Yesterday afternoon I returned home from the longest five days of my life.
The congress desk that I was in charge of was supposed to be open from 08.00 to 18.00. It was a long ten hours as it was. You will be able to imagine how it turned out to be only if I tell you that the congress desk 3 out of the five days closed at 23.00 and that from that time till 01.00 am I was trying to find solutions with the technical supervisor on how to fit equipment for 3 rooms in 7 rooms.
I was carrying overhead projectors from one room to the other in 5 minute intervals so that the next lecture would have one. I was carrying videos, scanners to be adopted to large tv screens for powerpoint presentations, since the beamers were not enough, I was calming down freaked out participants, I was taking 2 minute breaks to go down the toilette and cry to release some stress, then wash my face, wear a smile and return to my post.
In this congress I had the responsibility of the secretariat. I was in charge of registration, the travel of the guest speakers, the promotion of the congress to the media, and in the earlier stage, the posting of the announcements. The CPC (congress planning committee) had the responsibility for the program, the hotel arrangenments, the speakers' technical requirements, and the hiring of the technical equipment. The program was designed according to the content of the abstracts, in a totally theoretical level. Noone took into consideration the technical requirements of the speaker. Noone took into consideration the amount of time each speaker required. They rented basic equipment to fit the main room and the rest were empty. And I discovered all these on Wednesday evening, when I went to the hotel.
The workshops that needed a minimum of 2 hrs were scheduled for one hour. The lectures of the participants that have been approved were suddenly grouped to round tables.
People were angry. The CPC were nowhere to be found to give explanations. It was hell!
Yesterday, the president of the european organisation of the congress, called for me. He had someone take me to the main room where the closing of the congress and the final comments were given. When I entered the room, the board stood up. The president took the microphone, and gave a 5 minute speech about me. They gave me a huge bouquet and 220 people stood up and applauded me. I, of course, after days of tireness and stress, bursted into tears. I could not even say thank you! Soooo embarassing. He said that the congress would have been a complete failure if it wasn't for me and my ability to deal with crisis so promptly. I was pleased and flattered. The CPC, besides one person who worked as hard as I did to save the situation, were not too happy.
My husband took me from the hotel at 16.00 and from the minute I got into the car till the minute we reached home I was crying out loud. I could not stop for the entire 40 minutes of the drive. I had supressed so many screams and cries all these days that a good cry was all I needed.
When we got home, I took a nap for a couple of hours, woke up feeling like a zombie. My feet hurt, my legs hurt, my whole body aches as if I was beaten by 10 truck drivers!!! He took me for a drive to the beach and we watched the sun set. Then we went to our friends' house and we had pizza and chocolate mousse while watching survivor. I felt almost normal. I was in bed by 11 and slept instantly.
Today I woke up at 8, and after 9 hours of solid sleep, I feel a lot better.
But I am sad inside. I am overworked. And I am certain now that this cannot go on for much longer. It was fun when I was younger, but I am fed up with it.
I need my routine back. I need my morning work out. I need my lunches and dinners. I need my grocery shopping. I need my time to cook. Since I am working all day long, I am loosing some weight or maintaining. But the numbers are not all that matter. I am loosing the fitness levels I worked hard for. My metabolism is going crazy with unstable meal times or lack of meals all day and a huge dinner. This cannot go on for much longer me thinks!