Why my job is confusing

Despite having worked in the military world for 11 years, I still have a hard time categorizing and identifying the uniforms and ranks of the different branches. To be fair, for the first 8 years there were so few military personnel that it should barely count. At my last job I got pretty good with Navy officers simply because they were primarily only in those categories (i.e., Navy and officer), so the options weren’t overwhelming (also, they correspond with Star Trek, and I know Star Trek ranks well). Now I see more Army than anything else, so I’m getting more used to that, but it’s harder because all branches show up with regularity, and it’s both officers and enlisted.

Nevertheless, I do get used to looking at certain things, even if I can’t properly categorize them, so today when I approached a guy holding the door open, his uniform confused me. I tried but failed to place it in a branch. His insignia didn’t look familiar either, but I know those even less than the uniforms, so that didn’t mean much. I continued to look at his attire as I smiled and said thanks.

Then he spoke, with a strong Australian accent. Ah, that explains it. I don’t feel bad about not recognizing uniforms of other countries.

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After church, I went for a walk around the neighborhood:

[More photos here.]




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A miracle!

OH MY HECK, the surgeon for my next surgery… IS IN NETWORK!!!

Seriously! His claim for the appointment last week was just processed, and there it is… in network. I’m shocked. And I think I’m going to cry from happiness. Before the appointment, his office said, “I don’t know, we accept BCBS but check with your insurance to see if your specific plan covers us.” My insurance said, “Can’t find his name. Check with the doctor to see if he accepts your insurance. The closest GYN oncologists we can find are in Baltimore.”

But there it is.

There is rejoicing in Spackville.

(This, of course, means that determining who is in network and who is not is even more difficult and thus BCBS sucks even more, but for the moment I’m letting that go. Well, beyond this mildly bitter parenthetical I’m letting it go.)

(In case this is unclear, this is a wonderful thing because this means the surgery will cost me much less than I was expecting. The previous two surgeons were out of network, and the financial damage isn’t pretty. Using this surgeon was the best option even though he seemed to be out of network, so I planned to deal with the financial aftermath. To find out the financial aftermath won’t be as bad… relief.)

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1. I love General Conference weekend. I always love it, but with the drama in my life lately, I am looking even more forward to the words of wisdom and peace and other stuff.

2. My CAC worked a whole 1 day before no longer working. Sigh. My accounts were finally set up on Wednesday, and it worked fine. I didn’t go to the government building on Thursday. Yesterday, I tried to log in… and it wouldn’t. Said my account had been disabled (I swear, I didn’t do whatever they think I did!). Since I didn’t HAVE to have access to that side of things, I didn’t call the help desk – there were urgent things to work on on the other side of things. However, on Monday I’ll have to be at the government building and I’ll have to have access to that side of things in the morning. In case you’re thinking I should have dealt with it yesterday, well, yes, you’re right, but I didn’t expect to need access on Monday, so I figured I could deal with it leisurely. Procrastination was not my friend. However, usually procrastination and I get along well, so no hard feelings.

3. Everyone at work keeps using Arial Rounded MT Bold. And I keep changing it. I generally go with Cambria and/or Calibri, depending on the type of document and the type of text (we do more things in PowerPoint than we should, but I’ve already accepted that fact, which means I can focus my energies on fonts – or typefaces, if you want to be technical about it). When I send the documents back I say, “Also, I changed the font to something more professional.” They go with what I changed it to, but then they go back to the font of hideousness and despair when they start a new document. I’m thinking of smacking them all.

4. The new season of Doctor Who starts on 23 April! This excites me more than it really should. Whatever. My geeky heart is delighted!

5. Five is overwhelmed by what a boring number it is that it can’t bothered to have a point of interest today.

6. Courtesy of a friend, I have a big jar of artichoke hearts, fresh from Costco! Everyone should have a friend who randomly gives them a jar of artichoke hearts! I love artichokes. I love their marinated hearts, and I love them fresh and steamed and dipped in lemon-butter. Mmmmm… artichokes….

7. I have a bag of green beans. I think I’ll roast them with olive oil and salt and eat them while watching General Conference.

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The final surgery?

I met with the next surgeon this morning. On to surgery 3.0. He recommended a hysterectomy. He doesn’t think he can get out the cyst or the polyp without also removing the uterus. Too much is too stuck together. The right ovary is stuck to the uterus, and the uterus is stuck to the pelvic wall as well as the colon (the stickiness comes from the combo of endometriosis and adhesions from the appendectomy). Also, because of the family history of uterine cancer, and since he isn’t sure that polyp is really just a polyp, he thinks a hysterectomy is the best route. The possibility there is cancer is small. I’m not really concerned about that. I’m guessing his mind goes the “not a polyp” route because he’s an oncologist, since my GYN was pretty comfortable calling it a polyp, even though she couldn’t get in to see it.

Anyway, I agreed to the hysterectomy. I am relieved to finally have the hell of each month coming to an end (and my kidneys will no doubt be happy to not have to swim in handfuls of Aleve each month). Still, even though I figured fertility was iffy for me anyway, and though I’ve accepted that marriage isn’t going to happen, and thus kids aren’t going to happen, I nevertheless feel a sadness at the finality of it. This obviously removes even the slight possibility of not being a genetic dead end (sorry, Mom; I really did want to pass on on your DNA). I keep thinking of Dawkins’ book The Selfish Gene (written in the good old days before he turned into a fundamentalist atheist) and how I am a biological failure. I guess that’s my way of mourning the loss of my hypothetical children. (Can you tell my degree is in molecular biology? DNA and viruses… two of my great loves in life.)

But it does feel right, so despite the sadness, I feel peace with the decision.

The surgery will be early May, exact date to be determined soon. The surgeon’s going to try to do it laparoscopically first. If he can do that, then my recovery time will be 2 to 4 weeks. Based on the previous two surgeries, I’ll guess 2 weeks. If he has to do the big incision, though, it will be 6 weeks of recovery. He said it’s 50/50 on whether he can do it laparoscopically. My short term disability insurance at work sucks (but at least it will cover rent), so I’m hoping the laparoscopic will be successful. Well, that and the pain of the big incision that I’d just as soon avoid. I’m afraid of pain.

I’ll lose the uterus and my right ovary. He’ll check the uterus while I’m still under anesthesia, and if there are no signs of cancer, then I’ll keep my left ovary (assuming he can remove everything and leave it; he’s fairly certain it will stay but will have to see how much is stuck together to be sure).

I’m rooting for that left ovary. If it stays, life will be much better (no early menopause). Due to an allergy to birth control pills, and thus presumably all hormone treatment options, hormone replacement issues could be… tricky.

Hopefully, after this, my life will finally return to the normal visit-the-doctor-every-three-years-or-so-for-a-cough-or-back-pain-or-other-normal-random-crap levels that were my pre-appendectomy life.

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Ah, Saturday

‘Twas a lovely day. A bit chilly, though not bad, and sunny. After a stressful (though good) week at work, I welcome Saturday. I have now mostly transitioned from the contractor office to the government office (though I still have the contractor office and can go back and forth according to my whims… or, you know, according to the best place depending on what I’m working on), which means I can finally do most of my job. Always a good thing. I still don’t have computer log-ins, but that’s all I’m missing. Hopefully that will happen on Monday.

The government office is a definite lower quality than the contractor office (aesthetically and vibe-ly), but the government office totally wins when it comes to lunch options. The contractor office is disappointingly barren of food. You either bring your own (which I usually do, but I like the occasional venture elsewhere) or have to drive somewhere. The government office, however, has several places to choose from inside the building (plus a post office; oh, and also a chocolate store!), as well as multiple restaurants very close by if you want to go out the door and see sunlight. Me like!

I have submitted an application to get a monthly parking pass at the government building. It costs $16 to park each day ($10 if you get there before 8:00AM, but I don’t see that happening much), or $125 for the month. Um, yes, month please. My company reimburses me for parking (yay!), but the cheaper option is still best. (The company also gives us a free parking pass for the contractor building. We don’t have to submit an expense report for that one, though; they take care of it entirely.) Today I also learned that they also reimburse for the mileage between the government building and the contractor building if I drive back and forth during the day. It’s only 4 miles, but still, a few dollars is a few dollars. I do like this company.

But back to today. Today I headed out to a friend’s re-enlistment ceremony. At the metro station where I switched from the blue to yellow (or was that green?) train, I ran into a couple friends headed to the same place. The Navy Memorial is easy to find: you come out of the metro station, and there it is directly in front of you. However, we weren’t sure where to go (on the memorial? inside the museum?), but eventually found the location as well as a bunch more friends.

The ceremony was short and sweet. I love a good ceremony.

It was immediately followed by the retirement ceremony of a random commander (same group of people, so not random for them, but I didn’t know them, so random for me). It was a very nice retirement ceremony and I’m glad we stayed.

Afterward, we wandered out for sustenance and selected a very tasty Italian place to celebrate her re-enlistement. Mmm… pasta. Good food, good conversation. Can you ask for anything more? After that, we stopped at a cupcake shop to get, obviously, cupcakes. I got two: one vanilla and one butterscotch or something like that. I haven’t eaten the vanilla one yet, but that butterscotch or whatever one was delicious! Less sweet than most cupcakes, with an incredibly light (and low sweet) frosting. Want more!

Definitely a fabulous way to spend a few hours of Saturday.

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Spring II

Snow is predicted for Sunday, so I figured I’d better get some photos of blossoms now.

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