Monday, July 14, 2014

Semi-Comfortably Numb

We’re now at the three-week mark for my right hand being largely and consistently numb. The problem is that my Florida-based insurance won’t cover anything in Utah other than emergency room visits. But the constant numbness left me worried about nerve damage, and so I finally did visit the ER last week. They confirmed my suspicions that this is indeed a classic case of carpal tunnel, and due to the numbness not relenting or changing whatsoever over a two-week period, they said surgery was almost guaranteed to be necessary. Even so, they put me in a sling and gave me a prescription for Prednisone. It’s now six days later, and there’s no change.

Let me begin by looking on the bright side. First of all, my ER visit was extremely pleasant. I was in and out in about 30 minutes or so. Maybe 45. It was one of the easiest going doctor’s visits I’ve ever had, emergency or no. In Tallahassee, a trip to the ER is guaranteed to be an all-day affair. But I guess the plethora of hospitals around the Salt Lake Valley enable some hospitals to keep relatively non-busy. Lucky for me! I’m also quite glad that I was able to fulfill my prescription. My insurance wouldn’t cover it, and I thought I’d have to shell out a hundred bucks or more to buy it out-of-pocket. But the pharmacist worked her magic and was able to sell me my pills for just under $10. I could manage that. And finally, having the sling is very nice. It’s also very awkward, but having it on masks the numbness to some extent. When I take it off, it’s then that I realize how weird and non-normal my hand feels. When I have the sling on, it makes sense that I wouldn’t feel normal in my hand—so it feels non-normal in a very normal way. Make sense?

Now the downside. I’m supposed to be following up with an orthopedic surgeon and figuring out all of the surgery details. The sooner the better, not only to avoid lasting complications associated with carpal tunnel, but because I need to be able to start using my hand again! I can’t easily type a dissertation in this condition. (I’m typing a blog, I know, but trust me, it’s tedious.) Unfortunately, my insurance just won’t cover anything in this neck of the woods. And so I don’t really know what to do about it. My insurance originally told me that if a doctor here in Utah wanted to call and work it out with them, given the situation, they could probably authorize the work. But the doctor here in Utah says otherwise and won’t even bother trying to do that. And so I feel stuck.

To end on a slightly more upbeat tone, I am getting much better at using my left hand. Eating with a knife and fork has greatly improved. And yes, bathroom issues are getting better, although that’s definitely among the more annoying aspects of my current condition. I probably shouldn’t mention that, because my left hand is doing most of the work now, I feel like it’s getting a bit more numb too. It hasn’t really been a problem before, but now I find my left fingertips going numb as I go about things—like typing this blog post. Which is why I’ll stop here.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Party in the USA

We had lots of fun last week, what with the Fourth of July and Edison’s birthday all falling on the same weekend and everything. (They tend to do that.) I thought I would miss celebrating Independence Day in Tallahassee, where attending a good fireworks show is easy breezy compared to fighting the monstrous crowds you encounter here in Utah. But I was pleasantly surprised. We followed Melanie’s parents and brother to a nearby park-and-ride lot for the commuter train, which afforded us an overview of much of the Salt Lake Valley. A fireworks show would soon be put on directly in front of us. While we waited, we could scan the horizon and, no joke, see about 20 different fireworks shows going off in the distance. It was a panorama of distant fireworks until the big jubilee erupted directly in front of us. Yes, it took four or five times longer to work our way through the post-festivity traffic, but we planned as much and didn’t get frustrated about it. We had a ton of fun, and it was a great night.

About the crown: it was Edison's birthday crown that he chose while picking out some birthday decorations.  Creegan kept insisting that I wear it at the fireworks show.

On Saturday morning, we went out to Village Inn for Eddie’s birthday breakfast. This has become a tradition with our children. As always, Eddie and Peter got the Vill-Inn Funny Face pancake breakfast. Beegy didn’t want pancakes and got “macaroni of cheese” instead. I designed my own omelette that included cheese, ham, red peppers, and olives. It came with hash browns and some pancakes, and then I did my fatherly duty of finishing off any leftover pancakes from the boys. This was my first knife-and-fork type meal that I’ve eaten since my carpal tunnel has become severe, so I tried to stick to my left hand. I felt absolutely inept. It was much more difficult than I would’ve expected.

After breakfast, we headed to my parents’ home to celebrate Eddie’s birthday with them. On our way out of the Village Inn parking lot, I pulled my cell phone out of my pocket only to discover that I was connected to 911. My phone has a terrible design. I “lock” it, but it comes unlocked so easily while in my pocket, and it has some feature where if you press the right buttons, you can dial 911 without unlocking it. Needless to say, I have butt-dialed 911 a few times in my life. The last time was last year, about half a block from that same Village Inn. Stupid phone. Anyway, we took a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting (Eddie’s choice, of course) to my parents, who presented Eddie with a nice assortment of fun gifts. (I think my sister Krush is primarily responsible for choosing those gifts, so thanks to her.) Eddie received an Angry Birds cup (which he has used a ton since), several t-shirts (Angry Birds, Minecraft, etc.), a cool Angry Birds Go toy, and his own set of fireworks.

That night, Melanie decorated her parents’ house so Edison would wake up to more birthday fun. That next morning (Sunday) is when he opened gifts from Melanie and me, as well as from Melanie’s parents. We gave him a Minecraft book and a toy chainsaw, both of which were urgently requested by Eddie, and then surprised him with a set of Bunnicula books and a laser tag set (which we’ve all had a lot of fun with, though they are rather noisy). Eddie chose all three meals that day. Breakfast consisted of crepes, lunch consisted of these frozen little taco things, and dinner was a pot roast with baby carrots. (Eddie pretty much just loves the carrots, to be honest, but he likes them cooked with the roast.) We also added some rolls, a dinner salad, and some mashed potatoes. For dessert, we had regular made-from-a-boxed-mix brownies, as Eddie insisted. It was fun.

Happy birthday, Eddie!!!

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Clean Breaks, Dirty Money, and the Light at the End of the Tunnel

When we left Florida, we didn’t clean our apartment. This is the first time that Melanie and I have moved and purposely didn’t even attempt to clean. We just abandoned the apartment and let it be as is, which in a few respects was quite disastrous. I’ve had it said to me numerous times that there is no point in cleaning out an apartment because the landlord or management company will find reasons to keep your deposit anyway. But Melanie and I have always been responsible, up until now.

Imagine my surprise when we received a notice from our previous apartment complex outlining what they’ve done since we moved. We are getting back nearly half of our deposit. I’m totally surprised, but totally pleased. It’s quite a fortuitous turn of events, considering I learned earlier today that it would cost us exactly one dollar less than the amount we’ll be getting refunded in order to obtain Utah state driver licenses and a Utah state car tag. This includes some peripheral costs that will be a necessary part of the process, such as paying for safety and emissions tests. I guess we’ve been spoiled, but we never had to do safety and emissions inspections in Florida. Nor did we have to take any sort of driver’s test to get a new license, like Utah says we must. Add this to the fact that Melanie and I were usually able to walk in and out of a Florida DMV in about 5–10 minutes, and I’m not currently feeling all that excited about living in Utah. Unless things have changed dramatically in the eight years since I’ve lived here, visiting a Utah DMV is usually an all-day affair.

In other news, my carpal tunnel continues to wreak havoc and is probably getting worse. It’s now been about a week and a half of pretty much constant problems with my hand/arm going to sleep, feeling numb, and/or tingling in pain. However, at this exact moment, I’m seeing a glimmer of light at the end of this (carpal) tunnel. We notified our Florida insurance that we had moved out, but I just received notice that our insurance wouldn’t officially be discontinued until after July. I thought I didn’t have insurance and wasn’t really sure what I could do about this arm problem. Now I feel like I can go somewhere local and be covered, as long as I figure out where. I just wish I had found out more than two hours before a three-day July 4th weekend. It’s also Eddie’s birthday weekend, so there’s a lot going on and I suppose I’m going to have to wait a few more days before I can see anyone about this. But that’s much better than thinking I have potentially 30 days before I can get alternative coverage, which I thought was going to be the case. I’m so excited, I’m tingling! Oh wait, that’s just the pinched nerve in my arm. But still, I am very happy about this.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Rocky Mountain High

Some photos of the mountains, from our new neighborhood.

A photo taken by Melanie from our front yard:

A couple of photos taken at a park about a block away:

This makes me happy to be here.

Monday, June 30, 2014

And the Problems Begin…

In an effort to be positive, let me start by listing some of the things I’m enjoying about Utah so far (most of which I would have predicted, as I’ve written about these particular aspects of Utah before):

  • The dry air is lovely. It doesn’t qualify as “hot” here, and in the evenings it is downright pleasant.
  • The mountains are beautiful, and we’ve got a close-up view from Melanie’s parents’ house. I don’t tire of the view.
  • There are many decent radio stations here. Despite the seeming abundance of commercials, there is a lot of good music.
  • The library system is superior to what we had in Atlanta and Tallahassee. We visited the local library today, and it was awesome. They have everything you can think of. They have tons of DVDs. Seriously, thousands, in this one little branch of the library. They also have a pretty nice kids’ area, which made it quite entertaining for our boys. There is a seat in the kids’ area by a large window, overlooking the valley below. Quite posh for a kid. I myself would like to sit there and read for a couple of hours!
  • Melanie and I have gotten our bedroom pretty much set up, and I quite like it. We’ve never had a TV in our bedroom before, but we do now. It seems luxurious and spoiled. I got the TV set up last night, and there are tons of free over-the-air stations here. We watched a DVD as we lay in bed, and it was nice and cozy. Very enjoyable.
  • The kids are also set up in their bedrooms, with their bunk bed having been restored. I figured out how to put it back together without any instructions, which may not be a great accomplishment for a lot of folk, but I’m pleased with myself.

And now for the complaining:

  • This carpal tunnel thing is terrible. I have been messed up for several days now. I can hardly do anything for more than a minute or two before my right arm and hand are aching and tingling. That’s my dominant hand, so this is potentially disastrous. I think it might be a little bit better than it was a couple of days ago, so I’m crossing my fingers (with my left hand) that it will continue to improve. Otherwise, I’m fearful this will lead to surgery or something. And, seeing as how we just moved, the insurance situation is a bit uncertain right now. Ugh.
  • It took about 48 hours of living here for the kids to break something. Like something out of a sitcom, they kicked a soccer ball, in the living room, right into a large decorative glass plate. The plate looked like a giant flower, more or less. It was quite beautiful, really. Now it’s smashed. I’m sure Melanie’s parents are overjoyed to have us in their home.
  • I woke up in the middle of the night last night with a nosebleed. My third night in town and the dry air is giving me random nosebleeds. I can’t believe I’d forgotten about that, but for whatever reason, I’ve always gotten random nosebleeds in Utah. Maybe it’s the elevation rather than the thin air. I’m just having that thought as I type this up. I don’t know which makes more sense, but it can’t be coincidence. I’ve probably had one or two nosebleeds in the last eight years, whereas I used to get them all the time in Utah and I’m already getting them again. I know I’m going to deal with dry skin issues here, and this is just the blood-red icing on the cake. I’ll look like a decaying zombie before you know it, with blood on my face and my skin falling off. Hooray for me!

Okay, I’m done. Thanks for listening.