A journal of healing

Archive for the ‘retirement’ Category

Retirement blues

I have not posted anything in a long while as times have been a bit grey around here. But a lot has happened in the past three months, not all good. Having PTSD and being a highly sensitive person, I am affected in a manner that most people cannot comprehend. They click their tongues and come up with platitudes. They do not understand that words have little effect on me. By the time I become upset, it is way too late for words. And try as I might to self-sooth, there comes a breaking point where my body reacts, even if my “brain” says I am cool.

Winter is my least favorite time of year. This winter has dragged on. Here it is April 8th and it is snowing out right now. We have had it every day for the last week. The sky is a dull grey that looms over the area day in and day out. The cold is damp and seeps in everywhere to permeate my bones. I have been wearing four layers of clothes for the last three months. I feel like Randy in The Christmas Story as I whine “I can’t put my arms down.”

I retired from my job the first week in January. People think I am lucky because I do not have to work. Truth told: I left because of my health. I am a pretty sick. The stress was no longer worth it. Leaving has helped as my blood pressure has gone back to a normal range. The first month was a bit disorienting. I felt I had no purpose. I obsessively set out to clean out my house. I emptied out closets, boxes and drawers of clothes no longer worn. I sent off a boxful to a friend who is similar in size. I made multiple trips to the donation center.

Then in February, my husband got into a car accident and wrecked my brand new 2018 SUV. We bought it in August. He was fine and it was not a big accident. He was not paying attention and rear-ended someone. I was stranded now at home. Before I had his car to use as he took the new truck to work. It took over 6 weeks to get the truck back. I was pissed at him big time, but I tried not to get in his face. As the days wore on, it got harder and harder not to be resentful. I had to go to the dealership and fight for several misdeeds and we finally got the truck back. I had my freedom again. I do not know how people cannot drive. I understand now how the elderly feel when they have to surrender their driver licenses.

I got in my head that I needed to get a job. I obsessed over this nightly from 2 am to 4 am. We had some work done on the house and spent money I had not planned on spending. Word of advice for those who are planning on retiring: you will worry about money. There is a sense of loss knowing that you are not generating an income. I have worked since I was 11. We had been planning on me leaving for over six months. But the reality of it does not hit until you are no longer getting that weekly paycheck. I felt useless.

I spent hours combing over Indeed. I have applied for over 70 jobs. I did get hired for a very small job that pays me a ridiculous small amount. I am not sure how long it will last. It did give me a sense of doing something and being connected. I was perseverating and creating a problem that was not necessary. I do that a lot. I do not like to feel unsafe and not having an income will do that. However, I left on my terms and with planning. This is a lot better than being fired unexpectantly which is something “old” people experience a lot. My ex-company was clearing out people over fifty like they were the plague. Most of the senior clinicians and administration are all gone now with five more retiring after I left. I started something.

I am hopeful things will turn around soon. I did leave because my health has been deteriorating steadily. I am not going to go into it in this post. I am going to a specialist next Wednesday to see what can be done. It took three months to get in to her. That was also frustrating. I am ready for a battle because I will not tolerate fat shamming by anyone. It is time my doctors pay attention as to what is going on. None of it is due to being fat. Much of it has to do with being on the wrong medications.

I am also hopeful that the snow will stop and my favorite time of year will commence. I love Spring and early summer. I will be outside every moment I can. I will work on the garden, which right now is covered in snow with huge branches and sticks that blew down from the last wind storm we had. It is a mess out there.

I also shifted my point of view of worrying about work. I have the time now to do some of the things I never had the time or energy to do. I got my ceramics out to paint. I am going to look into taking some music lessons or join a choir. I want to take some classes and my husband and I went up to the rec center to look at what they had available. I am going to learn to play golf which is loves so we can do that together. And I have read a ton of books. Sitting curled up in my chair with two dogs in my lap and my Kindle has been one of the best things. I used to feel guilty doing it because there was always some work to do.

As they have for the last three years, the doves showed up and refurbished their nest. This is the ultimate sign of spring for me, even if the weather is not cooperating. I feel so bad for them as it has been bitter cold and we have intense winds several times. I know she has at least one chick now because of the way she is sitting. I can sit out there with them and they walk around me or fly up to the nest with no worries. Even the dogs do not bother them. The yard is filled with bunnies and chipmunks and very fat squirrels. Some would say they are vermin. I love them and feed them daily with bird seed. And at sunset, when I sit out all bundle up like a mummy, they entertain me better than TV. We all want spring.

I feel like I have climbed over a mountain. I have more mountains a head, some of them could be life challenging. I wish I was like my husband who goes with the flow. I am just the opposite. Part of it is because of the PTSD and not feeling safe and in control. I have worked all my life to get to retirement. It is what we all do. I don’t want to waste this time worrying over things I cannot change. But those things I can change, watch out!

( Note:  I just took a break to let the dogs out and noticed the doves are gone this morning. Something happened because they would not leave with a chick in the nest and they have not been off it for two weeks. GONE… you have no idea how upset this makes me.)

 

 

 

 

 

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I did it!

I did it. I left my job. I “retired.” It has been a tumultuous month getting prepared for the last day. It came and went with a whimper. My body reacted far more than my mind. In my head, I kept feeling like I was going on vacation. Not even on the last day when I packed the light that has been on my desk for 6.5 years  did I feel like it was a permanent situation. Handing in my badge was emotional however. That has been my identity for so long. “Employee” “Director.” Now what am I?

I am relieved. It is hard to explain how much physically different my body feels. I have been living in terror for so long and the last month was even more so, if that is possible. When you have PTSD, your body takes over and reacts without your thoughts. I was a knot of tension which got worse until the last day. My stomach ached, my blood pressure was way up and my chest was tight all the time. My normal aches and pains were heightened. I did not sleep. I was a mess.

But my Spirit guides showed me that the path to leave was the right choice by showing me a glimpse of the future. I left turmoil and a toxic environment that was only going to get worse.

One by one, my employees came to me to tell me their plans for the future. One has a sick mother and will probably be taking FLMA and the new extended paid FLMA is the spring. She already asked for two weeks in February to make plans. Another one wants to go back to her family in Africa where she has a sick sister. She too is planning on using FLMA to scope things out in the early summer and then leave later this year.

They never hired the new clinical education manager. Now, they are so desperate, they may promote the girl I hired to be the Educator. I hope they do that as at least she has an idea of what is going on. When I resigned, the VP redid her job, and took away most of the responsibilities that made the job challenging and interesting. If they keep her at the position, she will walk. She wants to grow in her career, not go backwards. The Lead Preceptor is still on limited restrictions and only working five hours a day when she can. She detests the VP and will go back to field if he messes with her.

But the final conflict was with the part time paraprofessional trainer I hired last year. She was a pain in the ass from day one. She wanted more hours. She did as she wanted. She did not follow regulations when it came to training. It was a tough job to fill and so many times I looked the other way on certain things. But I knew she was a liar because she got caught in lies so many times. What made her lies so hard to comprehend was that her other job is a Pastor of a Church, unless that is a lie too. The last straw was her timesheet the week after Christmas. She marked herself in an hour and half sooner than when I know she was there. I had four people looking for her on this day who all said she showed up at 1:30. She marked she was in at noon. I went back and pulled her timesheets for six months and matched them up to her badge swipes and there were huge discrepancies. We have to swipe to get into the buildings. I never trusted her time, but I did not think she was padding her timesheet as much as she was. And it is hard to prove because I was not in the same building as she was so I never knew for sure when she came in. But this was fraud and I had witnesses. I had to fire her.  The stress of this was terrible. But somehow she got wind of it or knew her performance was terrible and resigned on this past Wednesday. I was so relieved because she is very unstable and firing her might have been very dramatic and possibly violent.

There was so much else going on during all this. I left a mess that was only going to get worse in time. The new regulations coming out governing the way home care agencies do business are ridiculous. The amount of documentation that the clinicians are going to have to do is extraordinary. It will be too much for some and they will go back to the hospitals, where there is much less documentation. The insurance companies are building in requirements that are so restrictive in order to deny payments when they are not met. Much of the work that was done in the last two year at the agency has come unraveled. The big Lean projects designed to correct money issues are collapsing due to lack of oversight. Since June, the agency has lost even more money that they did the previous two years and will be at an all-time new low as far as meeting the budget. They will lose over 5 million this year. It will mean even more layoffs with a support staff that is extremely limited. They already canned one Administrator. The “Mothership” will be replacing higher positions with their personnel and absorbing more of the support roles. That has already started. They will never shut them down, but they will run the agency.

But through all this, I came to realize that I was not cut out for the tension and back stabbing anymore. I also do not like the “new” workforce. I had to train this young chicky who is the golden child of the VP I worked for. She is the typical young spoiled child in her late twenties. One day when I was training her on a training system we use, she was slumped across my desk with her head in her hand yawing in my face. This lack of respect display was only heightened by her continually picking up her phone to check something and text. How much do you think I really showed her? Good luck! On the last day, she was panicking because the VP asked her to pull a report and she had no clue as what to do. The three of us had to meet and I did explain it again to her in front of the VP.  I will not miss that crap at all.

I will not miss the hurry up and do something only to have it not used or forgotten. I think of all the stupid busy work that I was requested to do by the rotten VP only to have him move on to something else. I think of all the finger pointing and the excuses and blame. I will not miss that. Did I just get old and was this crap always there?

The firing of the part time instructor caused a huge issue. She was also the train the trainer, and instructor for the agency’s CPR program. By regulation, we have to have some of our staff CPR trained. The same chicky who was so bored during her training with me was to be trained as a new instructor and to take over the oversight of the program when I left. She missed her training (three times) and so was not certified. I was leaving them without an instructor in CPR. This caused me great worry. She could give a crap.

I finally figured it out. Her generation was raised, and especially her because she was an only child of elderly parents, that she never had to resolve anything in her life. Someone else always has fixed it or she just didn’t care. I have seen this behavior in so many 20 and 30 year olds. I was raised to take responsibility seriously. I took it to an extreme where it was physically harming me.

This lack of concern is apparent in the quality of documentation performed by the clinicians. I see it in young managers who cannot deal with conflict and go running immediately to their superior. I see the degradation of leadership where the “what-ever” attitude is beginning to permeate. This is not an arena I am comfortable in. I want to work with people who give a shit and take it to heart when they are in charge. I cannot abide the cocksure attitude of children who think they know everything until they are put to the test and then point fingers at others in their failure. I see it our training rooms where people are looking at cell phones instead of absorbing the lessons that will make them successful. What is even scarier is the increase in errors in medical practice. Very scary. My favorite horror story is where some packed a sacral wound only to discover it was the person’s anus they packed.

I know too much. I know what has been buried. I sat too long on boards that over saw the discrepancies and issues that were harming patients as well as the agency. I am no longer able to tolerate the lack of concern and I know I was not the only one. I was the last of the senior staff that was with me from the day I got hired.  We called ourselves the Brain Trust and we were powerful and passionate about our jobs.  They all have left or retired.

Smugly, it pleases me that it will take two new directors and two new managers to do my “job”.

The only thing I am in charge of now is me.  I think I am in a good place finally.

 

 

 

Pulling the trigger

I pulled the trigger. I started the timer. I made a difficult decision with no going back. I put in my papers to retire. It still has not hit me that in three weeks, I will not be working. It was not as easy a decision as one would think because it is so final. But it is done!

I have worked my entire adult life. I actually started working as a nanny and babysitter when I was only 11. I worked summers until I was 15 and then went to work in retail. I never stopped working. In 1986, I was downsized and worked on my house for four months. I got up every day and painted, scraped and papered. Again in 2002, I spent three months doing the same thing on this house while I looked for a new job. Looking for a new job is a fulltime job in itself.

But this time, it was on my terms to leave and I am not going to another job, nor am I going to go crazy looking for another job. I am being careful not to say I won’t ever work again, because I am not sure of that. I plan on spending the next few months in an effort to clean out this house and that is going to be a lot of work all in itself. I also will not have to drive in the snow and I can take naps.

The stress of working in healthcare is not for the week of heart. There are so many regulatory changes coming down that it makes it almost impossible for an agency to be successful. The agency I work(ed) for has not prepared for the new requirements that need to be trained and enforced in less than a month. The agency lost over 4.7 million dollars so far this year. They are bragging because it was less than the 5.2 million they lost last year, but they have not done the year end and I am sure it will be just as bad. They fired one executive in an attempt to lower their costs two weeks ago. “She was paid way more than she was worth.”

I oversaw three big divisions of the agency. When I started, I only had two. One was a brand new division. Then I got another one and now, I have to laugh, they are going to divide my work load back amongst three people. That makes me smile. But what is even better is that these three treated me like crap. They are young and on the rise in the agency. Now that they are seeing the workload and responsibilities, they are my best friends and so super sweet. Gack! One of them has a millennial ego and was so cock sure she would be able to do a better job. Now that she is seeing it for what it is, she has set up four training sessions with me to “learn my job.” Ha…. If she thinks she is going to get my years of being in organizational development in a few meetings, she is sorely mistaken.

I am also leaving after 36 years of being an educator. They all think being an educator is just standing up in front of people and delivering lessons. The VP of Clinical thinks that creating courses in the on line training system I implemented is just data input. OH, you have no idea how that statement tweaked me. “Yes, that is why I have a Masters in instruction technology because it is just data entry.” Jerk. I am not teaching anyone how to do that. “Go to school and get in debt like I did to learn that.” I am not teaching any little shit in an afternoon what took me a Masters and eleven years of working in the technology to become proficient.

Do I sound bitter? Yes, in a way I am. The weight and value they put on people, and not just me, is hard to take. The VP also made a bold statement that “the only way to change a culture of an organization is to get rid of anyone with twenty or more years of experience.” I wonder if John Kotter would agree. Systematically all the senior people are leaving or have left. They made it so uncomfortable for several senior nurses they went to the competition. My Clinical Educator left in October after twenty-seven years with the agency. They have fired two executives and three directors in the last two of years. I was the oldest in age director left. They have replaced the positions with people from the Med Center. It is a matter of time before the Med Center replaces all the support departments to save money.

My only regret is for my team who has been divvied up. My Education Coordinator is the one I worry about the most. She is going to the new manager with the ego and no experience. My EC needs a lot of hand holding and this young chicky is not going to be able to deal with her. I worry because she is even older than I am, but enjoys her job and is not ready to retire. I give her six months before she changes her mind and leaves.

My original plan was to wait until I was 65 to go. I am leaving a year earlier. But things financially came into place and so why wait. I am not sure I could have gone through another year of the crap and BS. I know I could not. It was making me very sick. I was not sleeping. I worried constantly. I worked constantly. (Wait until these three replacements see the hours it takes to make things run smoothly… HA!) My health was getting very bad. My doctors recommended me to retire and destress. No amount of mindfulness or meditation could resolve the crap I was facing.

Maybe I am too old!  I just know that I want something I have never had in my life ever.

Peace.

 

Being a hermit

I take such joy in things such as nature and the environment when it is beautiful. And I take such offense when it is not. I relish the joy emanating from small children and yet have no patience for the hedonistic tendencies of the twenty to thirty something age group. I can sit in peace and quiet all by myself for hours and cherish those times. I freak out now in crowds and with loud noises. I struggle with incongruences. I have no tolerance for lies. In truth, my patience level is very low; not that I had a lot to being with. Sometimes, many times, I just want to be left alone. This is when I love my garden the most.

Garden at night

I used to be a people person. I am not sure when I got to hermit level, but that is about where I am. I used to entertain every weekend with parties and picnics. It was nothing for me to host a dinner for twelve. In fact, if I did not have something planned for the weekend, I felt like something was terribly wrong. I used to do things also during the week at night. No more. I do not want to nor do I have the energy to do much after working all day. I am up at five and at work shortly after seven am. By eight pm, I am asleep in my chair, in my garden.

It took a long time for my husband to understand alone time. He felt we had to do everything together all the time. Now he gets it and has learned that he also needs time and space by himself. We do not enjoy the same activities after dinner. He is a TV watcher, I am a reader. He goes to his man cave and I go to the garden.

Even at work, I am isolated and by myself. My office is hidden and off the beaten path. People do come and visit because it is a nice office and I take the time to listen. I run fans all year long to block out the sound of anyone near me and to help muffle the talking in my office. Our building is such a piece of crap. It is dirty and stuffy and no windows open.  The ventilation system does not work well and in my area, it does not work at all. In winter I freeze, in summer I cook. Hence two of the four  fans have heat. We are supposedly building a new facility but that is a least two years off and I probably will be retired. Why I love my space is because I have a huge window. There are only ten windows for the whole building.  I have plants in my office. Most cannot grow anything in the building. But however nice my space is, by the end of the day, my head is stuffed up and aches. I long for being outside in the fresh air.

Full moon over garden

People keep saying that when I retire I will be bored. I do not think so. My tolerance for hustle and bustle is nil. I am a completely different person when I do not have a schedule and “must-dos” on my list. It is not my intention to just sit and rot when I retire. I have a list of things to do, like cleaning out the prolific amount of STUFF in this house. I want to go to the recreation center which has a series of exercise classes for people with arthritis. I have so many crafts that I have not touched in years. And I will be able to spend the time I want in my garden.

 

 

Retirement is a carrot on a string

I know I am not the first one to turn 63 as I did two weeks ago. It should not be a big deal. But somehow, and I am not sure if it is the age or just the energy around these days, but it does seem harder and harder to get through the day. And it is not just me.

There is a HR manager who actually hired me. To look at her, you would think she was maybe early 60’s. She is small in stature and her still brown hair has never been dyed. She had eight children and 19 grandchildren. She has also been a ball of energy since I have known her.

But when I came back from vacation, she sat down at my desk with a heavy sigh. “You were missed,” she said. Heck, I was only gone three days. But we had a training class going through that was from hell. I thought there had been more issues, and there were. But that was not what she wanted to chat about.

She said, “I think it is time for me to retire.” I almost fell out of my chair. In truth, I did not expect it. She has been with the agency for over thirty-five years. We had just celebrated her birthday which marked 78 years. She has earned by all rights her retirement. But she works part time and has always said the job kept her going. I figured she would stay at least two more years.

She said she just did not have the patience to deal with stupidity any more. It was something I totally grasped and embraced. She was tired of seeing the repetitive efforts of our agency dealing with the same issues over and over with no better outcome. She said in general, she was tired of everything being a fight or lengthy discussion. She was also tired of the outcomes or consequences having no impact. She was tired of staff getting away with what they have been getting away with lately, like piss-poor documentation with no repercussions. I got exactly what she was saying. Management has an “everyone is a winner” attitude and coddles the clinical staff. But it is costing us dearly.

Earlier in the month, my dear friend and I had a similar conversation. She is one person who always looks to the good in people and is the very non-judgmental. But as we sat out in the garden chatting, she revealed her frustration with just getting through it all. She said she just does not have the patience for dealing with, (and I paraphrase), people.

I am right there with them both. I struggle with my impatience with the attitudes of people who seem to have no comprehension of way of things. Maybe it is that the way has changed and no one told me. I have no patience for those who are coming up who think they know everything and have no problem saying so. I listen to them at meetings coming up with things that have already been tried and failed. But they feel they are amazing and Einstein. They are rude and talk over people.  I really am turned off to their arrogance which they seem to drip with. I too struggle with the agency doing the same thing over and over hoping for a different outcome. And I am just tired.

They did a big injustice moving the retirement age up. I pity the next groups as I see them continuing to move the age of retirement up. It won’t matter as there won’t be any social security money anyways. There are a going to be a lot of folks in the next generations who will have a horrible time in their old age. They do not have clue about saving. Heck, they are still living at home until they are thirty.

What do I want truthfully? I would like to have an on-line flexible teaching job. I would like to have good health benefits that will continue with the treatment I am on. I already know that I will go to the recreation center which has wonderful programs for people with arthritis but the classes are for seniors and are in the morning. I know I am going to join the senior chorus that currently meets at 2pm. I have other plans for things but…. No can do now.

I need medical coverage. When I retire and go on Medicare, the drugs I am on that keep me going will not be covered. And Medicare is certainly not free. It costs my husband almost $300. 00 a month for it and his supplemental insurance. They take it right out of his social security monthly payment. NO choice. And the once a year, he hits the donut hole. The donut hole is now up to $4900.00 that you have to pay out of your own pocket annually. This is a whole other blog. But this is another reason why senior citizens are nasty and angry. We worked all our loves to get screwed by Medicare. My step-daughter who works on average 20 hours a week is on government insurance and she gets great coverage and it is FREE. That train ride will end soon.

Turning 63 and being close to retirement is like being on a diet in a bakery. Everything looks so wonderful and yet, you can’t have any. Am I turning into a curmudgeon? Absolutely.  But I am not alone. That gives me solace but it does not resolve my getting through it for at least the next two years. Some days I feel like I am being held hostage and have no choice about the direction of my life. I have to work and I have to work with the people I work with. And that gives me an attitude and I know it.