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November 5th, 2008
01:24 am

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Obama and Biden, the team in charge for the next four years?
I've been up following the political coverage even though I'm very tired. Wow! So we now have a new president, Barack Obama, and a vice president, Joe Biden, from little Delaware! Can you believe it? Yesterday was a crazy day and I didn't end up voting for reasons that I don't want to discuss here, but I really did want to vote. If I'm alive for the next election, I'll be better prepared. I am happy with the election results this morning. I have to say that Obama's acceptance speech did radiate much energy, hope and optimism, and I actually enjoyed his oratory style much more than Bush's. The cynic in me wonders how much difference a president can really make and whether Obama will be able to live up to the tremendous expectations people have of him. It's going to take a lot more than enthusiasm and good oration to pull us through the challenges we face, but maybe in these bad times, we need to at least start with a voice of optimism and hope. It just seems like the whole country, and maybe even the whole world, has been in a collective bad mood for so long that we can't see any way out of it. It's going to be interesting to see what happens. The one thing we know for sure is that things aren't going to get better overnight, no matter who has the unenviable job of president. Obama will have his share of enemies like any other president has, and the media will be ready to rip him apart probably before he even gets started. Even with the best of intentions, it can be hard to do a job when you have so many forces conspiring against you, and it eventually takes a physical and mental tole. Obama sure has his hands full with problems already. This country has been in a horrible mess for a very long time, and optimism definitely is in short supply. I'm registered as an independent, and I don't have much love at all for either of the political parties, but one thing I am sure of is that we just can't keep traveling along the same path we've been on for the past eight years. I think I've always had the belief that, even if the person I voted for doesn't win, that person at least deserves the benefit of the doubt and a chance to demonstrate what they're made of. Honestly, as an American watching her country fall to pieces more and more every day, I just hope Obama has the guts, intellect and energy to do whatever it takes to at least start to turn things around.

Current Mood: hopefulhopeful

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September 22nd, 2008
03:58 am

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Even though I'm actually feeling pretty happy with life these days, unfortunately, I've developed quite a nasty cold. For the past couple days, I've felt like I was swallowing sharp glass and have been totally wiped out, although I don't seem to have much of a temperature. Yesterday, I did go to work and actually felt well enough in the morning, but by afternoon, I felt so horrible that I could hardly function. Being blind, I use my hearing a good bit for my sense of direction, but when I punched out and went to catch my bus yesterday afternoon, my ears were so congested that I actually missed a turn and got a little lost, which was really embarrassing. Despite that, with the extreme quiet of a Sunday at work, I did get an enormous amount done, so I guess it was worth going in, but when I came home, my sister told me I looked really pale, and I felt totally exhausted and could only eat a little bit of dinner before crashing early and falling asleep until about an hour ago. It's one of the conundrums of the common cold. You need sleep so much, but your sleep is fragmented by all the congestion and coughing. This morning, thankfully, my sore throat is almost gone, but I am now so congested that my head feels like it is going to blow off and my ears are still clogged. Even though I hate to take sick time because I haven't quite been at this position six months yet, I'm not sure if I'm going to go to work today. I haven't taken a sick day in over a year and a half at least, and when I checked my PTO bucket on the computer just now, I have 366 hours of paid time off, much of which I brought over from my last position with this company, so I certainly have enough time. I'm thinking that, with being on production quotas like I am now, I might be better off staying home than going in and potentially not making the line count. Man, I guess I wore myself down in the past few weeks by not getting enough sleep with all the excitement of my amateur meteorology hobby, installing programs and figuring out how to use my new internet-capable phone, and working like a dog at work. And it looks like the tropics are cooking up again, so I'll have more storms to follow in the next couple weeks or so. I do wonder if I'm going to get more illnesses this year with working in a hospital, although I'm not really exposed to patients much. My last position was with a clinic-type situation and I rarely got sick, so we'll see what happens.

Current Mood: sicksick

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September 18th, 2008
11:51 pm

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I should say first that although Ike wasn't exactly the cataclysm they said it would be, it was still quite damaging to Texas and Louisiana. It's interesting to me that, although I stayed up until about 4 in the morning to listen to the landfall, landfall coverage isn't really that interesting because it's too dangerous for anybody to be out covering it. You don't find out much about what really happened during the storm until a few days after landfall, when the survivors start telling stories.

I haven't been feeling so well lately. I had a stomach bug and felt just exhausted at work. I could barely keep my eyes open this week and I had quite a bad stomachache most of this week, but despite that, I have thankfully been able to push myself at work and have continued to be very productive. Despite the fact that the calendar says it's still summer, it sure seems like fall has definitely made an appearance here, with a cold snap that took me by surprise, or maybe I'm just running a fever? No actually, it really is chilly. Last night, I was so cold that I actually grabbed the winter blanket, but still couldn't get warm! Well actually, I did have my window open and should have shut it, but I was just too lazy to get up and close it. Still, though, it's not like me to get this cold, so I'm wondering if there's not something going on with my body. Right now, there are no hurricanes to get me all worked up, so I'm actually a little bored, but they say this is just a temporary lull and that the tropics will get cooking again soon. I have been using a program on my phone called Pocket Player. I really like it, although there are some things about it that I need to figure out. I am excited about fall because it is cooler and I can start cooking again. I was upset a while back because I thought I had lost the binder where I kept my recipes, but thankfully, I found them and I am getting so excited to start cooking again. Cooking is one of the activities that makes me feel very excited to be alive. I mean, you take all these seemingly unrelated ingredients, powders and liquids and oils, and you put them together in just such a way that you end up with a delightful cake or casserole or whatever. Just reading recipes gets me so darned excited! Well anyway, I'm tired and cold, but also happy because I have off tomorrow!

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September 12th, 2008
09:12 pm

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I've been following Hurricane Ike all day and will probably be continuing to do so late into the night. Now that I have my new phone, I've been tracking these hurricanes like crazy. Between the phone and the hurricanes, I'm not getting much sleep lately. I'm trying to find the best coverage, switching frantically between Hurricane City, Barometer Bob, IPR, CNN and the Weather Channel to the point where I feel like my head is spinning. This is all so exciting! From the way they are talking, this thing could be nearly cataclysmic, although the media tends to overdo hurricanes a lot, so we'll see what happens.

It feels good to be away from work, as I feel like I'm working myself to death there and seriously need a break longer than just a two-day weekend. I'm happy to report that overall, things are going quite well at work, and my supervisors seem quite pleased with my performance and progress. Actually, I'm also quite pleased with my progress. When I first started there, I felt like I was checking Google a million times a day for unfamiliar things in the reports, but now, I hardly ever consult Google. Also, I've gotten much more efficient, using shortcuts and timesaving techniques to increase my productivity. The one thing I did that has really saved a lot of time is to set Jaws so that it speaks each word as I type it. I always said that I couldn't stand my screen reader talking while I was typing, but I realized that going back and proofreading from the top down was one of the bottlenecks in my productivity. Now, with word echo turned on, I know right away when I've made a mistake, so I can correct it right on the fly. It took me a while to get used to doing things this way, but it has made a huge difference. Most exciting of all is simply the fact that I feel competent now. I feel like I can really trust myself and can be trusted by the people I work for. Oh sure, there is still a lot for me to learn because the language of medicine changes and evolves all the time, and there are still types of work I haven't done yet, but I'm getting to the point now where I can really say that I know my stuff.

Current Mood: excitedexcited

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September 2nd, 2008
10:13 pm

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I now have mobile internet!
As many of my friends know, I have an avid amateur meteorology hobby and enjoy following storms and other major natural events, so I was quite busy this weekend with Gustav, which turned out to be pretty boring after all. I hate when the media blows things out of proportion. I mean, I don't mind getting excited over something exciting, but I just felt like there was a lot of overreaction and hype over Gustav. Being new at my job and not wanting to violate the corporate internet acceptible use policy, and Fearing that I might miss something while I was at work during one of these hurricanes, I decided to take the plunge and have a data plan added to my wireless plan. My contract was almost up, so I qualified for a phone anyway. I did some research Saturday afternoon and obtained a list of phones that I could use with Mobile Speak. Thanks to the corporate discount I get because of where I work, I was able to get a nice discount on the Motorola Q9C and data plan. Late Saturday afternoon, shortly after posting my private entry, my sister offered to go with me to the Verizon store to see what would be involved in setting everything up and how much it would cost. Well, after asking lots of questions and looking at many phones, I eventually walked out with the Motorola Q9C in hand and a data plan. The sales rep at the Verizon store was absolutely amazing. I was really too tired to mess with things Saturday night, but I spent the rest of the evening reading the Mobile Speak documentation so I could be ready to install and use it the next day. Sunday after I got home from work, I decided to try installing the demo of Mobile Speak. I was going to get my nephew to do it for me, but the instructions seemed fairly straightforward. Well, things went very smoothly and I got Mobile Speak installed on the Q. At first, I feared that I wouldn't be able to learn to type on the tiny little QWERTY keyboard, but already, with practice, it is getting easier and easier. I am so excited to now be able to take my internet connection with me wherever I go. It's almost overwhelming to know that I can stream audio, surf the web, do E-mail, download podcasts, and do all sorts of cool stuff with my phone while I'm away from my PC, on lunch break or waiting for the bus. Mobile Speak is a fully functioning screen reading program that makes web-enabled phones accessible to the blind, and thus has its own set of commands that I am still learning, but overall, I think Code Factory did a very good job providing Smart Phone accessibility with Mobile Speak. I purchased my license and am waiting to get my codes so I can activate it. It was absolutely delightful being able to listen to streaming audio during my lunch break and surf the web on the bus. I think it is going to change my life! There are a lot of tropical systems out there, but none of them look all that exciting right now, but things could change. Today was an absolutely perfect day. I mean, everything went like clockwork the entire day, and my productivity at work was fabulous! And this is a three-day week for me.

Current Mood: happyhappy

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July 7th, 2008
09:54 pm

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Voice Post
VoicePost
613K 3:04
(no transcription available)

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May 9th, 2008
09:17 pm

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Week 5, a good week
I have to say that week five has been the best week yet since I started my new job. Not only did I need to look things up much less, but more significantly, I continued to make wonderful progress in the getting around department. I think overall, I definitely felt much less nervous and uptight about things in general. In fact, I seem to be getting my appetite back, what a bummer! The one thing I love is that I don't have to bring any work home, and my responsibilities stop when I punch out for the day. It does feel good to be part of a team. For instance, I think this week we are going to have a staff meeting, and I've been thinking how cool it will be to be in a meeting where the stuff actually applies to me and where I won't be the one taking the minutes.

I do continue to have some challenges. For one thing, I definitely do need to pick up my speed. I've been trying to think of things that are holding me up. The one big thing that has gotten in the way of progress is having to look up things so much. I am optimistic that I'm going to see progress in this area every day as I become more familiar with the new material. I have started putting in autotext information for frequently used sentences and phrases, which I think will help along the way. Another problem that I am having is that sometimes, I get really sleepy about 2 o'clock or so. This is often associated with being really hot. I did bring in a fan, but for some reason, I haven't used it. Of course, that's an easy problem to solve. We do get two 15-minute breaks during the day besides lunch, but I never allowed myself the luxury of taking breaks because my line counts were so low and I had so much trouble getting around that I was always afraid I would get lost and have to spend 15 minutes finding my way back. The girls are telling me all the time that I do need to start taking breaks more often, and I think they're right. Now that I'm not getting lost, I think I am going to start getting up more frequently for things like bathroom and ice machine breaks to help with the sleepiness problem. I don't really mind the 10-6:30 hours except that I've been having difficulty adjusting my sleep schedule. I mean, as I have written about many times in this journal, I've always had the circadian rhythm problems that the totally blind often have, but I know my alertness would be improved if I could get better sleep. I really don't know what to do about that problem. Benadryl does help, but I find that when I wake up, I feel really groggy and out of it. Maybe I could take half of a Benadryl? Sipping on the ice water that I get from the breakroom really does help, and I'm thinking that if I drink more water, I'll have to pea more, which will force me to get up more for breaks.

For the past couple days, I think I've had a little stomach bug, and right now, I don't feel very well. I have chills and I'm very tired. I think I'll hit the sack early tonight. Even with that being said, I feel good about things overall, and I'm celebrating the start of a well-deserved weekend break! My sister seems to be doing much better health-wise, even with the loss of her dog. I have this ominous feeling that from now on, with a big family and many of us getting older, it's just going to be one crisis after another, and somehow, we'll all just have to learn to live with that fact. I'm just hoping for a little happiness along the way to make it all more bearable. In fact, I don't even think much about happiness anymore. I'm really starting to think I'll be less disappointed overall if I can learn to be thankful for just plain and simple contentment. Well, the eyelids are getting heavy, so I'm going to sign off for now.

Current Mood: accomplished

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May 6th, 2008
05:44 am

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First of all, I want to thank everyone so much for their replies to my posts. I have good news! Yesterday, I received lots of compliments at work, some of which concerned the particular outfit I was wearing, but the one I want to remember and celebrate the most is the one from a supervisor in charge of QA. About the middle of the afternoon or so, she tapped me on the shoulder and told me that I was doing a great job and that they were very impressed. Her job as QA editor is to find mistakes, so this was particularly significant. She has sent me a few E-mail messages with little things that I've gotten wrong, which I actually appreciate very much, but I have been surprised at how few mistakes she picks up in my reports since so much of the material was unfamiliar to me. I swear, after all I've been through, all the uncertainty, sleepless nights, problems with busses, getting lost, trying not to forget any steps with the new computer systems and being so uncertain about the future, I was so happy to get a compliment like that that I nearly started crying with joy. I can say one thing for sure. I have worked my ass off for the past month trying to make this all work. There have been days where the stress level has driven me to almost total exhaustion and made my head feel like it was going to blow off. Since the beginning, I have always wondered how I was actually doing. I didn't think I was doing too badly considering the fact that I came from an ambulatory care background for which you don't need as much of a medical terminology knowledge base. I have, of course, been concerned about my line counts, and yesterday was particularly worrisome because it seemed I was spending an inordinate amount of time looking things up at the beginning of the day. I also was unusually sleepy because I had not slept well Sunday night. Also, there are many times when I wonder if I'm doing things right or how the hell I ever got this job in the first place. The thing is, I never think I'm doing well, or at least I doubt myself all the time. I mean, it would feel strange to me to say, hey, I'm really good at this, because I don't think I really have the right to say that when I know full well there are people out there who are much better than me. That's why the compliment comes as such a surprise, and also why I want to remember it, to hold onto it as something very valuable. All of a sudden, the landscape is changing for the better, and I feel much more positive about the future. Good news is very often in short supply, so when I get some, I just have to document it for myself and for the whole world.

I am still getting lost, but not nearly as much. The problem seems to happen when I pass through halls that are open on both sides. When there are walls close by, I can hear the sound bouncing off as I pass, which gives me a sense of direction, but when I pass through big open spaces, I tend to veer a little left or right, just enough so that I end up in the wrong place. This is especially problematic in the lobby, where there aren't many landmarks and where there is constant activity to distract me. I have heard that many blind people will veer like this, but they are aware that they are doing it so that they can correct. Unfortunately for me, I don't seem to be aware when I am veering, and many times, veering even a little either way can mean that you end up walking through a totally different hallway than you wanted. I don't know what to do about this problem. I have an orientation and mobility specialist coming out Friday to work with me, and I will ask him if he has any suggestions. I know that a guide dog would help in this situation, but I'm not sure I want to go that route because you have to take off for a whole month for the training, which I cannot do yet having just started a new job. Also, although I love dogs very much, I'm honestly not sure I want the responsibility of caring for one, and I'm not sure it would be fair for the poor dog to have to lie under my desk all day while I work. I haven't totally ruled this out though.

Current Mood: ecstaticecstatic

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May 2nd, 2008
04:06 am

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My first month at the hospital! I did it!
Well, miracle of miracles, I made it through my first month at the hospital! It is amazing to think back at all the up-and-down emotions I have experienced since then, from the sadness of leaving my friends and the familiarity of HCC, to the excitement of new possibilities, to the seemingly insurmountable frustrations of my O&M challenges, to where I am now, feeling much more at home in my new environment and celebrating all the victories of my hard-fought battles. I remember those first days when I wondered whether I would ever get used to the ergonomic keyboard. Now, however, I find that I prefer that over the old style keyboards and that I actually type faster on it than I do on the traditional ones. I remember days when I would get so lost at lunchtime that, by the time I made it back and forth to the break room, I only had about five minutes to eat lunch, and there was even one day where I spent the whole half hour getting lost, so I didn't have time to eat at all except for a handful of peanuts, and I sat at my desk biting my tongue hard to keep from crying. It seemed like today marked an especially significant turning point in my ability to get around. For the first time ever, I have gotten back from the break room twice without getting lost. It also seems like now, on the rare occasions when I do get lost, I am much more calm about it, and I even know exactly what I did wrong. Over the past four weeks, there were many times of absolute despair where I thought I would never get my act together, but those days are gone. I do still worry about being able to pick up my line counts enough, but I am actually having to look up things much less than in the past, and overall, I am optimistic about that. Next Friday, my O&M instructor will be coming back, and I'm going to get him to show me how to get to the employee cafeteria so that I can have more lunch options. A couple weeks ago when he came, I told him I had my hands full and would probably never even try learning the route to the cafeteria, but it occurs to me that a sure sign of progress is that now, I am willing to give it a try at least. The problem is that I only get a half hour for lunch, so I'll have to see how I do time-wise. One exciting thing that happened this week was that I learned to use the ice machine. I know that sounds insignificant, but being able to have ice water to sip on throughout the morning, or having a cold soda with my lunch, is just one more thing that improves my morale and the way I feel physically throughout the day. When I think of the cacoon I worked in for 20 years compared with the great big, fast-paced hospital, with open lobbies, lots of twists and turns, sharing the halls with electric carts, crowds of people and lots of objects to avoid, new computer systems, new people, new hours, tons and tons of new medical terms and dictating voices, I just have to give myself a great big pat on the back. I don't do that often, but when I think of how far I've come and how much my life has changed, I just can't help acknowledging and celebrating how much progress I have made. I don't know what the future holds, as there are still many uncertainties, but even if this new job does not work out for some reason, I have learned enough about myself and about life in general to make it all worthwhile.

Current Mood: accomplished

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April 20th, 2008
11:50 pm

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Well, I'm about to start week 3 of my new job. I've been posting private entries for a while, so I guess I should catch everyone up on what's been happening in my life. Because of some technological and other changes at the place where I worked for over 20 years, there will no longer be a need for transcription. I could see this coming, so about two months ago, I decided to apply for a position at the hospital, had an interview with the transcription supervisor, and eventually transferred to the hospital on April 7. I was actually quite excited and felt very positive about the move. I am doing quite well with the work for the most part, although I am having to look up a lot of things because I am doing different types of reports that I've never done before, but I feel fairly confident that I can conquer that aspect of it. The biggest problem for me has been finding my way around, through the huge lobby, long halls and numerous twists and turns of the hospital. For the entire first week and through part of my second week, I felt like I had literally been dropped off on another planet. I was constantly getting lost, feeling frustrated and beating myself up a good bit about it. Plus, I was having some difficulties with paratransit, a problem I hope I have solved by changing my rides so that I am picked up earlier and dropped off later. My sister was also in the hospital with a heart problem and needed a defibrillator installed. By Thursday, I did start to feel like things were coming together in my vacuous, overstressed brain, although I still have some work to do before I feel totally confident. There is another blind transcriptionist at the hospital who has been there for five years or so and she gets around fine, so I know I can too. I just feel like things should be progressing faster than they are in that area. I do like my co-workers very much. They all seem quite friendly and patient with me as I make wrong turns and ask all the annoying questions that a new person asks. Considering the fact that there is a 70% unemployment rate among blind Americans, I feel very thankful that I was able to get another position with the same company so I could stay employed and keep my benefits, and the great thing about this new position is that I actually get a 5% raise because of the difference in pay grades between the satellites and the hospital. I know I need to make this work, and I am determined to do so no matter what it takes. My sister seemed tired when she came over today, but at least she is out of the hospital. I did get to relax this weekend. Yesterday, I made some chicken and rice in the slow cooker and a great loaf of banana bread. Today was fairly boring, although my sister brought her dog over and the pet therapy was quite soothing.

Current Mood: accomplished

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