Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self. - Cyril Connolly
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Denial is a River in Egypt
I dropped the crutches after the weekend, relying on the knee brace for stability. The pain was still bad, but not crippling. At least not with plenty of Alleve on board.
Saw my ortho surgeon this morning and he confirmed the meniscal tears, but offered a round of intrarticular corticosteroids to see if/how long I can avoid arthroscopy. It's inevitable, and it may be sooner than later, but for now, numb is good. The pain relief was immediate and total. The knee feels a little weak, and it's still swollen, but I'm allowed to go back to the gym this weekend and I can focus on weights, Lifecycles, and swimming, and stay off the treadmill for now (not that I ever really used the treadmill for more than a brisk walk).
It remains to be seen whether or not I last a few months or a few weeks.
I spent most of the day in the ER getting tests and a diagnosis of "acute meniscal tear". Being the overachiever that I am - I have two of them.
I've been having pretty significant knee pain for the last couple of weeks, but a couple of Alleve throughout the day and I was OK. I thought it was actually getting a little better over the weekend, but yesterday and last night I was in so much pain, I couldn't walk without hopping and limping. Having worked with the best Orthopedic surgeons in Baltimore, I was going to call my favorite knee specialist and arrange to see him sometime this week.
This morning, I got out of bed and it felt like pieces of glass were grinding in my knee. I got dressed, but as I was tenderly going down the steps to go to work, about 4 steps from the bottom, I felt a sharp POP, my knee completely buckled, and I fell the rest of the way down the stairs into the foyer. It felt like someone had leveled a shotgun blast to my knee. The pain was really exquisite.
After about 10 minutes, I managed to make my way out to the car and drove straight to the ER at work. I was sure I had ripped or torn something. I could not place any weight on the leg at all and had to call for a wheelchair.
After a few potential diagnosis, the MRI revealed the meniscus tears.
Thanks to a knee immobilzer, ice pack, crutches and narcotics (which I may or may not take later), it feels a lot better now, but getting around on crutches is not a long term option.
Now it's up to my favorite ortho guy to figure out how to fix it and make it better...
Just as I was about to post a picture of VP Cheney walking with the Pope and title it "Dumb and Dumber"...
I was totally humbled by this:
I was raised a Catholic, and even though I have long railed against the patriarchal dictatorship that is the Roman Catholic Church, this song still gets to me, and this performance is stunning.
It's stunning in its perfection, majesty, clarity, technique, and purity. You cannot listen to this, and not appreciate it for its artistry, even if you don't appreciate the message, context, or the recipient.
Truly, sometimes art is for art's sake.
PS I still think the Pope and Cheney are " Dumb and Dumber"
The League is paying my registration and hotel costs, but I am responsible for getting there and for my meals (it's a volunteer organization after all). Since I am on the Board of Directors for the Baltimore League, my new job is letting me attend as "Community Service" instead of making me take vacation time, which I thought was really generous of them.
So anyway, I thought I would pop on to Southwest.com and use a free RT award I earned to get out to Portland. Not so fast - there are no Rewards flights available for the dates and times I need to go. Same old story. And - Southwest's regular fare to Portland is a whopping $730!
On to United Airlines.
I have a $200 voucher from my trip to China thanks to a delayed flight out of O'Hare, and since I racked up a LOT of miles on my UA frequent flier program going to China and back (and Air China is a UA mileage partner, so the six Air China flights I took in country counted as well), another cross country RT can only help, and their regular fare to Portland is only $454 - so that makes the fare with the voucher applied $254 - perfect.
Not so fast. The small print on the voucher informs me that I can't redeem it on the Internet, only over the phone. Once I found the flights I wanted using the website, I called their reservation line and spent an excruciating 25 minutes with an automated voice leading me through complicated message trees, and was never given an opportunity to redeem the voucher or enter a code. In frustration, I hung up and tried again. And again.
Finally, I figured out how to get through to a live agent in the Philippines or some other far off place who booked the flight for me, and when I asked her how to redeem the coupon she said I had two choices. One - go to United ticket desk at BWI (??!!!) in the next 48 hours. This seemed really ludicrous. Or two - mail it in and wait for the reservation to be confirmed via email.
I started trying to find a flight at 3:00 PM - it's now 5:30 PM
Why does this sound like it's going to end badly???
1. Apples 2. Baby Food 3. Butter and Milk 4. Cantalope 5. Cucumbers: This one scare me, because I LOVE cucumbers. Of 42 common vegetables, it's the 12th most contaminated food. 6. Grapes 7. Green Beans 8. Spinach 9. Strawberries - the MOST contaminated produce in the US 10. Winter Squash
"I’m not exactly sure when it happened, but my will has been broken. I’ve realised that covering Mrs Clinton's campaign without explicitly stating that it has turned into a win-at-all-costs operation fueled by phony outrage, hypocritical proclamations and absurd notions of who is electable and who is not is an exercise in deliberate deception, and I can't do that. Perhaps I am weaker than my colleagues, but a certain fatigue sets in when trying to sort through it all.
This is no longer a campaign based on ideas. It is a campaign focused on tearing down Mr Obama. We all know that’s her only shot at the nomination. I’m tired of pretending otherwise,"
Today was my one month anniversary for the new job. It's a thrill ride, and I'm still figuring it out while quickly getting overwhelmed in an avalanche of projects. On top of that, this is budget week for FY09, and I have more than 50 cost centers to budget for with no insider knowledge of the real story behind the rolling budget spreadsheet information I am trying to analyze. I'm getting a lot of support from my CFO and VP, as well as my managers who feed information up to me, but I have a couple of long evenings and a working weekend ahead of me.
Overall, I am LOVING the job. Every day is different, tons of interesting projects, great people to work with, and a focus on strategic development and expansion. If I can keep up with the pace being set - it'll be great. I turned one of my vacant positions into an "Operations Coordinator" post. Someone who can do facility project management, create and execute Gantt charts, and be my go to person for all the facility renovations and site development I need. I have an ideal internal candidate, so I hope it's a slam dunk. I really need the help - the detail work is a total time suck.
I'm still getting out and about visiting all of our locations. Today, I went to visit a site in Perry Hall, where a retiring physician is donating his practice to us. Think Marcus Welby. Seriously, bad oak paneling in the office, mismatched furniture, exam tables from the 60's, and the bathroom has avocado fixtures that looked like they came from the Brady Bunch. All it needs is a crocheted toilet paper holder with the doll on top of the tank. I met with the contractor, architect, telecom rep, and our IT person to review drawings, fixtures, locations of data drops, connectivity through a T1 line, and placement of PCs, printers, copiers, scanners, the construction of ADAaccessible facilities, and updating equipment that was older than me. We've hired the staff that work there now into our payroll, but the site doesn't even have email, so it's hard for me to communicate effectively with the manager.
On the way back to my office, going down Belair Rd., I passed the "Perry Hall Animal Hospital". Located immediately next door to it, with an even bigger sign, is "Tom's Tropical Fish and Taxidermy".
Maybe it's an artifact from yet another birthday last week, but you have to have goals in life, and some of them need to be big, hairy, audacious goals (as my ex CEO used to say). I've achieved a couple of those goals recently, and now I need to focus on the next big thing.
Not until January of 2009, but you know what? That may be the best BHAG (big, hairy, audacious goal) I could possibly shoot for. It's definitely on my bucket list - so why the hell not? I mean, Martha Stewart climbed it in her 50's for Christ's sake.
I can never run a marathon. I simply do not have the knee cartilage left to do it, thanks to injuries when I was younger. BUT, I like to hike, and I need to get Africa off my "1,000 places to see before I die" list. This opportunity includes a week hiking and camping on Kilimanjaro, and a week of more luxurious accomodations, on safari in Tanzania.
I just feel like I need to really push myself beyond PLANNING for the next adventure to DOING the next adventure. Part of this, is my frustration at not being able to hike the entire distance of Great Wall of China as much as I would have liked to when I was there (due to fitness issues - not timing issues), mixed with my utter joy of being able to experience to the Great Wall of China in the first place. It's also tied to the awe of my Beijing host (and partner in age), BB, who is going to run the Great Wall of China 1/2 Marathon next month, and a coworker, who is going to do a FULL Ironman Triathalon (full = 2 mile swim, 110 mile bike ride and full marathon) in May to raise monies for her 10 year old son who is suffering from leukemia.
...AND she never ran a step, or swam a lap until last year.
Now THOSE are goals.
I wish you could swim to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro - that? I could do.
If she averages 6 minutes 30 seconds a mile, she will reach her goal of 2 hours 50 minutes. Her career best is 2:21:21, but that was 23 years ago over Chicago’s flat course.
“This will be my fourth Olympic trials,” she said. “I qualified for all of the previous six, but in 1988 I just had Abby and in 1992 I had a full mother load with two small children. But I’ve always had the urge to run.”
Samuelson said she used to run 120 miles a week. “Now I’m down to 70 or 80,” she said. “That’s all I can do.”
------Olympic Marathoner Joan Benoit Samuelson
UPDATE: I stand corrected. THIS is the most inspirational person of the day:
Meet Buster Martin. He ran the London Marathon today and he's 101 years old!!
"I miss meat and blood very much. Not vegetables because they are food for a woman. There is milk here but blood is better because it gives energy. English tea with sugar is good and we tried Coco Pops, but the nicest food is croissants."
"I am excited to get the marathon done and get clean water to save lives. We have a dam that we share with wild animals so every morning the children go to get water, it's dangerous for them. Some have lost their lives. Next week we will drill and get clean water for the top life. Then I would like to study community development in America so I can be a great chief to my people."
Our goal is to find out how many women's lives we can save by blogging to raise small donations -- $10, $15, $25, $50 --for critical clinics and educational programs for women, children and girls specifically in Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Darfur, Nepal and South Africa. Denise and Erin at Blogher chose these programs in partnership with the terrific team at GlobalGiving because GlobalGiving guarantees that your money will get where they say it's going. They research their programs carefully, and send your money to a well-defined project instead of to funding general operating expenses. And -- this is my favorite part -- if you're not happy, you can get your money back.
Sheesh. Time flies when you work full time, try to take care of a sick cat, and have the neighbors over for dinner mid week.
Juggling is my speciality, so somehow I managed.
Pumpkin is doing much better. Thanks for all the emails, phone calls and concern. He's still living in the bathroom for now, but he's using the litterbox, eating and drinking. He's still in a fair amount of pain when he urinates, but I think the new food and antibiotics are helping. He goes back to the vet Monday morning, and I may let him out to see how he does in the house for a few well supervised hours this weekend.
Had a few neighbors over for dinner last night. I was trying to recreate the stuffed hot banana pepper dish that my friend and I had at a little Italian place in Uniontown during our spa vacation. Seemed to be a success. I had leftovers for dinner this evening. In keeping with the banana theme, my friends brought the making for banana split sundaes for dessert.
Fun night, and I fielded a birthday phone call from my friend in China wishing me a happy 40 something this Friday.
Sadly, as the newbie at work, I have meetings back to back all day tomorrow till 5:30.
There are 18 pounds of drugged out ginger fury in my basement bathroom right now.
Pumpkin tolerated the anesthesia and surgery well, but when the vet tech went in to check his catheter and bandages at 8:00 this morning, he "behaved badly" as the vet said. Yeah, badly is right. He attacked the vet tech and broke the catheter in the process, so they had no choice but to pull it before he tore his urethra. It was supposed to be in till tomorrow. Since he was so angry and in so much pain, they kept him pretty drugged up the rest of the day, and because he was out of it, with no bladder control from the spinal block - he pretty much peed all over himself most of the day. The techs tried to clean him up, but he looks pretty bad and has his right foreleg shaved - along with a bad Brazilian job which makes him look bow legged.
Because I have to now keep him completely separate from his brother for a week (which is like trying to separate ink from a page) in order to monitor his urine output and feed him a special diet, I put a litter box, food, and water (in a new circulating fountain) in the basement bathroom. I made a bed out of old rags, towels and an old rug, so if he pees on it, I can either toss it in the washing machine or just toss it out.
His back end is wobbly due to the spinal block, and his eyes are dilated thanks to the pain meds, so it's painful to watch him wobble around. I tried to wash him up a little, but he wasn't happy. He knows he is home, and is purring up a drunken storm when he isn't moaning. He's eating like he's got post spliff munchies, but the water fountain is freaking him out. I think he sees it as some kind of monster. He loves to play in water, so as soon as the drugs wear off, I'm sure he'll like it.
I sat with him for about an hour, and then tried to sneak out and let him sleep it off for a while. Meanwhile, his brother is laying next to the door meowing and won't leave his side. I brought his food and water upstairs and offered him treats, but he won't leave his brother's side. I'll bet he sleeps down there tonight on the laundry room floor.
This hasn't been a great weekend. I moderated a health care panel discussion at Enoch Pratt Library on Saturday morning for the League of Women Voters. That was just stressful since I had set it all up months ago and had to moderate, which meant getting there early and sitting on the panel directing questions. I was nervous that not a lot of people would attend, and I had asked Dr. Peter Beilenson as a personal favor to be on the panel, but luckily attendance was good and so was the discussion afterwards.
Afterwards, I ran to work to meet with my VP to discuss interim management plans and communications from Friday's bloodshed. I stuck around for another couple of hours to prepare for a big meeting tomorrow and get ready for the coming week.
Meanwhile, back at the hacienda, things weren't going too well with Pumpkin. Four days later, and despite antibiotics and special food, he was still peeing lakes of bloody urine (all over the laundry room floor - yay), and is clearly in pain. The good news was that he isn't blocked, and he seems to be drinking and eating fine, so I kept a careful eye on him, but today he was really in a lot of pain, making low, horrible, heart wrenching cat moans. Just sitting in front of the water dish with his eyes half closed, and straining a lot without producing anything.
I decided 5 days of both of us suffering were enough and took him back to the ER. They are going to anesthetize him, insert a catheter and give him IV fluids and antibiotics to flush all the crystals out of his urine. His ultrasound showed a lot more crystal sediment in his bladder, which means this could go on for days before he cleared naturally, and I don't think either one of us are up for that. For men out there who have passed a kidney stone, or any woman who has had a urinary tract infection, you know what I mean. His kidney function is good, so if they flush him out, and he stays on his new diet - he should be fine (she typed optimistically).
What isn't fine is my checkbook.
$285 for the plumber to dismantle the toilet and clear out the clog the cats made. $335 for the first trip to the ER $1,500 for surgery, drugs and hospitalization
A healthy pet - priceless.
UPDATE: Pumpkin is coming out of anesthesia and resting "comfortably". As comfortably as you can with a catheter up your willy. They flushed all the blood out of his bladder, and if things go well, I should be able to bring him home tomorrow night or Tuesday. That gave me time to thoroughly scrub the laundry room and clean things up to include new litter boxes I bought today, as well as laundering the cat beds and cleaning all the bowls. I bought a new, electronic watering bowl/ bubbler, so they have fresh filtered water all day as well.
I'm lucky to have a a very clean, comfortable space for him where he can pee on the floor if he has to, it won't hurt a thing, and is easy to clean. That said, I want to make sure he's healthy before I let him back upstairs where there are Berber, oriental, kilim and leather rugs to ruin.
Had to fire one of my top management staff this afternoon. Without all the gory details, the Legal office was involved, and let's just say it was for "conduct unbecoming a gentleman". And let's also just say that in this day and age of immediate communication with email and text messaging - you leave a trail. In this case, not only was the gun smoking, but he put the barrel to his head and pulled the trigger.
While this would be a huge loss to my team at any time - with only 13 days under my belt, I cannot possibly just step in and pick up the slack. I haven't even completed systems training on our primary IT applications yet, let alone even met the 100+ people that reported to this person.
And while I have tons of support from my VP and others, I know the perception in some circles will be that the new girl is cleaning house. Especially since it was widely known that this person was passed over for my position and was none too happy about it. And while I fully intend to clean the dirty rooms of the house, I can't possibly make those kind of assessments with two weeks under my belt.
Needless to say, I'll be working this weekend.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I need a nice dinner, a glass of wine and a bubble bath... it's been a really long week.
PS Pumpkin is still sick, but is eating and drinking well. He still spends a lot of time in the litter box looking miserable. Hopefully, the antibiotics and new diet will kick in over the weekend, or we're going back to the vet.
I finished my presentation around 12:30 am last night after a lengthy interruption from one of my managers from my old job, who called me to get some career counseling.
My vet couldn't fit me in to treat Pumpkin this week unless I missed work, and with this being day 10 on the job, I decided that was a career limiting move. Especially since I left early yesterday for the dishwasher / plumbing debacle. And besides, Pumpkin clearly had a urinary tract issue, but he was still peeing quite freely (see last post), and he was still reasonably cheerful and stupid. He wasn't straining a lot or crying, it's just that when he needed to pee - he peed - a lot - wherever he happened to be.
I put him in the laundry room with his brother, Peanut (misery loves company), with plenty of food, water and fresh litter. When I finally went to bed, he was in the litter box straining, only now there was a little blood. Not good.
At 4:30 AM, when I got up to check on him, he was in the litterbox again, and hadn't shown anything for his efforts - not good. Time for the vet.
The 24/7 Pet ER in Towson charges $110 just to walk through the front door. I called them, told them I suspected a blockage, and said we'd be right over. I had a 7:00 AM meeting, so I needed to get going.
At 5:45 AM, in my best serious, grey, presentation power suit and pointy patent leather shoes, I bundle Pumpkin into the cat carrier. The poor thing is so miserable, he didn't even try to claw my eyes out. The next step was dumb luck. I put the carrier on the floor in the front passenger side instead of on the seat. Karmic move.
As soon as I started the car and pulled out - Pumpkin freaked out, screamed, and peed a bucket load all over the carrier, himself and my BMW floor mats. So much for a urinary blockage.
Needless to say - it was a lovely commute from downtown to Towson with the smell of warm cat pee and angry, anguished cat howling at 6:00 AM when I've had less than 4 hours sleep. I highly encourage you to try it sometime. I kept going to my "happy place" on the veranda of my beach bungalow in Aruba.
The vet was very nice - even at 6:30 AM. $110 for the entrance fee, $106 bucks for "daycare", and another $150 in drugs and tests. Yay.
Pumpkin has struvite crystals in his urine, and will need prescription cat f$$d for the rest of his life - which his brother gets to eat as well, whether he likes it or not. Antibiotics and steroids were prescribed, and I'm still staunching the bleeding on my fingers from forcing pills down the back of his throat. He is banished to the laundry room until I'm sure he's cured for good this time.
In other news, the presentation went VERY well. I scored a lot of points, got lots of "atta girl" from my boss(es), and am glad I spent as much time on it as I did. I even got a call at home this evening from my Medical Director telling how impressed he was with what I've done in just a few days. Apparently, I'm creating "buzz", and it's good.
Well, my charmed existence of the last few months is definitely, 100%, completely, over.
Everything I'm about to tell you is true. There is no April Fools punch line, unlike some other bloggers I know.
Yesterday, I got home from work around 8:00 PM.
I know, I know, I've only been on the job for two weeks, but we have a big site visit scheduled for tomorrow afternoon, a lot of important people will be there, and I have to make a presentation, and it's my first one, and, and, and....so I stayed at work till 7:30 and came home to keep working on my presentation till after midnight, and I will do the same this evening, and have a meeting at 7:00 AM tomorrow morning. The site visit is from 3:00 PM - 6:00 PM. By this time tomorrow, I'm gonna be so sleep deprived, I'm heading straight to bed.
I walked in the door last night, and immediately discovered that one of the cats had taken a dump in my favorite tuxedo flats!! This is the most outrageous act of letting me know they're ticked off with me that they have ever pulled off - I thought. Both of the cats (up till now) have had pristine litterbox habits - not one accident ever. Then Pumpkin got a urinary tract infection a few weeks ago, and he had some issues, but I thought he was over it - until now.
I acted with appropriate outrage and annoyance, and after I cleaned up my shoes, I changed into an old pair of sweatpants and a t-shirt, heated up some leftover Chinese takeout from the weekend, and settled down to watch "Dancing with the Stars" while I worked on my presentation. I was ignoring Pumpkin's attempts to jump on my lap and snuggle because I was still pissed at him, and he knew it. After about 1/2 hour of head butting and meowing, he finally wiggled his way around the laptop onto my lap, and I let him sit there, but refused to pet him.
Suddenly, I felt a strange warmth envelope my lap, and just a millisecond before I smelled it, I realized that MY CAT HAD PEED ON ME!
I could. not. believe. it.
I went to the laundry room - stripped, and jumped in the basement shower to rinse off. I mean, ICCCKK! And just as I was about to drop kick the cat into the next county, it dawned on me that healthy cats don't pee on their owners, and Pumpkin is just not smart enough to be so annoyed with me that he would take out his revenge by shitting in my shoes and peeing on me - something was definitely wrong. The urinary tract infection is back and we need to go back to the vet.
So that was last night, and until I get him to the vet, he gets to stay in the laundry room with his litter box and food and water while I worry about him like an anxious mother.
Today, I had scheduled the installation of a new dishwasher and the arrival of plumbers to unclog a stuck toilet in my bathroom, that I strongly suspected the cats of having dropped something into it like little kids drop marbles or shoes in the toilet. I had already tried using a plumber's snake on the drain myself, and got nowhere with it, and decided to suck it up and call a professional. Both of these appointments were made long before I knew about the big site visit at work on Wednesday, and I was unable to get them scheduled before I started the new job. I took the latest possible appointment in the day and ran home at 3:00 today knowing I could handle the presentation via email to the office remotely by computer.
The only good news of the day, is that both repair guys showed up on time, as promised, at 3:30 PM.
Long story short - the dishwasher guy is still here at 6:30 PM, and is having trouble getting the thing hooked up to the drain properly and leveled. Meanwhile, up in the bathroom.....
Darryl and Darryl jammed an auger with a 6 foot snake on it down into the toilet and after making noises like the ceiling in the living room was going to cave in any minute for nearly an hour, finally came down to tell me that the auger was jammed on something and that they would have to take the entire toilet out, TRY to unclog it, and if that didn't work, they would have to destroy the toilet and put in a new one. The toilet is only three years old. It was brand new when I remodeled that bathroom.
New toilet and installation $$$$$. Plus vet bill = $$$$$$$$$$
So, with raw sewage all over my bathroom floor a few hours later, we're still working on it. FINALLY, they broke the jam, and it turned out that a large wooden stopper and metal flange ring from the top of one of those reed diffusers had gotten jammed in the toilet when the cats knocked it off the bathroom shelf and the jar splintered into a million little glass shards (which I am still finding), spewing lemongrass scented oil all over my towels, down the wall, and coating every available surface in the bathroom.
Now I just have to wait until Darryl and Darryl re-install the toilet and clean up the mess, at which time, I can write some large checks and everyone can go home.