Archive | 8:21 PM

Bipolar: She or Me?

10 Mar

I’m not a psychologist.  I am extremely introspective, watch Intervention, and have taken several classes on human behavior, but I don’t know enough to make an informed judgement.  Is Cool cycling?  If the symptoms are evident, I’ll take notice.  If she is really mundane or stops eating and sleeping I wonder if something is up.  But then I doubt my intuition.  I never know for certain if she’s depresses, manic, or just a person.  I also never know if it’s simply baggage and upbringing, personality traits or if the behaviors are pointing to a problem.  I am more terrestrial by nature, so flights of fancy do not always a good indication of a bipolar episode.

I could list certain things I find irregular:  The afore-mentioned inappatance and insomnia, a lack of practicality, joyous feelings at something previously hated (work), an eerie optimism, craftiness, and an inability to focus.  I especially start to wonder when Cool gets these transitory ideas–mostly work/school related.  For example, during one (later confirmed) bipolar episode Cool decided she would start a part time snow clearing business–despite not having four-wheel drive, a plow, availibilty in the early morning, stamina to do physical labor, winter clothes, or a shovel.  She seemed very excited about it, and I was left contemplating the logistics of the idea.  Since Cool is more laid back than I am in general, some of these things are not clear cut.

It doesn’t help that she doesn’t answer questions with veracity during these times.  She only has her own perspective so I guess symptoms might be concealed for her as well as for me.  She doesn’t know if she’s cycling either, so how could her answers to my probing questions be accurate?  To her, the problem is latent until it is over and she can look back.

It’s not like I want to libel Cool.  Not knowing if her bipolar is striking is detrimental.  We will start having relationship problems, and it can be hard to tell if we are having an issue, or if it’s a bipolar episode.  As a girlfriend I want to be supportive of Cool’s health.  On the contrary, I would hate to spread calumny by accusing the B-P of causing the strife, if it is in fact, an important disagreement between us.

And as an important side-note, I now understand why some bipolar people refuse to take their meds.  The meds cause a billion side-effects.  The prescribing doctor does not even bother to talk to the patient.  It’s appalling.  What’s more surprising is the liberal cost of the drugs.  For a month of Cool’s medication–it costs more than $500!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  No, that is not a solecism on my part, I meant 5-0-0!  That is more than a month’s rent-on a one bedroom apartment that allows two cats and overlooks the river.  It is more than an entire paycheck!  I am tolerant of costs that go into inventing, testing, and approving new drugs.  But seriously, charging more than a month’s rent???  You have got to be kidding, if you think for one second that some drug company is not making a boat-load of cash from that.  I wish bipolar disorder could be managed economically.  Or just managed.

Conflict Resolution is not a Veterinarian’s Strength

10 Mar

You would think it would be.  They are compassionate enough to want to work with animals.  School trains them to be sagacious in dealing with clients.  They are astute when dealing with health crises.  Maybe all of these attributes just don’t extend to staffing issues.  I have seen some vicious parleys between veterinarians and their subordinates almost everywhere I’ve worked.

I walked into work Monday to see a nasty note reprimanding my performance on Saturday.  My cheeks reddened with embarrassing at the public admonishment, and my temper became incarnadine with fury at the unfairness.  Apparently I had not “gently mixed” the ruby blood sample well enough, and the numbers were askew as a result.  Seriously–you can just tell me on the day it happens.  You do not have to enumerate my every mistake in a missive for all to see and send the other doctor to lecture me about it two days later.  It ruined my whole day–right when I set foot in the door.

When I am a veterinarian, I swear, it will be a hard and fast rule to only chastise staff in private.  It is a real problem in small animal medicine at least.  At my first job, Mary saw every decision she made as self-evident truth, and would regularly bark, “Don’t think!” if someone attempted to explain their (perceived) wrong actions.  At Noah’s Ark, the doctor would lose her temper (I postulate it was because she was stressed and they COULD be shit-heads) and scream at staff members in front of everyone.  I hated it–even if it wasn’t directed towards me.  At the emergency hospital, the doctor’s adage was one of anti-social behavior.  He was surly, scary, and short-tempered in general. . .  In Seattle, one of the vets used an axiom of sarcasm, and mean-spirited banter, as well as losing all patience (and mores) and screaming while strewing things of shelves, and generally making a huge scene.

So this current passive-aggressive public humiliation is not the worst, but I think all of the above behavior is out-of-line and counter-productive.  I wish the veterinarians I have worked for could just slake their aggression and talk (calmly) to the staff.  I think co-workers and authority figures should moderate their tempers even if they are super-annoyed and work closely together.  And if they can’t–they should hire an office manager to satisfy disciplinary issues with poise.

While we’re talking about authority figures I want to bring up another power issue.  I venerate the veterinarians I have worked for.  Even if I think some of them are total tool-bags as people, I respect all the hard work they had to do to get in, and pass veterinary school and their boards.  They are obviously perspicacious if they have made it this far.  That said, I refuse to grovel at their feet.  I am a person too, and that should also garner a little respect.  I am hard-working, plucky, and human.  I have many attributes and though I am not a doctor, I should never have to kowtow just because of that fact.  I absolutely HATE when veterinarians have some power/dominance issues and require me as staff to boot-lick and defer to them in ALL matters.  Doctors that get their self esteem from making their staff humble themselves constantly are high maintenance!

All of these concerns would be mollified if veterinarians would learn to treat the staff like people.  As a leader, the doctor should be conciliating problems that arise instead of exacerbating  them.  In a crucial anesthetic moment, does the surgeon get stressed (well of course they do, we ALL do) and panic rather than buckling down and taking steps to correct it?  Staffing should not be any different.  Logic should not take a back seat to emotions.  When I am a vet, I plan to have high expectations, but when things go wrong, I will pacify my anger and deal with them.

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