Tag Archives: work

I Ain’t No Spring Chicken

Last week I had an experience that if I had any doubts left solidified the fact that I’m getting older. I had my first heart catheterization. It started with me being short of breath on Saturday. I called work to let them know I wouldn’t be in. It’s hard to perform the work they expect when you can’t breathe. I puttered around the house and woke up Sunday morning feeling even worse. Still couldn’t breathe and it felt like someone had pulled a weight belt across my chest and was tightening it while concrete was poured into my lungs. This prompted another call to work.

My wife hooked up the nebulizer so I could take a breathing treatment before bed time. When I got up Monday morning I felt better, so off to work I went. Only one problem; the more I moved around the harder it got for me to breathe. By two hours into my shift the tightness was back in my chest. By four hours in, it was accompanied with chest pain on the right side and in the center. I had doubts I was going to be able to finish the shift. Six hours in I was valiantly trying to wait until everything was in and processed before I told them I was going to have to leave. I’m stubborn like that. I hate to leave a job unfinished.

Finally seven and a half hours in that job was done. I found my supervisor to tell him I was going to leave, but he didn’t understand why I couldn’t wait another thirty minutes until my shift was over, so I started helping with some manual processing. Within fifteen minutes he had changed his mind. I don’t know if he saw how hard it was for me to breathe, realized the pain I was in, or envisioned the liability that he and the plant might be in should I die on the work floor after requesting to leave, but he finally told me to go on home. I left before someone changed their mind and headed home to get the wife and probably head for the ER.

When I got home the wife was asleep. I woke her up and told her what was going on. We ended up deciding to wait until morning and see if I could get in to see my doctor. We went to sleep and the next morning she got me an appointment for 10:30 AM. The doctor took me back and after a very brief examination sent me directly to the emergency room. The ER team ran a few tests and a few hours later I was told I was being admitted to the hospital and they would be performing a heart cath on me on Wednesday. Several hours later, they finally got me in a room and told me my procedure would be at 8:30 AM.

The next morning I was whisked down to the heart cath lab and after numerous delays was finally taken back to the operating room. To make a long story short, they did find some blockages, but nothing serious enough to prompt surgery or even stints… yet. The general feeling is that the chest pain I was experiencing was a combination of my asthma, COPD, and damage caused by my diabetes and neuropathy. I was out of commission for a few more days and returned to work on Sunday.

With me out of commission, my son borrowed my car and put his in the garage to have some repair work performed. As payback for letting him use my car, he and my daughter loaded up all the rest of my toy collection from the old house and brought it over to the new house. If my breathing doesn’t get any better, he and the other kids will all need to finish doing the rest of the moving as well. There was a time when I could have done it all myself, but that time has long passed. As I have heard so many people tell me through the years when I was younger and more active, I ain’t no spring chicken anymore.

When I Used to Get Sick

I have been struggling with the flu for the last few days. It hit me late Wednesday night or technically early Thursday morning. At first I didn’t know it was the flu. My doctor had just changed my medicines and I was sure that was it. Or maybe it was something I ate. I had eaten some of Lays new Sriracha flavored chips and surely that was the culprit if not the meds. I checked my blood sugar and it was up. That had to be the answer. My diabetes was making me vomit my insides out. My wife being much calmer and well-reasoned, stuck a thermometer in my mouth and informed me that I had a temperature of 100 degrees. You don’t get a fever with high sugar, bad food, or new medicines. You get a fever with a virus.

When I was a kid the thought of getting sick didn’t bother me. If I was too sick to go to school, Mom called and told them I wouldn’t be there. If I needed to go to the doctor, Mom bundled me up and drove me to the doctor. If I stayed at home, Mom would fix me foods that my stomach would handle and that would comfort me. Usually this was toast with butter, or after I got to feeling a little better, peanut butter. One food that I always wanted when I was sick and that no one could understand why I would want was pizza. Not just any pizza, Geno’s frozen pizza or any of the other rather bland frozen pizzas on a crust that doesn’t so much pass for a bread product, but as an edible form of cardboard. She would top this off with 7-Up, ginger ale, or Coke. I got a lot of Coke over crushed ice also.

If Mom did have to take me to the doctor’s office, she would usually pick me up a few comic books to read on the way home, and I could usually get her to buy me a model kit as well. The model kit would give me something to do and take my mind off of my sick tummy. At least that’s what it was supposed to do. Often times I would get frustrated when certain parts didn’t fit together properly and it would backfire by making me more upset and agitated.

As an adult I can be on my deathbed and I still have to call in to work and tell them I won’t be there. I don’t feel like breathing, but I have to go through a 10,000 question automated system to alert work that I’m not coming in. Oh and if you do that three times in a 90 day period there will be severe consequences (unless they are FMLA covered). I do have a wonderful wife that always pulls through for me when I get hit by the flu bug. She fixes me food and makes sure I stay hydrated. But my body has decided that it no longer wants cardboard pizza on a sick stomach. Baked chicken and baked potatoes all just lightly seasoned tends to stay down best now.

Needless to say the treat of getting a comic book or a model kit for being a good boy at the doctor’s office doesn’t happen anymore either. For one thing, I would have to buy them for myself since I’m also the one that would end up driving myself to the doctor’s office (unless I’m really bad and we have to try and catch my son before he goes to work). And also because neither comic books or model kits are as easy to find (or as cheap) as they were back in the late sixties/early seventies.

I’m not sure who in their right mind gets nostalgic for the sick days of their youth, but compared to the sick days of adulthood, I’d trade for them in a heartbeat.

Why Do I Have To Be The Strong One?

One of the things I miss about childhood is knowing that no matter what happened, my mom would take care of me. If I needed money for something she would always find it. I never really knew how bad or how tight finances were because Mom spoke mostly in vague and generic terms. Now I’m the adult. I have two grown kids and a wife. The daughter is 19, but while technically grown-up, has never had to deal with the grown-up world on a true one on one basis. She has had her own problems that she has had to deal with (after deciding that she was all grown up at 18), but Mom and Dad have always been there to catch her when she faltered.

When my daughter moved out (okay, ran off) in mid September of 2011 to go live with her then boyfriend and his parents, she learned that things weren’t as bad at home as she thought they were. Apparently we were horrible monsters because we did things like make her do her homework, go to school, clean her room, wash the dishes, and take care of the pets. Six months later she was 5 months pregnant and pretty much begging to come home. We took her back with open arms, but at the same time the wife and I had finally found the perfect comfort level. We had all the bills under control. We enjoyed each other’s company. Now we had another mouth to feed and another person to add back into our personal dynamic. It was hard, but we managed.

A month after this happened I found out that I was losing my job. I was given two years to find another spot to land in the company or be unemployed. At 47 I did not need to be unemployed, so I took a much more physical job than the one I had. The other option was to try and get a job with more stress or one that would likely be abolished in a future round of budget cuts. My schedule changed, but I assured everyone that we would be okay. I would actually end up making more money per paycheck.

In July my granddaughter was born. I love her dearly, but I was also faced with another human being that ultimately I would end up being responsible for taking care of. My daughter would look after her and my wife would make sure she was fed and clothed and clean (tasks my daughter still has difficulty with performing for herself), but I would have to work to pay for her food and her clothes. My daughter originally planned to breast feed exclusively. That soon changed to occasionally and was eventually supplanted entirely by bottles of formula. Formula is not cheap.

Her husband (they were married in March, but he is still only 17) moved in around October and we also started moving around that time. They lived in the old house while we lived in the new house, and I paid for the utilities on both houses. In December my son and his wife moved into the old house and my daughter and her family moved in to our new house. It’s a long complicated game of musical houses, don’t ask.

So around this time we’re trying to move, trying to get set up for Christmas and Thanksgiving, and keep everything going when my paycheck gets screwed up. In my old position I was responsible for making sure all the employees in my unit got paid. In the new position I have to hope that the supervisors remember to put in things like paid leave. Needless to say, one of them didn’t.

My health also decided to start really giving me problems. My blood sugar would spike or would bottom out and my asthma became more debilitating than it had been in years because I was getting into so much dust, and dirt, and pet odors during the move all while exerting myself physically and then headed to work where I would perform even more physical lifting and loading.

Here we are now in February and I am still trying to recover financially from two screwed up checks, holiday expenses, and feeding a family of five. Today my blood sugar spiked high. I was shaking. I couldn’t function and had to call off from work. I ended up sitting in a recliner and sleeping most of the day. When I was awake, I was silently fighting the urge to break down and cry. I know my life isn’t nearly as bad as so many other people’s. I know we will eventually get things straightened out. I know we will eventually get moved, get the kids into their own place, and get a quiet and restful home life, but right now all I can think about is why do I have to be the strong one? Why do I have to put on the brave face and not let anyone know how bad I’m hurting? How did Mom handle things like this and make it look so easy?

Every Day Was An Adventure

Every person over the age of 30 at some point or another seems to inevitably make the same comment. “Time seems to go so much faster the older you get.” I’ve said it and thought it many times, but never really stopped to think about why it was. There are still 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week, 12 months in a year. Why do those events seem to go by so much faster than when we were kids?

I think the answer is that as adults our lives are more structured and planned. I know when I get up tomorrow that I will get up, test my blood sugar, get a shower, get dressed, eat breakfast, take my morning meds, go to work, come home, check the net, take the dog out, get undressed, and go to bed. Even those events are further scheduled out. I don’t look at work as an 8 hour shift. Mentally I think of it in two-hour blocks. Clock in, set up my operation, work the mail for about an hour, and go to my first break. Work the mail for another hour and forty minutes, go to wash-up, and take lunch. Work the next hour and forty-five minutes, go to my final break, and take my evening meds. Then I go back to work for another hour and forty minutes before going to wash-up and going home. Every day of the week is the same as the last one, except for my day off, which has also been planned out based on things I need to get done on the one day I don’t have to go to work. Every minute at work is spent anticipating that next break. Every day is spent anticipating that one day off even if it has no free time in it either. Every minute of every day is already gone before I even get to breathe it in. That’s not the case when you’re a kid. When you’re a kid, every day is an adventure.

When you get up in the morning you have no idea what you’re going to have for breakfast. Did mom make pancakes? What cereals do we have? Do I smell bacon? It’s a mystery to be solved. When you get to school you have no idea what the day will bring. You may know your class schedule, but what about the days that the teacher decides to show a movie? Or what about when a substitute teacher shows up? Maybe they’ll have an assembly today, or a bake sale, or an in school basketball game. It’s school, but it’s not predictable. After school you had several hours of free time unless you had homework. None of that was planned out. Dinner was even a mystery. Would it be something you liked or would it be Brussel sprouts? Maybe your parents would order a pizza or take everyone out for a meal. The weekends were a blank canvas. You never knew when someone in the family would surprise you with a day trip or a movie. I still remember the joy of going to see The Jungle Book for my third or fourth time with my brother-in-law. He took me along with his kids (my niece and nephew, I was a late life surprise) and it was one of the greatest days of my life to that point. I remember my sister taking me with her two kids (my other nephews at the time) to see Jaws and Earthquake one evening. I had already seen both of the films, my nephews hadn’t seen either, but we all had a great time. It was an adventure.

So what I have concluded is that when you face each moment waiting for some future goal like a break, a day off, or a vacation, you never savor the moments. You look ahead and plan for when your break ends or your vacation’s over. When you live life like a kid with no idea or only a vague idea of what the next week, day or even hour is going to bring, you live in the moment.

Wasted Days & Wasted Nights

It amazes me when I get a day off and don’t feel like I manage to accomplish a thing. Don’t get me wrong, I did get some things done, just not the laundry list of things I wanted to get done. The wife and I went through and shredded old receipts from 1989 through the early 2000’s today. Now while this was something that needed to be done, it just doesn’t feel like anything either. I had planned to move over another shelf full of magazines and a desk full of books to help finish out most of the center of the old house’s library. Instead we turned 15 years worth of phone bills into confetti.

I thought perhaps I would try and catch up on some comic reading. I got through the first three issues of All New X-Men and fell asleep in the middle of issue 4. Remember how I said in my last post that I need those 8 hours of sleep? Well I only got 6 last night and my body has been reminding me about it every waking moment. I think my DVR viewing is up to date with the exception of the new season of Workaholics. I have two episodes sitting on the DVR waiting to be watched, but no burning desire to jump in and start watching.

Workaholics is one of those shows that I enjoy, but I find myself dreading to watch. I have similar reactions to Wilfred and It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. I’ve also had issues getting into Dexter for the last three seasons. I watched the first episode after Rita was killed and found it so depressing that I didn’t want to go back for the next episode. Then the next season started and I didn’t want to watch until I caught up on the other season. Finally the most recent season began and I found myself two season’s behind. I decided to just knuckle down and watch the first episode, totally ruining the previous season’s twist ending shocker. I still enjoyed the show, but never managed to go back and watch anything beyond that season opener.

One show that recently started back up and that I definitely don’t let sit on the DVR for too long is Archer. I absolutely loved the season premiere this year with an amnesiac Archer thinking his name is Bob and working at a burger joint named Bob’s Burgers with his wife, Linda, and their three children. The fact that H. Jon Benjamin voices both Archer and Bob in the two respective shows made this the greatest series mash up since Bob Newhart woke up in bed with Suzanne Pleshette. It was easily my favorite thirty minutes of television this year, although the scene of Jessica Lange singing “The Name Game” in the middle of Briarcliff Insane Asylum on American Horror Story: Asylum three weeks ago is definitely a close second. To go from such a dark depressing environment to the bright shiny and very colorful song and dance number still has me floored. Jessica Lange has come a long way from Dwan in King Kong and deserves another round of awards for this season.

So, how will I cap off the night? I think I’m going to try and finish off the first disc if my Tosh.0 Deep V’s Blu-ray. Tosh.0 was one of those shows I hated initially. I thought the celebrity videos were horrible and wasn’t a fan of much else on those early episodes either. I watched two episodes and I was done. Somewhere in the middle of the third season I started watching it again. I don’t know why. I think I just had the TV turned to Comedy Central and there wasn’t anything else on screaming for my attention. The next thing I knew, I had saved the show to my DVR and couldn’t wait until the new episode hit.

When Comedy Central started releasing the episodes on DVD and Blu-ray last year, I was thrilled. They made the decision not to release full season sets, but instead to release the show based on Daniel’s wardrobe. For those not familiar with the show, Daniel wears one type of clothing for each block of episodes of which there are usually two to three blocks per season. The first season consisted of hoodies and cardigans. Season two contained casual jackets and deep v’s. So the first Blu-ray consisted of all the Hoodies episodes. I bought it and watched it the night before my big job change in June 2012. It helped keep me up and entertained so I would be ready to take on going from day shift to evening shift. At Christmas time they released volume 2 on DVD and Blu-ray, but it was Deep V’s, the last 15 or so episodes of season 2. The last episodes of season 1 and the first episodes of season 2 were released on DVD only as a Wal-Mart exclusive and numbered as volume 3. Can somebody please tell Comedy Central that some of us out here actually care about about things like proper release order and numbering? I’m still pissed at the Simpsons for releasing season 20 after season 12 or 13.

I’m also pissed that no one has made a deal to release the later seasons of SNL. Don’t get me wrong. The first five seasons are THE classic years for the show, but I also want to see the train wreck that was season 6 and season 11. I want to watch the episodes with Eddie Murphy and Joe Piscipo that I ignored while I was in my senior year of high school. I want to catch the classic late 80s episodes with Phil Hartman, Jon Lovitz, Dennis Miller, and Dana Carvey. I also want to see the early Will Ferrell episodes and watch Tina Fey and Amy Poehler’s early days before 30 Rock and Parks and Rec. If Universal doesn’t want to release them, they should license the rights to Shout Factory who does an amazing job with shows like this.

Who the hell am I anyway?

In just a few short months, I will be 49 years old. This means that most likely over my half of my life is gone. I look back at the days of my youth and think about the way things used to be. Then I look around at today and think when did the world pass me by. I tried to start a Twitter account and couldn’t think of anything worth tweeting. I think about doing a You Tube video, and realize that I have no idea how to post one. On the other hand a blog is writing. That seems to be something I can handle. In fact I have done it before for a little over a year.

A couple of years back I decided to watch a DVD a day and write a blog reviewing the discs that I watched. I did it and after the year was up, I was too tired to go on. I won’t be attempting that here, but I thought that it might be fun to write about my life without being confined to the small amount of text that Twitter or Facebook allows. If I feel like writing a diatribe that rambles on for multiple paragraphs, a blog can handle that. If I want to post a short thought, a blog can handle that as well.

At the time of this writing it is 3 AM. I took off from work today because my asthma flared up. I work six days a week and I live about 45 minutes from my job. A normal day has me away from home for nearly 10 hours. I also sleep. I find that at my age I need and I want my full eight hours of sleep. That takes care of 18 hours in a day leaving only 6 hours available for other things. Now I should also mention that my wife and I have been trying to move since October.

My wife’s parents bought a new house and gave us their old place. In turn we gave our old place to our son and his wife. When we first moved in, we had to clear out all of the stuff my in-laws left behind because they no longer wanted it. This took longer than you would suspect since everything had to be looked over first to decide if they might have left it by accident or if it was something my wife wanted to keep. Once the house was cleared, we decided to paint. It is very hard to paint with only 6 hours available to you and several of those hours happen to be when everyone else is sound asleep. Then there’s also the problem with the paint fumes triggering an asthma attack.

We gave up on painting and just decided to move. Of course when we started pulling out boxes and taking items down off of shelves where they had happily set for a decade or so, that stirred up a lot of dust which also triggered more asthma attacks. It became this weird situation where I would try to pack and move stuff before work, only to trigger an asthma attack that kept me from going to work after all. Of course it also meant that I couldn’t do much more moving as I needed to start using my nebulizer and fighting the asthma.

Three months and three major holidays later and we have moved most of the stuff from our bedroom, the kitchen, the bath and the living room. I have also managed to move my DVD and CD collection and the majority of my comic collection. We still have an entire library of books and an attic full of toys to go. And of course there are always the straggler pieces that pop up as well. Maybe it’s a box of the wife’s yarn that was hidden behind something or a wall hanging in the bathroom that I keep forgetting to take down. I have been asking for time off to try and finish the move, but this has fallen on deaf ears, so I am stuck in the loop of trying to move as much as I can before work without inhaling enough dust, dirt and pet hair to send my lungs into shock and forcing me to call off.

At least today’s power move was worth the trauma to the lungs. I cleared out a section of the attic that I thought only contained old receipts. Turned out it also contained a box of childhood memories including my first scrapbook. This was a large notebook with a 1970’s astrological sun design filled with old movie theater ads and lids from Aurora model kits. There was a Burger Chef window sticker of a Picklepotamus in there as well. The box also held a near complete run of The Bicentennial Times. The funny thing is, I thought most of this stuff was lost during a previous move.