I’m scheduled for a lot of hours through September and October due to several coworkers taking vacations. My supervisor, Sophie, called me before creating the October schedule to make sure I was okay with working nearly full-time, because I was hired as an occasional employee – expecting 1 day per week, plus every 6th weekend. I told her it was fine.
Last week I worked my first full-time week since my training period, and I was completely overwhelmed. On Monday, all the carts were desperately low on supplies and we had to make two trips to the storeroom for each cart. On Tuesday, the elevator to the storeroom was down for maintenance and we had to take a long detour. Also, I got locked out of the storeroom when making my third trip there for one floor, because I’d never checked their cart before and they kept telling me I missed things.
Things improved a little on Wednesday and the day was uneventful, but on Thursday I made some mistakes and was also stressed out by donating blood for the first time. I went home dreading the fact that I had to return to work again the next day. On Friday, I was completely overwhelmed and stressed out and couldn’t stop thinking about how I couldn’t handle all the hours I’m scheduled for in October. I started thinking again about how suicide would get me out of having to do that.
I seriously considered calling the on-call therapist after work, despite the fact that I’d feel really stupid telling her I was having problems with my job when I had just told her the job was fine. Once the day ended though, I realized I’d be safe for at least the next 5 days, as I didn’t have to work again until after my scheduled appointment with Sadie. So I didn’t make that call.
In the 5 days between my work weeks, I had several appointments scheduled. I was going to DBT group on Tuesday morning and my family APRN that afternoon. I was seeing Brent and Sadie on Wednesday. Things didn’t go as planned. I got a call early Tuesday morning saying that my family APRN was going to be out of the office and I had to reschedule, for a week and a half away. This was very frustrating, as I’d spent the previous night unable to sleep due to my mind racing with all the things I wanted to talk to her about. The only bright side was that I thought Brent might be changing my medication the next day, so at least I wouldn’t have to tell her that my medication list might be wrong in less than 24 hours after I gave it to her.
As it turned out, Brent did not make any changes. My overall mood is good and I’m down to a reasonable amount of sleep. I can’t make myself take the Latuda with a meal, but he was fine with me taking it at bedtime so long as I do take it. Not only did he make no changes, but he again told me to wait 2 months to come back. This time I think I might actually succeed at waiting that long.
Brent did tell me that I am too nice and accommodating and need to stand up for my own needs in regards to the work schedule. I’d had some coworkers offer to take some of my hours next month if I need a break, but I feared telling Sophie that they were going to do so, because I didn’t want her to be disappointed and think that she made a mistake in hiring me. Yesterday I finally worked up the nerve to tell her, in an e-mail, that I couldn’t handle so many days in a row.
I waited all day and she didn’t reply, so when I saw that she was in her office in the late afternoon I took a deep breath and stopped in to ask if she had read my e-mail. She hadn’t read it yet and asked if I wanted to discuss it or have her read it while I waited. I went ahead and told her what it said. She was not disappointed. She said that she wants me to be successful in the job and wanted to know how many days in a row I thought I could handle, for future scheduling purposes. She thanked me for communicating with her.
Her response surprised me. Not that I thought she was a bad person or bad supervisor, but when I first started the job I was encouraged to disclose my “disability” and ask for accommodations. I wrote to her about it, asking that I be allowed the occasional short break from work beyond what they officially offer to employees. She never replied nor said anything to me about it, and I’ve always felt that she was secretly judging me and wishing that she’d hired someone else.
This is probably one of those situations in which I should be doing a thought diary. Sadie asked this week how long it’s been since I’d done one, and my answer was the vague “a long time”. She didn’t push me to do them, but did note that my diary cards show me using lots of DBT skills, but not skills that are designed to alter my thoughts about situations. She had me make a list of some skills that I rarely use but would work on using more often. One in particular she came up with was Keeping It In Perspective.
I went back to work yesterday and definitely kept things in perspective. All day I told myself that everything was fine and I could handle it, because at least no one had called and asked me to set up traction. I mentioned to Sophie that I’d been telling myself this and she asked what the problem with traction is. Well, I’m not entirely confident that I know how to do it without one of my coworkers handing me the pieces and telling me where they go. There’s a diagram to follow, but generally the patient is in the bed when we set the traction up, and I don’t want it to look like I have no idea what I’m doing.
More importantly, the fact that the patient is in the bed worries me, as there is a long bar that goes above the length of the bed, which definitely requires two people to lift into place. It’s not a problem to find a second person – even if I was scheduled alone I could ask a PCA to come help. My concern is that even with two people there is always a chance of it slipping and hitting the patient. Sophie seemed pleased that I was concerned with safety, and as the hospital’s risk manager I would expect her to share that concern. She gave me some reassuring news: that they were working to arrange it so there would be beds on Surgical floor, where traction is most often used, that already have it set up so patients who need it could be assigned to those rooms. Of course there will always be a chance of needing to set up traction on other floors, but it would become much less common.