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BURNING WOMAN

18 October 2002

It's a good thing we're taking off for the Shakespeare festival in Ashland (Oregon) tomorrow morning.

This has been a very difficult week and by noon today, I was realizing that I was in danger of serious burnout. In truth, it's been developing and I'm not quite sure what I'm going to do about it.

"Overinvolvement" has been my middle name for my entire life. Maybe it's time to sit back and assess how much involvement a soon-to-be-60 year old can handle.

The burnout is manifesting itself right at this very minute because I'm sitting here writing a journal entry while there is a stack of work staring at me. I fully intended to come right home from work and plunge into it, get it all finished before we leave tomorrow. But I've been home for an hour and haven't done a lick of work. I have, however, played a couple of games of Free Cell, fixed a snack, watched Dr. Phil (in the background--I wasn't even interested in it), read e-mail, caught up on Steve's discussion board, and am now writing tonight's journal entry.

What needs to be done before we leave? Well, the psychiatrist went out of town this week (which took the pressure off of his work for 2 days) but he will be back tonight and I have 3 tapes of his, which he is definitely not pressuring me to do, but which I know I've had for a week--and he'll have more next week. I did an interview with a friend last night for an article that has to be written and submitted to the newspaper before we leave for Ashland. And Dr. G rushed through his dictation so he could be sure to give me his tape for this week before I left--and I still haven't finished last week's tape (heck, I haven't even STARTED it!). So there are two tapes of his which need to be transcribed.

Taking stock, that is 5 tapes to be transcribed (6 if you count the tape I made during the interview) and an article to be written.

And I'm sitting here writing a journal entry.

I've always said that I work best under pressure. That has been my modus operandi throughout my life. Tell me to get it to you "whenever is convenient" and I'll put it off for weeks. Say "I must have this in an hour" and I'll get it for you in 30 minutes.

Somehow in the last few months, I'm not able to do that. I sit here at 9 p.m. and I start feeling sleepy so I decide to sleep until 4 a.m. and then get up and work. In the past that has worked too, but now I get the sleep and get up, listen to those voices and just can't settle down. I pace the floor. I find other things to do. I just. can't. do. it.

As I type this, I think that the problem isn't the work per se—it's the voices. I've listened to the psychiatrist's voice for more than 20 years. He dictates clearly. But he rambles. He stumbles. He changes his mind. I fix a lot of stuff for him because I can do it in my sleep. His voice drones on and off into oblivion. The phone on his desk rings and jolts me out of my seat. It goes on and on and on. The dictation equivalent of the Chinese water torture.

And then there is Dr. G. My part time job (4 days a week, 4-5 hours a day) has grown into an expected 5 days a week, and averaging 6-9 hours a day without a break. Dr. G piling on the work. Cleaning his desk by giving me stacks of work, then calling me back to help with a patient and then complaining because my desk is so messy. I spend 1/4 of my time just trying to keep the desk neat so it won't offend him (I never succeed). He never gets angry. He just makes comments. (It was delightful to go visit the office manager of the gyn office where he works on Fridays and discover that her office makes my desk look neat and tidy!)

To leave that and come home to his dictation--more of that voice--is just starting to get to me.  This may perhaps improve when he gets voice activation software so he can do his own notes and eliminate the middle man (and paying the middle man--me--contract prices). But I suspect he offended the folks who were demonstrating the system because I've contacted them twice with an offer to buy the system and they are stubbornly refusing the respond.

People tell me -- "quit. Just quit."

I wish it were that easy. Oh it's that easy in theory. I'm sure the psychiatrist could find someone else, but there's that pride thing in the back of my head. I've done this work for him for twenty years and the thought of having someone else doing it kind of causes a little pang. I want him to retire. I don't want to give his work up! (I am a bundle of contradictions)

As for Dr. G, I could probably give up his transcription and it's just damned stubborn pride that prevents me from saying "I just can't do this. I can't do it all."

So if I'm suffering burnout, it's my own damn fault. I have options. I have choices. I sit down here and struggle with trying to force myself to put on those damn earphones, and plug in the damn malfunctioning transcription unit (that's another biggie--it's not operating properly and every time my foot slips off the foot pedal, it backs up two sentences worth, so for every dictation I do, I have to listen to it a bazillion times more than I need to--and definitely a bazillion times more than I want to). And each time I do it, I make the choice to continue doing these after-work jobs for another day.

But I sure would like some night to just come home and not do a bloody thing except maybe cook dinner and maybe watch a little TV before going to sleep. I can't remember the last time I did that (or at least the last time I was able to do that with a clear conscience because all the work was actually caught up).

OK. Diatribe over. Now it's time to put on those damn earphones and plug in the damn malfunctioning transcription unit so I can go to Ashland with at least a somewhat clear conscience.  Any bets?

Quote of the Day

Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.

- Helen Keller

Photo of the Day

hallway.JPG (35425 bytes)

This is the hallway going into
the room for the wedding and
reception.

One Year Ago
Now What Do I Do?
So I'll just accept what comes along and figure that if I'm supposed to have this job, I'll figure out some way of doing the job well. And if it's not offered to me, I wasn't supposed to have it after all.

I've now been at this job
for almost a year--amazing.

Two Years Ago
Back to Basics
Tomorrow we fly off early in the morning for Seattle and we’re trying to get ready. For me "getting ready" means writing the second of two feature articles I have to turn into the newspaper before I leave (the first one was easy--it was on Steve and I could write it in my sleep), and finish at least one more transcription.

LOL---two years ago.  Things
obviously haven't changed one bit!!!


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Created 10/17/02