4-12-15 Sunday (Intensities)

carowindsI’m a little behind.  Not like a little ass.  I mean, behind with blogging.  I’ve been busy.  So I’m going to have to just sum up the past couple of weeks.  Carowinds has been a big part of it.  A few days after our craptastic first visit to Carowinds, I received a call from the Food and Beverage Manager.  He went on to say that he was sorry about my visit and wanted to know what he could offer me to make it right.  I was a little put off with that at first since I wasn’t complaining to get something out of it.  I also was expecting to get feedback from him.  Maybe a what happened or what they’re doing to ensure things like this don’t happen again.  So I replied that I didn’t need/want anything.  Tangent: too many people expect compensation when something doesn’t go right.  Bad meal should equal a free meal, definitely.  But there’s some things that just warrant a warm, sincere apology.  I wasn’t feeling that from this guy. End tangent.  As we spoke about some of the issues, the conversation went really well.  He said that they were working on clarifying the meal plan and that they added the funnel cake (which I can’t eat) from the Funnel Cake place and the Philly cheesesteak from Chickie’s and Pete’s (the 2 places we had issues with).  I mentioned I was disappointed with the lack of healthy choices on the meal plan.  I asked why salads couldn’t be part of the deal.  He said other’s had mentioned that so they added 4 salads and some wraps as well.  This was the type of reply/info I was looking for.  Action.  And so, a happy ending.

turkey burgerIn the meantime, since it was Spring break, the park was open until 8pm each night.  So, when we got home from work, we’d drive the 45 minutes to the park, go on a ride or 2 and then have dinner.  We did this about 4 or 5 times (I’ve lost count).  Unfortunately, 3 times in a row they were out of turkey burgers.  On visit 4 and 5 or so I didn’t even ask for them. 

The park has 11 roller coasters.  I think we have one left to do.  The lines have been short and fast.  It’s all been a much better experience there.  The new roller coaster, Fury 325 was… intense.  I think I kept saying “oh shit” a million times.  It was off the chain.  The park’s similar coaster is Dale Earnhardt’s Intimidator which wasn’t as fast or as tall but definitely was an “oh shit” ride.  Intense.  Intense.  On Fury 325 I did buy one of those magnet photos of us.  I scanned it but the quality isn’t that great.

Fury325Above: Unknown, Garret, Jim, freak with his arms up.

Yes, thank you, I am aware that I have the pinching a loaf face.  It was intense.  Have I mentioned that?

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mentorOther news.  Work = I’ve been selected to be a mentor for a new hire class that starts this Monday.  I was honored to be selected. I’m an nerd, what can I say?   There’s several mentors.  The new hires will learn in class and then practice or observe with us for a few hours a week.  I’m not sure about their experience level.  Will I be helping someone with systems more so than underwriting itself?  Will it be mostly about our underwriting guidelines?  A mixture of all?  I’m not sure.  I will say that they have a particular curriculum and even have a calendar with structured learning subjects and events.  I’ll start the process at the end of the week.  It looks well thought out.  It will look nice on my résumé!  

Easter was great.  We went over to Beth’s house. 

I didn’t take many photos but here’s what I got:

2015-04-05 007Above: Beth’s Mom, sister Angie and Beth

2015-04-05 005Above: Ann made a beautifully plated salad.

2015-04-05 006Above: Bunny bread from the Great Harvest Bread place.

Well, I didn’t get this posted last week so I guess I should do that and start another one.

3-28-15 Saturday (They Don’t Know)

Monday was my first weigh in day.  Now remember, I started mid week on Wednesday…  I lost 4.6 pounds!  Yeah yeah, maybe it was a first week water weight loss thingy or something like that but don’t be so negative and steal my thunder.  I was still excited.   My only cheat for the partial week was a Red Robin bacon American cheeseburger…  But…  I did get bottomless broccoli instead of fries. AND, I used only 3 of my weekly point allowance.  I’m going to try not to use any of them.  I’m also going to try not to blog about Weight Watchers so much.  I don’t want to obsess about it.  I’ll probably just put my weigh in info is all.  I will also share that my beginning weight was 231!  The heaviest I’ve ever been. 

Moving on. 

During my last post I told you we picked up season passes from Carowinds.   This weekend is their opening weekend.  Friday night they were open 5pm – 10pm as a special sneak peek for season pass holders.  It was their 1st day open.  Before a start Bitchfest 2015, I want you to know that we both left work a little early to come here (Carowinds, not the blog, sheesh).  We both enjoyed the rides.  This was also the opening weekend for their new world’s tallest, fastest, greenest, prettiest, smoothest, lightest, or whatever rollercoaster (I may or may not have added extra adjectives in there.), Fury 325

fury_layout_zoom(Click to bigger-ize)

We love roller coasters although as we’ve gotten older, we need more time to recover from each ride’s queasiness.  Anyway, I now present to you, The Rant.

Rant Cloud Animated - Slow

I made these notes on my phone throughout our visit.  I cleaned them up a little to make more sense but they’re a lot of short simple sentences:

We purchased a refillable drink cup online.  We printed the barcoded email with the instructions to present to pickup the prepaid cup.  1st drink place at the entrance having issues. Referred us to Cinnabon.  Went to Cinnabon.  People don't know about the drink cup email we had that shows we prepurchased a refillable drink cup.  Manager shows her.  Problem with certificate.  To customer service.  Was told, sorry, they just fixed all of the certificates in the computer.  Free drink voucher for the trouble.  Back to Cinnabon.  Ask for indoor dining (it’s cold and raining and we haven’t had dinner yet).  She only knew about one at the main entrance (Harmony Hall).  Not sure about the other places.  Went on rides.  Hurler got stuck. When it started working again I asked a maintenance guy if it was working.  Was told they're learning the controls.   2 more rides conquered.  To Chickie Petes which is an indoor dining place we stumbled on. Asked if there was another indoor place with healthier options like salads or grilled chicken.  She said not sure but Harmony Hall was indoors.  (That was too far at this point)   She said meal plan not good here.  Showed her map with the dining plan key. (purple stars):

food map

She got manager.  Manager says they take it. Meanwhile a couple next to us had the same issues.  Asked if fries came with meal. Yes.  Couldn't get order to zero. Another manager comes.  She starts over.  Pickup window.  No fries. No water.  Manager helps.  Ask woman sweeping where bathrooms are. She says she thinks they've over there but not sure. I asked you aren't sure. She says she doesn't know.  Ride afterburner.  Exit. Looking for our photo on the screens along with others.  People are pointing and saying “I don’t see us”.  Finally clerk says photos are down.  Victory Lane - asked how much to get Fast Lane upgrades since we have season passes. She said she didn't know. They hadn't released the prices yet.  World Funnel Cake place. Didn't think they were on the dining plan. Showed them map that said they were on it. They said their register wasn't set up for that.  Asked for a manager.  Got a funnel cake. </end rant>

I had 3 bites, don’t judge.  I did stop in at the customer service building on our way out of the park.  I spoke with a manager and read her my list of events.  She apologized and gave me the number for the corporate office.

I later found out, Saturday morning during blog post research mode, that the participating restaurants aren’t on the map.  They’re on the website only.  ARGH!  So no one knew that?  I also found out that all the places I listed above that I more or less forced to take our meal plan didn’t know either.  At one place, even the manager said they take it.  I have now printed to a PDF the list of participating restaurants and their locations and have put it into my phone for future visits.  I shake my head.

Saturday night was awesome.  We had 5 friends over for dinner.  Here’s what Anne created:

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Aside from the Charcuterie board above, Anne also made her famous and delicious stuffed mushrooms.

Here’s another photo. Beth, Angie and Jim.

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What a great time!  Unfortunately, I only took a couple of photos.  That’s what happens when I’m busy cooking. 

I made a marinated Polynesian inspired flank steak on the grill.  Some roasted rosemary red potatoes and roasted Brussels sprouts.   Angie brought a German chocolate cake.  I had 3 bites. 

3-21-15 Saturday (Test Fails)

Baring teeth smile This wasn’t a good week.  Monday I went for a physical/check up.  As typical, I had my blood drawn for a cholesterol test.  The nurse also pricked my finger and took a little more blood.  A few minutes later the Physician’s Assistant comes back and says “you have diabetes”.  He’s got an Indian accent but not very thick.   I asked “what?”  He repeated.  I was very, very, very shocked.  In fact, I was speechless.  I said, “I don’t understand.  How’d we get to this?”  He said he told me at my last check that I was heading this way.  He prescribed a med, and said the front desk had literature for me.

Now I have to tell you.  I don’t remember anything serious like this.  Yeah, I remember being told to lose weight.  Maybe the word diabetes was mentioned?  But if it was, it certainly wasn’t made to sound important or scary.

I got my 10 or so page report and left.  I was upset.  Later, I looked at the report and saw where it said my A1C was at 6.7%  I also says, normal range is between 3.9 – 7.0.  OK, so I’m high but how is that diabetic?

A1C

I did some Googling and checked reputable sources like WebMD, American Diabetes Association, etc.  So I read that if my test is 6.5% or higher 2 times in a row, even if it’s below 7%, it’s still considered diabetic.  I call the doctor’s office and a day later retrieve my previous result.  5.9% 15 months ago (1/2014).  ??????  First off, I’m very annoyed that if this was bad back then, then why’d we wait 15 months to check it again?  Meanwhile, another source says > 6.5% = diabetic.

a1c-graph-216x241Above: Per American Diabetes Association

Alternatively,

“When the A1C test is used to diagnose diabetes, an A1C level of 6.5 percent or higher on two separate tests indicates you have diabetes. A result between 5.7 and 6.4 percent is considered prediabetes, which indicates a high risk of developing diabetes.”

-Mayo Clinic

Here’s what I know.  Diabetic or not, what a wakeup call.  Pretty much immediately I signed up for Weight Watchers.  This time, I won’t be rewarding myself with Weight Watchers snack cakes and ice cream bars every night.  Complex carbs aren’t too hard for me since we already eat whole wheat pasta and brown rice.  I’m going to lose weight, I’m going to take those meds.

I also feel like the Physician’s Assistant failed me.  I was scheduled for a follow-up with him in a month but have called and rescheduled with my regular doctor.  AND if my regular doctor continues not to be available, I’ll need to look for a new doctor.

I said at the start, it wasn’t a good week.  Maybe having this issue is just the motivation I needed.  Wish me luck!

Crying face  In other news, my boss gave his notice.  He’s staying with the company but going to a different department.  I’m bummed.   He’s a great manager.  He gets stuff done.  I’m going to miss him.

Smile  Back update… It’s made a lot of improvement.  The pain is very tolerable.  I hope it will all be gone soon.  Maybe those pounds I lose will ease up that issue as well.  No doubt.

Thumbs up  I started Weight Watchers on Wednesday, 3/18/15.  My Mom asked, “why’d you start it midweek?”  It felt good to tell her that putting it off until Monday wasn’t beneficial.  Starting the diet was a “sooner the better” situation.

Annoyed  On Saturday I had to work.  I hate working Saturdays.  It kills our weekend plans.

Open-mouthed smile  Coming up this Monday, Jim’s hours change from 9:30 – 6:30 with 1 even later night in the week to 8-5, no late nights.  After a year of a craptastic schedule, he’s back to a better one that will enable us to get to Augusta earlier on Friday.  Now he has to get used to getting up earlier!

Party smile  We picked up season passes for Carowinds.  Strangely, we’ve lived here 5 years and have never been there.  It’s only 45 minutes away from us.  We drive past it on the way to Augusta.   

Angel  On Sunday we met Jaime and Ruby for brunch at On The Border (Mexican chain).  I resisted a Bloody Mary (5 points).  I didn’t eat a single tortilla chip.  I ordered a grilled chicken, rice, veggie thing on their “Border Smart” menu.  It was delicious. 

image

That’s all I’ve got.  Any dieting/diabetic tips?

3-15-15 Sunday (Lounging With A Taco)

OK, let’s kick this off with some photos I’ve had on my phone. 

2/14/15 at the Augusta WifeSaver

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Now you know I’d never take a picture of someone and make fun of them.  It’s just not right to mention the hideous head of hair on this one.  So instead, I’ll give you a tour of one of our favorite LOCAL (7 locations) chains called WifeSaver.  We LOVE their chicken tenders and I love their fried pork shop sandwich. 

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So, here’s the soda machines.

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I forgot to take photos of the other areas of the restaurant.  Oh well.

Speaking of seats (work with me), get a look at these.  I go to Taco bell maybe 2-3 times a year.  One day I went for lunch and here’s what I saw.

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It’s like waiting room furniture in the middle of the dining room.  Who wants to slouch over a coffee table to eat their meal?  Fail.

Just for fun, instead of providing the Taco Bell link, here’s one with Taco Bell related funnies.  You’re welcome.

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OK so here’s how the spinal injection went on Monday, 3/9/15.

steroidWe had a short consultation with the doctor.  He gave me the typical expectations, procedures and warnings.  I changed into shorts, left Jim in the exam room and off to the procedure room I went.  I laid face-down on a table.  My skin was prepped.  I felt a little burn when the local anesthetic was administered but nothing more than the pinch/burn felt when it’s given in the mouth by a dentist.  Next, a contrasting solution is given.  This helps them see the spine during their fluoroscopy (live X-ray) use.  Next is the steroid.  I felt some pressure on the spine and with a groan the doctor would pause, allow the pressure to subside and then inject more.  A Band-Aid and a walk back to the exam room finished the process.  I’d say it was all about a half hour.

c-arm_fluoroscopy

I took the remainder of the day off.  I pretty much vegged.  Jim worked from home.  I’m sure I could have managed to work, but I really just wanted to relax and allow the steroid to work it’s magic.

heelsThe next morning I was able to tie my shoes without much pain.  Yay.  Unfortunately, the next days after that I felt like I was heading downhill again.  Overall I think it’s a little better.  I was told the biggest change is 24-72 hours and then can take up to 3 weeks for the full affect.  Meanwhile I’m on day 5 as I type this.  I have a follow-up appointment in 2 weeks so we’ll see what happens.  Maybe I need a second round?  I certainly don’t want to skip to disc removal surgery.  Oy.

Here’s a 90 second animated video that shows how the procedure is done. 

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The word Payday circled in red marker on a calendar to remind you of the date you receive your wagesWork is going.  We’ve been busy and taking Monday off put me behind so I’ve worked my ass of this week trying to catch up.  I did have 2 more evaluations done regarding my income training and I passed those so I’m officially W2, paystub, 1099 and retirement income calculation savvy.  Well not really.  I’m still way confused on some of it but it will all become clear in the future with practice.

3-8-15 Sunday (Incubation)

saturdayWhat a week.  It’s over.  I had my panel interview (2/23/15) for that Underwriter 2 position.  It went well.  I guess it went well enough that the next day they called and made me a sizeable offer.  I have an issue with the hours though.  Every Saturday to most every Saturday doesn’t appeal to me.  Unfortunately, I’m not willing to give up my Saturdays for any price.  I stalled the recruiter and negotiated with my current department.    Negotiations went into the following week.

On Thursday (2/26/15) we suffered through Snowmaggedon.  It started Wednesday evening.  Big, fluffy white flakes.  This time, no ice storm, just snow.  We were all set for a 2 hour delayed started so that was nice.  I slept in and then off to work we went.  The roads were slushy; that’s about it.  It was great snowman snow.

I didn’t pass my first 5 income case studies so that sucked.  I got 3 out of 5 right.  4 out of 5 is required to pass.  They were stupid, stupid mistakes. 

Friday night?  Off to Augusta for the weekend we went.  On Saturday, 2 different guys were supposed to come out and give us estimates on terra-forming our site, well building it up, for a future roof over.  One missed the appointment time and the other “called in sick”. 

The next week was weather-uneventful.  I did pass my next set of income case studies so that’s a relief.  I passed 5 out of 5 this time.  I was extra careful.

promoI did get my promotion to an Underwriter 2 so that was nice.   With a promotion, I got a raise but wasn’t able to get nearly the amount I was offered. Go me, somewhat.  I turned down the other position and received a “glad you can stay hug” from my boss’ boss and her boss.  It was really, really nice to be wanted and appreciated.  I wished it was more financially appreciated, but a hug is nice.

On Wednesday (3/4/15) I went to OrthoCarolina for a look at my leg/back/spine/whatever. I was X-Ray’d and then examined.  The doctor said I have a bulging disc (already known since MRI 1/2/14) and a pinched nerve.  I need a shot into the spine which is done at another office.  I think it’s Cortisone.   After the shot, I have a followup appointment 3 weeks later.  If I still have pain, I’d need a disc removed.  I’m so freaked.  I don’t even want to talk about it.  As soon as I mention things like this to people I start hearing the good and the bad stories.  It just makes me upset.

MRI Lumbar Lateral 01-02-14 - Edited

My shot is scheduled for Monday and Jim has to take me. I guess some people feel sick or whatever so they don’t want me to to drive.  I’m so excited to get rid of the pain, it’s like Christmas or something.

I’m worried about Dasher.  Aside from the cancer/age spots on him, and a cyst on his back hind area, and Insulinoma (insulin secreting tumor of the pancreas, he peed in the bed Friday morning.  Yep, at 5:59am (my alarm is set for 6am), he stood at the foot of the bed and peed.  Right on through to the comforter, sheets and mattress pad.  He’s never done that, especially in front of us.  I guess he really had to go but wondering if it’s a sign of something else.  We’ll see what happens this weekend.

We left work early on Friday and headed to Augusta.  Nothing special, we just thought a little extra time would be nice.

Walmart is a great source for strange photos.  Here’s a couple from Saturday. It’s an incubator just sitting there.  No signs, just a trophy on the top of it that could somewhat, loosely, be associated with an incubator.  My brain went into overload, thinking of scenarios of why it’s there. 

“No time to shop with a preemie at home?  Bring it in and incubate while you shop.   Now at Walmart.”

-- “Ever since our dog ate my last preemie, it’s just not safe for our little Jimmy to stay home by his self.  Now I can take him along, throw him in that ink-u-thing and get my shoppin’ done reaaaaaal fast like.”   -- Eunice Ann (A real Walmart customer from the trailer park behind the store)

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It was a fun and relaxing weekend.