Sunday, April 29, 2012

Minute Clinic...Medieval Barber

Can you get enough stories of me, trying to navigate a CVS?

Somewhere between my last day in Va, and a drive back to New England, I picked up a southern woodsy tick, which I discovered in the shower, embedded in my hip.  After trying all the usual methods (and some less usual) I did manage to kill it.  May I recommend that all-purpose healing poultice toothpaste, which must burn like a mother, even to something with an exoskeleton.

So it fell off, but of course, not all in one piece.  That's how those little bastards get ya.  I poked and hacked at it long enough to risk tetanus, then I decided to find a medical paraprofessional.  At the CVS.

Has your CVS opened a clinic?  It's not as sketchy as you think, actually, but a little Bramwellian.  We have them all over eastern Mass (thanks, individual mandate!), but not everywhere.  They operate like your usual doc-in-the-box, except it is CVS, so you may see your neighbors shopping for birthday cards, or your Aunt Tillie picking up her "perscriptions." So maybe you'd prefer one in a different town. And it's not a doctor.

Follow the signs on the floor of the CVS to the back, where there are four chairs, no reception, and a computer into which you sign.  Screens, screens, screens.... but all information you know...then the screen tells you how many people are ahead of you, and you wait.

For various reasons, I have been waiting in a lot of exam and waiting rooms recently, and I can tell you for sure that they are not soundproof.  I can also tell you that the "P" in HIPAA stands for Portability, not Privacy, so in spite of all the rules of record-keeping and confidentiality, your being overheard is not a breach.  Think about that next time you are inside the exam room, because people like me don't bring a book to entertain themselves.

It is a little funny that the drugstore doesn't have magazines in its waiting area.

Let's call my NP Cherry.  I expect that Cherry Ames would be a Nurse Practitioner by now.  In her very efficient little exam room (1 desk, 2 chairs, the rolly stool, 1 sink, 1 bank of cabinets and drawers) she could not find her very efficient little tick extracting tool.  Which is not, you may be surprised to hear, tweezers coated in Crest Total.  It's this ingenious device, and I just have to blow this part up for you:

I think you know who you are

Because she can't find it, after several minutes of looking -- in a space smaller than your bathroom -- I sat down and buttoned my pants.  She looked for other implements, like hedge clippers, a long thumbnail, or a rusty saw.

With regular forceps too large for the job she went to work on the embedded head, about the size of a thorn-splinter, at the depth of a mass grave.  And I thought... this is what I was doing yesterday.  But then, I didn't have a lab coat.

Now.  Once your cadaver head, forceps, and skin are bloodied, it is just a slippery mess.  I am standing, braced against the wall to (a) avoid throwing a shadow and (b) scrawl HELP ME into the cinderblock walls of this torture chamber.

"Are you ok?" she asks, with some compassion, though not as much as your mammography tech.  "It's fine," I say, because I do have a surprisingly high pain threshold, and notice that I didn't say I was fine.  I said that it was fine for Sh***y Healthcare to pay for this rather than my Lyme disease.  I can stand it if they can.

Readership, I want you to know that when she finally extracted it, it felt like a dipstick pulling out of the oil tank.  I actually felt it retract, even though neither of us could really see it once it was out.

What they are charging Sh***y : $79 .  To bore me out with an apple corer, which the local crone could have done, plus serve tea and read the bumps on my head.  Throw in an antibiotic and we're all happy.

What a racket.  

Friday, April 27, 2012

Is it too late to talk about Portland?

I do still carry a travel diary; I just don't write in it anymore. 

My 2nd visit to Oregon was much longer than my first.  It occurred this past February, as part of my farewell tour.  Just before the Company instituted an upsell quota, I packed up my sample cases and got the heck out of Dodge.  But not before they paid for a week in Portland.

For the record... I never saw Portland.  So don't ask me if what Fred and Carrie say about it is true.  I'll assume it is.  I did not go to VooDoo Donuts.  (But now they will come to me.)  I did not ride a bike.

In fact, I was put-up in Gresham, (aka Portland East, which is Portland like the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport is Boston) -- near the airport because I don't like to drive too much farther in a rental after I have already flown 3000 miles.  And because maps of other people's towns never make much sense.  This is how I ended up renting my first Boston apartment in Newton, when I did not own a car.  The itinerary was client dinner Monday, client lunch Tuesday, client workday followed by college-pal drinks on Wednesday, attention to the other 10 clients on Thursday, out on Friday.  One thing the fledging Road Warrior learns is to work some weekends in there.  They owe you.

What I thought I was reserving:  1 bedroom suite with kitchen
What I got: 1 King with mini-fridge and microwave.

I like the suite if I am going to live somewhere for a week because it feels so civilized. The complimentary breakfast at these joints can either resemble a Carnival Cruise at 1am or a box of Little Debbie cakes.  You should check those things out before you stop at the Safeway.  But it has been a long trip out, and I didn't want to leave the room once I was in it, so I made a grocery stop before check in.  Fortunately... I wasn't planning on a turkey dinner.  I was planning on dishes and glasses.  So back to The Dollar Store I went (conveniently located next to the Safeway) for $6 worth of hobo bridal setting.  Oh, and some razors because I forgot mine.  The razors you can get at a Dollar Store are horrible, but you get 20!

The other thing the Company owes you is a bottle of wine to live for a week next to Michael's Furniture.  Because it is always next to Michael's.

photo from - might be his; certainly isn't mine.
A Mt. Hood sighting is more rare than images on the Internet would have you believe.  Like most of the big western peaks, Hood has its own atmosphere that it hides behind.  Sunday was also a rare sunny day, and I was treated to a rear-view glimpse sort of like this, though the sky was much cloudier.  Still breath-taking -- I am not made of stone, after all.  Instead, I was up to the Columbia Gorge on the advice of the hotel manager when asked to meet my criteria of (a) close, (b) outdoors, and (c) quintessentially Oregonian.

But I had done some of my own homework.

Been following this blog long?   Beverly Cleary Elementary School stands near Klickitat Street, where it ought to be, and in sight of an unassuming sculpture garden (playground) dedicated to Henry, Ribsy, and Ramona.  Three life-sized statues -- something to do, and take pictures of, and it is true that anywhere you go in Oregon, you'll be more mesmerized by the trees than anything else around them, so you might as well start here.

I had also seen on the map a site simply called The Grotto -- and who doesn't love a grotto?  That's rhetorical, of course (and rather cliched).  I don't care who doesn't love a grotto.  Or Sara Lee.  I was all-in for The National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother.  NATIONAL..  How National?  It scored "" as a URL. 

Things to do on your grotto visit:  all of it.  Do it all like Disneyland.  It is a beautiful piece of land, with stunning views, Stations through the woods, a sweet giftshop (grandma-sweet, not skateboard dude-sweet), and a life-sized Pieta in a 100 foot cliff.  I had nearly walked myself ragged, and I hadn't left town yet.

I was not at all prepared to be driving right past Multnomah Falls, familiar to us pencil-necked easterners as the print from The Pottery Barn Catalog.  Imagine you are just driving some scenic byway in your Chevy Malibu and this is what is on the other side of the guardrail.  Of course you would stop.  And if you fancy yourself a skilled hiker, you'll even shrug at the 1.5 miles to the top -- even if you are wearing the wrong kind of coat and shoes, and have no water.
You'll curse all 11 switchbacks, but imagine the climb if they weren't there.
I still intended to get to the Gorge.  Sadly, after the morning I'd had, the gorge was a little anti-climactic.  I do want to plug The Interpretive Center Museum, though, which is a little like a mini-Smithsonian of the Northwest.  By that I mean, that in one small space you'll get pre-European history, town folklore, Lewis and Clark, an actual fishwheel, a steam engine, a lesson in conservation and our fragile environment, and the requisite cheesy museum experience film that sounds loud and moves fast, but never really tells you much you remember the second it's over.  And the world's largest rosary collection.


So, yes, if you're keeping score, I have made it to Washington, but not downtown Portland.   And this post may already be too long to read.  Let's talk about what we ATE tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Watch this space

I hadn't forgotten about you.
I was cleaning out my desk.

I have been writing this next sentence for the next ten minutes, so I'll just keep plowing through and you'll take whatever comes out.  We haven't raised our ticket price in the past 6 years, and no one has ever used the donate button.

Stop looking.  There is no Donate button.

12 years, 3 companies, 6 jobs, and a couple blogs later, and I am tapping out of the high-tech Octagon. If you have to change positions every 2 years, it's probably not them, it's you.  And it is most definitely me.  I like to think I served with honor.  I loved you all (I mean, I didn't love everyone, but I don't talk to the ones I didn't....) but turn, turn, turn, etc.  So my mixed metaphors of high-tech Mill Girl/overdressed corporate stooge is replaced by starving graduate student/over-degreed do-gooder, spending the endowment that those 12 years built.

But in either scene, I am your squint-eyed Spinster, and I know you'll still tune in for that.  Blogger teased me with some new templates, and I tried them out, but I kept the old one after all.  You're welcome.

Did I really quit my job in a recession?  Yes, I did.  The secret is to find what they need and provide that.  And they do not need anymore project weenies.  There are plenty to go around.
Any I really getting another Masters?  Yes, I am.  Maybe I'll use this one.  You never know.
Is it really online?  Mostly, yes.  It's worth the price of admission just to see how in the world they teach sighted  But I'm all in.
Am I really unemployed?  Not really.  But yes, really.  I will declare the income I am making on these projects I bid too low, and in the will have been for no good reason.
So how's that all gonna work?  aaaahhhh..... got you hooked now, don't I?

So here's what's happening right now.
--  making a comparison study of the local town libraries, and tracking them by spreadsheet.  Shrewsbury - not enough outlets!  Lancaster - pretty, but small!  Bolton - nice rebuild!  I really miss my Newton Free, and oh, you, Lexington, but I no longer go that way.

-- speaking of rationing, the bourbon is low and there is no payday ahead.  But it is a lovely replacement for running the heat in April.  (another reason I am at the library all day).

-- back at the fitness room of Del Boca Vista, and that ought to be material enough for once a week.

The gym membership expired this month, and it is 15 miles from here. The "fitness" room consists of 1 marginally-adjustable circuit cluster, some treadmills, a Stairmaster that works and a Gravitron that doesn't, a rowing apparatus that seems to be from the 1920s, and would pair nicely with some of those juggling pins, an Ellpitical machine, a balance ball, scattered free weights with all the increments between 5 and 20 missing, and that weird hump-bike that Long Duk Dong rode in 16 Candles.

-- Maybe blogging again.  This is a start.  If I can possibly find a place to put it in my busy schedule.