Some are born to greatness. Others have greatness thrust upon them. Last October a great, heaping helping of greatness was tossed into my lap and I continue to struggle with it still. Rather than greatness, actually, it was a job shift into one of greater responsibility and magnitude than I ever sought or wished to seek when I landed my "new" job about two and a half years ago.
Briefly, on October 26 of last year I arrived back to work after a day off and was informed that our medical receptionist left work early due to agonizing knee pain. I would have to "work the desk". This in itself came as no great surprise to me; she’d had minor laproscopic knee surgery in July and continued to have trouble with it from time to time. I accepted this news cheerfully enough as it was a Friday and I’d filled in a time or two before (not to mention that disastrous week in August of 2006 when my son was in hospital hell limbo) and surely I could hold things together until Monday when our receptionist returned after a weekend of rest to resume her duties.
This is so not what happened!
I work in the outpatient department of a senior lifetime care community which means independent, assisted and skilled nursing care are all provided on the same site to approximately 300 people who live there. Our medical receptionist has worked at her present job for about seven or eight years. Prior to that she worked as a CNA in the skilled nursing facility of the community. She started working there when she was 17 when the place first opened in 1986. She knows everyone and everything about them and since she’s pretty much grown up with the residents since day one, she is regarded as a dear daughter who takes care of every little medical office-type detail with great efficiency and seemingly no effort. And so she does. It’s a grueling job, very multifaceted, requires major multi-tasking, the phone never stops ringing and the old folks never stop coming to the front window. She breezes through each day as if it were a walk in the park. I struggle through each day not unlike a salmon trying to fight its way upstream with no fish ladder.
I have been sputtering in the gushing stream for almost twelve weeks. Almost three months; oh yes, I’m counting. Every single damn day! Sure, I’m better at it than I was at the beginning but it’s far from that walk in the park. I can’t even see the park from here. I don’t switch gears well, I’m very resistant to change, I don’t multi-task and I hate the telephone. I’m doing the best I can and taking it one day at a time. I know I’m my own worst critic and don’t appreciate or acknowledge the good job everyone tells me I’m doing. I know perfectly well that if I were screwing things up left and right, I’d be yanked out of that front desk in a heartbeat. It’s a challenge alright and I’ve got to admit that when things go right, those days are quite satisfactory.
I’m between a rock and a hard place. The alternative to my working the desk would be to train someone new to do it. To my mind, training someone to do a job that was never yours in the first place and one which you never did before has got to be a hundred times worse than doing it yourself. I get lots of help from my outpatient nurse, department manager and assistant manager. We’re a small department and we rely on each other a lot to pull through the day. I miss my job; the job I left my old one of almost ten years to learn. That was enough of a change, enough of a challenge. Sometimes I wonder how much my muddled, menopausal brain can stand.
Is our receptionist coming back? Her eventual return is the only thing that’s keeping me going. She’s been going through her own kind of hell, I know. Her injury is being managed by workman’s comp. That’s probably all I have to mention. She’s had CT scans, MRIs, biopsies, etc. Perhaps she never should’ve had the knee surgery in the first place but that’s water under the bridge; the water in which I’m struggling upstream daily.