Monday, July 7, 2008

Work-related: The Emergency Room

So, I wound up in the emergency room today. It was my second day in a row week of having to leave work early, because I passed the point of being too damned hot and was in heat-exhaustion territory. I told the boss that she was maybe going to have to find herself a new greenhouse person, because I couldn't keep doing this, and she said back that what I needed to do was go see a doctor, because clearly this was a medical thing, and it needed to be fixed. The implication being that there's something wrong with me, if I can't work for eight hours a day in heat indices of 140-160F. So, a doctor. Which kind of glosses over the part where she's been scheduling me full-time hours but hasn't once brought up the subject of health insurance, which I think she's legally required to provide some kind of insurance if I'm working full-time hours. Though in fairness, I've been missing enough days here and there that it's possible I haven't yet worked enough hours at the right times to qualify for full-time status. I'm not sure how full-time status is actually determined.

But so anyway. Her answer was to see a doctor. So before I left work, I had the husband call the free medical clinic in town, who said to call one of the local hospitals and describe the situation to them, and then the hospital would make an appointment for me, or something like that. When I actually got home and talked to the hospital, though, the nurse I talked to said that it sounded like I was bad enough off that I should just go ahead and go to the emergency room instead.

The planters contained Dracaena deremensis 'Lemon-Lime' and assorted cvv. of Aglaonema, both choices that I approve of, though I'm pretty sure they're overwatering the Dracaenas.


A completely ridiculous amount of time was spent verifying my birthday and having people tell me that I had heat exhaustion. Absolutely nothing helpful happened. The doctor, when I eventually saw the doctor, said basically that I should drink lots of water, cut back on alcohol and caffeine, and consider the possibility that maybe I should look for a new line of work. All of which I was already aware of and doing, though caffeine is hard to give up and I hadn't cut it out completely, or very much, and the new-line-of-work train of thought is extremely depressing. Not something I want to be spending a lot of time thinking about right now. Job-hunting is a miserable thing.

So exactly how much water is a person supposed to drink? I mean, it's not like I was actually dehydrated: my urine was very nearly as clear going out as it was coming in, all day long, and I was drinking a half-liter bottle of water about every fifteen to twenty minutes. I could, it's true, drink more water than that, but I'd pretty much have to be doing nothing but drinking water, all day long, and not dealing with the plants at all. It's hard to see how that's to anybody's benefit: I could stay home and drink water all day. Also, the doctor said I should aim for drinking so much water that I'm having to urinate about once an hour, which is not far off of how often I actually was. So apparently I was getting it more or less right and being overcome by the heat anyway.

Which leads me to the conclusion that I need to be looking for another job. Even if I'm able to make it through the remaining six weeks of summer (or however many it is), and that's a fucking gigantic if, there's another summer where that came from next year, and then the year after that. This is not something I'm going to be able to keep up without some kind of serious injury sooner or later. Which of course just figures, 'cause this job I kind of liked, unlike the previous two.

Tomorrow, we've got a follow-up appointment with a different doctor about the heat thing, and then I go and try to work whenever that's over.

I saw this coming. I think I saw this coming. I've been anxious and depressed quite a bit this last week, and spending a lot of time worrying about whether or not I was going to be able to stay, not really seeing any ways to make it work out. And I've been telling WCW for months now that I didn't think it was going to work once it got really, truly hot -- I just kind of, as I was telling her, hoped that maybe it wouldn't really happen, like if I said it to somebody, instead of keeping it to myself, then the universe's natural tendency to try to make me look like a moron in front of people would work in my favor, and I'd end up staying.

Which maybe things can be done yet. I mean, I'm not sure which things, but it's not definitely over, either. It's just not looking very good. If this year follows the usual pattern, this isn't even the hottest it's going to get.


Meanwhile, adding insult to injury, I found mealybugs on my Marantas yesterday and had to throw them out (they're too easily replaced, and have too many crevices and hiding spots, to bother trying to fight the bugs over them). Which is depressing all on its own, because it means there's probably more on something else, somewhere in the apartment. I haven't had any luck getting rid of them on my Cereus peruvianus, not with neem oil, rubbing alcohol, or imidacloprid, and I've only maybe gotten them off of a Ficus lyrata and the Asplundia 'Jungle Drum:' it seems a bit much right now to be hopeful that I actually got those plants' bug problems under control.


10 comments:

Aunt Debbi/kurts mom said...

Do you have misters and shade cloth on that greenhouse. 160 sounds way to hot for plants, much less a person.

mr_subjunctive said...

Shade cloth yes, misters no. I do, often, make a point of spraying down the floors and tables when I'm watering and it's hot, but this doesn't do much: it'll knock the temperature down from 104 to 98 sometimes, but only temporarily. Mostly we rely on air circulation: there are two greenhouses of the same size next to one another. The south greenhouse has only some vents along one wall, two large industrial fans at one end, and a section of wall that's open to the north greenhouse, so the south house is often miserably hot, and they only use it during the spring, for annuals, and then in late fall into Christmas, for poinsettias. The north house has a vent running the length of the ridge at the top of the house, plus a door at one end leading directly outside, two smallish industrial vent fans, and a door that's open to a workroom. It doesn't sound much better, but the north house usually is a little bit more tolerable.

160 is the heat index, not the actual temperature: the actual temperature is usually no more than 95. Some plants like this better than others. The Dracaenas and Cissus have started to bleach, and the Araucarias yellow and drop branches, and the Saintapulias just look miserable all around, but the Tradescantia, Euphorbia, Coffea, Schefflera and Codiaeum plants all grow like weeds. Some plants also do fine with the heat as long as they're not also getting direct sun: we had Dieffenbachias getting scorched patches on them last year, but so far not this year. So for a lot of the plants, it's not quite as bad.

sheila said...

I'm so sorry the heat is getting to you. The working conditions sound truly intolerable for any human being.

Water Roots said...

Well, I'm certainly sorry to hear how hard it's been for you. And it really sucks if you have to look for another job, but your health comes first. Take care of yourself!

Tony said...

Unfortunately, your employer is not legally required to provide any kind of health insurance or any other benefit. Full time workers USUALLY receive these benefits because that's the job market, but there's no legal requirement anywhere.

ourfriendben said...

Ack, Mr.S., how totally horrible! I too get heat stroke at the drop of a hat--as in 75 degrees but a lot of humidity--and then turn beet red and pass out. And I stay hydrated, too. It's not about staying hydrated, it's about staying out of the heat and &*%$#@!!! humidity. I also pass out if I have to stand still for more than about 10 minutes, which makes me a really bad candidate for, say, grocery-store cashier or Wal-Mart greeter. I know you love the greenhouse, which makes the whole thing especially awful. (Not that passing out from heat prostration and spending quality time in the emergency room is fun.) I recommend one of those six-pack-size coolers filled with those little blue frozen ice thingies that you can hold against the sides and back of your neck and your forehead as needed, and that you demand that your boss at least provide you with a chair where you can sit down when you have to. Best of luck!!!

Aiyana said...

What a week you've had, and then mealy bugs! Do you think it's the humidity at the greenhouse? I know that our very low humidity is the only thing that keeps people going in our sometimes 118 degree heat. Hope you feel better...
Aiyana

Anonymous said...

It might be a bit crazed but - could you change your hours of work and, say, do a split shift so you're working when it's cooler? Like a 6am start (easy enough with daylight saving) and knock off at 10am then come back later in the day.

Or move to an alternate task outside )in the shade house, for preference, so you can reclaim your cool? Half an hour in, half an hour out...

It seems unnecessary to have to go job hunting until there's been some negotiating done.

And, how would they replace you?

mr_subjunctive said...

Anonymous & Aiyana:

Rearranging hours is possible in theory, but I don't know how useful it would be. Last fall, when I first raised concerns that maybe this wasn't going to work out in the long term, the boss said, well, if it turns out to be a problem, maybe we can just have you start a little earlier and miss the hottest part of the day. It should be fine. The problem with this plan is that I'm already usually missing the hottest part of the day, by developing the beginnings of heat exhaustion by about 10 AM and being forced to leave around noon. The actual temperature doesn't seem to matter nearly as much as the humidity level and amount of air circulation: I could handle 105F outside if it were relatively dry, I wasn't in direct sun, and there was any breeze at all. But put me in a greenhouse with limited air circulation and 80% humidity, and I'll drop in an hour even if the temperature's only 80F and I'm not doing anything but sitting there.

So going in earlier may not work. Plus the boss doesn't like the idea to begin with, because part of being the greenhouse guy is answering the greenhouse questions when people ask them, and being available to pick out plants if someone needs help with that. And we're looking at at least another couple months of this, possibly longer, which is going to be a long time to go without somebody in the greenhouse. WCW is there, sometimes, but she only ever stays until about 2 PM.

Tony:

If that's the case, then why are so many service jobs so reluctant to schedule anybody for more than about 36 hours a week? Is it a bait-and-switch? (i.e., they tell you that full-timers get benefits and then make sure nobody's ever full-time?) Even if it's not legally required, the employee handbook for my job does say that full-time employees get health insurance, so in theory I should have been asked about this in April. I don't know whether I should be paranoid about that or not; April was busy, and it could easily have slipped people's minds.

sheila said...

Sadly, it is very common for employees to cap out their workers so that they don't have QUITE enough hours to qualify for health insurance. You probably should have asked about insurance back in April. I guess you're not exactly in a position to be negotiating anything right now...

Interior landscaping should be in your future (hint, hint). I'll help you find some job leads. Email me!!