If you know me, you know I'm full of opinions. If you don't know me, you'll learn that soon enough. All of what you see here represents just that: my opinions. Not those of any employer, family member, group or association. Just me.
Comments are most welcome from real people.
Comment spammers: neither I nor my esteemed readers have any interest in your Indonesian prostitutes or your erectile dysfunction drugs CHEAP! or your rambling word salad with key tech terms thrown in to generate traffic for who knows what. You can go right to hell.
So, picking up where I left off in the previous rant...
We spent the first night in the spacious luxury of our new rooms and boarded the rental minivan the next morning, bound for Universal Studios Orlando. There were some cool rides, and a couple that were truly nauseating - but the overall feel of the place was a trudging, dreary, unhappy "let's just get through the day," which was made volumes worse by the multiple rides that broke or otherwise became dysfunctional while we were on them or about to be, the scores of frowning employees slogging along to their respective job sites as they smoked cigarettes or complained to their co-workers or unseen persons on the other end of cell phone calls. I found myself longing for the cleanliness of Disney World, the smiling employees, the overall working order of the Disney empire, and not least of all, the tunnels under the parks that convey all the workers to and from their stations, out of view of the gawking public.
Universal Orlando --> Thumbs down.
The next day, we went to Disney's Hollywood Studios, which is essentially the exact same type of attraction as Universal - but done right. Employees Cast Members who are happy, or at least seem so, without fail; everything clean and sparkling and functional... The whole place was upbeat and positive, and you could absolutely tell a striking difference on the faces of the rest of the visitors as well as ourselves. Happy. Good customer service.
Disney's Hollywood Studios: Thumbs up.
The following day, as our great vaykay drew to a close, we returned to the hubbub and hustle of MCO to depart for home. Via Frontier Airlines. Which is about as much of a stinker of an airline as exists, second only to Spirit Airlines, which I understand is now a co-stinker under the same stinking corporate umbrella. Half-clueless (though well intentioned) ticket counter baggage check people, grumpy gate agents (who'd have thought that the most cheery folks we encountered that morning were the TSA nazis??). We get on board, and the flight attendants are all old and bitchy and snappy, and appear as if they want to serve no one, but would rather be getting foot massages from the first class passengers. "Folks, we've reached our cruising altitude, and the flight attendants will now be coming through the cabin with our beverage and snack service," IN CASE YOU WANT A $3.00 CAN OF COKE!! Fer cryin' out loud, I'm not a picky traveler, but after navigating through an international airport and the TSA gauntlet with five cranky kids and a slightly crankier husband, I'm bushed and my throat is raspy - but I'll be goddamned if I'm gonna pay three bucks for a coke, on principle alone.
Frontier Airlines: Thumbs down.
The day after that, yes folks, a mere 20 hours after arriving home, I was bound for yet another airplane, this one to carry me to Dallas for a meeting. An American Airlines airplane, which, for all that can be said about their constant flight delays and rearrangements, is a vessel of far better customer service than the aforementioned Frontier. The flight attendants were nice and not completely haggard with the demands of their day; the Coke was free, and all was right with the world. Even when the pilot lowered the landing gear a good five minutes early. Still all good. American Airlines: Thumbs up.
So as you may see, this experience with both ends of the customer service spectrum was illuminating. If I wasn't already a big enough customer service nerd, I'm more so now. I'm thrilled to work for a company that espouses that same philosophy and actually provides the working environment where employees can thrive and be happy, and I'm committed to passing along that customer service focus. I guess it all comes down to rule #1: "Don't be a douche."
Most of you have heard me rant at some point about customer service. It's long been a personal soapbox, and it's become a professional one in the past year too. I have very clear ideas and strong opinions on what constitutes good customer service, and often lament the fact that it seems to be a dwindling commodity. But it's been a week (or two, actually) of stark contrasts, and it's interesting to me. Indulge me a little, read on.
When at first we arrived in Vacationland, USA, we were set to stay for the first couple of nights in
savanna-view rooms at the Animal Kingdom Kidani Village (which is a really, really nice place and on Disney's top tier accommodation-wise), and we got semi-settled. There was noise coming from next door, but it was afternoon, so nobody worried about it. Kyle, the girls and I headed toward Downtown Disney for a little bit of shopping while Gabe slept and Scott rested. A short while later, I became aware of the fact that the 'little bit of noise next door' had blossomed into a full-blown party and was getting progressively louder. Scott had called the front desk and asked them to request that the next-door people quiet down to a reasonable level. (By now, it's 9:30ish.) They'd sent a security officer up, the exchange with which Scott could hear through the (locked) adjoining door, and the second the officer left the hallway, the partiers commenced yelling obscenities through that door at Scott. Who, I must say, handled himself with a remarkable degree of restraint as the adjoining door was still intact when we arrived back from Downtown Disney - but he was understandably wound up.
We went down to the desk and inquired as to whether there was anything else that could be done, and the gal politely informed us that, basically, 'this is Disney, and we don't kick people out,' but she sensed how upset Scott was and went in search of her manager. She was able to reassign us to different rooms to get us out of the immediate douchebaggery zone, but was still waiting to hear back from her manager, so she did the best she could and assigned us to the two remaining open rooms in the joint -- which happened to be on opposite ends of the Lodge (literally about a mile apart) and with lovely parking lot views. The bellhop and security officer accompanied us up to our room to retrieve all of our stuff and our chilluns, and helped us get re-settled in the new (less great) rooms. (It's now about 11:30 pm.) Scott had been promised a return call from the manager, and a short time later his phone rang. The manager apologized for the inconvenience and said he would get us into different rooms for the next night - Scott told him it really was too much hassle to change rooms just for one more night, but that it was a significant inconvenience having three teenage girls in a room nowhere near us, not to mention the lack of inspiring vistas - and that if he could offer any sort of assistance on the back end of the cruise, we wouldn't mind (we were set to stay at one of the value resorts for three nights after returning from the cruise). He told us he'd be in touch the following day.
The next day, Wil, the manager, called Scott and asked us to come to the front desk and ask for him later in the day. We did so, and he informed us that he had arranged to transfer our reservation at the value resort back to the Kidani Village, at the original cost of the value resort, and that we should just check in there upon returning from the cruise. We were pretty happy with that outcome - but we were also just excited to get on the boat and figured we'd deal with the rest of it when we got back.
Seven days in the Caribbean sounds delightful in any case, and especially so on a Disney cruise ship,
where we were spoiled rotten for the entire week and in general taken very good care of. We had a great stateroom host, outstanding dinner servers, and basically basked in the glow of happiness that the ship's staff exuded.
Midway through, while on an excursion (excuse me, Disney calls them "port adventures") adventure at the Mayan ruins at Tulum, Scott inverted his ankle on some stone steps shortly after making fun of an ancient god's name and did a number on it. It swelled almost immediately to the size of a grapefruit, and he tried to tough it out and finally admitted that he needed to get off that leg for a while. Which gave me a great opportunity to feed my brood and then go from establishment to establishment dusting off my rudimentary Spanish to ask for "una bolsa de hielo" which was a remarkably difficult request, apparently. Finally, after a helpful shopkeeper volunteered to scrape some ice off the inside of his soda cooler and put into a bag, and after a couple of hombres gave Scott some kind of salve to put on his ankle (??Don't ask, don't tell...) we went back to the bus and decided we'd probably have to get it looked at. The ship's trusty nurse, Anna, gave sold us a couple of Ace bandages, a soft ankle brace, and some Ben-Gay (???) and off we went, back to the stateroom.
The next morning on the ship, we journeyed down to Deck 1 to the ship's medical clinic (as it were) on the advice of the Director of Port Adventures, who had been in touch after having received the report from the contracted tour company, and were less than overjoyed to find the doors closed and locked. Time was 11:02, and the clinic had presumably gotten a heads-up that we were inbound - but posted clinic hours ended at 11:00. My frustrated tug on the doors elicited a response just as we were turning to leave - but we were informed that if we wanted to come in and have it looked at, it would be an extra $100 on top of the doctor's fee, or that we could come back at 4:30. Grrrr. 4:30 it was.
When we returned at 4:30ish, we were taken back into the hallways of the clinic and a different nurse tried to take a history while getting her ass kicked by the automatic blood pressure cuff. Mind you, we were being very polite and gracious this entire time. Dr. Singh, as identified by his badge, came in a bit later and looked, poked, prodded, and appeared thoughtful. "We could do an x-ray, I think, to see if anything is broken." Scott asked "Would it change your treatment either way?" Dr. Singh admitted that it would not, and that said treatment would consist of a rigid splint and crutches. Scott very kindly and appreciatively told Dr. Singh that he had no intention of wearing a long-leg splint or walking on crutches for the remainder of the cruise, and that if he could just prescribe a few doses of something for the pain, all would be fine. Dr. Singh then replied (insert your own east Indian accent here, just because it's fun) "If you do not take the splint and crutches, I will be forced to confine you to your stateroom." Whaaaaat?? Scott acquiesced and we went into what appeared to be a resuscitation room for splinting.
We waited for Dr. Singh for a time; in retrospect, I fully believe he spent that time trying to learn how to craft a long-leg splint from Ortho-glass. While we waited, we looked around us at the supply cabinets in the room, and chuckled at the misspellings on some of the labels. TROMBOLYTICS, read one. ANTIMICROBAL MEDICATIONS, said another. (We are both of the opinion that if you can't correctly spell a medication, you have no business administering it.) And then Dr. Singh came in and proceeded with the most awkward, clueless, ridiculous Ortho-glass application I've ever witnessed (And as a nurse, I freely admit that I'm not great with Ortho-glass - but I could have splinted circles around this tool). Some 30 minutes later, he finished the splint and went for crutches, which he brought back and began height-adjusting them by moving the hand pieces up as high as possible. I stood up to help, unable to further tolerate his astounding ineptitude, and he suddenly remembered what to do and clumsily finished. He went to retrieve a small supply of Percocet, and while he did so, the inimitable Anna came through the room with a smile. Scott ribbed her a little about the spellings on the labels, and she turned and very snottily said "Well, maybe you'd like to come down here and re-label everything for us."
Curiously enough, he did not use the crutches or the splint once we left Deck 1.
The Port Adventures Director, Jennifer from Canada, was very helpful and was unhappy to hear of our experience down in the catacombs of the "medical clinic," and said that she would see what could be done about the charges for the splint and crutches he hadn't really wanted to take.
Disappointingly, the ship's staff officer, or some such, deemed that they were reasonable costs and that the bill would stand. (Whatever, dude, a $300 medical bill is nothin' on top of our 3K of onboard expenses already, but it's the principle of the thing.)
Anyhoo. At the conclusion of the cruise, we returned back to Orlando and to Disney World, and to the Animal Kingdom Kidani Village as directed. After just a little bit of paper shuffling and computering by the front desk staff, we were given new MagicBands (which is Disney's ingenious new creation that allows you to get into your room, get into the parks, and BUY STUFF with a tap of your wrist) to get into our new rooms.
Holy Palatial Savanna Views, Batman!! We had been put in first-floor, savanna view one-bedroom suites - two of 'em - that were easily three times the size of our first rooms. They were located almost next to each other, and in the section of the savanna that actually had animals roaming in it often. We were super happy with this turn of events, and our faith in the Disney way of customer service was renewed.
15 years ago today, I became a mom. Up until that point, I had no idea how much my life would change. I didn't realize the size of the blank space in my heart, nor did I anticipate the fierceness of the love that would fill it.
At 7:43 PM, when the nurse placed on my belly the tiny pink bundle we had just called Hayley Marie, she lifted her head up to the side and opened her eyes as if to greet me, to greet the world. And thus the adventure began.
I've always been insanely proud of that tiny girl, from hearing her first real word (neither "mommy" nor "daddy," but a very decisive "car") to watching her take her tottering first steps at just a shade over nine months. She's had a colorful personality from the time it started to show; for instance, the day (at a year and a half or so) that I attempted to put her in time-out for doing some thing she knew was a no-no, and her response was an emphatic "No! Ree-dickelous!" coupled with a foot-stomp. (And resulting in a mommy hard-pressed to remain stern instead of cracking up.)
Over the years she's given me an entirely different perspective on lots of things, from insisting that the backs of our knees should be called "knee-pits" and that ice cream with toppings was a "sun-bow" instead of a sundae, to the day she inquired, in perfect solemnity, how, since I didn't get my first cell phone until after she was born, how I talked on the phone in my car before that.
She continues to amaze me, as I see what a thoughtful, intelligent person and a beautiful young woman she's becoming. It strikes me at odd times how totally much she's my kid - and then she will come up with something so much funnier than I ever could and throw me for a loop.
I still couldn't be more proud of that tiny girl, even though she stands a good couple of inches taller than me now.
Hayley Marie, I love you more than you can imagine. Just like I've told you since I could hold you in one arm, "you make Mommy's heart pound." Happy Birthday - I hope you have a wonderful day.
I'm not very good at it. But I'm trying. Here's what my neck meat looks like today:
My kids think the FrankenMom thing is funny. Me, not so much. But I'm getting lots of well wishes and a bunch of pretty flowers:
These from my sweet husband:
...and these from my wonderful co-workers:
And I'm getting lots of stern lectures from my bosses ("Get off your email!" "Go get some rest!) and from my beloved ("You need to take a Percocet and go relax!") and my friends and family "Shouldn't you be in bed?" as well as all kinds of interesting stories I'm generating while snowed on the aforementioned Percocet and Valium (apparently, Wednesday night I sat up in a panic and asked Scott if he had remembered to put the dinosaurs out... And Thursday night I'm told I rolled/slid/fell out of bed...) so at least I'm good for entertainment value!
But I can feel my left arm - the neck pain is improving a little each day - so I really can't complain!
It's all done - I'm artificially-disced - I'm told the procedure went perfectly. Still pretty sore in the area, but given the general brutality of the procedure I'm neither surprised nor worried. And my throat hurts quite a bit, but i imagine that's a direct result of having been intubated for 2+ hours and having all the important crap shoved out of the way for most of that time. Thanks to the Michael Jackson juice, I missed that part.
Check out the cool gizmo that's in my neck now:
It's pretty amazing, really. Came home to a huge vat of all my favorite flowers...
Got to sleep in my own bed last night (and slept like the dead thanks to the metric shit-ton of medicine in my system). I'm up and walking around today and I can feel my left arm again - and that's good enough for me. Even with the big ol' dressing and clot socks.
Thank you all for your phone calls and texts and prayers and thoughts and fingers-crossing and healing energies and all that jazz. I should be back to fully obnoxious in no time.
... i get my left arm back, at the expense of my pretty little neck meat. Let me explain, for those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about.
For most of my 39 years, and especially since I've been a nurse I've done my very best to take care of my back and rmy neck. I've known way too many nurses that are crippled up with injuries they ended up with from taking care of other people and not themselves.
Along about February, I started having excruciating pain in my left shoulder blade and left tricep. At the time, I thought it was probably tension, so I waited for the rest and muscle relaxers and Motrin to do the trick. Not so much. Then I noticed that when I turned my head 45° to the left, a tingling numbness shot down my entire left arm. Cool. A pain in the ass, to be sure, but not intolerable. The neck pain was pretty substantial too, but whatever. I've had two babies with no pain medicine, kidney stones, bikini waxes... so I have a reasonably decent pain tolerance.
And then I noticed the weakness. Started to drop things with my left hand. Started to notice difficulty at work doing simple things like starting IVs and catheters. Not ok, so I decided to do the un-nursey thing and get it checked out.
Herniated disc with nerve impingement at C6-C7, they say, along with a less-serious bulging one at C5-C6. No injury, no known etiology, just an apparent propensity for degenerative discs.
So today, a very gifted neurosurgeon (incidentally, the very same one who did the very same procedure on Peyton Manning) is going to chop into the front of my neck, shove aside the important stuff, pull out the crappy disc, and plug in a fancy new artificial one. No fusion, just hardware. Supposedly, I'll be back to full function in a couple of days (which is good, 'cause I just don't have time to be bedridden) and hopefully that means I'll be able to feel and use my left arm like a normal person again. I'm pretty stoked about that, frankly. Nervous as shit, but excited.
So a few weeks ago I went to Houston on business, and Scott went along with me. Everyone stayed at the hotel our training was at, which turned out to be a newfangled hippie "back to nature" save the earth kind of place. In theory. What we actually found that to mean is...
We're too cheap to spend money on individual bottles of shampoo and conditioner, so we're going to put dispensers on the wall of the super duper water-saving shower stall (no tub, lest you waste precious water) and let you take it on faith that no sick bastard has peed in the dispensers.
We've got a really cool gas fire to help you relax and find your center...
And it's blazing around the clock... Even in triple digit stifling humidity.
We reserve special parking spaces for granola-crunching hybrid drivers.
If you want to save even more water, you can use a half-flush...
...which pretty much just means "dilute the pee."
All in all, it was a decent place to stay - but a really cheesy way to cheap out an older hotel and make guests think you're just trying to go green.
We flushed "full flush" every time. Sometimes twice. Just to make a point.
I drink too much coffee and not enough water. I smile a lot and sleep a little. I'm a happily married mom of five great kids, two of whom pack my mitochondrial DNA and the other three of whom were part of the bonus plan that came along with their amazing father. I'm an ER nurse, a writer, an editor, a great cook, and the poster child for ADD. I'm a happy person, mostly - though my shrink says I have anger issues. I don't misspell, but I can't sing to save my soul, and I like big words, junk food, and antiques. And I hate ironing.