All’s Well That Ends Exhausted…

Everyday Adventures

A much more honest version of that old saw, don’t you think?

Part I

I barely know where to start, but we’ll go with last Thursday morning, how’s that? Todd woke up with a backache. That, in and of itself is not incredibly newsworthy, it does happen occasionally, but you have to remember that’s Todd tolerance level (to alcohol, meds, pain, my ideas) is pretty damn high and his usual attitude is to get on with things regardless.

So the fact that he was vocalizing some pain issues should have tipped me off that this was not going to be standard operating procedure.

As I was going to lunch I got  a text from him…


He failed to mention the chest pain that morning. Master of understatement this one. I truly debated leaving right then and there. Some people would have, but I’m trying to curb some of my natural panic-mode inclinations, so I decided to abide by his wishes and stay put.

Sure. it was a bit alarming that they’d sent him to the ER, but it’s not uncommon for a beleaguered urgent care center to refer patients up a level to better be able to handle their case load. Meanwhile, I was a bit distracted at the office, watching for further updates to come through. After an hour of him being at the ER and nothing, I finally got this:

Screenshot_2017-01-26-13-26-22And then I left work…

Homeboy neglected to mention they transported him by ambulance. Do I need to even explain how crucial a piece of information that was?! King of the understatement.

That was the longest my commute ever felt.

I get to the ER (at least I knew where it was, this time), sign some paperwork, and finally I can go back to the triage rooms.

Had I not been pretty damn anxious by this point, I might have taken a picture of the scene I walked into, but I didn’t. Let me see if I can adequately paint this picture for you:

Empty medical bay, a gaping void where the hulking white bed once stood. To one side of the room a boot stands, toe pointed towards the wall. On the other side of the room its mate lays tossed hurriedly aside. A box of EKG leads sits on the table, discarded adhesive covers littering the workstation. A monitor beeps. A disembodied voice moans from elsewhere along the corridor.

In my state of just this side of panicked, the far flung boots were a silent reminder that very bad things happen in rooms like this. I paced until they wheeled him back into the room, fresh from the ultrasound that revealed a perfectly normal aorta (thank goodness!) and a gallstone that was situated right at the opening to the duct, causing the pain and discomfort.

Surgery is likely in the near future for Todd, but we’ve done this once before with me, back in 2008, so at least we know the drill about what to do and not do. We finally got out of there around 6:30 and had to stop by Urgent Care to get some things out of Todd’s car. He couldn’t drive it home because they’d given him some meds before discharge and even though it was less than 5 minutes away, no sense chancing a fluke accident and him being technically “under the influence.” He’d also had the meds on an otherwise empty stomach, so they might have had a chance of making him sleepy, if it weren’t for the ensuing burst of adrenaline when we got home…

Part II

We both noticed Duncan didn’t come out to greet us when we pulled into the backyard. This was odd because we were home a bit later than usual (say, 30-45 minutes after I’d normally get home) and he’s usually very excited to see us. We’re discussing this fact as we get ourselves and our stuff out of the car when the neighbor to our right comes out of his backdoor, asking for our attention.

He calls his son out to him and says he’s got to face the music. Simultaneously, Todd has noticed and called attention to the fact that the back gate is standing open.


The neighbor boy has been playing ball in his yard, a narrow strip behind the duplexes that runs along our property. The ball went into our (Duncan’s) fenced area and Mr. Slick decided that he could make it in and out without Duncan noticing.

Three guesses how that turned out.

Duncan barked. Boy fled. Boy left gate open. Boy denied it to Mom and Dad when they noticed it a little while later.

And when did this happen, you might be wondering? About 30 minutes before we got home.

So we rush inside, drop our gear, grab leashes, and head out to search, on foot, around the neighborhood. Each going separate directions. I walked down to the park and looped back up a block or two, Todd took the streets behind us. Not a sight or sound of Duncan was to be had.

Meanwhile, I’m still worried about how Todd’s doing, so when our paths crossed as we make intersecting loops, I suggested we pack it in for now so I could get him home and fed. We posted on NextDoor and had an uneasy supper in a way too silent home.

Duncan’s gotten out before, due to his own devious streak, and we’ve spent a bit of time and money ensuring he cannot escape the backyard at will. He’s even let himself back in on at least one occasion, so that if the neighbor on the left hadn’t ratted him out, we’d have been none the wiser about his solo adventures. But this was different. This was at night, this was due to the poor judgement of a stranger, and this time we didn’t find him right away.

To compound the problem, he’d recently pawed his tags off his collar (breaking the split ring they were on) and we’d tried one fix that didn’t last but hadn’t found another solution yet, so he’s wandering around without tags. Fabulous. And he’s microchipped, yes, but (for the non-pet owners out there) you have to register the microchip and pay a separate fee. The pwperwork to do that went AWOL pretty quickly, and Duncan tried to eat the backup tag so I couldn’t read the numbers. He’s due for a vet visit this month and the plan was to have them scan his chip so we could get the number and finally register this wayward son of ours.

Timing’s a bitch, ain’t it?

We decided to go out one more time, together in the car, and crawl our way through the little streets that surround us, going as far as Broad Street just in case. As we were running out of roads, about 3 blocks from home (in an area we’d already covered to no avail), we caught a flash of something in a wooded lot. Duncan was finally found.

It was a very happy reunion, and a short trip home to get him fed and snuggled. And for me to write our address and phone number directly on his collar. Why I didn’t think of that before I have no idea.

Of course, then I see that Duncan has worked said collar off and is chewing on the plastic clip latch thingy.

So off to Walmart the three of us go (we were taking no chances) to get him a new collar, a package of split rings to add the tags to, and a lock for the back gate (the front gate’s been locked for quite some time). He may have also received a new toy for being such a good boy riding in the cart, but you could hardly begrudge him the hedgehog that makes piggy noises.

Part III

After the double shot of stress on Thursday, Friday found us in zombie mode so I took advantage of an unencumbered Saturday morning to sleep in ’til noon, then work on projects for the afternoon and evening. All this to say it was no surprise that I was still awake just shy of 3am when the first Tornado Warning lit up my phone.

I went upstairs to wake Todd and Duncan and bring them down to (relative) safety. Our house has no true safe spot for riding out a tornado threat–all rooms are exterior rooms, even the hallways have windows courtesy of the doors at either end, the closest we can get, if it really gets dangerous, is the closet under stairs among the Halloween decorations and my wedding dress.

Instead, we fell asleep on the sofa, all three of us, while the local news kept continuous coverage of the storms flowing around and through our town. We woke up sometime after 4, when the first wave of warnings had expired, and went up to bed for a few more hours.

Sunday was spent watching the news reports and being vary wary of the weather. Mid-afternoon we got a lull in the weather, a gap large enough between storm bands to be able to go grocery shopping. We lost power briefly a couple of times, but figured we were out of the woods when the last warning expired with only a wind advisory remaining.

Naturally that’s when we lost power for an hour or so.

Par for the course.

We were lucky, in all three instances. I’m ever so grateful for that fact, for our family being intact as well as our home. I just wish the reminders of our good fortune didn’t come all at once and with so much for potential for bad.

The Exhaustion at the End of This Job

Everyday Adventures

Each day when I get home I’m exhausted. Wiped out. Wanting nothing more than quiet and maybe an early bedtime.

I don’t get that, of course, because Duncan needs to go out and I have projects to work on and I really need to be putting the word out about my availability for freelance projects and putting in resumes for jobs. I have other things I want to do, fun things like sewing some tunics for myself from my fabric stash, creating some art, or just enjoying a book.

Why am I so tired? It’s work that’s doing it, sure, but why?

Let’s take a moment to recall that I’m only working 4 days a week instead of 5. And that those days usually end around 3pm (occasionally I’ll be in the middle of something and stay until 4pm, but that hasn’t happened in a while). And while there were a few days where I was clearing out filing cabinets or moving boxes, most days are spent at my desk, clearing up a myriad of clerical loose ends.

Yesterday, for instance, I spent the majority of the day trying to set up online access to the remaining 10 vendors (things like utilities, phones, insurance, etc.). This would not normally be a big deal but things get weird when you’re dealing with business accounts and the various hoops some companies make you go through to be able to see your bills online, much less pay them. AT&T is being the biggest pain, and there’s a weird workaround I have to use for the city utilities because we have 3 accounts and only 2 of them have metered services and, therefore, are fully accessible online.

Minutia is the meat of my day.

I was talking to my friend and accountability partner of the last several (five?) years about this on Tuesday and she, bless her, understood completely. She said that she’d been with companies during shutdowns before and the transition period can definitely be emotionally exhausting. That made me feel less ridiculous and a bit reassured. Validated, even.

And then something in my head clicked:

The business is in Hospice and I’m experiencing a form of caregiver fatigue.

Am I being overly dramatic? I really don’t think so!

I mean, let’s look at it. I’ve known the company was in decline better than most and longer than everyone but the owner–generating the financial reports month after month, there was no way to avoid the truth of what was going on. The blood (cash) flows slower, the memories (clients) aren’t as clear as they used to be.

When the announcement came that we’d be closing at the end of April, that was basically a DNR. There was nothing else to be done, time to put your affairs in order. We notified our clients and vendors. The equipment was put up for sale. We started saying goodbye.

We settled into the hospice period with a skeleton crew of three, doing what needed doing as each day saw the rooms empty little by little. And we wait.

It’s an active waiting, or it has been so far. But like a patient that rallies for a time before resuming the decline, the activity is tapering off and those that are left are in a holding pattern.

Life goes on outside the patient’s room, plans are tentatively made, but everything seems to hinge on when that final breath and the uncertainty of when it will be.

Why don’t I walk away? Leave the room, step into the sunshine, clear my head, and get on with the rest of my life?

For the same reason those sitting at a patient’s bedside for weeks on end doesn’t: a sense of responsibility. There’s still a job to be done and you honor the life that is almost over by bearing witness to it. You do what needs to be done.

I’m not trying to say I’m some sort of saint for this. No, it’s a job and I’m getting paid for it. I’m not completely altruistic. But I am also the person who knows where the files go, how the system operates, and the best one to help see it through. 22 years is a long time to spend somewhere and to just walk away like it’s nothing?

That’s not how I’m wired.

Realizing the parallel between the closing of a business and the slow decline of a person is helpful, though. It gives me a frame of reference and makes sense of the otherwise inexplicable exhaustion. The situation isn’t without a dose of anxiety, either, but at least that was a tab bit more transparent in its source (seriously, I have no idea what next month is going to look like, job-wise, so, yeah).

Old, bad behaviors are surfacing due to the anxiety and the fatigue means I’m not exactly at my strongest, willpower-wise. My eating habits are ridiculous right now (I have little desire for “real food” preferring more than usual the fried, the sweet, and carby) and I constantly want to go shopping (it’s a sad twist that worry over finances triggers my desire for retail therapy).

That’s still in line with caregiver fatigue, as they spend all their time and energy caring for the dying and neglect their own living being. So now that I know what’s going on, I can work with it, around it, and through it. And I can do a better job of taking care of myself, too.

Technology Hates Me

Everyday Adventures

Or, if not, it’s doing a pretty good impression of something capable of hate.

Last week I was making some steady progress on editing and uploading videos to the Crafty Branch’s YouTube channel. Or, well, I was making progress on the editing, I should say, but when it takes 11 hours for a 7 minute video to upload, progress isn’t exactly the word that comes to mind.

I used to check out the network, only I don’t know what we’re supposed to be getting, speed-wise, so I have no idea if we’re right or not. I’ll need to do some follow-up with the city on that. And I know that connecting through WiFi instead via Ethernet cables can cut upload speeds, sometimes as much as in half, but before this week I was not having this problem. A video under 10 minutes might have taken an hour to process, total, which makes more sense. Not 11.

One of the other YouTubers I watch, though, was having a similar issue with her daily vlogs–Bumble Bailey–and she was reporting the same activity: the progress bar would show a normal upload time estimate, then it would jump to a higher estimate, then it’d just give up on a time estimate altogether (and I’ve had that progress bar tell me it was going to take 5 hours, before, so I know it can count pretty high). She also said that she had better luck when using Firefox instead of Chrome, so I was going to give that a try last night.

Yeah, about last night.

So I’m watching the Tony’s (which was pretty awesome, I must say) and finishing up the edits for the last Gingerbread Diaries video (you know, the one before Todd’s birthday? In March? yeah, sorry about the delay on that one!) and I set it to export from Premiere Pro (which, for once, had not put up a fight when I tried to insert some simple titles, yay!). Exporting was going very slow, and I chalked that up to the fact that I was simultaneously streaming said awards show via CBS All Access.

After the show ended and I was still only at 14% exported, I figured it was just hung up and I restarted the export. I also set Firefox to install and went up to take a shower. My plan (ah, yes, the so-called plan… ) was to start the YouTube upload this morning but when I came downstairs the export was still only at 88%.

Dammit all!

So, yeah, that video update will be a bit late, and I think Paisley (that would be my laptop’s name) is due for a defrag, etc. I might also need to shift some files onto the external HD to free up space (videos take up so much room and I’ve been doing a lot of them, lately). Of course, this could also be a Win10 issue, as I was upgraded without consent a couple weeks ago, so who the hell knows?!


In other news, Duncan may not hate me, but he may be back to hating his crate. He’s still doing really well for meals and sleeping at night in there, but being home last week may have set us back a bit since I didn’t feel up to dealing with the barking (I even tried the cans Todd has for ear protection when he uses his power tools and they didn’t block the barking!) so, yeah. He was okay when we went to dinner on Thursday night (for an hour), but when we came home from the memorial service last night, ugh!

We’d been gone 4 hours. That’s a totally acceptable time for him to be crated, especially since we know he can hold it longer than that (as evidenced by his refusal to “go” in the rain that last all damn day the previous week). And he’d been doing so much better with the daily crating, more or less. So we were both disappointed and, frankly, disgusted with the smell that hit us as soon as we opened the back door.

And might I add we’d just given Duncan a bath the night before?

There’s no telling what we’re going to come home to, today. I really hope Todd doesn’t have to hose down the crate tray at lunch (and I even more hope that I don’t have to after work–it’s happened before).

Still, the 10 days off were productive–tech issues and puppy regression aside–so I’m not complaining too much. The job hunt continues (and there’s a story for another day in that), but I’m looking forward to being back in the office, today. I like my routine, after all, and even having those days to do whatever I wanted/needed, I still knew it was a temporary shift so it wasn’t the same as if/when I may work from home full-time in the not-too-distant future.

Here’s hoping for a good week!