Friday, April 29, 2011

Change of Command, managing meds

Zac's command had a Change of Command (COC) ceremony earlier this week. I went to my first COC not too long after we got to Hawaii. I was pretty much clueless about things at that COC, but I still enjoyed the ceremony. This time around I enjoyed myself quite a bit more, as I knew many more people at Zac's command. I've also been serving as an ombudsman for the outgoing commanding officer (CO) and volunteering with the outgoing CO's wife, so I enjoyed being able to see them being sent off with all the warranted pomp and circumstance. And part of the Pacific Fleet Band was there too, which is always a good time in my book.

Ombudsman protocol dictates that I respectfully submit my resignation to the incoming CO. After all, the ombudsman serves at the pleasure of the CO. When a new CO arrives they are not bound to keep an ombudsman on, but often times they'll keep them around for a little while. I was able to to meet the new CO at a meeting before the COC and assured him that I would be glad to continue on, if he'd like. It appears that the incoming CO does wants to keep me on as an ombudsman, so I am looking forward to working with him over the next six months or so until we head out to our next duty station. I've enjoyed being an ombudsman and I'm happy I'll get to continue doing the job. Even though I'm sticking around, I still have to resign. Then the new CO will turn around and appoint me. It's a protocol that has be followed, though it might seem unnecessary.

My current co-ombudsman is going to be stepping down so I'll probably have a new co- sometime in the near future. Many times commands only have one ombudsman, but we are lucky to have two. It makes it a lot easier when one of us needs to travel back to the mainland or take a vacation off-island. With two, there is always someone available. I'm not sure what exactly would happen if it was just me and I was back in MN visiting and something serious happened out here and I needed to perform my ombudsman duties. It's just nice having another person to lean on. Hopefully someone else at the command will want to step into the role.

In other news, Toivo has been having a rough stretch. I mentioned before that the vet put him on potassium bromide to try and prevent the increasing frequency of seizures. After a few weeks at the initial dosage he had a seizure, so we upped the dosage and he was fine for a few more weeks. Then he had another seizure, so we upped the dosage one more time. (We're now at the high end of the therapeutic levels that he can handle.) Sure enough, two weeks later he had another seizure but this time was different because he had another seizure less than 12 hours later. (The first one was at 7pm, the next one at 3am the next day.) Toivo has never had seizures that close together. I was pretty freaked out. I scheduled another vet appointment to figure out what to do.

The vet decided to put Toivo on a second medication - phenobarbital. That started last week and from the initial doses we notice that he seemed a little wobbly. Then last night Toivo really started having a hard time. He wasn't able to control his back legs and hips very well. He collapsed a little when he tried to go out to pee. He had a hard time gracefully standing up and also laying down. He would trip over himself. He tried to go upstairs and his hind end gave out but he was able to pretty much pull himself up the last few. I was pretty shaken up and spent a good part of the night tearing up every time I looked at him. Is is the meds? If it's not the meds, is this it? Is he getting closer to being . . . gone? I didn't sleep well last night and I was relieved when I heard Toivo bark at me this morning to let him outside.

Luckily I had scheduled an appointment for Zoe at the vet for today. I called the vet this morning and asked if I could keep the appointment but bring in the other dog. They said sure, so Zac, Toivo and I headed back to the vet for the umpteenth time today. The vet agreed that it was probably the phenobarbital that was causing the issues as one of the main side effects is ataxia (loss of coordination or hind end weakness). The vet decided that we should check his blood work to see what levels he was at with his meds and halve his phenobarbital dosage. I know that it took Toivo almost two weeks to get used to the potassium bromide, so I'm hoping that this is the same thing and he'll adjust in a little while. It's just hard to watch in the meantime.

It's also an inopportune time for Toivo to be not 100%. We're supposed to be heading over to San Diego here in the near future and I hate to be that inaccessible when things are a little up in the air. I know our friends will take great care of him, but I'm sure I'll still worry some.

As I mentioned, we're heading over to SD for a few days to get a lay of the land. We're hoping to get a better sense of where we might want to live and hopefully Zac will be able to meet up with his new command to get a sense of what his new job will be. I'm looking forward to it. There's only so much house-hunting you can do online. And while I appreciate all of the great input our friends have given us about what neighborhoods are best, nothing compares to being there in person. We'll probably even spend some time purposefully driving in rush-hour traffic to see how much time it takes to go places. Doesn't that sound like fun? All I know is I don't want a crabby husband coming home from work every day because he had to sit in 60 minutes of traffic. If this trip can help us figure out where to live that would avoid that, it will most certainly be worth it.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Working, painting and planning and WHALES!

Remind me not to leave a pessimistic/crabby/whiny post as the last thing posted for two weeks. People start to worry, unnecessarily. But thank you to everyone who has expressed empathy and sympathy over the work/fertility stuff. Your kind words are always appreciated. I'm always surprised (pleasantly) when someone contacts me out of blue. Especially people I've never met. I sometimes forget that anyone reads this outside of some family members and Pat. Hi, Pat. :)

It's been busy around here. Par for the course. I was given an extra layer of work from my employer which took up more time than usual. It was welcomed though - it reignited a number of neurons that had gone dormant for awhile. Much of my work boredom is born out of repetition. It's nice to mix stuff up every once and awhile. Last week, after putting in the work during the day, Zac and I spent almost every night over at our friends' new condo, helping them get it ready for their move. These friends don't have code names yet . . . hmmm. How about, Max and Julia? Sounds good.

Max and Julia purchased a condo about 10-15 minutes away from our house. They've been waiting, and waiting, and waiting, and waiting to move into it. They were staying with us for awhile in December but politely moved in with a different friend when our onslaught of visitors started arriving in January. Finally they got word that they could start moving into the place. Great! Except that Max was set to deploy in a week. That gave them a week to get the place cleaned, painted and moved into. No small task.

So after Julia did a boatload of cleaning, Zac and I joined her and Max in spackling, sanding, taping, priming and painting most of the condo. Of course all of us have day jobs, meaning we could only work from 7pm-11pm each weekday night. We also spent more than 12 hours on Saturday and Sunday this weekend. Saturday was the last day of painting. Sunday was the moving-household-goods-extravaganza. Everyone was exhausted, but at least their condo is painted and their stuff is there. It will take awhile longer to do laundry and organize the place, but at least the major stuff is done. So Max deployed today feeling a little more at ease with the situation.

Of course Max and Julia repeatedly and emphatically thanked us for our help, which was appreciated but unnecessary. We're friends. This is what friends do for each other, you help one another out. And honestly, Zac and I had fun. We both really enjoy working on the house with all those DIY projects. Zac would prefer not to paint, but he's a spackling/sanding fool and got to spend at least a little while on their lanai cleaning up some of the vegetation overgrowth around the lanai. (The condo had been vacant for a year.) So not only did we get to help out some good friends, we got to do something we enjoy too. The Coronas that Max and Julia supplied were just icing on the cake.

As I've mentioned, we're probably PCSing off island in October. (Notice I'm still qualifying it. Don't want to jinx it by getting arrogant.) It looks like we're going to try to take a trip to San Diego at some point in the next month to check the area out. You can ask as many people as you want for their opinions and you can do as much research online as you can, but nothing will substitute for driving around and actually being there when you're trying to figure out where to live. As we've helped Max and Julia with their move, I've become increasingly excited about the move. Yes, moving can be a serious time-consuming pain in the butt, but it's also a great excuse to cull through your belongings every three years and reorganize. I'm looking forward to it. (For now. Ask me again once we're in the throws of the process.)

Also because of our impending PCS, Zac and I decided that we needed to make trips over to Maui and Kauai before we leave. Neither one of us have been to Kauai yet, but we have both been over to Maui once before, separately, many years ago. Zac didn't particularly like his trip there back in the day, and I was anxious to go back. We decided on a Wednesday to leave for the weekend. Talk about short notice. Keep in mind that for us to go to Maui takes less time than it does for you Minneapolis folks to drive to St. Cloud or Rochester - it's only a 35 minute flight - so it's not like it's a huge undertaking. I'm glad we went we did though because it was getting to the end of whale watching season. and this is what we got to see:

WHALES! One of the few regrets I will leave Hawaii with is the fact that we didn't go to Maui to do this every year at the height of the season. It was amazing! I don't even know how to explain how crazy/spectacular it is to have two humpback whales playing around right in front of you. It has got to be one of the highlights of my Hawaii Life. Just incredible. I highly recommend Maui in the early spring to everyone. If you ever get the chance - go. It is worth every penny.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Disappointing realization

Zac and I have been talking a lot the last couple of days about "big" stuff. Moving, kids, my career. It's always a little emotionally taxing discussing all of these things, especially when there are no clear answers.

Zac heard about orders last week. I'm reluctant to even talk about where we're going because until we have orders "in hand", i.e. literally a paper copy of orders to his new duty station, they could pull the rug out from under us and send us elsewhere. We probably won't have orders in hand until August for a probable(?) departure in October, so that leaves a lot of time for things to change. For now it appears that we're heading to the San Diego area. While it's fun to house-shop online in the evenings, I'm cautiously un-invested in the activity. It's all still too tenuous.

Zac and I have also been talking about our lack-of-kid and my lack-of-career. The lack-of-kid thing? Pretty much that's on hold for now. I've got a referral to go see a fertility specialist that's good until July. Maybe we'll go and kick up the efforts a notch, maybe we won't. It's hard to say.

The lack-of-kid thing is also (sort of) tied into my lack-of-career thing. I have always had this vision in my head of me working for a few years, getting established in a career, taking a little time off to pop out some offspring and then going back to work. Well, what happens when I never established a career and I have nothing to go "back to"? What happens when every day that passes is another day that I haven't been using my law license and continue to have zero experience practicing law? I've applied for a number of attorney positions out here since I arrived and haven't heard back on any of them.

[sarcasm follows] I can't imagine why I'm un-hirable - I've had a license for
seven and a half years and have never practiced, save one divorce that was already drawn up and all I had to do was sign some papers. My writing samples are from 10 years ago when I was a 1L (2001) and I have no one that can write a letter of recommendation about me that can say anything about my quality as an attorney. If I take some time "off" to have a baby, that's just more distance from my legal education and the few ties to the legal profession that I currently have.

Perhaps the most startling and disappointing realization this weekend is that Zac has never seen me have a "real" job. He has never seen me wake up in the morning, put on work clothes, make coffee and head to work. He has never seen me hang out with some co-workers, he has never met a boss. And most perhaps most disheartening, he's never seen me enjoy a job. It hadn't occurred to me until just the other day that Zac has never met the hard-working, enthusiastic Kate. That's kind of crushing because I have always prided myself on being that person, and my husband has never met her.

When Zac and I started dating I was working as a Reference Attorney for Thomson, but he was in Oklahoma and I was in Minnesota. I talked about work, but he wasn't around to see it. Then I went to live with him for four months in Oklahoma before he left for El Salvador. I didn't work for those four months. When he left, I returned to Minnesota where I got a temp job back at Thomson doing editor-type stuff. Again, I talked about work but we were apart. He's never seen me wear any of my "work" clothes. They've been sitting in my closet for almost three years now.

This is how Zac sees my life right now: I sleep in, crawl out of bed, change out of pajamas into sweat pants and a t-shirt, hop on the computer, turn on ESPN, and putz around on the computer all day. And honestly, he's right. That's how it looks from the outside. On the one hand it has been great to have a job that is so flexible that I can host visitors for weeks (cumulatively months) out of the year. But on the other, I miss working with other people and having a requirement of 40 hours a week in an office.

In a nutshell my job consists of making sure there are two spaces after a period, not one, and updating an occasional paragraph with new language. That's what I do right now. I copy and paste. Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V. Over and over again. I spent three years in law school and $80K to copy and paste for a living. I'd love to sit over my computer and put in 40 hours a week, because while the work is mind-numbingly boring, it still pays well. But I can't. I just can't. It's like the career part of my mind is dissolving. I'm to the point that I'm thinking of just abandoning the idea of a career for a while and staying home to be a mom. Oh wait, that's right - we haven't been able to have kids. Hilarious.

Zac is concerned that the military life is holding me back from being success in my field of choice, law. He's concerned with how unhappy I am with my lack-of-career. Of course I point out to him that many of law friends are not working as attorneys and aren't necessarily happy with their jobs either. If Zac and I were both civilians there is no guarantee that things would be any different for me. Zac has seen me in action when it comes to volunteering - he knows how much time and effort I put into being an ombudsman and COMPASS. He knows I'm capable of dedication and hard work, he just hasn't seen it in any way that adds dollars to the checking account or in a way that is connected to all that highfalutin schooling I got.

I have a job. I'm grateful to have something that provides income. But I'm frustrated. I am hoping that when we move it will provide the impetus that I need to try and get into some sort of new job, but that's still possibly six months in the future. So I guess I'll continue to tread water for awhile, not moving backwards but also not moving towards anything better. I'm hoping that some day Zac gets to see me a successful working woman because it's really crummy that he hasn't seen it yet.