Friday, August 7, 2009

Back on the chain gang

So keep your chin up boy
Forget the pain
I know you'll make it
If you try again
There's no use in quitting
When the world is waiting for you

Supertramp--Gone Hollywood
on the album Breakfast In America

Went back to work at Fakewood Library. Didn't want to but there was no choice. Thursday at our meeting around 11am Polly told me that she will transfer me but first has to decide where would be the best place to transfer me to. Then according to the union contract they will have to give the employee they are swapping me with 14 calendar days notice. Polly agreed with me that the library system has been swapping people from one branch to another, not as a "transfer" but just to cover one particular shift. She said that she would make some calls and try to arrange some temporary transfers for me. However she called back yesterday afternoon to tell me that she had not been able to arrange anything and I had to either work at Fakewood Library or not get paid.

It wasn't nearly as bad as it could have been. While my supervisor, Roberta, seems utterly clueless and steadfastly argued to me that she made NO mistakes whatsoever in her handling of this, I was mostly able to avoid any but the most banal contact with her at work yesterday and my 7.5 hour shift went okay. I am however being quite anal about recording Exactly what I do and how much of it I do each hour at work. Yesterday's notes:

10:30--10:50am-- created a new cart stocked with two cart shelves of Mysteries. Shelved the cart.

10:50am--11am-- created a new cart stocked with three cart shelves of Mysteries

11am--11:15 am-- received postal mail delivery. pulled out all newspapers from the mail bin. Checked newspapers in on the newspaper tally sheet. Put all newspapers on the display shelves for patrons to use.

11:115am--12noon checked in returned library materials. checked in 145 items and had all put away on the holding shelves and the check in desk cleared for the next page by exactly 12 noon.

12noon--12:15 pm Break, as per union contract and branch rules

12:15--12:45pm-- shelved cart with three shelf carts of Mysteries as well as about 1 dozen paperbacks and 1 dozen magazines

12:45pm--1:00pm--shelved 1 cart shelf of Non-Fiction

1pm--1:15pm-- located a particular magazine per managing librarian's request. This required going down to the (non-public) basement old magazine stacks and then out to the public magazine racks where the requested issue actually was located.

checked in returned library materials. checked in 166 items and had all put away on the holding shelves and the check in desk cleared for the next page by exactly 2pm

2--2:30pm-- unpaid lunch break per contract and rules

2:30--3pm--shelved 1.5 cart shelves on Non-Fiction

3--4pm-- checked in 147 items of returned library materials. had all put away and desk cleared for next page.

4--4:15 pm-- Break, as per contract and rules

4:15--4:30 pm-- did clean up and pickups in children's and reference section per daily page schedule

4:30--5pm-- shelved 3 cart shelves Fiction.

5--6pm--- coordinated with other page on duty. performed evening pick up rounds and other closing hour tasks as per regular schedule and arrangements

My stress level was dangerously high at the beginning of the day. (I was literally hyper-ventilating non-stop when shelving in Mysteries at the start of my shift). I did take a total of 3 xanax to get through the day yesterday and also took my afternoon dose of the new med at lunch. Today I am enjoying being off and not having to go back in to work until tomorrow. Also am counting the days until I get transferred to small branch where I hope and pray I will get along well with the supervisor and my co-workers in the new location.

More later.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

anxiously awaiting their reply

Yawn! I am a bit sleepy today. Last night for the first time since starting the seroquel I had trouble sleeping. I am pretty sure that this was due to anxiety about our 8am appointment with my shrink and our talk therapist. The appointment went well I believe and I was advised that the library's paper work will be faxed to HR by this afternoon. I have composed an email to the head of human resources advising her of this, clearly re-stating what my disabilities are and what accomodations I am requesting and letting her know also that I look forward to returning to work as soon as accomodations can be made.

News on the puter problems front. Further investigation by our resident tinkerer leads us to believe that the part that actually broke on the new lappy was the connector in the power CORD rather than the power connection in the lappy itself. We are hoping on Thursday when I get paid again that we will have enough money to replace this item and to buy a wireless adapter so that the old Toshiba lappy can get online as well. Meanwhile I will be saving my draft of this post and the email to HR on out thumb drive and going over to the library to actually send and post.

I feel anxiety about it, but nonetheless I am very much looking forward to returning to work ASAP and think that getting back into the regular routine of going to work four days a week will be the final block to put my anxiety back in the drawer for now. I am scared, but also hopeful. I will report here as soon as I hear something from HR.

Monday, August 3, 2009

monday, monday

Today's theme seems to be computer problems. I think I've previously mentioned that I knocked our newest lappy (Compaq, less than a year old) off of a foot stool. It fell about two feet to the floor and the drop seemed to damage the electrical connector (the thingy that you plug the power cord from the wall via the black box into). (impressed my technical vocab?) At first we were able to just jiggle the connectoid a bit to get it to draw power. After awhile that stopped working and our roommate (who is a VERY highly skilled "tinkerer" rigged up a rather Rube Goldberg arrangement with string and ink pens that provided tension to hold the plug in. That worked ok for a few days but we still had to every now and then jiggle the plug to get the current running again. Now that seems to have stopped working and our tinkerer is trying to jerry rig it again but in my heart I fear we are reaching the limits of what we can fix with string. Tink did go online and found a detailed diagram of how to take the top off of the lappy to access the broken part and if we can FIND the right part to buy he believes he may be able to install it and bring that lappy back into regular service.

Meanwhile, I decided to try hooking up my very old Toshiba lappy. After nearly ten years of hard service we had retired this machine because the hinges were broken and it was impossibe to make the screen stand up open so as to be able to use it. So I hooked it up to the flat screen monitor from my late hubby's old desktop and switched the screen to display and like a trooper the old lappy is allowing me to type this post. The problem is this old machine does not have a built in wireless connector and the one I used to use with it broke and I don't even have the $20 to replace it at this point. So I will have to when I am finished save the .txt document to our USB thumb drive and take that to the library to use a connected computer to upload this post. (Sighs. It's always something, isn't it?)

As i type this I am gazing at a framed picture that sits on this desk. It shows me and my late hubby Joel posing with Mickey Mouse. The gold embossed emblem at the lower right indicates that this picture was taken in Fall 1999 at Disneyland. I close my eyes and remember all of the wonderful trips Joel and I used to take--on weekends and vacations when he worked at London For and I worked at Earthlink and the more or less full time travel we were able to do for about two full years after I got laid off and we had my severance pay, money I inherited from my father and a large insurance settlement we received after a car accident. It was such a happy and carefree time and I felt then as though I had earned the right to enjoy a bit of luxury and was very grateful for the opportunity to travel and see many parts of the US that I had not seen before. I really my Joel and pray he is at peace in heaven with his parents and friends now.

Tomorrow we have to get up early and go to our appointment with my shrink and our talk therapist at 8am. After that I will know when the lib HR people will be receiving the reply to the questions they sent. According to John, our talk therapist, he and Dr. Park and NOT lib HR will decide what accomodations are appropriate for me. This jibes with my reading of the ADA so I am hoping I will be able to go back to work by the end of this week or the beginning of next week. I am also hoping that if HR does not send me back to work by Thursday that they will extend my paid administrative leave until such time as they do send me back to work. Just one more thing to worry about. I beieve that I have largely calmed down from my huge stress out but the uncertainty about my job continues to be a huge stress. I so hope that tomorrow will prove to be a better day.

Sunday, August 2, 2009


It is hot today but I feel so lucky to be at home and relaxing rather than at work, where I have only very rarely not worked on a Sunday since beginning my current position in July 2007. We are only open for four hours each Sunday afternoon but my Sunday shift is often the busiest, most demnanding and most stressful five hours in my schedule. I have also continued working every Sunday longer than anyone else at our branch. There have been three different BA's (err Senior Branch Assistants) who have been the every Sunday opener and closer these two+ years. I definitely believe that if I am able to transfer to a smaller branch that is not open on Sundays that would do a lot to decrease my overall stress level. (As would somehow coming up with money to replace our oldest currently working puter-- a six or seven year old Toshiba lap top with broken hinges. Basically I have the old boy hooked up to an old but still working fine flat screen monitor. It would also help if I had (And had room for) a separate keyboard. After all those years of hard travel, this old keyboard is not as well, reliable as it once was and it is just very different from our newer lappy's keyboard, making it considerably harder for me to type. The fact that my computer desk is also a storage facility for everything from kitchen utensils to photographs to Ron's used insulin syringes in empty plastic Diet Pepsi bottles and various other emphemera as well as our large collection of plastic shopping bags (which we hold onto in order to re-use; we do seperate out our recyclables into plastic bins-- which are also crowding me in a bit in this corner of our kitchen. We seperate out aluminum cans from everything else because a local recycing company pays us 50 cents per pound and a several month accumulation can be a financial lifesaver if we are dead broke two days before payday.)

I mentioned in an earlierpost that my current mental health crisis has been very hard on my spouse, Ron. In our ealiest years together, I was mostly able to avoid stress and keep myself on an even keel without most of my meds since I did not have health insurance from Jan 2004 when I was laid off from the outsource customer service center (wages half my earthlink salary, very similar work and I kept it cuz like the library it provided great health insurance at no charge) until I got hired on at PCLS in July 2007. At that time Ron's cyclthymia and other mental health problems had also been untreated for many years and he was a pretty bitter "rage-a-holic". And part of why I loved him so much is that I could see so much of myself in Ron's frequent and often incredibly vehement outbursts of extreme anger. Folks, I've been there. When I met Joel incidents as minor as someody cutting me off in traffic could set me off on what I can only describe as an insane murderous rage. I consider myself incredily fortunate that I never had a horrible accident or got arrested or killed during those years. I honestly can't say how Joel saw the person I was beneath all of that mis-directed or perhaps even psychotic rage, let alone just how he taught me to let go of the rage and learn to manage my illnesses by taking my life moment by moment and continually telling myself that while I am completely unable to control what life or the world throws at me I can Always choose how I will recat to it.

I don't by any means claim that I am always able to put this theory or belief into practice but these are two ideas and strategies that have enabled me to go from being a rage-a-holic most of the time to being calm and "laid back" most of the time. And since I got hired at the library (gaining me again free gold standard health insurance at no cost), my new income increased our household budget to the point where Ron was able to afford to sign up for a Medicare suppemental insurance policy so that now both of us to use Group Health and pay only nominal co-payments and receive comprehensive care for all of our various mental and physical heaolth issues. Since that momentous development (both of us getting mental health treatment from psychiatrists and therapists) we have both made much progress in coping with our various issues. And when I went into crisis the Friday when my boss was so hostile and threatening when I called in sick, Ron as been my rock of gibralter doing everything in his power to see to it that I got the treatment that I needed and went very much into NURSE-mode (Ron is a highly experienced RN) to take care of me as I recovered from what my shrink called 'the precepice of a nervous breakdown'.

Today Ron cycled from the manic to the depressive phase of his illness (VERY breifly cyclthymia is a kind of rapidly cycling bi-polar disorder and in ron the manic phases to me seem happy, contented and agreeable and the depressive phases, hostile, angry and bitter rather than the more conventional definitions of 'manic' or 'depressed'). It seemed to me this afternoon during the heat of the day we were having "one of our Old fights". Based on our history together the fact that his mental illness is getting worse at the moment, almost certainly foreshadows mine getting better so that I can handle his symptoms and problems. With all my heart I am terribly sorry that my poor sweetie is suffering today. Even though his cycling fills me with hope that I will soon be getting back to my version of normal.