My employer recently held an employee recognition event.  Notice that it’s not “appreciation”.  That isn’t directly relevant to this story, but I thought I’d mention it because it struck me as darkly humorous initially and a little more so after the event itself.  “Come on down to employee recognition!  See people you barely know get recognized for having worked here for a damned long time” went the gist of the many emails I got about it.  It was in my building, so  I thought it might be something I could go to and sit awkwardly at (see “awkward pumpkin painting”) and put in my face time at events.  Because it’s been required of me that I go to events.  It was put in writing even, back last spring.  It’s never been rescinded in writing, so although I find it burdensome (if not downright impossible) to go to most things and although I don’t know of another employee who has a written requirement to attend ALL events and functions, I’m honestly just not ready to sue.  So I try to go, when I can.  I assume if I don’t, I’ll get passed by for a raise again, seen as a poor team player, you know, all that.

But yesterday was busy.  We’re down a staff member in my office and while we do have a temp, we’ve still divided up some of the permanent position’s work among the permanent staff.  So I have other responsibilities and we’re heading into a bit of a busy time for me.  And we’re now interviewing (finally!) for the open job, and the interview schedule is messing up my schedule a bit.  I usually work from home Tuesdays and Thursdays but this past week and next I’m in all over the place.  So yesterday, despite the emails we had all gotten inviting us to recognize other employee’s recognition, I ended up working straight into the afternoon without giving this event another thought.  Until I went out for a break, at a time that I later realized was about an hour before the event started.  On my way back into the building, noticed they’d locked the accessible entrance.  “That’s odd,” I thought.  But then they had locked it the night before too.  The night before, it was late and I figured they just screwed up and locked the wrong door.  See, the front of my building has two doors.  A revolving door (not accessible) and an accessible, normal door.  The back of my building has a door too.  A non-accessible door due to it being up a flight of stairs from street level and having no button press-opener.  To get to the non-accessible back door, you take the elevator to the building’s second floor.  To get to the accessible front door, you go to the first floor.  Got it?  Ok, back to last night.

After encountering the locked accessible door again last night, and having to wait until no one was coming through the revolving door to use it (I don’t move fast enough for some people and have been clipped in these doors before, so I’ve stopped using them)…I thought “When I’m leaving tonight, I’ll go out on the first floor and ask the security guard if this locking the accessible door is a new thing.  If it is, I’ll drop a line to the building manager to let them know that’s not ok.  They’re pretty good about fixing things like this.”  Then I went back to my office and worked.

It turned out I worked well through the event without realizing it.  On my way out of the building, as the elevator neared the lower floors, I heard a lot of noise coming through the doors.  They opened on the second floor, which deposits you on a balcony/mezzanine level that looks out over the lobby and the accessible entrance, and I saw a big fancy looking event going on, people filling the lobby, little cocktail tables, music.  Ah, right.  The employee event.  “Ok,” I thought, “not going out that way then.  And I guess I know why that door was locked tonight.”  Making a note to follow up on the whole locked door thing,  I made my way out to the back, inaccessible door.  Still, I believed I had a choice in this.  I didn’t need the accessible door yesterday, so I chose to go out the back.  I was wrong, it turned out.  Because it turned out that even if I had needed it, I couldn’t have used the accessible entrance to my building to get out last night.

The security guard who was stationed at the back entrance was the regular.  He’s chatty.  We’ve chatted while I’m waiting for Mr. Patient to pick me up on cold nights when I don’t want to wait outside, or on nights when I’m feeling to bad to stand and wait.  The security guard was very animated last night.  He told me that they had shut down the front entrance of the building “without telling anyone!  They’re just sending people back here” he said, incredulous, “and those people are pissed!” he added.  He told me people had been “yelling in my face all night” because of the inconvenience of having to find their way to the back entrance to the building.  “One woman was freaking out because they shut off elevator access to the first floor, the elevator went down and the door wouldn’t open so she came out here and was screaming ‘what the hell!?  I was stuck in the elevator!'” (I doubt very much that she was screaming.  This is a young man in his twenties.  To him, any woman who is angry and verbal is likely seen as “screaming”, so I took it as a cultural hyperbole meant to convey the intensity of her emotional state).

Meanwhile, I’m thinking “that totally could’ve been me”.  “Uh, yeah, what about people with disabilities?” I asked him.

“Whaddya mean?” he said.

“I mean what if someone with a wheelchair or a brace or a walker wanted to get in…or out of the building tonight?  What are they supposed to do?”  He shrugged and gestured to the doors and the stairs that lay just beyond them.  “You’re kidding me, no plan?”

“Nope.  I guess carry them?” he said laughing.

I was pissed off.  I was personally pissed off because there are days when I HAVE to use the accessible entrance to get in and out of my building.  If was just a matter of them locking the door but with security there, and it was one of those days, I could ask to have it unlocked.  But they turned off the elevator.  No way to get down there even.

As I was in the car and going past the front entrance of the building, I saw that there was a cop standing in front of the accessible door, arms folded across his chest, looking imposing.  I suppose he was the one who was turning people away who were approaching the entrance from the street.  Man, it’s a good thing I didn’t know he was out there.  I have such authority issues, and I was so pissed.  I’d have been over to him in a flash, asking him to explain what the hell someone in a wheelchair was supposed to do.  Cops LOVE that kind of attitude, women “screaming” in their faces and what not.  Like I said, good thing I didn’t know he was there until I was safely separated from him by the car door, mechanical motion, and the busy street traffic.

I was pissed off on principle too.  I have seen people in wheelchairs and scooters in my building.  I know that they would have been left stranded, either on the sidewalk trying to get in or (possibly worse, I think) on the second floor without a way out.  I had troubling dreams last night about needing to use a guide dog and no one believing that I needed the dog.  I woke up a few hours after falling asleep, remembered the end of the day and the door thing, and was pissed off all over again.

So, not employee appreciation, recognition.  But apparently not even recognition for the disabled employees.


Holy crap, it was just a matter of time before pop culture came up with a word that describes so much of my existence.  I spent years with undiagnosed blood sugar problems.  Years that postponed my ability to drive, a real crimp in the lifestyle of a late teen.  Years that made me think that my glucose mediated emotionality was just something I had to work on in psychotherapy, emotional regulation really goes right out the window when your blood sugar is plumeting, but who knew?  Not me!  I had hints.  I worked as a unit secretary while a starving (literally) college student.  One night, the nurses, sick of my shitty mood, said “Have you had ANYTHING to eat today?” and when I grumpily conceded  that my work schedule resulted in my missing the two weekend meals my crappy meal plan offered, they practically held me down and did a finger stick.  A $20 was pressed into my hand and a nurse walked me to the cafeteria to get food.  “No, not that.  Get this.  You need sugar” she said, swapping my diet soda for a sugary one.  Another “hint” came later, when I was married to the ER resident.  I came home from grocery shopping in a wretched mood.  I was actually slurring my words too, as I muttered expletives at my husband, the groceries, the cabinets, and the refrigerator.  “When was the last time you ate?” my ex asked me.  I don’t recall my exact words but my reaction went something like “YOU’RE JUST TRYING TO INVALIDATE MY TOTALLY VALID ANGER!  YOU MEN ALWAYS TRY TO MAKE WOMEN THINK THAT THEIR EMOTIONS ARE BIOLOGICALLY MEDIATED!  F*$K YOU BOB!”  Bob, to his credit, calmly mixed me a juice with a spoonful of sugar.  “Drink this.  If you’re still pissed off, we can fight then.”  Ah, the chagrin of realizing he was right.

And then the diabetic.  My grad school boyfriend who was a type 1 diabetic and who played games with his blood sugar and insulin like a gambling addict at the races.  Dietary restrictions be damned, he had a glucose infusion set and a blood sugar meter.  We checked my sugar a few times when I was being shitty, and what do you know?  Low.  60s and 50s and one horrible night, so low he wouldn’t tell me, just force fed me candy while I re-enacted scenes from the Exorcist.

So here it is, the pop culture reference I’ve been waiting all my life for.  Enjoy!

slightly sleepier

Well, I’ve been doing “screen avoidance” for at least an hour before bed for a little more than a week and I think it is helping.  A little.  My bladder’s still waking me up, and I still have at least one drenched in a cold sweat episode a night, but at least I am not feeling like I am just napping instead of sleeping.  So hooray for paper books.

I’ve also added molasses into my diet this week.  I forgot how much molasses makes everything taste like gingerbready christmas.  I added a little bit to the pumpkin pudding recipe and a lot to what I’m calling “gingerbread bread pudding”.  Apparently it’s a decent source of iron, which is good since I cannot take iron supplements without them wreaking havoc with my stomach and gut.  So far, no havoc.  It’s got magnesium too, which I could also use since mine has clocked in low before.

So this week I have tasty christmas-y gingerbready goodness and some sleep, which sure is a welcome change.  I’m up to a pretty stable 125 lbs too, also excellent, and so far this diet isn’t worsening the gastroparesis symptoms.

Got my eye appointment today.  I called yesterday and asked if they had the forms electronically because I have such a hard time writing them out with no time and a cramped hand.  I truly have dysgraphia, always have – the nuns were beside themselves with my handwriting in 1st grade and my second grade teacher made me put my pinkie finger in between every word on the page to keep them from running into each other.  It’s actually gotten much worse as I’ve aged.  Not sure if it’s a neuro thing or what, but it hurts like hell to fill those damned forms out in the office where you gotta write write write and no time to take a break and massage your hand.  By the time I get to the bottom of the first page, it’s turned into totally illegible scribble with missing letters, swapped letters, and totally deformed letters everywhere.  I remember having to soak my hand after exams in college and grad school because it hurt so much from trying to force well formed letters onto the pages of the blue books.  If the doc isn’t a dick, I’m going to mention to him that I think they should have electronic forms.  It’s a frikking eye clinic at a frikkin eye B.A.T.H..  If anyone was gonna have electronic forms, you’d think they would!  The guy I talked to about it yesterday was like “duh? disability wha?”  I’ll call him a Jude, the boy equivalent of a Judy.  He was definitely a Jude.  So wish me luck at the eye doc, hoping he’s not a dick!

season of sleep-lessness

This past week has not been a banner one for sleep.  I am sleepy.  For the most part, I fall asleep.  Sort of.  And there’s the problem.  I fall into this light napping sort of state that is certainly not awake enough to get me out of bed and onto the couch with a book but not slumbering enough to keep me out.  And when I wake like this, it is inevitable that my bladder, now apparently a misfiring thimble, tells me that hey hey hey hey I’m full time to get up and pee!

The past two nights, I’ve had both stomach pain and nausea as well as intermittent shooting pains in my hips and legs.  And electric shock-like feelings in my arms.  While all of the above suck, the shock feelings in my arms are a new sensation, a new trick.  I know what it is, I know it’s a nerve thing.  I don’t know what’s causing it, something mechanical – i.e. a joint that’s slipped and is pinching (I’ve been having a lot of neck pain during the day while I’m up, so this isn’t an unlikely cause) – or a progression of whatever’s up with my nervous system.  Hoping for the former.  Whatever the cause, I’m definitely in a bad sleep phase right now.

The time change is not going to help.  On the plus side, when the clock says 10:00 PM, it’ll feel like 11:00 to me and hopefully that’ll mean I’ll get sleepy earlier.  On the down side, it means when I wake up wide awake at what my body thinks is 5:00 AM, it’s going to actually be 4:00, and it’s a long day that starts at 4:00 AM when you don’t get home from work until after 7:00 PM most days.

I tried getting out and about, thinking that maybe the daylight would help to put me on a normal rhythm.  Got some nice pictures out of it, but not so much with the sleeping.

color photo close up of a tree branch full of red to yellow shaded autumn leaves

This is the time of year when I should be getting BETTER sleep, with the temperatures falling.  That might be a clue.  While the temperatures fell, and we had some lovely crisp autumn days, they have also been yo-yoing a bit over the last week and a half.  We started out with lovely 50 degree days and then shot back up into the 70s, and now back down to the low 60s.  I know from bitter experience that this does not treat my body well.  E.g. the shooting stabbing joint pains at night are a direct consequence of this.A stone wall in autumn woods at sunset

Went for a short walk yesterday, took some nice pictures of the fall color before the rain came in today.  It’ll probably knock all the leaves down that the windy Halloween night didn’t take out.

Some of this, the stomach stuff, maybe could be helped by eating earlier.  Easier said than done when you have to eat two dinners that don’t start until 7:30 PM though.  I have managed to gain back some weight with the two dinner approach and I really don’t want to abandon it.

But I’m not giving up, just need to think creatively here.  I can start bringing two “lunches” to work and eating one late, before I leave for the day.  More weight for the bag, but that’s what my husband bought me an awesome rolling bag for.  It’s not fashionable, but it’s roomy, lightweight, and water resistant.

Another thing I can do is cut down on the phone screen time before bed.  It hasn’t changed recently, but it may not be helping if I’m already in a light sleep phase.  Well, that’s what a good old fashioned paper book is for.  I’ve got Donna Tartt’s The Secret History.  She had me at “classics department” (in a past life, I was a classics minor at a snooty private liberal arts school in the northeast US).