Thursday, October 22, 2009

Some facts

Work has been super, crazy busy. I sprained my finger last month, it still hurts. Had my first session of occupational therapy today. I'm saving for a Prius, but for the moment our credit card debt is still too high to divert any money elsewhere. We're watching the Yankees game, hoping that the Angels will meet the Phillies in the World Series. The Miami Hurricanes beat the FSU Seminoles this year, so the rest of this season's victory is gravy. We've seen some really cool shows lately, most recently Big Bad Voodoo Daddy at the beautiful Delaware Opera House. We bought their new album on LP . Our dogs are healthy. I haven't missed meetings or preaching days even though work has been really, I mean really stressful. The weather is remarkably pleasant, and the stars seem to love me as much as I love them. Our summer vacation in Maine and Quebec City was unforgettably enjoyable. We go to Trinidad next month to see the in-laws, and I'm genuinely looking forward to it. Our friends who don't already have babies, all seem to be expecting. Our 8th wedding anniversary was last month - he bought me a pretty bracelet that I wear almost every day, and I bought him some stone lions ("Singh" in Hindi = "lion") for the driveway, and he loves them. He gave me earrings too, but I discovered my holes have closed for the first time since I was five years old, when they were first pierced, so I won't be wearing those until I can re-open them. A little sad. I'm still wearing the watch he got me for our first anniversary, and the telescope I got as last year's gift still gets plenty of use. Did I mention that I've been working really hard? I'm not designed for 50+ hour work weeks. Mom and Dad are doing okay, going through their ups and downs just like the rest of us. My finger hurts again now... I'm going to stop typing. Missy, when you're blogging more than I am -- that's how I know it's been waaay too long since my last post here.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

US Airways Checked Baggage Fees

I should have expected it, but it disappointed me nonetheless. Yesterday I called US Airways Silver Preferred Customer Service line -- the line that is reserved the more frequent traveler, and I had this conversation:

Are there any exceptions to customers who are required to pay checked baggage fees?

Um, I'm not sure...

What about First Class passengers, or Dividend Miles Preferred members?

Oh, okay. I don't know about those. But please let me check.

[Seven minutes on hold; I hung up.]

This morning I simply searched for "US Airways checked baggage fees" and found a single page that laid out the whole policy, including exceptions, and found my answer in a few keystrokes. Yes, First Class passengers and Dividend Miles Preferred members ARE exempt from all checked baggage fees. And there are a bucketful of other exceptions.

Ah, the airlines' customer "service." I really hope that survival of the fittest works its magic in this industry.

Monday, February 23, 2009

What a relief

My back is doing better, all of a sudden. I attribute this change in condition to the massage I got a little over a week ago. I can't believe it took such a little thing to make such a big difference, because I've spent so much money on so many BIG things that were all supposed to help. And the massage wasn't even my doctor's idea - it was mine. I got my first massage about six weeks ago, and I got a little relief for about two days. Nothing to write home about though; it was just another remedy that didn't help very much. Last week I was so tired of the pain that I was willing to spend the $100 even if all I got was another two days' of relief. But so far, it's been over a week already and the pain hasn't come back. Wow!

I still have considerable discomfort, but nothing like the pain I used to have. THIS is when I feel like I should be returning to work. The only reason I came off of Disability at the first of the year is because my job was at risk. I shouldn't have been working though - when you need narcotic pain relief just to function like a human, you shouldn't ALSO have to be chained to a desk 40+ hours a week. But now, finally, I feel like I can perform my job without numbing my body to do it. Here's hoping that it lasts.

A government strong enough

I read quote today that reminded me of Joellyn's recent discussion of government. Here is the quote: A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have (attributed to Thomas Jefferson). I only put my trust in a perfect government that has a pure motive and also has the power to exercise true wisdom and justice. There is no human government that can hope to earn my trust, and that's why I look to a heavenly kingdom that will rule over the earth.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Duncan is home from the hospital

Great relief -- my dog Duncan has been released from the hospital.
The swelling on his brain has subsided, and now the concern is the
less-critical stuff. Like the healing that has to happen with the
stitches and the bruising on his face... watching out for infections
and the like. Totally manageable stuff. He's on pain medications
that make him very sleepy all the time, and antibiotics that make his
stomach upset. But he's eating well, so that helps prevent a lot of
the stomach irritation.

I'm so glad he made it. WHEW!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Duncan Had A Very Very Bad Day

Yesterday afternoon Duncan was hit by a car, a little before 4 PM. The side of his head took most of the impact. We rushed him to the hospital where they worked to stop the brain from swelling further. The x-rays showed nothing broken (!) and no internal bleeding probably because his body wasn't hit - just his head really. This morning it appears that the swelling has stopped, but his one pupil is still dilated indicating he's not out of the woods yet. They have decided he's stable enough to endure the anesthesia he needs for stitching up his lip laceration. He urinated today, which is a good sign that his internal organs aren't failing.

It is so awful to feel responsible for this. And I wasn't even there - my mom feels more directly responsible although I've assured her that I don't feel that way towards her. My heart hurts for my dear doggie. I can't believe he's survived it, but I also can't believe that he still might not make it. The vet won't make any promises. I understand why, but I still wish he would. Could.

Why haven't we bought a fence - didn't we say the same thing last time something like this happened?? More updates to come...

Monday, January 19, 2009

Weekend Update

What a weekend, oh my. After being on disability for four months, I
almost forgot what a whirlwind the weekends can be. I've been back at
work for two weeks now, and I can see that I am going to make a
concerted effort to schedule some relaxation into my Saturdays and

It all started on the Wednesday before the weekend, when I got my
second epidural steroid injection. It's a series of three injections,
spaced at one-month intervals. The first injection was a breeze,
relatively. The doctors told me that the injection itself would cause
increased pain for a couple of days but after that I should expect to
see some relief. It hurt a little bit, sure, but no more than any
other injection. It was like a flu shot, where the injection site is
tender for a little while but goes away within a few days. THIS time,
however, it's a whole different kind of pain. This is miserable. At
work I have doubled my dose of painkillers just to get through the
day. At the Kingdom Hall I can't sit in the chairs so I'm bringing
blankets and pillows so I can lay on the basement floor.

I went out with a group on Saturday to do some preaching. Because of
the brutally cold weather and the lack of sidewalks in the area, we
agreed to drive the car from house to house instead of walking. I
learned that this type of preaching is very hard on my back! I
climbed in and out of the car every five minutes for an hour. Despite
painkillers and plenty of rest afterward, I was a ball of jelly for
the rest of the day.

On Sunday I wanted to skip the meeting at the Kingdom Hall and just
use the telephone tie-in to hear the talk. I meditated on Proverbs
22:6 about rich blessings that we don't have to "pay for" in pain and
suffering. Yes, this principle cleared my conscience so that I had no
problem with my decision. Then suddenly I remembered that my friend
Kim had agreed to help with some shopping, but in order to get her
help I would have to go to the meeting first and we would be leaving
together. So I changed my mind and then felt a little guilty that a
shopping trip was "worth" the pain, but the rich blessings were not
enough on their own. I resolved this guilt by lying on the Hall's
basement floor again, receiving all the fine association and spiritual
food, and still preserving my strength for the shopping trip.

That was a long day. We had lunch and also bought furniture, window
treatments, rugs, lighting, and other decorating supplies for my
living room. Since I spent very little time sitting down, my back
didn't really hurt much until late in the afternoon. I came home and
ate dinner and watched football (stupid Ravens! stupid Eagles!) and
suddenly the weekend was over. I'm longing for the days past when
every day was a weekend.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

And the pain goes on

My doctors are still looking for the problem that explains all the back pain I'm experiencing.  They've ruled out a lot of possibilities so far.  So we know a lot about what it's not.  I've tried tons of physical therapy, and chiropractic adjustments, and steroid injections, and massage therapy, and analgesic patches, and narcotics, and anti-inflammatories, and and and.... ugh.

I've also had two X-rays, three MRI's, and a CT scan.  All the imaging studies show normal bones and normal vertebral discs.  Only recently did one of the scans show a small spot on a nearby muscle - but thankfully not on the complicated spots like on the spinal cord or other nerve.  It's kind of like having a freckle or a mole on your skin... it's an abnormality, but it's not worrisome.  You examine it for the presence of this and that characteristic to see whether it's something worth worrying about.  When those characteristics aren't present, then it's considered just a variation on normal.

In my case though, since this abnormality is accompanied by so much pain, it's definitely worth investigating.  Ideally we hope it can be excised or drained with a simple procedure and all my pain will be gone.  Wouldn't that be great!  Really I don't know whether to place my hope in this treatment.  Over the last several months I've heard about a lot of possibilities from my doctors; we won't know for a while if this is just one more thing to rule out.

I have returned to work.  My back is only a little bit better than it's been for the past month or two, but I had to go back to work or I was risking the loss of my job.  The atmosphere at my company is extremely unstable: they just began a series of layoffs a couple of days ago, with further major restructuring to come down the pike.  Fun times.

My lower back is what started all of this back in August.  It was from that improper lifting that I wrote about previously, as you might remember.  Thankfully that part of my back feels perfectly healthy.  It got better after four or five weeks of physical therapy, and that's why I tried to return to work back in September.  When I think back on it, I now realize that it was my upper back that was hurting so badly at that time.  It's just that the pain was so extensive that it was impossible to isolate.

My day at work is not easy.  I am using a different chair that gives my back more support, and I spend as little time in it as I can.  I look for opportunities to get up and walk to others' offices instead of calling them.  Even so I need to take a painkiller by 11AM, and that relief lasts until about 3PM.  At that point in the afternoon, I grit my teeth and try to forget about the pain until I can get home and lie down.  I don't want to take a second dose of painkillers just to get past those last two hours because once I get home, I can have a normal evening with my family after I spend an hour or so lying down on the hard floor.

I do still have additional doctors I want to see, and a few more treatments to try.  I am not yet willing to accept this as a lifetime condition!