I hardly know where to begin. It’s been so long since my last post and so much has happened in such a short space. Maybe I should talk about some of the things I’ve learned in the last few weeks, a couple of them in the last day or two. First of all, turning 60 is no joke. It’s weird. It’s not that I suddenly feel old and decrepit, but perhaps for the first time in my life, I’m really aware of my physical limitations or potential limitations. Over the last few months, I’ve been dealing with a health situation. It’s relatively minor, as long as I stay on top of it, which I’m doing. I’m currently on a 90-day course of medication that’s supposed to remedy everything (90% chance) and I’ll have another biopsy in October and go from there. I’m so lucky that Pueblo has such an excellent county health department, because I still don’t have health insurance. It’s simply an added expense I can’t afford right now.
Which brings me to a second thing. A couple of weeks after I wrote my last post in early July, my company, or rather, the company that my company is basically a slave to, suffered one of those huge cyber attacks. I remember it vividly, because I got off work from my usual weekend shift on a Tuesday morning at 5 a.m., and some time later that day was when it hit. No one could work. All our hospital accounts were offline and unable to connect. The master company had been arrogant enough to think that it could “never happen to them” and they had very little, if anything, in the way of defense against such an attack. They were blindsided. I thought, well, good timing, I’ve got three days off, surely their IT folks would have it resolved by then. Nope. We couldn’t work for over two weeks…and then only a couple of accounts were able to get back online, and one of them was via a very laborious work-around. That was nerve wracking. Again, I was lucky enough to have had nearly five weeks of PTO in the “bank” and because of the way the pay periods fell, I only ended up having to use 30 hours, but I think it put the fear of God, or at least unemployment, into everyone.
Since then, my company has laid off close to 60 people. The accounts are back online and I’m working, but I know the only thing that has saved me is that I work graveyard shifts on Saturday and Sunday and no one else wants those. I am the new kid on the block on this work platform and otherwise, I think I would have been history a while back. Not a great feeling.
I’ve been looking around. I updated my resume to somehow pack 45 years of work experience into a page and a half. I had two really good interviews with a hospital here in town for a job that I would be perfect for. They were probably the best interviews I’ve ever given and I was quite proud of myself, since I haven’t had a face-to-face interview in fifteen years. The second interview was about three weeks ago and I’ve heard nothing, despite assurances that I would hear “either way.” I’m 99% sure they’ve filled the positions (there were three for the same job), and if so, it’s entirely their loss. I’ll keep my eyes open, for physical jobs here locally and online. Honestly, I’d much rather continue working from home, but I would have taken that hospital job in a heartbeat if they had been able to pay what I needed (probably another reason I wasn’t offered it–Pueblo is notoriously low paying).
Otherwise, I’m dealing with an intense period of low energy/no energy, mostly due to the above situation. For about thirty of the last forty-five days, leaving the house has been iffy due to physical circumstances. I keep harking back to summer ten years ago, my vision quest, and Camino pilgrimage, and the similar challenges I faced then. It feels worse now, maybe because I haven’t had to deal with any of that for over five years. But ONLY five years? It’s absurd. Exercise became out of the question. Obviously, I couldn’t swim. And yoga, which requires bending over and abdominal contractions, etc., was out. Even walking, being away from the house (the bathroom) for more than fifteen or twenty minutes, was problematic. So, I have been feeling my strength and flexibility and endurance slowly slip away. Is that what it means to get old? It sucks. I’m no fitness geek, but I’ve always had pretty good energy, the means and desire to get up and go and do pretty much anything I wanted to whenever I wanted to.
Now, it’s difficult to get motivated to make breakfast. I know that part of it, right now, is due to the health stuff above. But I am also coming to realize that perhaps the larger issue is working the damn graveyard shift. I’m a natural morning person. In fact, I’m writing this on my day off at five something a.m., after having only four hours of sleep. I usually only get about four hours of sleep on a work day. But it’s different. On days off, I go to bed around midnight and usually wake up around four, so I sleep during the “quiet hours” of the cycle. Work days, I am up, say at ten or eleven, and am up all day and overnight until five the following morning (when my body really wants to get up) and then I have to figure out how to FORCE myself to sleep four or five hours during the “unquiet hours” and start the whole thing all over again. Sometimes I try to nap a little before I start work at five in the evening, but that doesn’t always work.
It takes its toll. I know this shift was a contributing factor in the decline of the last relationship, especially when the ex didn’t think I “did much” because I sat at a computer for ten hours a night and couldn’t understand why I didn’t want to dig ditches and clean gutters on my days off. I’ve (GASP) committed the cardinal sin of gaining weight. I know that I eat more than I should because my body, craving sleep which it can’t have, will tell me I’m hungry instead. And sometimes I AM hungry. At two in the morning, when I’ve been focusing every ounce of energy I have on not making a mistake that will get me fired (because there are a blue million things I have to keep track of on my shift), and all the mental energy that’s going out of me like lightening, I stop and realize I’m starving. So, I eat. But I’ve also realized that on my days off, I’m not really hungry during the day, so my whole circadian rhythm has shifted and it’s not an easy situation. Also, living with E, who is picky and really only cares to eat about once a day, has taken a huge toll on my culinary creativity and desire to cook. So, more fast food, takeout, etc. The way I shop for groceries has changed. The amount of food I cook at one time has changed. I now gauge a recipe by an 8 x 8 pan instead of a 9 x 13, and try to figure out if either one of us will really eat the leftovers. This summer, I’ve pretty much only wanted to eat cantaloupe, peaches and corn on the cob, none of which appeal to E. So, I buy a few ears of corn at a time, a few peaches, cut the cantaloupe up and keep it in the fridge, and buy E the snacks that he wants and I cook a “real” meal maybe three times a week.
Many changes. Many things to think about. Many things to not beat myself up about, but I do anyway. It’s another form of starting over. After I finish my course of medication, I know I’m going to need to get back into some kind of exercise routine. I’ve discovered various forms of yoga on YouTube and I love that. I also cut the cable (even though I still have internet via Comcast), and got a Fire TV box, so now I can stream the yoga videos on the big TV in the living room. I got rid of my bicycle, so I have more floor space. I like that a lot.
I’ll keep going. I’ll figure it out. I always have and I always will. This is a momentary bump in the road, but these days, the bumps feel bigger and seem to slow me down more. Maybe it’s age, maybe it’s the emotional climate of the entire country and the world today. I don’t know. There are a certainly more things going on that I have no control over and fretting about that isn’t healthy either. But some days, I literally wake up and realize what’s going on in this country and who’s “in charge” and I feel like there is a huge weight on me, keeping me from even getting out of bed. It’s not an excuse, but it’s true.
But then, I have to keep telling myself, I’m here, I’m basically healthy, I have a job, I have friends, I have so many things that others don’t. I have to keep the focus there and I will. I am doing my best to stay conscious and aware through all this, to try to navigate everything by staying present. It’s not easy, but it’s imperative. Blessed be.