• Christina

Fatigue and Renewal



Today, I am tired. I am tired from planning trainings and travel and programs with so many pieces that something is sure to fall through. I am tired of either having no power or no water, I would love to just soak in a bath or even to wash my hair without using a scooping cup of boiled water. I am tired of this pandemic, I know we all are, but I have a new burning anxious feeling in my gut from the knowledge that polio has been found in our community, and the terrifying public health implications that may follow. I am tired from the burdens of the patients I see – in the last two weeks, the number of individuals with life-threatening conditions have been a much higher percentage of my practice than usual, and that weighs on me. Depression with thoughts of suicide and loss of pregnancy are two of my least favorite type of clinical visits, and I have had far too many of them these past two weeks.

I try to have boundaries, but sometimes they wear away. A patient who had my number from a few years back texts me when I don’t reply to her email soon enough. Another asks if I can come into clinic and see his friend who is sick today. I am somewhat used to having good boundaries with patients, and so I am able to gently re-direct those who contact me outside of my set guidelines. But it is different with other work. I do love my work, when I get set on a project I get a rush of energy and can dive in for hours. I love the sense of achievement from a job well done. But what started as a day off on Monday turned into a full day’s work of work by the evening, then 10 hours of work on Tuesday, 12 on Wednesday, and 11.5 hours of work on Thursday. It creeps up on me, so I get tired by Friday. I tell myself I’ve completed my hours for the week and can take a 3-day weekend. But so much of me wants to finish more before the weekend. Things I love and find meaningful.

Some things help. Our barrel collecting rainwater makes it so that we haven’t been without water these weeks. Our backup lights mean that we haven’t been in darkness even when the power is out. And yesterday Greg bought us a better internet bundle so that I don’t come to my wit’s end trying to load emails or join video conference calls. Swinging on my swing and reading my Bible help. I love drinking tea, but sometimes by my third cup I start to feel even more heart-pounding anxious intensity. Taking a run with Greg and the dogs help – after that I am really ready to relax, though missing the shower more than ever before. So I take a half hour to boil some rainwater. I wash my longer-than-ever hair by scooping 2 ½ liters of warm rainwater, rinse the tub, and then indulge in a “bath” of warm, clean water in the bottom inch of the tub. It cools off too quickly, but I make the most of it, stretching out, splashing around, drinking iced tea and munching on chocolate. I emerge a new woman, ready to coordinate getting a polio booster, to check my 5 different emails, to take on the day at a reduced pace. It’s a good day to take lots of breaks to stretch and pray and maybe to start that scripture meditation practice I’ve been wanting to do. A good day to go out to lunch. A good day to reflect and listen to some speakers talk about Sabbath and do some training for my brain health. As long as I manage to finish writing that abstract for the ACPM conference, have a zoom meeting this evening, and send off a dozen emails or so, I should be fine…

Fourteen hours later, I’ve logged 9 1/2 hours of work for the day. The clinic called me. I told them I wasn’t working today, recommended that patients email me or see another provider, thought everything was sorted and went out to lunch. It turned out an honorable parliament member who was referred to me wouldn’t see anyone else so after 90 minutes I came in from lunch, in my jeans, and helped coordinate his care. Then I got so excited about work in the US, both progress on the grant and ways to represent the big-picture ideas and the smaller details, a few minutes turned into hours, half a dozen emails about directions forward and some final touches on that abstract submission. I finally pull away from the computer at 9:45 pm, no, wait, 10:20, there were those last few emails… I’m excited about work, but conscious that I’ve worked at least 10 hours more than I planned. I’m not tired anymore, if anything I’m excited. I acknowledge that I am probably a workaholic. I make a list of things I can do better next week. I try to relax after that and end up going to sleep by midnight.

Praise God that the next day is Saturday. I sleep in, drink tea, nap, and don’t do much of anything else. I sit on the couch and read. I don’t answer emails or check my phone. Even when a patient calls on Saturday and another on Sunday, I gently re-direct them, sending emails at the end of the day which fits in with my boundaries. I eat my veggies. I stretch. I take a massage workshop with Greg and spend half the day relaxing. I walk less steps over the weekend than I normally have by noon. We start a new TV show. I re-set. I pray and read the Bible. That’s what Sabbath means for me. Monday is a holiday in America, not here. But I think I will still take it off. Or work half a day, at most…

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