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Day 1200 on SP - Has it been that long?

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Wow, it's been a while since I've done more than sign on, spin the wheel, track my fitness, sometimes try to track my food, and run off again. There's so much I could say about what's been going on, but I'll try to keep it somewhat brief. Of course, my "brief" is probably someone else's "wordy", so consider the source, huh?

Since my last blog update here, we went to Scotland as a family, my son's pipe band (Robert Malcom Memorial Grade 4) placed third in the Novice Juvenile category at the World Pipe Bands championship, and came home to North America via Iceland and visited for an afternoon with Sigrun (BARBIETEC) and her family. After that, we barely had time to recover and then the kids' school and other activities started up again. I had my birthday, and with my birthday money I finally got racks and panniers for my bike, and I continued biking to work for most of the fall. Of course, some of that time I had to because the truck was in the shop being fixed from a rear-ender. My fault (a moment of inattention - more on that later) so after 26 years of driving I had my first accident.

In the meantime, work has been totally insane. I was out to Maryland meeting with a sub-contractor about fixing a circuit that they designed for us (I flew the day after my birthday), then came back with it still not fixed. Several more weeks of debugging (thankfully it was a co-worker that got stuck in Silicon Valley and had to expense underwear, not me!) and we FINALLY figured out the problem. Only then management decided that now that block was fixed, and I got thrown into fixing a set of serious problems with another block, one that was designed in-house. Of course, we didn't make it easy (see my series of updates on helicopters), and that's only now finished. Of course, we thought it was finished last week, but then yesterday we found (and fixed) yet another bug. For the last six months, I have been working almost full time (60+ hour weeks) cleaning up other people's messes. Not my own messes. Not creating new messes. Other people's messes. Incompetent messes. Frustrating messes. Insanity-producing messes.

Three weeks ago, I had my second at-fault accident. Another rear-ender, and again, it was a moment of inattention. It was the second accident in 6 weeks, and it forced me come to a realization: the combination of six months of 60+ hour work weeks with essentially no break (Scotland doesn't count - I drove over 1000 miles on the wrong side of 1.5-lane roads!) fixing other people's mistakes and everything going on at home (in addition to the kid's stuff going on, we're also trying to clean out two rooms in the basement so my wife can set up a home-based business) was just too much. I've been distracted. I've been unproductive. I've not been sleeping. I'm burnt out.

I had been trying to hold things together until all the messes at work were cleaned up, but I just couldn't do it. I took three days off work with no notice. I talked to my doctor. I talked to my manager. I'm on prescription sleeping medication. I'm meeting with a stress counselor (covered by work, thankfully). I will be limiting myself to a strict 40-hour work week for the rest of the year and probably January/February; it's that or I'm going to have to take stress leave. I'm trying to straighten things out.

Of course, yesterday didn't help - the bug we found yesterday was caused by sheer stupidity. The guys who implemented the circuit removed two sub-circuits that I had put in the original design this block was based on prevent this precise bug. When I realized that I was beyond furious, as is my co-worker (the one who had to expense underwear) that I've been working to do the fixes. He is also dancing on the edge of the burnout cliff (and knows it) and will also be severely curtailing his time at work for the next while. We've told our manager that he will be the one writing up the post-mortem report because we will be unable to keep the venom in check if we were the ones to write it.

I'm just so thankful that I made the investment three years ago to get my health in line; if I were going through this now at 270+ pounds I shudder to think of what the consequences would have been. That being said, I'm not really tracking my food these days and I've found out that under enough stress I can be a stress eater. Thankfully the physical activity that I'm getting somewhat counter-acts this, but I'm pretty sure I'm back over 180 pounds. I'm not certain however, because I've not stepped on a scale for about 2 months. At this point I have no intention of doing so until Christmas craziness is over, at which point I'll evaluate where I am and take it from there. In the meantime, I'll try to update this blog a bit more often.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Hi Bill,

    I was wondering where you were. I was afraid that you had, like some of my friends, bagged out of SparkPeople.

    I did 60 hour work weeks for almost a year in a very insane white collar sweatshop consultancy. I also knew that the handwriting was on the wall that this company was in serious trouble.

    I hope your company appreciates your work and gives you recognition.

    Try to take time for your health. You cannot keep up such a frantic pace. Your exhaustion is evident in your auto accidents. I know we have to do what is necessary to make a living. Here in the US companies are trying to work existing employees harder so they don't have to hire in a weak and uncertain economy.

    You cannot keep this pace up. Long hours are bad for your health and waistline.

    Happy Holidays. I hope you get some time off.

    Thanks, Bruce
    1955 days ago
    I'm glad to see you're trying to take control of your work. I've changed jobs twice this year and worked way too many nights and weekends so I know how you feel.

    Good luck!
    1960 days ago
    When a coworker sabotages your work, whether on purpose or not, I believe that is called justifiable homicide in Idaho. emoticon

    Hope things slow down for you!
    1961 days ago
    emoticon I hope that you are feeling better soon.
    1961 days ago
    what Nat said.
    no is the hardest word to learn. (i haven't yet). good luck and yes, stay strong and don't let them push you to overdo more ....
    1961 days ago
    1961 days ago
    I doubt I'm telling you something you don't already know, but something I learned in 2009 when this started is that "no" is a powerful word. My 80 hour work weeks back then sound a lot like yours, cleaning up messes, making last minute changes, going outside the initial project plan or scope of project, customer dictating unrealistic deadlines and on and on and on. Initially, it's simply a pride thing. I want to go above and beyond and do a great job. I want to exceed the expectations of my customers, set a great example for my employees, but it got dangerously out of control. I set a rule of 40 hours a week. I violate that from time to time and just like weight, it's a constant struggle to beat it back. Like your wrecks, your long work weeks are your fault. Take control of it because no one else will.
    1962 days ago
    Amen....take time for the most important things in life. Your health & your family.
    Happy holidays to you and yours.
    1962 days ago
    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1962 days ago
    I'm exhausted just reading your blog.
    Thanks for the update though, it really has been a while.

    Stick to your guns and drop the overtime for a while, it's not worth your health. And face it, if you keel over dead tomorrow, they (work) won't cry for you long.

    Time to recharge.
    Take care of yourself.
    1962 days ago
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