March 9, 2014
yesterday, which was the day that marked a month back at work, i hobbled to work awkwardly with a 3rd leg- my walking stick. it was quite a sight i think, to anyone who saw me in such an awkward combination of work clothes and a cane so frequently associated with the elderly in Singapore. the whole way to work, my heart was in my gut. i was ashamed and embarrassed. and it shouldn’t have been so. i was so utterly disgusted with myself, for being so weak, a pussy who cannot take pain.
but the reality is, i am in pain, and i am fucking sick of it. the walking stick was bought and has been in cold storage for a long time. 2-3 years i think. even though my knees, ankles, feet and toes are all involved in the RA disease progress, i have always been able to accept walking (and even dancing) with them flaring. but the hips? every single movement of the leg elicits pain, and it is excruciating. and lately, my piriformis muscle has been inflamed. my rheumy pointed that out to me. she didn’t tell me why it is. only said i needed to stretch and strengthen it. i have, but it still hurts. it’s the sacroiliac joints. the joints that have bothered me for so long, and has been ignored since the x-ray reports led the investigation into a cold trail. and now that i have been totally weaned off pregabalin, i am sinking in a sea of back pain. referred pain. whatever you call it.
when i finally got to my desk, i put the cane aside, and never looked at it with hope again. it helped me to take the weight off the hurting hip. but the physical relief wasn’t worth it. i am not ready to surrender just yet. or maybe i just refuse to admit that i can’t cope with a dysfunctional body, and a mind that refuses to accept that i am different.
i don’t know what to do. there isn’t a pill for everything. it’s been over 2 decades. no remission. repeated hepatotoxicity. functional deterioration. fuel for depression. yet i am not sick enough for more aggressive biologic agents. it’s not like i can afford them anyway. i want out. but there’s no escape. no reprieve. nothing. and i am all alone. they don’t get it.
March 8, 2014
it’s been just about over 130+ days out in the wild, and this by itself is a feat accomplished. i think?
the last time i could surpass this record was back at the end of 2011, and that was before i graduated from nursing school. it’s been that long eh? since March 2012, i couldn’t last past 4 months out in the wild. sometimes it was a mere day. other times 3 days. rarer were weeks that went into a month or more.
maybe i am better now. but maybe i am just desperate. the last time i could last more than 4 months (which was back in 2011), it was out of desperation to graduate from nursing school. and that actually only lasted just a little more than 5 months. this time is no different, the desperation. the desire to live a true life out of a hospital and in a reality that should be life. not the life spent in a an artificial environment, relying on strangers to preserve my life, pills and electric currents even.
can i hit 6 months? or even a year?
i sure hope i can. it’s been too long. far too long.
all these days out in the wild has never been easy. but i guess with each passing day, i grow a little. of course there are days when i shrank, and with no doubt, disappeared. however the sun must set to rise, even when the darkest nights fall. a flower can only bloom when there’s rain and shine. it can’t, if there’s only either one. right?
one step at a time, Steph. the next milestone i am aiming for? 180 days.
March 4, 2014
“come now, let us reason together, says the Lord:
though your sins are like scarlet
they shall be white as snow;
though they are red like crimson,
they shall become wool.”
February 27, 2014
it’s been 3 weeks since i started work. i start my 4th tomorrow.
it’s been such a whirlwind trying to adapt to an administrative job. because my job deals with undergraduate nursing students, it’s an everyday thing that i am reminded of what it was and could have been. it doesn’t help that i used to train and work in nursing at this hospital.
everyday, i sit at my desk staring at my screen, dealing with endless Excel sheets, even dabbling with drawing for a particular task. it just isn’t my thing. it has become a staple that i talk to myself in frustration and in hilarity. i’ve also grown to singing to myself. i think all these, are much to the horror of my colleagues.
my 2nd week into work, i was put into the organising team of a major medical conference. while i was glad to be given such an opportunity, i was stressed out having to emcee and know things that my colleagues have know for a year or years. it was less than a week of preparation.
during the conference, my eyes lit up and my ears perked whenever i heard something medical in the lectures. i know better now, that i belong to clinical nursing.
i stumbled just on the 10th day of work. as usual, i was triggered by someone else’s actions. i was falling, and i didn’t know if there was going to be a cushion. i was angry, yet scared. then when i got a little better, someone else came along and triggered me on my 13th day. i wondered if i could even survive a year in this department, if i could fall so fast.
when i saw my psychiatrist just on Friday, i narrated the triggering events that had happened. he didn’t seem to quite understand why i was so triggered and distressed by those events. however, he did shed light on what i might have done wrong. at the end of it, i bawled and he asked me why i was crying. in between the sniffles and sobs, i said that i didn’t want to go back to work. sigh.
the reality is, i haven’t gotten over the fact that i am not a practicing nurse. after fighting so hard and for so long, it seemed all too futile. i tried to find meaning in my new position, and my teacher had also talked to me about what i could do. i did it. i had new ‘dreams’, things i wanted to do to give to my department and to the education of nursing students. but they are not happening just yet. it feels as though it will never happen. to be brutally honest, i felt like i’ve been cheated into this job. every thing we talked about before i got this job, isn’t happening. they tell me it takes time. i know. i know it takes time. but i’m trying nevertheless. i’ve been trying to be proactive, trying to initiate things. but the response hasn’t been good. it makes me wonder what my purpose is.
my body is with the department, but my soul belongs elsewhere- with clinical work and with my patients.
i am not used to being deskbound. whatever i’ve been doing to earn my keep, i’ve been moving (or prancing) about. and so with this, it triggers off the pain in my back. i’ve been in constant pain and nothing is making it go away. my sacroiliac joints are painful, my piriformis muscle seems to be inflammed, making walking difficult, my lumbar erector spinae are kicking me hard in my ass. and the fatigue and stiffness are all aggravated by the stillness of my job. it makes me mad. and angry.
well, i don’t know if i’m happy that i’m working and earning my keep, or if i’m sad i’m not the nurse i want to be. things keep changing, and it’s a roller-coaster ride. i guess work-wise, i’m fine. but psychologically and emotionally, i’m not there yet.
i’m in a pretty precarious position, fragile even, now. i can only hope better things are to come, that i become stronger and more resilient.
February 12, 2014
I AM BACK IN ACTION!
remember the yellow butterflies?
i started work on Monday, which was administratively too much of a hurry. but hey i’m not complaining!!! no one can ever fathom how much this means to me. spending 440 days dilly dallying, almost 180 of it in the hospital, then trying to cope in the wild, desperately seeking any thing that would give me meaning… this happened only through God’s grace, and a special someone i hold dear to my heart. sure, this was never something i ever imagined myself doing. it was incredulously difficult letting go, first not being able to work in the acute ward, then not even going anywhere close to clinical work. but if this is what it takes, for me to heal and eventually return to my calling… i will do it! it’s amazing how my mind switched just like that, after such a ruckus, to finding meaning in an administrative job. i am still in the loop, still in touch with the ongoings of nursing in my hospital. only behind the curtains. that’s all. i can be idealistic sometimes, and now i have so many ideas to give. not to my patients, but to the future of nursing and the heart of it- the nurses. and i guess that makes me happy.
i stuck an image of a nurse (i have a rubber stamp of it) next to my name at my table to remind me that i will always be a nurse. i also hung a mini pointe shoe to remind me that i too, will always be a ballet dancer (non-professional, very much noobish).
it’s been only 2 days, but i’m happy. and that’s good enough. granted it is still my ‘honeymoon’, and no doubt things will get tougher and tougher by the day. i feel so blessed.
i hope working will help in my recovery. my psychiatrist thinks it will. in fact everyone on my team think so. we can only wait and see. but of course that is while working really hard, in life and at work.
i have plans for my future (which is a great sign!). however, i will do what God will. He has plans for me too. and again, we can only see in time to come. a step at a time, Steph!
February 7, 2014
as you guys might have known, i have a new position. it made my day for 2 days. i was so happy that i wasn’t my usual self. then yesterday, because i had asked my manager for my job description, i received it in my email. i read through it, and the instant reaction wasn’t good.
“i can’t do this.”
“i’m gonna fail at this.”
“what have i gotten myself into???”
i wanted to cry. i wanted to back out. everything i’m reading is so foreign to me. but the reality is, i was already pre-empted that the job was going to be so. that it’s really going to be tough because we have nothing to build on. we are building everything from scratch. i always said yes and ok when they pre-empted me. but when i read my job scope, i realised that maybe i wasn’t really listening afterall.
i was trained to be a nurse. if you count the extra years i wasted to get to where i am, it took me 5 years to become a full-fledged nurse. i learnt everything that a nurse needs to know. serving medications, injection, inserting intravenous cannulas, inserting catheters and tubes, putting up drips and antibiotics, cleaning up the patient, resuscitation, , even handling patients, their relatives, doctors, allied health colleagues etc. i even learnt how to stand for hours on end without sitting, holding my bladder for 12 hours, going on an empty stomach etc. it was a long ride, but hell, i loved it.
now, the story has changed. i’m going to be desk bound. my face will be glued to the laptop screen as my fingers type away furiously, churning out work to meet deadlines. although i do understand what my job now entails, i don’t think i even know how to go about doing any one of it. seriously. that makes me want to cry, because i hate uncertainty. and i hate not knowing. in a crude sense, i’m the kind of girl who wants to be, or is, a know-it-all. the scared part of me wants to run away, back out and say i don’t want to do this! i want to scurry back to work in the ward where i thrive the most. but i can’t.
the only way to go now is to trudge forward. there is no looking back now. i’m fucking scared, but i think it’s natural?
and you know, they always say: don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.
i’ll return to my calling when i’m ready, and only when i really am. this isn’t forever.
February 5, 2014
it’s like i’ve been holding my breath for months, waiting and wanting to return to work. i needed to make many plans and execute them. all in the name of getting back in action.
now everything has fallen into place.
i can finally breathe and live. properly.
but, and there is always a but, this is just another beginning.
GO KICK SOME ASS, STEPH! YOU CAN DO IT!!!