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I'm struggling with the concept of being unwell


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Old 3rd February 2019, 4:58 PM   #1
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I'm struggling with the concept of being unwell

Hi there,

I guess this may feel like a bit of a ramble- but I'm hoping getting it off my chest will just help.

Since 1st of Jan I haven't been well. And normally I am a fairly fine person. I got a cough/cold- it went to my chest and I was feeling pretty unwell. It takes a lot for me to admit I'm unwell- despite being a pharmacist working on busy hospital wards and seeing a lot of really ill people- I always just think I can struggle on because patients are worse than me. I had some really bad asthma episodes at work and eventually convinced myself to see a dr- receptionist was unhelpful- told me to call again the next day to see if I could get an appointment so I left it- I started to get better and I moved on.

For about 10 days I started to improve- coughing a bit less. Then BAM hit me all again really bad, really drained, struggling to breathe, coughing loads of green mucus etc. Respiratory pharmacist told me it was time to see my GP and I finally listened when someone else told me. Saw a nurse practioner the same day and I had a chest infection (this was Thursday afternoon) and prescribed 5 days antibiotics.

Took Friday off work sick- which is a really big deal to me. All I can think of is whom I am letting down, that patients may not get the best outcomes etc. But spent most of Friday and Saturday in bed resting. Felt better for it, but was so bored. My BF said he was proud of me for finally taking some time and that I need to put myself first for a bit.

Today I finally ventured outside for lunch with my BF and met some friends out. Was fine and then vertigo suddenly hit me. Everything spinning, can't walk in a straight line, nauseous etc. Had to get a bus home rather than a 15 min walk!

I've had vertigo 4 times before. Usually when I am stressed, run down and everything is on top of me a bit. I'm upset because I hadn't realised how bad things had got. And I'm frustrated because I know how bad it gets for me when I have vertigo.

I guess I am stressed- work has been tough because so many people have left or off sick long term. It's winter pressures season too. And I've had a rough few months. I've posted before but my Nanny was suddenly diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and admitted to the hospital I was working in. It was a shock. And me and my family cared for her at home until she passed at the end of last year. It's all been pretty tough. And I only had 2 days off work during that whole ordeal.

My BF has just told me it's time I stop worrying about work and take care of myself for a bit. I had a few leftover pills from the last time I had vertigo. I guess I should call in sick tomorrow and try and see my GP again. Last time they gave me a few weeks worth of meds and offered to sign me off work because they said I needed a break. I didn't take them up on that and just self certified for the 3 day maximum.

I get stressed just even calling in sick incase I reach the maximum number of days and get called in to see management. I had a few days off last year for stress induced migraines (when my Nanny was sick) and I had a urology problem so had to have minor surgery.

I'm not sure if I really have a question to answer- but I just needed to unload. I'm home alone as my BF has some things he had to do at home. I haven't seen him or anyone really much over the last few days. And while I never used to mind my own company at all- now I'm feeling tired of it. And frustrated that I am not myself 100%. I just don't know what to do if I am still suffering tomorrow.
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Old 3rd February 2019, 8:11 PM   #2
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All I can think of is whom I am letting down, that patients may not get the best outcomes etc.
So, to get to the crunch of it, this sort of suggests an over-inflated sense of importance.

I had the same, and it's not easy to overcome; but if you can come around to allowing that other people are in charge and control over their own life and life experiences (conditions and circumstances),
then perhaps you will be able to ease up on yourself.

Like I said, it's a lot for the 'self' to process, coming to this or a similar realization; I used all kinds of traditional and non-traditional practitioners and methods.
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Old 3rd February 2019, 9:14 PM   #3
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Look, if you can't take care of yourself and put yourself first, you can't take care of others. To be your best self, you MUST strike a healthy work/life balance, for starters.

I wish I was your doctor, because my prescription would be (I'm 66 years old):

Give yourself a day of leisure every week to 10 days. Just for you. Not a day you have to run errands and go to the grocery store all day. A day of leisure. I've had two jobs much of my life. How I find it easiest is on the workdays, I also push myself to get my errands done after work (or sometimes before) so that frees me up on my day off to do nothing or to go do something fun. So the workdays are a grind and it's work, errands/chores, crash and burn. But the payoff is a free day. Otherwise, what are you working for? What's the reward?

The other thing I did and still do is occasionally have someone in to clean house. I'm not spending all my precious free time mopping. And I also learned not to mess the house up to begin with (but my dogs do anyway, so...) I live in a large town where you can now get groceries delivered. Do that. You still have to sit on your cell and make the order, but you could do that while sitting by the pool or at the hair dresser's.

When you get all that stress, try to delegate what needs to be done to others. Don't be the only one to take everything on -- because if you do, people will LET you! Make others share the responsibilities.

It's healthy to put yourself first. I don't where you got all the guilt about it, but it's wrong. Take care of yourself and enjoy life while you're young enough to do so. By the time you're my age, there will be so many physical things you wish you could still do. Maybe this illness is a wake-up call. Once you have a health setback or a big injury, you realize how precious your health is and stop taking it for granted and pushing yourself as hard.

I want you to make a schedule and go by it that gives you a regular day off to do what you want to do. Write it down. Negotiate at work or do whatever you have to do. You're entitled to days off!
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Old 4th February 2019, 12:20 AM   #4
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A few weeks ago, a woman at work passed out and fell out of her chair. We had to call 911. That happened because she persisted in going to work while she was very ill. Prior to that incident, she had pneumonia. Then she got another bronchial infection but kept pushing herself. End result, her body sent her a clear message -- "stop pushing me!"

The truth is, if the place you work for can't accept that people get sick and need to take care of themselves, then you don't need to be there. But I personally think you're making way too much out of the whole thing and have this idea that the world revolves around your presence. I think you need to be more realistic about the whole thing.

Yes, it's totally boring staying home sick. Being sick in general isn't any fun at all but I personally have a problem with people who come to work spreading their germs everywhere. I'm like you - I rarely get ill - and somewhere in the back of my mind I see it as a weakness. Having said that, though, when I do get sick, I tend to baby myself and, because I do that, I tend to recover really quickly. I got very ill the week before xmas with a bronchial thing and took off 2 days at work. Then it hit me all over again at the beginning of the year and I had to miss more work. It was horrible. I've noticed that bronchial illnesses are very tough to shake and they tend to rear their ugly heads again just when you think you're doing great.

Just remember that you're just human and try to keep work in perspective. It's good that you're conscientious about your job but there needs to be limits to that. When your body is fighting an illness, it needs for you to slow down and allow it to do its thing - heal. You cannot push and push yourself and expect your body to keep performing. It just doesn't work like that.
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Old 4th February 2019, 5:33 AM   #5
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You have to take care of yourself first. I know it's easier said than done, but over the long run your patients will benefit from having a healthy medical professional taking care of them.



Try to do something fun at home? What are your hobbies?
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Old 4th February 2019, 6:15 AM   #6
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Thanks guys- sometimes I just need a bit of a shake.

I'm a massive overthinker. With regards to work- I just think about how someone has to look after an extra 25 patients if I am not there. Like Friday- my team was already reduced to 2 of us for 3 wards- and by me not being there it was just 1 person for 75 patients.

But I realise I need to get myself sorted. I called in sick today. And I've got another appointment with the nurse this afternoon.

My boyfriend sent me a reminder text this morning with a list of all the activities I enjoy doing and a note to make sure I do some of them!

I work 5 days a week 8am til 5.30pm- but the days are quite intense- I do a weekend every few weeks and get a day off in the week to make up for it. So I do get some time to myself. My boyfriend insists on it. Since being with him I definitely spend more time on relaxing rather than housework.

I just got a promotion at work- I should be starting my new role in the next few weeks when contracts are sorted out. It will involve 4 days a week on the admissions unit and 1 day as a desk job building a teaching program for staff. So I need to get a handle on everything before I start my new role.

I'm starting to listen now to people though rather than just constantly pushing myself. But it does make me feel weak. I need to work on that.
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Old 5th February 2019, 4:26 AM   #7
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Just a little update- I went to see the dr yesterday, they gave me some more meds for vertigo and then it all started unravelling that actually I had just got too much on my plate and I was so rundown. I was told that I'm off work for the rest of the week and that I need to come back on Friday for another review and they will see if I need to be formally signed off work with a medical certificate.

They advised that maybe it is time I looked at a bereavement counselling service and I need to look after myself.

I'm trying to come to terms with the fact that I just need some time to look after myself but I am trying. I chatted through a lot of things yesterday with my boyfriend who is so unbelievably understanding. He is genuinely just caring about me being me.

I took it easy in the afternoon- just having a clearout of some old things. I'm not too dizzy just walking around my flat- I guess because it is a familiar environment. Going outside is nerve wracking because everything can just become a blur. But I'm going to make it my mission to walk to a local shop for a few groceries today. I don't want to become housebound out of fear of dizziness.

Had planned to go to a science lecture this evening in a local cafe and I'm just deciding whether or not to go. My BF thinks I should- as I should do things I enjoy, to help me relax and be less stressed, but equally I feel a little guilty leaving the house if I am "off work sick".

He said to me yesterday that he feels I have normalised being ill and stressed in my mind because I live that way so much. I'm starting to realise this all now.

We watched a tv program last night in which a character told another that they had to look after themself etc- and it so echoed things I'd been told. It was eery timing!
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Old 5th February 2019, 5:37 AM   #8
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Have doctors run extensive tests to rule out a physical cause?

I just don’t buy that 8-9 hour shifts, 5 days a week are enough to make someone have such severe symptoms. It seems like “stress” is a catch-all diagnosis when doctors can’t be bothered doing the thinking.
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Old 5th February 2019, 5:56 AM   #9
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My ears have been checked- I don't have any of those issues. And I have had vertigo before- often during really stressful periods. For me it is a sign from my body that I need to stop.

My work is pretty intense- and I tend to think about things at home. Particularly tragic cases or diagnoses. I do try and talk them through now because it can weigh on my mind a lot.

I've got an oncall week coming up in 2 weeks- which involves working all day and then carrying a bleep at home overnight and going in to work if needed or resolving issues from home. It usually burns people out each week that they do.

Plus family stress, grief, financial concerns, trying to empty my Nanny's house and selling it etc. I can see that I have had a lot on.
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Old 6th February 2019, 6:33 AM   #10
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I've got an oncall week coming up in 2 weeks- which involves working all day and then carrying a bleep at home overnight and going in to work if needed or resolving issues from home. It usually burns people out each week that they do.

Plus family stress, grief, financial concerns, trying to empty my Nanny's house and selling it etc. I can see that I have had a lot on.

On-calls are pretty brutal. Even if you aren't constantly called, you can never sleep well, because you need to be alert and making decisions immediately when called. H is pretty smashed after each on-call, and he's a tough guy in general with no issues working 60-hr weeks. IMO, many medical professions are just brutal in general, so I feel you.


I agree with your bf that you should try to do the things you enjoy doing more. I find that even if I'm rushed for time, spending 30 minutes consciously doing something I love has a positive effect on my stress level.



Good luck!
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Old 8th February 2019, 9:58 AM   #11
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I'm seeing the dr again today- to check how I am and how I am feeling. I have no idea what I am going to be saying yet.

I think I'm just pretty overwhelmed with things. I keep getting flashbacks to things that happened with my nanny, and my dreams are really vivid and erratic. I'm very easily tearful, and even just a sad part of a film can have me crying uncontrollably this week. It's like I have opened up the barriers a bit now.

I'm about 80% better in terms of vertigo. I am ok around the house now. Went for a short walk along the beach yesterday and I was so so- but when I got home I felt a lot worse again.

I just had a message from my dad which has really annoyed me though. He lives abroad. And one of his reasons he stated for going was that working in the UK got him too stressed and the environment didn't help. My dad suffered with mental health breakdowns for most of my childhood. He was often off work for months and months. And he has just asked me if I have "the blues due to the weather" and maybe plan a holiday. A few other comments in his message were like- just snap out of it!

Of all the people I thought he would support me if my mental health was not 100%!
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Old 8th February 2019, 1:36 PM   #12
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Yes, it seems that of all people, your dad would understand. You know, you may need to consider getting a job that’s less stressful. Nothing is worth ruining your health over.
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Old 13th February 2019, 6:40 PM   #13
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And [my dad] has just asked me if I have "the blues due to the weather" and maybe plan a holiday. A few other comments in his message were like- just snap out of it!
Was he actually saying "just snap out of it!", or was he possibly trying to empathize with you and say that he understands what (he intuitively guesses?) you may be going through,
and/or tell you (perhaps in a round-about way) what he used to tell himself, or try to tell himself, to get through it himself?
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Old 20th February 2019, 2:22 PM   #14
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OP, you cannot be your best self, most valuable employee, etc. if you don't take care of yourself. You may think that you can ignore yourself and do well and maybe you can for a while, but that is not sustainable. Eventually, you will cave. Think of it like the reason parents who are on flights with children are instructed to put the oxygen mask on themselves first before their children in an emergency -- the parents can help the child at all if they are unconscious themselves.

In addition, if you are putting so much of yourself into other things, there isn't a lot left for a partner. When a partner starts telling you need to slow down at work or try to leave it there, etc., it's usually a heads up that they are noticing that you aren't "all there" for them.

There is also another concept which may be "foreign" to you -- People work to live. They don't live to work. End of sermon
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Old 20th February 2019, 3:16 PM   #15
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OP, you cannot be your best self, most valuable employee, etc. if you don't take care of yourself. You may think that you can ignore yourself and do well and maybe you can for a while, but that is not sustainable. Eventually, you will cave. Think of it like the reason parents who are on flights with children are instructed to put the oxygen mask on themselves first before their children in an emergency -- the parents can help the child at all if they are unconscious themselves.

In addition, if you are putting so much of yourself into other things, there isn't a lot left for a partner. When a partner starts telling you need to slow down at work or try to leave it there, etc., it's usually a heads up that they are noticing that you aren't "all there" for them.

There is also another concept which may be "foreign" to you -- People work to live. They don't live to work. End of sermon

Good advice. It's a little hard for some of us perfectionist types to actually DO in my opinion, but I try to keep this in mind, too.
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