Monday, February 23, 2009

Code 99!

In the hospital where I work, we have a secret distress code which is Code 99. It is the equivalent of Code Blue, which you hear on every television medical drama... everyone knows it means that someone is in a Very. Bad. Way. Get the Crash Cart-- now! Since people know what Code Blue means, we've changed it so it doesn't frighten every family member in the hospital who will assume it is their person headed toward the proverbial light while they're out grabbing a cuppa.

I was a walking/talking Code 99 in my personal life all last week, but forgot to let anyone in on the secret.  I even forgot what it meant for me. Sort of missed that I could be headed for a crash. I had entirely too many pokers in the fire, too many pots on the stove ( too many cliches), and not enough time to care and charge my introverted soul. I thought
surely I could survive till Sunday. Just push a tiny bit harder. Go! Go! Your day off is coming, girlfriend.

And survive I did, and I did a pretty bang-up job of getting things done, giving where I wanted to give, teaching and giving my ALL.  I strove to be a decent human being along the way (Jury is still out on that last piece).  What fell by the wayside was any real exercise but a few short walks, my dietary intake was a sketchy at best, I was seriously short-sheeted in the Sleep Department, and I had nothing that even resembled an Artist Date-- unless you consider staring at LA underpass grafitti.  

The point? By the time Sunday rolled around, I was medically unresponsive.  From my perch above my body I knew that I needed to go to Mass, wash and vacuum my car, write three hours on my novel, send out my client coaching assignments, EXERCISE, see if my partner still recognized me, write an alarming number of emails, and try to eat something that didn't come in a Kashi wrapper. Except that I couldn't move.

I had completely shorted out.  I lurched toward the coffee which just made me a very alert wreck.

I was in a bad way and I knew it. So,  I gently and lovingly let myself off every single hook that I could feel dug under my skin-- from my shoulders, the back of my neck, and every appendage. Turned off the cell phone and the alarm clock.  Did not go to  Mass.  (We'll keep that between us, okay?)  Ate well.  Ate slowly. My partner and I talked for hours in our PJs. Read the paper! Cleaned out the drawer of my bedside table. (Okay, random, BUT, if anyone needs any cat toys, give me a call. I have a few dozen extra, turns out.)  Took a nap at noon. A good, long one. I treated myself like a beloved aging aunt that needed  kid glove treatment. The day stretched on and on.  Nothing was accomplished at all-- except that I was brought back to life.

I woke up this morning, thirty years younger. Leapt to my novel and wrote many pages. Recognized I needed a brief extension on my book deadline, took a bracing breath, and asked for it. Got it. Took another nap today.  Cleaned my car with that Zen-like attention that Robin described in the story about the monk cleaning the bowl.  What was happening with me and the car vacuum was near holy.  I was completely awake.  My meter needle was back in the green zone.

I do have a point.  It isn't a new one, but it is critical to our survival as a species.  And, god knows, the world cannot function without introverts!  Do insure that embedded in each of your days is a time spent at your personal recharging station, whatever that looks like for you.  It may be reading, daydreaming, walking, stretching, tinkering, gardening, puttering, playing Scramble on Facebook.  Whatever it is, you need (read REQUIRE) the time.  Take it.  Revel in it. Claim it. Protect it.  Own it.  Do not negotiate it away in your eternal quest for productivity.
That equation is flawed for folks like us.  We're kinda special, you know?

Don't miss this!  Robin and I did a guest interview today over at Becky Levine's place. "PRE-Marketing: Seven Important Things You Can Do Before You Sell Your Book Hop on over and say hi to Becky while you're there. She is currently writing a book for Writer’s Digest, The Critiquer’s Survival Guide, due out in Fall 2009. We can't wait to get see it and report on it. Thanks for having us, Becky!

Mary Hershey 
Code 99 Survivor


Anonymous said...

Your writing, and your outlook, made me smile today!

Anonymous said...

I spent Sundays in January lying on the couch under a fuzzy blanket with a book. Total recharge--I didn't even know that my weeks were that crazy, but apparently they were. I've started to compare my mental state to one of output or input, and I guess I was way too much output (to other people, projects, worry) that month. Input: just lie and take in a story or information.

Glad you had your day. Congrats on being smart enough to take it! And thanks for coming by my blog to help people out. :)

Yat-Yee said...

Thanks for sharing, in such great details (love the lurching toward coffee, alert wreck bit esp.) your Code 99. Glad you took time to replenish. My last week wasn't as bad but when I lay down for a short nap on Sunday afternoon on the couch, I stayed in that position for two hours. Good thing the kids are old enough to entertain themselves!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post and the reminder. I seriously woke up twenty minutes before my alarm clock with a list of things I must do today running through my head. It's been all output the last few weeks and I'm wondering why the well is running dry? Today is the day I have my niece over to watch the baby for a few hours. Instead of taking that time to check off my to-do list, maybe I'll clean my room...alone! A Zen exercize for me, I assure you.

Thanks again.

tanita✿davis said...

Your partner must have been so glad to see you, too!

I hate what I've done so many times to myself in doing exactly what you describe. Thanks for sharing that it still happens to you -- it gives me hope...!

cheers, happy recovery!

Pam Ripling said...

Okay, it's hard to type from the "tree" position, but here goes... your post today is an articulate wake-up call for all of us multi-tasking, all-output freaks. I so saw myself in that scenario! (Except that I have already given up caffeine.)

Glad you checked out for awhile before the Code 9-9er became real. We can't afford to lose you!



Welcome back to yourself, Mary! And feel free to ignore every one of my emails to you over the past week. None are as important as jammies with J.


Mary Hershey said...

Thanks, everyone, for all your comments and encouragements.

I am being a Mama Bear about my schedule this week.

Mary Hershey

Terry P. said...

Sorry to hear you had such a meltdown, Mary. I often find that my recharge time is spent reading your blog. It reminds me of what I need to keep doing to take care of myself!

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you survived your code 99!! Thanks for sharing this -- a good reminder for all of us to recharge before our battery is completely dead.

Cheryl Reif said...

Hi Mary--Thanks so much for sharing your meltdown week with us. It's a serious wakeup call to one completely drained writer. I've been going in circles, no longer able to get anything accomplished but not quite lucid enough to stop for recharging time...but you've inspired me. I'm planning to disappear into my room with a smelly candle, a Bach CD, a bag full of lovely-colored yarn, and a crochet hook for some serious refilling of my creative pond! Best wishes for your pond to be filled to overflowing this week. :) Cheryl