Encore, Encore!

Let’s talk about something non-work related …

I bought a new car! It’s a 2017 Buick Encore in a pretty blue color.

me-car2

I never pictured myself with a blue car but when I saw this one, it just spoke to me.

Side note: Who thinks this looks like a skate? Or a blue potato on wheels?

Yes. We traded my Pontiac Vibe in. We really had no intention of going that route. This happens to us every time we start talking about making any sorts of big changes … it just sort of happens and when it happens, it happens QUICKLY.

My Vibe was 10 years old with only 68,000 miles on it. I’ll let that sink in a moment. That’s only about 7,000 miles per year! That’s what happens when you live 2 miles from work. And I work so much, I never go anywhere BUT work so … yeah, it was CLEAN.

My Vibe was not acting up or giving us any problems. It’s been a very good car. It’s just been ten years and we thought we should probably trade it in before it lost any more in value. Though honestly, I would have been fine driving it another five/ten years – it was a good car!!

So. We started looking. I always tell Kevin, let’s not look unless we’re serious because then we get excited and before you know it, we have a new car.

Kevin found the Hybrid CMAX. We had been talking about buying a Hybrid but the last time I drove a Hybrid was ten years ago when we were looking for a car. And back then, they were just WEIRD. I test drove a Hybrid Ford Escape and I could never tell if the thing was still running or not; it freaked me out. So we scratched that idea then ran across the Vibe. I knew, immediately, I loved the Vibe. It just felt right. And then good old Uncle Sam had to stick his big nose into things and Pontiac went out of business.

I was truly sad. I loved Pontiac cars and I would have totally bought a new Vibe, if they were available.

But since that wasn’t an option, we thought the CMAX looked nice. We went to Ford and test drove it. It’s a super nice car. And the Hybrid feature has improved so I didn’t feel quite as freaked out by the lack of motor noise/feel. The dashboard was HUGE. I guess that’s where they had to make room for the battery. It’s very high tech. The CMAX we drove already had 25,000 highway miles on it and it was a 2016. But considering I really don’t drive that much, the 25,000 miles didn’t really bother us that much. But we wanted to keep looking so we continued looking online. We came across the Encore and made an appointment to test drive it.

I loved the Encore right off the bat. It has a fancy-smancy touch screen that syncs to your phone and it comes with Sirius XM radio and Onstar / WiFi hotspot options.

It’s so cool, because if someone texts me while I’m driving, then that person gets an auto reply along the lines of, “I’m sorry, but I’m driving right now, I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.” In fact, my doctor text me the other morning and got that auto reply. I told him when I saw him at work, “I see my car has been talking to you.” HA!

However, it’s also distracting and you have to train yourself not to stare at the screen whilst your driving. However, if someone calls me, then I can just press a button with my thumb on the steering wheel and answer the phone without taking my eyes off the road. Which is pretty cool!

So. We both love the car and go into the dealership to talk numbers. Since we saw the car online, they had a $5,000 off the sales price promotion. So now we needed to find out what they would give us for our car. We actually happened to buy my Vibe from this same dealership so we were hoping for a good deal. They came back with a dollar amount. I wasn’t surprised but Kevin pushed a little more and they gave us a little more. Looking back, we should have just kept the car and sold it, we would have gotten more money for it, but ultimately, neither one of us wanted to mess with putting in an ad, having people look at it, securing payment, etc., so we agreed. With the $5,000 off and our trade-in, we ended up paying a lot less for the Encore than we did for the Vibe ten years ago so we were happy with the price.

They had us approved and out the door before we even knew what was happening. It was easy, WAY TOO EASY. In fact, they sold us the car and took possession of my Vibe all without the title. Kevin went to the safe deposit box the next day and got the title. I thought that was awful trusting of them to do the transaction without the title in hand, but I guess since we were repeat customers they felt like they could trust us. That and our credit score was crazy good. 🙂

I’m loving this car so far. It has a few things that I’m not crazy about, it sort of hesitates whenever I take my foot off the brake and before I accelerate. The brakes are also super sensitive. And it’s not as big as the Vibe was as far as the storage compartment. Oh, and it doesn’t get as good of gas mileage as my Vibe did, but overall, I’m happy with it. Kevin and I are talking about driving down to Padre Island sometime in September for our vacation this year. We’ll see. We are foregoing the cruise this year – we are saving our frequent flyer miles to cash in next year for our two week Mediterranean cruise.

It doesn’t have a key. It’s just a push button ignition. At first, this bothered me but I’m quickly getting used to it. I don’t have to dig my keys out of my purse whenever I approach the vehicle. As long as the key fob is a certain distance from the car, all you have to do is grab the door handle, push this button and it automatically unlocks. When you start it, you just put your foot on the brake and push the button. You push it again to turn it off.

I hope this car is just as good as the Vibe was because I’ll be driving it for at least ten years. Who knows what cars will be like then!

Gone at Last

Where to start …

Work has consumed me. There have been so many changes this past year – it has at once flown by and yet it feels like time has stood still. And by that I mean, it’s the same day-in-and-day-out. The type of work I do is very repetitive, rooming patients, taking blood pressures, interviewing patients, scheduling appointments … but the patients and their individual problems, needs and personalities, mix everything up so I’m NEVER bored.

I now consider working my hobby. Does that sound weird? Nearly every waking moment I’m either thinking about work or preparing for work. Not the work itself, really, but I feel like I’ve spent so much time physically and mentally preparing for every work day that I’m determined to make it pay off. In fact, I put so much time and energy into my work day, giving 150% of ME into my job that I’m entirely knackered by the weekend and all I want to do is mindlessly watch YouTube videos or play Sims 4 – anything that doesn’t require any mental energy.

I’m not sure it’s entirely healthy to be that invested in my job, but I feel like it keeps me young, it also helps that I work with 20-somethings, as well. I’m always on my feet running around and really don’t sit that often and it certainly taxes my pea brain. Our brains are muscles and need to be stimulated – I feel like this job will keep me on my toes enough that hopefully I never have to worry about Dementia or Alzheimer’s. Yes. I think about those things. Getting older REALLY, REALLY, REALLY bothers me. I think my biggest fear, and I hesitate to even write it because if I write it then will it come true? Is becoming old. Like so old I can’t control my body or my mind. So old that I become a burden on our sons. Or so old that I’m no longer able to live on my own without assistance.

I’m very determined to not allow that to happen.

My dad’s dad passed away a few months ago. He lived on his own until about two-ish years ago when he was finally unable to get around without assistance and he went into a nursing home for veterans. I never visited him at his home. In fact, I hadn’t seen my grandpa in many (decade?) years. I have no excuses – I simply didn’t take the time out of my day to see him. I’m very selfish with my time. This is not a good thing and I feel like a bad person for admitting it but it’s true. I have many, many regrets when it comes to my family and to this day, I can’t really explain why I’ve been the way I’ve been – a recluse. Which is puzzling to me because I’m a realist and brutally honest with my feelings and openly recognize my flaws. Though I suspect the reason is there, bubbling under the surface, I’m just refusing to acknowledge it, either here or to anyone, really.

I admired my grandpa. He was a very stubborn man. He hobbled around on a bad hip for a number of years, by himself, with very little complaint. He fought living on his own and continued onward after my grandma passed away. And I know her passing was a terrible hardship on him – he worshiped her. I like to think I have my grandpa’s stubborn streak. I REFUSE to allow my aging to get in the way I live my life or how my family lives their lives.

I hadn’t really planned on talking about the aging process in this post but I’m allowing my thoughts and feelings to dictate this post so here goes: getting older absolutely terrifies me. I already feel like my body is not really my own anymore. I used to be able to control it and of course, I continue to control it today, but there has been a noticeable shift. Ever since I went through “the change” my body has been thrown off kilter. I’ve noticed more aches and pains since menopause. I tire so much more easily and I’ve been playing around with supplements because I know my body is not producing the nutrients I need anymore. I’ve seen, firsthand, what osteoporosis does to bones and what terrible things it can do to people – it can back people into an impossible corner – bones so brittle they literally crack and are so thin that surgery is not an option because it’s counterproductive to put any sort of hardware in bones that won’t sustain it. So I’ve been taking calcium and Vitamin D religiously.

I’ve been taking Flaxseed daily because I read somewhere that it mimics estrogen and it’s good for your heart and I honestly feel better when I take it – I can definitely tell when I forget to take it for a few days. I’m not anemic anymore since I no longer bleed every month but there are days I can’t even lift my arms I’m so fatigued, so I know it’s time to take some iron and I feel better. My nerve endings are so sensitive sometimes that I know it’s time to take Vitamin B, which calms them down. Your body talks to you, you just have to take the time to listen to it.

I’ve been under so much stress at work – I’ve never been under this much stress in my life. It sucks the very life out of me at times – and yet, I THRIVE on it. I can’t imagine being a doctor, or even a nurse, to be honest – I just don’t think I could handle the stress though now I fully appreciate why doctors are fanatics when it comes to exercising – because it helps counteract the amount of stress their bodies sustain.

Sidenote: I’m back to using my treadmill – even walking 30 to 45 minutes several times a week HELPS SOOOOO MUCH.

I’m a Medical Assistant. And the job itself is not really all that stressful, but, when you work with someone who doesn’t do her job, it becomes extremely stressful. Because I’m a perfectionist, you see. I am not wired to do a half-ass job. I want people to rely on me and know that if I’m doing a job, you can bet I’m doing it to the best of my ability. I want people to know they can count on me – that I’m loyal, dependable, helpful, fun, and good at my job. The doctor and PA I work for are amazing. They are truly amazing people and they inspire me daily. Our team, as a whole, is organized, efficient and patients seem to like us, at least, according to the scores we get. (Yes. The government scores doctors and their pay is directly proportional to how good their scores are – Medicare/Medicaid patients that is. On the surface, that sounds great. But when the government starts telling the doctors how they can/can not practice, then it’s not that great anymore and ultimately, the very patients they are trying to protect suffer. But that sums up government, doesn’t it. ). But when you work with someone who is clearly lacking work ethic, the whole team becomes stressed and strained.

So, I’ve been doing two jobs, off and on, (mostly on), for two years. TWO. YEARS. Working late became routine for me. It was unusual for me to arrive home before 7:00 PM most nights. I had a new normal, unfortunately. No. I didn’t HAVE to work that late most nights but if I didn’t, then I would begin the next day even further behind because then I would have to finish up the previous day’s work before starting the current day’s work. And because I was fighting an uphill battle, our phone calls were out-of-control. We were getting, AVERAGE, 30 to 40 calls PER DAY. And that stressed me out even more.

Yes. I complained. Yes. We had numerous “team” meetings, though the team meetings basically consisted of one person being told she needed to do better. And it would get better, for a time, before this person slipped back into her lackluster work ethic and ended up spending more time eating and shopping than she did actually working. I tried to be understanding and helpful at first. And I kept my thoughts mostly to myself. But after a while, it became clear that I was being taken advantage of and I ended up in the ER, twice, due to chest pains. (And after a stress test and a wearing a holster monitor for three days it was determined it was likely a panic attack).

And then I became angry. I can’t believe I allowed an annoying, less-than-intelligent female to cause me so much grief. The stubborn streak I inherited from my grandpa kicked in. In my mind, allowing one person to affect me so much was allowing this person to have some power over me and I simply will not allow that to happen. EVER. So, I was on a mission to make some changes. I was no longer going to cover for this person. Every mistake she made, every time she procrastinated on something, I went to management about it. I took screen shots, I kept running tallies of things she put off for days, and shouldn’t have. Times were ugly because this person would get called into offices and lectured and still, STILL, she continued to laugh it off and/or have a ready-made excuse as to why things weren’t being done and/or why she was rude to patients.

There were areas I kept my hands completely out of in order to give herself more rope with which to hang herself. I was done stepping in and saving the day. And yes, it bothered me GREATLY and it was really hard not to take control and make things better and yes, it truly bothered me that patients had to suffer as a consequence, but if I wanted things to change, I had to allow these things to happen. I was confident that her piss-poor work habits would eventually catch up to her, and they did. Unfortunately, I can’t go into details as to what exactly happened, but suffice it to say, it was very bad and potentially dangerous. She finally got written up. But again, things did not improve. I think this girl had been so used to being compared to an “I Love Lucy” character and laughing her mistakes/antics off, that she truly thought it would save her – that people would just shrug and say, “Well, that’s _______ for you.”

No. Just no. That is not acceptable, especially when we have patients who are counting on us and trusting us to take care of them.

Finally. Finally. The doctor had had enough. He was having to step in and smooth the waters one too many times. He spoke to management. And the next thing I knew, she was being told she wasn’t a good fit and to find a new position elsewhere.

I had mixed feelings. On one hand, I was relieved. I felt like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders. On the other hand, I had such guilt. For though I wasn’t the one who was making the mistakes and had a piss-poor attitude, I felt responsible because I went out of my way to make sure the proper people knew about her screw ups.

She continued to work for our clinic for four weeks after she was told to find something else. Since she wasn’t technically “fired” and didn’t have any vacation time she could cash in and use, she stuck around for four weeks while she interviewed for a new position. She was present when we started interviewing a replacement nurse. She was present when our entire team went into another room to discuss the applicants’ pros and cons. She was present when these applicants were shown around our clinic, given the “tour”, if you will. To say this was an awkward four weeks would be putting it mildly. And since I was the one who had to see her every day and continue to work with her, it was hardest on me.

Which stressed me out even further.

I started having chest pains again though I told no one. I didn’t go to the ER because I knew what was happening – I was having panic attacks. I finally bit the bullet and looked up my chart and read the holster monitor report back when I wore it when I went to the ER two years ago. (I don’t have a PCP so the ER doctor didn’t have anyone to forward the results to so I never got the results). I just wanted to make sure that I wasn’t damaging an already weakened heart by NOT seeing a doctor. Everything was normal. Yes. My heart pauses at times, (skips a beat), and paused a total of 34 times in one hour at one point but apparently, it was still within the normal range so there was no cause for alarm. (Which seems weird that your heart pausing 34 times in one hour is still considered “normal??”) But the doctor recommended either magnesium and/or beta blockers for my chest pain so I thought I would throw in my magnesium with my other supplements and see how that worked. It worked, for the record. I haven’t had chest pain since starting magnesium.

This all happened in January of this year.

I was never so glad to see a month end in all my life.

This nurse and I are not friends – all ties have been severed which doesn’t bother me in the least. Not even a little. Yes. I’m a cold-hearted bitch. Tell me something I don’t know.

Look. Whenever a company is lucky enough to have me as an employee (*snicker*), I will give my employer 150%. The company is investing time and money in me, I’m going to deliver. I’m not working to become BFF’s or talk, endlessly, about my personal life with someone. Sure. If we get our work done and we have some laughs along the way, then BONUS. But to show up to work and expect to do little to nothing and be handed a paycheck? No. That’s not the way it works, or should work. As long as you do your job, then I don’t have a problem with you. It’s when you don’t do your job, that’s when the gloves come off and I get aggressive.

Our new nurse didn’t start until the beginning of March, this month. I can’t even begin to describe the night and day difference between these two women. This new nurse is enthusiastic and eager to do a good job. She cares about people and wants to help them. She’s happy to be a nurse and there is genuine joy in her. It’s such a breath of fresh air. We had a heart-to-heart the other day when our doctor/PA left for the day. She asked what she was getting into the middle of, that she had heard some things. I was completely honest with her. I told her what I just told you – do your job and we won’t have a problem. She said her interview was all about me, about how much they expected her to help me and to keep on top of my duties, to call patients back in a timely manner and to be proactive and keep on top of surgical requirements. I felt embarrassed when she told me that, I also felt honored and humbled. It’s nice to know the doctor/PA recognized the hell I’ve been living for the past two years and were trying to do everything they could to make my life easier. After it was announced the other nurse would be expected to find another position, my doctor and I had a sit down chat. He made me feel good in that he had no intentions of losing me. It made me feel appreciated.

I’ve been off the past few days, it will be interesting to see how she has done without me. Which is not to say she can’t do her job without me – any MA would be able to easily step in and do my job, but I got the feeling I was her anchor since she hasn’t really had a chance to hang out with the other nurses yet and learn the ropes. I feel sort of protective of her. She’s young though has been a nurse for a while and I guess it’s the mothering instinct in me to want to see her do well and be happy in her new job. I’m not completely heartless, you see.

My doctor is on vacation this week – he’s spending time with his kiddos for spring break, hence the reason I took a few “mental health” days off, but I’m looking forward to going back to work tomorrow and working with her. I have a lot of prep work ahead of me – getting ready for next week’s clinics and there’s a schedule I need to work on as my doctor has text me to say he will need to leave early next Wednesday so I can adjust his clinic schedule, but I’m approaching this change with fresh eyes and an open heart. I feel like Satan has really tested me these past few years and for the first time in months, I feel like I can breathe and genuinely smile again.