My Plan for NaBloPoMo

I recently came up with this idea to put together a series of cards and small gifts for K.  To be honest, I am actually copying what she did for me when I first moved.  The motivation for the project is both similar to hers, but also different: I’m sure her motivation was to give me something to look forward to every day as I transitioned into residency.  My motivation, however, is to give her some encouragement and a few laughs – because who doesn’t need that?  I have a little personal motivation to it as well: I’m hoping that by offering her encouragement and daily motivation, I can do it for myself as well.  I know that healing is a process, but after my realization last week, I’ve become more aware of the fact that I have to work harder at just being “okay.”  I should also mention that there is also a theme to the gifts… Owls!  (Mostly because I love owls and wanted an excuse to buy a bunch of cute owl stuff)

The project for K involves a card with a quote for every day, as well as a few words based on either the quote, a memory, or just something to laugh at.  There are some gifts, but not one for everyday.  As I was reading through some of the quotes I picked, I realized that some of them brought up thoughts and emotions that I wish I could elaborate on more.  Some (okay, most) of the things I want to elaborate on might defeat the purpose of the cards because they are mostly my own emotional sh*t, and probably rather depressing.  Talking about them would probably be better for me that for her.  So while I wouldn’t mind talking to her about it, the cards aren’t the place for it.  For that reason, I decided to extend my project onto my blog for NaBloPoMo.

The Project: Each day of November I will post the quote I chose here on the blog and I will use it as the inspiration for my post.  I may or may not relate it back to what I said in my card to K.  I figure my little project might have a multifactorial effect: it will allow me to elaborate on what I would like to say about the quote, it will offer me some therapeutic benefit (I think), and it will motivate me to complete NaBloPoMo during my current blogging drought.  Oh, and I should probably mention that on the first day of the project I will invite K to come to my blog and follow along.*

*I actually invited K to read my blog months ago, before I moved away.  She was asking me about it and I knew she was curious.  I gave her the blog address and told her that I would be happy with her to read my blog, since most of what I was nervous about her reading went into the book I gave her.  At the time she decided that, given the fact that my blog was my anonymous sanctuary, she would not read it at that time.  I’m not sure if she has ever come to it since then.

The project for K won’t actually start until November 3 because the package won’t be delivered by then.  But I will be starting the NaBloPoMo project on time!  Stay tuned!

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Kid For Sale

Okay, maybe not…

But I am seriously at the end of the rope with A.  His behaviour is becoming intolerable.  I don’t even want to admit it, but yesterday I spanked him for the first time ever.
Over the past few months he has been acting out more, becoming more aggressive towards his brother, talking back and yelling at husband and I more often, and blatantly refusing to do what we ask him to do.  The scariest part of the whole thing is that he doesn’t seem have any remorse for his actions and he doesn’t seem to care about his punishments.  If you ask him why he did something (like hit is brother, or throw a toy at the nanny), he replies by saying “because I wanted to.”  When you question him about his side of the story, he usually describes the situation exactly like it happened, in a matter of fact tone of voice, without caring that what he did was wrong.

As an example, yesterday I was out running errands and my Nanny texted me and asked if I could come home right away because A was hurting her and E.  When I got home, I asked her for the story.  Then I talked to A, and this is what he said:
“I was hitting E. on the head with the [toy broom] and then [nanny] took it away from me.  She wouldn’t give it back to me and I was mad at her, so I threw the bowl at her and it broke.  Then she told me to go to my room but I didn’t want to so I went in the garage and threw your shoes everywhere then ran onto the road.”  But Mommy, can I still go to soccer tonight?”

Seriously, what do you do with that?  He refused to listen to me after that, when I told him he had to go to his room.  The situation escalated until I finally had no patience left…

How do you deal with a child like that?  Should I be concerned, or is this normal 4-year-old behaviour?

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The Truth of a Community

The problem is, that I thought I was part of a community.

Maybe I was, but maybe I wasn’t.  It’s easy to pretend or to fabricate an idea that something is what you want, even when it really isn’t that way at all.

I’m not sure what is worse: being abandoned by the community you were a part of, or realizing that you weren’t really a part of it to begin with.  They are both pretty horrible realizations, and one (or both of them) are what I came face to face with last week.

I sat on the blue sofa in my psychologists office.  I already failed at my attempt to not cry but I was careful to keep the tears and sobs controlled.  She wanted to end the session with a breathing exercise to help me relax.  So, I closed my eyes and listened to her breathing instructions.
“It’s so disappointing.  It’s so unfair.  Just, so unjust.” She would say in between the queues for breathing.  These words pushed against my quivering lips, and threatened to release everything I was holding back.

The words, she repeated them over and over again.  And then the breathing and the attempts at relaxation – they just weren’t possible until I let go of everything that was holding it in.  And then I broke.

I cried harder than I’ve cried in years – maybe even since that horrible, broken day.  Finally, after 8 months of trying to make sense of it and trying to forget, I discovered the real reason why it all hurts so badly:

The place I thought I belonged wasn’t really there.  And, maybe it never was.

At some point in the past 4 years, I finally started to feel “happy.”  I had my good days and my bad days, and the days that I felt like I wanted to give up.  Despite those though, there was a part of me that felt something I’d never experienced before: a feeling of happiness and contentment.  Since working with my new psychologist, I’ve come to discover that this feeling was likely related to a sense of community and belonging – something that I’ve also never really had in my life.

It’s obvious, in a physical sense, that since I’ve moved I am no longer a part of that community.  There are some people I keep in touch with, I have met lots of new people, and I’m starting to make new friends.  It’s hard to be torn away from your social community and it can be expected that it’ll take time to re-establish that in a new city.  What I’ve ben struggling with, probably without even realizing it, is the fact that I was part of a professional community (real or imagined) that was seemingly content to see me go.

What happened to me during the residency match was unfair.  Anyone you ask would agree.  I was hard-working and dedicated to the O&G department at my medical school:  I did multiple research projects as a junior medical student – all of which I presented at national and international conferences.  I even won multiple student awards for research at conferences and as a member of national societies.  I did many electives with different members of the department, all of whom seemed impressed with my skill, interest, and dedication to learning about O&G.  Some members of the department already referred to me as their “future resident.”  I was “friends” with many of the residents already in the department… and if all that wasn’t already an indication, the program had a longstanding history of always preferentially selecting students from their own medical school before others.  

It was a shock to everyone, I think, that it happened the way it did.  A few people who didn’t know for sure, thought I *chose* to go to a different program.  However, when I told them the truth – that my home program didn’t pick me – they were shocked (and I still get that response today – from people who have just met me).  My classmates and my close friends were upset and dismayed on my behalf.  The medical school administrators were shocked and offered to “investigate” what might have happened when I told them it wasn’t my choice.  Preceptors and attending physicians from other departments thought it was stupid, and could’t believe it, and assured me that “it was their loss.”  Despite this outpouring of support from most of the people I knew, there was one place – one group of people – who never gave any indication that something went wrong: The O&G department itself.

With the exception of one person – K, my mentor and my friend – there was no one in the whole department who showed any indication that something went wrong: not a single nurse, not a single physician, not a single resident.  Everyone knew what happened, at least I’m pretty sure of it (because K told me that they knew).  Some people were polite and asked me where I was going, but when I told them that staying was my first choice, I got the generic responses like, “you’ll do great there,” or “they’re lucky to have you,” or “sometimes these things happen for a reason.”  No one was outraged, no one spoke out on my behalf, no one seemed to care that I was abandoned by their very own people.  Instead, they all continued on in silent solidarity, hiding behind the excuse that, “that’s how CaRMS works.”

Business was as usual for everyone else.  For weeks I sought out support and solace from the community that I thought had taken me in.  However, I only ever got feeble attempts at comfort and empathy.  Not a single person from that community ever expressed disappointment, or outrage, or concern that the system was unfair.  It didn’t take long for the residents who were once my “friends” to stop talking and interacting with me.  Nurses and physicians passing me in the hallway would avoid eye-contact – or else give me a sad, quick “nice to see you smile” as they scurried off to something else.  I once whet down to the labour floor to do an off-service consult, and no one said a single word to me.

K did her best to assure me that people were upset – but words only go so far.  She said that everyone just felt so horrible for what happened – but no one ever gave me that feeling.  I know how people could have been feeling: “when you don’t know what to say, maybe it’s better to not say anything.”  Often protecting yourself from discomfort means sacrificing the change to offer support to the people who need it.

But I don’t think that is all of it… There is always the politics.  And, I’m sure that the politics in the department prevented people from doing what a community is supposed to do.  The department made a decision (rather, 4 people in the department made a decision) and it is only politically correct for the department to maintain a united front.  It would be politically incorrect to suggest that your department made a mistake.  It would be frowned upon to admit that you thought something went wrong.  It would potentially cause problems and internal strife if anyone spoke out against the decision.  And unfortunately for me, support, and empathy, and understanding for me in that situation would have been discourteous on a political level.

And so the truth is, politics divide a community.  It alienates the members and prevents then from doing what they are meant to do: To support its people. 

Either that, or I was never part of that community in the first place.

And while I can’t decide which of these is true, I know that either truth has torn me apart.

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Two Years of Cranky Giraffe

Two years ago I wrote my first blog post on The Cranky Giraffe. What a difference two years makes!
My first year of blogging was huge and saw me through the challenge of coming to terms my history of abuse as well as establishing a healthy mentoring relationship.
My second year of blogging was instrumental in continuing and advancing my mentorship/friendship and it witnessed the biggest and most unexpected change in my life his far.
I am still heavily affected by the events highlighted in my last year of blogging. As such, I foresee my third year of blogging invoke a lot of working through and overcoming everything involved in my move and the beginning of residency. I guess we’ll see how it all plays out!
I’m hoping to participate in another year of NaBloPoMo next month – I’ve been finding it difficult to blog everyday, but hopefully I can complete it for a third year!

Thanks for following The Cranky Giraffe!

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Two weeks

It’s been two weeks since I made my last post.  I’ve been around, mostly looking in on other blogs, but I just haven’t had the gumption to write.  It’s not like me.  Usually I want to write so much and I just don’t have the time.  I guess maybe that’s partly been the case here too – but now look who’s making excuses.

I haven’t been feeling well.  A few weeks ago I upped my dose of cymbalta (after having more of those anxiety attacks).  I also got my flu shot two weeks ago – and it has all really knocked me out.  I am still feeling extremely exhausted all the time.  Two days after the flu shot I started having drenching night sweats. I thought it was the flu shot, but they have persisted up until now.  I’ve noticed myself looking and feeling “chubbier” (it is especially noticeable in my breasts, which now fill my previously loose and baggy bras).  I’m not nauseous anymore, so I’ve been eating more.  I notice myself eating because I want to, not because I’m hungry.  I finally forced myself to come face to face with the numbers – and I’ve gained 4Kg (9lbs) in 3 weeks.  I’ve still been running between 5K and 8K at least once per week and I get an average of 10,000 steps per day on my fitbit, and I do nightly “exercises” as part of a challenge I do with K.  I’ve generally been feeling physically gross and mentally unhappy.

Is this a side effect of increasing the medication?

Am I just eating too much and not exercising enough?

Am I getting depressed?

Or is there something else wrong with me?

Yesterday was a bad day.  I was post call.  I only got 4 hours of sleep after not seeing my call room all night.  Then I went to see my psychologist – we had one of those sessions that she’d think was “excellent.”  You know, the kind where I end up crying uncontrollably in some cathartic fashion for the last 10 minutes of the session. (I’m going to write about it, but I’m still trying to think about it)

I cried as I drove to my next appointment with my family doctor.  I cried more there.  We decided to change my medications again.  This time lowering the dose back to before and adding back wellbutrin (which I really liked, but I think made me a little nauseous and contributed to my increased anxiety).  She said that the two medications have great synergy and often can cancel out each others side effects.  I hope that is the answer.

I need to feel better.  I need to lose the weight I gained.  I need to get back to the old me.

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