Thursday, March 27, 2008

Back From Vacation

We had a mini-vacation to replace the canceled one. I thought I'd be able to blog about it while I was there and it was fresh, but there was no internet or cell phone access. So, I am back and trying to reconnect to the world. If you tried to reach me, I have not been ignoring you. Unless I've been ignoring you. Then, I've been ignoring you.

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Why MRI?

A few of you have asked why I am having an MRI. Just because something isn't healing quickly is no reason to jump in the scanner and spend all that time, right? Ordinarily, I would agree with you. But there are a couple factors in this case that are pushing me the other way...

The main one comes from a physical therapist friend. He said something that is now stuck in my head and can only be proved or disproved with an MRI. And when I shared the theory with the doctor, he agreed that MRI was the best call. Or just caved easily so as to not deal with a difficult patient. I'm not sure which, but I wasn;t all that difficult. Just explaining why I wanted the MRI. Apparently, the gastrocnemius is connected to the bone in five places. Sometimes, when you hear a popping sound during the tear, it is become this has become detached from the bone. If that happened, it is not likely to reattach itself to the leg no matter how long you wait. My friend said that typically, people rehab it for a year, then they give up and get surgery.

Reinforcing this theory psychologically is the sensation when I try to stretch the calf by planting my foot and slowly bending my knee. The muscle goes to a certain point and then gets tight and painful. It feels like if it goes further it will pop again. And the thought was planted that the topmost connection could have let go and that sensation is the next one down getting ready to pop.

Now, if the doctor dismissed this as quackery and offered me some proof otherwise, I might be inclined to push it and try to stretch. But I have no desire to recreate that bruising, swelling, or pain.

So, the doctor recommended an MRI and a consult with a sports medicine ortho. If everything looks to be healing normally in there, we will do physical therapy. If not, we will explore other options.

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Losing Streak

I know. I'm supposed to focus on the positives. And there are positives. I have plenty to be thankful for. Especially with the way the economy is going. But I also have plenty I am not thankful for. I feel like I am on a bit of a losing streak right now. And sometimes you just have to get it out there so it can move on. Or you can move on. Maybe you and it move on, just in different directions. I'd sure hate to let it out and have it follow me...

It's hard to say what started the losing streak ,but it was definitely early in 2008. I guess we can blame the leg injury for lack of a better starting point. I gimped the leg in mid-February. And that was painful and annoying. She-who-normally-thinks-I-am-not-as-sick-as-I-am was incredibly supportive, helpful, and sympathetic. Which should serve to tell you how hosed I was.

I went to the urgent care for my doctor's medical group. It's like an ER, but staffed and funded by the office, so that it is still "in network". I don't feel like I got great care. I got poked and examined and then told "You have a gastrocnemius tear." I wasn't even given a follow-up appointment. I should have pushed it, but I didn't. I set my own follow up a week or so later and my primary doctor said, "The reason you are still having trouble is that this is a worse tear than they originally thought." Still no recommendation for anything other than what I was doing. Well, he wanted me to work on stretching it some. But I could only stretch it to a point. He assured me that I would be fine for my trip to Mexico.

Concurrent with all of this, news of the state budget crisis started coming out. Somehow, California is going to be short fifteen BILLION dollars next fiscal year. I'm sure that the housing crisis is part of it. Foreclosed properties don't generate much in the way of tax revenues. There are other things that were pushed for during Arnold's tenure that contributed, though. We're taking a page from the President's book and cutting taxes even though we need the money. In order to make up for it, because states generally don't run trillion dollar deficits, the Governator has decided to enact a 10% across the board cut in all departments on the state budget.

The upshot of this is that schools are sending out layoff notices to teachers. She-who-really-loves-her-job is not yet tenured. Even if she was, it wouldn't help as some tenured teachers are losing their jobs. So, we are going to have 10% fewer teachers and the same number of students. Apparently, being 49th in per student expenditures is not good enough for us. We are going for dead last! All the teachers with temporary contracts (of which she is one) were told that they won't be back next year, though they can sub if they want. Teachers will likely be hired back in order of seniority unless they have a special skill that is in demand. That means we have to wait for the California revenues to increase WITHOUT increasing taxes before she has a shot at getting her own classroom, a steady income, and teaching benefits. And since the problem is affecting all of California, she can't just move to another district. The explanation of the education hiring process is too complicated to cover as part of this post, but trust me. It's a ridiculous series of hoop jumping.

But really, do two complaints constitute a losing streak? Probably not. But I'm not stopping at 2. Let's add turmoil at Brian's work. The turmoil is not internal. I'm getting along with everyone. We have cool products and are hitting deadlines. The company is reasonably healthy. The problem is that we made an unpopular decision recently and took some PR hits for it. Then some insiders and former insiders with axes to grind started a smear campaign. The chairman of the board resigned in a huff which triggered some payout clauses. Then we missed expectations from "the street". End result. We are still profitable and growing. We are only going to grow 10-15% this year instead of 30-40%. We have a boatload of cash in the bank and are focusing on infrastructure and development. But the stock has tanked. And when I say the stock has tanked, I mean tanked. We went from $15 in February to $6 in March. Nobody's options are worth anything. This has created fears of layoffs, hostile takeovers, and the like. Morale is low and uncertainty is high.

Complaint 4: our house is now worth 30k less than we paid for it. That means leaving CA is likely not a solution to our economic woes. We're fine financially and we have our safety net, but the uncertainties have added stress to our lives. And I'd rather be fine and moving forward than holding my own and treading water.

Does that constitute a losing streak yet? How about the cherry on the cake? I had one more follow up appointment after shedding my crutches had caused me so much discomfort on Saturday. I wanted to make sure things were still on track and that I hadn't screwed anything up. I was also concerned with long flights and blood clots. My doctor wasn't available, so I got the on-call doctor. He examined the leg, told me that a gastroc tear was pretty painful and that I wasn't being a wimp. Cool. That's all good. What about the blood clots? No worries there. He said that even though there was still a decent amount of fluid, the chance of blood clot was pretty remote. Well. That was a relief. "So, I can still go to Mexico?" I asked. "Oh, goodness, no. You still need to cancel."

Apparently, the fluid in the leg will swell up on the long flight and I will spend my time on the plane in agony. That will make it difficult to do anything we had planned to do like the Maya ruins or the eco-park. So, instead of the special family trip for my birthday, I am spending my time trying to get the trip insurance to pay us back and get an MRI scheduled to find out why this is still behind schedule healing. Apparently, according to the on-call doctor, this tear is worse than the doctor who thought it was worse than they thought, thought it was.

Is that enough to qualify for a losing streak yet?

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Less Amazing Three Legged Man

Well. Going crutchless was a bad call.I had a really hard time walking on Saturday and was in a lot of pain. It was more than just fatigue from lack of use, too. When I tried to stretch it, it felt like it was going to snap again. So, I stopped. I'm going to see the doctor again and push for an MRI so we can find out what is really going on in there. In the meantime, I have procured a cane. It's not rhinestone studded and it doesn't have a laser. It's made of wood and has a curved handle. If not for the painted, carved parrot head at the end of the curve, it would look like an old man cane. Let's all take a moment and be thankful for the parrot.

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Friday, March 14, 2008

The Amazing Two Legged Man!

I am now fully off the crutches. I'm not jogging around or anything, but I am walking under my own power. I've got a slight limp, but I'm not shuffling or dragging a dead leg behind me. Some friends have suggested a cane. They would prefer one with LEDs or rhinestones or maybe something concealed in the handle. I think they are just enjoying how silly I look. There is one oddity about the whole thing, other than the fact that, a month later, there is still bruising. When I walk, my left arm still keeps in synch with my left leg, instead of alternating. It is used to reaching out in support with a crutch when that leg steps. The overall effect is that I look like a white guy trying badly to be hip.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Jump For Joy

Yesterday, Josh was working on his homework. He usually gets a multi-page packet on Monday that is due on Friday. This week, a few of his pages dealt with the concept of estimating. For example, one page asks him to circle the activity that will take longer. The picture on the left is of a girl drawing a flower. The picture on the right is of a girl drawing a full mural. You get the idea. The other class of problem gives an activity and asks the student to circle the correct estimate. Here's one for you:

How long you would jump rope:

1 minute?
1 hour?
1 week?

What do you suppose Josh answered? Therein lies the story...
Josh circled "1 hour". She-who-was-checking-the-homework told him that his answer was wrong. "Think about it, Josh. Would the amount of time you jumped rope be closer to a minute or closer to an hour?" Josh was firm in his beliefs. "An hour!" They went back and forth a few times with Josh stubbornly refusing to admit he was wrong and Mom trying to get him to fix his work. (His Mom and I are such reasonable people. Whereby did he acquire this stubbornness?) Then, inspiration struck! "All right, Josh. If you want to keep that answer, prove it. Show me that you can jump rope for an hour." I think she expected him to back down. Things do not always go as planned. "You watch. I'll prove you, Mom!"

There were some minor modifications made to the challenge. He's not coordinated enough to jump rope for a minute, let alone an hour. So, we decided that just jumping up and down would be close enough for the scale of the experiment. He immediately proceeded to jump up and down. We figured he'd last five minutes. At five minutes, he asked how long he'd been going. Maya told him that it had been five minutes. "I only have five minutes left?" Ummmmm. No. You have fifty-five. "But I have to pee." Excellent. An opening. "Just admit you were wrong and then you can stop and go to the bathroom," said Mom. "I'm not wrong!" Seeing he'd not be allowed a break, he dropped his pants to his ankles while continuing to jump and proceeded to water the lawn. Picture a hose that has been turned on while nobody is holding the end. When he was done, he pulled them back up, still jumping all the while. He made it to fifteen minutes and announce, "I'm hungry." Another opening. "If you give up, you can stop and have a snack." Do you think Josh gave up? Of course not. He hopped into the house and grabbed the box of Rice Krispies. He tried to eat handfuls of cereal while continuing on his task. He did the same with a drink of water. Still he jumped on.

Finally, the hour ended and Josh was triumphant. He was red-faced, hungry, and tired, but he was successful. And we had to write a note on his homework. We didn't want the teacher to say, "The answer is a minute. Not an hour. You don't jump rope for an hour..." We all know where that would lead...

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Thursday, March 06, 2008

Who Wants to See Gross Foot Pics?

I have a few pictures of the bruising on my leg from the calf muscle tear. They look pretty nasty. These were taken 2 weeks after the injury. Any bets on how long it will take for the bruises to clear? Click on if you want to see.

This one is a wider shot to try to get the full effect.

Zoomed in here for increased blotchiness resolution

The foot bruise is pretty sizable

An uninjured leg, which doesn't look all that appealing either.

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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Regime Turnover

Just a brief heads up that I am contributing to a new blog. It was started by James over at Aces Full. It's a time limited blog that will run up to the last day of Dubya's Presidency. All of the authors are left of the political spectrum and most of us seem to favor Obama. Hopefully, it will have interesting observations on the environment between now and next January. Or maybe it will just be a bunch of "crazy libruls" ranting. Check it out and see for yourself. It's called Regime Turnover. I personally think our logo should be Dubya wrapped in a flaky pastry and drizzled with a fruit sauce, but I'm not in charge.

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