Thursday, September 30, 2010

Sick Leave

Yeah, I've been sick. As in, sick. Like, I wasn't awake for much of Wednesday, except when I kept waking up in a sweat trying to break my 102 fever. I still rattle when I breathe, but my temp is down to low-grade and I'm planning on going to work tomorrow.

So let me get caught up here...

Tuesday, my blog would've said something about how I came home early from work and was so not feeling good. And how I blamed Peng. Or Jen. Even though by then I was thinking it was the THING that everyone in the department has caught or currently has. And even though I work with both of them, it's hard to assign blame that specifically.....

Wordless Wednesday would've been a picture of my beautiful puppy enjoying the beach breeze.

And for Love Thursday, here's a couple of short lists.

5 Things I love about a sick day:

1. A completely legitimate excuse to get caught up on my DVR.
2. Strawberry Fruit 'n' Juice bars
3. My previous officemate, Peng, for covering the unit for me; Mike, for offering to not make me dump it on Peng; and my current officemate, Cleo, for doing her best to take are of me even though I wouldn't let her and that baby anywhere near my airspace. It's nice to know there are people down here who would come to my aid if things got any worse than the flu.
4. My nurse Maggie.
5. Really, really, really a lot of totally guilt-free rainy day naps.

5 Things I hate about a sick day:

1. That whole "being sick" thing.
2. Being quarantined away from my parents.
3. Missing our morning coffee roundtable (although - AHEM - I didn't see any of y'all offering to bring me soup. Just sayin'.), my friends, coworkers, and favorite patients.
4. Missing my Wednesday in Raleigh, which is my favorite day of work.
5. In the shower tonight (my first in a few days, I concede), I blew my nose (hush, you do it too). And popped my right eardrum in some sort of way that really pissed it off. So here I am, in the shower, with horrific vertigo. I can't stand up if I open my eyes vertigo. I tried to pop my ears again. I tried sniffing and blowing and poking at my ears and panting and everything else I could think of to dislodge that bubble, and yet nothing worked. I was about thirty seconds away from calling a friend of mine and saying "Help! I'm stuck in my shower!" when I realized - phone? Totally in the other room.

The moment when, while clutching to the wall and curtain and climbing out of said shower, the bubble finally popped? THAT makes the LOVE list. Whew!

Monday, September 27, 2010


Back to work. Back to therapy. Back to the weekly grind. But back to reality?

Not just yet.

Meanwhile, my throat feels like I gargled with acid. I blame Jen (the index patient in our Village, who are all sick or recovering at this point). Or maybe I still blame Peng (although she seems to be feeling better these days).

I need more weekend.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Crisis of...something

So, I apologize for the fact that the blog, of late, has sucked. No, no, it really has lacked my typical enthusiasm and investment. And I can pinpoint where this fell off, because I stopped blogging every day. And I recognize that as a symptom, not a causative factor. But even when I go back and read what I have written, it's not my usual level of attention to detail. For example, I've been misusing May and June's names for a month - May is a year ahead of me and older than June, which is why she's May. June is my classmate that just got married. You'll notice that I just married off May, which I'm suspecting neither May's wife nor June's husband would support. And Olga has had like seven different names.

The truth of it is, there's something not right with me. And to be perfectly frank, I'm not sure what it is.

Jen suggested this morning that I'm burned out. Which, yes, definitely a part of it. I don't know how I could be running a family care home and being a chief-ish resident and functioning as a very busy first year child fellow and trying to maintain some sort of social connections and working twice a week on a very difficult insight-oriented journey without burning the candle at both ends. I'm very overwhelmed by my life right now, which makes sense, because any single component could easily by itself be overwhelming. The family care home is sucking up a lot of my time and energy, but it ways that are sometimes reasonable. I don't know how to say "here's how you can help me" without it coming out as "stop sucking the life out of me." And sometimes it just has to be what it is, like Thursday, when I was cranky and restless and all I wanted to do was go home and sit in the quiet and make frozen pizza and watch NCIS and then go to bed at 8:00. But I got to my parents' and my dad was bleeding internally. Very reasonably, we changed direction and went to the ER. All the while, though, I felt like I was sitting there looking at the end of my rope.

But I used to be able to handle that a lot better. It would not have bothered me three months ago to anywhere near the extent that it did that my minimal plans for the evening were voided. So, yes, while I feel like there's a very significant chunk of caregiver fatigue in the mix here...that ain't all it is.

There's also probably a seasonal component - I'm VERY light responsive (some would say seasonal affective), and you might have noticed, the light is dying. I have a hard time getting up in the morning. I have a hard time staying up at night. I always, always get a little more depressed when the season changes, but it's much earlier this year. Typically that doesn't kick in until November or December. So something is sensitizing me this year.

I know there's some biological stuff going on as well. My thyroid hormone replacement is still clearly inadequate. My new - if tiny - medicine to address the stress-related borderline high blood pressure I've been having might be contributing. And there may be something more systemic going on, if my stiff, sore joints are any indication. Plus, I still haven't had that sleep study I need. Maybe I have sleep apnea, who knows, but more likely I think I have some sort of REM sleep disorder. I have these ridiculously detailed, highly affectively charged, absolutely EPIC dreams that go on and on and on and on, for literally hours. I have massive sleep inertia when I wake up in the middle of one of those epic voyages (seriously, Homer had nothing on me, and it definitely interferes with my quality of sleep. So I probably need to get that looked at.

In a psychoanalytic sense, it also occurs to me that I've doubly lost my holding environment. I had one here, in NC, away from my childhood and my old life and the painful things about that, a place where I could grow and individuate that authentic self, a distance at which I could appreciate the things I loved about my family and my life back home. But at the same time, I had a safe place to go back to if there was too much trouble here. Like, when the bottom fell out of my life at the Emerald Palace, what did I do? I ran home. Now, I have neither of those places.

But then there's this deeply existential piece. I feel like I've lost my sense of my identity over the last few months. Who am I? What am I doing? What am I becoming? All of those questions suddenly have tenuous and very nebulous answers all of a sudden. My self-concept has always been ruled by outside influences, and I think in becoming more aware of that, of trying to locate that which is more authentic, I've become aware of just how diaphanous is that by which I've defined myself. Winnicott talked about the false self, the ideal persona created which we present to the outside world. Trouble is, the harder I look, the less I feel confident that I can locate an authentic self-object in my internal world. It's somewhere in my shadow, which I cannot access readily, if at all right now. That's the point of therapy, indeed, but that doesn't make me feel any more whole right now. And I think the bigger issue is, there's a lot of affect that's been split off for a long time which is now trying to reintegrate itself as my self-awareness journey proceeds. And there are reasons it left - namely, like any split off affect, it was too painful to tolerate at the time. Now, though, I'm suddenly wading in it until my fingers are pruney. Which sucks.

(Psychobabble, psychobabble, psychobabble. Sorry, it's what I do.)

The point of all of this, I think, is that it just is. There's no quick fix, no magic pill, no right answer. So I just keep going along, keep my head in the game, keep telling the story as it needs to be told (I've been reading a lot about narrative psychiatry lately). I have to identify what my needs really are before I can meet them. And I can hope that my friends' patience with me is a model and reminder of how I need to be patient and kind with myself.

Uncomfortable though it may be, this too will pass. But the only way out is through.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

A good baker could put me out of business...

Check this out (click to make it big and readable...)

If only cupcakes were the antidote to suicidality. Maybe they're lithium cupcakes?

Friday, September 24, 2010


Dad back in the hospital. Feeling better. Will probably come home tomorrow. I'm exhausted.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Monday, September 20, 2010

Ode but good

Sometimes, psychiatry is a really tough job.

Those are the days I remind least I'm not a weather man.

Never once have I had to pick up a cat during a therapy session.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Another week down

Yeah, so, I didn't get too much done today.

Mags went with me to coffee this morning. Her boyfriend Eddie came along, too.

It does bother me a little that my dog has a steady and I...have a dog....

But nonetheless. Eddie - whose full name is Eddie the Neurotic Wonderdawg, if that tells you anything - was SUCH a good boy, and it was his first time at the coffee shop. They had fun together. The humans enjoyed it, too.

We got some lunch, I went to the gym....and then I'm not sure where the rest of the day went.

I had a really restless workout. Ten minutes on the elliptical, ten on the bike, ten on the treadmill, five on the rower, twenty on the other treadmill. Fuss, fuss, fuss. I came home, putzed around, finally got around to showering, did some laundry, did some dishes...I don't know why I'm so uneasy today...

I also missed the fact that it was the 19th, not the 18th, which is what I'd been thinking. Which means I also missed yesterday - as of yesterday, I've had Maggie for SEVEN YEARS! That's crazy!!! Also awesome. And lucky, I think, for both of us. She's the greatest dog ever. Even if she does have a better love life than I do...

Saturday, September 18, 2010

So this is what it's like to be well-rested...

I slept twelve solid hours last night. And STILL nodded off for half an hour this afternoon watching NCIS.

God, I love a weekend.

So, I'm sorry it's taken me this long to blog again. I was at the hospital overnight on Thursday, and was planning on blogging from work, but then I didn't get to it. And then I was going to blog Friday and I fell asleep at 8pm. And so, now, it's Saturday....

Today was great, though. I got up, went to coffee, hung out for a long time. I really like my coffee friends. There were a couple of different waves of them today, which was nice, to see a few people I don't often see. I stayed there until noon, which was great. I went to the gym and saw a couple of friends and a GREAT workout. I picked up lunch and hung out with my folks for a while. Came home, had a nap, cleaned the house a little. Jen and Bill brought dinner over - Egyptian something made by Jen's ex-husband's mom. It was so good, and way healthy. And then we took Maggie out and got her some TCBY. Maggie made lots of friends at the yogurt shop.

Today made me happy. And there's a whole other day of weekend tomorrow!!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A plea for help

Alright, Blogville. I'm really itchy. I'm covered in this ridiculous rash that I think is an allergic reaction to some sunscreen I used last week. It's crazy itchy. Did I mention that I itch?

I've tried antihistamines, over the counter cortisol, and zinc oxide. Any other good itchy-type-rash remedies? I'm okay with weird ideas, I just need SOMETHING...

And yes, I'll go see a doctor Saturday if it's not gotten any better. But in the mean time....thoughts?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Saddle up

So I survived my first day back on the Child Psychiatry inpatient service. Rounds lasted for-ev-er (over half our service was new from the weekend), but aside from that, it was decent. I'm glad to be back on the inpatient psychiatry horse.

Peng and I did this focus group this evening, which was a new and different experience. It was us, six oncologists, and one rehab doc talking about how the state medical society could be useful to us. It really underscored the difference between the specialties and sets up a bit how the split of "us" and "them" arises. They complained about faltering NIH funding (a very valid concern); we were moaning about already dwindling state monies being allocated away from those who need it (we were all bitching about access to care). One of them spends four days a week researching leukemia in dogs. Which, if I - or for that matter, my dog - ever get leukemia, I would absolutely go to her. Her research has the potential to save lives. Meanwhile, though, I'm talking one of my adults off a ledge and trying to manage a kid who's been completely overmedicated by his community provider. Which, when you get down to the impact each of us makes, is equally important; my "life saving" efforts are on a more individualized scale, but they're relevant nonetheless. I totally felt like they - who work literally yards away from us - were way up in the ivory tower, while we were down digging in the trenches. It was an interesting perspective. And, I'm quite certain, not at all the point of the focus group.

Of course, by that analogy...the hospital Starbucks must be the entrance to the castle.

I'd always suspected as much......

Saturday, September 11, 2010


So it's been nine years since the towers fell.

I don't know if you've all been following this story about the "pastor" in Florida who'd been planning to burn the Quran to commemorate the anniversary.

I've been thinking all week about what I would say about this today. I continue to be without words to describe the disgust I feel over the very thought of this.

First of all, to do something like this in the name of Christianity offends me as a Christian. This, this is a travesty of misrepresentation. I have to ask myself, what would Jesus say about this? And how can anyone who purports himself as a man who serves a Christian God not ask himself the same question? What happened to turning the other cheek? Loving the sinner? Judging not lest ye be judged? Jesus was a peaceful man. He preached a message of love and tolerance. This? This is a disgrace to everything he stood for.

Unfortunately, misusing the ideals of Christ (or Allah, for that matter) is not a new idea. But still.

And as a human, this offends me even more. Non-fundamentalist Islam is one of the most tolerant religions out there. I don't want to be identified with David Koresh any more than they want to be identified with Al Qieda. To defile the sacred text of a whole culture in response to the actions of a group of misanthropic extremists is equally misguided.

I'm grateful they canceled the burning. I wish, though, it had been the result of thoughtful reflection, tolerance, and a desire for peace instead of at the intervention of an Imam, the President, and the Pope. I hope that we, as a people, can move forward in acceptance and consideration as we remember the past and look towards the future. As we remember the lives lost and lick our national wounds, I hope we can appreciate what is going on around us at this time. The reflection and sacrifice of Ramadan, the celebration and hope of Rosh Hashanna, the renewal and abundance of the Pagan harvest rites. I hope that we can someday share an earnest desire for peace and wholeness.

I doubt, though, that I'll ever see this in my lifetime. I hold certain beliefs about human nature, but continue to cling to a certain optimistic hope. It's all any of us can do to survive...

Friday, September 10, 2010

Jiggity Jig

I'm home again.

It was a WONDERFUL vacation. In fact, it was kind of like two vacations...

My coworkers came out for the weekend, of course. There were 22 of us, I think, in total, although a few were in and out through the weekend. It was such a good time. We hung out, played in the water, got silly, cooked good food, and generally enjoyed each others' company. We had kids this year, although just a couple, and one of them was the world's cutest baby (he was one of my roommates. The other was his mom). It was nice to have more of a family feel, and there was plenty of drunken wackiness that went on after the kids (and old fogies) were in bed.

The house was a-ma-zing. Huge, well appointed, comfy, oceanfront. Great views. Too many stairs for my messed up knee and ridiculous feet, but that was okay. Just a gorgeous, gorgeous place (which is good, because I've already booked it again for next year).

Monday I drove back with Scott and Mary (with whom I drove out on Friday), dropped them off, picked up the dog and my aunt and uncle, and headed back to the beach. We spent the rest of the week rattling around, just the three (well, four) of us in that gigantic house. We boogie boarded, grilled out, I laid and read in the sand and I napped on the couch. Maggie actually ventured into the water once, and was enjoying it until she got overtaken by a giganamous wave, and then that was the end of that. It was actually pretty adorable.

So now it's back to real life. I have a giant pile of sandy laundry and a weird rash which I think was from someone else's sunscreen I borrowed. But in more exciting news, I have a whole weekend still before I have to go back to work. And tomorrow is May's wedding!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010


My aunt and uncle and I are having a great time at the beach. I promise some real content soon, but for aunt showed me this. It's my cousin's fiancee's cousin's...something something something. And it's awesome.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

In case you were wondering....

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