Discography

06_Cervical_MRI_scan_R_T1WFSE_G_T2WfrFSE_STIR_BFor well over a year, maybe a year and a half, I’ve been plagued by a steadily worsening, sore shoulder. Some days it bothered me so much that it limited how far I could run, because even just holding up my arm was too much. Even so, I figured I could tough it out until it eventually healed itself.

After nearly a year of ridiculous denial, punctuated occasionally by internet searches that told me I suffered from maladies ranging from stress to cancer, I finally went to the doctor. Four hundred dollars and an MRI later, I learned my shoulder pain actually radiated from a bulging disc in my neck. Good to know.

A spinal cortisone shot and many more dollars later, nothing had changed. I frittered away the calendar days suffering in (relative) silence until I found myself a quarter of the way into a new year and a new, unmet deductible. That seemed as good a time as any to finally pick up the script the doctor had written and make an appointment for physical therapy.

Two months later, I’ve found significant relief. I had started to believe the light at the end of the tunnel was getting pretty bright–until last weekend. I had a regression, and many of my symptoms came back hot-and-heavy.

The thing is, I knew it was my fault. I had gotten sloppy with my posture again. It’s not comfortable to stand/sit up straight all the time. All those neglected muscles get sore from walking around at attention. It’s so much easier to just relax in a slouch. After all, I feel kind of silly carrying myself like a soldier, and it takes so much focus to not slip into old habits. (Excuses, excuses.)

Even so, I knew when I went back to PT this morning that I needed to fess up and ask for a taping treatment.* I really, really, really didn’t want to; it’s not super comfortable to maintain a rigid posture when you’re body’s not used to it, and sometimes it gives me a slightly claustrophobic feeling. Oh, and did I mention that after awhile, it makes my back itchy. No, no, no…please no.

But I did it. I asked to be taped again, because I knew that whatever amount of discomfort I would experience would ultimately lead to the healing of my root problem.

And there’s the metaphor.

Another kind of therapist–the head kind–tried and tried to tell me that years ago, though I shunned her advice. It figures that my stubbornness only led to being presented with the same lesson in a physical manifestation.

Sometimes you have to go through hurt so you can heal.

*My PT uses a technique where he applies tape to a patient in slightly exaggerated, good posture. When the patient starts to slouch or to return to bad form, the tape pulls, giving a physical reminder of the lapse. Essentially, it gently forces the patient to maintain good posture. Different problem areas call for different taping techniques. If you don’t believe me, you can learn more HERE.

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Thinking out loud

stenoI’m really struggling with a project at work. Actually, the project itself is pretty straightforward; the problem is finding a common language with my work partner. Frankly, the situation has been really frustrating me. As much as I KNOW the effects language can have on a person, I’m not immune to them. I find it hard to overlook certain word choices when they are pointed in my direction. Words matter.

So there’s that.

There’s also the issue of asking for information one way and receiving it in a completely different–winding and muddled–format. I find myself wading through a pile of words that I have to struggle to understand, let alone organize. Words matter.

So there’s that, too.

I don’t want to sort this stuff out; I want it to be easy. (Don’t we all?) But then, isn’t this what I say I’m good at? Isn’t this what I do? Isn’t it my job to pull in information and figure out not only what matters but also how to communicate it back to others?

Well, crap. Why do I always forget that challenges are generally opportunities in disguise?

I’ll fix it. I’ll make it sound good. It’s what I do. And you know what? I love it.

Thanks for letting me think this out on your screen. That’s what I do, too.

If I ruled the world

I can wait for hours in an airport. I can wait for days for my new shoes to come in the mail. I can wait for weeks till my next vacation. I can wait for months to move into my company’s new office building. But put me in a line, and all bets are off. I fidget, mutter under my breath, and glare at hapless queuers who wait until standing at the counter to dig through their purses and pockets to find what the signs clearly note that they need. Trust me, I’m no fun standing in line.

Since summertime means summer camp and I have kids, that means I have to stand in my fair share of lines at registration tables. For some reason, I naively believe that having all of my stuff organized and handled before I go will allow me to sail through the check-in process. Unfortunately, I fail to consider everyone else. Regardless of how prepared I am, no matter that I have filled out all the forms and paid online, I am still relegated to queuing up and waiting. And waiting.

Today was one such occasion.

In my (probably unreasonable, I admit) frustration, a brilliant idea germinated. I looked at my daughter and began, “You know what? If I ruled the world…” Then I proceeded to lay out my plan to reward the pre-registered, pre-paid, prepared people on the planet. (Excuse me for being an alliterative mess.) Here it is.

What if, like the special airport security lane for frequent travelers, venues with registration tables actually had TWO tables: one for people who just need to say “Hi, just wanted to let you know I’ve arrived,” and another for everyone else–people with a balance due, who want to add an amenity, who need special handling? The people who arrive transactionally complete can breeze through and get on with business. When they’ve all been accounted for, the registration personnel from that table can help the other table. Voila. Streamlined registration for everyone.

Alas, that was not to be the case today. My daughter and I arrived at camp and waited in the long line at the registration table. When it was our turn, the lady who greeted us asked my daughter’s name, found it on the list, saw that we had no balance, and put a check mark by her name. Thirty seconds after we had stepped in front of her, she sent us to the nurse’s table. There we waited again for our turn, at which point we reported we had no medicines to check in. The nurse found my completed online form (now printed) in her stack, placed a check mark by my daughter’s name, and sent us to the next table for our cabin assignment. Total actual transaction time at both tables: 60 seconds. Total wait time: 30 minutes.

If only I ruled the world.

Stop making sense

To preface this post, let me say that I understand how we got to this point. I really do. I understand liability issues and the litigious nature of our society that brought us to this point. I understand the importance of covering your you-know-what. But there’s got to be a balance. It’s got to make sense

After I wrote yesterday’s post, Process Server, I realized that a story I had been carrying around for a couple of weeks offered a prime example. My daughter recently had minor surgery and, trooper that she is, was ready to go back to school at the first opportunity. Although the doctor had proscribed some stronger pain meds–the kind I had to show my driver’s license and sign my life away to get–three days after the surgery she was pretty comfortable on plain, over-the-counter Tylenol.

I took her to school Monday morning, doing what I thought were all the right things. We arrived early to avoid the dangers of maneuvering with crutches among munchkin hallway crowds. I settled her into her classroom, went over the high points with her teacher, and gave her a quick hug as she shooed me out the door so she could begin her adventure. (That’s pretty much how she views everything.)

On my way out of the school, I stopped by the office to drop off her pain meds (Tylenol) and to set up and sign off her dosage schedule. Easy stuff, so I thought.

The school nurse, however, blanched when she saw the bottle of Tylenol in my hand. “Oh no,” she said. “It has to be Children’s Tylenol. We can’t give her that.”

With mother bear hackles immediately up, I responded, “Oh, yes you can!”

After a tense and emphatic discussion, the nurse ended up agreeing to dispense the Tylenol, as long as my daughter’s doctor would fill out a form approving it. I left the school fuming and headed to the doctor’s office.

This is a case where The Process overruled good judgment. My points are these:

  1. The medicine could be purchased over the counter by anyone, my daughter included.
  2. 72 hours earlier, someone was digging around in my daughter’s foot, sawing bones and inserting pins. Although she was doing really well, it stands to reason that something a bit more potent than Children’s Tylenol would be required to manage her pain.
  3. At 5 feet tall and 113 pounds, my daughter is the size of a small adult.
  4. We were following the doctor’s recommendation, though I’m not sure that should matter as much as #5, below.
  5. I am her mother. I gave written permission for the school to dispense an over-the-counter medication. We’re not talking prescription drugs here.

This is a case of serving the process rather than letting the process serve. It made no sense and left me feeling vilified as a parent. Following the process became more important than exercising sound judgment–judgment that made more sense, in this case, than the process itself. And I had followed the process. I took the medicine to the office, filled out forms, and sign permission slips.

I wonder what would have happened if I had brought my daughter’s Vicodin instead.

Process server

Unless whatever you do in your line of work is unique every time, there’s probably a process you can implement to help streamline your efforts. Having a routine whose steps you follow means that whatever you’re doing is repeatable and trackable. Even if the output isn’t the same every time, the process to get there can be. Process can help make sense of chaos.

Sometimes, though, people focus so much on the process that it becomes The Process. It becomes the game itself instead of a method for playing it. When that happens, there’s danger in the air. We risk doing things for the sake of The Process, not for the goal that necessitated that process in the first place. When you can’t explain why it makes sense–when all you have to offer is, I’m sorry, that’s our policy–it’s time to reexamine your method.

The goal isn’t for us to serve the process; it’s for the process to serve us.