Discouraging Day

I had kind of a discouraging day yesterday. It was the day to bring Edward to the city for his new medication (he gets it by IV every 8 weeks; with travel, it takes all day), and the traffic was terrible. The drive was also full of the kind of incidents I find demoralizing on a worldwide humankind type of level. For example: There is this road on the route that is very, very busy, and people have just come off the very, very busy highway so they are not in the mood to delay further. Perpendicular to that road is another road, with a stop sign; traffic gets HUGELY backed up there because they can ONLY get out if someone lets them in, and they are JOINING us not crossing us so every car that gets let in DOES delay us. And yet yesterday, people in my lane, people who had been waiting like I had for TWENTY MINUTES at that exit, were voluntarily doing a zipper merge with the people at the stop sign: one of us would let in a stop-sign person and then one of us would go, and then the next one of us would let in another stop-sign person. It made me feel good, the way people would do that. But then I let my person in—and the guy behind that person ran the stop sign and cut in too, so that I had to slam on my brakes. Startled, I honked one single beep of what the heck—and he yelled something with huge intensity and gave me the finger. Don’t tell me to concentrate on all the good people who were letting people in and not let that one person ruin it: I have already told this to myself many times and the only effect it’s had so far is to make me pissed with myself for saying it.

Then, the nurse at the hospital messed up Edward’s IV. This is the sort of normal mistake humans make; I expect it to happen to any nurse from time to time. But then she made a really big, extended deal about Edward’s quiet wincing/gagging reaction to the resulting blood and pain, asking with faux astonishment does he ALWAYS have such a hard time? And NO, he does NOT. He has gotten very chill about needles and blood draws from doing them very regularly for the last SIX YEARS, and he has only had a problem THREE times, and each of those three times it has been because the nurse messed up the IV. And she knows perfectly well that she messed up the IV and that LOTS of people have a negative reaction to a messed-up IV, and yet she tried to make it seem as if he was over-sensitive and weird, and she didn’t bring him a barf bin even though the other nurse (they have a “one and done” policy, so a new nurse came to do the IV) told her there was one in the next room. And then the same nurse who messed up Edward’s IV messed up the IV of the patient we were sharing the room with, and she and the other nurse did their same routine of how this doesn’t usually happen and was there something wrong with the patient’s veins? And it gave me that “humans are bad” feeling again, because this is always how it happens: on all three messed-up-IV occasions Edward has calmly turned white and quietly says he needs a bucket just in case, and on all three occasions the nurse or technician has tried to act as if they did NOT mess up the IV, despite the clear evidence (blood, needing to be redone, KNOWING PERFECTLY WELL THEY MESSED IT UP), and ALSO acted as if Edward is shrieking and crying and throwing a fit and being very unreasonable, when actually he is being super calm and trying to prevent making a mess on their floor. Edward has flaws just like any human being, but “reacting unreasonably to IVs” is not one of them, and now I have my script ready for the next time a nurse tries to cover up her error at his expense.

Then, when I came home, I wanted literally five minutes to starfish on the bed in a dim room and recover from the 9.5 hours of driving/hospital while letting a shot of vodka kick in, and Paul was like no, we can’t do that because Rob is going to have to leave for his piano lesson right after dinner so we can’t delay. And I repeated that I just needed five minutes, and he repeated that it wouldn’t work. And so I went directly into making dinner, feeling super resentful and angry and put-upon: like, I have to give up my very reasonable request for FIVE MINUTES because our child can’t hurry up a little EATING THE DINNER THAT HAS BEEN PREPARED FOR HIM? And later I thought, why didn’t I say in a cheerful, friendly voice, “Okay! So how about you start browning the meat, and I’ll be back in five minutes to take over”? Such a simple solution! I mean, is Paul a cruel, whip-wielding husband who is actively trying to deprive me of five minutes just because he wants me to be miserable? No, he is a husband who sees a scheduling problem and can’t think of a work-around because that is not one of his strengths. In our relationship it is MY job to say things like “It’s okay, I think we have some wiggle room” and “He’ll just eat a little faster” or “Okay, let’s have Rob help out with dinner, then, so it’ll be ready sooner.” But I was a wife whose usual ability to think of workarounds needed recharging with five minutes in a dim room, so I didn’t think of it either, and so then my traffic/humankind/hospital/worry-about-Edward/couldn’t-have-even-five-measly-minutes misery hit a breaking point later on in the evening and everyone ended up getting yelled at and I went to bed early. So now I have my script ready for next time when I know five minutes would prevent a bad evening.

30 thoughts on “Discouraging Day

  1. Joanne

    This post makes my eyes fill with tears because of familiarity. I drive a lot because of – well, just luck, I work on one side of town, my son has to be picked up every day of my life on the other side of town, I drive my daughters to a different school in the middle side of town, I often race out of my house to go to my other job to get to a whole nother side of town. Anyway I drive a lot and I see the worst in people. A refusal to alternate merge, texting and driving on the mother effing highway OMG, flipping me off when I honk at them and say LOOK AT THE ROAD and STOP TRYING TO KILL ME with that honk, ugh. Also my oldest brother had a muscle disease when we were growing up and had to take steroids so his body wouldn’t turn on itself and eat him all up (medical terms) and he had to have blood drawn every Saturday from when he was nine to when he was like thirteen and the stories my mom would tell! One time a nurse SLAPPED him! Oy vey, it’s too much! Also all I want to do is sometimes go lie on my bed with no one bothering me. The other night I had to go to bed at 8:00 just to get away from everyone and my husband inquired innocently why was I sleeping in the guest room? I said because I want to be alone and I can’t afford a hotel room. FTLOG! Anyways. I feel for you is what I am saying. I hope today is better!

  2. shin ae

    In my own life, the last phrase of that one paragraph, “at his expense,” is key. I find it so heart-wrenching and infuriating when someone preserves his/her reputation, image, whatever at my child’s expense. It’s very hard to bear. I know I take it harder than my kid does, but still, I consider it my job to speak up in those instances, just so my kid knows he has a mom who would. You’re so right, though, it does take a bit to come up with a script and be prepared. And on the one hand, I do have such sympathy for people who may be struggling with job performance or with their own feelings of inadequacy, but on the other (mama bear) hand, that behavior seems so pathetic. My son is a *child*. How dare they. Anyway, total sympathy with you and Edward.

    Also? I’ve given my family fair warning at times: I’m feeling fragile, I just need a little quiet right now. A few minutes. Inevitably, they do not give me a little quiet. You know what is among the things I yell when I finally snap? YOU HAD FAIR WARNING.

    I hope today is better.

  3. Lisa

    Oh, Swistle…you made me a little weepy. I know all too well the exact frustrations you described. I still mentally beat myself up over the time a Shrew of a Cashier at the grocery store snapped at my little guys, who were are 2 and 4 at the time, to “SETTLE DOWN!”. They really were not doing anything particularly outrageous, and she yelled at them right in front of me and I was so stunned I just got out of there as quickly as possible. Meanwhile, 5 years later, I’m still fantasizing about murdering her….or at least telling her to back off ;)…

  4. G

    Oh, I really hope your script for the nurse includes something along the lines of responding to the ‘is he always like this” with “yes, he always responds to a nurse having difficulty getting the IV in by calmly asking for what he needs to keep the problem from getting bigger.”

    I also hope you never need it.

  5. Suzanne

    Oh, this sounds like SUCH a rough day. I would have honked at the sneak-in driver, too — that always makes me feel so incredulous, like, why are YOU the ONLY PERSON exempt from participating in this perfectly reasonable pattern we have going???

    And the NURSES. I am feeling an urge to SHAKE and GLARE. I can’t even say MORE because that makes me MAD.

    Why is it so hard, in the moment of feeling resentful and put-upon, to come up with the cheery solutions? I have that trouble too. And then I am sitting there grumbling, likely in an audible fashion, irritated not only with my husband but with myself for being incapable of “problem solving” in the very same way I expect my not-yet-four-year-old to do!


    May today be much better and full of humanity-is-good-and-pure situations.

  6. Jane in PA

    Ugh, I feel frustrated and angry for you…especially with the nurse scenario. I would have a barf bag in your purse…you know since it’s so hard for them to grab one. I would respond with calm snark while requesting to speak with the nurse manager or whoever the heck is in charge.

    There was a period of time when our children received WIC and part of that program is that your children have to have their iron tested every 6 months. It involves the finger prick so not too bad but to a child under 5? They don’t love it. Once my son Liam was crying pretty significantly about it and the nutritionist’s response was to say “No one cares that you are crying”. I could not believe it! Liam was definitely overreacting but her comment was out of line. I simply responded by saying to Liam that I care that he’s crying and had him come sit with me so I could get him calmed down. I still regret not saying more to that person or asking to speak with a supervisor. We were in a bad financial situation and didn’t need someone to make us feel worse.

  7. maisnon

    I think sometimes just being the person that has to come up with the solutions re: how to shave 5 minutes off of dinner adds exhaustion when you are already done in from the day. The things you came up with after the fact are all good ideas, and should be remembered for next time, but also consider turning it back to the hubs. What would happen if you said, “I need 5 minutes. What are ways that we can save time? ”

    (In my experience, he may suck at coming up with ideas, at least the first few times.)

  8. Superjules

    I’m so annoyed at the nurses on your behalf. Why do they do that? When I mess up a blood draw (I don’t do IVs in my clinic), my only reaction is to PROFUSELY APOLOGIZE.

  9. Dr. Maureen

    I’m sorry your day sucked. I can relate to the five minutes thing. And I threw myself a pity party the other night because some days I feel like all I do is work. Even my down time involves nursing or pumping, so it is still not for me. This isn’t totally accurate, but it sure can feel like it.

    And poor Edward. Shame on that nurse.

  10. stephanie

    I am so grateful for your posts, Swistle. Every single one is so genuine and heartfelt and you say things in just the right way. I hope you get many, many much-deserved quiet minutes. xo

  11. Gigi

    That nurse should be ashamed of herself – as well as the jerk that jumped in.

    I’m sorry you, and Edward, had such a bad day. I hope today is a good one.

  12. Jenny

    I wish I could get in a time machine and go back and make dinner for you, so you could just lie down. It would be so great if they could do that infusion at a local urgent care, for instance.

    I sometimes think humans will do literally anything at all to preserve their image of themselves. It can be hard to remember all the times people grow and are humble and apologize and reach out to each other. I wonder which is really more common.

  13. Chris

    I also got weepy at the IV story. I’m so sorry for you and Edward. When I was having my second son in 2015, I had a shitty nurse I didn’t like (one of many wonderful ones) and I should have kicked her out/said something/asked for a different one. The same with the epidural guy who tried FIVE times before getting someone else who got it the first try. We took pictures of my back in case I had permanent damage. It’s so hard to speak up to that type of authority figure/expert. They know better than us about this stuff, right? Except when they don’t.

    So sorry.

  14. liz

    I have sympathy and hugs and love for you. Holy guacamole, what a day!

    Along with scripts for next time, I’m wondering if it can be someone else’s job to make dinner on Edward’s medication days? You’ve been out for the whole day under high-stress conditions, and you shouldn’t be wielding a knife afterwards.

  15. Marilyn Cole

    This also made me tear up with recognition. I hope you have had a chance today to do something really Bad Day Package/Treat Yo Self-y.


  16. parodie

    Oh, everything in this post is just so relatable. And I would have also just started dinner while (fun bonus round!) weeping quietly and feeling very sorry for myself. Does this make things better? No, it usually does not. Although once I asked my spouse for 5 min and he did not give me 5 min and he was stunned (stunned!) that I was crying. Why yes dear, I was at my breaking point. Hence the request for five minutes of reprieve! Sigh.
    I hope today was better.

  17. M.Amanda

    Sorry for your bad day. Sometimes I really hate people.

    Recently there was a pretty bad accident on the bridge I take home. On the approach we went slower and slower, so clearly there was some kind of backup. We were merging just fine, then a couple cars started riding the shoulder and cutting cars off to jump ahead, which was not only rude, but also meant they made it very difficult for everyone else to get over for the emergency vehicles. And it was for nothing because we all ended up sitting for almost an hour while the accident was cleared.

    The next day, there was another, less serious accident. Same stupidity, I got cut off THREE TIMES between the ramp and midspan in the way where you hold your breath while your heart races at how scary-close you came to a bad accident. By the time I got to the accident where everyone had to merge right, and people put on their blinkers to come over in front of me. I was just done. I would not let anyone over, forget about zippering. I was just in a total irrational “F U ALL” mood – “Oh, yeah, bring it on. Mess with me. I DARE YOU.” I felt awful once I’d calmed down, but this is why I totally understand road rage. Traffic can do that. Sometimes I think people must have had that kind of day and sometimes I just think people are jerks.

  18. Erin

    So sorry for such a discouraging day. I can totally relate to everything. I must commend (and thank) you again for sharing so honestly. It tremendously helps to know that I’m not alone in dealing with so many of life’s frustrations. You, and the commenters here, help me realize the world isn’t full of bad humans.

  19. Anne

    Have you ever seen the picture book Five Minutes Peace by Jill Murphy? I knew I would need it before I even had children.

    I like that you figured out that script for next time.

  20. jill

    I’m sorry about your hard day and Edward’s trauma. I hope by your advocating for him in the future he learns to advocate for himself. I often feel the need to lie down if getting blood drawn or an IV so I don’t pass out. And there are times, not all, but sometimes when the nurse gets all bent out of shape because I am putting her/him out by asking for a bench, cot, anything that is horizontal. In reality I am saving her/him from having to deal with me unconscious on the floor, with a possible head injury, but they don’t see it that way. And then it adds to the trauma of the day.

  21. Matti

    What. A. Day. I’m really sorry it was so crappy for you and for Edward. Poor kiddo, he sounds really stoic about the whole thing and I for one am impressed.

    But then to have to come home and not get five minutes of peace, have to make dinner, and then have to do the emotional labor of figuring out how to make the scheduling work—-just ACK. I hope that next time Paul meets you at the door with the vodka in hand .

  22. Alexicographer

    Oh dear. Please add my name to the list of those of us empathizing over your day. Yikes.

  23. Jenny

    Darn it. It has been that kind of week. Wishing you your favorite See’s chocolates and a whole bunch of extra spoons.

  24. Jessemy D Neiger

    Sorry your day sucked, Swistle. As a panicky driver, I am so proud of you for driving your son to his IV infusions. I mean, in my world that is WWII Normandy Beach stuff. So cheers, veteran, have another drink on me.

  25. Melissa

    I am currently sitting in my mom’s darkened hospital room at this very moment reflecting on the direct correlation between the quality of the nurses and the amount of her suffering. (Can we all say a prayer of thanks than Violetta’s shift is over and David’s is on?)

  26. sooboo

    Ugh, I hate it when people double down. It makes it so much worse. Just admit you’re wrong, nurse! People make mistakes, it’s okay.

  27. Debra

    I don’t know if this will help, but when I need an IV put in I’ve learned to say in an assertive tone that many times people find it difficult to put IVs in me and I need the person who is generally the last resort person to be the one to put in my IV. I learned to do this after someone tried six times to put in an IV and by the time he was done my arm was swollen to twice its normal size. It’s not easy, as I’m not one to rock the boat, but as a patient you and your son have rights and it is not an unreasonable request.

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