June 26, 2014

Ever new vistas of arrrrrrrgh

 

You were due to get a blog post tonight and I have stomach flu.  As these things go it’s mild* but it’s knocked my energy level over and squashed it flat, because that’s what happens when you have ME and some blasted interfering ‘acute’ comes along and joins the party.

Meanwhile I had my observation duty at the Samaritans last night—and was aware of feeling a little peaky** but that might have been tension level***—and I have my first official duty shift tomorrow.  And I’m going.  So let’s hope I can sit in a chair and speak in complete sentences, okay?  I want to do this.  And I don’t want my mentor to have to do it for me because I’m convulsing on the floor.  Arrrrrrrgh.

* * *

* May it stay mild, thank you very much

** I’ve actually been peaky most of this week, the kind of peaky that makes me think ‘oh help the ME is getting worse I’m not going to be able to keep on floundering through as much stuff as I do if this is settling in to be the new system’—also PAIN.  Golly.  I really do not like pain and it makes me CRANKY^ and at my age it also makes me feel dangerously old.  Having the intensification of the ME coalesce into something like stomach flu, which can reasonably be presumed will go away again, is actually a relief.^^

^ I would have been such a bad martyr.  I wouldn’t have forgiven anybody.

^^ This is how acutes tend to manifest with me, that the ME gets worse and then as if spits out the acute.+  But of course during the run up I don’t think ‘oh I must be coming down with something’ I think OH WOE MY LIFE IS OVER.

+ Not everyone with ME follows this pattern but it is a common one.

*** There weren’t any ordinary people who just wanted a chat last night—yes the Sams get those although that’s not what they’re for—YEEEEP.  The Sams really are the sharp end.  Yeeeeeep.  I was there mid-shift so I could watch the handover, the point being that there’s always someone available to answer a ringing phone and there’s always a debrief every shift with the admin^, so I had a chance to speak to four duty-shift Sams plus my mentor^^ plus yesterday’s admin head and I was saying yeeeeep and they were all saying sympathetically, well, yes.  That’s what we do.

It has come up constantly from the first information evening when you’re still deciding whether to apply or not that the Sams support their people.  What the Samaritans do is rough.  And you can’t take it home with you or you won’t be able to do the job for long.  Hence constant, structured checking from admin and colleagues that you’re okay.

The other crucial aspect of this is the Sams’ rule of ABSOLUTE CONFIDENTIALITY.  The only people you’re allowed to discuss Sams’ callers with is other Sams.  And I had a little taste of what this is going to mean in practise last night.  Intellectually I totally get it and totally agree with it too—that’s what makes the Sams such a great resource.  Have something that’s eating holes in you that you either have no one to discuss it with or you just can’t discuss it with friends and family?  Ring the Sams.  You can tell them anything, they’ll not only listen, it won’t go any farther.  Terminally ill and want to talk about death but your family are all in denial?  Ring the Sams.  Suicidal from the break-up that everyone thinks is your fault because they won’t hear the truth about your ex-partner?  Ring the Sams.  Your dog died and nobody gets it that it matters?  Ring the Sams.

But to engage, to empathise, as a Sam you do have to get alongside whoever you’re talking to.  And you also have to put it down again when you put the phone down.

I’ll learn to do this—as I told my mentor I’m reasonably confident about the long term:  short term is the yeeeeeep—but the new skill is not being able to talk about it.  I’m a girl.  When stuff gets to me I find a friend to talk it through with.  It’s what girls do.  I wrote a couple of emails to friends last night and I probably sounded pretty distracted because what I was chiefly thinking about was what I couldn’t say. ^^^  Grim stuff is undoubtedly more of a burden when you can’t ask a trusted friend to help you lever it off and lay it down.

^ The admin are all practising Sams too.  They know what you’re doing, what life on the, ahem, line is.

^^ Whom I like a lot, by the way.  I feel in safe hands with her:  that she’ll catch me if I screw up but she won’t make me feel like a retarded liver fluke for screwing up.

^^^ It’ll be easier once I’ve made some friends in the Sams.  The Street Pastors keep schtum too but since most of what we do happens in public and out on the street the lockdown isn’t as absolute.  And I went into the SPs as one of four from St Margaret’s, the other three of whom were already my friends by the time I started doing duty shifts.  Clearly I need to send that email to the other five trainees of my Sams intake saying, so what about meeting up for that beer then?

† What you guys really want to be hoping/praying/dancing around bonfires for however is that I’m sufficiently alive and functioning to tweak another chapter of KES and release her to the world Saturday night.

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