Tuesday, March 31, 2009

It's My Party

Here's another of those wonderful old posters, I can almost imagine that's me in the jaunty hat and gloves.

My current/former employer continues to play games, apparently thinking that the contradictory statements they keep throwing out about me to various people inside and outside the company (and I use the term "contradictory statements" well-advisedly) won't get back to me. Just because I don't have access to my company email anymore doesn't mean I'm totally out of the loop.

I feel like I've gotten through the worst of this, I can stand to have the sling taken off, my shirt changed and the sling put back on without feeling like I am going to pass out. However, I am extremely emotional and end up in tears at least once a day. There seems to be two sides to everything these days. I can now sleep for 6 hours without waking up, but when I do, I wake up in considerable pain. For the next few days I'm going to set an alarm for 3 hours from lights out to try to avoid this...pain is no way to start the day.

I am not a patient person, which makes me a terrible patient. I wonder how those two very different meanings can fit inside the same word.

Here's a partial list of things I cannot do -- right now:
  • lie down
  • cut meat
  • open a pill bottle
  • groom, tack or ride my horse
  • blow dry my hair
  • walk for any distance
  • fold laundry

And, because I'm really trying here, a partial list of things I can do -- right now:

  • drive my car (with extra care and caution)
  • wash my face and brush my teeth
  • work the computer mouse and type with one finger
  • put in my contacts (this takes patience but is possible)
  • make coffee and tea
  • grow beautiful long fingernails
  • sing along with my favorite tunes, off-key and unapolegetic

Miss gets her teeth floated on Thursday, she's overdue for her yearly appointment. It's been apparent for a while that her mouth has been bothering her, even in a hackamore she's been fighting me and throwing her head around for a month or so. No doubt this contributed to her pissy mood 2 weeks ago when she walked away from the mounting block. (Very painful) lesson learned: sometimes saving money by postponing necessary vet work turns out to be a very bad idea.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Rainbow Warrior

The bruising continues to move and change, but not diminish. Now there is a lot more color on the outside of my arm, starting just below the actual break point. When this happened, even after I found out I had broken a bone, I really had no idea how badly I was injured. I'm sure that most of the pain is being caused by damage to every muscle, tendon, joint and ligament in the area. I'm still not convinced that the two pops I heard weren't my shoulder dislocating and relocating (is that the right terminology?).

I'd love to be able to enjoy some of those quieter pursuits that Val mentioned, but even reading is difficult as I can't use my left arm to hold a book, or to do anything else for that matter. Walking or even riding in a car for anything other than short distances is too jarring, and using the computer is an excruciatingly slow process. I hope you all appreciate my efforts, blogging about this helps me to not feel so isolated.

All I know is that pain is a harsh mistress and I'm not handling this very well.

This helps...but I won't be able to find it much longer.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Purple Haze

I've spent the last week in a haze of pain and pain meds, living in 3-hour increments on a 24-hour schedule. My left arm is in a sling and strapped tightly to my body, I feel like a half a swaddled infant. Doing even the most insignificant, mundane things takes time, perserverance and assistance. I am grateful that I broke my left shoulder -- had it been my right I would be a complete invalid. I can work a mouse and type with my right index finger, so working on the computer is possible, albeit at a much slower pace than I'm used to. My orthopedist said it was a bad break and a good one: bad in that there are multiple cracks running all the way through the base of the humeral head bone, but good in that the ball is still perfectly aligned with the rest of the bone, so surgery will not be required. My arm will be immobilized for another two weeks minimum, at which time new x-rays will be taken and a recovery plan will be put in place.

Given the fact that I was in the middle of a transition plan after being laid off when I was injured and it became clear that I could no longer work, in order to preserve as much accrued vacation time as possible I have decided to apply for state disability. Dealing with both of these issues simultaneously has been incredibly stressful, and seeing the true colors of people I liked and trusted in my professional life has been demoralizing, frustrating and terribly disappointing. Never again will I consider a boss a friend, a lesson you would have thought a professional woman in her mid-40's would have learned long ago.

Emotionally I feel quite broken as well, splintered and cracked. I realize that when you add narcotics, pain, sleep deprivation, financial stress, and loss of mobility and independence together you get a potent toxic brew, and I've been trying to rest and relax as much as I can.

I'm scared of Tucker, our extremely exuberant Golden; he's completely oblivious to the sling and the change in my actions and demeanor. It would be very easy to get bumped by him or lose my balance as he raced past me. Bailey, on the other hand, has become my protector and almost constant companion, my therapy dog has put his work vest back on. D has been incredibly patient and caring, taking care of my every need. I honestly don't know how I would have gotten through the last week without him. Thank goodness his temporary job doesn't start for another week, perhaps the one lucky break in all this mess.

We stopped by the barn to see Miss on the way home from the orthopedist. I breathed in the sweet earthy smell of the place and felt my shoulders relax...but as I approached her stall I instinctively covered my left arm with my right and realized with great sadness that I was afraid of her too. She isn't one of those horses that will stand quietly while you pet her, she is always pushing her nose into you, sniffing for treats and moving around. I fed her a few cookies and got in a few satisfying moments of contact with her warm silky coat, but then I had to step away. Her big sister Somerset is one of those gentle pettable horses and I was able to stand next to her for a few minutes stroking her soft nose and under her forelock, even resting my forehead against her neck.

I have two solid job leads and I'm hopeful I will have phone interviews this week. I'm concerned that the visual first impression of the sling and the reality that I wouldn't be able to start work for another 4 to 5 weeks will cost me an opportunity. In any other job market I would feel confident that an employer that wanted the best candidate would be willing to wait but these are not normal times. That's yet another way that I feel helpless, but all I can do is my best and that includes working at keeping as positive an attitude as I can. My friends and family are rallying around me -- my mother even called outside of the obligatory birthday and Christmas telephone conversation schedule after my sister told her what happened -- and I know this will be over with before I know it. A blink of an eye in the grand scheme of time. A mandatory rest stop on my own amazing race. In the meantime, drop me a note if you can, and I don't care if that's a shameless call for comments.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Adding Injury to Insult

This will be short out of necessity...I fell while attempting to get on Miss as she walked away from the mounting block on Saturday. Since my left foot was in the stirrup and my hands holding the reins, when I lost my balance I fell without being able to break my fall and landed with all my weight on my left shoulder. I broke the humeral head, the round bone that connects the shoulder to the arm bone. It's not a bad break so it probably won't need surgery, but they can't cast it so I am just in a sling for 6 weeks or so. It only hurts when I move, but when it hurts it's the kind of pain that makes me feel nauseous.

Timing could not have been worse. Not only can I not drive, right now I can't even be driven anywhere, that's too much jostling. That will make job interviews difficult.

I did get the really good pain meds from the ER doc, and the entire ER adventure only took 2 hours, including x-rays.

Could we make this the last shitty thing to happen for a while, please?

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Paying It Forward

This week has been very hard. I trained three other consultants on the two software platforms that my former clients' are on, which apparently made them subject matter experts. I've heard that many of my colleagues were confused and concerned about my leaving, and when management was asked why I was on the lay off list, they were told that I didn't have a lot of work, even though I had a lot of clients. This was either a bald-faced lie or a demonstration on just how ignorant management was on my body of work for the last three years. When my colleagues asked who they were supposed to call on with questions, they were told that my junior associate "knew everything" and she could help them with any issue. She has one third of the experience and education that I have and her most recent experience with my specialty was 5 years ago.

I know that dwelling on my anger and disappointment doesn't do me any good but unfortunately until I can totally walk away from this mess I know I will not be able to let it go. There is nothing worse than losing your job then being asked to stay for several weeks to help with the "transition" of your work to others. I could have said no to that offer but I could not afford (financially) to give up several more weeks of pay and an extra month of health insurance.

I have been nothing but professional, responsive and helpful to my former employer and, to the best of my abilities, I will continue to be, as hard as that is. I plan to walk out of there with my reputation and my dignity intact.

On a much more positive note, I had the opportunity to pay it forward at the barn as well. I recently met a wonderful young woman, a university student who recently brought her horse to board where Missy lives. In fact, her Mitten lives three doors down so we share a common tack room. We don't like to admit it, but horse people can be solitary and fall easily into cliques, and I know all too well what it's like to be the new girl. I spent a delightful half hour showing her around the property, introducing her to the horses that I knew and sharing some of their history. She was so genuine, open, sweet and funny and we immediately clicked. On the way home it occured to me that I was old enough to be her mother, yet she's been riding many more years than I have, an interesting dynamic to say the least. Because I am in a vulnerable emotional state, upon further reflection my brain came up with: if I had had a daughter, I would have wanted her to be like Casey. And that made my heart hurt. But I am thankful to have a new friend.

I found these beautiful old prints online and will be sharing them with you over the next few posts. I'd love to get the whole series.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Night Mare

Print by Wilma Sanchez

It may be slightly hypoerbolic to say that this was the worst thing that could happen, but I hope you will forgive it. I got laid off this week. I've been laid off or have otherwise lost my job many times, but I have never been in the situation I find myself now: both my partner and I will soon be unemployed, unless one of us finds someone willing to pay us to do something in less than 40 days. I know, I have been unhappy at work and wished for something different, but I wanted to be able to handle that on my own terms and in my own time. I knew business was down and thought perhaps my hours would be reduced, but honestly I did not think they would let me go entirely. Coming on the heels of losing my biggest client, I can't help but think that must have played into their decision. I am really, really trying not to go to that place where I blame myself and think that everything I touch turns to shit, eventually. Back to being Typhoid Mary. No, I am not going to go there...

To add insult to injury, not only am I still having to babysit my replacement at the client I just left, I am now having to help my company come up with a transition plan for someone else to take over the work at all of my clients.

My body is in bad shape. Nearly every muscle in my body is tense and sore, I'm having spasms in my back, my neck is tight as a rope and my calves feel like they are on the verge of seizing up every time I stand up.

My chest and face are breaking out like it's the night before junior prom. My endo pain is flaring and I am spotting in the middle of a cycle. My stomach seems OK, surprisingly, but that's probably because I'm not eating much.

My sleep is disturbed by nightmares, sometimes the same dream over and over all night long. I've dreamt more than once of having to give up Miss. I will never allow that to happen. I would sooner lose my house than one of my animals, they are innocent and my complete responsibility.

I got the news on Monday. It took until yesterday to really sink in. I know there are literally millions of people in far worse shape than me, but somehow that is small comfort.

I rode Miss today and will again tomorrow. She's happy to have a job. I'm thankful at least one of us does.