Week of March 17, 2019

Sunday

Scott is making our St. Patrick's Day feast of corned beef. This house smells so good! I'm so glad he became interested in cooking when he retired a few years back. It's nice not being on the only person able to make dinner in this family.

Monday

Started off the morning in a bunch of meetings. Just before lunch I started to feel weird. I gave it a little bit then decided to get checked out by a doctor. I called Scott on the way home to drop off my stuff and he implored me to go to the hospital because women's symptoms for heart attacks are atypical. There was a pain behind my left shoulder blade that radiated down my left arm and into the left side of my chest, so his concern was not overblown. I did as instructed. The test results from an EKG, blood enzymes and vitals all came back normal, indicating it was probably not a heart attack. Regardless, they kept me for observation.

I got put in a room with a person in much worse shape than myself. She was a perfectly pleasant person, but her IV kept beeping and she moaned a little from pain. As a result, I did not get much sleep.

Tuesday

Woke up feeling fine. As the day progressed, the pain showed up again. They ran another EKG, more blood tests, monitored my vitals—results still normal. They decided to do an echo-cardiogram just to be safe since my mom had a heart attack in her 60s (I am in my 50s). The big difference between us is that she was a heavy smoker for decades. I don't smoke.

A doctor came in and said he was certain my issue was not heart related. He recommended a round of steroids to reduce the inflamed area where I am probably suffering a pinched nerve. A cardiologist also came in and said he doesn't know what to make of my symptoms, but all the tests—including the echo-cardiogram—looked good, so they released me.

In a crazy pile on of health issues, my sister had to leave work to take my dad to the hospital. With no warning he started vomiting while at a luncheon following a funeral he attended with my uncle. My dad has vascular dementia, so when he gets ill things get really complicated. He was diagnosed with colon cancer and had surgery in October, so it is difficult to know the root cause and level of concern we should have when things like this occur to him. We tend to err on the side of caution as a result.

Given my being stuck in the hospital, my sister had to pick up the responsibility for helping with my dad. My mom's twin sister came on scene to tend to my mom, who has her own cognitive deficiencies that get exacerbated when she gets stressed out—and she gets very stressed out when my dad gets sick. I'm fortunate that I am not the sole caretaker of my parents. I have a wonderful, supportive family. I recognize that not everyone is as fortunate as I am in this situation.

While at the hospital, my sister learned that my dad was also dealing with bouts of diarrhea, so the caution for C. Diff went into high gear. This was the second time that concern has come up since his surgery. I guess his immune system is more susceptible to it, thanks to his many conditions. Not a fun time to be my sister, hanging out at the hospital with my dad, that's for sure.

Wednesday

Had a stress test and, according to the test givers, I rocked it. Considering how sedentary my lifestyle is, I did not expect that at all. I assumed I would struggle and embarrass myself. They said I performed above average for my age bracket. So, I guess that means I can continue to eat blocks of lard. (Gross!) The doctor said that everything looked good. The pain isn't gone but at least it won't kill me in any immediate fashion, which released me from the anxiety that was heaped into the mix.

At some point during my stress test, my sister got word that my uncle, who took my dad to the funeral, was also struck with the same symptoms as my dad. Then, texts started flowing about my mom getting sick. My aunt was wondering if they were hit with Norovirus. Just as she mentioned that idea, my sister reported that she had the same symptoms coming on. That's her reward for having taken care of my dad! So, within 24 hours of my release from the hospital, my dad, my sister, and my mom all ended up in the hospital to stave off dehydration due to their illness.

Because of the days I've missed from work with my own afflictions, my family was advising me to steer clear of them so that I don't catch what was, obviously, highly contagious. I don't like that one of my priorities has to be work, over my family, but because my sister and I rotate through taking care of my parents when called upon, we try to reserve whatever paid time off (PTO) we can for those events. We have both made use of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) when things were at their peak, but unpaid time off is not the ideal scenario for either of us, so we attempt to use PTO when possible.

On the plus side, my mom was in the hospital for a very short period of time. They gave her an IV to keep her hydrated, then cut her loose because the hospital had 8 people in line for her bed. This resembled what I had seen while I was in the hospital a few suburbs away. The waiting room was filled, and the gentleman who performed my EKG had said the hospital had been crazy busy for the past 2 weeks, even though they were fully staffed. There were just a lot of sick people streaming through.

Thursday

First day back in the office after my hospital stay. The steroids worked because the pain was basically non-existent. I had so. many. emails. in my inbox. I spent a good chunk of the day trying read and flag them for follow up because I had a few other meetings that prevented me from taking action.

My dad called me 3 times in the span of a few hours to complain that he hadn't talked to my mom in 3 or 4 days, which was not accurate at all. He was bored in the hospital because no one was visiting him. Each time I talked to him I had to remind him that everyone in our family had gotten the same illness he had. They were sleeping and recovering just like he should be.

On the one hand, when my dad is in this state of mind, he's so helpless that it is impossible not to pity him. On the other hand, when I see my phone telling me he's on the other end of the line, I take a deep breath before I answer, because I know I'm in for the exact same conversation I had with him the last time we spoke.

My sister was still in the hospital, having been hit pretty hard by the virus she caught from my dad. I have another sister, who lives in California, and she was in the hospital as well, getting surgery on her foot. So, to recap: my entire immediate family (from childhood) was in the hospital within the same calendar week!

We got word that 28 people from the funeral my dad attended were all sick with the same symptoms. We don't honestly know who Patient Zero was. It could be my dad, it could be anyone, really. By this point, my brother-in-law caught it from checking on my sister, for a span of about 5 minutes, when she was in the hospital.

Friday

My aunt, who had come in to take care of my mom, ended up succumbing to the virus that was going around. On the plus side, my mom was doing better so she was able to return the favor and try to take care of my aunt. On the minus side, my mom's cognitive disabilities caused her to check on my aunt too frequently so she wasn't getting quite as much rest as she would have liked. Classic!

While my sister was being released from the hospital, the big concern of the day was that my dad was finally getting released from the hospital, too. My sister and I wondered how that would work out considering the virus was still active in my parents home. I called the nurse's station to find out if we needed to do anything special to try to keep him on the mend. The good news was, they said just keeping hands clean, not sharing utensils, and things of that nature should be enough. My aunt had been spraying surfaces around the house with bleach or other cleaners, so I felt pretty confident that they were doing the best they could to finally rid our family of this plague.

I worked from home to get caught up from the craziness of the week. A lot of projects were being discussed, in detail as well as in "idea" stage. I did my best to capture all the potential work items my team would be hit with, at least at a high level, so I could make an attempt at being aware of their time allocation across various efforts. There are a lot of high priority efforts that will need to take place this year. Naturally, to reap the benefits of any of them to meet targets in goals, they need to get completed sooner than later. This is a standard struggle for me. I'm sure we aren't the only company in this situation, but it certainly affects my stress levels while I try to puzzle out what is feasible and then break the news to folks that their project, while important, is not first on the list.

My team needs to cobble together a list of outside assistance we can call on, because we aren't big enough to do it all ourselves. There's only one Designer and two Front-end Developers to do all the things. That fact is now emblazoned in red on my resource allocation chart. That links only shows the work I know is coming. I have a meeting with our team's Designer on Monday to get up to speed on the day-to-day items that are not captured yet, as well as some that I know have been put into the system, but not yet estimated. I expect the red to spread to other weeks that looks healthy right now.

Saturday

Woke up with a bit of the pain from the pinched nerve. While not quite as intense, it hung around for a few hours. The steroid dosage was starting to wind down, so that might be part of it. I have a follow up appointment with my general practitioner on Tuesday. He may have some advice for what to do beyond taking Advil.

Scott and I went to a Japanese-Korean restaurant for lunch that we had never tried before, called Ha Ahn in Cleveland. It was delicious. We would definitely eat there again.

I had lamented on Twitter earlier in the week that while the first day of Spring had arrived, the trees weren't showing evidence yet by displaying tiny little buds on them. On the way home from the restaurant, I saw them. I'm really glad that didn't take very long. That is the piece of evidence I need to know that winter is truly on the way out. It usually snows at least once in April. Not too long ago, it snowed in the middle of May, so that threat continues to loom overhead. Hopefully, warm weather becomes the norm soon. I'm not a fan of Winter.

Stuff I read this week

  • The “Backendification” of Frontend Development, by Mike Taylor. I don't think this article is off the mark. In my post A Simpler Web: I Concur, I mentioned my belief that the maturation of Javascript and front end best practices sparked the interest of back end devs, wooing them to the client side. The author also discusses frameworks as muddying separation of concerns. That's how I view CSS-in-JS: placing two concerns in one, when they should remain separate. I also agree that frameworks can be great, but moreso if they are rolled to serve the purposes of your project or business. Otherwise, we end up using bloated, over-engineered tools that grew to include features for other people's feature needs in the Open Source community.
  • Mark Boulton's weeknotes. I like how his weeknotes is comprised of a series of paragraphs recapping the week, rather than a day by day account like mine. I'm sure I will fiddle with the formula for my own style over time.
  • This doesn't count as reading, but I did go down a rabbit hole of Youtube videos sprawling various topics about the Marvel Cinematic Universe. You know, in preparation for the release of Avengers: Endgame.
  • Stumbled up on other folks who are dusting off their blogs. I don't honestly care if nostalgia is the reason people are going back to their blogs to write. I like that this cycle is back upon us. I'm trying to find new people I haven't read or followed before. I'm trying to pop my information bubble, at least a bit.
  • I saw this JS-in-CSS Codepen and All Caps'ed my response to the person who shared it with me. Skype conversation sharing a link for a Codepen of Javascript inside Cascading Style Sheets. I respond with, "NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO" causing the person who shared the post to laugh. Then I ask why there isn't an emoji for a person with their eyes closed, fingers in their ears, singing "LA LA LA LA LA".