For instance, yesterday was my last day of volunteering with the therapeutic riding program. I started in the fall of 2004 mostly as a way to work with horses without having to fork over a ton of money to ride. So yes, it started out selfishly. Over time, I came to love it for different reasons. Working with the horses was fantastic, but working with the kids was even better. I had my “regulars” for a few sessions (usually 12-week sessions, once a season). People would move on, or move up, and I got new regulars. I just loved watching the kids interact with horses. And over the period of several years, I got to watch how therapeutic riding changed the kids for the better. I have tons of stories I could share, but I’ll just tell you that it left me in awe.
I left TRP in June of 2007, figuring that being pregnant and walking around in the heat (in long pants—a requirement for the barn) wasn’t going to be a good time. I really missed it, though. After I had Sophie, life was just too hectic to come back right away. It didn’t help that lab was being so frustrating too—I was spending all of my free time doing stupid experiments that never worked. Tim convinced me in the spring that TRP was something I needed to find a way to work into my schedule, and so I rejoined the program in June 2008. I loved the summer session, and the fall session is always the nicest time of year. It was tough to go straight from the VA to TRP on Tuesday afternoons—I always seemed to have late patients. Despite the hectic rush, the hour and a half I spend at TRP is some of my calmest time of the week.
With everything happening in the lab over the last few months, I made the tough decision that I need to give up TRP. And so, last night was my last session. I just feel like I need to give everything I have during the week to getting my new project up and running. If there was TRP on the weekends, I may be able to let that slide. But, with Tim having classes two nights a week, TRP would limit me to only two nights that I could work late if I need to. I just don’t think I can limit my time that much. Plus, when he travels, I have to find someone to cover Tuesday nights with Sophie, and that’s been a headache on several occasions.
It’s tough to give it up. But, I am hoping I can find something with a little more flexibility that will give me some “me” time.
Of course, in stark contrast to more “me” time, I have signed on for a first: I am going to be a college professor. Well, not really a professor, but I am going to be an adjunct faculty member in the spring. My alma mater needs someone to teach a chemistry 101 course as a part of their weekend college (accelerated semesters for adults). It’s 6.5 hours every other Saturday, and I’ll be the one solely responsible for teaching it.
I met with Colleen, my former college advisor, yesterday morning. It was nice catching up with her, although driving around campus was a bit too much déjà vu for me. We chatted about life in general as well as the teaching opportunity, and I am really looking forward to it. She couldn’t tell me about the pay, other than it will be something (but probably not much). I don’t really care much about the money (although I won’t turn it down). I’m excited about getting some teaching experience. I’ve got a few months to plan before spring semester starts. I’ve got to remember some basic chemistry, but it shouldn’t be anything mind-blowing.
So yes, I am giving up one time commitment for another. The difference is that the teaching is only on weekends. Since I only teach every other Saturday, it gives me the Saturday in between to grade papers and plan a lesson. And, I can still go into lab on Sundays if I need to.
I also had another first yesterday: when I came into the VA, I found out one of my former patients had died. He was in hospice, and he had an almost non-existent hematocrit when I saw him, but I remember him as being in generally good spirits. He wasn’t a cancer patient that “looked” sick. If you just talked to him, I don’t think you would have even known he was sick. And he was a younger guy, just in his 50s. While medically I wasn’t shocked to hear he had passed, emotionally I was a bit stunned. I guess that is something I am going to have to adjust to.
Another first: I had my first very-sick-looking cancer patient come in. He had multiple lung tumors that have spread to his bones, liver, kidneys, and (most notably) his brain. I really had to focus on what is important. He’s diabetic, so we need to control his sugars so he doesn’t suffer nasty side effects. But does it need to be perfect? Hardly. He unfortunately will not be around in 20 years to deal with long-term complications. That was a real priority shift for me. And he’s only 62—that’s the age of Tim’s parents. As if it needs to be said: if you are a smoker, stop!!!!
I’m hoping to have another “last” in the near future: my last day in Dr. B’s lab. Until I have everything officially squared away, I’m at least showing face in the lab. Monday he saw me for the first time in about a week. He passed me at least three times before he really stopped: the first time he was rushing to get coffee, the second time he breezed through the lab, and the third time he stopped to talk to Kim about her project for a long time and pretended I wasn’t even there.
He finally came by in the afternoon and asked where things were at. He wanted to know the status of transferring the project to the pharmacology woman’s lab. I told him that idea was dead. I then told him about the plan with M and C’s labs. He was very negative through all of it. He told me that if I wasn’t willing to commit to four more years of PhD work, then I should just take the master’s and go to med school. I tried explaining that we were going to be very organized making a proposal, and we were going to solicit my committee’s opinions before we went ahead with it. But I told him this is what I wanted to do. He said we were too optimistic and he didn’t think it would work.
After talking to him (for all of five minutes), I was peeved. Even seeing him now raises my blood pressure. I took a few minutes to calm down, and then I moved on with my work. He did make me second guess myself for a minute. But, as long as we can have a plan in place in the next week or two, I really think that switching to M and C’s labs will work out best for me. Besides, I’ve committed to teaching, so I’d rather stick with the plan. I would change my mind and go back to med school if I had to, but everything would have to fall apart at this point for me to do that.
Other firsts and lasts: Sophie isn’t all that far from her first birthday, which floors me. I really can’t express how quickly this year has gone. Pregnancy was such a slow, drawn-out period of time. As soon as she was born, life went into fast forward. I just can’t believe how much of a little person she is! She’s crawling, cruising, hamming it up for an audience, and soon (too soon) she’ll be walking. Unbelievable.
Along with her firsts come her lasts. I packed up all of the 6-9 month clothing from her dresser, and her 12 month stuff isn’t far behind. It was so sad to put away all of her adorable outfits. I had memories of her in each of them. And I also found some cute clothes I didn’t even know she had! As I pulled out the 0-3 month clothes to give to Jason & Kim pending the arrival of their little one, it was hard for me to remember Sophie even being that small (probably because she was out of the 0-3 month stuff by 6 weeks!).
And then, this morning, I dropped Sophie off as another baby was being dropped off. This was a wee tiny one—couldn’t be more than 6-8 weeks, max (and looked younger than that, but I know they don’t take babies under 6 weeks). As the baby cried, Sophie just gave it this puzzled look like, “What are you?” It’ll be interesting to see what she thinks of her new baby cousin in the coming weeks. A new cousin—another first!
Things have just been in so much flux lately. I guess dealing with firsts and lasts is a natural part of life, but I’m not sure I’ve ever had so many all at one time. I’ve been working hard to find my grounding, but I’m lucky if I can come home, cook something, take care of Sophie, and hopefully pay bills/buy groceries/keep the house running without collapsing. I think taking some time off will have to wait for a while, but I could really use a break.
Instead, I think we are painting again this weekend. In a weird way, that’s sort of relaxing for me, so I guess I’ll count it as “me” time. That’s a start.