Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Give and Take

"My rule is," I said after nodding that I had read and understood the informational booklet and sitting down in the cardboard cubicle, "I'll come back if you don't hurt me. So don't hurt me."

Instead of asking why I volunteered to donate blood, the woman assigned to check me in smiled at me and nodded sympathetically. "The worst part is the finger stick and I have to do that to you." She said. "But I hate that part too, so I'm good at doing it to other people."

We chatted as she filled in the requisite screens, made easier by the handy donor card I brought with me. She stuck the middle finger of my left hand while I turned my head away. I glanced over and saw her sucking up drops of my blood into a tiny glass tube and swiftly faced the friendly cardboard wall again.

"Remember to give me someone good." I whispered as we entered the large room. I smiled at the nurse as I settled in the chair and obediently showed her both arms. I repeated the plan that I would continue to donate as long as the process wasn't overly painful.

"I get it." The nurse said, smiling at me. "You're out of here if it hurts. Don't blame you at all." She explained that the Red Cross had implemented a new protocol for our region and the set-up took a bit longer as they adjusted to the changes.

"Will it hurt more?" I asked and she laughed as she shook her head, scanning bar codes on baggies and vials. "I don't know if I want to do this now." I said, feeling my lip quiver as I turned my head away while she swabbed the inside of my right elbow.

"Little sting." She warned me after reminding me to relax my hand.

"Talk to me." I said, voice high and tight with anxiety. "Do you have children?"

"I do." She answered and I flinched at the sting from the needle and iodine. "Do you?"

"No, I don't." I said. "How many do you have?"

"Five." She said and I glanced over at her and blinked.

"Wow." I said. "Five. How old are they?" She told me ages and the discomfort subsided and we chatted pleasantly while she filled tubes first and kept me company while my baggie filled up. "You were wonderful." I told her as she finished up and removed the needle from my arm. "Thank you so much - you didn't hurt me much at all."

"So we'll see you in a couple months." She clarified and I nodded happily.

I dealt with Project A before going to my donation appointment and I was off and disorganized. I apologized to the very important MD and she waved it off. We've historically done very well together and it bugs me that her final impressions of me might be that of mild incompetence.

I returned to my office to read email that my submission for Rejected Paper had been received. Still no word on the evaluation of reviews - still feeling sick about that. And I uploaded a bunch of files - cover letter, suggested reviewers, figures, etc. - for Problematic Paper. It should go in after Boss's revisions are made tomorrow. That puts all three papers in play - this makes me feel good. I hate finding homes for publications. Revisions are fine - it's the outright rejections that really hurt me.

I found a job application online that interests me greatly. It turns out I applied for the same job after grad school so I found my handy file of emails and sent a note to the former leader of the group. He's since moved up, but responded to my friendly message with the new manager's contact information and asked the man to phone me soon to discuss opportunities. I sent a lengthy cover letter and a copy of my CV and hope to hear from him soon. Again, I like having possibilities out there. It helps deal with the rejection.

I left the donation site to walk across campus to my office immediately after grabbing some juice. I felt OK in the short-term last time and got woozy and tired a bit afterward. So I made use of my energy and stopped at the pharmacy. I've wondered lately if I'm ready to dial back the anti-depressants and handle life on 20mg instead of 40. But I found an open space at the counter and picked up a refill for the higher dose. It's still hard - the uncertainty on manuscripts and what comes next and having too much to start and finish and handle. If the little pills help me cope - deal with lengthy interviews and exhaustion, rejected papers and the need to rebound and try again, interview requests that may or may not pan out - then I'll take them.

So I came home - feeling a bit tired and loopy, but not nearly as intense as last time, had a snack and took a pill. It's an odd balance, perhaps, but it's one that's working for now.


Wayfarer Scientista said...

If it's working for now stick with it...odd or not.

Anonymous said...

Hi Katie,

I have a new blog! :-)

I can understand what it feels like to have so much to do. Hang in there. You can do it!

Joy from Wisconsin

post-doc said...

True enough.

Where is it? I've been wondering how you've been doing!

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