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Entry # 29 E –Fifth week with the Penguins
Monday, October 23 – Nadir of the trip
Challenging day for me full of make wrong on all sides, lots of tears and bad feelings within me and a true understanding how I created this day for me to learn my lessons.
I WILL NEVER AGAIN BOOK PLACEMENTS SO CLOSE TOGETHER WITHOUT AT LEAST ONE WEEK OFF IN BETWEEN! EVER EVER EVER!!!!!
We arrived at work to find that there was NO FISH for the birds until the afternoon. The babies are really getting hungry and are tolerating their fluids but are really enjoying their fish, even the smallest babies. I was assigned to assist Priscilla from the staff with pen 8 – 118 birds that arrived only two days ago. (READ THIS TO MEAN that they are still very wild, stress easily, and are not comfortable with the routine yet.) Two days ago, I was amazed how much I was enjoying tubing. Yesterday, it reversed and I really enjoyed feeding. Today, I was just trying to keep my balance and prayed a lot during my time with the birds for guidance and assistance.
When I got the gentle assistance about changing my position, in my second pen, things flowed easier, although the birds were still stressed. I knew that my stress was aggravating the situation with the birds, and I was trying not to have it affect the birds, but every time they struggled and ended up throwing up fluids, I kept thinking here was another bird that would need extended treatment because of fluid in the lungs and I caused it. I also kept thinking about the bird that had died right after I had handled it. (I KNOW I KNOW! WHAT A DRAMA QUEEN I AM BEING TODAY). I do realize it, but I also know that I need to get this down in writing in order to see all the lessons. If this is boring to you, please move to Tuesday, Oct 24.
Priscilla had been off for two days and procedures had shifted since she last worked. She asked for new mats in all the pens, even though we were not using them all. This seemed like a waste of mats that would not be used. We had been cleaning the pens only once each day as we are still trying to get into a system with all the pens. Priscilla wanted the birds moved back a forth so that things could be sprayed several times. On other days with more help, not a problem, but today with limited staff that could feed and a very off time schedule, this really balled up the program. (Looking back, I realized that I did not in a constructive way tell her about how things had gone while she was away. I did not feel it was my place to insert my opinion when she was the professional and has been working there for several years.)
I find her to be a woman who is used to working on her own and I get the impression that at times she is not included in all the decisions made at the center. Her communications skills are a little confusing to follow and I found that even when I would tell her that I had done things, we would still have several discussions about it. I finally spoke to the universe out loud this afternoon that I felt that no body was listening to me today. (I guess it makes sense, I wasn’t listening or hearing my guides and people were listening to me. HMMMM)
I had planned to speak to Carole, the volunteer coordinator, about shifting my schedule so that I could have Friday off with Nicole and also that I intended to stop working several days earlier than she had me scheduled. The Friday off was not that much of a problem because I offered work on Monday that is a busier scheduled day. She balked completely at me leaving early as she indicated that would not be fair to the other international volunteers. (This was such an unexpected statement that I had no comeback. After the fact I realized that I felt that this was an unfair statement to make to me as my placement is independent of any other volunteer).
When I indicated that while I wanted to help and be effective, the current workload is too much for me physically and mentally and that I am at the breaking point. I told her that if things did not ease up, that while I would like to work, I would quit before I broke. She offered to have me on abbreviated schedules my final days where I would not be in charge of a pen, just a floating assistant. I still negotiated for my final two days that I was supposed to work as off. That way I will have three days before I go to the lion placement.
Carole also said that is was up to me to take care of myself. (I thought that was what I was doing by ending work a little early.) I am to take full hours for lunch and take walks around the block. I agreed that it is my responsibility to take care of myself. I ended the session still feeling out of sorts (not the way to bring out the best in me) and agreed to the schedule as it stands. If I find that is still does not work for me, I will let her know and if there is still an issue, I will simply quit. Not very powerful way to end, but if I feel I must I will.
By the end of the day, my tubing and feeding was much better, I offered my services to other pens that needed help and felt okay with it.
Priscilla asked me to work on getting the little mosquito machines organized for our 4 new pens. There are no electrical outlets near our pen that means that we are running multiple extension cords for our four machines. I needed to ask Carole of an additional cord and had to get on with the final fluids of the day, so Carole evaluated my system. She indicated that two machines should be sufficient so that the existing cords would be fine. More power loss that I had been unable to complete another task assigned today.
By the time we finished with the final fluids, it was after 6pm. We still had the syringes to the clean and the darrows to make for tomorrow morning. I stood there making fluid and feeling sorry for myself and left right at 7pm and cried all the way home. I had a good cry session with Nicole who gave me a hug and I ended up feeling much better again until I started typing this.
LESSON – I am still really tired and this work continues to drain me when I work too many days back to back. I could have saved myself this day of breakdown by speaking up earlier about this situation.
I have the feeling that I am heading for a major breakthrough because I feel that I had a total break down today, in the LM meaning of the word break down. My energy feels erratic and fractured, my intentions not very well grounded and my outlook vaguely victimistic. Today feels like a totally 5th sensory day that frustrates me tremendously. WHEN AM I GOING TO GET IT?????? Where is the peace? Where is the calmness? Where is the serenity that I crave?????
I felt so totally alone today and even though I know that there are legions of guides on the other side that I suspected were all shouting assistance, that I was unable to hear them. I haven’t felt that alone for along time.
Tuesday, October 24
I slept well and woke determined that today would be a better day. I was still tired so I decided to dance slowly through this day instead of my traditional march.
I was pleased to be put in charge of the staging station in the wash bay today. It was a very nice break from working with the birds and I think it went really well. People were very complimentary about how everything flowed, which made me feel good.
I thanked Carole for shifting my schedule so that I could work a little lighter today. It turned out that the back was equally physically taxing, just not as mentally exhausting as the birds. Maybe I will have another day like this before I go.
I woke up in a cold sweat at 3am this morning when I remembered that I had forgotten to prepare the 3 fish that Nola asked for her ICU babies. Sigh!
Wednesday, October 25 – OFF!
Doodle day – Breakfast at the Flamingo Café – lovely egg and cheese panini, walked to Bayside and drank coffee and did a little shopping and then finished the book Island in Chains about Robben Island.
I saw Priscilla in the mall just after 4pm and she said that they had just begun feeding. I wondered if I should pop my head in and see if they needed help, but muscle testing said no.
I went home and organized things that had been piling up and had a restful evening.
Thursday, October 26
In charge of Pen 7 - 109 birds, but 20 were moved my Nola after first fluids – seemed to work really well. Fluids and feeding not much of a problem today as the birds for the most part have settled down, except one little guy, 1083 during second feed. He ended up in the skinnies pen for additional feeds and formula.
Heard today that we have lost 6 so far. As Nola is hoping for at least 70% survival, we are in good shape.
The staff moved some of the larger blues into pen 10 so that they could have access to water. They were very cute for their first swim and did really well.
Pen 2 was graded today and many of them are in good shape. It looks like there may be a release next week after all. I went ahead and formally adopted 364, even though he has been released and sweet #200, who is still in pen 2.
I am thinking about asking for pen 2 for my final day if #200 is still there so that I can spend some time with him. I started there, and it would be nice to complete the cycle and end in that pen. We will see how I feel and what is needed on my last day.
Friday, October 27 – OFF – sightseeing with Nicole – Castle, Cable Car, Tea
Up and on the bus into town for a mere $1. The trip took 1.5 hours as there is a minivan strike going on. Traffic was heavier than usual.
We began our day at the Castle of Good Hope which the only time it might have had to fire it’s cannons in defense of the peninsula, had them aligned in the wrong direction. That being said, the only cannon they have ever fired is the signal guns that sent messages up and down the peninsula. Interesting.
Next we boarded the double decker sight seeing bus to get to the cable car station. Hot and sunny, we sat up top and I kept applying sunscreen to Nicole’s back and neck. We had a 30-minute queue and line to ride with 65 other people to the top of Table Mountain. Our four-minute trip was wonderful and the cable care makes a 360 rotation during the ride so that every one gets to see all the views. We walked around the top and tried to see the Dassie (a small rodent looking animal) that is the closest genetic relative to the modern African Elephant. No luck as we were there between noon and two with lots of screeching children. Our ride down seemed faster than 4 minutes and I took a not so great movie of the experience.
Back on the bus to complete the loop and end up back at the waterfront. I wanted to take a picture of Nobel Square, where there are statues of the 4 recipients of Nobel prizes for South Africa, Mandela, Tutu, De Clerk and ????. Then I had asked Nicole to purchase additional Mandela postcards from Robben Island, but I ended up with the wrong ones. They were fine about the exchange.
Nicole has suggested tea at the Mount Nelson Hotel that is known for it’s marvelous afternoon high tea. We arrived by taxi to a very swank hotel and enjoyed a wonderful 1.5 hours of egg salad, cucumber, salmon and ham sandwiched, marvelous cakes and pastries and wonderful desserts. A lovely ending to our day out.
Home to shower and rest before I start my final 5 days of work with the little guys in tuxedos. I hope to work in Pen 2 before Tuesday in case there is a release as I would like to work with #200 again and see #414 before he goes back to sea. Most of them graded well yesterday, so if there are enough of them to warrant a boat release, it may happen on Tuesday. Maybe I will get to go on the release again.
Saturday, October 28
FLEWWWWWWW! What a long day! I was backstage again and by 11am I knew that we were in for a long day. We had a lot of old volunteers returning after many years that meant while they understood the concept, they were a little slow in the delivery. When the syringes from the 12:00 o’clock water didn’t come back to me until 1:30, I knew that our afternoon was shot.
I ended up not taking lunch and after the first pangs of hunger at about 1pm, my stomach settled down for me. Not that big of a problem, but I was glad that I wasn’t working with the birds. I would definitely have had to stop to eat if I had been working with the tuxedos.
Nicole was in pen 1 – the skinniest and smallest babies that needed 7 treatments over 12 hours. Poor Nicole was the only feeder assigned in the afternoon and at one point, she passed me in tears saying that her kids weren’t eating and that she was stressed.
In the afternoon we had lots of new volunteers, who wanted to help so that we put them on sorting fish and helping with syringes.
Nicole and I left at 6:45. I didn’t want to cook so I ordered 2 large pizzas and I have three lunches as well as dinner tonight.
I will make it an early evening and see what tomorrow brings.
Sunday, October 29
Nicole and I reversed today in that I was supervisor of pen 1 and she was backstage. Liz was my right hand person in the morning with Sandy as our general helper. In the afternoon, Liz stayed until 3pm and we added Maggie and another volunteer as our general helper. We counted all the birds and kept missing one. We finally ended up with 72 birds, most which needed medication at least once a day. Not too hard of a day and luckily, Glenda from pen 2 helped us in the morning when cleaning is an issue. Wastewater from pen 1 runs straight through pen 2, so it is useless to clean pen 2 before pen 1 has been completed.
I actually at 30 minutes for lunch and I think Nicole had lots of help and did a wonderful job in the prep area. We still left at 6:45, but Nicole discussed with Heather and Zita that we change off who stays late and helps with syringes. When Lunel stays late, Zita and Heather will stay late for syringes, when she is off, Nicole and I will stay late and help.
We ended with dinner in and Nanny McPhee on the video.
A good day.