Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Somehow it became December

I expected that I would have blogged more by now, but I never felt like writing. I still don't really feel like writing now, but somehow I persuaded myself to start typing.

I don't know where to start. It seems like so much has happened over the past few months yet I spend my days doing nothing at all, just wasting time, rotting.

As for the rest of the story, well... On a Friday, after two nights that seemed like an eternity, I left the hospital. My husband forgot to bring my shoes so I walked out in beige hospital socks, carrying my clothes in a brown paper bag. I prayed no one I knew would pass me in the hallway.

I took the weekend off, and then went back to classes on Monday. I decided to drop physics, because it seemed like between the lack of sleep and the hours spent commuting and the full-time job, there just weren't enough hours in the day (or night) to get everything done.

It took most of the morning just to drop physics. I was trekking all over campus from one end to the other to get my list of signatures that had to sign off on me dropping the class: first the grad school, then my professor, then the grad school again, then student accounts (not only would I not get any tuition refunded, I had to pay a fee to drop it (talk about adding insult to injury!), then the registrar...etc.

I had a problem set to finish for my chem class, a lab report to turn in, and the prelab for the next lab which was the next morning. I thought I would be able to get on top of things, but by late afternoon, I had only finished the problem set and my lab report. I was having chills and wondered if I was feverish again. I had a note from the hospital explaining that I was "ill" and excusing me from the lectures that I missed (both classes used iclickers for attendance monitoring, ugh). I decided to see if it was possible to get an extension: I had to pick up MiniMan from daycare to then drive home and work an overnight that night. There was just no way to get everything done by the next morning, and on top of being overwhelmed, I felt like shit.

I tried to contact the professor for my chem class, but I realized that he didn't list his e-mail or his office location in the syllabus (and also didn't offer office hours). I went to the chem help lab (run by TAs), but there were about twenty students in there and one TA milling around answering questions. I waited about half an hour, and then finally one of the TAs suggested that I contact a different professor who oversaw all the chem labs. When I finally talked to her, she said that it wouldn't be possible to have any kind of extension because it wouldn't be fair to the other students. I was fucking amazed.

I walked out, made it to my car, closed the door, and cried. I picked up MiniMan from daycare and we drove home. We made it home, and then I got dressed to go to the hospital and started driving to work. I felt nauseated. I started sweating in my car, crying the closer I got to the hospital. Part of me knew it was ridiculous to be consumed by dread, but it was hard to ignore such a visceral reaction. I made it work, pulled myself together, walked inside. My unit was so good about maintaining confidentiality, almost none of my coworkers knew that I had been admitted just a few days ago.

I muttered a few brief hellos and sequestered myself to the med room to stock supplies. I ripped open boxes and filled drawers with syringes; I just couldn't deal with patients. If a call bell went off, I would ignore it. I had never done that before. I just felt like I couldn't go into a room again, like I wasn't strong enough to take care of someone, to converse and be cheery. I looked out the med room window into the ICU room where I had stayed. Everything was still so raw. I faced the wall and unpacked bags of saline and silently started crying again.

Forty-five minutes later my charge nurse discovered me and sent me home. I drove home in the dark, trying to decide if it made more sense to drive home or to drive into a tree.


  1. What an awesome blog! So much of what you have said has hit home for me! Have faith that what you are experiencing will eventually make you stronger! We never know at the time what amazing things come from our darkest moments, but I hope that one day you have that amazing moment when you realize that you would not have become the person you are without this period of your life!

  2. Mezzo -- The chem lab professor at my school was this bitter hag who did the same sorts of things that your lab professor does. Either she a) couldn't cut it as a real professor, or b) she'd decided to mommy-track, which is how she'd ended up with a non-research job. Either way, she was bitter bitter bitter that her life had become answering the questions that the pre-meds had. And she hated pre-meds. I don't know why. I mean, pre-meds can be annoying, but to do things like punitively take points off on exams when you asked her about a question the TAs graded wrong, to refusing to make allowances for anyone for any reason, was just over the top. She was legendary. Anyhow, when she jerks you around, just remind yourself that she'd probably just jealous of your youth, your potential, and your future, and that's why she's acting the way she is. You can and will rise above it. It sounds like you really *get* chem, which helps. I don't think I've ever done a problem set in a single afternoon. Hang in there. The semester is almost over.

  3. Thanks for writing again. I had been waiting. I don't think I could imagine what it's like to be in your shoes. One day at a time. Your miniman is your joy. Your husband is your supporter. Can you afford to quit and just focus on family and school? Can you reduce your work load to 1-2 classes? Can you transfer units? Another hospital? Going back to the same place might make things harder for you... hang in there E. Greene. It will get better. Keeping you in my prayers.