Last week, I found myself feeling under the weather every afternoon after lunch. Burning eyes, runny nose, and fatigue. Then after I left the office, I would slowly recover and feel pretty good by about 7:00pm.

I felt great all weekend too. And then Monday afternoon – bam! Same thing. When I felt it coming on again on Tuesday, I decided that maybe I had a sick office. Maybe there is mold in the ductwork. So I moved to a usually-empty office used by some of our remote employees when they visit the Concord office. None were here, so I camped in there. But the damage was already done.

So I worked in there all day yesterday, and by the end of the day, I felt great! “Cool,” I thought, “there might be something to this.” But I drew no conclusions.

One day isn’t really enough to tell something like that. There could have been other variables, or there could even be some other root cause. For instance, it poured rain all day yesterday, so if it was a pollen thing, that would have been way down, and I’d have felt great.

So continuing the experiment, I worked in my own office again today. I expected a headache, runny nose, burning eyes, etc. But instead, I felt great. Bummer. 😦

Now I have no idea what the problem might be. The only thing good about this (aside from me feeling great), is that I get to complain about feeling great. And the irony there is delicious!

Several species of flowers made their first blooms of the year here today. I noticed five between my office and Sal’s (a pizza place) during lunch (that was about a two-minute walk through mostly paved areas). I was with people from work though, so I couldn’t just stop and take pictures. I made a couple of quick snapshots on the way back, but nothing spectacular. Here’s a list of what was blooming though:

  • Western Salsify (Tragopogon dubius)
  • Spiderwort (Tradescantia virginiana)
  • Celandine (Chelidonium majus)
  • Curly Dock (Rumex crispus)
  • Sandspurry (Spergularia)

Celandine (Chelidonium majus)

Celandine (Chelidonium majus)

Spiderwort (Tradescantia virginiana)

Spiderwort (Tradescantia virginiana)

Those were the city flowers. When I got home, there were several country flowers waiting for me. The first was some Columbine:
Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)

Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)

I harvested some seed from one of these last fall and sent it to my uncle, but it never came up for him. This was growing by the frog pond pretty close to the same place as last year, but not quite (it is an annual, so it depends on where the seeds land).

I went into the woods and found some False Lily-of-the-valley finally opened up:

False Lily-of-the-valley (Maianthemum canadense)

False Lily-of-the-valley (Maianthemum canadense)

I had to shade this one with my hat. The sun was blowing out the white spray of flowers, and I took several unshaded photos like that. But by the time I set the exposure quick enough for the petals to not saturate, everything else looked like the middle of the night. So I shaded the bloom and tried again with a longer exposure. It came out much better.

Again I tried taking photos of the Pink Lady’s Slipper, Starflower, and Gaywings, and even though some of them came out OK, I’m still not satisfied. They were shaking ever-so-lightly, but the afternoon in my woods are pretty shady, so that motion translated into blur. Maybe I’ll try it in the morning, I dunno.

Jonathan took his last final this morning, so his semester is finished. He’s gearing up for Brussels now, and leaves Saturday evening.

Beth came in from playing early tonight, laid down on the couch, and went to sleep. My first thought was that she must be sick, and that thought was correct. She was running a fever. I didn’t take her temperature, but I’d guess it was around 102 or so. I went to the store and bought some Ibuprofin for her.

So with Beth sick and Jonathan done with school, I’m going to have a hard time getting myself out of bed in the morning, since I’ll be commuting alone.

Mom’s still in the hospital. Dunno when she’s coming home. I do know that at least three nurses tried to insert an IV into her today, and failed three times. That must notta been too much fun for anyone involved.

Va’s Dad and his family are staying in a hotel now courtesy of the Red Cross. Their house caught on fire yesterday and it is currently uninhabitable. They get three nights, so I hope they can find new quarters soon. The house was rented, and they think it was the A/C that caught on fire. It had not been working well, and had been making unsettling noises. They called the landlord, but nothing was done. So the A/C took matters into its own hands. Or so the theory goes.

Today was pretty busy for the whole family. Beth went to school, so nothing out of the usual there. But David had an appointment to have two molars extracted (not wisdom teeth) as part of his orthodontia. While he was there, he somehow managed to teach the dentist and his assistant a new word: “Woot.” This in spite of the fact that his whole mouth had been mercifully numbed and stuffed with cotton. Va escorted him there.

Meanwhile, I was with Jonathan at NHTI (New Hampshire Technology Institute) to get him enrolled in college. He had an appointment with an academic advisor at 10:00 am, but needed to get a hold of the people from VLACS (where he did his high school work) about his transcripts. That was an adventure that lasted all day yesterday, with plenty of phone calls, voice mails, etc. Anyhow, the word we got via email this morning was that he needed to call their office at 7:30am. I needed to leave before then so I could get Beth to school, so the plan was for Jonathan to come into town with Va and David.

We had gotten another inch of snow during the night, and the drive to the Interstate was absolutely stunning. The tree branches were still covered with snow, and the sun was just rising, making the snow glow orange. Man. It was nice. I stopped a few times and took pictures which I think may have come out pretty OK, but the camera is still in the car, so I’m not going to post them tonight. Maybe tomorrow. But with all that stopping, I didn’t quite get Beth to school on time.

I hung out at the office for an hour or so, and then went to the dentist’s office to pick up Jonathan. They pulled in right behind me. Va and David went in the building, and Jonathan and I drove over to the campus (which is about two miles from my office). We got there at 9:15, so we stopped in the cafeteria, grabbed some breakfast, and went through the course catalog to figure out what classes he ought to take.

Classes had already started yesterday, and there was a good chance that the ones he’d want would be closed already, so we made a prioritized list. Then we went in to see his advisor.

She was a very nice person, and very helpful. It was good to hear her tell him the same thing his mother and I have been trying to pound into his head for the past four years or so. After a bit of a talk, she sent him to take some placement tests. I waited for Jonathan and surfed the web while he took the tests (which he did very well at). Then we had some lunch (off campus), and went back to see the advisor. She got him into a math class (pre-calculus), physics, and English 101 (honors variety). That means he’ll be carrying 12 hours this semester, which is full-time, but should give him enough time for paid employment as well. But that will be next week’s task. He is not “matriculated” though, meaning he is not enrolled in a program. However, that seems to me to be a technicality. He can matriculate starting next semester, and the classes he’s taking now should count towards that.

Then we gave them a big pile of money, but not nearly as much as it could have been, and went and spent $415 on text books. Ouch! After that it was on to security to get his student ID and a parking permit. Then we scoped out the campus to find where his first class was going to be tomorrow so I’d know where to drop him off. Then we came home.

Va was still out and about, but she had taken David home already. He wasn’t too sore, which I was a bit worried about. Now he cannot use a straw for three days. Or smoke (but he already couldn’t do that, seeing as how he’s a minor and his parents would kill him if he did even if it was legal). Siphoning gasoline is right out. I suppose he’ll have a bit of difficulty masticating until his gum holes heal up.

So now I have one kid who’s not matriculating and another who is not masticating, and I’m shovelling money out the door faster than it’s coming in for that privilege! But I can tell you that today has been a huge relief for me. Jonathan is still not quite finished with his high school work (which is a requirement for matriculation), but he’ll knock that out in a couple more weeks. His advisory class – a quarter credit – has gotten reset somehow due to teacherly maternity leave and his own inattentiveness. That will be done this spring. I guess. He also has a test to take for his fitness class (which he will take tonight) and a final in his physics class (which he’ll take… soon?)

I’m hoping that being in a real classroom and the fear of having to tell a teacher in person that he didn’t do an assignment will keep him focused. We’ll see!

This morning I got up in agony because of my stoopid neck. I found it next to impossible to sit up, but somehow managed to struggle into an upright position without the use of my left arm. I dropped Beth off at school, went to the office, and called for an appointment with Dr Reallife. To my delight, they got me in this afternoon.

Dr. Reallife did not agree with Dr. Internet, and in the height of arrogance, I have a greater tendency to believe Dr Internet instead. Dr Reallife seemed nice enough, but she thought that rather than a herniated disc, I probably have a muscle spasm. Though at one point she was trying to decide if I needed an X-ray, which makes me think that she was seriously considering a herniated disc diagnosis. But I don’t have numbness or tingling in my arm. I told her that numbness in my arm would be a huge improvement, because what I have there instead is a very sharp pain. But based on that, she figures it’s a muscle spasm instead of a herniated disc.

So now I have to ask, which one of us is the MD? Yeah. Not me. So maybe I should believe her. The funny thing is that she prescribed almost exactly what I suggested Dr Reallife would prescribe two days ago for the herniated disc:

Dr Internet suggests that I see Dr Reallife so that he can tell me to take Tylenol (or a prescribed pain med), do neck stretches, and wait for it to heal.

She opted for the prescribed pain medication rather than the Tylenol. And suggested neck stretches. And wait for it to heal. She also prescribed a muscle relaxer, but I dunno if I’m going to take that or not. I asked what effects it would have other than relaxing muscles, and she said that some people experience grogginess in the morning. I told her that I would not likely notice that, as I experience grogginess every morning anyhow.

Dr Reallife also suggested that Va give me massages, but seeing as how I just asked her to shave her head last week, I’m not sure she’ll be willing to oblige.

I went to the pharmacy on the way home. They wanted to know if I had any allergies, so I named them. Then I added, “I’m also allergic to fire.” She looked at me puzzled. I went on, “Every time my skin comes into contact with fire, I get a nasty rash. Sometimes it blisters.” She responded, “Oh.” I don’t think she entered it into their database, but I would certainly be pleased if she did.

I got next to no sleep again last night due to the pain in my neck. I got up at 4:00, took some Tylenol, and did some reading. I went back to bed again at 5:30, but didn’t get to sleep.

Once I got to work though, things started looking up. Mobility slowly returned to the ol’ noggin. By the time I went home, I could still tell that my neck was sore, but it wasn’t being constantly brought to the attention of my frontal lobe. I could even forget about it for brief periods.

When I got home, I briefly entertained the thought of going back up to the attic to put in some insulation. But I quickly dismissed that thought as pure folly. In spite of not insulating, I am beginning to feel the pain trying to sneak back in.

In my consultations with Dr Internet, I have diagnosed myself as having a herniated disc, probably between C5 and C6 (the cervical neck vertebrae). This means that my nerves are being pinched as they exit the spine through little gaps at the sides of the vertebrae. These pinches… they hurt! Dr Internet suggests that I see Dr Reallife so that he can tell me to take Tylenol (or a prescribed pain med), do neck stretches, and wait for it to heal. I have not decided if I will do that or not, especially since the pain has lessened by two orders of magnitude. I may reconsider that in the morning if the pain continues to sneak up on me again. I am not a fan of prescription pain meds, and I avoid them if I can.

Last night I worked a little on insulating. The 48 rolls of R13 I had ordered from Lowes had arrived earlier in the day while I was at work. Jonathan was there to receive them (David and Va were at the orthodontist getting David fitted for braces). The delivery guys had a forklift and unloaded three pallets into my parking spot in the garage (as I had directed).

I had dug out a tarp for Jonathan to stack them on, but it was too small, and not needed since they left the R13 on the pallets. I didn’t want the insulation set down in the snow droppings on the garage floor. He put the tarp down on the floor anyhow (as I asked him to), so now I have a wet tarp to dry out. Oh well, I was expecting to have to do that anyhow before I knew they’d have pallets and a forklift.

When I got home, we set up a brigade to get the R13 into the attic. Even Beth helped (she insisted). I shuttled them from the garage to the kitchen, limiting my muddy footprints to the area in the immediate vicinity of the door. Beth shoved one roll at a time across the dining room to the foot of the stairs. David carried them up one flight, and Jonathan carried them up to the attic.

After breathing for a few minutes, I went ahead and hung two rolls. And somehow during all of that, I managed to strain my neck again. I was just beginning to think that I was finished with the stiff neck thing, but no. It came back with a vengeance.

Last week I suggested that the cause of all this neck pain was because I was sleeping wrong, craning my neck to keep my nose out of Va’s hair. I further suggested that she could prevent my neck pain by taking the simple step of shaving her head. But now I know that these neck episodes must be caused by something else. I guess she’d be pretty mad at me about now if she had shaved her head. Ya think?

I hardly slept at all last night because of the pain. I got up at about 5:00, and took some ibuprofin, but that didn’t help at all. I thought about going to see a doctor, but I’m pretty sure that they’d have said, “we have an opening on February 18 at 10:47. Would that be OK?” Well, no, that would not be OK. Maybe I should call anyhow. The way my neck’s feeling right now, I seriously doubt that tonight will be any better than last night.

This pain starts just to the left of my neck, kinda in my shoulder. From there it radiates out up the back of my head all the way to the crown. It also shoots down to my left elbow, sometimes all the way to my wrist. I can also feel it at the base of my spine. Ouch, ouch, ouch. And if I am foolhardy enough to actually try to move my head, Yeeeeouch! Man. It sure hurts.

I had been hoping I might be able to do some more insulating tonight, but I don’t think so!

This morning as Beth and I were getting ready to leave for school, she asked me to put her hair in a pony tail. So I did. But as I did so, I noticed little flecks of stuff in her hair. Dandruff? Maybe. Lice? MAYBE! AAAAAHHHH!

Va rendered an opinion. We Googled. It looked like the nits in the nets, so I decided to take her to the doctor instead of to school. Va had an audit for the church finances (she’s the treasurer), so she couldn’t take Beth in. So that fell to me.

We got there at 8:00, but there was not doctor there. They also told me “No walk-ins today.” What kind of a policy is THAT? But they worked us in at 10:45 anyhow. I went back home and did some work from there, but that’s not easy for me, as I don’t do well out of my normal work environment.

I looked and saw that there is a geocache hidden near the doctor’s office, so I snagged the coordinates, and we left early enough to give us 15 minutes to hunt for it. But that wasn’t enough. My GPS just quits updating when you slow down. And I always slow down when I get close. Bummer.

Anyhow, the doc confirmed my suspicion and called in a prescription to our pharmacy. I called Va. Since the prescription was phoned in to Concord (which is where she was), Beth and I drove in and met Va for lunch. Then I went to the drug store. They won’t have the prescription until tomorrow. “What time?” I asked. “Usually by 3:00pm.” Groan. Beth can’t go back to school until she has been treated with this stuff (it’s like cream rinse), so she’s going to miss a second day. I called Va. She was on her way home again because she needed some more documentation for the audit. So I asked her to meet me again and get Beth, which she did. Then I went to work.

But my laptop was still at home. I do have a second computer in my office, but again, I don’t do well outside my normal environment. So I did some reading.

I left work at my normal time, which left me with just enough daylight to look for another geocache. I found this one with no problem. It’s about time. I’ve now looked for six and have found only two of them. That’s a flunking grade in most any school. Maybe I’ll get better at this as time goes on.

My co-workers and I at Kristen's baby shower

My co-workers and I at Kristen's baby shower

One of my co-workers is about to have her first baby, so we decided to throw her a baby shower. Problem is, baby showers are generally a women-only event, and we have very few women in our office. So we compensated. That’s me, second from the right.

The weather today was gorgeous. Dennis (who refused to dress up) and I went to Subway for lunch, and I guess the temperature must have been near 60°F. It was so nice out, that I decided to take a walk after I ate half my sub. I took my camera, but didn’t really find anything compelling to photograph. I did take a couple of shots of some spent milkweed pods, but that was pretty much it.

My neck pain is mostly gone now. I can turn my head about 70° to the left before I feel any pain, but 90° is right out. I can deal with that.

My neck feels slightly better today than it did yesterday, but that doesn’t mean it feels good. Man… it hurts. I tried to hold my head straight tonight while looking in the mirror, and when I got it in that position, my whole head seemed to be shifted off-center to my left. People have accused me of not having my head on straight, and I think they may be right now!

If I didn’t need my stupid neck to hold my head on, I’d be tempted to cut it off. The pain is most definitely centered on the left side of my neck, but it radiates out from there to my left shoulder and over the top of my head almost to my right ear.

Time for drugs I guess.