TMI Friday: Potty Humor toilet explosionIf you’ ve been reading my blog or Twitter stream for any amount of time, you’ve probably realized that I have an insatiable draw toward “potty humor.” I’ve worked in healthcare for many years, and I know quite a bit about how the human body works.

But yesterday at work, something really funny happened with the potty.

The toilet exploded.

I don’t think it’s been confirmed whether it is a result of a bad prank, or bad plumbing, but I’m betting on the latter. Can you imagine the Workers Comp claim had someone been on the pot at the time?

This incident has made me come up with so many funny jokes, I can hardly contain myself. But today, why don’t you, lovely readers, come up with a witty comment for this picture?

Best comment…just maybe…will get a prize…

Survival Tips For Working In An Office Full of Men

restroom sign male femaleThree weeks ago I started my new job. After 18 months of unemployment, and moving from the medical field to a tech company, there has been a fair amount of culture shock. More than anything, it has been strange to spend my days not only working with people my own age, but working with a bunch of men.

Honestly, I’ve always been more of a guy’s girl. I was a basketball-obsessed tomboy as I transitioned from childhood to adolescence. I know about makes and models of cars. I understand the importance of red meat. I grew up with a brother who hyperactively rough-housed with me. All of this background has helped me assimilate into my new workplace.

So with further ado…here are some tips I’ve compiled to survive working in an office full of men (and I say this with all the love in my heart) —

Barney Stinson
•The secret weapon, both in Ugly Sweater contests and working in a male-centric office, is glitter. If they’re teasing you, and you want to be left alone, pull out the glitter. It’s more effective than tear gas.

•Edible bribery works wonders. Especially if it’s homemade.

•Expect to be pelted with Nerf Balls, and practice throwing so you can hit them back. I sit next to a boy who is under perpetual crosshairs, and missed throws usually hit me. At least that’s what my boss said on my first day when I got a direct hit, square in my chest.

•Take compliments with grace. They will try to apologize with flattery, and if they can tell you accept their compliment as an apology, they will not act mopey with guilt the rest of the day.

•Say “thank you” when they open doors for you, allow you to walk ahead first in a tight hallway, or pay for your #PDR. It ups your chance of them acting like a gentleman and treating you like a lady.

•Expect to hear every iteration of curse words, except for the curse word itself. Apparently the boys in my office use a Filthy Filter.

•Don’t tease the “BroMances.”  They will always tell you that they are “just friends.”

•Never, under any circumstance, leave your workstation unlocked when leaving your desk. You never know when your screen will be punk’d with an embarrassing wallpaper, or secret settings will render your mouse unusable.

Aim to Keep The Bathroom Clean

So far the #1 perk for working in a male-centric office has been bathroom stall access. It took nearly 3 weeks before I walked into the restroom and had to wait for a stall. The day I had to wait an extra two minutes, I came back to my desk and the guys asked to make sure I was okay. I also know so much more about video games and sports scores!

They may tease me incessantly, but I know they care.

Part-Time Dilemma

I’ve been away from full-time employment for nearly a year now. A big jumble of health and economic factors have made it somewhat difficult to become a working woman again. I haven’t found the perfect job, and I haven’t really been able to make the mediocre ones happen either. My unemployment has done pretty terrible things to my family budget and credit score. I miss the self-esteem boost from a job well done, from my interactions with coworkers, and just GETTING OUT OF THE HOUSE. I’ve been working on my medical coding certification, and know my good job is just around the corner. But what do I do in the meantime?

Last week, a friend on Twitter gave me a lead on a paid summer internship with a local company. The work isn’t in my field, but it would bring in some money, get me out of the house, and I’d get the experience of working with a web-based company. I quickly exchanged a few emails, and had an interview set up within a few hours. The interview went well. I knew I didn’t want to do it full-time, but they were happy to work with the very specific hours I requested.

Over the week since my interview, I’ve talked myself into, and out of, taking the position if offered to me. I made the PRO/CON list, I started putting out feelers for childcare, I pulled some of my more professional clothes out of a box. This morning I got the offer, and I’m about 90% sure I’m going to take it. Part of me is afraid that I’ll use it as an excuse to slack on my studies. It’ll mean figuring out childcare for the times that my husband is away…and missing out on the limited time when my husband is in town. It will force me to be a lot more disciplined with my time (which I admittedly need.) But it will also mean that I have a little more free money. I can pick away at some debt, make purchases without monumental guilt, and take some of the financial burden off my husband. But even he is hesitant of me accepting the position. I feel conflicted.

I obviously need to pray about it…but what would you do?

Healthcare Rant: When Quality Care Goes Wrong

As I’ve been dealing with many difficult health issues this past year, the U.S. healthcare reform debate has fallen below the Nicole radar. It surprises me that I’ve avoided it, as my career is in healthcare administration. I know it’s an important time in my field, but seven months of unemployment have kept me out of the trenches. Despite a very concerted effort, I have not been able to find work in my field. Although I have skills that would be portable to many other fields, I don’t want to give up what I love. I believe that quality care should be available to all people, regardless of their ability to pay. While it’s true that many healthcare organizations offer charitable care to the needy, it seems like many people in need fall through the cracks.

I am currently insured through my husband’s employer on a plan with Cigna. The plan provides excellent benefits at a low cost for in-network providers. I am extremely lucky to have $5-10 copays, and very reasonable coinsurance. Unfortunately, the Cigna network has been fairly limited in both the Atlanta and Wasatch Front areas. In Atlanta, I couldn’t use Emory facilities in network (while working for Emory, and promoting their Campaign Emory fundraising). In Utah, 90% of Intermountain Healthcare facilities are out-of-network for Cigna. This is frustrating to me, as I’m a previous 4.5-year employee of Intermountain. I believe in their Mission, Vision, and Values, and want to support them with my healthcare dollar.

My previous positions with Intermountain were as an assistant to a medical director at LDS Hospital, and as a Patient Service Rep in Accounts Receivable Management. I have also worked for City of Hope Cancer Center, Prime Healthcare Services, and University of Michigan Medical Center. I have experience in customer service, billing, coding, transcription, Joint Commission an AOA accreditation, physician credentialing, training, research, and have processed countless financial assistance applications. I have participated in executive-level hospital management meetings. Although I am not an expert by any means, I can confidently say that I am qualified to have an educated opinion on what works in healthcare, and when healthcare goes wrong.

Case in point: My daughter Rosie has been sick for a few weeks with kidney problems. My otherwise lively child has been mopey and lethargic, and complains of pain daily. On Christmas night, Rosie was very sick and begged me to take her to the hospital. We left our family holiday party an drove to the IHC Provo Instacare (which is in-network with Cigna). I advised the Instacare registrar that I had submitted a financial assistance application to the Lake Park and Creek Plaza billing offices a few weeks prior, and was unable to pay a copay. The Instacare flat out refused to see her without a copay…so I ran out to the car, grabbed a Christmas card, and paid her copay with the Christmas cash I got from my grandma. And what happened then? They took her blood, scanned over the results, and told us to go across the parking lot to the Utah Valley Regional Center Emergency Room immediately (which we later found out was out-of-network).

The ER registrar was a little nicer, especially when I brought along the copy of my recently-completed financial assistance application. We sat in the ER waiting room for over an hour, and spent a few more hours in the ER room 9 (which had a broken recliner, and no other chair available). After 4 hours, they said her urinalysis showed that she had inflammatory cystitis. If the Instacare would have taken 5 extra minutes to take her urine, she could have gotten on antibiotics and saved us a 4-hour ER visit and copay.

When we arrived at Instacare, it was a few minutes before they were closing at 9 pm. They happily took us back to the room, but pushed us back out the door in 5 minutes.My question is: “If they were going to send her to the ER, why did they take my gift money to pay a copay for a “visit” that didn’t really end up being a VISIT?” Luckily these visits happened before the end of the year, because we’d already met our deductible. Had this happened a week later, we would have been slammed with deductible fees.

A few days later, Rosie had another ER visit. Her symptoms had worsened, she had a high fever, and I drove her back to the UVRMC ER (still not knowing it was out-of-network). The doctor wasn’t sure why she was in so much pain and guessed that she had kidney stones or appendicitis. He ordered an abdominal CT scan to see if the problem was GI or urinary. After 3 more hours of sitting on room 9’s broken recliner, we found out that her scan was fine. Rosie got a pain pill, some “orange pee” pills, and a stronger antibiotic. Since then, we’ve been following up with a non-IHC pediatric urologist and she’s doing much better.

I was going to just sweep this experience under the carpet, but then earlier this week I received several IHC financial assistance rejection letters. Besides the recent hospital visits, I had some outstanding bills from all of my sleep apnea visits. Apparently we are slightly over the National Income Poverty Guidelines (remember my husband is a struggling regional airline pilot?) Despite our unmanageable debt from student loans and my 7 months of unemployment, we do not qualify. When I called the billing offices to get more information, I was told that our income was slightly too high, and our balances were not high enough for them to make an exception. Gee thanks.

I know I’m not the only person to have an experience like this. After going through it personally, it has really lit my fire to get back into a position where I can help avoid situations like this. I’m going to keep working on my medical coding certification, which I’ve been working on from home to keep myself busy while looking for work. It’s time to make my voice heard. I’ve been in both hospital management, and also at the receiving end of a “charity” denial. I hereby recommit my effort to apply for all the positions I am qualified for. I need to be a part of my field again.

New Career Direction

So. I’ve been unemployed for 4 months now. I search job postings diligently, and there’s just not a lot that I’m interested in applying for ($8/hr Kmart part-time cashier, anyone?) I’ve got mad skillz…the whole gamut of medical administrative experience (billing, insurance, transcription, scheduling, front and back office, database management, composing correspondence, terminology, medical-legal procedures, credentialing, executive meeting management, etc) I’ve enjoyed the last 8 years that I’ve worked in the medical field, and don’t plan to stray too far from it. As I’ve struggled in this journey for work, I’ve been REALLY enjoying the time I’ve been able to spend at home. It’s gotten me more interested in stay-at-home career opportunities. I’ve had a nagging desire for about 6 years to get certified as a medical coder. I have some coding experience, but not enough to get a job. Through the encouragement of some old coworkers who code, I’ve decided to go for it. Yesterday I signed up for the Inpatient/Outpatient Coding and Medical Billing course. If I work at it full time, it should take about 4 months. I know I want to finish my bachelor degree, but I’ve strongly felt that now is not the time for that. It’s time to get a career skill that is more professional and portable….and one that will get me earning money faster than a bachelor would. So wish me luck, in a few months I’ll have the CPC credentials after my name.

Just my luck…

Today I’ve got a job interview. I got the call at 5:30 pm yesterday for an interview just after lunchtime. It the first time I’ve planned to make my hair look really nice and wear full makeup in a few months. As I was getting all of my makeup out on the counter, I froze when I saw my bottle of foundation. It was practically empty in a rock-hard clump. Last time I used it, I’m certain that there was at least 1/3 left. I guess it’s been a while since I’ve worn more than mascara and lip gloss.

I went shopping for an outfit to wear for the interview last night. Most of my work clothes are still in storage in Atlanta. After trying on stuff at seven stores, I only came home with a pair of black slacks. Everything else I tried on fit wrong, was too expensive, or made me look like I was 50. The blouse I’m going to wear is a bit on the casual side, but the color shows off my eyes really well. (Random fact: for every job I’ve been offered, someone in the interview complimented my eyes)

I don’t have a printer at home, so I need to figure out a place to print copies of my resume in the next hour.

I’ve never felt so unprepared for an interview…

Rain Delays

This morning, north Georgia (as well as much of the southeast) was hit by some pretty crazy stomy weather. There were flooded streets, downed trees, torrential rain, wind gusts over 50 MPH, and many power outages. A huge tall tree fell just outside my work window. It’s kinda hard to see from this pic, but on the left you can see the long skinny tree crossing the road. It took down a bunch of power lines in the process. The power went out in my building around 9:45 this morning, and I was allowed to go home around lunchtime.

Getting away from campus was quite a maze of downed trees, diverted traffic, and scattered debris. I used the afternoon do run some errands, do some shopping, get lunch, and work out. In the evening Rosie and I had to return a purchase in Buckhead, and luckily we didn’t get diverted for any downed trees. Rosie needed a bunch of stuff at Target, so we stocked up on socks, underthings, pajamas, a swimsuit, etc. Now that she has fully stocked drawers, I won’t have to do her laundry as often, or have the 7:40 scramble to find matching socks.

We also got a few discounted Easter candy items, but that’s our little secret.

2008 Year in Review

I will not lie. 2008 was probably the most difficult of my life, right up there with 2003 (when my ex-husband went psychotic and we got divorced). To save you from reading my 249 blog entries of 2008, I have prepared my longest blog post ever to truncate the insanity of the year. Here’s the rundown on what happened to me in 2008:

Jan 1, 6:00 am – Began driving cross-country to move to Canton, Michigan with my brother Jacob
Jan 4 – Moved in with the Pearce Family for two weeks awaiting our move-in date at our apartment
Jan 9 – While enrolled in 17 credits for school, began searching for full-time work
Jan 11 – Received a call that my father had been in a horrific car crash in Utah. He was taken in to a nine-hour surgery as I packed my bags and non-revved to SLC on the next available flight
Jan 12 – Appointed to by the family representative to make medical decisions for my dad
Jan 13 – Started his accident blog to keep family and friends notified (this link shows the extent of his injuries). Also told by Elder Dickson of the Quorum of the Seventy that the First Presidency of the Church was personally praying for his recovery.Word spread like wildfire and we had people all over the world praying for him.
Jan 14 – Called together a family counsel meeting with all family members, some extended family and our bishop to make a plan to run the family (groceries, paying bills, housework, etc)
Jan 16– Flew back to Detroit to prepare to move into my new apartment. Dad is trached and goes in for his third surgery. Still sedated and on life support
Jan 19 – Dad begins to breathe on his own without the ventilator, comes off much of the sedation. Rosie and I need a break, and go to California for 2 days to attend John and April’s wedding reception.
Jan 21 – Dad’s left leg is amputated just above the knee due to widespread necrosis. His right leg is injured, but not in as critical condition as the left.
Jan 22 – Flew back to SLC and tried to not get depressed with dad’s ICU psychosis
Jan 24 – Dad is transferred out of the ICU to the 11th floor with the amazing mountain view
Jan 25 – I wait in the surgery waiting room for his “full amputation surgery” where the stump was shortened, revised and closed with sutures
Jan 26 – My friend Kathryn, a concert violist from California, gave my dad a personal concert in the hospital, and then we went out for some non-hospital girl time at the Tavernacle and Melting Pot
Jan 27 – My dear prophet, Gordon B Hinckley, passes away from incidents of old age

Feb 2
– Michigan receives a huge dumping of snow and Rosie’s school is canceled. We travel into Ann Arbor for a day of frolicking and for two Fox Elipsus shows
Feb 3 – President Hinckley’s funeral, and a special fast is held for my dad’s recovery
Feb 4 – Thomas S. Monson is appointed the new president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and dad passes his swallow test and celebrates with a chocolate milkshake
Feb 5 – I celebrate my 28th birthday with lunch at Chili’s with Taylor and a homemade cake. As the greatest gift imaginable, my dad was transferred from the hospital to Aspen Ridge Transitional Rehab, which will become his home for the next 4 months. Also have a super-fun birthday with Taylor’s pilot friends and a few neighbors a few days later.
Feb 10 – Rosie and I go back to SLC for 5 days to spend with dad at Aspen Ridge. Dad gets to visit home for the first time since the accident. Taylor’s beloved car, The Silver Bullet (’97 Accord) bites the dust, and he replaces it with a green 2002 Civic
Feb 19 – I go to California for 4 days of ME time. Disneyland with Grant and Hollie, Disneyland with Clint, Liz time, and a lovely day with friends with Nathan McEuen in Ventura
Feb 22 – Dad has his 6th surgery, this time on his right knee. The damage is much worse than originally expected, and the long-term prognosis for the leg’s usefulness is realized.

March 3
– Have two awesome interviews at University of Michigan Medical Center, and we celebrate as a family with Turkey O’Toole’s at Bennigan’s
March 7 – I get offers for both jobs at U of M, and accept the postion in Thoracic Surgery
March 8 – Rosie and I take an impromptu weekend celebratory trip to Providence, Boston, and New Haven to see 3 more Fox Elipsus shows
March 13 – I ship off to Boston for 5 days of Irish fun with my Irish Princess friend Nicole, and we spend the next few days with Terawrizt, Lethal Dialect, The Bawston Strangla, and Shaymin. I come down with a nasty illness that will plague me for the next month
March 18 – Drop Cola off at the airport, and drive to Nantasket Beach to watch the sun rise over the Atlantic Ocean, before returning to Boston for a few more hours of sightseeing and flight back to Detroit
March 20 – In an impulsive moment, I agree to head up the planning committee for my 10 Year High School Reunion
March 25 – Take one last trip to SLC before taking on the shackles of full-time employment. Nathan McEuen gives my dad a concert at Aspen Ridge
March 31 – I start my job at U of M, and New Kids on the Block officially announce their reunion tour

April 16
– Saw Ben Folds in concert at Adrian College with Mike and Erin
April 20 – Went to the ER for an grapefruit-sized ovarian cyst rupture. Diagnosed with PCOS.
April 25 – Assist Utah does an evaluation of my parents’ home in Murray, and decide that the renovations to the house are too extensive to warrant a renovation. They will need to find a new home.

May 5
– Began my parent-dentist relationship with Dr. Kam, who received thousands from me in the next 7 months. He did a great job, unlike my CA dentist
May 15 – Complete the most difficult school semester of my life, and have to take an incomplete on my first class ever. Flew to California for two days for Chris and Mary‘s wedding, a trip to the Huntington with Liz, and to celebrate Syttende Mai with Brett
May 23 – Take a two-day trip to Palmyra, NY and Niagara Falls, by way of Ontario, Canada. We stayed with Alan, my old HS boyfriend, in Rochester. He treated us to Dinosaur BBQ. Yum!

– My summertime slump. Thank you Prozac for fixing me.

– Attended Grandpa Dale Bullock’s funeral, dealt with a bad month of Taylor’s schedule, cut 7 inches off my hair, Lissy’s twins Sarah and Phoebe were born, spent a weekend in Northern KY with my old Ricks College roommate Stacey, and I went insane planning my HS reunion. Dad is done with Aspen Ridge My parents move out of their home of 15 year on Green Oaks Drive in Murray, and move into the Brigham Apartments in downtown SLC

Aug 2
– MHS X, the high school reunion, came off much better than all the nightmares that plagued me about it for weeks. I already knew everything going on with the people that attended because I read their blogs. I relinquish the responsibility back to the class officers for the next reunion
Aug 8 – Enjoyed the 2008 Beijing Olympics. I was a total Phelps Phan.
Mid-August – . Grandma Joyce in Portland decides to sell her house and move to SLC. My parents house goes on the market. I also reconnected with a bunch of my old Balmoral ladies through blogging
Aug 30 – My coworker Kay gives me the hook-up through a friend for tickets to the Utah – Michigan football game at the Big House. We wear red. Utah wins.
Aug 31 – Receive a random, smug message from Tim, the guy I dated right after my divorce, that temporarily sends me into an emotional tailspin. (History: I was madly in love with him, we were planning our wedding, and then he suddenly breaks up with me in a email. No contact for almost 5 years, then a message at 3 am after finding my blog) Actually, this is the year that EVERY man I ever dated got in touch with me through my blog or Facebook. Even Niko from Finland. Kinda creepy. Rosie and I drive to Lansing on a whim to meet up with Taylor for the night at his crew hotel.

Sept 2
– Rosie begins 2nd grade
Sept 13 – We spend Rosie’s birthday in SLC, and have a wonderful family turn out for her
Sept 21 – After months of deliberation, Taylor decides to take the CRJ-900 upgrade in Atlanta. He puts in his bid for January, he gets assigned for training in October.
Sept 22 – Taylor turns 29. One more year till 30!

Early October
– Begin revising resume and applying for jobs, and enjoy the most beautiful autumn that I’ve ever remembered
Oct 8 – Taylor and I celebrate our Four Year Anniversary We spend the weekend in Atlanta checking out neighborhoods and apartments, and prepare for Taylor’s move to ATL.
Oct 17 – Spend a family day in HELL, MICHIGAN and go to the Christmas Store in Frankenmuth
Oct 22 – Taylor leaves for Memphis and Montreal for 10 days of upgrade training. The pilot widow lifestyle resumes…
Oct 25 – Rosie and I attend the New Kids on the Block reunion concert at the Palace of Auburn Hills. Best concert of the year
Oct 31 – Rosie and I fly to LAX to spend a warm Halloween Holiday in Cali.

Nov 7
– Have a phone interview with Emory for a position type-cast for me. A few days later I go to Altanta to have an in-person interview. Best one I’ve ever had.
Mid-November – I give my notice at work for mid December, and everything goes downhill fast
Nov 21 – Have a Girls Night Out with Hillary and Erin to see Twilight
Nov 25 – Start a Twitter account. Post 211 tweets in the next 5 weeks.
Thanksgiving – Road trip to Atlanta. A feast at Golden Corral, and a late dinner at Waffle House

Dec 1
– Accidentally inhaled an industrial chemical at work, and am sent to the ER for breathing treatments. Two weeks of asthma follow.
Dec 5 – I receive the job offer from Emory. Also, I blog about other significant December 5ths in my life
Dec 12 – Last day of work at University of Misery. Begin packing for 16 day trip in carry-on bags
Dec 13-15 – Snowy visit in Portland with Grandma Joyce
Dec 16-21 – Visit with family in SLC. Another ER visit. Attended Grandma Mary Taylor’s funeral in Spanish Fork. Get upgraded to First Class while non-revving to LAX
Dec 22-28 – Visit with family and friends in Cali
Dec 29 – Pack up my apartment in Michigan
Dec 30-31 – Drive with a loaded car from Detroit to Atlanta, overnighting in Knoxville
Dec 31 – Ring in the new year with Taylor, Rosie, Hank, and Marissa in Atlanta

Woo Hoo!

Nicole is jumping up and down with glee….…she got the job at Emory!

Today I was offered the long-awaited position at Emory. I’ll be an Admin Assistant in Development and University Relations. My first day is January 5th. Taylor and I also decided on the place we’ll be living in. It’s a 2 bed/2bath condo in North Druid Hills, 4 miles from Emory. Let the packing begin!

Inhalation Hazard

It was inevitable. Every hospital I’ve ever worked at, I’ve been a patient at. I thought I’d be getting off easy with a freebie at U of M Hospital, but I proved my precedent correct yesterday.

I was feeling a bit exhausted from Sunday’s roadtrip, but otherwise with no illness symptoms. Right after lunch, I went into the tiny closet restroom across from my office, and was floored with a terrible smell. I really needed to relieve myself, so I thought I’d quickly finish and leave. Upon the throne, my eyes, throat, skin, and lungs started burning. My skin started to blotch up. I looked up in the air, and saw little particulates dancing around. I became lightheaded and dizzily fell off. Someone had used the industrial strength disinfectant spray (for cleaning bathroom surfaces) as an AIR FRESHENER, and sprayed it all through the air.

This chemical spray, which should only be used in a WELL VENTILATED AREA…not a little closet bathroom whose fan turns off with the light. And it wasn’t like a little shot of potpourri spray, it was full-on 80’s AquaNet-like sprayage. It was as potent as oven cleaner. There’s a demon sprayer in my department (I still haven’t figured out who) and I’ve left notes before to please be considerate when using this CLEANER to “freshen”. I’m pretty sure I hit the brunt for a very recent spray. For some reason, the environmental services team leaves this aerosol in the department at all time, just because it’s kinda far-flung from the rest of the public restrooms in the building. I started using those far-flung multi-stall public restrooms, but I didn’t yesterday. I learned my lesson.

I immediately sent an email to Safety Management services, who advised me to go immediately to Employee Health. They said they’d send out an “environmental industrial hygienist” to check out the ventilation in the room. My favorite coworker walked me to the Med Inn and waited for me to be evaluated. Employee health checked my vitals, gave me a puff of Ventolin, and had me rest in the lobby for 15 minutes. Still felt shortness of breath, chest tightness, and eye stinging. They suggested that I be evaluated in the ER. So they wheeled me down, I waited an hour to be triaged, another 45 minutes for chest xrays, and finally 3 hours after the exposure got the breathing treatment.

The morning after, I still feel yucky. My eyes still sting, my breathing is slightly labored, and I really don’t feel like working. However, I’ve got a dentist appointment this morning that I have to get out of bed for. They’ll be checking the tooth abscess from the root canal and see if it’s healed enough to do the crown prep. Haven’t I been through enough already?!?