Monday, February 23, 2009

A New Week

With a sense of optimism, we embark upon a new week. Trying to be prudent and to consolidate recent gains, events this week have been week pared back to a set of commitments that should be meet-able without cancellations. I hate to cancel and last week held more of that than was comfortable. This caution stems from the lingering illness we all have with a close-at-hand reminder to pay heed: Shea is home sick today. Since she hasn’t missed day of school in years due to illness and has been knocked flat this time, we’re trying very hard to mind the signal. Michael threw out his back in addition to this cold, so he’s miserable, and so is Shea. I seem to be on the mend and would like to stay that way. Along the way, I’m learning to cope with the near-constant vertigo. While it is unpleasant, it doesn’t cause me to fall down or other ill effects, it just feels bad and is distracting. We hypothesize that it might be an effect of this cold/flu we all have, and if we recover and it is still present, we’ve decided that we’ll go back to the neurosurgeon’s office to see what he has to say.

We aren’t rushing right in yet, as it seems likely this effect is related to the congestion (maybe affecting my inner ear??) and also because the response to most of our questions so far has been so happy-go-lucky: “yup! That can be one of the effects. It should go away eventually!” We’ve gotten this response to questions ranging from the hormonal effects to the arm/shoulder limitations. It hasn’t been uncaring or disinterested, it’s just that my brain was exposed to the air for most of five hours and there was a fair amount of trauma involved both before and during the surgery. Brains take time to recover and a range of effects can occur, most of which are unpredictable. We are learing to tote up the gains and roll with whatever symptoms appear as we go along—while also trying to learn the lesson to listen to the body’s signals. To listen, but not to over-react, is our goal.

My new career as an advice columnist starts this week, on-line, at Inside Higher Ed. No clue what to expect from this endeavor… it should be interesting. The editor wrote this morning and asked me to look over the first column one more time to see if I wanted to make any final changes. It was written quite some time ago, as they’ve been planning major format changes to their site, of which this was only one small component, so the overall project has been awaiting completion of many other steps. Reviewing the “final” text we arrived at through the editing process, what most struck me was the change in the economic circumstances. There’s a phrase in the first column that refers to changing jobs; since there are very few searches open on campuses right now, the way that topic is handled needed some toning down. These economic changes have come fast.

With a set of extra credit papers in hand, I’m back to calling AT&T, as their fixes haven’t quite solved all my problems. Fortunately, I have my patience-extending productive task at hand. Do you think ATT’s management has any idea how alienating their “help desk” is, especially when they provide such a glaring contrast by affiliating with Apple, which has truly impressive customer support on the technical side? I’d leave them in a heartbeat if their service weren’t tied to my iPhone. I know it’s cheaper to drive customers away from talking to actual human beings who can help you, but doesn’t anyone ever calculate the cost-benefit ratio of the long-term disgust their approach engenders in the people who pay them every month? Wish me luck.

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