Monday, April 27, 2009

Ah, all of my woe of last week took an unexpected turn today. Over the weekend some things occurred that I can't get into here, but suffice to say, got me doubting everything that I was thinking, everything that I was doing. I was extremely worried that things were going to become a disaster, sooner rather than later. However, after today, at least on the work front, things are going to be OK. Actually, I think that things may end up being better than OK.

I talked to my uber-calm, almost grandfatherly manager on Friday when I was so wound up about it all that I was nearly shaking, and again today, and we've hit upon a solution that I think will work.

One of our main issues is that while we have one position in our support staff, the qualifications by those that have it are all over the board. Part of the problem is that the requirements to become a certified paralegal vary widely by state. Since we have sites in four states, four sets of rules, four widely varying qualifications. Which can cause some serious strife among the ranks. For example, in one state, a two-year associates degree is required. In another, a six week on line course is good enough. Cue the in-fighting and general sniping. I hate how women can treat each other sometimes. Hell, who needs the stereotypical white male to screw us over? We have ourselves.

But I digress. Soooo, Manager B and I were talking about the disparity, and what we could do to try to end it and the revolving door that appears to have been installed at the site that I currently oversee. While our HR has been remarkably supportive, they really don't get what we do, that we are specialists among specialists. For example, it seems like no one was aware that the ABA has for all intents and purposes, an accreditation program for all paralegal courses. That approval also has some base educational requirements. So, pending HR's blessing, we now have a uniform baseline that we can have everyone adhere to. Why this wasn't picked up ages ago mystifies me, but it is what it is. This should make life easier going forward, but may pose some problems for those that are in the position, but don't have the education to back it up. We currently have a tuition reimbursement freeze going on, but Manager B has no intentions of grandfathering anyone in. This may cause more problems short term, but in the end, will be better for us long run.

If you've survived this long, thank you. Basically, there has been a silver lining to this entire mess with Superstar leaving. We may end up better for it, which is more that one can usually ask for when losing a good employee. It helped to shore up the confidence that got pretty beat up when she gave her notice. I tend to be highly self-critical, and I spent most of the weekend beating myself up. Did I do the best that I could have from a managerial standpoint? No, but I didn't completely screw up either. Was I deluded to think that I have the chops for this job? No.

Overall, a day that I had been dreading and almost worked myself into another migraine over ended up being a good and positive step forward. Now we need to talk about that "temporary" pay cut.....

Monday, April 20, 2009

Happy Monday...oh, no wait.

On the up side, no visit to the ER or any other medical professional this weekend! Score one for the Chronicle household. All of the laundry (you know, that minuscule and unessential task that I pretty much devote myself to on the weekends, and no, I'm not holding a grudge) was washed and dried, and some even made it out onto my neighbor's line.

Did I mention that for the first time in over three years we filed our taxes on time? AND did them by ourselves this year, saving $350? Oh, and that we actually get a refund this year? Oh, oh, and the other good thing last week? I paid off two of our three credit cards without touching the tax money. Yea for me! I was on a role.

Then my superstar admin gave me her notice this morning.

She gave me two weeks, but man, does the timing suck. I've got a major, major project that won't be buttoned up by then in the works, and its one that I can't put on the back burner, since time is really against me. There were a lot of issues, money, environment, etc. that were out of my control, and I totally understand the reason for leaving. But it sucks. It's not a personal thing at all. I'm not really upset per se, but more wound up about how I'm going to have to shuffle things around a staff that is already stretched to, and in some cases, beyond their limits, but yet still get the job done.

For some reason the Admin expected me to yell, get upset, something. I just went into my normal crisis management mode, which is fix the problem, and get solutions in the works. It's all I know how to do. Part of it is a coping mechanism, part of it is based on knowledge that if I don't get moving now, I'll be paying for it later. So, I shut down all but the most pragmatic parts of me, and just plow ahead. She came in later to ask me if I wasn't going to talk to her for the next two weeks. I just told her that I was getting done what I needed to-nothing personal, but I have to fix this hole rather quickly. After all was said and done, I really don't think that she understood that. I have no intention of holing up on my office; I simply don't have that option. I just need a little space to figure out the next move.

Its one of those things that makes me think about how women and men handle these things, and if we (as in women) deny that emotional part of us, are we doing ourselves a disservice. I've been reading, on and off, a book about women in leadership, and how we are, as a whole, vastly underrepresented in government in comparison with other nations, including those we would view as second or third world. It talks about women being viewed as successful by others if we subvert our intrinsically feminine viewpoints, yet how that diminishes what we bring to the leadership table. OK, so that was a tangent of unprecedented proportions, but it still figures in. Sometimes being a girl isn't that fun.

So, after I finish up my number crunching for the day, I'm going to go home and curl up in a ball and play Lego with my kids. At least they can't leave me for more money.

And did I mention that I'm supposed to get a period this week? Oh yea, this is gonna be fun.

Monday, April 13, 2009

You know, I'm going to opt out of almost all holidays. I really should. 'Cause they never really turn out the way they are supposed to.

First off, my parents were supposed to come down on Sunday, we were all going to go to Mass (the kids are old enough to be up for this), come home, have lunch, play, call it a day. Go to bed early.

Instead, here's how it really went:
  • parents show up two hours early, and inform us that they went to a sunrise mass (at least for me, 7:30 in the morning on a Sunday counts as sunrise). The house, while in commendable shape for us, was hardly inspection worthy.
  • lunch went off with nary a hitch. Even the hollandaise sauce turned out OK.
  • played outside, walked down the block to the pond, watched the ducks and geese. Ms. Independent demanded that she walk most of the way. Its about a half mile round trip-quite a way for such short little legs!
  • while parents are outside with Son and BabyA, Husband informs me that he doesn't think that I do enough at home. That he pretty much does ALL the cleaning and that I basically don't do anything to contribute to that. What I had thought was a fairly equitable division in labor (I do six to eight loads of laundry a week, fold it, put it away, feed children, dress children, take children to school, pick up children, bathe children and put BabyA to bed) is far from it. Never mind that I have been feeling completely overwhelmed and inadequate before. All I could do was cry.
  • parents leave around 4:00 for their three hour drive home. No major battles between my mom and Husband. Huzzah!
  • we leave on a little roadtrip to check out a playsystem that we are looking at getting for the kids, and Husband needed to stop by work to get some reports to get his Monday report mail out. I start not to feel so great-I just figured that I was tired (even though, if you ask Husband, I really shouldn't because, you know, I sleep in later than him every day, never mind that he is in bed a good hour or more before I am). On the way home, I was scrolling through his iPod to pick out a movie for the kids, and I felt my stomach do that maneuver that makes you know that reverse is the gear that its going to be engaging in. He asked me if I could make it home-heaven forbid something bad happen to his beloved caddie-or if we needed to stop. I told him to just take me home.
  • Instead of taking me home, he takes me to the emergency room. I now have a full blown migraine, with all of the lovely light and smell sensitivity. I sent Husband and the munchkins home, and curled up into a ball back in the family conference room in the ER deciding whether to throw up. Ultimately deciding to stop fighting. Some Zofran later, I was feeling better, but then my head started to throb.
  • Finally get back to a room after an hour, and then waited another hour in a blessedly dark exam room, with the Zofran finally kicking in. Doc finally comes in, we start the eval, and he gets called away...for 45 more minutes. My nurse finally sent up a flare and got him back, and got my meds ordered.
  • An IV of all things painkiller and anti-nausea, and withing 10 minutes I'm out cold, only to be awakened by Husband and my now bathed and pajama'd kids. I finally get released, but have to wait almost 45 minutes to finally get out of there with my prescriptions and go home.
  • Kids got to bed almost two hours late.
  • Parents get to bed at almost the same time-drugs like Ambien and Benadryl are fantastic.

Since this is the second time in the past year that I've been through this, the doc (who I found out was the head of the ER department) said that I really do need the meds to have on hand to try to head these off when I feel them coming, since Ibuprofen isn't working right now. So far no injectibles, but we'll see how it plays out. He also suggested a visit to a neurologist to make sure that there is nothing other than crappy genetics behind these. I'm what I believe is the fourth generation of migraine sufferers, so I'm pretty sure that yet-to-be-discovered genetic link is my main problem. It can't hurt, so I'll be making an appointment.

In closing, holidays seem to be a recipe for an ER visit. So far, we've hit Memorial Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and now Easter. I fear for the fourth of July. Oh, and if I ever even SEEM to be happy about my lack of medical disasters, smack me. Please.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Welcome to the Chronicle Infirmary!

Yep, after having some smugness about how we managed to miss any major sickies over the winter, I managed to get smacked around but good. However, considering that we got three solid inches of snow last weekend (it's APRIL people), I should have seen it coming.

First up on the well-beaten path to the pediatrician was Son. He had been nursing one of those deep and barking coughs for a while, but it was only really happening at night. My immediate, non-medically educated thought was that we haven't been very good about making sure that there is water in his humidifier, so maybe it was just dry. The day before we ended up at the doctor's office, he had spent the entire day outside, running and playing. Imagine my surprise when the kind doc told me that yes, he does have something going on in his lungs, and how does pneumonia in the right lung sound? Wonderful. Zithromax for five days, and a couple of really long naps, and he was back to his old self. He still maintains that he has "a bad cough," but now it is just to avoid going to daycare.

Next stop on the tour was Husband, who is actually worse than Son, at least on the horrible patient scale. Loads of snot, couldn't really sleep lying down for almost a week, headaches, dizzy, coughing fits. He has a history of sinus infections, so we were pretty sure that he would go in, get a Z-pack, and it would be over. Instead, they told him to do a nasal rinse (and yes, it looks worse than it sounds) without even examining him. It took a grumpy phone call to finally get anything, and an insinuation that Husband was an abuser of antibiotics. OK, I know that I'm not a doc, but in what I do, I have to look at all of the facts to try to come up with a conclusion. Over the past three years, Husband had been on an immunosuppressor for his psoriasis, which caused an abundance of sinus infections, and some other weird stuff. If said MD had looked further down on his medication history, she would have seen that.

The final stop was for BabyA. She was summarily dismissed from daycare on Wednesday afternoon with a fever of 101. We spent Thursday confined to the house, with her alternating from sleeping for three hour stretches at a time, and me chasing her around the house with a box of tissue wiping her nose of the neon yellow goo that was escaping. She had been coughing, but it really ramped up on Thursday. So much for my "its just a cold theory." Friday morning, back to my favorite pediatrician's office, bronchitis. Chronicle family member #3 on Zithromax. I should have my own express line at the pharmacy at Target.

Somehow, by God's grace, voodoo, or some other unknown phenomena, I've remained the only semi-well person in our house. I did sneak in one nap over the weekend. Son made the beguiling offer of "just lay down with me" on his uber comfy bed for a nap, and, well, three hours later we were both quite refreshed. I have to admit, that after suffering through Husband's near seismic snoring lately, hearing Son's soft purr was a relief. And he's a much better snuggler with no ulterior motives.

I've managed to disinfect most of the house, and all seems to moving towards recovery. Now if it would just stop snowing......