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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Work-Life-Balance

This blog will be posted some time after it was written due to an outside directive to not talk about my living donor experience until after I have donated.  If you are reading this, it is because I have completed the donation process.
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March 8, 2011

One of the cool parts of this process which I've mentioned a few times (and you would probably see in just about everyone else's blog or story who is part of living donation) is the fact that you get to do a lot of medical tests that you normally wouldn't face unless something was really wrong with you. I  think the 24 hour blood pressure test is definitely one of the more interesting tests I've had to do, albeit somewhat inconvenient. It was a really good reality check for me on many levels.

When I was given the opportunity to see the graph of my results by the nurse at the Hypertension clinic, it was right there in black and white: Work stresses me out.

Now granted, walking around buzzing and beeping in an office setting all day is going to add stress. Having to skirt around why I was wearing it or try to tell people in 30 seconds or less I wanted to donate a kidney to a stranger also bumps up the BP. And having some of the projects (and the crazed project team members) I have going on looming and lurking as they are, also can cause the extreme spikes I saw on the screen. But to take my regular blood pressure, which is low normal on a regular day and make it essentially stay above normal from the moment I started walking to the office to the minute I got in my car at 4:30 means, plain and simple, work stresses me out.

Now when you become stressed, your heart rate increases and your blood pressure does increase for a short period of time. However, as soon as your stress levels decrease, your blood pressure does tend to return to normal. But if you remain stressed for a long period of time, it is possible that your body could artificially induce high blood pressure. Not good.  I kind of started to wonder how many days in a week I had this going on. I wonder how many people around me, are working at this elevated level 5 days a week and just don't know it?


Don't get me wrong.  I LOVE my job. I, for the most part, like everyone I work with. I am hugely enjoying the challenge of building a new website and moving into my role as the eCommunications advisor for the bank. But I know myself and my short comings too. I sweat the small stuff. I worry about every little detail being right and on occasion put way more on my plate than I can probably handle (but I seem to manage to eventually get it done). I often find myself in positions where I am needing to do a lot of learning as I go and still lead projects and tasks. I concern myself with the big picture rather than whats right in front of me. I don't take lunch or breaks on an average day. Sometimes these can be good qualities (except maybe the last one)-but if its leading to my everyday BP looking like a seismogram of a bad earthquake, I may need to give my head a shake.


The clinic nurse kind of laughed when she looked at my graph and said "I know exactly when you went home from work last night".  I looked closely at the graph and the difference between my 4:15 and 4:45 readings were astounding.  In the former, my blood pressure was a jagged spike above normal.  The latter saw it plummet, straight down to the lower side of normal where it remained for the rest of the evening, going down a  bit more as I went to sleep. You can't argue with that-and it's clear I need to make some adjustments.


So moving forward I'm going to try really hard to not sweat the little things.  I am going to establish some boundaries for myself to make it clear what I should worry about and what is either not my problem, or out of my control. I'm going to take breaks and even if I eat lunch at my desk, I'm going to go for a walk afterwards. I'm going to get more exercise in general actually. I'm not going to check my Blackberry at home unless absolutely necessary and I'm not going to feel the need to answer every email I get within minutes of receiving it. I will still always be a keener, but I'm going to pull that back a bit.


Kidney donation or no kidney donation, this was a valuable chance for me to see what I'm doing to myself and make some changes. As my friend Milton has always said  "there are no prizes in the end" . No kidding.



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