My husband had major surgery on Sept. 9. Due to a couple of subsequent complications, he's still in the hospital... and this hospital is a 90-minute drive from home. (it's a special type of hospital and this was the closest one that had a bed available)

I took those first two weeks off... the next week I worked 2 days... then 3 days... this week I am only taking off Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoons to go see him.

I'm getting rather worn down. Don't have a lot of energy when I do get to the office. Can hardly think sometimes.

Any suggestions for maintaining and not jeopardizing my job through all this? (Everyone at work has been great so far, but as the situation drags on I wonder if "compassion fatigue" will set in)


DanielAK's picture

Hi Terri, I wish I had some better advice I could give. From my experience, I'd be extra vigilant to make sure I'm getting enough to eat and enough sleep. I find that when I start getting tired I forget to eat and get even more tired.

My hope goes out to you for smoother sailing from here out.


jhack's picture


Keep your boss informed, and get his/her support if you can. Their support can make all the difference.

For your team, delegation is key. Give them the opportunity to take over some of your "small balls."

Finally, do you know what your #1 and #2 objectives are? Focus on those exclusively. If you nail your top objectives, folks are forgiving of the rest.

Best wishes.


MsSunshine's picture

1. Ask for help. I read a study where people actually like helping other people. They said people don't take help from people who never ask for help themselves.
2. Basic time management skills like doing what's important, asking what's the best use of my time now, etc. really help in prioritizing what you have to do.
3. Remember that this is only temporary. Get through each day. Don't think "I'm going to have to do this forever."
4. Be honest with yourself and others about what you can do. Most people will accept an honest "I can't get to that right now" versus your over promising and not delivering.
5. Ask your directs to step up. You may find you have someone that has just been dying to do more and will leap at the opportunity.
6. Are there creative ways you could work better? Does your job allow you to work remotely? Can you do meetings on the phone while driving to utilize that time better.
7. When you are more back on your feet, make sure you repay any kindnesses, give 120% back to the company, etc. People may say that you had a time when you were 80% but then you repaid your debt.

This is one of those times where I really think about career/life balance. Your spouse requires you at this time. You are doing your best for your job. Ruining your heath by trying to be a super woman is bad for you, the company, etc.

kklogic's picture

Great advice given here. Terri, if this jeopardizes your job, they don't deserve you.

As the others have said, remember to take care of yourself and ask for help. I always feel so helpless when someone is going through something like this and they won't accept my offers to do things to make life a little easier for them during a rough time.

US41's picture

I suggest perhaps some FMLA is called for. Consider taking time away from work to care for your husband. Unless you are financially unable to do so, work is a lesser priority than being by his side while he is ill and lowering your stress levels so that you don't end up laying next to him.

I recommend going to HR and finding out if a spouse's disability qualifies you for Long Term Disability yourself or something like that. They may have a program in place. Don't injure yourself through refusal to make a tough decision.

If that is not possible, the delegation model is your friend. Time for your directs to really take on huge portions of your job and step up to the plate. This is their big chance. It's yours too - your chance to show you grow managers not just individual contributors. Shorten those work hours down.

Compassion fatigue is very real, but it sets in much more slowly than the guilty conscience of the person who worries about it. Don't assume your friends and boss are getting tired of your situation and do yourself harm. Follow Jhack's advice. Meet with your boss, discuss it, share your feelings openly, and tell him your action plan to keep things running and thank him for being understanding. We high D's may not show our feelings as much as you high S/C's... but we have them. And we are much more forgiving of your inability to contribute when a family member is having issues than you supportive types are of yourselves.

You have more wiggle room here than you are willing to give yourself. You are overdoing it. You have been taking care of others for a long time. Time for them to take care of you. That may seem backwards, but that's what you need to do.

My heart goes out to you, Terri.

thaGUma's picture's all been said above Terri. I truly hope you and your husband gets through this.


Dani Martin's picture
Licensee Badge

Sending positive thoughts and prayers your way...

bug_girl's picture

ditto to all above.

The only thing I have to add is to make sure to listen to your body.
If you are sleepy, sleep. If you are cranky, take a walk.
Don't try to push yourself beyond what you can do.
You're under a lot of stress, and make sure to have compassion for yourself, too!

terrih's picture

Oops, got sick last week... ended up taking Weds-Friday off.

US41, funny you should mention FMLA... someone in HR already suggested it and I shrugged it off. :oops: Although, I still have a decent amount of PTO left. (I had a LOT banked up.) I'm not sure we can get by without my income for even a week... my husband's income consists of Social Security disability.

He might get out of the hospital this week! I have already arranged with my boss that whenever he calls to tell me he's being discharged, I'm taking off right then to go get him. Maybe I should take the following day off also.

It's all very well to say "don't push yourself too hard" but I feel like a slacker. Last night I dreamed I got fired, and while I was packing up my stuff my replacement came in & started doing the work, and he was clearly more on top of it than I had been... :cry:

Will try to delegate more though. Thanks.

terrih's picture

P.S. I've gotten some great help through church though... my lawn has been mowed twice, the second time anonymously... and someone came over and helped me clean Saturday, and we also got a piece of furniture moved that was going to be hard for him to navigate around, and she helped me switch the bed from summer to winter bedding. 8)

terrih's picture


Hubby has been home for a week & a half... I'm still having to take some time off work to drive him to doctor appointments and dialysis, but at least I've been in at least a few hours every day this week. I still have almost 40 hours of PTO that I'm using for this.

I'm tired and my head isn't fully back in the game yet... but it's getting better. :)

jhack's picture


Thanks for update. We're all here for you...


ashdenver's picture

Terri, now that he's home, is there any chance you could be remote some or all of the week? Our office is pretty well setup for "home-shoring" and I think you might feel better if you were able to logon from home, knowing you're within shouting distance of your husband if he needed you. Plus, with logging in remote, you're more likely to be able to work during odd hours - after dinner, very early morning, etc. - that would allow you to stay caught up without having to burn PTO or put undue workload onto fellow employees.

By the way, how has your direct boss been doing during this? Do your DR's have your cell phone number so they don't feel like you've abandoned them? When it was a 90 min drive to/from the hospital, I'm guessing you could have easily fielded some calls en route (maintaining communication) without really infringing on the focus of your husband's health. Likewise now that he's home, I think that so long as your DR's feel that it's okay to call, you can maintain the connection with them. (Maybe set the ground rules that you'll leave your phone on when you're able to do work stuff and you'll turn it off (or screen) when you're busy & focused on health stuff. That way they won't feel like they might be intruding if they call; they'll know that if they get you, cool; otherwise, it's like you're in a meeting & you'll back to them ASAP.)

Are you taking vitamins? I think a good daily (like Centrum) vitamin and a side tablet of Vitamin B (Nature Made is my fave) might do your energy levels some good.

karaikudy's picture
Training Badge

Some how missed the original post. Saw the thread today.
Glad to see that things are moving well. Here is the prayer from all of us here for things to work back to normal soon.
Some times it is all about positive thoughts that keep the energy levels high of course also a good diet too.
Take care.

terrih's picture

I could do some remote but not all. I think we have settled into a doable routine, though.

B vitamins is a good idea. :)