Thursday, November 08, 2012

Aromatherapeutic Ayelet

I am happy to report that with the exception of one person, every person in both clinics loves me. Well, likes me at least, and most like me a lot. The one exception -- how can I put this delicately? She has a personality disorder. That's not just my opinion -- I spoke to several people about her when she started projecting hostility and telling lies to and about me. They all agreed that it's her, not me. We haven't decided what kind of personality disorder it is, but I know she has a history of violence. She was actually fired for assaulting a co-worker and a patient. But, as a union delegate of many years' standing, she fought her way back into the clinic.

I've already told the clinic manager that I have 800 patients and she's not going to be the 801st. We shall see how this plays out.

But my co-workers are especially happy with me because I made a bunch of aromatherapy sachets and distributed them around the clinic. I initially made them for the counselors, because due to Hurricane Sandy, we've been really swamped. Actually, swamped with patients because weren't swamped with water -- patients from other clinics in our program and from other programs came to us to be medicated. I missed work for two days because public transit was suspended, but the three days that week that I worked were extremely hectic.

I also got two extra counselors to supervise. The hospital converted its rehab and detox floors into temporary beds for patients evacuated from other hospitals. I went to bed on November 5 with 16 counselors to supervise, and woke up on November 6 with 18 -- got an email from the clinical director saying that the rehab and detox counselors were being temporarily placed in the methadone clinics. They're very nice, but I was a little taken aback and stressed, because I had to orient them to the treatment modality,  organize their workload, and lead them around the labyrinthine clinics because they kept getting lost.

So everyone's been a bit frazzled, and as usual, it lands hardest on the counselors. I decided I'd try for a little morale boost and made some aromatherapy sachets for everyone. It's really easy, or I wouldn't be able to do it. You just take some mesh or gauzy fabric (I bought a sheer chiffon poncho from Marshall's, but you could also go to a craft store) and cut it into squares. Take two cotton balls. Put a few drops of essential oil on one and press the other against it. Wrap the fabric around the balls, twist the end of the fabric, tie it up with ribbon or string, and voilĂ ! Just take a whiff for an instant aromatherapy break. A micro-vacation, I called it.

I made them in lavender, peppermint, and jasmine, and everyone loved them:

  • "The clinic smells like a spa!"
  • "Oh, this peppermint clears up my sinuses!"
  • (assistant clinic manager) "How come only counselors get a sachet? I want a sachet!" (He got one.)
  • (in a blissful, dreamy tone) "Ayelet, I am sooooooo relaxed right now from this lavender..."

"If I didn't know better, I'd think you were high," I joked.

It doesn't hurt that one of the bigwigs from administration is in the clinic two days a week and thinks I'm great. She even asked me to make sure she got one of the sachets, and when I brought it to her, she was on the phone with her boss, saying that the social worker made sachets and everyone just loves 'em.

I don't have to perform the administrative functions of a supervisor, like making sure counselors meet their deadlines and make their quotas, and I'm not involved in any kind of citation or discipline. But I am learning a great deal about being an effective clinical supervisor, which is excellent experience.

Being exposed to so many people has me worried sometimes, though. These are clinicians. I really don't want them to figure out that I have bipolar disorder. So I'm monitoring my mood and anger very closely. Maybe too closely. This week has been a bad sleep week; as soon as the time changes, my sleep is disrupted. I've resumed nightly torture on the acupressure mat, which is helping, but for a few hectic days -- like the day I woke up with two extra counselors -- I was operating on very little sleep, and I was afraid I'd lose it or make a scene and everyone would wonder why I was so unstable.

But maybe I'm worrying too much. This afternoon I got a call from another clinic in the network. Their social worker was out sick, and a patient came into the clinic not feeling very well and threatened to harm himself. Alarmed, the clinic manager called me and gave me the counselor's number. I called the counselor, who was covering for another counselor and didn't have the patient's chart. So I talked to the patient briefly. Without going into detail, I was able to determine that the patient was not at risk -- he was in withdrawal and hadn't received his methadone dose yet. I told the counselor to send the patient to the medicating station, then called the clinic manager to tell her he just needed to be medicated.

"Why hasn't he been medicated yet?" she asked.

"I don't know," I said. "It's not my clinic."

For some reason this really set me off. I don't know if it was fatigue from insomnia, or feeling rattled from so many unexpected changes hitting me in such close succession. So I went into the secretaries' office and said, "Can you believe what that clinic manager said??" And vented a little bit. Then I calmed down and went to the break room to have my lunch. And after I'd eaten, I started thinking, "I shouldn't have lost it in the secretaries' office. How embarrassing. What must they think of me?"

One of the nurses came in for lunch and we started talking. I told her what happened, and as I was describing my little flip-out, the secretary, Tanya, walked in.

"Remember, Tanya?" I said, laughing in an attempt to appear blasé . "I totally lost it!"

Realization dawned on her face. "I forgot about that," she said. "I remember that earlier, when that other clinic manager called looking for you just as you walked into the office to get something from the printer, I thought, 'She's going to live a long time!'"

Apparently there's a folk belief that if you walk into a room when someone is talking about you, you're going to live a long time. Which is funny, because later that same day I walked into the clinic manager's office and he and the administration honcho were talking about me. Not just about me; about the work I'm organizing for the displaced counselors.

So I guess I'm going to live a very long time. I hope I'm not in physical and emotional agony for much of it. And I guess I don't appear as loony as I fear I do.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

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