Friday, September 30, 2005

Around 3:30, the real estate team asked me to join them in the conference room. Sitting in was the director of real estate. Their request: a comprehensive PowerPoint presentation for Monday afternoon. Monday afternoon when he knows full well we have a senior management meeting that generally ends between 1:00 and 2:00.

No time. Poor planning. Oh, last minute apparently doesn't matter because I have the weekend to work!

Argh! Why is it so incredibly wrong to believe that working at the last minute is exactly what you should NOT be doing? Why are people satisfied with the chaos, the lesser product, mistakes?

I worked for over five hours into this evening just to get it to a place where we could go over it on Monday afternoon. I worked all the time when the people who had requested the presentation were off with their friends and families. I worked because to punish them by saying I just couldn't get it done is to punish the company...but that ends up punishing me. A poor choice all around, I say.

I don't leave work to the last minute. I do plan ahead. I even plan for having to drop my work to deal with the things that keep getting dumped on me. I hate having to be so reactionary and having so little time to be get on to the work of communications.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

What I have learned at work:

Those who do the following succeed:

  • Come to meetings late and unprepared
  • Are behind in their work
  • Ignore emails
  • Ignore phone messages
  • Ignore company guidelines/policies
  • Pursue private agendas on company time
Those who don't are blamed for the chaos and inefficiency caused by those who do.

Oh, what all kinds of a fool I have been. Mission doesn't matter. Integrity doesn't matter. Performance doesn't matter.

Looking out for number one does.

Realizing this makes me ill. I can hardly stomach the thought of walking back into the office and working as if what I believe in matters.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

A world of difference between last post and this.

I feel as if I am the stupidest person alive.

I realized with agonizing clarity today that the brick wall I thought I had behind me at work was a facade.

All my life, I have been told to never trust anyone in business, to watch my own back. Yet, I feel as if that is fundamentally wrong and tried to walk another path. Looking out for number one did not seem to fit with the good of the company. But truly no one else is going to do it for me. And people who are busy looking out for themselves are the ones who are ultimately catered to, enabled, and rewarded.

What a fool I have been to trust someone who said otherwise...

If this is the case, what purpose is left?

Monday, September 26, 2005

Four days of golf.

Need I say more?

I played the best I ever have...and the worst. The first round nearly every drive was something to smile over. The second round, I spent a par 5 in the rough from tee to green in far more shots than I would care to admit. The first round, I made par for the first time and had quite a few bogeys instead of triples. For me, that's good! The second round is a score not worthy of recording! Such is the lure of this game. The sweet with the sour.

Walking the grounds at the President's Cup was wonderful. Friday's sweltering was made up for in Sunday's cool temperatures. I was literally spitting distance at times from the game's greats. Three of the first four players at 12 on Sunday made eagle, on a day when the wind was blowing and storms threatening. Not the day to go for the green on a water hole. No one told the players that.

Four days of golf.

I am tired. Anyone who knows me would understand that walking about all day for four days in a row would leave me quite tired. Playing two rounds myself was even more exhausting (I think I shall blame the poor second showing on fatigue).

But I suspect that I am more tired because I have come to a conclusion that wearies the soul.

I learned a lesson when I was little. Before I could speak with much understanding, I learned to shut up, be still, and wait until it is over. My uncle taught me that lesson again and again. He was not the only one.

Although it is over 35 years later, when push comes to shove, something within me automatically takes over...and I shut up, remain still, and wait until it is over.

Counseling, prayer, victory, peace. All have come. And yet that lesson remains so deep within me that it is the core of who I am when predators cross my path. I really cannot understand why it would surprise me to find it so again.

Truly, I am tired of digging at the roots of that lesson. They run too deep and have wrapped themselves around my being so completely that there is no defeating them.

What is left then? Embracing that lesson? Can I do so without drowning?

Whatever else I am, I am not a bully. I do not seek my own interests to the detriment of the company for which I work. I do not yell or say cruel things to my co-workers. I do not try to work around the wishes and directives of my boss. I do not undermine her authority.

I watch others, who do not know my lesson, who seemingly walk not as do I, bully, yell, practice deceit, and walk in selfishness. By comparison, the path I am choosing is not so dark.

Truth has been so very precious to me. I cling to it. I find peace in it. To know that Christ died for me. To know the price of the cross was paid because He loves us, loves me. To know that love is nothing of what I learned as a child, but what I learned from those who walk His path. To know that for eternity, nothing that touches me now will remain.

Perhaps it is that I should focus on the lessons He has chosen for me now. Patience and maturity in difficult circumstances. Faith in poor health. Joy in chirping birds and a dog who has never failed to brighten my life. Love in a friend who sees not as the world sees but as God sees. Grace in a boss who, though she is working at her own lessons, walks in quiet beauty in the face of tremendous stress and a seemingly never ending stream of needs and troubles to be addressed and assuaged. The power of Scripture. The solace of song.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Madison is sitting on my head just now.

I put him on my shoulder, he climbs there. I put him back on the cage, he flies back to my head. He doesn't want me to pet him or stroke his crest. He certainly believes in keeping our relationship on his terms.

A rather intractable bird, don't you think?

I whacked on my hair again this weekend. It is a bit short.

My step-father is coming tomorrow here tomorrow for the President's Cup. Two days of the tournament and two days of golfing ourselves. It will be a rather welcome break from work, though I must admit I already have plans for the work I will do after he goes to sleep each night.

Instead of whacking my hair, I will get to whack some golf balls!

I wonder if I could bring my clubs to work...

Monday, September 19, 2005

I have found it difficult to write lately.

I have found it difficult to write because of what the people of the Gulf Coast are facing. I have found it difficult to write because I saw this show about this boy/man who was born with a condition that made his skin literally fall off his entire life. He spent 36 years in constant agony and found himself on a journey of experience rather than sunken in despair. I have found it difficult because of the response I have gotten from my last post.

"I didn't know you were having problems." How could you not know?

"You made it sound so bad." Do you think I am exaggerating?

I spend so very much of my time masking. I mask how much I struggle cognitively. I mask my confusion, my fears, my mistakes, what I have forgotten, who I have become. Until this testing, I did not talk about my breathing much, because three other doctors have just blamed it on my asthma without ever listening to me or seeing how easily I desat (how much my oxygen saturation levels decrease).

I don't like how very much I resemble an old person while climbing stairs or inclines. I don't like feeling as if I am going to suffocate each time I lie down at night, trying not to think about it as I am waiting to adjust to the lower oxygen level. I don't like getting light headed so quickly when singing. I don't like taking quick breaths while talking so I don't loose my ability to speak. I don't like feeling as if I am somehow complaining if I speak about my breathing problems.

I breathe shallow. I breathe short. I pray about it. I try not to think about it.

But deep inside...when I consider how much worse my shortness of breath is now than last year, and worse still since I first noticed it three years ago...I wonder...what it will be like next year. I wonder if all this testing will lead to any relief or if it will simply be that this is just another symptom to chalk up to MS.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

I gathered up my cynicism and visited a fourth pulmonologist last week. The three others I have visited did not listen to me; one was insistent that my past bout with TB was back and I was a dangers to others. He prescribed ten medicines before I left. I never went back.

I am an old man of 70, struggling with emphysema. Or at least, that is often how I feel. When I climb stairs. I huff and puff. When I carry things over a few pounds, the pressure grows and I lose my breath. I cannot sing without seeing stars. My oxygen sats plummet.

I know what I can and cannot do. I can paint, but I cannot sweep. I can mow the lawn, but I cannot dig holes. I grow winded if I walk more than a sedate pace. Cleaning bathrooms, doing laundry, vacuuming. Chores that are difficult not for being onerous, but for the strain they cause to my breathing. I must admit that I am a bit lax these days about how very clean my home is when guests are not around. Dust is not the enemy it once was.

I have become used to shallow breathing, to the taking of many breaths as I am talking, to the panic I feel when I lie down at night and it is as if someone is sitting on my chest.

So, when this pulmonologist had me walk a couple of circuits of the building with a pulseoximeter, I knew what I would see on the monitor. The nurse with me grew quite alarmed when I dropped to 82, suggesting I sit before I fall. I smiled and finished the test, huffing and puffing. The doctor was agitated at my distress and I was distressed at her agitation. A half hour appointment lasted five.

I reveled in her adamant assertion that this was not my asthma and certainly not my past brush with TB. I had been right and those other doctors wrong. I felt somewhat justified as she told me that I should have some blood work straight away and that I was to have a few tests, a CAT scan with contrast among them. She muttered that she could not believe none of the other doctors had done so. While none of the tests may give a definitive answer given that I have MS, they are important because living at a reduced oxygen level is apparently dangerous. If there is something that can be done, it should be discovered. She twice mentioned she could not believe they did not.

I was rather disconcerted to hear of the possibilities that may be responsible for my current pulmonary weakness. I refuse to give thought to those possibilities. There is no way, in my mind, that ANYTHING else can be wrong with me! Nothing! I choose, this moment, this day, for it to be simply a symptom of the MS.

I was glad that I gave in to my primary care physician's request that I not leave my lungs to her care only. I was grateful to discover that this doctor had listened to me, had heard me. But I did have moment's anger at the time and money I had spent three times before to no avail.

I know, that at 38, I should not be as if I were 70. I know that last year it was easier to breath than this year. I know that two years ago it was still easier. I know that what I feel is not an asthma attack. I know. Now someone else does, too.