The Most Stressful Day of My Life …

… was yesterday.

I’ve had a lot of stressful days in my life, but yesterday, took the prize.

It all started, when my boss asked me if I wanted to work the Carthage clinic.

I immediately tensed up. I’ve been to three clinics since I began working this job: Branson twice and Harrison once.

And all of these times, I just sort of sat and watched what was happening. It’s not hard and I felt like I had the hang of it, but then …

… that was months ago. Then, they started cross-training another co-worker of mine to start working the outlining clinics. I tried not to take it personally but I just figured, Meh. I must not have caught on and ouch, but I would live.

I sort of forgot about outlying clinics, quite frankly.

So when my boss asked me on Wednesday if I wanted to work the Carthage clinic, by myself, with a doctor I’ve only spoken to TWICE, in a clinic I’ve never even been to, I naturally said yes.

OMG, what WAS I thinking?!?!?

So I began stressing about the ordeal. I asked a ton of questions and a co-worker gathered all of the necessary paperwork for me to take. I would be responsible for checking patients in, having them sign paperwork, taking their pictures and scanning their ID’s and insurance cards.

Easy-peasey, right?

It didn’t really occur to me, until about 4:00 on Thursday (because I was SLAMMED on Thursday and really didn’t have time to think about it, actually), that I didn’t know how to set the damn computers up.

Swell.

So by this time, most everyone I could ask was gone for the day and did I mention I was leaving to work the clinic the very next morning?!

I got up early Friday morning, got ready (it was sort of nice to wear business casual for a change and not scrubs), and went up to the clinic to hunt down the IT guy. Luckily, I found him right away and we went over how to set the computers up.

That helped. I was actually feeling a bit more confident about the day. I went to my desk to pack up my fan.

Yes. Fan. Because between my hot flashes and my nervous sweats, which only get worse after I start sweating and I know people can SEE that I’m sweating, I wanted to make sure I wasn’t a hot sweaty mess with a moist mustache checking patients in.

Not exactly professional attire, right?

Suddenly, I heard my name being paged overhead. The doctor and his PA were ready. Did I mention I had to drive the company van, a van I’ve been in twice and have NEVER driven, to the hospital to pick up the doctor and his PA after their morning rounds?

Just add THAT to my heaping helping of stress and well … I WAS A WRECK BEFORE WE EVEN LEFT THE BUILDING.

I panicked. OMG! I can’t make the doctor wait on me!!!! is what I thought and I grabbed my stuff, loaded up the two cases of laptops and cords and away we went. The van wasn’t that hard to drive and we made it to the hospital (which is only down the street from our clinic) in pretty good time. I pulled up under the awning and there was the doctor and his PA, waiting on us.

I hurriedly got out of the van (because there was NO WAY on God’s green earth I was going to drive the doctor all the way to Carthage) and got into the back seat.

I began to relax.

Okay. So far, so good.

About five minutes into the journey, when we had just driven onto the highway, did a thought suddenly occur to me.

DID I pack the case with all of my paperwork?????

The nurse was sitting in the back of the van and I turned around, “Hey [insert name of nurse here], do you see a black suitcase with silver trim back there?”

She looked. “No,” she said.

I immediately panicked. I ripped off my seatbelt and crawled (rather unceremoniously, I might add. The PA, who was driving, probably caught a very good view of my ass as I scrambled over the seats) to look for myself.

SWEET JESUS – I FORGOT TO PACK THE PAPERWORK.

I’m not even sure how to describe what I was feeling. I was horrified beyond belief. I have NEVER felt that horrified in my entire life. My chest started hurting and I honest-to-God thought I was having a heart attack.

The nurse, who is super calm (which is a good attribute to have if you’re a nurse), called the nurse’s secretary to ask her to fax all of the paperwork to the clinic. Though I appreciated her jumping in and trying to solve MY problem, I couldn’t let her do all of the work.

I called my office manager. She didn’t pick up her phone, so I left a message.

“Hey [insert office manager name here], I’m an idiot.” (The MA next to me laughed and said, “You’re not an idiot.” I just gave her a look as if to say, “Yeah right.”). I forgot to grab the case with the paperwork in it. Call me back on my cell …” Then I gave her my number.

“Should we go back?” I asked, hoping they would say yes.

The doctor, who had been silent up to this point and must just think I’m the stupidest person on Earth, said in a very calm voice, “Nah. We’ll be fine.”

That somehow made it worse because it made it sound like he had faith in me … OH MY DEAR GOD IN HEAVEN. Don’t think that! Is what I’m thinking to myself.

I’m not sure how I did it, but I outwardly remained calm. I called the clinic back and had my office manager paged. When I explained the situation, she sounded annoyed, but all business. She would make sure she faxed all of the paperwork to the clinic and would alert the clinic manager as to what was happening.

I felt like we should have slapped a sign on the van, “IDIOT ABOARD.”

OH MY DEAR GOD IN HEAVEN.

I’m pretty sure I started hyperventilating. That was going to be a lot of paperwork – we had 15 patients scheduled that day.

Now I know what people are talking about when they describe panic attacks – they feel like heart attacks, they say. And now? I completely agree. In fact, I’m getting anxious just typing this story out. My heart was thumping so hard I’m pretty sure the MA next to me heard it. She sort of awkwardly patted me on the thigh and quietly said under her breath, “It’ll be okay, it’s not the end of the world. Breathe.”

It took an hour to get to the clinic. And I think my heart finally slowed it’s pace about fifty-five minutes later. By the time we entered the building, I had gotten over my initial horror/shock and I was resigned to the fact that I’m an idiot and I might as well make the best of a terrible situation.

The clinic manager was SUPER NICE. Like CAUTIOUSLY NICE, as if she was treating a person made of glass and indeed, I FELT like I was about to shatter into a million pieces at that point. She took me to the area that we usually use and instructed me where things were. She gave me a STACK (it was about fifty pages) of paperwork to sort through. I set up my computer, plugged everything in, opened up my programs (just like the IT guy and I had practiced that morning), and began sorting through an impossibly messy and disorganized pile of paperwork – in the meantime, the first three patients, who had already arrived, stared at me waiting to be helped.

I took a calming breath, always conscience that the doctor was just doors away and though he was busy setting up his own stuff, would be ready to see patients at any moment and I was the one responsible to get the ball rolling, and just dove right into the middle of it.

Somehow, I managed to survive the first thirty minutes. Things finally started to settle down and I actually had a few minutes to straighten things up and put things into some sort of organized chaos.

Once we got going, I think I did okay. The MA always had at least one or two patients to show back to their rooms and the day rolled by relatively smoothly. I’m pretty sure I missed some things and I completely forgot to take one patient’s picture (he was one of the first and quite honestly, I’m surprised I was able to string a complete sentence together I was so stressed, let alone remembering to take his picture), but I’ll just have to clean up my mistakes this week.

Somehow, by the grace of God, I made it through the clinic without completely losing my sh*t. The last patient finally left and we packed up our gear and piled back into the van. We all ate lunch at a nearby Mexican restaurant and the doctor bought our lunch, (did I mention he is SUPER NICE?!?) It was probably one of the more awkward meals of my life, but not THE most awkward (I’ve had a lot of awkward meals in my life too, like eating with Kevin’s bosses over the years) and I felt a little better after we ate. Not because of the food but because THANK GOD, it was over and we were heading back to the clinic.

The PA drove us back to the hospital so he and the doctor could get out and I guess the nurse no longer trusted me (can’t say that I blame her) and she drove us back to our clinic.

I pretty much collapsed back into my chair, in my cubicle, after we arrived.

I apologized all over myself and quite a few ladies gave me a hard time, but I didn’t care, I had survived and it wasn’t as bad as it COULD have been and did I mention I was just thankful that it was OVER???

So. Now? Who knows if they will trust me to ever work an outlying clinic again. The wanting-to-be-super-employee part of me hopes they haven’t lost all confidence in me and will ask me again, but MOST of me hopes they never bring up the subject again.

I think mostly? I’m disappointed in myself because honestly? That was a pretty STUPID thing for me to do.

_______________________________________

By the way, it has started: The whole “let’s get together after work” thing. I can’t fall into this trap. Because when you start hanging out with co-workers after work, things suddenly … get messy. I used the “I already have plans” card to get out of going to see a movie with the girls. But if/when they get to know me better, they will realize that I NEVER have anything to do on the weekends and …

… I’d like to keep it that way.

And … by the way, er, way … one of my co-worker’s job is in jeopardy. The sh*t will likely hit the fan on Monday. I don’t know if she’ll be fired, but it’s going to get ugly. Would you think less of me if the first thing I thought of was … HEY! Maybe I’ll be able to nab a better shift if she leaves!

I’m so bad.

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