When things are off…

It’s day 3 of my wonky work schedule. The morning of day 3 even. And I’m SUPER off. Like way too off for only having dealt with three days of slightly shifting my hours at work.

Clearly, change is not my thing. Not at all.

I’ve got all sorts of awesome ideas and several blog posts started, but… nothing yet.

Evidence! Look at all that good stuff coming up... eventually...
Evidence! Look at all that good stuff coming up… eventually…

This week at work, I’m moderating some focus groups for patients and caregivers all over the country. In this respect, it’s a way good deal to be living in the Central time zone, not too far from the east or the west, but conducting the groups after hours means that I’ve had to adjust my work schedule… they just don’t pay me enough to work all those extra hours without compensation, so I’m going in late. Like noon or one-ish and staying until I’m done (like 9 or 10-ish).

It’s a couple of hours. So, no big deal, right? Except… I’m barely functional. Everything is off. I can’t wake up in the morning, I can’t fall asleep at night, my meal schedule is crazy and I’ve been unable to get myself to exercise (with the exception of a couple walks) or to do simple household tasks, like loading or unloading the dishwasher, until the wee hours of the morning when desperation sets in.

My behavior is just bizarre. Clearly, I am meant for a regular 9 – 5, nothing different.

It’s particularly interesting because I spent six years in grad school burning the candle from both ends, constantly working, at work, away from work, thinking hard in the car on my way to and from work… never a moment where it wasn’t gonorrhea, chlamydia, mice, mice, mice on my mind. Maybe I burned myself completely out? I no longer have that capacity, I guess.

And at the moment, I’m completely useless.

That scares me.

A lot.

I’m a 30-year-old woman who claims to want to start a family (and desperately so!), but can’t manage a 4-hour shift in my activities of daily living.

Uh oh.

Maybe the G-man knows something I don’t. That I’m clearly not ready for any additional responsibility in life, because, seriously, look at me…

Or maybe I’m over-analyzing a tired, particularly off week? Half a week, even.

Who knows. But I’m freaking out.

For some reason, this relatively minor shift in hours feels like it has completely removed me from the world I lived in before. It’s been literally 3 days, and I just feel completely disconnected… like I’m no longer living in parallel with everyone and everything around me. Just off.

I suppose, though, that some days are like that… even in Australia. (Can you believe they’re making that into a movie, btw?! Not sure how I feel about seeing grumpy goose Alexander and his terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day on the big screen…)

This morning, I was planning to go into work for a 10:00 am PCORI webinar, but decided to do it at home, on my couch, in my comfies, with a mug of tea instead. It was a good choice. I was already freaking out about the possibility of a 10 – 10 work day and the stress I was feeling was so overly dramatic and unnecessary. This morning of couch surfing and learning and sipping tea and enjoying the view from my window (goooooorgeous day) was a much better choice. A little chance to blog-style reflect on what my deal is.

Not a bad view from my firmly rooted position on the couch.
Not a bad view from my firmly rooted position on the couch.

Perhaps my deal is just that I don’t like to feel disconnected. An interesting observation for an introvert like me. But hear me out…

Although I’m an introvert, I do still feel connected to the world around me. I enjoy the walk into work in the morning, plans for lunch at noon, a short walk with my pup and a long jog for myself after I get home. I like making dinner for myself and my husband, having a brownie on the couch afterward. Doing some writing. I like tucking myself into bed around 10:00 and reading and reading and reading until my eyes won’t stay open any more (and the panic of realizing I shouldn’t have done that when I sleep through another alarm in the morning).

I like routine. That’s not such a bad thing, I suppose.

The bad thing, the thing I’m worried about, is that I can’t seem to deal real well with a disruption, no matter how minor or temporary.

Maybe the temporary is the problem though. Maybe it’s when the disruption becomes the routine, a la the six years of my life spent in grad school, that I actually settle in to the pattern and let it be the norm.

Maybe…

When Curls had her first knee surgery back in October of 2013, using the leash and sling to take her out every time she had to go potty was a major disruption for both Seth and me. It seemed like such a big deal. But we’ve been doing it now for over a year and it has, in fact, become the norm… I no longer even think twice about grabbing the leash and the sling and taking Curly out into the yard. It’s just life.

Well, look at this… a live a ha! moment. Change is hard at first, it requires adjustment, and without the opportunity to adjust into something and let it become the regular, it’s going to feel off, at least for me. I can be off for a week, a week with a wonky schedule, and it’s not going to derail my entire life. That’s reassuring.

Being off this week, to me, feels like a big deal. But my life and the lives around me are going on… moving forward… and I’ll rejoin the march, in step, next week.

So let’s all look forward to that. To getting back on track and feeling like myself again. To connecting with you again on a regular and personal basis. To giving myself grace to be off for a week… yet letting this week do it’s work on me (because it is working, these focus groups, talking to these patients and their families).

Although, my sister brought my soundly back to Earth when I talked about how awesome these focus groups were on Facebook:

big deal

Oh snap, Shabsky! She and I are both studying meme-use and sarcasm under the tutelage of our sarcastic meme-using genius of a brother. Abby is learning quickly! I’m impressed!

13 thoughts on “When things are off…

  1. yep! Don’t be so hard on yourself! It’s hard to change schedules and it takes longer than you think– you’ve only done it for a few days! Sounds like really fulfilling work too 🙂

  2. Yup, change is definitely hard at first but then it becomes the usual! I agree with that notion whole-heartedly, being a person like you who really enjoys her routine. If you do have a little one in the future you’ll adjust then too (I’ve heard no one is ever ready enough for that change in routine! Phew!). How fulfilling to do those focus groups! Sounds like amazing work. And I agree with you- how are they going to make an entire film about Alexander? The whole book is basically a Debbie Downer! I know, because I just read it to some kiddos at bedtime recently and felt bad reading it! Couldn’t find a silver lining to the story anywhere! (The cutest thing ever was when I contemplated with the 4 yr old why he thought that book had black and white pictures and he said it was probably such an old book that maybe the colors had dried up!)

    1. I love, love, love that 4-year-old’s reaction to Alexander and the… I remember really liking the book as a kid, but not necessarily because of the story, but because I loved the repetitiveness of “Alexander and the horrible terrible no good very bad day” and I guess the silver lining is maybe supposed to be that some days are just like that… not all of them. But some. Even in Australia. Maybe?

      I think that the movie will probably be a series of hysterically unfortunate situations or something… but if that’s the point, I would probably made Dr. Seuss’s “To Think that I Saw it on Mulberry Street” instead!

  3. I totally understand this feeling and unfortunately have it all the time given my ever-changing shift work. Some days seem so productive and long and some days seem like there is no time for anything but sleeping/lounging. Don’t worry though, although babies are a major disruption in the schedule, you get through it (until you can train them to be on a schedule again). Glad to hear I’m not the only one dealing with this. It’s a hard feeling to explain to others.

    1. I actually thought about you while writing this post, Kelly! You were on a pedestal in my head, as a mother and a doctor, and to think that sometimes it’s hard for you even?! Well… not that I wish hard stuff on you or anything… but it’s kind of reassuring! Even wonder woman has a rough time every so often!

  4. I seem to remember that you went to MTU, graduated, moved to Washington, DC, got your PhD, moved to Wisconsin, got married and started a new job. Doesn’t sound like a settled routine to me. Within those life choices, routine is good and helps to keep one balanced. But, I think of you as one who handles non-routine exceptionally well.

    Careful: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/May_you_live_in_interesting_times 😉

    I’m so very proud of you, Abby and Tom! And, I love you!

  5. I worried about the lack of sleep with the little one, especially on the weekends. I used to sleep to 10 a.m., sometimes later, to catch up from the week. It’s amazing how you adjust. Now I get to sneak in some naps to make up for it : )

    For me, the worse is changing labs…you go from knowing where everything is to not even being able to find tip replacements

    1. Christina! You totally ARE my inspiration! For life! Good to know you adjusted even with a crazy cute little one!

      I can’t even imagine changing labs… maybe that’s the real reason I left bench science? Too afraid I wouldn’t be able to pick it up again somewhere new!!

  6. I think you’re being way too hard on yourself! You’ve had a new schedule for 3 days, which is definitely not enough time for it to become ‘normal.’ The good news is, you love what you’re doing! Hang in there, and keep focusing on the parts of your job you enjoy 🙂

  7. As others have said, be comforted to know that you are TOTALLY normal!! I stayed up for 2-3 days at time during residency and the thought of doing that now makes me swear I would rather do literally anything else on the planet than that ever again. You’ll adjust and life will be normal again (as you said in the second half of your post) and you’ll be just fine. For now? NORMAL!!

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