Thursday, May 31, 2012

Yes, I can and will (and did) budget for Oreos in my total calorie intake for the day. :-)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

My family suffered a terrible loss on Sunday night. My 25-year-old nephew died in an accident while ATVing. There was a sharp turn in the road at the end of a downhill grade, and he failed to negotiate the turn; he was ejected from the ATV and struck a tree. The official cause of death was blunt force trauma.

To describe everyone in the family as being terribly shaken by this loss is the understatement of the century. No one, no one, no one could have seen this coming. Luke was a careful, conscientious, and goal-oriented young man. His stepmom joked that they used to tease him for driving like an old lady. But even careful people can make a mistake. I suspect he wasn't familiar with that stretch of road, as he and his fiancee were vacationing in her grandmother's cabin in the mountains. If he'd been aware that the sharp curve was coming up, I'm sure he wouldn't have been going too fast. We're lucky that a neighbor happened to see him moving way too quickly on that road, and called state troopers. If he hadn't done that, it would have taken far longer to determine where he was when he didn't come back from ATVing.

So please send prayers and good thoughts my family's way. This has caused a great deal of heartbreak for everyone.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

On Sunday, we had a family gathering at St. Rita's Church. They had a healing Mass as a part of their annual St. Rita Novena event (where they have prayer services on the nine days leading up to the Feast Day of St. Rita on the 22nd). My cousin Joe brought Aunt Rita there, my parents went, my cousin Maryann and her husband Vince went, and I went. Mark would've gone, but he had a prior commitment with the Knights of Columbus. If you ever have the opportunity to visit St. Rita of Cascia's church, do so. It's a beautiful, beautiful place. What's more, that Mass was amazing. Their choir is absolutely phenomenal. I was glad to see some of my friends at Mass, as well. JFM, John R., and Elaine were in attendance, and they all got to meet my Aunt, for whom they've all been praying. When Mass was over, we all went to dinner at the restaurant near my home. That was really nice -- we haven't had the opportunity to do that in forever. Tuesday was Mark's and my anniversary, so along with going to the feast day Mass at St. Rita's, we went to dinner at the Chart House. I hadn't eaten there since my 40th birthday, so it's been a while. WOW, is their food excellent. I threw calorie counts to the wind and split the chocolate lava cake with Mark. :-) And speaking of calorie counts... I've got calories on the brain, at the moment. I finally had my doctor's appointment and got my bloodwork results. First, the scale. They have replaced the ancient (and inaccurate by four pounds) scale with a new digital one. So I got my weight measured down to the last 0.1 lbs. I'm not as exasperated by the number as I thought I was going to be. I'm hardly tap-dancing for joy over it, but it could have been worse. The good news: I am NOT diabetic. However, if I have intentions of continuing to say that, then the unwanted pounds have got to go. And go they will. Back to the gym with me for my 30 minutes of cardio per day. I've gotten out of the habit of going, as I started working more. Well, now I'm going to take a chisel and WEDGE those 30 minutes of cardio into my day if I have to. Period. Also, it's back onto the calorie count for me. The combination of exercise/calorie count had me losing 1 lb per week, when I was doing it. It doesn't sound like much, but it adds up if you keep at it. I made progress before, and I'll be making it again. Period. My hard head won't tolerate any other result.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Day 3 of work's internet portal issue; I told tech support, "When in doubt, CTRL-ALT-DEL". Looks like they listened, 'cause it now works. :)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The internet portal for work is still messed up. It won't let me log in because it thinks I'm already on. I took a screen shot and emailed it to one of the admins, so they can see exactly what I see when I try to log in. Freakin' Gremlins. GO AWAY. I have work to do.

Friday, May 18, 2012

GRRR. Freaking Gremlins! I can't log into the internet portal for work. It thinks I'm already on. A service call has been put in.

Deaf-Blind Camp

I was having some reservations about going to MD this year for deaf-blind camp. Given the nature of our family situation, with one relative whose health situation is in doubt, I didn't want to be in MD and suddenly have to rush home for a family emergency (particularly not if anyone else was relying on my car to bring them back to PA, which has happened in the past).

But then I got word yesterday that the camp is so full, they can't afford to bring in any more volunteers, and there is a waiting list for SSPs (Support Service Providers, or interpreter/guides). So that situation has kind of made my decision for me. It's just as well. I really don't want to be far from home while my relative's condition is up in the air. The doctors didn't tell us how long they think it will be until the currently stable health situation shows signs of faltering, though I'm sure they have an idea of how the disease is going to progress. I think that was a wise move on the doctors' part, though -- it means we're not all running around feeling like there is a giant stopwatch hanging over our heads, ticking away the "good days" until the bad days arrive.

But anyway... back to deaf-blind camp. I met this lady at camp a few years ago. She has an amazing story. She also keeps a blog, which I recommend checking out.

Kent Mom, Son Need Sponsors For Deaf-Blind Walk-a-Thon

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

HOORAY -- the cable situation is resolved!

As of last night, the situation with our cable is finally resolved. I'm not sure what exactly caused the glitch, but it's gone now and that's what really matters.

So I'm back to changing the channel via my computer. I also showed Mark how to do this, so he can do the same with HIS computer.

Yay, online access!

In other news, we had a scare this afternoon, with my relative (whom I posted about earlier, as having failed a significant medical test) started having abdominal pain. Of course, everyone's first thought was, "Oh, no, the disease is starting to cause trouble", but it turned out to be just some digestive issues. Thank you, God. It would be cruel if the legit Quality Time afforded to us was measurable in mere weeks. I don't know how long we have left, as far as quality time goes, but I certainly hope my relative gets to go HOME and spend some quality time THERE with family and friends! Keep the prayers coming. We could all use them.

In other news, I backed out of a Facebook discussion yesterday. It's the first time I intentionally unfollowed a discussion thread. But it went from a discussion of an ugly news story (where villagers in India ritually sacrificed a 7-year-old girl to make their crops grow) to an all-out religion-bashing discussion. No, religion and ignorance are NOT interchangeable terms. And for the record, if you hate on religion in general, I'm not going to stand here and debate its merits with you -- but just as I don't run around screaming ALL UNBELIEVERS ARE GOING TO HELL (which I don't believe, anyway), I don't appreciate anyone running around screaming ALL BELIEVERS ARE IGNORANT. I expect my beliefs to be treated with respect, the same as I try to treat other people's beliefs with respect. And if I can see a discussion is going in some other, more disagreeable, less respectful direction, feel free to hold the conversation without my input, 'cause I'm outta there. I just don't need the headaches.

Personally, I think that the individual who was steering the convo in that general direction has got anger against religion that has nothing to do with me, and I don't hold that against them. But that doesn't mean I want to discuss the matter with someone who strikes me as being hell-bent on venting anger at anyone who stands on the opposite side of the religious-beliefs line. Here's where I stand: go ahead and like, dislike, or believe whatever you wish -- just don't take anger out on ME that I haven't incurred by virtue of my own behavior.

And if you've been hurt by anyone who proclaims they're faithful with their words, but behaves like anything BUT a faithful person with their actions, not only do you have the right to be angry, but I'll be angry right along with you when I find out about it. Rest assured that I have no time for spite and injustice, from any source -- not even if the source is claiming that they're acting on God's behalf. *MY* God doesn't do spite and injustice. Period.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

I knew the tech wouldn't be able to fix the problem

Sigh. I do realize that this issue can be filed under "First World Problems", but even so, it's annoying!

We have cable TV and two boxes -- one in the bedroom, one in the living room. Our cable company also has an app that allows us to control said cable boxes, including changing the channel. For MONTHS -- since at least last year, in fact -- I have been using said app, or the cable company's website, to change the channel on the living room TV at will.

On Thursday night, Mark saw me do it. He wanted to do the same thing. So I went online and created a secondary account for him.

My ability to control the living room TV via the internet promptly disappeared. The upstairs TV worked fine, but nothing happened with the living room TV.

I called the cable company's tech support on Friday, when the issue persisted. The woman had absolutely no idea what I was talking about. Multiple explanations later, she did help me delete the secondary account (which can't be done by the customer), but the existing problem was not resolved. She INSISTED that I needed a tech to come to the house. I told her the problem started when I created a secondary account, and I doubted it was a hardware issue. She wouldn't budge. I thought, "Fine", and made the appointment for 7 AM this morning.

Mark thought that if it was the cable box that was the problem, why not swap it out. In fact, he decided to swap out BOTH cable boxes for DVRs, and did so via making an in-person visit to the local cable office.

He came back with the two DVRs, and plugged them in. Now, only DVR 1 (the bedroom box) even shows up on the internet. The downstairs box should be DVR 2, but it's not even on the list.

The TV service works fine. It's just that the box doesn't appear on the list when I look online.

The tech came at the crack of dawn this morning. He looked at us like we were from MARS when we described the issue. Long story short, he can't help us because the TV service is actually working, and there's nothing he can do to fix the internet side of the equation. He advised giving the system 72 hours to recognize the new DVR, and if the problem persists, then call tech support back and have them escalate the call.

They should have escalated my freaking call YESTERDAY. I told that lady on the phone that we didn't need a repair person coming to the house. Repeatedly. Now I'm not only up at the crack of dawn on a Saturday, I'm ticked off into the bargain because we accomplished nothing (short of knowing not to bother sending any more techs to the house). GRRRR. Let me go get some coffee or something. I feel like a zombie.

And yes, I know. First World Problems. I just wish the freaking First World Problems wouldn't include having to be up before 7 AM on a Saturday morning.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Watching Mythbusters. Stanley is parked on my left, Mini is parked on my right. Captain is on the back of the sofa. Life's good. :-)

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

It's so nice to NOT be fasting for a bloodwork, like I was last night, when these PIZZA COMMERCIALS come on and make me hungry.
Come on, Capitals. Get out of this game in one piece. KTHX.
My bloodwork is taken care of. Thank goodness that's over with! I hate needles.

Thank goodness THAT'S over with

I had my blood drawn today, for my long-overdue bloodwork.

Man, I hate needles. I'm so glad that's over with. I'm also not over-fond of the fasting aspect of the bloodwork, but that's not too horrid.

But the worst part of all -- or what USED to be the worst part, before I found a solution -- was the having to give a urine sample. I hated driving to the doctor's office with a full bladder. My solution was to request, and receive, a sterile sample cup to take home. Now I can take care of that particular business at home, right when I get up, and not have to be in discomfort for any length of time. Which is good, because you just KNOW that Murphy's Law will be in full swing otherwise. Meaning, when I'm driving to the doc's office without having given that sample yet, it's almost a guarantee that I'll hit every flipping red light between here and there, and then I'll need eight years to find a parking place once I arrive. It's a combination of events I just love, like I love a hole in the head. ;-)

Anyway, I've provided all the requisite samples of blood and so on, so now it's just a waiting game until the results come back. I can think of one set of numbers that I'm reasonably confident will be in the normal range (at which point, I can go back to the blood doctor and get discharged). I have no idea what the other numbers are going to look like, except I hope they're either normal, or close enough to the mark that it won't take much to fix them. My last test had a couple of numbers that were only a point or two out of the desired range, so I'm hoping those are where I want them to be this time around.

I feel sorry for the girl who was working at the doc's office today -- by herself. She's in there drawing blood, and she had NObody in there to help her answer phones. So the phones were going unanswered. I can just imagine the patients calling in and getting the "this machine does not take messages" recording repeatedly... had I been one of them, I'd have had steam coming out of my ears. Let me tell you that the phones DID NOT STOP RINGING while I was there. Oh, how they need to revamp their office staff setup... they need at least one dedicated telephone person in there, for starters. Then add in a voice mail system, a back line so that pharmacies and doctors can call in without being stuck in the same busy-signal-hell as patients, and office emails. And freaking CREDIT CARDS. I often have to wait for change, which someone has to retrieve from upstairs, when I pay a $15 copay with a $20 bill. A credit card machine would mean that people don't have to fart around running to the second floor every time someone needs to break a large or medium-sized bill. One time, one of the workers even gave me my change out of her own wallet, not to make me have to wait. I mean, come on. This is 2012. We should be beyond all this.

Oh, well. I'm done ranting. I'm going back to my coffee.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

IT'S A MIRACLE. I am at Inbox Zero for BOTH my work and personal email addresses. Woo hoo! :-)

Fixing my prescription, Part II

I called the pharmacy to verify just what the doctor's office had to say, about the prescription issue that I encountered yesterday.

Yes, the doc's office messed up by sending them a script for the wrong version of the med I take (extended-release vs. whatever the other version is called). So they have sent through a correct script for the RIGHT version of the medication.

The pharmacy started the conversation by telling me, "We had trouble getting through to your doctor's office...". I somehow managed not to blurt out, "NO KIDDING."

Have I mentioned that I am going to have a long talk with my doctor, when I have this long-awaited appointment, about several things? Like, how hard it is to get through at all, the fact that they come off answering service later than they should in the morning, and go back onto it earlier than they should at the end of the day? And that getting a prescription refilled generally involves an extended game of telephone tag, whether it's me or the pharmacy trying to call?

If I had my way, they'd have someone in that office who does ONLY phone calls. They need it. That flipping thing rings off the flipping hook, as I can see firsthand every time I go there (and/or have to call in). They would also have a voicemail system set up, as well as an office email address so patients can send in questions or requests after hours. Oh, and they would take freaking CREDIT CARDS instead of being cash-only.

I worked at the front desk of a medical clinic for over a year. I am 100% aware of the fact that all these things can be done. The way things are set up now, it's probably hard on the office staff as well as the patients and pharmacies who are trying to call.

Monday, May 07, 2012

No wonder I need prescriptions

No wonder I need prescriptions! It's the STRESS of dealing with my doctor's office!

I will be the first one to admit that I procrastinated in getting bloodwork and having an office visit. Which is probably why when I asked for prescription refills, one of them came through with only 15 pills instead of the normal 30: so I'd call.

Which I did. And wound up setting up appointments for bloodwork (this week) and the office visit (in two weeks). In return, I expected the next prescription that had the OTHER 15 pills.

Noooo, that's too EASY. They never called in the next 15-day script.

So today, here I sit with two pills left, I called them this afternoon. No, the doctor hadn't called it in because he wanted to see me. I told them my appointment is in two weeks, and if I DON'T get my meds for two weeks, at least one of my test results is going to be so far off the charts, in the wrong direction, that it's going to be flat-out useless to determine whether the dosage I'm currently on is appropriate or not.

I repeat, I take responsibility for procrastinating setting up the visit at all, BUT I HAVE AN APPOINTMENT NOW. And I am going to need my refill if I expect to get anything other than terrible numbers when I finally do see the doc for the office visit. At least give me enough meds to last until the day of the appointment!

She said she'd talk to the doctor. Hours go by, I get no call, at 6 PM I call back. And get put on hold for ten minutes. Hang up, call again. 12 minutes on hold this time. Hang up, call AGAIN. Finally I get a human being. No, the doctor hasn't sent a refill yet. Call back before 7 PM when the phones go on the answering service.

I called at 6:55, only to find that they were ALREADY on the bleeping answering service.

I HATE!!!! dealing with this red tape. No freaking wonder I need prescriptions.

Evidently, they did call the pharmacy. Know how I know? Because the pharmacy called ME. To say they'd sent a refill for the WRONG version of the med I was looking for. That medication has two versions: one is extended release, one is not. Whichever one I DON'T use is the one they called in a script for. So now the pharmacy is going to call the doc in the morning and straighten it out.

Gesù, Maria e Giuseppe! I'm gonna hurt someone! If this keeps up, I'm gonna need a new script. For concussion pills. From banging my head on the desk out of frustration.

GRRRRRRR

I don't know why the Seesmic Ping app insists on failing to post. I think I'm just going to rely on ping.fm and the regular Seesmic app.
Working and listening to the Music Choice 70s station.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Happy Blog Day to Me! I started this blog nine years ago today, in 2003! Wow. It's hard to remember the days of not having a blog, I've been jotting down thoughts and events for so long.

And speaking of thoughts and events, there was no shortage of those on Thursday, when the whole family headed off with my one relative to the specialist's office to get the rundown of what, exactly, is going on medically.

To make a long story less long, all the doctors agree with my relative that surgery is not a viable option. Even if the docs were saying otherwise, my relative doesn't want it anyway and I always respect the patient's decision in matters like this. Also, while there are some other forms of aggressive treatment that are available, those would only cause terrible side effects like pain, sickness, weakness, etc., and they would cause all those symptoms WITHOUT being accompanied by any form of material benefit. So if all those things would do is impair the QUALITY of life without doing anything to enhance the QUANTITY (or long-term quality) of life, then those invasive, aggressive treatments are not options that are worth pursuing. On this point, also, the patient and doctors are all in agreement. I understand and agree with this stance, as well. I might not LIKE it, but I understand and agree with it.

So the specialist doc basically said, "Right now, there is no pain and no sickness, and vital signs are excellent. Go and enjoy life, enjoy your friends, do what you enjoy doing, and eat whatever you like." He described two different symptoms to be on the alert for, and outlined what the treatments would be if either of those symptoms appeared (which might not even happen).

We don't have any time frame given for whatever might happen next. That's probably just as well. Who could enjoy life to the fullest if they've got a mental stopwatch constantly running in their head? So here's hoping and praying for a good stint of quality time on the horizon.

There's always going to be a part of me that wants to respond to any report of disease by going thermonuclear on it and wiping it out of existence. But my logical mind understands that this isn't a case where that can happen. We all have to play the cards we're dealt, but nobody ever promised that we would LIKE the cards we're dealt. So I'm going to take a proactive role in the "enjoying quality time" project, even while I wish that there were some different cards in this particular hand.

There's also always going to be a part of me that rails against the idea that a GOOD person would ever have any illness or suffering, even while evil people are running around healthy and prosperous. But then I have to stop and think. Here is OUR good person, with the entire family trooping into the doctor's office and visiting our relative in the hospital and in the rehab facility. Plus, every time my parents and I have gone to visit our relative, be it in the hospital or at the rehab facility, there's been at least one and sometimes two friends also visiting. Contrast that with the fate of the evil people of the world -- will THEIR whole family accompany them to the doctor? Or will they have friends who visit them regularly? And if they do, will it be out of real love, or out of a hope that they'll get something in return?

Somewhere in the Bible is the observation that the rain falls on the good and the bad alike. I don't know which book or chapter it is, but I know it's in there. So even though our final rewards come to us after we meet our Maker, maybe this is the earthly recompense that the good people receive: that they have loved ones who rush to hold up an umbrella when they are getting rained on, and the loved ones are doing it out of love rather than for selfish reasons.

Either way, consider Project Enjoy Life to be officially under way.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

One of my relatives came out of the appointment to tell me where the plug is for his laptop if I need it. I guess they expect to be in there a while.
Mannaggia la miseria. As if this day wasn't inherently stressful enough, an additional level of frustration has been thrown in.

Edited, well after the fact, to provide details: First there was the miscommunication between my parents and Relative B, who was driving Relative A to the specialist's office. My parents got the mistaken impression that we were going to be picked up by Relative B. What Relative B actually MEANT to say was, "I'll meet you in front of the doctor's office building, so you can accompany Relative A into the office while I look for parking."

So then Relative B called us from in front of the building, wondering where we were. We said we'd hurry and get on the next bus, and rushed out the door, with my parents forgetting to take their cell phone in our haste to get to the bus stop.

Waiting... waiting... waiting... do you see a bus driving past your computer? That's how WE saw a bus driving past our bus stop. Nada. Niente. Nothing. A friend of my parents happened to drive by, and she convinced us to get in so she could give us a lift. While we were on our way up 11th Street, what did we catch up to? A bus! So obviously, the freaking buses were DETOURED and there was no sign at the bus stop indicating this fact. Thanks, SEPTA. GRRR...

Now, my mom knows that our driver prefers not to drive in Center City (and who can blame her). So when the bus in front of us stopped at a red light, my mom said, "We can catch that bus now, thanks for the lift" and we went piling out of the car like the Three Stooges. My dad got on the bus, the light turned green, and off the bus went, leaving my mom and me behind. Now the two of us are standing there with no bus and no car. That's when I posted the above post.

Five minutes later, my parents' friend returned. "I just drove around, and I don't see any other buses coming. Get back in." And she drove us to within a block of our destination. So, my mom and I arrived at the doctor's office, and there were Relatives A and B... but not my dad. What the heck? Thirty seconds later, my dad walks in, wondering how he'd gotten there AFTER my mom and me when he'd had a head start. Well, it turns out that he had gone to the wrong address originally, and he had to backtrack to get to the correct building. This explains why he arrived after my mom and me.

For details of the actual visit, see my May 5 post. I had to wait in the waiting room, watching everybody's various bags, sweaters, and other belongings, because there wasn't room in the exam room for all five family members plus four doctors. But my mom did give me the rundown of the discussion that took place.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Heading into some challenges

It has been a trying couple of weeks. I can't go into specifics, partly because I'm not in agreement with posting other people's personal business on the internet, and partly because I don't know who in my family knows how much. So let's just say that a relative of mine has recently had some bad results from a medical test. It's a serious situation, and I don't foresee matters getting any easier than they are now. So we're all trying to deal with the emotional impact of getting this kind of news -- not just the relative, but the rest of us, too. I tried to warn my parents this afternoon that we are ALL going to go through the emotional storm, so be prepared for things like anger and depression to rear their ugly heads. (The five stages of grief, and in this case the "grief" starts with grieving the fact that our loved one is facing serious medical issues, are Denial, Bargaining, Anger, Depression, and Acceptance. So we're ALL going to be going through this process, like it or not, and it's best to be prepared for the experience.)

The relative seems to be on an even keel, at least on the outside. It's a good thing that we have a lot of faith, in our family, because I'm sure that's going to be a source of some comfort to pretty much everyone. But unfortunately, faith doesn't prevent us from having to walk down a hard road.. And the hard road is coming. :-(

The first appointment with a specialist is tomorrow morning. I hope he's not too overwhelmed when Cox's Army shows up, as there will be five of us showing up for the appointment. Well, at least he'll know that the entire immediate family is going to be involved in a hands-on fashion, whatever happens.

I talked with my friend JFM about making the St. Rita of Cascia novena this month. Her feast day is the same day as Mark's and my anniversary, she's the patron saint (along with St. Jude) of impossible cases, and the relative who is in need of prayer has attended this same novena in years past. I'm not so sure that the relative's health will permit making a trip to Philly THIS year for the feast day, but who knows? I also want to invite my parents to come to the novena. just left them a phone message a little while ago.

Anyway, any prayers and positive thoughts being sent my family's way will be appreciated. We're going into a time frame where we're going to need as much fortitude as we can muster.

Why is there NOT ONE coat hook in any stall in this restroom? #-WTH #-FrankS.Farley

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

There is a big fuzzy orange stripey motor rumbling away next to me as I work. :-)