This photo sums up how I’ve felt recently. Exhausted, beaten down, despairing, depressive, highly emotional, and generally not well physically and emotionally.
My client currently faces an issue of running out of office space in their Northern New Jersey location. They're actively in pursuit of new office space. Meanwhile, I am in a new routine, commuting to their other office at Old Slip, near Wall Street in Manhattan. However, this adjustment has taken a toll on both my mental and physical well-being.
Interestingly, the actual work itself doesn't induce stress. The journey to New York City has become the challenging part. The process takes roughly two and a half hours, from departing my doorstep to reaching the office building's entrance in lower Manhattan. It's a commute involving two trains – the New Jersey Transit (NJT) and PATH – followed by a ferry. Throughout this commute, I find myself constantly on the move, navigating through the crowd of travellers hoping to secure a seat, though most often, I end up standing.
The northeast corridor express train ride to Newark Penn Station, lasting about 45 minutes, tends to be a standing affair. Upon disembarking from the NJT, I hurriedly squeeze through the turnstile and catch the PATH that leads to Exchange Place. The PATH experience often proves to be less than comfortable. Finding a seat is a rare luxury; I am packed amidst the crowd, reminiscent of sardines in a tin. My grip tightens on a less-than-clean metal pole while inconsiderate coughing and germ spreading from fellow passengers adds another layer of discomfort. It's a struggle, and the need for a thorough cleanse becomes all too evident, given the close proximity to various forms of germs.
Upon finally arriving at the workplace, I'm already feeling the tension, compounded by the persistent ache in my back and feet due to prolonged standing. The office environment itself contributes to the strain. It's an open-plan setup devoid of privacy, characterised by its constant noise. Unfortunately, this setup leaves no room for putting up my feet or seeking a brief respite in a quiet corner for a moment of rest. This scenario contradicts the much-needed escape I crave after the demanding commute.
In an intriguing parallel, Harvard University highlights that open-plan offices are among the least productive work settings.
When the firms switched to open offices, face-to-face interactions fell by 70%.~ Harvard University Press
This highlights my challenges in this environment, where noise and distractions sway productivity. While the work remains manageable, the cumulative effect of the arduous commute, and the office atmosphere, and my health challenges tests my resilience
Grave’s disease is playing havoc with emotions as well. I can go from laughing to anxious and sad (sometimes despair) all within a few hours. I have little control over this. It just happens, and once it’s done, I feel emotionally drained.
I am under the care of a great endocrinologist, but until my Grave’s disease is under control, it has taken a toll. It affects my ability to work effectively.
I sleep but don't feel rested. I haven't had a restful night of sleep in over a month.
I am slower than I used to be. I don’t have the energy for activities I normally enjoy — hiking and photography. Family events like birthday parties and BBQs in the backyard are not enjoyable.
I finally broke down, crying while getting ready to drive to work on Friday. Bhavna took me to the E.R., where a battery of blood tests revealed that due to interactions between some of the medications I was taking — most likely triggered by stress — I had early-stage hypertension. My blood pressure was high and trending higher. I was put on an I.V. drip, given a Percocet for the pain, monitored for several hours and sent home with strict instructions to discontinue my medication until I could see my primary physician and endocrinologist.
I must admit I was scared. And my poor Bhavna sat next to me the whole time, stressing out.
I am feeling better today. But not great. Not 100%. Not my usual self. I’ve lost control of my body. Perhaps that’s another stress point. With Type 1 diabetes, I feel I have some control over testing and diet. With Grave’s, I cannot test if things are improving or worsening. I have to do a lab blood test every six to eight weeks and wait 48 hours for the results. It’s not ideal. I’ve also had more years of practice managing my Type 1 diabetes.
I discussed buying a blood pressure monitor with Bhavna or taking a trip to CVS to test my blood pressure at least once a week.
It’s Sunday, and I dread going back to work on Monday.
In the meantime, I am doing what I can — breathing in — breathing out. It’s all the control I have.