Sunday, January 31, 2010

Returning to the Scene of the Crime

One week since the big fall and I finally mustered up the courage to walk over the spot where I fell. I've passed it several times as I hobbled past with the dog, but finally got the courage to actually walk over it yesterday. Of course I didn't fall - but then again it wasn't covered with ice.

Quick update - MRI scheduled for Wednesday. Appointment with Orthopedic guy not until the week after. I should be healed by then - jeez. I've had some PT in the meantime. We work on my neck - the whiplash - and will not address the back until teh MRI and Ortho visit. I canceled out on my work trip for later this week - San Diego in February! I think the flight (MSP to Chicago then to San Diego) would have killed me - not to mention the 12 hour days standing on my feet.

I've developed a distinguished slouch. When I walk, I stare at the ground about 6 to 7 feet in front of me. When I try to look out in the distance I end up peering over my glasses and everything is blurry. I have to make an effort to lift my head to avoid running into people (and cars) coming towards me.

Other than that I'm feeling pretty good - sleep well thanks to the muscle relaxers.

Enough about me - Henry was here on Friday night. It's hard to believe he was so ill barely one month ago. He entertained us all by demonstrating his latest skill - tap dancing!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Now the Pain Has a Name

My doctor called me at home last night - probably not a good sign. It turns out the CT-Scan I had done yesterday showed a compression fracture on one of my vertebrae - T4 to be exact. I have to see an Orthopedic MD now - not sure what they will do. Some talk of an MRI since you can't tell when the injury occurred with the CT-Scan, for example it could be showing an old "healed" fracture. That seems unlikely, but I'll do what they want.

Oh - they drew blood at the Tuesday appt for fun - my thyroid is good, but my vitamin D levels are a bit low - 22.6. The doc recommended a supplement. My mother-in-law will be happy - she is a big proponent of Vit D supplementation.

More later.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Out of Whack

Jogged along behind Duke on Monday night – but only for few steps as extreme pain registered in my upper back. Tuesday morning I called the doctor’s office. They saw me that afternoon, prescribed muscle relaxers, ordered a CT scan, and sent me right to physical therapy.

The PT guy thinks I have both whiplash and a few vertebrae out of place – actually turned to the right a bit. If the CT scan this afternoon shows a fracture we have to wait for that to heal before putting the discs back where they belong. If the scan is clear, which the PT thinks will be the case, he will put me back together sooner. Hmm – he didn’t describe how it’s done, but I suspect it could hurt.

Now that I know that something is "officially" wrong, I'm feeling the pain more and it's making me crabby! Too bad I left the muscle relaxers at home.

Monday, January 25, 2010

One Month + 9 Women ≠ Baby

Just when I thought I had heard everything - someone comes up with this one in a meeting today to illustrate the point that simply throwing more resources at a problem doesn’t mean the problem is solved any quicker.

“You can’t make a baby in one month with nine women.”

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Slip and Fall - or - Don't Walk Your Dog in an Ice Storm

[Even Duke is cautious, staying close to the road's edge. He knows we shouldn't venture out.]

If I was really savvy - in addition to this "before" picture I would have snapped an "after" picture. The after shot wouldn't have been too interesting. All you would see would be clouds. Not more than one block from here my feet went out from under me - and in the beautiful slow-motion way that accidents and disasters have - I could see my feet out in front of me. I could feel myself parallel to the ground. Somehow my head didn't hit first - it was my upper back, then my head. It felt like a giant had slapped me hard between the shoulder blades then rapped hard on the back of the head for good measure.

I lay there trying to catch my breath - it wasn't working too well. Duke's leash had fallen out of my hand and he was wandering AWAY from me. In case you haven't guessed, Duke is no Lassie. I tried rolling from side to side. That worked but I couldn't turn myself completely over. So I lay there trying to catch my breath. After a short time, I caught my breath, and rolled over onto my side, then got myself up on my hands and knees and finally into a standing position. I was sweating as the adreniline rushed through me and I still couldn't catch my breath too well.

Of course I made it home - only to discover that Shana had taken all the ibuprofen with her on her weekend getaway with the girls to the North Shore. She must be expecting lots of sore muscles from cross-country skiing and snow-shoeing. I did locate the naproxen - and thanks to a double-dose of that I'm feeling OK. Very stiff all over - but I lived to tell about it.

The kids and I are taking it easy this rainy afternoon. It's a real mess outside, but inside it's nice and warm. Just finished the butterscotch brownies, and we've been reading and practicing our musical instruments (kids not me).

[Book 4 of the Sisterhood of Traveling Pants series.]

Monday, January 18, 2010

Ahh - Sitting Down for Once

Enjoying the day off - sitting down - no stand-ups today. I snapped this pic of frosty crabapples earlier while walking Duke.

Quiet morning - The Dude still at a sleep-over birthday party at the Water Park at the Mall of America. Fun for the kids, but the parents need their heads examined - bless them.

M is still asleep (9:55 am). She asked to be woken up at 6:30 am like a regular school day so that she could enjoy rolling over and going back to sleep. I went int her bedroom at the appointed hour, tried to wake her but she almost slugged me - then rolled over and went back to sleep.

Shana has thrown out her back - again - and is now lying down on the floor in the family room - working the iPhone.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Feeling Old

By 9:00 am Wednesday, forces had conspired to release my inner curmudgeon: In one of yesterday’s “stand-up” meetings the coach (yes we have an Agile coach) brought a Koosh ball. She started the meeting by throwing the ball. If you caught it, you had to speak. You couldn’t talk without the ball in your hand. If you had nothing to report (like me), you threw the ball to another.

I’m too old to toss a ball around a room, unless I’m tossing it with someone younger than 10 years of age.

I arrived at work around 8:00, but a series of “stand-up” meetings prevented me from sitting down until 10:00. My back was killing me.

Today, I get the Facebook invite to join my high school reunion Facebook Page – 30 years! August 14th – we are out of town.

Hey – you kids – get off my lawn!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Four Times the Fun

It’s been (another) busy day.

It began with an early wake-up call at 5:10 from Duke. Shana happily answered the call.

Later while driving the Dude to school, we experience a bit of role reversal. It’s usually my job is to boost him up, make sure he gets up and out and to school in a pleasant state of mind. Today he brought up an interesting topic: How humans are the most dangerous species on the planet. We are destroying Brazilian rain forests along with endangered species at the rate of 5 per day or something.

I just mumbled and nodded. I didn’t want to discourage his environmental empathy – but this was a time when I should have channeled my inner Archie Bunker. Really – at the risk of sounding like some sort of right wing jingoist – how can one get through the day with such a dismal view of humanity, and by extension, yourself?

As we arrived at school, the discussion had taken a more political turn, praising British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and criticizing President Obama. While he didn’t know Brown by name, I was quite impressed by how he even knew they had a PM. Anyway, apparently the Brits have passed a law restricting packaging on DVDs, CDs, etc. The Dude thought that was great. Then he says, “Yeah and what does Obama do? Pass laws making people from certain countries have to get out of line at the airport for additional screening.”

Background – one of the Dude’s fellow students is of Afghani descent. He and his family were subjected to additional airport scrutiny during recent travels. Obama’s pollsters should take notice. When the kids at Friends School start dissing the Prez, it could spell trouble.

Oh how I miss discussing the sexual innuendo in Bruce Springsteen lyrics.

Fast forward a few hours and things are looking up. I spent the noon-hour at Feed My Starving Children helping out the Dude’s class as they prepared meals for starving kids around the world.

[Preparing food at FMSC. Dude on right in brown sweatshirt.]

Other fun work-related note: Today, for the first time in 16 years with the company I was quadruple-booked for meetings. Yes, that’s four meetings at one time. If I was new to the company I would be working on a big, fat ulcer by now. As it is, it’s all I can do to keep from laughing.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Happy Monday!

Happy Monday! – as my old boss would say.

You may ask, “What is John doing now that he’s not blogging so much? He must have a great deal of free time.”

I’m spending lots of time adjusting to my new work responsibilities. It’s more exhausting than I thought it would be getting up to speed on different products and meetings lots of new people that I will be working with. The challenge of a large company is that even after15 years you can end up on projects working with people you’ve never met before.

One of my new projects employs the Agile Development process. Some around here grumble that Agile is the latest project management Kool-Aid. If so, some around here are drinking it by the gallon. I actually like it – but have encountered some awkward moments adjusting to this new style.

Agile is known for scheduling daily “stand-ups” – short meetings where you check-in and ask questions; seek clarification, etc – whatever you need to keep the project moving forward. I got things off on the right foot when attending my first stand up: I entered the room and immediately sat down. Everyone else filed into the room and stood around the table along the wall. I just sat there. No one said anything – this being Minnesota – but I quickly realized the error of my ways, cracked a joke at my expense, and joined the rest of the standers.

News flash – standing up at a meeting does not automatically lead to shorter meetings. I’ve attended several stand-ups that threatened to go over 30 minutes – but we had to stop short because we were all late – for another stand-up. Maybe they should set another rule: In addition to no sitting, they should prohibit leaning against the wall. The longer stand-ups usually turn into “leaning” meetings.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Happy New Year

Still here; settling into the New Year, the old schedule, but a new role at work. I will be working with new people, and new and different products – but remain part of the same New Product Development group.

Since I last posted, Henry has been released from the hospital. He went home December 30. It’s quite “miraculous” – really – if I dare use such an over-used term. It was pretty touch-and-go in the beginning, and even when things got “better” the docs were saying he would probably miss the remainder of the school year and would have to start kindergarten (again) next Fall. Now that he is home, there’s talk of returning to school in February.

Shana and M stopped by to visit with Henry yesterday. M played Uno with him. She reports he is a bit more subdued – he’s usually quite the rowdy character. He seemed to struggle a little with some speech – but overall he’s looking good. Walking is still a challenge sometimes, and he needs help up and down the stairs. But that should improve in time.

Like I said – miracle.

We spent some quality time with the in-laws over the break. We had lots of fun. Here’s an amazing but true fact – I actually went to hear live music at a downtown club. And saw a movie – at a movie theater. Those who know may will find that hard to believe.

Thoughts from yesterday - not posted then:

I’m really not an online guy. That point is always driven home during my absences from work. While I may check email or blogs occasionally, I generally shun the internet when away from work. It just seems like too much work: pull laptop out of bag, turn on, find wireless connection, log-in, etc. But at work it’s different. Here I get paid to sit in my chair and respond to email. I’m expected to be in front of my PC. Side trips are inevitable – as a way to keep me planted. In a past life – before the internet – I was the guy in the office who wandered around talking to co-workers. Now I’m a hermit, glued to my seat – working and checking into the online world.

Of course, I might have spent more time online if it wasn’t a holiday week. Holidays are slow news times, and slow news times are slow blog times – and of course the worst kept secret of the web is that most web activity occurs during work hours. If people aren’t at work, they aren’t online – at least not to the great extent they are 9:00 – 5:00. That’s why “Cyber Monday” is a Monday and not Cyber Saturday or Sunday.

It’s amazing more didn’t pile up after being gone for over a week. Nothing much happens in the week between the holidays.