Friday, June 17, 2011

Pain in the neck (and arm)

About 2 days before the WSOP started, I hurt myself. I was at the gym lifting weights when I felt something "move" in my upper right shoulder. I immediately stopped. The next day the area felt very tight, but nothing serious. Just felt like a pulled muscle. Then the next morning while getting out of bed, it happened. It felt like I was stabbed in the neck with a 3 foot sword. My entire right arm was zinging from my neck all the way down to the fingers. I was wailing in pain. I had to bite on a towel to keep from screaming.

I called a friend... who luckily was nearby. She picked me up and drove me to the hospital. They shot me full of Diloted to quiet me down and keep from moaning in pain. Then they took some x-rays. A short while later, they sent me packing. This is the typical "treat em and street em" response you will get at most hospital emergency rooms. Of course they had given me sheets of paper with their diagnosis, but I was too loopy on painkillers to have any idea what the heck was going on. Since the x rays came back negative, they diagnosed it as a shoulder sprain, and gave me some prescriptions for Valium (a muscle relaxer), Motrin (ibuprofen, an anti-inflammatory), and Lortab (hydrocodone, a codeine-based painkiller). I went home and swallowed my pills.

I felt a bit better then next few days, but then the WSOP started. The repetitive motion of dealing caused a lot of pain. It has definitely gotten better since, but that first week was insanely painful.

Now the biggest problem is the numbness in my thumb and index finger, which is almost certainly caused by nerve impingement. This is commonly diagnosed as "carpal tunnel syndrome", but in my case the nerve impingement is not in the wrist... but way up in my cervical vertebrae. Basically, the pulled muscle in the shoulder caused tightness, and when I got out of bed a few days later, the movement through that area pulled on my neck and I herniated the disc between my C5 and C6, which pressed against my nerve roots, causing shooting pain through my shoulder, arm, and into my hand.

Of course this is my own diagnosis, but it makes sense. I will get an MRI to confirm it, so that I can consult with an orthopedist or neurologist and take whatever is needed to help regain the sensation in my hand.

Monday, June 13, 2011

This is what I signed up for.

"Greg, I need to keep you a bit longer for some overtime today, if that's alright," said the shift manager. Normally it would be... but it was nearing 7 pm and I had to be at my next job at 8 pm. I told him that quietly, and he made arrangements to get my out the door on time. I walked briskly through the back of the house and cashed out my tips at the satellite cage, and then sprinted to my car. Peeling wheels out of the employee parking garage, I took a right on Industrial and sped to the RV park at Circus Circus. Luckily for me, my good friends are camped out there for a month. I asked Bree to borrow a towel and then grabbed the toiletry items from my "crash kit" and walked over to the shower. 10 minutes later, I emerged in just the towel and headed back to my car that I had parked next to their RV. This must have been the 3rd or 4th time this month I have had to do this. I must look like a high-class hobo that is living out of the back of his BMW. "This is what I signed up for," I told myself. Bree allowed me to change in the RV, and I hit the road moments later.

Fast forward.

At about 2:30 am, while dealing the last 3 tables of the $2500 Limit Hold-em (6 player max) event, I hit a wall of fatigue unlike anything I have experienced in some time. At this point I was on the tail end of a 19 hour day that began with me waking after only 3 hours sleep from the previous nights work. Evidently, I had totally spaced out and several players at the table were trying to get my attention to put out the next card. I don't know if it was a few seconds or sixty. When they finally got my attention, I had no idea where I was or how I had gotten there. This lasted just a moment or so. I put together the pieces in my head...

Ok, I am at the WSOP. I am holding a deck of cards. Ok... got it...I am dealing. (this is literally my thought process) There was money in the pot. There were three cards on the board, yet two burn cards. Finally I figured out that I must have burned a card, and then been transported through a black hole into a state of complete numbness.

The players were annoyed and confused. The losing ones acting grumbly and irritated. The winning ones just looked at me curiously like one might examine a piece of modern art. "Right..." I said aloud, in a FUCKING ENGLISH ACCENT of all random things and put out the turn card. The rest of the hand proceeded as normal and play continued. Everything came back to me and I got my bearings. While preparing the deck for the next hand, I took a deep breath and exhaled loudly. The player immediately across from me asked me if I was ok.

"I think I'm gonna make it," I said, with a kind of longing desperation in my voice that expressed the exact level of uncertainty in my mind that I actually would. I looked at the dealer sign-up card in the chip tray and saw that I had signed it 5 times already, indicating that I had been at the same table for 2.5 hours. I really thought I was on the verge of complete mental and physical shutdown...something I hadn't experienced since fraternity hell week over a decade ago.

But I did make it. Around 3:00 am the tournament director told us to deal 3 more hands and then we would bag and tag the chips. It took about another 30 minutes to perform those tasks before I was dispatched back to the Pavilion room and to my dealer coordinator. It would not have been unusual at this point for her to have me deal a few downs in the live action area, but she had been made aware of the situation in the tournament and could probably see the 20 lb. bags under my eyes. "You ready to go?" I smiled and nodded emphatically. "Good night," she said.

I grabbed a small cup of coffee on the way out just to make sure I didn't pass out on the drive home. I made it in one piece. When I get some time after this month is through, I will detail some of the more exciting experiences of this little life experiment. Right now, I have to focus on just making it.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Here we go!

I've been in Vegas since early April. The weather has been fantastic and I feel settled in nicely. My home is a bit further from work than what would be considered practical, as there is so much vacancy in the area, and available property much closer to the strip. As I do with many purchases, I made a quick decision on renting way out here in Summerlin. Nonetheless I feel at home here. Still, the ability to watch my gas gauge fall so steadily on a daily commute that could easily be cut by a factor of 6... does weigh on my financial conscience. I may consider relocating after the end of the summer poker tournament series. There is just too much going on right now to room for much more than sleep and hopefully, these occasional blog entries.

So... here comes about 5 to 6 weeks of straight work. I literally will not have a day off until the second week of July. Now, that doesn't mean I won't have some days that are easier than others. I think I will be able to find time to get in the occasional cardio workout (but not nearly as frequent as I would like), and even perhaps have some social time squeezed in there. But mostly I will just be looking for time to sleep before the next shift starts.

My employers (plural) have specific rules about what I can and cannot write about on the internet. I haven't taken the time to read through it all, so for now I won't say where I am working. If I get a moment to go through all the fine print about what I can and cannot divulge, I will do so to the furthest extent of accountability. ANd hopefully include some pictures.

Here it is in a nutshell. I will be working one tournament series Monday through friday from 11 am until 7 pm, and on most days immediately going to my next job that goes from 8 pm to 4 am. Then, on the days that I am not working both of the other two I will be picking up shifts at my third (and original) job that I have had since moving here.

Sounds exhausting. It's hard to imagine it won't be. I've set up a small suitcase in the trunk of my car with a few extras of everything. Clean T's, socks, drawers, toiletries, sundries, shoes, essentials and even some non-essential stuff. With so much going on every day I know there are going to be times where my little crash kit is going to be a life-saver. In fact, it already saved me today when I was called in during some mandatory training at one property to fill-in at another. Had I not had my extra items in the car I wouldn't have been able. Yay for being prepared. I feel like a boyscout.

In the meantime I fully intend to continue on my mission to win the WSOP title this year. That is the World Series of Planking. As far as I know, I am the only competitor in this prestigious event. I will try get in at least one good plank a day through June. The one on the railing is tougher than it looks.

I will be mostly unavailable to answer my phone unless you have previous knowledge that I am not at work. So for those that need to locate me, I will be checking in on facebook whenever I arrive at work. It's also a great way to circumvent above said legal non-disclosure legalese.

Have a nice summer! I'll see you all in July...

Thx 4 th memrs

So vivid and tactile
Each memory, each thought
Blessed and cursed
by this ability to recall

The emotions and logic
Constantly at odds
But I won't shut it out
I won't build a wall

So far and so long
to get where I am
I won't turn back now
I wont let myself fall

The wrong and the right
perfectly intertwined
The reasons and seasons
Don't matter at all

How and where to go
is where importance lies
And to do it proudly
I've finally learned how

Forward and backward
The same little dance
The past forces progress
I have taken a vow

Between love and spite
The latter must die
So love for each day
Is all I'll allow

But I can still cry.
And I can still miss you.
And I can still recall every moment
That has led me to now.