My MTR gave me a STD, and my ADD

Monday, July 28, 2008

Exactly one month ago, I broke my foot (curse you, cute sandals!!!). The following workday, I send an email to my manager (I'll call him Pablo--the poor guy is on vacation), telling him of the broken foot and that I'd be OOO (out of the office) that day to see the orthopedic surgeon (I'll call him Bones). He calls me (from vacation--yes, he's a crackberry addict) with the appropriate shock and sympathy, but terrible timing; I am searching for a parking spot outside Bones's office. I promise to call him back after the appointment, when I have more news.

I come out of the Bones's office with a cast and a handicap parking permit (I have my priorities straight--you bet I'm milking this), and phone Pablo with the update--6 weeks in a hard cast followed by 4 weeks in a walking boot. After giving me the appropriate amount of sympathy, he asks what limitations this will have on my work. The obvious limitation is that I won't be going on business trips, but other than that, I really don't know. At this point, I'm still a new cripple. I say that I expect to be more tired than usual, and will likely be a little slower getting things done as I adjust. Pablo replies that I need to have my doctor fill out an MTR, "just to CYA, if a vice president starts wondering about your workload."

Most of my friends haven't discovered what many of my coworkers have long known; I suffer from ADD. Not the ADD you generally think of (though I'm probably guilty of that as well); in this case the diagnosis is Acronym Deficiency Disorder. And because I work for the largest computer company in the world (its common name is even an acronym), those acronyms fly fast and furiously around the workplace. We talk about TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms) and FLAs (Four Letter Acronyms) and sadly, even our acronyms may have more than one meaning. I generally compensate for this by using a Sametime bot called "What is" that automatically lists all the possibilities for a given acronym (CYA spelled out = Cover Your Backside while "cya" in texting means goodbye; I won't tell you what I thought the first time someone ended a chat with BFN :-) ) Unfortunately, I am not a Blackberry user (despite many coworkers' and managers' attempts to assimilate me), and don't have a laptop available, so I just write down the acronym on my xray envelope so I can follow up later.

Back in my "office" (okay, it's really my livingroom sofa), I look up the MTR (Medical Treatment Report) I have to ask Bones to fill out. Unfortunately, it's not a well-written form. It's vague, and has large blank spaces where the Bones is supposed to describe my medical situation and work limitations. Bones's office is 40 minutes away with traffic (thanks to MoDot for closing the main freeway through town), and I don't feel very ambulatory, so I decide this can wait until my followup visit. Three weeks pass, I see the Bones for a new cast and give him the MTR to fill out and fax to corporate. Task complete.

Today, I get an email with my name, serial number and STD in the subject line. I don't THINK I have an STD. I open it to see that it's a CF (Certified Form) from from GWBS (Global Well Being Services) with notice that I have been approved for STD from 6/28/08 through 8/14/08. Trouble is, I don't WANT approval for an STD. Reading further, I see that STD means Short Term Disability. If I read this right, I haven't worked for the past month, and won't be returning to work for at least two weeks. Everyone knows that a broken leg wouldn't prevent me from stretching out on my sofa to type on my laptop and talk on the phone. I'm a mobile employee and work from home; it's just that I'm not very mobile right now. While I'm reading this and before I can process what it means, I get a ping from Pablo, "Can you talk?"

On the phone, I learn that this STD means I'm not only allowed to take time off, but not allowed to work until August 14th. Bones's recommendations are private (I'm not allowed to see what he wrote, and Pablo can't either). This can't be right. Can't I just say I'm happy to work even though Bones wrote otherwise? Aparently not. Pablo says that unless I have Bones revise the MTR, I'm on STD, and he will have to find someone to handle my work. He can't ask me to change that, but he knows this is ridiculous to think that I can't work.

But the problem is, well, Bones is ITSTL (Intimidating, To Say The Least). His examination rooms are full of degrees, certificates, and pictures of him operating on solders in Iraq. He has a handshake that can break your hand (and then he could set and cast that broken hand, if need be). Visits to Bones's office (I won't shorten that to BO, promise) consist of a friendly 15 minutes with a nurse, followed by 5 very efficient minutes with Bones. He can cast my whole foot and lower leg in less than 2 minutes! I come prepared with questions that seem important at the time I think of them, but in Bones's presence seem downright silly, and end up not getting asked. Shortly after getting my cast, I had an attack of CC (Cast Claustrophobia)--the cast was closing in on the foot, and I was feeling genuine panic; the toes were purple and cold and numb and I couldn't wiggle my foot into a comfortable position, and the itch was unbearable. After Googling my symptoms I worried that maybe I needed the cast refitted so I called the office. Bones response (with a large sigh): "You have a broken foot--what did you expect? If you have a problem with the cast, make an appointment and I'll cut you out and refit it." I haven't called back since. When I gave Bones the MTR, I nervously said that even though I know I can work, I need this to verify that I have a broken leg and can't go on business trips. It was sooo hard to get the guts together to ask him to fill out the MTR the first time, I just can't bear to ask him to revise it. I imagine him asking me what was wrong with it--since I didn't see it, I don't even know what was wrong with the report. I just know that I don't need an STD. What if Bones decides to revise the MTR to say that I made up the whole broken foot thing, or to say that I've become an excellent one-footed hopper (would that be an OFH?) and could fly to customer meetings on demand?

I ping my BFF coworker and tell her about my problem. She says I should suddenly decide I don't feel well, and that it has been a terrible struggle to try to work this past month. She does have a point--normally, I would love to have any extra time off. It's just the illegitimate time off thing that bugs me. I try calling the ESC (Employee Services Center--sadly, I'm not making these acronyms up, well, except for the ITSTL one). It's after hours and I'm stuck in a loop of recordings and menus. Like most things involving corporate, this isn't going to be resolved today.

PS: one fun thing about tagging this post is that anyone who Googles STD just might stumble across my blog :-)

New House

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Now that we have a signed offer on our house in St Louis, James and I finally feel ready to buy a house. On Friday, we made an offer on a house in Makanda, just about 5 miles south of the SIUC campus.

Here are some realtor images of the place:

Front of the house

Back Yard


Great Room

Basement family room.

If all goes according to plan, we'll close on this house on September 3rd (the twins' birthday). There are a bunch of things we'll need/want to fix in the house, but we're excited to have found a good house and to get started on our next adventure.

Caprice and Darcy have already started asking about their birthday; we told them they get new bedrooms and personal toilets for their presents this year (this house has 3 1/2 baths where our current home has just 1 tiny one).

Under Contract

Thursday, July 24, 2008

We have an offer on our house! The guy who originally low-balled us, came back with a full price offer, minus a 4% concession. We countered by upping the price of the house by $3k, giving him the concession and covering half of that cost in the higher price. If all goes well, we'll close on September 2nd.

The downside of this is that classes in Carbondale start August 19th. My twins will miss their first two weeks of school.

At least the waiting game is almost over.

"But Dad Said We Could"

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

When I pick up the girls from preschool yesterday, I see that Louie has drawn all over her legs in marker, from the kneecaps down to her toes. I look closer and see that Doodle and CeCee have also drawn all over their legs in marker. After telling them we'll have to scrub well at bath time that night, I say to Doodle, "You know better than to draw on yourself."

She counters, "It was an accident."

"You're telling me that the flowers and butterflies on your shins and feet are an accident?"

I have a trio of technicolor children, looking down at their artwork. At first they look repentant, then they start laughing.

Doodle adds, "But Dad said we could!"


"Yes!" Louie and CeCee agree. Three heads bob in unison.

I don't know what to say to that. It seems wrong, but they aren't very good at lying yet, and they are sticking to their story.

"How long have you had marker on your legs?"

"Only two days at school." This means they did this on Sunday, while I was in Idaho. I didn't notice when they picked me up Monday night because they were already wearing nightgowns. Suddenly, I'm a little suspicious of James getting them ready for school by himself on Tuesday morning to let me sleep in.

After dinner, I tell James, "The girls tell me you said they could draw on their legs."

Long pause. Funny face while James decides how to answer.

"I didn't say they could draw on themselves. I found them already drawing on themselves. They wouldn't stop, so I said, 'Fine, draw on yourselves.' "

And then he let them go to school tattooed with their marker artwork for two days.

'88 was Great

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I just returned from my 20-year high school reunion, in Kuna Idaho. My wonderful husband thought nothing of sending me off and taking care of the family while I went and played with my old friends. But, there was no way I would have been able to handle flying with the kids and with my cast. The trips there and back were both exhausting.

We had an adults-only evening on Saturday and a families picnic on Sunday. This picture was taken on Saturday, so some of those who attended on Sunday are missing. In total, I think we had a little over a third of our 140 alumni there. I was a little nervous about going--first, embarrassed about the whole broken foot issue and having to repeatedly answer questions about it and hobble about, but also just worried about how our old high-school personalities would interact after 20 years. I'm glad I went. It was great to catch up with people and to see how nice everyone turned out to be. I wouldn't want to do high school over again, but I do wish I had relaxed more, worried less about what people might think of me, and reached out to make more friends outside my immediate circle. (Probably a lesson for me about my life in general!) The cliques that were so strong have largely faded, and it was fun to see how some had hung onto their friendships over the years.

Two Tamaras (Tammy and Tami)

With Tracy and Julie, two best friends that I have managed to hold onto after high school. (My eyes were all watery, and I could barely keep them open)

St. Joe and the Low Ball Offer

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

As most of you already know, we put our house on the market last month. It's such an adorable little cottage--looking at it right here, don't you think you'd just love to make an offer on it right now?

Unfortunately, this is a terrible time to be selling a house (luckily, it will be a great time for us to buy a house after we close on this one). Despite being the "best bargain in Ladue School District," we had very little traffic until last week.

Now here's where I have to confess that I got desperate. St Louis has a tradition of using St Joseph to help sell your home. The idea is that you bury a St Joseph statue in your front yard, upside down facing the realtor sign, and "he" helps your house sell quickly, in exchange for getting a place of honor in your new home. So I moseyed over to Catholic Supply (conveniently located across the street from Ted Drewes ) and bought my own little statue for $1.25. It had been sitting on a shelf waiting for some action (Caprice insisted it was lost from the "baby Jesus set" and needed to be put away) until last week when I finally asked James bury it. Before we buried the statue last Friday, we had 3 showings. Since then, we've had 4 showings, and a very well attended open house.

And yesterday, we got our first offer on the place. Unfortunately, it was a low-ball offer. The guy wanted us to pay him a 4% concession to cover his closing costs, and he wanted too large of a price cut as well. The more we read his offer, the more we realized we didn't even want to counter it. We refused his offer and hope he's serious enough about buying to muster up something better.

Today, we had another showing scheduled for 9:30-10:30. I arrived home at 10:30 and wondered if anyone had even been here, because no one had signed the guest list, and nothing had been moved at all. No sooner did I sit down and start working than the realtor and buyer showed up! They were running late from another house, but saw my cast and told me to stay. The best part is that this was a second showing from Friday--a single woman who had been browsing our neighborhood when James invited her in for a look around. This time she came back with her realtor. I hope this means she's seriously interested. If so, we may have another, more promising offer to look at soon.

I hope St Joe is doing whatever magic he does--he's going to have to work hard to earn that most honored spot in the toybox of our next home.

Walk like a Flamingo

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Of all the dumb luck, I managed to break my foot a couple of weeks ago. (Oh, the evils of cute shoes--I twisted my left foot and sustained a Jones fracture.) Here's the xray image taken on June 27--It's such a tiny little line, you can barely see it (you may have to click on the image to enlarge it). It's hard to imagine this tiny crack could cause so much trouble.

For 6 weeks (hopefully not more), I get to experience life on crutches. I have new respect for Didi, the one-legged girl on My Name is Earl, as I try to hop around the house. Actually, I tend to wheel around more than hop--inside the house, I've found that wheeling around on a desk chair is so much easier than maneuvering with crutches.

On the plus side, I have an easy time picking myself out in the drawings my girls make of our family. Usually their drawings are a group of people in crowns--4 wearing dresses (us) and one in pants with glasses (James). Now one of the princess crown people wearing dresses has ski poles and a leg sticking out sideways.

The other day, my daughters all agreed that I "walk like a flamingo", and they demonstrated by standing on one leg and hopping about. They have customized my pink cast with their artwork, and love demonstrating how hard it is to their friends by thumping on it. We get out ace bandages and wrap them up, so they can practice having a broken limb and use my crutches to thump around the house.

The biggest downside to this broken foot is that we're selling our house, so we can move to Carbondale, IL where James starts his new job at SIUC in just 4 weeks. I get phone calls with as little as thirty minutes' notice that someone is coming by to show our house to a potential buyer. Tasks like vacuuming, sweeping, and mopping are pretty near impossible on crutches and very slow on a wheeled chair.