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Fibro Feels Fantastic…

I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia back in June, after going through my own personal hell thanks to a horribly herniated disc, a procedure gone wrong, and subsequent back surgery. The diagnosis came as a surprise, especially because I had always looked at fibro as one of those diagnoses that was used when all else failed. I thought of it as something people faked in order to get pain pills. I never took it seriously until it slapped me in the face.

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I’ve only typed a paragraph so far, and already my back is on fire and my arms feel like they were smashed with a hammer. Last night, I couldn’t sleep no matter what I did. Saturday night, I only got an hour of sleep, even though I was so exhausted, I could barely move. I’ve had weeks where every single day, I have a migraine or a cluster headache. I can’t vacuum the house without taking breaks, and there are far too many times when taking a shower either requires a pep talk or just doesn’t happen because I don’t have the energy.

The pain is ridiculous. It started in my ankle, and was in the leg that experienced pain when I herniated my disc and had sciatica, so I thought it was related to that. The pain spread up my leg, into my hip, and then over my entire body in the space of a week. I tried explaining it to my specialist, but they kept insisting that it was simply inflammation in my back that was pressing on the nerve and causing the pain. No matter how many times I said that the pain was different and that it was spreading, they didn’t change their minds and treated it as if it was either a reherniation or a simple swelling issue.

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I eventually got in with a doctor who listened, and she ran tests and determined that it was indeed fibro. There were tests to rule things out and tests to confirm her diagnosis. On top of that, I found out that I was once again anemic. Thankfully, my awesome husband went out the very next day to grab me some iron supplements to take and get it under control. It’s not quite there yet, but I hope it’ll get there.

I’m taking fun medications for my fibro. Cymbalta is one, imitrex is another. I have a fun muscle relaxer that sometimes relieves the pain and sometimes has no effect at all. The medications don’t even get rid of the issues, they just fix things so that it’s not bothering me 24/7. I get small breaks where I feel fine, but taking advantage of those breaks to be productive means that the activity takes a toll on my body and I end up right back where I started when I’m done.

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I usually love staying up late with my husband on Friday and Saturday nights, but last Friday, I couldn’t keep my eyes open once 8pm hit and I went to sleep as soon as it was possible to do so. I then woke up shortly after my husband went to sleep because my hands were tingling, my jaw hurt, and my legs felt as if I had just run a marathon. I can’t remember the last time I had a normal night of sleep, and it’s wearing on me.

My skin is overly sensitive, I get nauseous and throw up, I’m often confused and don’t hear or understand people when they are speaking to me, I’m constantly worried, and I feel totally useless. I haven’t been able to work, and AETNA (disability insurance through my company) denied my claim because the claim manager decided to completely overlook the diagnosis and treated my case as if my only issue was ankle pain. While it is in the appeal stages, I am not getting paid a dime.

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My husband set up a GoFundMe, and we’ve raised a little over $700 at the time of this posting. It has helped, and I’m so grateful, but we’re still in a scary hole. My son’s birthday is coming up and I can’t buy him presents or take him out. My phone was nearly shut off because the bill was so late. We now have a second car payment because one of our cars died and we had no other option. Things are a mess.

I’m afraid and I feel alone, even though my husband has been doing everything he can and then some to support me. I feel guilty for not working, even knowing I physically can’t cut it. I feel like a liar sometimes; there are a lot of people who assume that fibro is a BS diagnosis or a made up disease; I was one of those people at one point. This is a scary time in my life. I need to get this thing under control, but trying to figure out how is quite possibly the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.

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Do You Mind?

Over the weekend, my mother-in-law took our boy on a little getaway with her to visit family, take a trip to the zoo, and have some fun outdoors before the crazy mid-west weather decides to try to give us snow again.  Since my husband and I don’t exactly get these breaks often, we took full advantage and hit the movie theaters, followed by some free Redbox movies, thanks to their mailing list that I highly recommend signing up for unless you don’t enjoy getting things at no cost.  Friday night was a local theater night, where we watched the latest film from WWE Studios, Oculus.  Saturday gave us Captain America:  The Winter Soldier, followed by dinner at a restaurant we used to practically live at.  Redbox gifted us with The Wolf of Wall St and American Hustle, two we sadly missed in the theaters.  Amazing movies; I was happy with all four but I am seriously burnt out on watching anything over an hour for quite some time.

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This brings me to a topic I’ve talked about many times before:  rude people in movie theaters.  For a movie like Oculus, where the viewer knows to expect many tense moments and frequent scenes where silence is used to build tension, it’s an unspoken rule to keep quiet and save the rustling of popcorn and opening of candy for scenes where the music hits loud or people are screaming.  Suspense is easily killed when you have people adding giggles, shaking of ice, or other noises to the movie soundtrack during moments you are meant to be on the edge of your seat.  The girl behind us who thought it was OMG HILARIOUS to burp like a frat boy certainly didn’t help, but she thankfully quit after I gave her the I-Wish-I-Could-Kill-You-With-This-Look stare.

The worst offender in Oculus did none of those things though.  It was an incredibly sick person.  The kind of sick where their sniffles sound like they’re drowning, where their coughs sound like a death rattle, and where they cannot control their bodily functions and obviously cannot stay quiet.  If you’re sick to the point where your brain is leaking out of the holes in your face, stay home.  The argument for going to work while sick can be made if you are one with no sick leave and bills piling up, but there is no excuse whatsoever for going to a movie theater when you are sick as a dog and sound like the Before part of a Nyquil commercial.  You not only kill parts of the movie for people who paid to be there, you run the risk of getting everyone around you sick.  I’m hoping that my husband and I did manage to escape without contracting tuberculosis, but it’s too soon to tell.  Please, if you’re sick, keep your movie night at home.

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During Captain America, things weren’t as bad as far as the typical complaints; I heard no loud popcorn eating and saw no cell phone usage.  Having arrived exactly on time, seating was fairly packed so we were close to the front and almost at the end of a row.  We were hoping to get lucky and not be too close to anyone, but sadly for us, a couple sat directly behind us halfway through the previews, followed by a mother with her two children.  The mother took what felt like ages to get settled in, rustling her bags and giving instructions to the young boy and older female she brought with her.  This was one of the few times I was grateful for the 25 minutes of previews that AMC shows, as it gave the lady plenty of time to settle in and shut up.

Did I say settle in?  Scratch that, I meant the total opposite.  First, her son decided to get very vocal about his displeasure; he began loudly whining while she did the bare minimum to calm him.  I don’t fault the kid at all for this; some children don’t want to quietly sit through a movie and are better suited for home viewings only.  Some children have zero interest in movies if they aren’t cartoons.  Any good parent should know what kind of child they have and adjust accordingly.  My son would get antsy sitting through Captain America, so bringing him along was never an option.  We’ll save it for DVD, where he can watch as he bounces around his room and takes as many bathroom breaks as he pleases.  Thankfully for the little boy, the other female was able to step in and assist; I believe she removed him from the theater, as I didn’t hear another peep once she took action.

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I should clarify.  I didn’t hear another peep from HIM.  The woman was a whole other story.  If I properly describe her, it’ll sound as if I’m describing a scene from a slightly racist comedy, featuring a “typical” black woman at a movie theater.  She was a walking stereotype and that is unfortunately the best way to describe her.  She kept busy saying “I know that’s right!” any time something positive happened for any of the main characters, and especially when Samuel L Jackson was on screen.  There is one scene where [not a spoiler] Captain American lands in a body of water that is definitely not an ocean.  She felt the need to say “Oh, Steve, didn’t you spend enough time in the ocean?” as he entered the water.  Poor Steve definitely got his fill of unsolicited advice, as she consistently told Steve to be careful, watch out, and so on during the ENTIRE MOVIE.  In a normal, conversational tone.  Because if she whispered, Steve couldn’t hear her.  I guess.

The couple behind us, who I initially thought would be basically invisible, are the kind of people who will eventually cause me to snap and become a headline on the evening news as the “Crazed Woman” who slaps a fellow moviegoer.  The male apparently had zero idea what was going on, so the female decided that the best time to explain it was during the movie.  “No, SHIELD is doing ______,” “Yes, he knew him from _____,” going on for entire scenes and explaining things that the most basic fan should know.  And if you don’t, maybe don’t come see the movie in the theater.  Watch it at home where you can pause and have all your questions answered.  Hell, you can even hop on Google and look things up until you know more than the average raging superfan.  The commentary is best saved for after the movie.  Sometimes the post-movie discussion with my husband is my favorite part of the whole outing.

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Movies are expensive.  $15 – $25 for a pair of tickets, depending on the theater and added costs for 3D showings.  $20 – $30 for concessions, depending on how hungry and thirsty you happen to be.  Movies are time consuming.  Over two hours in the theater, plus the drive there and back, which was an hour round trip for us on Saturday.  No one wants to spend all that time and money only to have their experience ruined by other people.  No one should spend all that time and money only to ignore the movie in favor of conversation, updating Facebook, or any other activity other than watching the movie you paid to see.  If you’re unhappy sitting in the theater, LEAVE.  I’ve never seen anyone turned down for a voucher for a different movie if they have a valid complaint; it’s easier for management to give you a free pass instead of argue and possibly alienate a customer.  We all deserve to have a decent experience.  So let’s make a tiny bit of effort and ensure that we all can.

I’m Back

I took a vacation from blogging last week, as you may have noticed.  It wasn’t due to lack of things to ramble on about, but was unfortunately due to a case of the sickies.  My son fell ill near the end of January with a fever, a stomach virus, and a pretty bad cough.  I had to rescue him from school one day after his fever spiked and he was sent to the nurse to rest.  I usually end up catching whatever bug he gets, so I was fully expecting to have a bit of a cold.  He bounced back fairly quickly and I was left with a bit of a sore throat, but nothing too serious.

Super Bowl Sunday rolled around and while my husband and I didn’t have big plans to watch the game and get tipsy, we did spend a bit of cash on some imported beers and were planning on at least having a drink or two.  No such luck; I spent the entire Sunday alternating between lying miserable in bed and with my head in the toilet throwing up what little food and liquids I had in my stomach.  My chest burned with every cough or sneeze that escaped and my voice was nearly nonexistent.  My husband was wonderful and did what he could for me, but nothing gave me any relief.

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After what felt like an eternity of coughing, feeling feverish, having no appetite, and being beyond exhausted, I finally got a diagnosis of bronchitis.  If you’re like me and have no idea what this is, it’s an inflammation of the bronchial passages in the lungs.  As the membranes swell, the coughing begins.  Because mine was so severe, I had to be put on a steroid to reduce the swelling as well as an antibiotic to combat the original infection that got everything going.  Today is day 5 of my medicine and I still feel horrible.  My head is pounding, I can’t take a deep breath, the cough won’t let up, and I feel like a swollen pumpkin from the neck up.

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Thankfully, I’m not a smoker and I’m not around people who smoke, so my recovery time should be fairly speedy.  Bronchitis isn’t exactly the most serious thing in the world, but it did manage to scare me a bit.  Not being able to breathe properly has left me incredibly fatigued and weak.  I have been using every free minute of my time to sleep and I still feel incredibly tired.  The doctor I saw was also concerned about the lack of oxygen in my blood, which was yet another thing I wasn’t thinking about while lying in bed and trying not to die.  I’m used to easy to handle illnesses, solved by Dayquil and possibly antibiotics.  My lungs aren’t generally a concern.

I’ve never been one of those people who has to consult WebMD for every tiny ailment, always assuming the worst and worrying needlessly about every ache and pain.  That lack of worry may not be the greatest thing for me anymore though.  I don’t need to descend into a state of paranoia, but I probably do need to be more proactive and aware of what my body is doing, or not doing.  I probably need to pay more attention to the little things instead of writing everything off as just a yearly cold or little virus.  The fact that my lungs got screwed up genuinely worries me.

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Thankfully, I’m currently upright and well enough to type away without too much discomfort.  I’m trying to ignore the nausea that the medication is bringing on and get through the day so I can get back to my blankets and forget the world exists, but I’m also making a mental note to be more aware of what is going on with my body.  31 isn’t old, but it also means I’m not a kid anymore and I can’t expect every illness to come and go without fanfare.  I’m just glad to be amongst the living once again and back to blogging.  I’ve missed it here.

Cough Cough

The reporters on the morning news earlier this week were discussing how the flu season this year is worse than expected.  It was also the first time I’ve heard a report of doctors admitting that the flu vaccination “may not protect against the virus.”  My husband and I have been fighting off one thing or another since December and relief is nowhere in sight.  It seems that as soon as one of us begins to show signs of improvement, one or both of us is exposed to more nastiness and we find ourselves feverish and miserable all over again.  The time I had off from work over the holidays had me feeling wonderful, but after coming back to this building on January 2nd to an office half filled with sick and sweaty people, the both of us are as miserable as ever.

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We are sick for the typical reasons that people get sick; contamination from the air and surfaces has invaded our bodies and taken hold.  It’s hard to avoid, as we can’t exactly lock ourselves and our son away from the germy world in an attempt to stay healthy.  We do what we can when out in public by washing our hands, using hand sanitizer, cleaning shopping carts, avoiding cashiers who wipe their nose or cough into their hands, among other avoidance and sanitation techniques.  We take vitamins and begin cold remedies at the first sign of danger, along with getting extra sleep and ensuring we’re nicely bundled at night.  Unfortunately, all the preventative measures in the world don’t do much good when you’re stuck in the office with a person whose nose won’t stop running as they hack and cough all day long.

On January 2nd, person A came into the office with a cough that wouldn’t quit and a nose that was literally running down their face.  Person B sounded as though they were about to spit out pieces of their lungs onto their keyboard.  Person C had cold sweats and would alternate between being ice cold to being as hot as the sun every half hour or so.  Person D was sneezing uncontrollably.  The list goes on, and when you have symptomatic people in a confined office space, the germs are bound to spread far and wide.  The simplest and easiest solution seems to be that those who aren’t well should stay home and rest until the storm passes and they are fit to be around their coworkers.

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I’m lucky enough to earn both paid sick leave and vacation leave that accrues every minute I am present for duty.  That leave allows me to stay home when needed so I can rest up, get well, and not infect my fellow coworkers.  I understand that not everyone is that lucky, which results in having to tough it out and head to work against your better judgment in order to avoid a reduction in pay or possible termination for missing too many days.  In cases like this where missing a day to nurse a fever can result in serious financial damage, I find it hard to fault a sick person for going to work while ill and running the risk of getting fellow coworkers or customers sick as well.

When you have the resources I have and are able to stay home when sick, you need to take advantage and go get some rest.  Trying to save up your sick leave for a future four day weekend is both an improper use of the system and a disservice to your coworkers.  The whole point of giving employees sick leave is so they can use it for days when they are under the weather or need to see a doctor.  I know jobs are important and certain tasks can’t wait, but it’s not worth spreading your illness around the entire office simply because you don’t want to burn through leave time or because you wanted some extra time on a project.  When it can be used, it should be used.

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By coming to work sick, you are not only jeopardizing your own well-being, you’re exposing unwilling individuals to an illness they no doubt want to avoid at all costs.  It’s the reason a particular illness will be present in the workplace for so long; it is passed along from person to person, creating a never ending cycle because not enough people will bite the bullet and take a day off to recover.  It’s unfair to those of us who are considerate enough to keep our distance when sick and properly utilize the sick leave program that is in place for this very purpose.  When you work in a place like I do, there is no “I can’t” when it comes to taking sick leave.  There is only “I don’t want to” or “I don’t think I need to.”

With certain illnesses such as pink eye or strep throat, it’s a given that the infected person must remain home and away from others as to not spread the illness around.  Why should it be any different when the illness in question happens to be a nasty stomach bug or a hacking cough?  It’s great that you want to tough it out and drag yourself to work, but is it worth doing if you’re going to end up getting a handful of people sick by doing so?  Are you going to be pleased when those newly sick people pass the illness right back to you once you’ve recovered?

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If you CAN stay away, please stay away!  Most employers will be more than understanding, as well as appreciative that you chose to keep your germs to yourself rather than share them with the entire workplace.  If you can’t afford to stay home for an entire day, at least go see a doctor or hit a walk-in clinic to get some medicine to get yourself in suitable form for work.  But if you have the option and the means to take that personal day, please do so.  Put the good of the entire workplace first for a moment and keep your distance.  If you’re important enough for your absence to be crippling, you likely have the ability to telework in some fashion and should take advantage.  The person who is home on Tuesday and falls slightly behind on their duties will always win over the person who got their entire team sick just so they could submit their report right on time.

OM NOM NOM COOKIES

Fat is not a disease.  Dr Pattie Thomas states that “there is no evidence that fatness, in and of itself,  is a disease, a disorder or a symptom.”  Dr Pieter Cohen, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and general internist at Cambridge Health Alliance says “if we call obesity a disease, it would mean automatically, a third of Americans are in a diseased state or sick.”  The Center of Consumer Freedom Executive Director, Richard Berman, states that “obesity is not a ‘disease’ if it can be cured by taking regular walks and eating less.  We need to be careful not to dumb down the definition of the term disease at the expense of taxpayers.”  Paul Handel, MD, and vice president of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas says that “if we consider obesity a disease, it implies that individuals have no control over what’s happening, and as a nation and as a culture, we need to commit more of our resources to treating the complications of the weight and obesity problem rather than saying it’s a preventable event that really demands a societal response.”  The list of examples goes on and on.

This morning, I was listening to my coworker describe her rough morning of trying to enter through the handicap entrance to use the shorter line meant for people with physical disabilities, only to find that the door was not working and she was forced to physically open the door herself.  This same woman scored a temporary handicap tag at this building for her knee; thankfully it expired after 4 months because the space needed to be open for people with real disabilities, not for people who have knee problems solely because they refuse to lose weight.  She is one person among many in the building I work in, and in this world, who think being obese means they have a disease and a handicap which entitles them to special treatment.

I fully acknowledge that medical conditions exist that cause a person to gain weight and enter the category of obesity; I am not talking about those people and I sympathize with their struggle.  The problem stems from lazy people who don’t care about their bodies.  They gain weight, gain some more, and then want to say it’s a disease and want better health care, better accommodations in public, and all the rights and special treatments that are afforded to those with actual disabilities.  I find it insulting that a person who can’t resist McDonald’s thinks they are just as disabled as a paraplegic or amputee.  Diet and exercise can fix fat, it can’t cure paralysis.

I will agree that there is an obesity epidemic in this nation, but it’s hardly a disease, as it’s easy to avoid with knowledge, self-awareness and self-control.  Although late to the party, Cheesecake Factory has finally gotten on board and posted their nutrition facts for their rich and delicious dishes.  With the exception of small specialty eateries that are sprinkled here and there, restaurants (sit down and fast food) are very up front with the calorie counts of their dishes, with some like Panera going as far as posting it directly on their large menu board behind the cash registers.  With the basic understanding that the average person requires 2000 calories per day, it is clear that consuming more will result in weight gain and consuming less will result in weight loss.  You can’t cure cancer this way, yet we are meant to consider obesity as much of a disease as cancer is?

When the argument is made that obesity is not a disease because it is preventable, it obviously doesn’t mean that it is comparable to something serious like HIV, where prevention can mean safe sex and no drug use.  The action of unsafe sex leads to contracting a disease, while the action of eating pizza does not lead to obesity.  The effect comes from excess; eating two slices and eating an entire pie are very different.  It is a gamble to have unprotected sex with an HIV positive person, but there is no gamble in attending a neighborhood cookout, as people do it all the time and aren’t breaking any scales.  Food doesn’t equal fat, it is the actions of the individual that result in fat.

This is not about our culture’s definition of beauty and the fact that skinny is what society accepts as a thing of beauty, not cellulite and rolls.  It’s not about trying to look like the airbrushed people on magazine covers.  This is about the simple fact that being obese is not healthy and that obesity results from a lifestyle choice, not from a disease that is contracted, inherited, or developed.  This is about the fact that this country would rather be coddled to and have their surroundings expand along with their waistline rather than get out of their recliner and take steps to become healthy.  This is about people looking for an easy fix, a pill to pop or a surgery to request, and the desire to have those things covered by their insurance company due to their “disease.”

Obesity is a mess the individual gets themselves into.  When I gained weight after starting work in this building, due to the lack of activity that comes with a desk job and my own lack of care, it was because I got lazy and not because I contracted the fat disease.  I controlled my intake and lost weight.  When I get careless, I gain weight.  Had I given up, I’d be a tub of lard right now and it would be entirely my fault.  To blame a fictional disease is to take the responsibility off of myself and to make myself look like a victim.  This attitude is one of the many reasons there are so many overweight people in this world; we want to eat and enjoy a leisurely life without taking responsibility for our actions and accepting that we are in control of our physical well being.

The woman I previously mentioned (who has also mentioned getting a scooter so she doesn’t have to walk the hallways) is one of many people I see on a daily basis treating their XXL shirt size as an honest handicap and disease.  They use the diabetes and heart conditions they develop as proof that obesity is a disease that brings on other diseases.  They wish to be coddled in the same way a truly sick person is coddled, and it needs to stop.  There are people out there who have honest and real medical problems that do cause obesity; to say that obesity itself is a disease is doing a disservice to these people who need more help than a reduced diet and a walk around the block.

Even if, for argument’s sake, we say that obesity is truly a disease, it’s still one that is completely preventable and avoidable, curable without medical intervention, and easy to control.  If you’re having a Whopper with fries, grab a diet coke instead of a 300 calorie regular soda and make sure your next meal is a salad with lite dressing and minimal toppings.  Get off your ass and walk around a bit, be it around your office or a stroll through your neighborhood.  No one is wasting time on the guy who smoked three packs a day and now has throat cancer, trying to say his choice to smoke was due to a disease.  Why should anyone feel bad for the guy who ate himself into a 48 inch waistline?

Public Nuisances

The way people behave in public is a subject I have touched on before and one I will continue to visit in the future.  This is one of those unfortunate annoyances that refuses to go away or improve whatsoever.  Encountering an obnoxious person in Walmart or at the mall isn’t so bad because it’s generally easy to avoid them while still accomplishing what you set out to do.  Sadly, we lose the luxury of avoidance when we’re at work and unable to escape our coworkers and their bad behavior.  Today has been one of those days where I feel tempted to start bashing skulls together as a last-ditch attempt to get people to knock it off, but I’m fairly sure that my building’s security frowns upon skull bashing sprees, so instead I turn to blogging.

Gum poppers/crackers and those who chew like cows:  This is inexcusable.  I grew up hearing things like “close your mouth, you don’t want to swallow a fly,” “no one wants to see your chewed up food, shut your mouth” and other variations, all with the same message:  Keep your damn mouth closed.  I suspect that people need these constant reminders because the majority of people I work with have forgotten how to shut their lips when food or gum is behind them.  It’s both rude and distracting to loudly pop your gum, forcing your coworkers to listen to your godawful Bubbalicious symphony.  It’s just as bad to smack while eating your lunch or a mid-afternoon snack; no one needs to hear each individual piece of popcorn crushed between your molars.  It’s not only annoying but it’s been shown to decrease productivity in the workplace.

The punishment:  Ship them all to a country where it’s considered a compliment to the chef to eat loudly.  Only don’t let them eat.  Force them to listen and watch as people slurp and chomp on their food and carry on conversations with mouthfuls of half chewed dinner.  If this is too much trouble, we can feed them intravenously only.  I’m also in favor of duct taping their mouths shut.

Public restroom abusers:  The office restroom is a place for you to do your business, wash your hands, check your hair and clothes, and that’s pretty much it.  It is not a conference room; your loud conversation with a coworker or on the phone needs to be left at the door.  It is not a picnic spot; bringing food in here is just gross, especially eating it in the stall.  It’s not a phone sex operator audition; I get that certain activities cause a strain on your body, but the entire bathroom doesn’t need to hear about it.  It’s not okay to make a mess; just because there are people there to clean doesn’t mean you should forget how to aim or use a trash can.  It’s not your personal bathroom; teeth brushing and flossing or trimming your toenails are not acceptable activities in a public restroom.  And yes, these are all things I’ve witnessed in the building where I work.

The punishment:  Their home bathroom will be opened to the public, serving people as vile as them.  They will have to endure a never-ending parade of bathroom eaters and loud poopers, accompanied by the guy who refuses to get off his cell phone while doing his business.  No one will be able to properly use the trash can or remember to flush.

People who have cell phones without silent mode:  I currently have The F Word as my ringtone, Jigsaw’s laugh as my text message alert, and the Mario power-up sound when I get an email.  These are sounds I enjoy, but I’m certain my coworkers wouldn’t have the same opinion so my phone is always on vibrate while in the office.  If I get a call, I use my library voice or step out into the hallway.  I am not a dick.  I’m not sure if people refuse to silence their phones because it makes them feel special when chimes go off signalling that they received a message or because they just don’t care.  These people are generally the same ones who yell into the cell phone because they don’t know how technology works.

The punishment:  Their doorbell will be reset to play Rebecca Black’s Friday.  So will their alarm clock, fire alarm, microwave, and any other device in the home that makes any sort of sound meant to alert.  They will be given the option to switch to a Ke$ha song after a month or so.

People who forget they’re not in a home office:  The only reason I see for someone deciding to clip their nails at their desk is because they forgot they’re not at home.  The same goes for those who decide to do a bit of after-lunch tweezing or picking their nose as if the cure for cancer was hidden up their left nostril. There are certain things that simply aren’t okay to do in public.  If you have to scratch your ass, can you at least do so discreetly or run to the restroom rather than stand in full view of the office, scratching and sighing in delight?  I’d also love to go one full day at work without hearing someone loudly belch and then giggle about it.

The punishment:  Since they enjoy an audience so much while engaging in activities that are meant to be private, they will have their entire home and all vehicles fitted with cameras.  Any and all vile or private activities captured will be posted online.

The hoverers:  I eat lunch at my desk because I’d rather leave at 4 than take a lunch and be here until 4:30.  It never fails though, as soon as I take my food out, someone shows up to hover around my desk and comment on what I’m eating, then stand there and watch me as I try to enjoy my lunch.  There’s always at least one creepy person in the office who will come by to ask you a question and stand around for way too long after getting an answer.  They’ll stare at your computer monitor, look around at your desk, and invade your personal space to the point where you almost want to offer them your chair and get out of their way.

The punishment:  Various people will be sent to your home on a daily basis to hover around you like a fly while you attempt to eat and bathe and relax after a hard day of work.  These people will include such talents as William Hung, Nancy Grace, Lindsay Lohan’s dad and Carrot Top.

People who think they work for TMZ:  Gossiping is natural.  The thing is, most of our jobs aren’t centered around gossip, no matter how juicy.  Whether you care or not, you’ll be forced to hear their theory on why Kim and Kris REALLY got divorced and how their shot marriage mirrors what their neighbor is currently going through.  They’ll talk to person A about all the nasty things about person B, then turn the tables and trash person A to whoever will listen.  They’re a wealth of useless knowledge and speculation and love causing trouble so they have something new to talk about and obsess over.  They automatically assume that people are very interested in what they have to say and consider it their duty to spread as much gossip as possible.

The punishment:  Remove their vocal cords and take away their ability to communicate through any written means or through sign language.  Then, fill their brains with as much juicy gossip as it can possibly hold and watch them struggle with having all this information they’re unable to share.

If I’m sick, you’re all sick: Everyone comes down with a cold or gets a bad allergy attack now and then and not all of them have paid sick time or the luxury of being able to take a day off and stay home to recover.  Sadly, catching a virus must also result in temporary brain damage because people tend to get very gross.  I have coworkers loudly blow their nose and then throw their disgusting soggy kleenex in MY trash can, walking out of their way to come behind my desk and give me their snot rag.  It’s disgusting, just as bad as those having coughing or sneezing fits and refusing to cover their mouths or remembering to cover their mouth but then touching someone else’s property without sanitizing their hand first, making the office a giant germ factory.

The punishment:  Infect them with the zombie virus and lock them in a cell all by themselves.  Twice daily, taunt them by parading tasty humans past the cell.  Attempt to get at least one person to coat themselves in barbecue sauce.

Update Nov 22, 2011:  Here’s an article from Cracked.com, published November 19th, 2011, that touches on this subject as well.

If You Ask Me…

I was off for a couple of days due to both my son and I feeling less than stellar.  This wasn’t a problem whatsoever with my boss in the office, but it was a concern to me because I had just switched employment from contractor A to contractor B; my job is the exact same but my out of office employer has changed.  It’s never a positive to be off of work so soon after beginning a new job.  My concern turned into serious worry when my husband informed me that a woman on my contract had mentioned something to my mother-in-law, saying that I should be careful.  After finding that out, I came into work in a pretty paranoid state, but all was well with my new employer, I just get stuck taking leave without pay since I haven’t accrued sick or vacation time just yet.  They weren’t upset because I had no way of requesting the time off properly (they had yet to send me the login information and instructions) and I’ve held this job for over a year so obviously my in-office boss is okay with me.  It was quite a relief.

What bothers me most though is that this woman in my office went to my mother-in-law about me.  She has no pull over me as she is only authorized to supervise employees in her area, but regardless of whether or not she is my supervisor, she had no business going to my family member about anything related to my job.    As my husband said, it’s a bit unprofessional for her to discuss something related to my employment with my mom-in-law rather than come to me if she had a concern.  The only reason I’m not upset about the whole thing is because I believe that she was simply trying to help me out and ended up doing it in a way that I disagree with.  She’s always done things that she believes will assist me and this was probably one of those things.  It’s only natural to want to help a friend out, even if they don’t ask for it and even if they don’t actually need it.

When I talk about my son’s behavioral issues at his daycare, I’m guaranteed to get parenting advice from people both with and without kids, even though all I’m doing is relaying events to my peers.  When my husband and I kicked off our road to not being fat last year, we received advice from people on how we should best lose weight, something that continued even after my husband lost around 80 pounds and I lost around 30.  We didn’t feel that we needed any help since what we were doing seemed to work, but people gave it anyway, especially people who could stand to take their own advice.  I can’t claim to be innocent here either; I often find myself itching to offer advice when it’s not asked for on topics I’m passionate about.  Sometimes I’m unable to hold back and I’m sure it’s irritating to my poor friends who just wanted to vent to me about one of life’s many frustrations.

There are a few different reasons people jump in to offer help and advice when it’s unsolicited.  On the innocent end of the spectrum, you have your good Samaritans, those who are truly and honestly concerned with your well-being and who speak up or act out to prevent you from being harmed or hurt.  My mother-in-law fits into this category; she’ll throw help my way even when it’s unnecessary because she refuses to see me struggle or want for anything.  Further down you have your little helpers, people who feel both a need to offer help and a desire to share a bit of their life experience.  After them comes the over sharers, those who enjoy jumping in with a story of their own and who put little thought into whether or not their information will be of use to you.  Finally, on the end of the spectrum comes the malicious twats, the people who desire to make you look bad, point out what you’re doing wrong, prove they can do better, and make you feel pretty stupid for your actions or lack thereof.

Most of the people in my life are ones with good intentions and I consider myself quite lucky to be able to say that.  However, even the best of intentions can fall flat when the party you’re assisting doesn’t want your help.  For example, I get irritated at my husband now and then because I’ll come to him with something that’s bothering me and want nothing else but to vent for a bit and get it off my chest.  He hears my story and offers a solution to whatever problem it contains.  What I see as a vent-and be-done-with-it situation, he sees as me asking for advice or assistance.  He’s only trying to help, but when I don’t want it, it accomplishes the opposite.

There’s no point in wasting time waiting for other people to change and generally no point in asking either.  What I’ve had to do to eliminate to abundance of “helping” hands from my surroundings is to adjust the way I speak around people and change my expectations.  If the topic is sensitive, it’s only brought up around people I seriously trust and wouldn’t mind opinions from.  I also try my best to quiet myself when the urge to help hits and I’m unsure if it’s wanted or not. I’ve accepted the fact that malicious idiots exist and can sometimes disguise themselves as friends; a clean break from these people is the only surefire way I have found to escape their condescending advice and hurtful intentions.

One important thing to remember about the malicious crowd is that it’s not solely made up of people you consider friends or acquaintances.  Often times, it’s someone you barely know doing something to “help” you with the intent of embarrassing or troubling you.  Not-Paula Deen at work, for example, has gone to my boss with complaints about me with the excuse that she’s looking out for me.  A former coworker of mine went to the boss with false claims of another coworker drinking on the job; their excuse was “I’m concerned about the company and her kids,” but the lie and the attitude prior showed that their only concern was getting someone they hated fired.  Be careful what you say and who you say it around; don’t give the pricks of the world any ammunition to hurt you with under the guise of being a friend and be smart enough to tell the difference between friendly actions and evil ones.

As I wrote that last paragraph, my mother-in-law stopped by to see me and to apologize for my coworker approaching her about me.  She’s apologizing for something that wasn’t her fault whatsoever, something she has zero obligation or need to be sorry for.  I don’t want an apology from her or from the woman who went to her, not because I want to be rude but because there’s nothing to be sorry for.  It’s my responsibility to control the flow of information around me; if I don’t want certain people involved in parts of my life I need to limit the amount of information they receive.  I can’t get advice if I keep things to myself and I can’t get hurt by private information if I just keep it private.  The minor event of my coworker going to my mother-in-law was a good reminder that I need to button things up now before something major happens.

Call me guarded or paranoid if you will, but I enjoy my privacy.  I’m comfortable being an open book at home and only allowing others to see the chapters I deem fit for public viewing.  It cuts down on the unsolicited help I receive, eliminates much of the unwanted advice and recommendations from various people, and forces people like my coworker not-Paula Deen to either shut her trap or indulge in a bit of fiction to try to get at me.  We’re an oversharing society that lacks a mute button and has no shame, but gets upset when people “butt in” without us asking to.  Yep, myself included.  Maybe once in a while we all need to just shut up for a bit.  People can’t take shots if we don’t hand them bullets.

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