I said I would change the subject, and I am, sort of. I am changing my negative attitude to one of gratitude for what I have, and I am embracing the work that I am currently being offered. I was doing nothing with my spare time other than searching and applying for other jobs. Hobbies had gone out of the window as my mind was unsettled – a butterfly brain and raised hopes followed by constant disappointments were not conducive to creativity. One job application I was particularly hopeful about was still in care work with people in their own homes but was a 37.5 hour contract as opposed to zero hours. It was one of those applications where CV’s are not accepted and you have to answer questions on an application form, making the answers relevant to the job description. I thought I had filled in the application form rather well! I believed I would be ideal for the job and was convinced that whoever read my application form would think so too – but two weeks went by and I heard nothing.
Keeping the deal I had made with myself, I emailed my manager, telling her I needed to boost my income and asking about the possibility of night work – as night work tends to be a block of hours rather than half an hour here and there. I was surprised and pleased but also scared when she replied that a ‘sleep-over’ was still uncovered for the following night, which happened to be Last Night, at the home of a lovely old gentleman with a heart condition. Emotionally his heart is lovely, but medically it isn’t too good. Luckily, I had visited him before. Whilst I love everyone I attend (and they are all so different) there are some that, after less than an hour, leave me feeling like my head is about to explode and the living blood has been drained from me … but not this one. The only problem here was my anxiety – mild phobia even, about sleeping in unfamiliar places.
So, we watched telly and then went to bed. Given that he had taken the trouble to brief me about his nocturnal habits, and knowing the details about his heart condition, I was worried because I couldn’t hear him moving about. But what I could hear, loud and clear, was a clock that chimes the hour … three chimes at three o’clock, four chimes at four, and so on, with a single chime to indicate the passing of each half hour in between. I was also worried because I was starting to do my daft breathing.
Daft breathing is what others might call hyperventilation, but to me it is breathing that isn’t going anywhere. It is when you yawn because you are tired, but the yawn doesn’t work properly, so you do it again and then again – but rather than having the satisfaction of a yawn, it simply feels that some air has gone in and out of your mouth or nose, without going anywhere beyond that. So you yawn again. On a couple of occasions, many years ago, it turned into a panic attack … the grip of imminent drowning that is only released in the nick of time. The memory of this did not help, considering that my current responsibility was to support a vulnerable person. But then this was only supposed to be a ‘sleep-over’ not a ‘waking-night’. I think that was the issue. I was there on duty, but I had nothing to actually do, other than listen to that bloody clock! I didn’t hear it strike five but then woke with a jump and sat up in horror – hearing wailing noises and sirens – but it was only the boiler. The noise stopped just after six and the radiator was still cold so I assume it came on to heat the water. But I still hadn’t heard any sound from my friend in the next room …
We had agreed I would take him a cup of tea at 8am in the morning. I tapped on his open door; called his name and said “Good Morning” before entering and seeing him curled on his side, only his face showing above the duvet, greyish-white, and looking so different without his large spectacles. I stood there for a while, trying to detect the rise and fall of his breathing – but there was nothing … no sign.
Oh shit. Not on my watch. Please …
I went to his bedside, put the tea down on the bedside table and touched his shoulder through the duvet. He reacted by flipping over onto his back, clutching his chest and panting a little. When he was able to speak, he said; “My word, you came in here quietly!”
He did recover, quite quickly, said he had slept well and asked me what the weather was doing outside and I asked what he would like for breakfast. Phew!
I hope I have now broken the habit of job searching, and I will try to be happy with what I already have, and maybe build upon it, with night work or whatever. If they ask me again to do a sleep over for this old gent I will say “Yes Please” and next time I will wonder why I made such a fuss about it this first time. I will also yell a bit louder when I enter his room in the morning!