Medical Arrest!

Okay, so the other day I developed a sharp pain in my shoulder and arm. I diagnosed myself as having either a pinched nerve or a pulled muscle. Regardless, I figured a couple of muscle relaxers and some rest was just what I needed. I called my doc and was told she was still on medical leave.

I described my problem and asked, "Who is she referring to?"

"Well, gosh, I don't really know who might be able to get you in," I was told. "You could go to the emergency room."

"I have a pinched nerve, I am not dying. I don't think it's an emergency per se, just something I need to get taken care of so I can work. I've taken Advil and used ice packs, but I really think maybe I need a muscle relaxer," I explained.

"Well, all I can tell you is to go to ER if you need to be seen."

I angrily hung up and tried to resume work at my desk. My shoulder kept throbbing. Finally I decided my only choice was to join the doctorless masses and visit the minor emergency care clinic.

When I was called back to the exam room I described the problem to the Physician's Assistant, who put me through a short drill of range-of-movement testing. He exited and sent a nurse in.

The nurse arrived with a portable EKG machine and explained that because the pain was in my left arm they needed to make sure it wasn't heart related. Fine. I can see how they might need to make sure. The nurse asked if I had any shortness of breath or chest pains. Nope, I assured her. Just a pulled muscle. We chit chatted a bit while she hooked me up. The test was quickly completed and I was instructed to get dressed and wait for the doc.

Doc walks in and introduces himself. "You're going to need to go to the hospital," he says.

I laugh. "Yeah, right. Very funny. It's a pulled muscle right?"

The doctor looked serious. "Well, I can't really say. What I can tell you is that you need some further testing."

"Okay, fine. Give me referral and I'll follow up on the tests, but really, my immediate problem is this pulled muscle."

"I don't think you understand. You need these tests now."

I was becoming frustrated. "Fine, okay, where do I need to go?" At this point I was resigned to going home to just a hot shower and more Advil.

"I need you to come with me."

Okay, sure, I'm game. Gotta fill out some release papers I guess. I pick up my keys and follow him across the hall where I am quickly surrounded by two nurses who simultaneously take my pulse, hook up a blood pressure cuff and instruct me to open my mouth. While all this is happening one nurse explains that what I have just been given is Nitro and that I will be going to the heart Hospital.

I begin to protest. "Nitro? What if I don't need Nitro? In fact, I don't think I need Nitro at all! And what exactly does Nitro do if you DON'T need it? What did that damned EKG say anyway?!"

In the ensuing frenzied exchange I learn that my EKG looked normal, my blood pressure was normal, in fact ALL my vitals are normal, but because of "the nature of" my complaint they have to rule out
heart attack.

"This is because Of the law firm I work for right? Okay, yes, we do sue doctors, but I promise you don't have to go to this extreme as a CYA measure. Really, just give me my keys and I promise I'll get some heart testing. I have wasted enough of your time." That's when I heard the siren.

I looked at the nurse. "Tell me that is not for me, " I say, in disbelief.

"Yes, the doctor cannot legally let you leave if he believes you may be having a heart attack."

"But I am NOT HAVING A HEART ATTACK! I feel fine!"

The ambulance drivers arrive in time to hear this statement and both begin chuckling.

"Is this the patient," they ask, "Do you know how much grief we are going to get when we deliver what appears to be perfectly healthy patient to Cardiac Emergency?" One EMT goes to find the doctor while the other waits with me chuckling and confiding that this particular clinic is known for it's overkill. The second EMT comes back and states that they are, indeed, taking me to the hospital. In fact, from this point on I am not even allowed to stand up.

Amid my protests of "You have got to be kidding!" I am lifted onto the gurney and loaded into the ambulance.

Once there I try reasoning with the EMT guys. "Now, are you guys gonna let me go or are you gonna insist on making me go to the hospital? I FEEL FINE!" the EMTs won't budge and explain that now that responsibility has been transferred to them I am, indeed, going to the hospital. One begins to explain the tests that will be performed and that these are necessary because of my "chief complain" of left arm pain. They mildly agree that this is overkill, and admit that no one wants it to be their ass on the line of I were to leave and have a heart attack. They even have a sense of humour as they begin to joke that they are going to run "lights and siren" all the way.

So, that's how I came to be delivered to the heart hospital and described to the receiving docs as having normal vitals and a stubborn attitude. Thankfully the docs at the hospital aren't much for overreaction and after another quick EKG and some blood work they release me within the hour. They did schedule some follow up testing because of my age. Weight and smoking history.

I recently had my first treadmill stress test and echocardiagram. I passed both, though I am now on cholesterol medication and am trying to both quit smoking and be diligent about incorporating an exercise routine into my schedule.

I mean, the trauma, expense, and inconvenience of NOT having a heart attack was bad enough. I certainly don't want to do it for real!



A week or so ago I called my Doctor's office for an appointment because I have been feeling run down and crappy. The receptionist informed me that my doc is out on medical leave because she had "emergency" back surgery.


I don't know what my doc has done to her back, but this is the third or fourth time she has had "emergency" back surgery.

Now I don't know what "emergency" means to the rest of the world, but to me using the word implies "urgent" and "necessary." Like, if my doc was walking down the street, or cooking dinner, or shopping or something and then BOOM she fell over in excruciating pain for which she was rushed to the hospital and surrounded by surgeons who did "Emergency" surgery.

No, each time she has had the surgery it has been "elective" and because of some ongoing disc problem. She schedules the surgery in advance, but then if you happen to be the unlucky patient who calls her office because you are puking, or fainting, or it hurts when you pee or something, you are told she is out on "Emergency" leave.


When I call because my kidneys feel like someone is stabbing them repeatedly a dull steak knife I consider that an emergency. My docs office, however, considers that something they can see me for in, oh, say A WEEK!

I once called in because the night before the Emergency room doctors said specifically to "follow up with your doctor tomorrow." (I had been rushed via ambulance to the ER because of
carbon monoxide poisoning - long story for another time.) Anyway, the nurse told me they were booked up for the rest of the month and I should probably just call them, back if I had any "specific" problems.

I think "I almost died yesterday" is pretty specific don't you?

So, needless to say I was not happy that I felt like crap and my doc was out because she had a very oxymoronic "elective emergency" procedure.

She is not referring her patients to anyone else during her absence.

She will be back in 3 weeks.

Oh yeah, and they did reassure me that her surgery went well and she is recovering nicely.

How nice of them not to want their patients to worry about her.



So, Saturday night my nephew, "Furry", came over to hang out with Little Dog and me. Well, "hang out" as much as an 8 month old can.

Much preparation went into planning for this little get together. I even bought baby friendly junk food (something Gerber makes called Strawberry Banana puffs.) Everything was fine for the playing portion and eating portion of our evening. In fact, Furry brought some electronic toys that were kind of cool. Baby toys do much more now than they did when Little Dog was a pup! The toys he had were brightly coloured, but just kind of laid there waiting to be picked up or stacked or shoved into his mouth. Furry's toys, however, have blinking lights and make noises when you touch them. Some of them even come with claims that they will help him achieve Einstein-like genius!

One toy, in particular, was a stuffed ball with globe illustrations. When you touch a particular country it plays a little 4 line song about that country. Take England, for example: "Over in England... Put on a coat! And look for a reeeeeed fox!"

Now, I have no idea why you would have to put on a coat in England. Is it because of the rain?! And why is red fox there?! Is Redd Foxx even appropriate for for infants?!

I tried making up my own songs and singing them loudly drown out the pre programmed songs. I sang: "Over in England they have a Queen...And an outdated monarchyyyyyyyy!"

Furry's dad is British, so that might account for why he didn't appreciate this.

I pushed South Africa and sang a bit about apartheid.

No response.

I pushed Canada and sang about free health care for everyone and quickly segued into an impromptu Sweden song about generous maternity leave.

Furry threw the ball across the room and picked up a stuffed rabbit that started playing a classical piece.

I quit while I was ahead.


Brand Loyalty: A List

Little Dog Shoes: Chuck's.

Baby Toys: Little Tikes. I even wrote them a fan letter when Little Dog was an infant.

Cars: I'm Nissan/Honda loyal.

Airline: American. Period.

Electronics: JVC. My first VCR lasted over 10 years and never needed a repair.

Soap: Dial. White.

Tools: Craftsman. Even my garden hose.

Department Store: Target. I absolutely Luuuuuuurve Target. Read the book, On Target for the whole story.

Newspaper: The New York Times. I've never met a local paper I liked.


Brand Loyalty

So I've been shopping for a gift for my infant nephew and I realised something: I am completely a "Brand Loyal" type person.

I probably get this from all those years as I child that I grocery shopped with my mom. Need tomato sauce? Hunts is the only one that will do. Canned vegetables? That would be Del Monte. Crackers or cookies? Those Keebler elves get the job done! And on and on and on.

But the loyalty extends to the stores themselves as well. There wasn't anything we could need, aside from groceries, that my mom couldn't buy at Sears. Now, granted this was back in Brady Bunch days when Sears was THE department store. Oh how I hated bra shopping at Sears. I remember going home and ripping of all the bows and daisies the makers felt compelled to adorn young teen bras with. (The only thing that ooged me out more were the old lady bras with their cotton cone shaped cup, mile wide straps and six rows of hooks.) The one exception to the Sears rule was the once a year back-to-school shopping trip to Renbergs department store where I got exactly this:

3 pair of Levis 501s
4 oxford cloth button downs (yellow, pink, white and blue)
5 Izods (my choice of colours.)
Every other year I got either a new pair of Bass penny loafers or top siders.

The doctor who told my mom of her first pregnancy was the same one who delivered her third child 15 years later. He delivered all three children and cared for them all until adulthood. He retired in his 70's and my mom, by that time menopausal, was crushed.

Anyway, I now possess this same kind of loyalty. I have lived all over the states and somehow ended up right back in my home town to raise my own family. When in this town I have always lived within 5 miles of my childhood home. I use the same butcher shop my mom used 30 years ago.

Oh yeah, and tho I think Sears sucks and Renbergs has closed I still buy only Hunt's tomato sauce and Levis jeans.

It's just who I am.



I got a ticket today.

I got a ticket for turning left (illegally) at the corner light a block away from my office building.

I turn left there every morning and have for the last 3 years.

Half of my coworkers do the same thing.

Five of them have received tickets this week.

Guess they're cracking down on this horrible left turn behaviour.


Damn I hope those books come tomorrow.


Damned One Click Ordering

It's 2005 and I have been able to resist the lure of eBay.

I haven't, however, been able to resist ordering regularly from Amazon. I have ordered so much that I now (apparently) have the ability to do something called "one click ordering."

I really don't like one click ordering. See, I have a near impossible time committing to something. I can't tell you how many times I've filled my online shopping cart with items, gone to checkout and then dumped them all one by one because I couldn't commit. It's not embarrassing at all. No one even knows.

Last night that all changed.

I filled my cart with about 7 different items, all of which I intended to buy. I even had a gift certificate and a new credit card. Woo Hoo!

So, I was doing a review of what I was buying - hopping back and forth between websites to check one more time and see if anyone else had the items cheaper. I had emptied my cart of the other 9 books I wanted, but didn't need and couldn't afford.

I was ready to proceed to the fun part of entering my gift certificate and all the other zillions of numbers required to make a purchase.

I clicked place order and got ready.



Not only did I not get to use my gift card, but everything I purchased had been instantaneously billed to my checking account (which was how I made my last purchase.) I couldn't cancel without e-mailing all SEVEN different vendors and then explaining myself in the inadequate (for concise explanations) medium of e-mail.

I guess I do still have that gift card, and it won't be the first time we eat peanut butter sandwiches for a week because I blew the grocery budget on books.


I guess I am not the ideal candidate for the convenience of one click ordering am I?


LD Takes a Stand

Well, it finally happened. The Little Dog stood up for himself.

This whole experience has taught me that, in addition to a bleeding heart and a strong empathy for where the other person is coming from, you also have to have an even stronger ability to draw your own boundaries. You have to be able to stand up for yourself before you can stand up for anyone else.

LD is learning that he has every right to have reasonable expectations of those people closest to him. The first expectation is of mutual respect, which had become non-existent in the relationship at issue.

It seems I have spent the first part of his life teaching him to have empathy, compassion and respect for others. He has learned well, and is now one of the kindest young men I know.

Now, in his teen years, he is faced with the adult realization that others don't always have these qualities. I'm trying my best to help him navigate these new concepts and to learn appropriate responses. I definitely want him to understand that while righteous anger is a good and powerful thing, he must learn to express it appropriately.

You know, everybody doesn't think about these things. My parents certainly didn't. Like almost everyone else, I learned as I went and stuffed my emotions accordingly. It wasn't until I tried therapy in my 30's that I was confronted with the idea that, holy cow, all of my emotions were valid. As much as I had a right to be happy, safe, pleasant and warm, I also had the right to sometimes be angry, scared, pissy and cold.

So, while the person in his most recent equation holds a position in LD's life that deserves respect, it does not have to be a blind respect. Up until this weekend it was.

I told friends that it had become so bad that if this person spit on him LD would make the excuse that, "He just needed to spit real bad and I was in the way."

In the way. That is how he has been made to feel. But because he is old enough for me not to butt in and advocate for him I have had to hold myself back (and keep my mouth shut.)

Then, yesterday, he said, "I'm tired of this."

"Tired of what," I asked, knowing the person in question was expecting him to show up and be glad about it.

"I'm just tired of the way I am being treated." He went on to think out loud for the next hour. He would pop into where I was working and say, "Here's another thing that makes me mad..."

Finally, it was time to go and much to my surprise he said, "I'm not going. I just don't want to do it any more. Are you okay with that?"

I assured him that the decision was his and I had his back. I tried not to eavesdrop on the conversation he had in order to cancel the arrangement. I asked him how he felt when it was over.

"I feel GREAT," he said.

And we went out to dinner to celebrate.



Recently an acquaintance of mine, who is in the entertainment industry, made a very public announcement about a very personal situation. Immediately the responses started pouring in and ranged from "You Da Man!" to "You're an asshole!" Within a short time the responses had little to do with this man or his situation and instead the responders had turned on each other.

"Who are you to judge," they shouted at his detractors.

"You're just as stupid and immoral as he is," they shouted at his supporters.

And, of course, there was the inevitable cry of, "Until you have walked in his shoes you can't judge!"

Well, newsflash people, yes, we can judge without putting on his size fourteens. We can, and do, judge people every day.

We judge people based on their appearance, their accent, and what we know of their situations. We judge businesses based on their reputations, religions based on the actions of their followers, celebrities based on what is printed about them and our politicians based on their perceived morals (or lack thereof.) Our whole judicial system is based on societal judgment. Part of being human is the ability to judge - to trust our gut. Some people are even admired for their "good judgment."

I don't have to walk in a child molester's shoes to know that he or she is evil. I don't have to walk in a cancer patient's shoes to know that he or she is in pain. I can form my opinion based on knowledge and my own life experiences.

Yes, we should try to obtain the "whole story" before forming our opinions. And yes, we should not be quick to judge. In the end, our judgment isn't the one that matters either.

We all have to live with the consequences of our choices, including the judgment that follows. Like I once told my teen step-daughter, "You have to look at your self in the mirror every day. It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks. You gotta figure out if YOU like what you see looking back at you."

Me? I try to temper my judgment of others with a hefty dose of, "There but for the grace of God go I."

I advise everyone to do the same.


To sleep, perchance to dream...

So last night I was so wiped out I went to bed at 7:30.

Then I woke up at 9:30 and glanced at the clock. Now I don't know how you wake up, but I wake up to a new world every day. It takes me 15 minutes after opening my eyes to just figure out who I am and how I got to be waking up in this place. I set my clock ahead by at least an hour, but I never know exactly how ahead b/c that is a little trick I play on myself.

Yeah, I fuck with my own self when I am at my most vulnerable. The confusion of not knowing how ahead the clock is set is just enough to get my brain engaged, and thus wake me up completely.

But I digress.

So I woke up at 9:30 (bedroom clock time) and in my half-asleep state I did the math. Here's what happened in my mind:

"9:30? Wha...? HOLY SHIT! That means it's something like 8:30! I needed to get up at 6:00! Damn! It's gonna take me AT LEAST 30 minutes to get ready! Why didn't the alarm go off?! DAMN! Now I am gonna be fired! Why didn't LD wake me up? He ALWAYS gets up by 6:30. I hate being late to work! Crap! LD is gonna be late to school too! He's gonna be pissed!!! Wait, is it Saturday? Oh kewl, maybe it IS Saturday. No, wait, I don't think yesterday was Friday. I don't remember doing "Friday" things yesterday. Why is it SO DARK outside?!"

and then,

"Oh wait, I went to bed at 7:30. It's only 8:30 PM.! I've only been asleep for an hour. Whew....ZZZzzzzzzzz......."

Crisis averted. I had no problem getting back to sleep.

Now let me clarify: I can sleep ANY TIME and ANYWHERE. I have fallen asleep in class, at parties, on dates and while friends were over. I've slept through storms, power outages, and tornadoes. Once, when I was young, three firetrucks mistakenly came to our house with Sirens blazing and I never woke up. I have slept through three days straight. If I laid down on the floor right this very minute I could easily fall asleep.

I'm just like that.

I don't have any medical condition that causes this. I also don't have any concern that I won't be able to stay awake when I truly need to. I mean, I have raised LD and never failed to wake up when he so much as coughs. I can even stay awake for over 24 hours if needed. Need someone to drive you cross country non-stop? I'm your gal!
But I'm gonna sleep for a loooong time when we get there.



All is again right with the world.

After two agonizing nights and a couple of frustrating phone calls with various companies' tech support I have restored AND UPGRADED my iTunes.

How I did it is complicated and strange - much like how MacGyver could take three common household items and build a working bomb and escape. Yeah, so I just used a bunch of weird add ons, deletes and updates. It was scary for a while, but then I rebooted and the system worked and then…I opened iTunes.

At that point Angels descended from the heavens and small forest animals gathered around me to dance merrily. Birds flew down from the sky and placed a cloak made of wild flowers over my shoulders and a crown of CDs on my head. I tear rolled down my cheek when I saw my iTunes library load onto the screen.

Thank you all for your support through this trauma.


Yellow Dog