demonstrate this at all times. I know that I’m really pleased with myself for managing to tune out all the extra stressors and do a great job with one patient and a good job with the other two. I know that I’m doing everything I can to look after my body and cope with the situation I find myself in, and I’m delighted to still be mostly upright. I’m relieved that my good friends waited in the pub until I could join them for a pint and a good laugh about not risk assessing room capacity. And I’m exceptionally relieved that nothing happened while I had to negotiate power cords, three extra people, awkward questions from a panicked third year, and a minimum of three conversations at any one time. If I had fallen over it would have been entirely predictable but would have triggered another 45 meetings and risk assessments. As it is, I’m hoping it will weigh VERY heavily in my favour.

Day 261 – Julia

And then there was the day I met the head of department X, who had a list of questions and concerns identical to mine, said, “but surely it would have been more appropriate to use objective measures at the start of  this process,” came up with a more delicate and more effective version of the same game plan, and was rather easy on the eye to boot.  It was all I could do not to form a religion on the spot, but I settled for only crying on her once. 

Day 256-257 – Julia

WordPress has now eaten 4 attempts at explaining the situation I’ve been put in this week, so I’m going to sensibly opt for a precis of the good things. (In the context of a 95-hour week, it’s a precis.)

1. My wonderful housemate let me cry on him a LOT this week, entertained me with 90s tunes and good company last night, negotiated with gravity on my behalf today, and brought me tea.  To ice the cake of loveliness, he fed me chilli and did all of the dissertation week dishes (they were his, true, but the kitchen makes me happy now).

2. My friend C read some e-mails to ensure I wasn’t just interpreting things like a crazy person, and said wise and calming things at a good time. (Unfortunately, I’m not misinterpreting things like a crazy person. We really are writing a risk assessment for the risk management strategy that we’ve put in place to deal with my undefined “risk of an unforeseen risk,” and the person writing it really does want me to explain to her what the actual “risks of unforeseen risks” are, because she doesn’t understand why we would go through this whole process if there weren’t any actual risks). There are about to be some much bigger meetings, I think, and there seems to be some unsurprising concern that I might sue. Since the head of department also decided to demand payment in full of my deferred fees within 4h of me being allowed to re-enter clinic under an unfair and discriminatory system, I feel a negotiation coming on.)

3. My friend P sacrificed our study date yesterday to help defer a nervous breakdown, and patiently got me to cry tears of laughter for a change. She’s a good egg. One of the best, in fact.

4. Wife is away this weekend, so I’m not feeling guilty about losing a fight with gravity today.  I’m glad she has adventures too, even if they involve archery and knife-throwing and weird circus skills.

5. I managed 10 of the most stressful days of my life without losing a negotiation with gravity, so I’m pretty sure the ear thing isn’t psychosomatic or stress-related.  My ear seems to play up every 7-10 days regardless of my activities or stress levels, and I’m disproportionately grateful that I have no reason to blame myself for this happening.

6.  I was looking uninspiredly at some rice cakes for dinner, but I’ve just found a bar of 80% dark chocolate behind them! I can also now walk reliably enough to carry a cup of tea upstairs without spilling it all and focus well enough to curl up with a textbook, so I think I’m on a winner of a Saturday night.

Day 255 – Julia

I have very mixed feelings about this, but in the last two days I’ve been allowed to begin to carefully pedal very slowly off the starting line.   It would be unprofessional of me to comment further on the details of the situation, but suffice it to say that I am being given a number of opportunities to master, umm, some areas of weakness and frustration.  I’m getting a little bit better at that, and genuinely feels good to know that some of all this practice has been paying off. Shifting perspectives and letting go of schemas takes a long time, but I sort of feel like I’m getting there. (After admittedly ample practice.)

I largely owe this momentary ability to cry less in public to my wonderful Alexander technique teacher, who has patiently reminded me again and again that somewhere in the quiet core of my being, I ALWAYS have a choice. That’s a powerful thing to know, especially when none of the apparent options are easy to accept. I choose to list among my choices the option of moving to Tahiti and using a skywriter to spell out my feelings, in short words, as I go.

More helpfully, I choose to remember poetry I memorised as a teenager.  I’ve been re-learning Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird, by Wallace Stevens.   Here are a few lines about acknowledging uncertainty.

I was of three minds,
Like a tree
In which there are three blackbirds.
The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.
It was a small part of the pantomime.
If I start chanting about regaining my locus of control, please smack me.  In the meantime, please be patient as I make daily attempts to wrap my head around kindergarten with Mussolini.

Day 249 – Julia

Found a way to make someone who was mad at me un-mad at me. Since stakes were higher than I can say, I’m really quite relieved.

Dissertation is coming along, and WILL be in on Tuesday at the latest. That’s 24 hours before the deadline.  I know that I will want to keep being a perfectionist forever and will want to be printing like a lunatic at noon on Wednesday, but I am desperate to let go of something early (possibly for the first time in my life). Therefore, I have the next 10 hours to tinker with it, and then I’m not allowed to look at it again until Monday. (Except to maybe shorten some appendices.) (And do some printing out for a proper paper copy. Sorry, Heather; I just can’t copy edit properly on a computer screen, so I’m looking forward to the luxury.)  And Monday is a formatting day, not an “oh, I need another 300 words here even though I’m already too verbose” day.