Monday, August 22, 2011

Communication Skillz

"Do you have a seat open?"

"Not at the moment sir. However, I can you put you on the list."

"Really?"

"Yes, I can really put you on the list."

"No, I meant, there really isn't a seat open? It's looks there there are seats open."

"Right. Except that.... there aren't. Really."

"You don't have to be a dick."

"And you don't have to call me names because you can't get what you want instantly."

"You are kind of a jerk."

"I know. Who's next?"

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Bad News

I just got back from seeing my doctor.

This is not good. My doctor is a sports medicine guy. He tells me that he always recommends physical therapy, localized steroids, stretching, over surgery when he believes the severity of the injury justifies it. In other words, he tries to avoid sending people to a surgeon if he can. He told me flat out that he does not think any of those things will help me. My condition is severe enough that he highly recommends surgery... and to get it done as soon as possible. He has given me the name of several reputable spinal surgeons in the area. I am looking in San Diego as well.

The surgical options include ACDF (anterior cervical discectomy/fusion), PCDF (posterior cervical discectomy/fusion). The posterior version (in which the cutting happens from the back of the neck instead of through the throat) can sometimes be done without fusing the vertebrae. In other words, they can remove the bulging portion of the disc and leave you with what you have left. I sure hope for this one, since I am still relatively young and want to maintain a somewhat active lifestyle post-op. There are other options as well, including the insertion of cadaver parts (yes, that means neck parts from a dead guy). I will see a neurological surgeon soon and find out all the options, recovery times, costs to me, insurance info, the whole nine yards.

Recovery from any one of these surgeries is generally a minimum of 12 weeks. Yeah. Um. Yay. Going overseas is definitely not going to happen. I have no idea what I am going to do about work. I have no idea what I am going to do about money. I have no idea if I am going to get better. One thing I do know... I want my arm back. Here is an overview of the most common surgical practices.

There is no point in freaking out though. It's just another challenge. Plenty of people deal with much worse, everyday. So, it is what it is. I will try to stay positive. Nevertheless...stress is building.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Imperfection

I'm "flooring" more these days than I am dealing. In fact, every day this week and next, I am scheduled to work up front. That is, if I can manage to stop screwing up.

My job is mostly as a cashier/brush. A brush is mainly in charge of maintaining waiting lists and seating players into poker games. A cashier exchanges chips for currency and is responsible for keeping the bank balanced. I do both of these jobs simultaneously. Throughout an 8 hour shift, I will conduct hundreds of transactions. It is imperative that I follow a strict procedure when counting out chips and currency, selling tournament tickets, making change, or exchanging money with the other cashier window. Doing so allows surveillance to accurately record all transactions. It can be overwhelming at times. At the end of each shift, the incoming cashier will count all chips and currency in the presence of the outgoing cashier. The total needs to be the same as it was at the beginning of the shift. If its not, then surveillance will have to review tape from the entire shift to find out where the mistake occurred. These shortages and/or overages are referred to as "variance". A cashier is permitted variance within certain amounts and within certain periods of time. If one exceeds the allowable parameters, then Houston, we have a problem.

I have worked a total of 4 shifts. On my first day, my window came up perfect. Dead on. Yay. I love it when a plan comes together. On my second day, I was $100 short. Fuck. Surveillance was alerted and after reviewing every single transaction, found the instance where I made the error. Just before the shift change, I gave a player $100 extra in exchange for his chips. Garrrrgh. On my third day, my window came up perfect. Woohoo! And then today, we found the guy that I gave the extra $100 to. We showed him the surveillance pictures and he gladly gave back the $100! YAY! No write-up. I was feeling pretty good about it.

That feeling quickly went away when my window came up $200 short tonight. FUCK! Where did I screw up this time? I was SO CAREFUL. I counted and recounted everything. I was hyper diligent. How could this happen.... AGAIN? For the second time in a week, surveillance is combing through 8 hours of video looking for where I messed up. Hopefully they will find it. But even if they do, I am starting to wonder if I am capable of doing this job.

I'm embarrassed. I have had many jobs over the years. No matter what they have been, I have always taken pride in doing them well. I feel I am doing a good job in this role, except for the part where I can't fucking count. GAH! This is really bothering me. I'm going through everything in my head trying to figure out where I might have boned the thing up. I'm coming up blank. Logic suggests that I probably gave chips to a customer without collecting the money. This would make sense considering $200 is a very common buy-in and the sort of transaction that would happen very quickly.

Let's hope I get it right tomorrow. I pretty much have to.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A little luck when you need it.

I cannot believe what just happened.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Breaking Down

Atrophy is not a shiny commemorative statue you put on display in your home or office. Its the breaking down of unneeded or damaged tissue. It can happen for a variety of reasons. In my case, it was injury. Before getting hurt, I mostly held to a regular regimen of resistance training and cardiovascular activity. That, coupled with a diet high in protein and vitamins, helped me to maintain a lean, mesomorphic body type. When that routine was suddenly interrupted, my body reacted by shedding needless tissue. Basically, my metabolism shifted from anabolic to catabolic. Rather than building muscle, I broke it down. So, I've gone from fit to frail pretty quickly.

Unfortunately this isn't the first time this sort of thing has happened. 6 years ago it was my lower spine that failed me. It was a genetic condition that contributed to that injury. This time around is not much different. The good news is, as I get older I am less likely to rupture spinal discs. This is because the soft vertebral discs harden with age. This limits flexibility and increases the damaging caused by certain physical activities like running, jumping, dancing... anything in which your body takes a beating due to the effects of gravity and the impact of bone on bone. Walking upright is one such activity. Yay for being human. So, hopefully this is the last time I will have to deal with this sort of thing. After that, its the bones themselves we have to worry about. Yay for aging.

When solicited for fitness advice from my friends, one of the many things I always suggested was: Take pictures of yourself. It's not narcissism. It's just a logical, helpful tool. The mirror doesn't work as well as a photograph because the results we see in our reflection are gradual. Pictures taken at regular intervals, however, show the exact amount of progress being made. Visual evidence of the progress helps to maintain motivation. And its so easy to do. I had stopped taking my monthly pictures for the last couple years since my need for them had mostly gone away. I had mostly achieved the level of fitness I desired and was basically just maintaining it. More recently however, I got kind of soft from all the vacationing and lack of regular exercise. So, once I got back into the workforce and a regular routine, I got back into fitness. So I started taking pictures again. It only became interesting now because of the dramatic regression. Ill gather up those pictures and post them here in the next day or two.

Hopefully the latter of these photos will also be the beginning of a new set showing progress rather than regress. I guess time will tell. I am scheduled for the MRI scan on Thursday. Hopefully the results will show that my injury can be treated... and I can get back to feeling good again. If not... I guess its just another challenge to deal with going forward.

By no means am I wallowing in self-pity. There are many people with far more serious ailments and disabilities than mine. I would be lying if I said I wasn't a bit depressed. But that's natural since I don't get my regular endorphin boost like I used to. I am staying optimistic. Here's to hoping for the best.

EDIT: Ok, I guess that didn't take long. So here are my 3 most recent pictures. Picture 1 was taken on May 18th, just two days before the injury. I weighed 168 lbs. The second was taken on July 1st, 40 days after the injury. The third was taken today. There is noticeable atrophy. Today I weigh 150 lbs.