Saturday, November 6, 2010

Checking up on myself

Jack Straw on the doorstep with local councill...Image via WikipediaAs a trial run for going back to the real world of work, I signed up as a canvasser for one of the campaigns.  I did this for a number of reasons:
  1. Dr. Herzberg, my optometrist, wants me to have a job where I don't use the computer as much.  She suggested some sort of field work.    Canvassing fits this definition as it involves going out, finding addresses, knocking on doors and talking to people and NO computers.  
  2. My chiropractor  and doctors would love for me not to be humped over a laptop as it has caused osteoarthritis in the neck.  
  3. I would like to lose weight.  I lost five to seven pounds by walking 6 hours a day for 6 days a week.  
  4. I'd like a little "functional assessment" of where I am cognitively.  That is, how much of my problems with executive function are still with me. 
  5. Ditto "functional assessment" of where I am physically.  How much of my earlier problems have gotten resolved and how much is still with me.
Well, I've learned that I am not cut out to do canvassing or door-to-door sales.  So I won't be knocking on your door any time soon.  If you hear that door knock, it's not me.   I did OK at canvassing but not great but it really takes way too much out of me.  So here's what went well and what didn't go so well:

 
Visual Skills

Big winner here.  All that vision therapy paid off in many areas.  I can do a reasonable amount of paper work without problem.  I won't sign myself up for any administrative position which involves a lot of forms... but I was known to be accurate.  A lot of "stupid behavior" involving not seeing things in front of me is in the past.   Didn't forget things that I had seen like I had in the past (remember I went from visual memory of 9% to 85% on the test of visual memory).  I can copy things pretty accurately even when I am very, very tired.... although it is a BIG effort. 
Areas that still need work or may never quite get fixed:  visual spatial orientation otherwise known as knowing where you are and how to get to where you are going.  I compensated by using my GPS and my iphone map function.  Without those, I would have been lost (both literally and figuratively).   This does cost you time vis-a-vis coworkers who don't have to do so much checking in and just know where they are and where they are going.   Route planning is still a bit problematic.  I did not always plan the most optimum route (I seriously considered getting route planning software that dispatching units use) . This cut into my productivity significantly so I did a very average number of door knocks.  On the other hand, I was a consistent producer.  My numbers would have been higher if I could have knocked on more doors, though.  
I will talk to Dr. Herzberg about this  and see if there is anything more that can be done to fix this problem.   I am also wondering if my mathematician husband could tutor me in topology.    Or, I may just end up using adaptations like the GPS and avoid too much visual spatial planning.   The good side is that I didn't get wildly lost like I would have previously.  Technology bailed me out.
One funny thing that did happen at the end of the campaign.  I went out with someone who is a senior manager at a local hospital.    We were both exhausted and on the last two days, we weren't sure what streets we were on or what houses we had just done.  He told me in the middle of one of our little disorientating episodes that he couldn't believe that he runs five departments!  So, at the end of the campaign, all the normal folks were doing some silly things too.
Motor Skills
Another winner.  Therapy paid off.  I didn't drop things or was very clumsy even when I was tired.  I do want to ask the Occupational Therapists why I grip a pencil as tightly as I do.  Doing a lot of handwriting is tiring when you clutch on for dear life.
Only at the very end, when I was very tired did I feel like my balance was slipping a little bit.   But this was happening in the dark and other folks were having the same problem stumbling about darkened suburban developments when they were tired.  
Activities of Daily Living
My house stayed OK for a long time and then it descended after surgery.  I managed to do what needed to get done until surgery.  I really thought the surgery would not take that much out of me but it did.  I am getting someone to help for a few weeks as I have a weight restriction and can't do the heavy stuff.  

I didn't get my makeup on at all.  Part of this is just my view of my role on the campaign and part is just that I was getting really tired as the campaign.  We were going through working class neighborhoods and I didn't want to appear too uppity so I tried for a very average appearance.  I ended up in some of the trailer parks so glamour was definitely not called for.  And part was I got to the point of doing just the bare minimum as time went on. 

Hearing
Still needs work.   I think the Tomatis/Balametrics and Interactive Metronome have helped somewhat but that I have a ways to go.  I will be seeing my audiologist, Maxine Young and we will be looking at a hearing aid and therapy specific to auditory processing. 

Riding around in the car and listening to the radio was good.  I am hearing a lot of the lyrics from songs of my youth and it's a lot of fun catching up.

However, Auditory processing really bites me in social interactions.  At the end of the day, when we come back and do our paper work, it was just enough for me to do the paper work in the office and then get home.  There was just too much hubub in the office for me to concentrate on my minimal amount of tallying.  All the racket really got on my nerves big time and exhausted me. Even at the beginning of the day, I get too drained from large groups.  I'm OK with my peers one-on-one in a car.  I like the people individually.   No problems talking to people at the door. 

At the end of campaign party, I talked to a bunch of folks in the campaign but went home early.  My husband had to get up early the next day at 5:30 am for work so he had to leave.  I could have stayed and paid my respects to our leader (which I really should have done) but I had had it.  So I left. 

But in a group at the end of the day, when I'm tired, I've had it with the noise.  So, I just went home right after I finished instead of socializing.  I have real problems hearing in noisy situations as per my audiological exam and these still need to be addressed. 

Executive Function
Better but not quite yet.  I'd like to get some slight tardiness down.  No one complained but I think that is a function of the looseness of the organization.  If I had a stickler, I'd be in trouble.  A lot of people were in the office 15 minutes early.  Why not me?  I don't know.

Organization on the job was pretty good with the exception of optimum route planning. 

Getting myself out the door was done OK for most of the campaign.  At the end, my husband was making lunch for me and arranging my things so I could grab and go.

Achievements: Managed to do the campaign, write my blog, do podiatric therapy once a week, keep doctors' appointments and have sinus surgery.  

Physical/Psychic Level of Energy
Physically, there's a good reason why canvassing is a 20 something's game.  It is just brutal.  We were all exhausted.   My feet and hips hurt at the end of the day. 

 My osteoarthritis is just fine.  All that exercise is a good thing for it.  I'm a little stiff around my neck and shoulders from not doing exercises involving them but I don't feel as bad as other autumns.

Psychic Energy just got depleted from the middle of the campaign on.  My nervous system was raw at the end of the day.  I found myself just crawling into bed, turning out the lights and putting on soft soothing music.  I found some soothing hypnotherapy apps (I'll share with you in another post) and tried to calm down.  At the end of the campaign, even that wasn't working too well and I wasn't sleeping well.    I just didn't want to check in with my body.  When I put my attention on a body part, it reminded me that it wasn't too happy with what I was doing... and that it was rather frazzled.  No matter how I tried to soothe it, my poor body wouldn't settle down.  

Also, I've just got the flu.  Ever since Wednesday, I have been snuggled up in bed.  The surgery didn't help the energy level either.  I've had a big snoutful of depressant chemicals between the general anesthesia used in surgery and the pain killers.  They are wearing off but just not as fast as I would like. I'd like to get my house in order and I have a backlog of stuff to do but I just have to wait it out until I have the energy to do it.  I try and do one thing a day but no more.  My energy level will come back as soon as the flu and the chemicals wear off.  

Conclusion
Don't go in for door-to-door sales but I can make appointments with people on a one on one basis.  I am moderately good at sales (my conversion rate at the door is 50%).   Maybe some field work but at a slower pace where I can break up my day and go home and write reports.   Being outside in a really nice fall is fun.  Being outside when it rains sucks. 

Ready to try the next thing to get myself working again.
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