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Thursday, February 4, 2010

Stress

On the whole I consider myself a relatively calm person and I handle the day to day problems of caring for a severely disabled person with a certain amount of serenity and peace. At least that's how I see myself from the inside. Perhaps those around me would have something else to say on the matter. But I know that the serenity is fragile, easily shattered if my ordinary rather dull life is shaken up a bit.

This week my son and I decided to sell a computer on a website specializing in online sales. A buyer came forward and negotiations went ahead fairly smoothly until today. Because of my lack of computer savvy and my inability to act fast enough for the purchaser there was a flurry of anxious emails from the buyer and the website urging me to get on with it. Now, I live in a small town not a great distance from the local post office but far enough that I needed a caregiver to step in while I carried out the simple errand of mailing the item. The post office staff had difficulty with the exchange because of the size of the box which contributed to the extreme cost involved in sending this piece half way around the world. They hemmed and hawed over how to reduce the cost for me even though this had all been carefully researched. The buyer knew how much he had to pay and had covered the cost for me. But the kindly post mistress was convinced she could find another way. This all took longer than I had so I anxiously checked the clock on the wall, sweating in my winter garb and wondering if my caregiver whose own time was limited would be able to hang on. Then I was told there was vital information missing from the contact information for the purchaser. Could I get that in the next half hour before closing time? I scooted home, sent my nervous caregiver off (he had an important appointment), hastily contacted the purchaser urging him to speedily provide the missing tidbit of information before 5:45 pm. I stared at the computer screen willing it to magically produce the email I needed and then at 5:47 there it was. Would the post office still take my call? YES. Thank goodness.

Now you may be asking yourself why all the fuss, why I was so racked with anxiety over this silly matter. The answer is I don't know. It didn't matter if the information got to me tonight or not. The package could wait till tomorrow to go out. All this while I was getting those anxious slightly accusing emails from paypal and the purchaser wondering about my delay. What delay? I had explicitly told the purchaser I probably wouldn't get to it today and yet here I was succumbing to the pressure. I couldn't shut myself off or the computer and let it rest. I drove myself crazy with it. Then the final straw, after I had provided the all-important post office tracking number for paypal, they contacted me informing me that I needed to send a scanned copy of the postal receipt, that the tracking number wasn't enough. But the computer that had been hooked up to the printer was in a box at the post office awaiting a truck to take it far away. And with my resident computer geek (my son) not here I didn't know how to hook up the laptop to the printer. AAAAGGHH. I wrote my first anxious email back to the purchaser explaining my plight, that I wasn't going to run away with his money and not provide the goods and that my very sick husband needed me tonight SO LEAVE ME ALONE!!! An apology arrived a short time later.

In the meantime, my poor husband fell into his usual evening spell of anxiety, worse than usual, I'm sure, because of my heightened tension. I tried to reason with myself that this was all too silly to worry about and I had done all I could so let it go. I'm sitting here typing, still waiting for the jitters to ebb away, watching my husband's body language and hoping he too will relax as the medication I had to give him half an hour ago kicks in to relieve his stress.

Maybe I need one of those little blue pills. Maybe I'm not as serene as I thought. Maybe I have to be extra careful to avoid ALL stress beyond the rather high level of it we already have to deal with every day. And how on earth do you do that?

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