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My final bellyache - shadows of echoes of memories of songs
j4
j4
My final bellyache
I feel like I'm retreating further and further into some kind of shell.

The weekend was horrible, not least because I spent most of it doubled up with stomach pain. Had about 3 hours' sleep last night, agonised about whether to go into work this morning (illness is unlikely to be anything infectious and I'll be in just as much pain if I stay home and do nothing, possibly worse because I won't have things to take my mind off it), eventually decided that if I dragged myself in for the (mildly important) meeting at 9am I could always go home afterwards.

The first thing my office-mate said when I got in was "Good weekend?" ("Not really, but at least it's over now.") I know you're not supposed to tell the truth in response to that sort of question, it's nothing to do with information-gathering, but I'm generally too shattered to think of convincing lies. I suppose I ought to get into the habit of giving a non-committal "Yeah, not bad" no matter what.

Meeting was productive, but the boss thinks that the reason I'm ill is "stress" and thinks I "may be in the wrong sort of job". Yes, I am stressed; being in discomfort and pain a lot of the time tends to make most people less-than-relaxed, I would have thought. But now I'm worrying about getting fired for being ill as well. (Yes, I know they can't fire you for being ill, but in straitened circumstances they're less likely to make an effort to keep the flaky sickly people, & the effect is the same.) The boss probably sees more of my emotional angst than a lot of people, but that's only because I've trusted him enough to talk to him; we seem to get on well most of the time, I've come to see him as a friend as well as a colleague (though I'm wary of using the word because it suggests some kind of reciprocality & it seems presumptuous to assume that). Now I feel like I shouldn't have given that trust so readily, and I worry that it'll just end up being used against me.

When I get up in the morning, I don't want to go to work. (I always do, though, because I know what happens if that starts seeming like an option instead of a necessity.) When it gets to the end of the day, I don't want to go home. (See above.) I am so deeply and bone-wearily tired that the effort of context-switching is just too much. If you gave me a reasonably comfortable place to sit and a simple task that would take 10 years to complete, I would probably just sit there and complete it.

It's getting harder and harder to talk to anybody about anything (online or offline). I feel like I'm watching the conversations from the other side of a pane of glass. There are a handful of conversations which I can have on autopilot, mostly set-piece rants or hilarious catchphrase-trading.

I feel as though I still have something to say but no way to say it.

I'll take a quiet life. Retreating into my shell.

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crazyscot From: crazyscot Date: June 8th, 2009 03:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's getting harder and harder to talk to anybody about anything (online or
offline). I feel like I'm watching the conversations from the other side of a
pane of glass.


Umm, wrt real-life conversations, you are me and can I have my brain back, please?
caramel_betty From: caramel_betty Date: June 8th, 2009 05:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have something similar to that. It occasionally feels like watching my life on television and/or everything around me feeling fake. I'd occasionally walk round buildings at university and it felt like they were two-dimensional building frontages, like you might find on a cheap film set for a western.
(Deleted comment)
j4 From: j4 Date: June 8th, 2009 04:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
We-ell... I really don't see it as a genuine question asking "did you have a good weekend?". It's just a ping, and sending back anything more than an ACK is just confusing the issue. I don't think that's wrong, I just find it much harder to read the meaning instead of the words when I'm tired and miserable.
lnr From: lnr Date: June 8th, 2009 03:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've had several "Good holiday", "Well, mostly, apart from the kidney stone" conversations today. I hope you have other weekends which are better weekends soon. I don't think there's much if anything I can say that will help you feel better, but I'm thinking of you, with love.
htfb From: htfb Date: June 8th, 2009 03:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
Buying a house is one of the most stressful things you can put yourself through, of course. No need to blame the job.

j4 From: j4 Date: June 8th, 2009 04:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
The house-buying is occupying maybe 5% of my brain at the moment? Certainly it really isn't consciously causing me a lot of stress at the moment. (Maybe I'm subconsciously worrying about it so much that I'm giving myself stomach ulcers [or whatever], but I'm not sure what I can do about that if so.)

The job isn't really stressful, but I probably worry about it more than I ought.
mhw From: mhw Date: June 8th, 2009 04:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
*sympathy*

But now I'm worrying about getting fired for being ill as well.

One useful strategy for handling this (yes, it was told me by an HR person, but she is good and honest) is to be preemptive and talk with your HR people first. Most places would far rather find a way to retain an employee if possible (hiring and firing costs, plus possibilities of employment tribunals and so on) and will often work wonders in adjusting your job, long or short term, to make that possible.

Just a suggestion, so please feel free to ignore if it doesn't suit your situation.



Edited at 2009-06-08 04:53 pm (UTC)
vinaigrettegirl From: vinaigrettegirl Date: June 8th, 2009 06:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
Respect from one shell-dweller to another. House stuff plus bad weather plus vague angst about jobs plus deeply crap weather and NO SUN: gah...

Diet?
j4 From: j4 Date: June 9th, 2009 08:39 am (UTC) (Link)
Maybe we could hide in a shell and say "GAH!" together some time...

Diet - the only specific foodstuff that seems to make any difference either way to the ongoing stomach problems is beer, which reliably makes it worse. (Gah! Not fair!) Last night we had lots of spicy vegetables and some tasty fresh fruit, which is probably completely against advice for bad stomach but I had a nice recipe that would use up all the slightly-old veg-box stuff... and this morning I felt a little bit better. Though I also spent most of yesterday evening in bed with a hot water bottle (heat on the stomach seems to help more than anything else) so maybe simply sleeping was what helped.

This latest attack of stomach doom does seem to keep making me so tired I can't move, all of a sudden it's like having flu or something & my limbs feel too heavy to move. I cycled into work okay this morning but then was seriously struggling to climb the stairs to the office. :-( Maybe it's some kind of virus or something, in which case it will probably go sooner or later.

The time of eating seems to make a slight difference -- eating one of those pro-macro-badscience-biotic yoghurts every morning seems to have helped a bit over the last few months, but I suspect that's more to do with Making Sure I Eat Breakfast than the yoghurt itself (need to test this by eating something else in the mornings!); and over the last couple of days having lots of small snacks seems to help keep the worst pains at bay. Maybe I have a tapeworm & it needs regular feeding. One of my teachers at school told us that the way to get rid of a tapeworm was to hold a piece of really ripe cheese in front of your open mouth, & it would come up and bite it, and then you could wind the tapeworm round a pencil & extract it. Yes, she was completely loopy. :)
hatmandu From: hatmandu Date: June 8th, 2009 07:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
The black dog comes. The black dog goes. That's all I knows. (And I knows.) Hope sincerely that it's off soon.
j4 From: j4 Date: June 9th, 2009 08:46 am (UTC) (Link)

Dogged

I hate dogs. If only I had some poisoned steak to put down for the yappy little bastard.
(Deleted comment)
j4 From: j4 Date: June 9th, 2009 08:54 am (UTC) (Link)
Seen several GPs, basically their advice boils down to "Sorry, can't find anything, but Gaviscon is quite good for indigestion and that sort of thing." They probably all assume I'm just making it up anyway: because I have suffered from depression on and off in the past, all my physical illnesses must be "all in the mind". And besides, every GP knows that when women say they're in pain they're just trying to get attention. :-(

The boss suggested seeing Occupational Health, but I really don't see that they'd be any more use than a GP. They would probably make me go for "counselling" (like the University counselling service, where a nice mumsy lady in floral prints says "there there, love, it'll all come out in the wash" and "I suggest having a nice walk in the fresh air"), and frankly I'd rather stick forks in my eyes.

Sorry, I don't mean to be totally negative about all your suggestions! :-/
juggzy From: juggzy Date: June 8th, 2009 07:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
Meeting was productive, but the boss thinks that the reason I'm ill is "stress" and thinks I "may be in the wrong sort of job". Yes, I am stressed; being in discomfort and pain a lot of the time tends to make most people less-than-relaxed, I would have thought. But now I'm worrying about getting fired for being ill as well. (Yes, I know they can't fire you for being ill, but in straitened circumstances they're less likely to make an effort to keep the flaky sickly people, & the effect is the same.)

That sounds pretty similar to the catch 22 I got caught in last Autumn when I had the kidney infections. However, look at it like this:

It is possible that you are not well. Illness doesn't always manifest itself as flu or malaria. If that is the case, you should be taking the time off to get well to prevent further dribs and drabs of days off; be properly ill for a bit, and then be properly better. If you are at a job where you are too scared to investigate the possibility of being ill for fear of being seen as weak (which is what I was feeling last autumn - I'm not saying it's the case with you) then the job probably is adding some element of stress to the situation, albeit unintentionally or even accidentally.

As other people say, you probably need to go see a Doctor and register the illness, and then talk to HR about it. This would not be whinging or being a slacker or being feeble and weak; it would be being sensible and proactive. I wish I could take my own advice sometimes.



Edited at 2009-06-08 07:52 pm (UTC)
cleanskies From: cleanskies Date: June 8th, 2009 08:53 pm (UTC) (Link)

if you're in pain and knacked no job is the right job

You could see what your boss is saying to you as grounds for job paranoia, or you could see it as him suggesting you see your Doctor for some blood tests and a week off work.

Chances are you've just got a nasty case of post viral fatigue, about which there is not a lot to do, but it's always worth checking -- there are a couple of interesting options with stomach pain, that you really need to exclude.

I should also add that the last web whacker I knew who had crashing fatigue and agonising stomach pain went to see her Doctor and her Doctor sent her to hospital, and then .... well, she ended up off work for eleven months.

So get it checked out, eh? It's not always stress.
j4 From: j4 Date: June 9th, 2009 09:01 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: if you're in pain and knacked no job is the right job

I don't know how to get the blood tests -- if you try to tell GPs what to do, they just wash their hands of you completely. As I said in comment above, most of the GPs I've seen have said "Hm, dunno, try Gaviscon". They're just not interested. I think they assume that a thirtysomething woman with non-specific stomach pains is just a whingey attention-seeker with internet-related depression.

One GP (about two years ago) did wonder if I had gallbladder problems & actually got me an ultrasound for that, but when it didn't show anything he started muttering about stress/counselling/etc. It just makes me so angry. I don't need someone with qualifications in psychoanalysis to tell me "being in pain makes people more tired and stressed and cross than usual"!

The problem is, I go through phases when it's really bad and phases when it's just a bit uncomfortable, but when I have the really bad phases I can't get to a doctor in time to get them checked out while there might be something there to see because you can so rarely get an appointment in under a week unless it's "a medical emergency", so they prod my stomach when it's back to "normal" (ie just a bit rubbish) and can't find anything. I can't pretend I'm dying just to get them to inspect me while I'm actually ill. :-(

Grrrhh sorry. I don't mean to be all negative about what you're saying. Just.... grrrrhhhh.
imc From: imc Date: June 8th, 2009 09:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
The weekend was horrible, not least because I spent most of it doubled up with stomach pain.

Well, that sucks. I have nothing useful to say, but GWS.
j4 From: j4 Date: June 9th, 2009 09:01 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm sorry I didn't make it to your concert. :-/ I hope it went well!
From: scat0324 Date: June 9th, 2009 09:19 am (UTC) (Link)
Sorry to have been such a useless fool yesterday - I wish there was more to offer than "best wishes" (even a bit of time would be good). :-(
j4 From: j4 Date: June 9th, 2009 09:39 am (UTC) (Link)
Aw hey, you smiled & said hello, there's not much else people can do while cycling (at least not without risking finding themselves squashed under an MDG). And you had socklets to sort out. :)

Also as I said we will be a lot nearer you in the New House (OX4 4BG) so you won't be able to escape as easily (bwahahahaha etc). (Actually I think the address I have for you is the old one - it's got a '2a' in it? - but ISTR they're not far apart anyway?)
monkeyhands From: monkeyhands Date: June 9th, 2009 09:27 am (UTC) (Link)
The only good reason for seeing HR would be arse-covering: to have a record that you told them about X or asked for help with Y. But you need to remember that they'll only be interested in covering their own arses. You might get a show of sympathy, but you won't get any real support because they're on the side of your employer, not you.

It's still a good idea to talk to HR, but you need to go in there with a very clear agenda, e.g. "I'm here to ask for flexible working" or whatever. And you need to make your own record of the conversation. You can't rely on them to do that because a) they're more about protecting themselves than you, so you can't expect their notes to back you up; and b) they may well misunderstand part if not all of what you're trying to say.

All this means that any conversation with HR should happen when you're feeling confident and not vulnerable or weepy, which is a bootstrapping issue, or do I mean chicken-and-egg, or do I mean rowing the fox across the river?

And remember, moving house is just as stressful as divorcing a swan!
j4 From: j4 Date: June 9th, 2009 09:40 am (UTC) (Link)
And remember, moving house is just as stressful as divorcing a swan!

Ow it hurts when I laugh. :-}

(Thank you, though!)
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