Good morning! January 7th and day 7 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. The dog and I had a good night of sleep. I’m still feeling the yuckiness of all my recent lack of though. The effects of sleep deprivation has long and lasting footprints on our physical body and mind. I should know having done shift work for over 30 years. I existed on a daily average of 5 hours of sleep. I prided myself on how well I functioned on so little.

I was stupid for wearing that badge of honour. I wonder how much of sleep deprivation played into my ‘blues’/SAD. I blamed many of my failings on the weather, others and other stuff. Even though I knew better, I rarely thought it was the sleep thing though sleep was our/a nurse’s main vocabulary. Did you sleep? and Are you on days off?  My sleep deprived brain was not firing on all cylinders. It’s been limping along as best as it could.

I’ve read somewhere that it takes about 6- 7 years to recovered from long-termed (20 years) shift work. I’ve worked over 30 years doing 12 hour days and nights.  I’m in mine 7th year of retirement. I’m a recovering, almost recovered sleep deprivedaholic. I still have little bouts of sleeplessness. I still blame the weather, the woman next door and other excuses. I have to have a place to lay some of the blame. It’s too much and heavy on just myself. Even so, I try to take responsibility by taking action and moving towards living a meaningful and productive life. Some days are better than others. Some things are easier to do than others. I try taking one step at a time to be stronger and more resilient.

The biggest shift I’ve experienced  was 3 or 4 years ago when I joined an aerobics class at the YWCA. After a month of an hourly class 3 times a week, I felt euphoric. My senses became alive. My head felt so clear and I could see so well. I remembered going wow! driving on the freeway. The view in front of me was panoramic and sharp. Everyone thought I looked so good. Those effects have diminshed as I got used to my new state of well being. The memory of it have kept me on track and to get back on when I have derailed.

Travelling through the last month or so of 2019 has brought another shift. This time in my thought processes and emotions. I’m sifting through the debris to find the nuggets of learning and wisdom. It takes patience, hard work and time. It works best when I put the words, thoughts, events, feelings and what have you onto the page. Those are my trusted tools. On that note I’m ending this post. Another day and a few mumblings. Sheba and I have travelled to the park and back. We made our 2 rounds, romped and talked with our fellow walkers. We hope for another peaceful evening and a night of sweet dreams.



I had a good sleep last night, thanks to the beer I had in the afternoon. I was so wired from sleeplessness I didn’t feel the beer at all. It must have done something, loosened me from the inside out. At 10 pm I laid down in bed and went to sleep. That was it. No big dramas. Maybe I could make beer my sleeping pill of choice from now on. I remembered a coworker telling me she has a beer in the morning after working a night shift. Then she slept like a lamb.

Sleep deprivation is the worse thing ever. To think that I lived like that for over 30 years. I didn’t know how bad I felt till after I’ve retired and caught up on sleep. I still have those nights of sleeplessness once in awhile as I am telling you. That’s how I know how disfunctional I was in my personal life. I’m still learning from it all.


I kind of tanked out yesterday. It takes awhile to recover. From previous research, I remember that it would take me 7 years to recover from 30+ years of shiftwork sleep deprivation. I’ve been retired for 5 years. Haven’t fully recouped and have added to my deficit by my bouts of sleeplessness.


I’ve been a no show for a few more days. Looks like I can’t easily recoup what sleep I’ve lost. I have to let it go and pick up the threads of daily life from here. It’s a sizzling hot one today. My body does not like what it brings. I felt it screaming even in the coolness of this morning. I took a tylenol to give it some relief. My goals are minimal. No pain or strain. Relax. Just keep cool. If only I can remember that for always. Sometimes I strive and strain too much for too much. I always suffer the consequences.

It is now 34 degrees Celius, 36 on the deck. The blooms on my newly bought Gerbera Daisy plant are suffering and drooping out there on the table. One is bent beyond rescue. It is now in a little vase. It’s quite fetching on its own.

The heat has drained all thoughts from my head. We’ve been out picking raspberries, Sheba and I. She is getting lazy. She used to pick her own on the lower branches. Now she waits for me to feed them to her. It was good picking. They’ll be good with the gelato later on. Now it’s time to sit back with a chilled beer. It’ll cool me from the inside out.


Here it is the twilight hour and I have not yet started my conversation. I’m making a stab at it now. So many things running around in my head. Where to start? Well, I know how important a good night of sleep is. I didn’t get one last night. The dog had to go out in the middle of the night. I had a time getting her back in after. She wanted to play games and play hide and seek. I had to put my boots on to see what her problem was. Dogs are so silly sometimes. A shovel had displaced itself against the deck railing. She had lots of room to get by but not so in her dog head. The fresh winter air stimulated me enough to keep me awake for hours. Surprising how much wakefulness can make your muscles tense up. I’m still stiff and achy from it all.

I have no more detective/crime books to read at the moment. I had time to watch the snow flakes falling around the Buddhas this morning. It was such a delicious restful moment. I wonder why I don’t do it more often. Why must I get my head into a book or the Internet first thing in the morning?  Why not take time just to sip tea, look out at the world and wake up and feel my own body?

I hope I can smarten up and rid some of my addictions. I am working on my life, on what I say I would do. I’m reading on how in Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself. I’m understanding more about the law of attraction. I can’t explain myself though at the moment. My glass of wine is doing me in. It’s a difficult concept and not merely just asking for what you want. Maybe tomorrow, when my head is clearer, I can explain. What I know is that it is a breakthrough for me.  It is helping me drop some of the habits of being me. I see that ‘habits’ have kept me stagnant. I’m like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, waking up to the same day over and over. I want that to be over. What better way to exit than having Roy Orbison sing me out?




Another morning coming down. Thank goodness I’m back to sleeping again. One sleepless night and I feel like hell in a handbasket. I’m still in recovery mode even though I’ve had 2 good night’s sleep. It makes me wonder if damage from sleep deprivation is irreversible. No point in crying over lost sleep. I best mosey along as best as I can. Good thing I’ve developed some good habits this past year. They come in handy on days like these. You know my rote my now. I’m probably boring you to tears if you’re still reading.

Life is a repetitive action – taking one breath after another, putting one foot in front of the another. You get up, dress up and show up no matter what. There’s no other way of doing it. So that’s what I’m doing. Sometimes I don’t know what to do after showing up. I get up, pace around, maybe make another cup of tea. This morning I cleaned the bathroom before another cup of tea. Has to be done. I saw the need. And I did it. That is one of my operatives this year. If I see the need I do it if I have the time. Otherwise it will be …later babe. We know later never comes.

I feel sleepiness tugging at my eyes. I will get up in a little while and do my qigong. No matter how tired, wired or wretched I feel, there is something I can do to help myself to feel better. Sometimes it takes more effort than others. You just have to give yourself a little/big push. That’s life. See what I can do when I pushed through my fatigue and distress. I could have just wasted all that negative energy fretting over my inability to sleep. Instead I channelled it into  making art.

I have gotten up and stretched and breathed through my qigong routine. Amazing how stiff I was. No doubt much of it due to tension from fatigue. Enough. Tomorrow is another day.


I’m showing up this morning, dressed but I’ve dispensed with brushing the hair and teeth. I’m straight into the Chai.  I’m a little sleep deprived.

The trouble with our flight booking and prepping Sheba for boarding got to me last night. Mostly it was Sheba’s whimpering and whelping.  We’re getting her re-acquainted with the crate as the boarder keeps the dogs in their crates at night and when she’s not at home. Sheba had been crate trained as a puppy and spent time in one when I was at work.

IMG_5722I didn’t think there would be trouble re-introducing it.  But she is terribly spoiled. She had slowly inched her way out of the crate and into cornered off spaces.  Now she has the run of the house and sleeps in our room and wherever she pleases.  She has been re-acquainted with the crate and will go into it for her meals and at night.  But during the night she starts whimpering, escalating into little yelps.  She knows how to get to me.  I’ve been letting her out after a couple of hours the last 2 nights.

I’m hoping she is just testing us and will behave better at the boarding place.  I’m trusting that everything will work out.  I’ve done the best I could getting things ready.  Now I have to trust and let go.

I’m doing well, despite feeling like hell.  It’s the sleep or no sleep the last couple of nights. And to think I’ve lived like this for over 30 years as a nurse.  I slept 4-5 hours a working- day/night for all those years.  I see clearly now the why(s) of my problems.

You will have to excuse the grammatical errors and the disjointedness of my thoughts.  I am not operating on full cylinders.  I have trouble with tenses at the best of times.  I am happy that I can still tap out some words and thoughts this morning.  It is not easy but it is also not difficult.  I put my fingers on the keyboard and look at that one-inch picture frame in my mind.  The words come  out in little stuttering trickles at first.  As my mind clears, the sentences come.  I have not experienced a flood or deluge yet.

That’s all I ask for this morning – a trickle, a beginning, a foot into that space of serenity beneath Buddha’s Bodhi tree.  And I’m here, in that space.  I have a beginning into the day.


SMILE THE WHILE – my postcard from the edge

I am ready, sitting here with my morning Chai.  I’m still wearing my bed head.  It brought me luck yesterday.  We, the Chinese, are very superstitious.  The Mad Hatter in me has helped me to rant and chatter – to let loose.

Today, I am going to be brave.  I am going into that one-inch picture frame that Anne Lamott speaks of.  I am going to look at my life when I was a nurse.

Yesterday I came upon a blog about the death of Sophie Yin, a 48 year old veterinarian who died of a suicide.  Was the death a result of compassion fatigue?  That is the question.  More importantly, what is compassion fatigue?  Here’s what wikipedia says:

Compassion fatigue, also known as secondary traumatic stress (STS), is a condition characterized by a gradual lessening of compassion over time. It is common among individuals that work directly with trauma victims such as nurses, psychologists, and first responders. It was first diagnosed in nurses in the 1950s. Sufferers can exhibit several symptoms including hopelessness, a decrease in experiences of pleasure, constant stress and anxiety, sleeplessness or nightmares, and a pervasive negative attitude. This can have detrimental effects on individuals, both professionally and personally, including a decrease in productivity, the inability to focus, and the development of new feelings of incompetency and self-doubt.[1

I have already recognized and acknowledged that I might am a sufferer. I am sure that I am not the only one among our staff.  As I look at the long list of symptoms in individuals and organizations on the Compassion Fatigue Awareness Project, I’m nodding my head and going uh huh, uh huh.

meIt was a bit of a surprise to me that I didn’t ‘fall apart’ till after I had retired.  I had no time while I was still working.  The show had to go on.  The tread mill ground on ever so steadily.  I HAD to perform, however broken I was. There was always tape to bind me up.  See!  Smile the while….

I was prepared for this business of ‘retirement’, or so I thought.  I knew there would be an adjustment period.  But after a few weeks, a month, I would be basking in the land of the happily ‘retired’.

How naive I was!  The ‘breakdowns’ that I never had time for found time and me.  Anxiety claimed me.  Life became HARD.  And I didn’t know how to explain it – to anyone, including myself.  There was always that STRESS theory.  Who wouldn’t be stressed after being immersed in saving lives and slinging bedpans for over 30 years?  30 years of STAT, Code Blues, ringing call lights, patient abuse, doctor abuse, managerial abuse, 12 hour shifts, night shifts, day shifts…..Or so it seemed.

Am I ranting?  So sorry!

I had not understood stress at all.  I had been asleep behind the wheel all those years.  My post retirement meltdown was probably the best thing that happened to me.  I finally understood.  It stopped me cold.  I had no more emergencies nor Code Blues to run to.  No one to rescue but myself.  I had to get out of the fire.

The stress had been built up over the years of caring.  I had lost sight of myself, always looking outward at others’ needs.  I felt others’ pain but numbed my own, as if I was not worthy of my own concern.  It was not good.  I prided myself on how much I can handle, how little sleep I needed.  How foolish I was!


I’m losing my concentration.  My right brain is clamouring at me.  I feel my dendrites rising on end.  Perhaps it’s best I close off.  Tomorrow is another day.  With a fresh left brain I might be able to talk about my year of recovery.  Till then – smile the while, but care for yourself.