I don’t understand. I’m out of commission. Again. And to say I’m frustrated is a gross understatement. This fatigue is crushing me into dust.
I feel defeated. Worthless. Useless. But most of all, I feel angry.
Yesterday was my first day back at work after four and a half months on medical leave. During that time, I had pelvic surgery and brain surgery. My body wasn’t the same as it was before all this started. Unfortunately, I was about to find that out the hard way.
The day started out all right, although it took me a long time to get ready due to fatigue. I was still filled with apprehension as I got ready. I put on a new dress I’ve been dying to wear since I bought it at the start of summer. Dresses with leggings and boots are favorite outfits of mine. So comfortable. I carefully did my hair and put on full make-up for the first time since probably April or May. David bought me red roses and washed my car to do everything he could to make my first day back as pleasant as possible. Such a sweet hubby!?
As I drove the 35 minutes into work, I sipped a Diet Pepsi and listened to my Rend Collective playlist (my favorite band.) Detour through the hood aside due to construction, it was a pleasant drive. I even managed to get an excellent spot in the parking garage. Everything seemed to be going great so far. But I was so nervous about going in, I sat in my car until the last minute, trying to calm myself down.
I was greeted with a chorus of “welcome back” as soon as I walked into the satellite. I was happy to see my coworkers and they were happy to see me. And I was thrilled that I was working my shift with two of our best and most skilled technicians. I dove right in to checking fluid bags, because that’s just what I do. I hate idling when there’s work to be done. Once a computer opened up, I logged in (got my password right on the second try!) and got to work. I was pleased to see that only one patient still remained admitted from before I went on leave.
As time went on, the pace of work gradually picked up and a deeper fatigue started to set in. Thankfully, not too many IVs to check, but plenty of other orders from admissions. Gradually, as other pharmacists went home as their shifts ended, the pace picked up even more. I was constantly running around, checking IVs in one room, oral medications in another room, answering the phone, and verifying medication orders. No chance for a dinner break (as is always the case, though, so it’s not like that was unexpected.) My delivery tech didn’t even get a moment to sit down at all. Even our PICU pharmacist stayed late to help catch up with things. By the time our night shift pharmacist arrived at 9 pm, I was completely beat.
When I finally left the hospital, I was so beset by fatigue I was barely able to make it to my car, even though it’s less than a 1/4 mile walk. By the time I got home, I was so exhausted that I didn’t even have the energy to speak until I had been home for an hour. I went to bed on the earlier side so I would have enough energy for today. And I did sleep well.
But it was not to be. I woke up and could barely get out of bed to go to the bathroom. I could barely sit up. Since I could hardly pick up my feet to walk, I had to shuffle around. I walked with my head down because I didn’t have the energy to hold it up.
And then it hit me. I can’t do this. This isn’t the type of exhaustion you can power through, as if you didn’t get enough sleep and you’re tired. No, this is…I hardly know how to explain it. But whatever energy I had, I lost it in one shift. Granted, it was a busy shift, but second shift is always like that this time of year. And we do have some critically ill kids right now.
I had a sobbing, dry heaving meltdown. I called off my shift and then contacted my manager, who was thankfully understanding, as he has been throughout this whole fiasco of a year for me. I’m still waiting to confirm with my doctor, but as of now, I won’t be returning to work until at least December 5th, or perhaps not even until January 1st. As I told my manager, I probably could have gone back if I had a desk job. But I can’t yet go back to the high stress job I have. As Dr. Bain said last week, all of my body’s energy is going towards healing my brain and my skull and not much else, so this extreme, difficult to explain fatigue and exhaustion is actually to be expected and he said is very common in his patients for months and months after surgery.
I don’t even want to think about what my coworkers think of me now. It only makes this whole nightmare worse. But if the only friend I have left is my husband, I’ll live with it.
But for now…I’ve been bested by my body yet again.
PS- Go Tribe.