Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Commence Cartwheels

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If only I could currently do a cartwheel, I would be turning them one after another today. I finally emailed the completed After Action document to my boss for his review. Once he ok's the document, then I can print and bind it for the "third floor" review. (Read: upper eschalon perusal)Yes, there are still the handful of agencies who haven't submitted their data; but at this point, it is no longer my concern...holding the report up is at my boss' discretion or at least at a pay grade higher than my own.

Anyway, after months of 80 hour work weeks and heartache and stress and nearly killing my body; I am finally done with the writing and editing of what is, at this point, a 578 page document.

On to the sad news: two of my favorite people in the office have confirmed that they are leaving very shortly. One will be returning to his sponsoring agency at the end of his contract at the end of June. (I don't know why he would want to go back to fighting fire on a daily basis when he could sit at a desk next to me) ;-) The other, my Ranger buddy, may be leaving us as early as Friday if the new job comes through. I am really happy for him as this is a good promotion, and a job he was specifically requested for; but I am much saddened for myself and for the office. There was so much more I had hoped to learn from him.

These two are the most dear to me of the soon to be departed from the office; but that count actually sits at closer to five or six when it's said and done. That means a lot of reorganizing; retraining, personnel shuffling, and possibly: open exercise planner positions. One (at least) of said positions would have to be filled within the ORISE team...I have at least two manager-level people backing my name for a Planner promotion. It's too soon to even cross my fingers; but I am starting to (just a little bit) hope against hope that maybe I have a shot at my dream job.

Even if I don't make Planner this year, Chief W has started setting up Workshops and TableTop Exercises to be led by another Executive Assistant and myself; attempts he calls, to groom his "secret weapons" for the turnover that is sure to happen in the next 18 months. Either way, I am learning and absorbing as fast as I can.

In other news, I was cleared today, by the rheumatologist, to go back to work full-time; provided I work from home when possible and I promise not to over-do things at work. As for my health, I seem to be responding to the medications for the Lupus and my migraines and it appears that the constant reverberations in my spinal cord are the nerves regenerating and repairing themselves. This is a very good thing though quite uncomfortable and I can, I've been told, expect these sensations to continue for at least six months. "You know, nerves don't just heal overnight." I get tired very easily and while that is annoying to me; I am very appreciative that I have most all of the feeling back in my body. My hands are returning to normal as well. My typing is still slower and more mistake prone than it used to be; but I have confidence that all will right itself with time.

Thanks again for all the patience, kind words, thoughts, prayers and encouragement over the last few months. You are all wonderful and I am blessed.

Monday, March 19, 2007


This is from MOH:

You are Strength

Courage, strength, fortitude. Power not arrested in the act of judgement, but passing on to further action, sometimes obstinacy.

This is a card of courage and energy. It represents both the Lion's hot, roaring energy, and the Maiden's steadfast will. The innocent Maiden is unafraid, undaunted, and indomitable. In some cards she opens the lion's mouth, in others she shuts it. Either way, she proves that inner strength is more powerful than raw physical strength. That forces can be controlled and used to score a victory is very close to the message of the Chariot, which might be why, in some decks, it is Justice that is card 8 instead of Strength. With strength you can control not only the situation, but yourself. It is a card about anger and impulse management, about creative answers, leadership and maintaining one's personal honor. It can also stand for a steadfast friend.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

Rather fitting, no? Not the first time this card has been drawn for me...

Friday, March 09, 2007

Each Day, A Little More

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I am regaining strength, mobility and energy each day. I have some sensation returning to my legs and torso and I am convinced that it won't be long now until I have my hands back to normal. I still have quite a bit of pain in my hands, and the constant reverberations in my spine are unpleasant at best; but I am worlds better than I was two weeks ago. So, I am thankful.

I had an appointment with the rhuematologist on Wednesday. She has determined (Drumroll please) that I have: Lupus.

Anyone surprised? Anyone? At least this is a formal diagnosis and allows me to begin treatments. I also know know the extent of my lupus. It's not advanced enough to be classified systemic. (That's a good thing) and so far, only my joints and Neurological systems seem to be involved. I'm starting on a medication called Plaquenil which is supposed to have a high success rate for treating Lupus and a low rate of side-effects.

Anyway, the rhuematologist says that even with all the tests they've done, they still can't say what caused the initial inflammation in my spine. THey do know that once the inflammation occurred, it caused the lesion that was already present between my C4 and C5 vertabrea to exert pressure and cause transverse myelitis in my spine...hence the loss of sensation. (In my head it was funnier to say cessation of sensation...but I refrained from too much Dr. Suess)

I am also cleared to go back to work part-time starting on Monday!! I can't work more than three full days in a week, but that's okay. I will take what I can get right now. I can't wait to get back there. No more sitting around on the couch!! WooHoo!!

So, now ya'll know as much as I do, which granted isn't that much at all. Thank you for all the continued thoughts and prayers and encouragement.


Saturday, March 03, 2007

Into Recovery mode

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First off, thank you for the thoughts, prayers and encouragement. The last month has been a very trying time, to say the least, and I deeply appreciate you all.

This post is going to be pretty short on details as it's still painful to type. I will attempt to give an update though.

I have been through an extensive battery of tests during the last two weeks and here is what we know: virtually nothing. I still have much lowered sensation in my entire body from my shoulders down. My hands are in constant pain as though every nerve is raw.

Last Friday, I had a spinal tap...the procedure went well (as well as they can) but because of the enormous amount of inflammation in my spine; the tap refused to heal, leaving me with a spinal tap headache that prevented me from sitting upright more than 15 minutes at a time. To stop the spinal fluid from continuing to leak, the neurologist ordered a procedure called an epidural blood patch. It's a difficult procedure but one with an incredibly high success rate.

It was horrendous. No, horrendous doesn't begin to describe the pain actually...the anesthesiologist didn't wait for the anesthetic to set in before he jammed the lumbar puncture into my spine. I actually felt each nerve bundle he hit before Grace (who was right by my side) realized how much pain I was in and told the doctor to wait. I wasn't even able to speak. By the time it was over, my whole body was convulsing in pain.

The agony was apparently worth it as the blood patch was ultimately a success and I can once again stand and sit for more that a few minutes at a time. There is still quite a bit of trauma to my spine (both from the inflammation and from the two procedures) but the muscles and nerves are healing.

With this step behind me, the massive doses of steroids being pumped into my body are finally beginning to take effect. I have a little more mobility, control and feeling in my toes and sensation is starting to return to my ankle and knee joints.

The steroids are causing their own issues in my body, but one step at a time. If they can just get some feeling back into my hands, I can at least return to work. I am so not couch potato material.

I have an appointment on Wednesday to consult with both my neurologist and a rheumetologist and hopefully they will have some ideas. The test results so far have been as confusing as they have been inconclusive. At this point, I am negative for meningitis and multiple sclerosis, brain tumors or additional lesions in my cervical spine. They are once again suspecting systemic lupus; but the results have been conflicting and it still doesn't fully explain the transverse myelitis.

Again, thank you all for your support. I love you all deeply.

MOH, you definitely rock the casbah. L&L