Thursday, May 24, 2018

The Cheese Grates It Long And Hard: Self-Analysis: Why Did I Apply For A Job I Don't Want?

Dean Winchester is right as rain. 
My definition of crazy is repeatedly doing the same thing that never worked before and hoping it will work this time.
So, considering that I do not want to work in healthcare again, that I hate being a slave to the time clock, and that I have multiple health issues which mean that not losing Medicaid is critical, what the fuck did I go and apply for a job as an overnight caregiver for the elderly for?
I'm not sure what order to do this analysis in, so I guess I'll start by reviewing the pros and cons of my current job.

Pros: I never HAVE to go to work. 
I am solely responsible for whether or not I work. 
I will not be penalized by a boss or company for not working. I don't have a set hour when I need to show up. I sign in when I get there. Nobody will be shaking their finger at me and telling me I should have been there at X time or that I need to work X number of days and hours. 
Sometimes the payout is really good. 
It's easy to monitor when I'm reaching the cutoff limit to be able to keep Medicaid.
I don't have to request time off. If I want to go to an event, I just go. If I'm sick, I don't have to call in. I just don't go to work that day.
I can easily change my schedule.
Other than not driving like a shithead and getting in an accident or hitting a pedestrian, I am not responsible for anyone's well-being. I am responsible for dropping the customer's order off in a timely manner and being polite. That's all. 

Cons: I never HAVE to go to work. 
I am solely responsible for whether or not I work. I don't have a set time when I need to show up. 
I work for a fee of $4.50 per delivery plus tips. So if the customer is a cheap-ass and business is slow, I might be making less than minimum wage.
I don't get benefits or paid time off.
Wear and tear on my car is significant.
My job is not socially significant. I am not "giving back to the community" when I do this job. It is not a "helping" profession. It is not a credentialed position. Other than a driver's license and basic common sense, one does not need to possess a specific skill set to do this job. It does not take "a special kind of person" to do this job.

Now, let's look a little deeper into some of this.
I worked as a caregiver of one variety or another for a cumulative of approximately 25 years between 1988 and 2017.
I suffered major health reversals in 2017. Where I used to be able to work long hours at very physically demanding jobs, I am no longer able to do so. 
I lost my job as a homecare nurse for pediatric patients in mid-March of 2017. I fell into a deep sleep while working an overnight shift and woke up to see the patient's father sitting on the bed glaring at me. Judging by the last time I had looked at the clock, I had been very soundly asleep for about 20 minutes. I did not recall falling asleep. I came to from a deep, dark, dreamless state. 
In analyzing some of the symptoms I have presented with following this moment, I believe I had a small stroke (CVA) as opposed to a TIA. A TIA, or transient ischemic attack, does not leave lasting symptoms. A TIA is an indicator that a patient is at higher risk for a future stroke than a person who has never had a TIA. However, in and of itself, a TIA does not leave lasting damage.
I do not have memory problems and even people close to me would not see anything different in my presentation. However, my cognition was altered after this event in subtle ways. I have more trouble multitasking. The way I write has changed to a degree. Not stylistically, but in the method I use to approach writing. I used to pride myself on being able to take multiple writing prompts and use them to create flash fiction. It is more difficult for me to do that at this point.
This issue became markedly apparent when I tried to go back to work in a long-term care setting last summer and was compounded by the problems created by my diabetes. Although I understood each of the factors in the patient care equation, I could not put these factors into action. 
This is the equation:
Patient X needs medication Y at Hour Z, while Patient B needs medication C at Hour Z. Multiply the number of patients by 30. They all need medications at around the same time.
This sort of thing was not a problem for me in the past. However, I stood there staring at the screen, knowing who the patient was, what the drug was, what the drug was used for, which patient should be tended to first, given the particulars of their medications. I knew all these things, and I was unable to act. It was a subtle but critical problem.
The confusion was compounded by the fact that it was impossible to take a break, and my blood sugar tanked.
I could no longer do the kind of work that I had always been so proud of being able to do: hard work with long hours helping extremely impaired people. No time for breaks: you're on the go from the time you hit the floor and often have to stay after the shift has ended to finish charting. The demands on nurses and aides in a long-term care setting are completely unrealistic if I'm to be honest. The profession has a high rate of burnout and injury.
The job I'm applying for would involve working one-on-one with a single patient.
I will examine the pros and cons of this job.

Steady paycheck
Overnight shift. I know that most people think this would be a con, but I don't do well working day shifts, so, for me, it's a pro.
Benefits including PTO.
Being able to feel "good" about myself for working in a "helper" profession.
I am experienced in doing this sort of work.
Not feeling like I need to lie to my relatives about what I do.
My mother and brother think I work as a medical courier. If they knew I delivered food, they'd be browbeating me to look for another job.
I wouldn't have to quit my current job.

Slave to the damn time clock
Having to beg for time off
I don't know if I can physically do this kind of work at this point with the reversals I've suffered in my own health.
I really don't want to be responsible for someone else's well-being.

Now, a look at what's going on inside my skull.

I used to be able to work a lot. I used to work 60 hour weeks. I used to work two jobs. I was proud of my ability to do those things. I was making $40,000 a year.
I was working in a helper profession. My family could be proud of me. I was doing good for society.

Truth be told, I was miserable a lot of the time. 

I am the kind of person who prefers soft deadlines. I like being able to be someplace at "around three o' clock" as opposed to having to be there at three, but, really, you'd better be there 15 minutes early, and if you aren't, you're a horrible person who is inconveniencing others.

It's stressful being responsible for someone else's well-being. Yes, there's a sense of satisfaction with doing jobs where one is responsible for others' well-being. I experienced that satisfaction many times. However, if I'm honest, I also often experienced the feeling that I really wished I never had to do it again.

I am the sort of person who tends to put other people's needs before mine. There are situations where I don't mind this. If it comes down to my son or me, my son will always come first. However, this tendency can become pathological, particularly if you are someone who has difficulty saying "no."
At the point when I was fired from my homecare nursing job in 2017, I was working between 48-60 hours per week. I had two patients through my main job and one that I worked with every other week through a second job. 
I was extremely physically ill as well as having my usual health problems at the point when the sleeping incident occurred. My coordinator reasoned that since I had contracted the illness from the patient I worked with three nights a week, I could continue working with him since I couldn't re-infect him as he was already infected. This illness was respiratory in nature, either flu or bronchitis. 
I had been having more and more trouble staying awake for a full twelve hours prior to the incident that cost me my job. 
I didn't feel that I could be honest about my health problems with my coordinator. He would often talk about how they were going to get rid of the nurse who worked the four-day week with my main patient and have me take over her shifts. This woman had lupus and so tended to have to take time off. I would often end up covering some of her shifts. Given the way the coordinator talked about replacing her, I didn't feel like I could be honest about my own health problems.
My coordinator had a very demanding personality and working for that company came to feel like I was in an abusive marriage. When I applied for work with a company where I would be doing a different kind of nursing, my coordinator called me outside of business hours while I was with a patient to cuss me out and tell me that I needed to commit to the company because they only gave regular cases to nurses they could "depend on."
I pointed out that I wasn't looking to change jobs, just to diversify and to have a fallback for the down-times that are inevitable with homecare. He reiterated that they needed to be able to rely on me to be faithful to the company or they couldn't offer me full-time work. 
I said "fine, put me on PRN then."
He didn't expect that answer. 
I ended up with three different coordinators begging me to commit to the company. They offered me a raise. I ended up doing what they wanted, but part of me knew that it was a mistake. I don't like controlling partners, and this company had become a controlling partner.
I'm monogamous in romantic partnerships. An employment situation is an open marriage, as far as I'm concerned. I have no shame in admitting that I'm going to go with the employer that offers me the best deal and that I'm always on the lookout for a better deal. If employers want to keep employees, they need to treat them right. 

Now, I want to examine a factor which comes to me courtesy of the absolutely corrupt, massively fucked up, batshit insane healthcare system in the United States.
When I only had hypothyroidism to deal with, I could roll with whatever crap-ass insurance an employer offered. I only had to get lab draws once a year. I now have a myriad of other health problems, including diabetes and glaucoma. I have to get labs done quarterly. I have to have two specialized eye exams every year.
There are a lot of (shitty) insurance plans out there. Most employers offer full-time employees some sort of shitty insurance.
Most doctors take one variety of shitty insurance but not others.
I don't know what sort of insurance this employer offers. I will ask them today and see if it's a plan that my current provider takes.
If not, I either can't work full time so as not to lose Medicaid, or I have to work full time and then buy shitty insurance from the healthcare marketplace. If I suffer further reversals in my health and have to apply for Medicaid again, there will be a waiting period. Anything not covered by the shitty, high-cost insurance will have to be paid for out of pocket. 
The cutoff I can earn on a monthly basis and keep Medicaid is $1000 a month.
Put that in your pipe and smoke it.
Thing is, once I get through paying the $250 per month on the low-end premium for the shitty health insurance, plus paying for doctor visits and medications, I might be just as well off continuing to work part-time so I can keep Medicaid. 
So, tell me again how we don't need universal healthcare and how everyone who receives Medicaid and/or SNAP is "lazy." Everything costs so fucking much that sometimes people don't have a choice.
I don't qualify for SNAP because I refuse to liquidate my 401K from the job that I had for close to 11 years. If I don't touch it until retirement age, it will be worth $50,000. I want to leave that to my son when I go tits up. If I liquidate it now, I lose about $18,000 of it. That doesn't sound like a very good deal to me. Consequently, I'm hungry a lot.
So, yeah, we folks who have to make use of the welfare programs are really riding high on the hog. 
The welfare queen is a myth.
It is unconscionable to punish people for being sick or disabled. In fact, I think it's downright evil.
You know what's hard to do when you're hungry?
Be motivated.
Be hopeful.
Work hard.
You know what else is shitty?
Looking down on people who choose to work in service professions such as non-high-end food-related jobs, i.e. bartenders, waitstaff, counter help, and delivery personnel. Believing that people in such jobs don't deserve to make a living wage. Thinking it's okay to insist that people in service jobs and other humble professions should work their asses off and come away with nothing. 
Thinking that it's fine to have a servitor class that gets treated like shit is a hallmark of a failed society.
Which gets back to my problem.

I don't really want to go back into caregiving.
I really don't want to go back into caregiving.
Really, I don't want to go back into caregiving.

There may be some benefits from doing so. The question is, do the negative factors outweigh the positive ones?
I kind of think they do.
I like the freedoms that my current job provides.
You know what I would be cool with doing overnight?
House-sitting. Pet sitting. Like, for cats. Or cute little dogs. Or friendly big dogs.

I might be interested in doing pediatric homecare again, but with the black mark on my license following the incident which led to my firing, I don't think I'll ever get another job in that area.
I honestly don't want to do elder care anymore. I did it for more than twenty years. I kind of think that should buy me some kind of reprieve. 

I'm going to go ahead and interview for this job today. It may offer me something that I feel is a worthwhile tradeoff.
I may not get hired at all. 
Part of me would be relieved if that were the case because I think I'm doing this for reasons that aren't exactly pure. 
I'm interested in a steady paycheck.
It isn't that I don't care about the elderly or about helping people. 
It's simply that my own health has deteriorated to the point where I have to look out for Number One, regardless of how ignoble society may perceive doing so to be.
Ain't like I ever got anything but punished for putting everyone else first anyway.

~The Cheese Hath Grated The Living Fuck Out Of It~


  1. All of your wants, needs and concerns are valid and conflicting, all of which makes most decisions hard to make.

    1. Story of my life!
      Just when I think my current job is doing okay by me, I have a night where I don't get any orders at all, and my bank account goes into the hole. :-(


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