So. I am currently a one-job person, but that hasn’t always been so. When things were tighter, I worked many jobs, up to 7 at a time, filling almost my every waking moment with income producing labor to pay down a bill and keep the lights on. I worked alot, and barely slept. It got so I worked constantly and never slept. I managed this schedule for about a year before I started to, literally, die. It came on gradually. My memory, which is usually razor sharp, was dull; I would forget my hat, forget my briefcase, my password, lose track of where I was, where I was going, what I was doing. Then I started stumbling, tripping over my own feet. I didn’t think too much of it, getting one or two hours a night of sleep due to financial worry, it seemed to me that I would be a little addled, no big. But then came the nightmare, where I was dreaming a long headed alien baby was bursting it’s way out of my chest. I woke up and I could FEEL it in my chest, a terrible pulsing pain, seemed to go right through me, even after I woke. Wow, I thought, your imagination is working overtime. Must have hit yourself pretty hard to hurt this bad. It was still early – about 1am, I had to be to work at 4am, and I had gotten home about eleven. It was a little early but I was not about to try to decend back into the alien filled dream pit, so I got dressed and drove to work. And my chest still hurt, not a crushing pain, but more of an impaled straight through my right side near my sternum pain. I was still pretty sure I must have hit myself, but it didn’t explain the pain in my back. I got to work and got into my computer and got situated, lined up my proverbial ducks and knocked them down. The pain didn’t exactly grow, but I started feeling peculiar. Sweaty. Shaky. Lightheaded. I turned to my firend Google, who told me I was dying, heart attack most likely. For men the symptoms are left arm goes numb (usually) and crushing Chest pain (usually). But for women it could be Jaw pain or weird feelings of dread or Back pain… I gave Google a serious eyebrow, as I didn’t believe it one little bit. I called the Nurse On Call at my clinic who was downright going to call me an ambulance because I was clearly about to die. I didn’t believe her either. I didn’t feel like I was dying. I felt peculiar, definitively not normal, but not like I was about to freefall out of existence. I took my ‘lunch’ early and drove over to the urgent care near work and they were all business, all seriousness with their 50 stick on sensors to check my heart rhythms and blood pressures and brain activity, telling me to lie back, to stay calm, to stay still . Given my degree of denial, all that was pretty easy until they asked who to call in case I needed someone to make medical decisions on my behalf. What? In case I lose consciousness or go into full cardiac arrest before I was done filling out all the necessary forms. What?! I called my husband and told him that I was in the clinic because I have chest pain. He said okay, and to call him when I got home so he would know I got home safe. I then had to explain they were talking about admitting me to the hospital, that I might be having a heart attack…I swear – he worked halfway across town from the clinic but he was there in three minutes. It wasn’t a heart attack, but the heart rhythm was weird, chaotic. Also the brain pattern, chaotic, and the enzymes in my blood (they took a LOT ) was off, strange. The extremely kind doctor asked me questions, how often did I eat, when did I sleep. I am a BIG person. Also, I have lymphedema on top of my weight which makes me so much bigger. I don’t worry if I miss a meal, or two, or 5. I figure I am huge, so I have reserves. Also, as a big person, I should do more exercise, right? Sleeping is lazy, and I have bills to pay. Doc dragged over a tall stool, and got in my face and told me I was dying. I was working myself to death. Not going to die today, not this very minute, but I was in effect trying to run my horse ’til it fell down dead in the desert. No food, no sleep, no rest, nothing but work work work. I am to eat 3 squares and sleep at least 5 hours a day. Even if it means two two hour naps and an hour long snooze. Or death. Also, the top right side of my ribcage (front and back) had come unattached from my sternum and was pressing against my myocardial sac – which was then inflamed. He said that if one job wasn’t doing it then I needed to go find one job that would. Or Death. Seriously DEATH. He then prescribed me huge ass antibiotics for my heart, huge anti-inflammatories, and a probiotic and told me not to die. Stop trying to die. I drove to the pharmacy and got my pills. My husband went back to work, confident I wasn’t about to keel over, and I also drove back to work to finish out my last couple of hours before my second job started. I thought hard, and had to explain my self a few times to my wonderful and concerned coworkers, how it wasn’t a heart attack, how I wasn’t about to drop. Was I trying to kick off? Was I actually trying to check out and be done with this life? No. But I wasn’t being at all realistic about what it takes to sustain myself, and I was punishing myself pretty hard for being fat.
Now I have one job, and our finances are better. Not great, but better. I still work an odd shift, where I come in during the wee hours, line up my ducks and knock them down one by one. I eat, I sleep. I refuse to feel guilty for eating or sleeping. For blinking and breathing. It is unreasonable to expect me not to do any of those things.
Come to today… I had somewhat of a scary day today. Scary few minutes anyhow. Today is an election day. Mid Term Elections. I am not very political, but I voted. I study up on the available candidates and pick who I think works best. I vote, but I don’t actually believe it makes any difference, that the whole shebang isn’t rigged. I vote anyways, because what I believe and what is true sometimes aren’t the same thing. After voting, I got a call from a friend, asking me to come to his workplace and help him with his network. I am not a freelance contractor anymore, but he is a friend – so I go. We’re buds, and he has a mess. We used to work together, different departments, but he has struck off on his own and has a tidy business running. I help my friends if I can, it’s part of being the solution. So I go to his storefront, where he leads me to the back offices and I start tracing the lines of his systems, what connects to where, who is speaking to whom and who is not responding. Not five minutes go by , when he starts on a growling diatribe about how he is a business owner and how as a ‘Maker’ his word should count more than his employees, as he is providing for them and they are all just ‘Takers’. His employees are all there, working, and some of them roll their eyes – I guess they’d heard this before. How his years of making business decisions qualifies him to have more say in the political workings of this world, how his employees should vote how he says they should, how he should be able to have them write out their ballots at his desk so he can make sure they fill it out properly and for the candidate he says to. I stop. I tell him to STFU. Quietly. “Shush Jake, I’m concentrating here.” He starts LOUDLY ranting how as his employee, if I expect to be paid, I better treat him with respect, as is worthy of my betters. More quietly, I explain, in a low and serious voice, that I don’t work for him, never would. That I am only here as a favor to him, as a friend, that I wasn’t expecting to be paid. He slammed his hands on the desk in front of me, glowering and turning red, and tells me to know my place. Know my place? I go on, still even more quietly, how he’s not my better, my employer, my owner, and does neither deserve my respect nor friendship. I disengage from his systems and begin packing up my tools, and he goes off on me, screaming unintelligibly and shaking his fist in my face. In my face. I could smell the alcohol on his breath. ” G’head”, I said. ” Hit me. It won’t change the fact that you can’t fix this. I’m not fixing this for you. I’m not helping. I’m not afraid.” I waited. He dropped his hand and sneered “Fuck you you fat-ugly-over-educated-nerd-Taker-bitch!” I handed him the card of a local computer shop I fall back on when the problem isn’t strictly software, when parts or replacement equipment is needed. He snarled that they would overcharge him, that he thought we were friends. I looked him straight in the eye and said, “We were.” I walked calmly out past his employees, all of whom looked tense and terrified, some of whom got up and stood between him and me as I walked out of the building to my car. I had to pull over after a little bit as I got a bad case of the shakes. I hadn’t been afraid when he had his fist in my face, but boy I felt the fear adrenalin surge through me in the car. Jake is a pretty big guy. I blocked his number, he has called twice, left vmail I haven’t listened to. I wonder if Jake’s wife is okay. I don’t really know her, but if this is how he is in the back office, what kind of mess is he at home? Maybe I will listen to his vmail tomorrow. If I do talk to him, it will be to tell him to join AA, and start counseling. Egad.