Friday, March 31, 2006

Making up my mind

OK, I finally reached a decision. I'm going to retire at the end of Dec. of this year. I always said I would retire when Hub did, but he retired in 2000, and I have slogged onward. But all our debt is paid; the kids are out of college; Hub's consulting has been a total windfall, and I am finding the physical and mental strength to get up and go to work each day a constant, debilitating struggle. I don't feel that I'm giving all I should at work, because frankly I'm finding it hard to care. I've worked at the medical center at this university for 25 years, and every "new" crisis is the same -- been there, done that. The administration is so very short sighted, dealing with each crisis today, and don't worry about the consequences, we'll deal with them tomorrow. In the safety field, this is a particularly dangerous attitude, your only hope in disaster control is prevention, and that means planning ahead, a totally alien scheme here.

I probably won't get any kind of 'goodby' party, so I'm going to get my own retirement gift -- a Newfoundland puppy. I'm already on a waiting list with a great breeder. I had my lovely Lotsa Trouble from 1986 until she died in 1998; it was the start of a truly bad time, as I lost my mom in 1999, my dad went in a nursing home right after that, and died in 2002, my favorite aunt in 2003, and my only sib, my sister, in 2004 (she was only 57). Hub lost his dad in 2001. I lost my job in 1999, again in 2002, and again in 2004. I tried suicide in 2001 and 2002, ending up unconscious in ICU both times. Thanks to a great husband and kids, and the help of my doctor, two therapists, and a great psychiatrist, I am on the road to better times now, touch wood. Looking back, I can only think that I am far more resilient than I thought I ever could be. I still have black black times, but I trust that they will get better without my having to do anything but endure, and they DO pass and they last for less time each time. SO! A new puppy...Newfs are the greatest dogs, mellow, loving, contented to just be where you are. The great pity is that, like all the giant breeds, they live such short lives (8 to 10 being the average). My Lotsa was a therapy dog, and loved to go to the rehab hospital, especially the kids in wheelchairs, where she could just lay her head in their laps and be stroked. We went in the local parades with the kennel club, where she loved to walk at the edge of the road so all the kids could pat her as she walked by. I know a new puppy won't be identical to her, but just the touch of their fur, watching their clumsy way of running, I can't wait.

Something to look forward to.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

My barbeque party

The following is slide show (you don't need to click your mouse, just scroll down) that is not original with me. If you are the creator, let me know and I will gladly give credit where credit is due!

Monday, March 20, 2006

Back on the road again

As I guess a lot of you have found, last weekend Blogger was essentially unavailable. I wrote a post from home, but as I am now at work, I guess I'll just try to remember what I wrote.

I spent a fair amount of time this weekend ripping my CDs to mp3 files, to go on my new player. In the bad old days, I used to download tracks from Napster, but as far as I remember, I only did so for tracks for which I owned the CD anyway; I just didn't have the software (or maybe the know-how) to rip songs from an audio CD back then. This weekend I realized how very many CDs I have in which I only want to listen to one or two tracks. When we had a reel-to-reel tape recorder, I would copy LPs to it one or two tracks at a time, because however much I may like an artist, I really don't want to hear 90 minutes of them, uninterrupted. Eventually I would memorize the order of the tunes, I played them that way so often. The 'shuffle' feature of the mp3 players is great, you never know what will be next, and if you turn it off mid-song, it resumes at the start of that song, too. But it still doesn't change the fact that a CD, costing around $15 or more, is 90% crud and 10% listenable. Unfortunately, when ripping I pretty much had to listen to the whole CD to find what I wanted. Or at least the first minute of the tune, and that certainly slowed up the process. I calculate I will finish the task in 2008, but only if I stop buying CDs right now. Which isn't too likely. I also plan to make CDs with these selections, so I can play them in the car. The mp3 player, with its earbuds, is too much of a distraction when I'm driving, I can't hear traffic noises like sirens or horns. And if they get ripped off (in a convertible, access is only a fingernail file away), I can always burn another.

Actually, speaking of rag tops, I rarely lock my car anyway. I would rather a thief took whatever they want inside, but leave the friggin' top intact. A new top, the last I checked, runs around $1500, and believe me, there's nothing inside worth that much. And if they steal the whole car, well, that's what insurance is for. Plus, of course, this is a small town (I think; there are those from truly little towns in WV who think Morgantown is 'the big city') and it's harder than you would think to get away with stuff. When we first moved here from San Francisco, I was caught by this when I would be telling a funny story about, say, the babysitter, and someone would ask, who is she? And I'd give her name and they would say, oh yeah, she goes to church with me, or, I went to school with her brother, or the like. Even in a town of 25,000, you can't count on anonymity at all; the guy in the Lexus you give the bird to will turn out to be the new youth pastor or whatever. It takes some getting used to. The place where I go every two weeks to get my nails done is a fount of information; between the two of them, they know the history of everyone in town, who is running around on who, who has a drinking problem, everything. I just listen, I seldom know any of these people (despite having lived here 25 years), but the wealth of gossip just leaves me breathless. There must be an underground telegraph somewhere. I wonder if everyone in town is aware of how transparent their lives are? This must be part of the appeal of living in a real big city.

Well I'm off to see the new psychiatrist (you have to be off, otherwise you wouldn't need a psychiatrist, right?) who will maybe have some magic pill that will make me cheerful, lose weight, be smarter, and sleep sounder. Riiiiight.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Is there a doctor in the house?

Two weeks ago my family physician of 20+ years died of breast cancer. If anyone could beat it, I thought she would. I didn't like the doctor who bought her practice ( I ranted on about this a few posts back), and so I sent for a copy of my medical records to take to a new doctor I had heard good things about. By the way, if you ever do this, be sure to get your copied records sent to you and not directly to the new doctor. The reason for this isn't so you can read them (although of course you can, anytime) but because if they arrive before your first appt. with the dr., his staff will look in their files, not see one for you (yet), shove your copies in a drawer somewhere, and when you arrive for your first visit, no one will have any idea where your old records are--or even if they arrived. And you do want them there with you at your first visit, so your new doctor will have information about lab results, surgeries, medications, right at his fingertips. If you don't hand-carry them, you'll never be sure they arrive at all.

Anyway, I did read through them, and I realized anew how special my old doctor really was. For example:
(Redhead) presents today. We haven't seen her here in this office for almost two months now. She had been, evidently, doing fairly well up until that time. She says, over the last month, she has slowly been getting more depressed. I did talk to her husband, who does not think that she has been getting progressively more depressed, since she's had several good days in the last month, but she feels much more depressed. She's been doing more sleepwalking. She does feel intermittently suicidal, although she's not been ()...She agreed not to hurt herself in any way....I am worried about her. She has been extremely depressed in the past. Today, she has a flat effect. Her exam was benign, other than the flat effect. I have seen her much more depressed than she is today, but I am still worried about her.
And then she went on to say she was calling my psych. Dr. to discuss anti-depressant regimen, and that she also talked to my therapist (all of which I had previously signed releases for her to do).
In contrast, here's what the doctor's notes read from the one who bought her practice:
ROS: denies unexpected weight change, fatigue, change in appetite, fevers, night sweats, rashes, easy bruising, changes in skin lesions, headaches, heartburn, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, urinary problems, sexual dysfunction, myalgias, arthralgias, syncope,memory loss, or depressed mood.
Subjective: A four month follow-up. She discontinued () due to persistent cough and never started () due to fear of side effects. Claims her sugars are well-controlled at home. No new complaints.
Married, employed, denies tobacco or alcohol use.

Can you see the difference? Even though the first one was a time when I felt bad, and the second was when I was doing better.

Anyway, I saw the new doctor Monday, and I already like him a good bit. He went over my history and my family history, checked that I knew what each med is for, promised to read the old notes before he dictated his note, did a quick but complete exam, patted me on the back and told me that if I started to feel "down" to call him sooner rather than later, so we could "work it out" before I became desperate, and remarked on how sad it was that Dr. S. had died; that he knew my psych dr. and would willingly work with him "to keep us all on the same page". I am encouraged.

In other news, techie maven that I am, I managed to change the ringtone on my cell phone to one I downloaded. It now plays the Pink Panther Theme, which hopefully I'll recognize when it rings, and not sit there, puzzled, wondering what that strange sound coming from my purse is all about.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Slip-slidin' away

Yeah, I know it's been weeks since I posted. I'm sorry. I had one week of intensive therapy, and at the end of each day of that, all I wanted to do was curl up in bed with my blankie and rock myself to sleep. So I did. And since then I have had the stomach crud, and am only back at work today, thinking it was a bad idea to return at all. Tonight I have tickets to see Michael Flattley's Lord of the Dance, hope I can hold it together for the evening.

So I spent some time catching up on the blogs I read, and as I did so, I composed a list of Things I Will Never Blog About.

1. TV. Not that there aren't interesting things to say about television, I'm sure there must be, because so many people write about it. But the truth? I don't watch TV. I have mainly, over the years, practiced serial monogamy television. I mean, I watch one show til it goes off the air, and then pick another until it is canceled, and so on. My list reads : X files, Buffy, Angel, CSI, and that's pretty much it. I've never seen: Friends, Seinfeld, Idol, Desperate Whoever, Sopranos, or a whole lot of other shows.

2. Academy Awards/ SAG awards/ Grammy awards/ Tony awards. I never see current movies, they have to be on Showtime or something, so I'm completely ignorant of the various movie nominees. I've never seen any of the stars on the red carpet, so I couldn't care less about their dresses, I listen to music on the radio and not on MTV or CMT, so I never recognize the singers either. As a chronicler of American culture, I'm a non-starter.

3. Politics. Well, not much, anyway. I think Bush is an idiot, but that isn't a unique viewpoint, some 55% of Americans agree, what can I add? I can only hope the Democrats will run somebody that actually might have a chance, and not throw the elections with a dumb nomination like Hillary. I personally think she's one smart cookie and would probably make a good president, but her chance of getting elected in this country are entirely ZIP.

4. Crafts. Not knitting, not crocheting, not tole painting, not basket weaving. If I were good enough to be contributing something worthwhile to a craft, I'd probably be too busy to bother to write it down, anyway. As it happens, I'm a dabbler in crafts--one quilt, one pair of pillowcases, one wreath, one pair of mittens, and so on. The quilt was the worst, it took me 4+ years to finish, and the only reason I got it done at all is because I was unemployed for 6 months, and I spent 40 hours a week on it until I got it done. Never again.

5. Music. As a kid, I took lessons on the accordion, do they even exist any longer? Then, like every one else in the 60s and 70s, I learned guitar. I still have two guitars, but no finger calluses (if they ever make artificial ones I might take another stab at it). I sang in the church choir and in high school choir, and I CAN carry a tune in a bucket. As long as I don't have to carry it too far. Or hit too many high notes. I can read music, and I have perfect pitch, a skill I have never found the slightest use for. Singers that sing off-key set my teeth on edge.

6. Technical tips for the computer-savvy. Eons ago I wrote programs in (remember them?) Fortran? Cobol? Assembler? GWBasic? But computer programmers have gone the way of stenographers, I think, and the systems analysts and engineering types talk a language of their own. I will admit to a whimsical view of Windows, for many years my desk sported a sign that said "I don't do Windows". I mean, how can you take an operating system seriously that has you click on "start" to turn the computer OFF?

7. Bad sad things -- abuse, violence. I can't let my mind even go in those directions without doing a meltdown myself, and I bet there are plenty of people who can't read about them either.

So what's left? Well, pretty much just random thoughts -- small ones. And no, "Micro" thoughts doesn't mean I write about Bill Gates, either.