Friday, July 16, 2010

Beware the Ides of July

Warning - very long and eventful.

Actually, really long and eventful. Feel free to scroll to the end, hit "comment" and tell me to learn to edit.

No one died in the creation of this post.

It all began on Bastille Day.

Wednesday, Paris goes to visit her FDC Mum Lorikeet and play with her two new friends. It was the 3rd time she had made such a jaunt - the first time she was bemused, the second time was cut short due to visitors - isn't third time the charm?

Wednesday, and I had been at a meeting the night before for one of my part-time jobs for a local community organisation. Much, much bureaucratic work is required of me in a very short time-frame - with many "I never saw it", "I didn't have it" and "I gave it to you" moments regarding the actual files and folders that are the difference between winging it (yeah right) and just tweaking a bit of this and that...

Therefore, first job on my agenda was to do a treasure hunt in the office. The office is approximately 3 strides long by 2 hops wide. There are 2 doors - but one door is covered by one of the two cupboards. There are also 2 filing cabinets, a desk, 2 chairs and 12 archive boxes. Cupboards are full of files, archive boxes and obsolete computer equipment. Filing cabinets are full of files. Archive boxes are full of files and obsolete computer equipment. The computer is empty. The airconditioner doesn't work. Its okay - its winter.

I began the treasure hunt with the archive boxes, recording what is in each so if ever we need to find the letters regarding a certain project in 2001, I can lay my hands on them. Nothing is younger than 6 years old.

I move then to the first cupboard (after looking briefly into the second cuboard and seeing another 4 archive boxes and a shelf of obsolete computer equipment). Again, I record what is there, so if we are looking for projects ranging from 1998 - 2005, I am your girl.

As I get to the bottom of this cupboard, I notice that I have welts appearing on my midriff. Of course, I give it a good itch, shrug it off and keep going. I have to find what I can and I am sure if I set my mind to it, it will go away.

As I get to the bottom of this cupboard, I also notice more bloddy obsolete computer equipment. Disks that slots are no longer built for, answering machines for phones that no longer exist - and a box with an external hard drive.

My interest is piqued. I plug it in to the computer and emit a "Eureka" as all the files I will require are contained on it.

I also notice that I am no longer scratching the welts across my tum - I am scratching my shoulder - and my leg - and my arm - and my boobs - and my ears...

I have to go home to pump in the absense of Paris anyhow, but I have to find two more paper files for the last of the "must do" list. I "eenie-meenie-minie-mo-ed" the filing cabinets and struck gold immediately.

I pack the external drive and relevant paper files and go out to the car, noticing my hands are swelling and very itchy. I think perhaps the oldness of the paper or something has dried my skin out, so I hydrate heavily on the drive home.

When I got home, V had lunch organised and, although my hands were still itching all else was good so I took a Clarrytyne (spelt incorrectly for a reason), chalked it up to "stuff happens" and filed it all away.

Paris - well, they say third time is the charm, but I have the feeling she didn't spend a great deal of energy on charming Lorikeet...

Thursday dawns, and my hands are so itchy. This happens from time to time, so I take another tablet and it limits itself to just being annoying beneath the fingernails. I had a bit of a run around morning planned with my own bureacratic dealings. Paris was a bit narky at me and quite uncompliant in the "going to sleep to let Mummy get organised" phase of the morning, but otherwise it only took about twice as long as it should have, as is the wont of bureacratic dealings.

I also got a phone call for some more work required, so I made plans to meet with prospective client Friday. Woo hoo - I can't actually chase full-time work while I have my other temp job going this month as the client's are overseas and I place a great deal on the honour of holding their fort.

I made a phone call to an electrician, as I have organised installation of a new kitchen for the P&C (I am to learn to SIT ON MY HANDS and have no more bright ideas in meetings) and, as they are due the next day want to make sure someone is around if they have questions. Electrician will call me back with a more precise time. I call the school to ensure that if that doesn't happen, someone will have a key there at any time. I call the convenor to see if she wants to add anything. I think I have every base covered.

By lunchtime, my feet are itchy as, so I dose up with the anti-histamine again, give Paris to V and head off to my other job. This job is in an office that is a beautiful old Queensland cottage sadly in need of a renovate.

Again, it involves lots and lots of paper, some of it quite old and a lot of it very messy. This is a very busy job with phones and faxes and instruction through email and Skype and fanning fires and putting out fires. The alternate afternoons I am contracted to keep this office running while the bosses are overseas are extremely full on. As the bosses are touring Europe, my afternoons are their very early mornings.

By the end of the 3 hours I am wiped, and duly send of my timesheet to the agency and close down the computer. "This computer will install 4 updates. Please do not turn off. It will turn off automatically after installing." Great. Except that I have to unplug and put the computer in a safe place before leaving.

I tidy the desk. 1 of 4 updates installed. I look at the sea of tidying required in areas I tiptoe through - and remember the maker of such mess requesting I not tidy it as "he knew where everything was". 2 of 4 updates installed. I check the front door - funny, it hasn't latched properly after I checked the mailbox at the beginning of my stint. It takes a bit to get the lock to latch, but I get it done and deadlocked. Side note relevant later - This door can only be locked from the inside, as there is no handle on the outside to shut it..) 3 of 4 updates installed. I fill the fax machine and ring home to tell them I will be late. 3 of 4 updates installed. I go to the toilet and look at 4 more areas desparately in need of a good tidy. 3 of 4 updates installed. I straighten up the files I am in charge of and put notes in all the right spots. 3 of 4 updates installed. I stare at the computer. 3 of 4 updates installed. I stare at the computer. 3 of 4 updates installed. I stare at the computer. 4 of 4 updates installed. Yaaa hoo. I put the computer away.

Only 20 minutes late. 20 minutes that aren't on my timesheet and aren't approved by my client. 20 minutes I could have been with my family. 20 minutes I could really do with the money from. Still, its only 20 minutes and the balance sheet of life will even out.

I deadlock the back door, check I have my keys and put all of my stuff outside. I set the alarm - I have seconds between this action and getting outside. I dash outside and pull the door shut - and it won't latch. I pull - click - not locked - and pull - click - not locked. Expletive deleted.

I go back inside and switch off the alarm (remember - only seconds between movement and alarm set allowed), check I have my keys in my hand, try to latch - click - not locked - click - not locked - click - not locked. I look carefully at the latch and determine the problem is not a case of sagging hinges (as is often the problem of old doors) but rather the opposite (which would indicate shifting frame). I pull and put my immense bulk behind a judicious push downward on the latch - click - it locked!!!

I undeadlock the door, set the alarm, race outside, pull down hard on the door - click - not locked. Expletive deleted.

I go back inside, switch off the alarm and contemplate Plan B. I dig out the computer again, switch it on and log onto Skype. Skype won't start. Try another Skye shortcut. Skype won't start. Click every shortcut for Skype I can find. Click on Skype program from the program list. Eventually 4 Skypes open all at once - but they all say one thing. The client has left the virtual building (and didn't have to worry about latching locks) and probably is enjoying a croissant in the French countryside.

Darn, darn, darn, darn, darn. Plan C. I toss out the tempting thought of just setting off the alarm and scarpering, making it the security company's problem. I contemplate the client's elderly parents and look at the numbers they have given me - none of which have "in case the house won't lock, try..." Finally, I rang my agency and asked what I should do.

The boss immediately offered to hop in his car and come and assess the situation. While waiting for him, I tried a few more click - didn't lock combinations (always ensuring I had the keys on my person - its not THAT sort of adventure).

The hundred and eleventieth try, it locked. Of course, I hadn't done the whole "set alarm, deadlock door" routine beforehand because I no longer believed in the possibility. I went back in and deadlocked, set the alarm, pulled - click - didn't lock. Aaargh. Alarm off. Wait for Agency Boss. Patient-expletive deleted-ly.

Agency boss arrives, tries the click a few times and agrees it is a problem. However, he was a man with a solution - a 7 inch solution. He drew out a screwdriver and, with a little leverage we got it to lock. Hoo-ray. Oh.

Unlock, go back inside, check deadlock, set alarm, race outside, pull with judicious placement of screwdriver, click - and latch.

5 o'clock. An hour late. 1 hour that isn't on my timesheet and aren't approved by my client. 1 hour that I could have been with my family. 1 hour that I could really do with the money from. Still, its only 1 hour and the balance sheet of life will even out. Won't it?

My hands are so itchy on the way home, but after all that working with old stuff and the last hour, stress will do that.

Darn. The electrician hasn't called. As V has been really relied on in the past week while I have worked, I wanted to organise the morning out so he can get a few hours study in (he is doing Building Design - a natural progression for a kneecapped bricklayer with attention to detail). Oh well, if the electrician advice isn't an entertainment option I have an ABA playgroup I can take her to. Cool idea.

I email the clients telling them my adventure (in a much shorter fashion) and offer my services to facilitate a handyman as I will be in town around 1 for a business meeting.

Then I settled and enjoyed an anniversary evening with my husband (we celebrate many, but this one is 4 years since meeting IRL) of sleeping in front of the television and holding hands, then joined by a no-longer-sleeping-through-the-night Paris.

Friday, and lord my hands are itchy. V threatens the doctor but it must be just stress. No electrician call, so I cook pikelets for the playgroup, gently nudge 'Salina towards completion of an avalanche of homework (first week back) a meltdown, take another tablet, feed Paris who decides, contrary to the Thursday experience, she will sleep well and early for the morning nap.

I rang 'Salina's teacher to ask about a meeting to get a few strategies together for the ever so helpful to everyone in her class 'Salina and discover that most kids got the wrong end of the stick with the avalanche, and were only required to outline the project.

By the way, administration wants to talk to you as the electrician has arrived. As I am assuring administration that I will be there in 5 minutes, my mobile rings - it is the school. I reject the call. When I hang up the landline, it rings again and wakes Paris. It is another member of the administration team telling me the electrician has arrived. I advise that I will now be there in 10 minutes, as the baby is awake.

As I am only going to be there for a short time, I leave Paris with V, dress and race up to the school. The electrician they have sent is not the electrician who put together the quote.

He didn't know he had to cut a hole for the stovetop. He has never cut a hole before.

He didn't get them to unlock the storeroom door as he didn't know he had to do stuff in there. He can't install the range as the range has to have special fixtures to make it pretty and we don't have special fixtures. He can't install the range as it has to be higher than if he attaches it where it needs to be attached. He can't work out that if the range is set into the cupboard above both problems are solved. That would require cutting a hole. He has never cut a hole before.

He needs the manhole. The manhole is in a second storeroom that the key I have gained to open the first storeroom won't open. He goes to get his lecky tools and I go for another key - and another key - and finally the fourth key works.

The electrician doesn't return. I call V to see if all is well with Paris. No answer. I call the convenor to see if she wants in on the electrician fun - she is coming up to check it out.

The electrician doesn't return. I rearrange the first storeroom so he can work in there. I rearrange the kitchen so boxes aren't all over the place. I call V to see if all is well with Paris. I can tell by the tone when he answers that the whole "morning of study" I had promised him was an option he had been in a mindset to pursue.

The electrician doesn't return. The convenor comes up and we finish unpacking all the boxes in the kitchen. I start to contemplate the abduction of the electrician. As I decide that I should call his employers and see if an emergency is holding him up, he saunters back.

As the convenor is there, I feel confident to go and collect Paris before I come back to see if the work is going in the right direction, because thus far the electrician hasn't filled me with confidence.

I go home for a timely snipe with V, collect Paris and a few pikelets for the convenor and return.

During my absense, it has been determined that the electrician and the convenor have certain hobbies in common and he will be fine giving us a call when he finishes for us to move the fridges into position and sign off on the project. As the jigsaw is screaming and I am feeling a bit itchy - no doubt from stress - I agree to this, reminding that I have a work meeting at 1 which I am assured is okay, as it will be well before then.

I return home, V and I resolve our spat and Paris requests a feed. As I am feeding her, V and I discuss her current bowel status (the romantic talk of parents of babies) and I mentioned that I wasn't actually feeling crash hot. As I thought about it, I realise my throat is sort of - well, not really sore, but a bit tight. The itchiness is back in my hands - and as I removed Paris from the boob, see that my whole bosom is bright fire-engine red.

I mention it to V - I am not dying or gasping for breath, but it isn't normal. I rang my family chemist - she recommended seeing the doctor. I rang the doctor - how does Thursday next week sound? Running late and overbooked. Darn. Everything itches now, and the red is moving down my stomach and my hands are swollen.

As Paris has just gone down, I decide I will drive myself in to the hospital for someone to look at it, with a "I promise I won't be a martyr and will call 000 if I start to black out" to V. My car had the baby seat in - but as it also had the fuel in and V didn't need to go anywhere with Paris, I drove my car.

I rang the potential new client to advise her of the possible movement of her appointment, but she had her phone switched off. There are still hours until the meeting so I am cool with that.

In emergency it took an age before triage (I eventually rattled the administrative staff up - who had looked back at me for 20 minutes - asking if I was meant to be at another place). I would have placed me between the "time wasting - not going to die today" and "my goodness this is dire" categories myself, but once she heard the words "throat tightening" she acted with alacrity and found me a gurney in the hallway behind the scenes.

I confessed to breastfeeding but having a baby that will take a bottle if required. They stuck me with needles that meant she would have to take the bottle option for a day. They gave me tablets. They inserted a line and said "this will make you very drowsy - can someone come and collect you", at which I had to admit no - so gave me a fancy version of the tablets I had been self-medicating with.

I then had a long, long time waiting for the rash to start clearing. By this time, it was raised and livid up my throat, down my arms, all over my torso, on parts of my thighs and, from the feeling of my scalp, all over my head.

I learned a lot of enlightening things during my wait. The World Cup was rehashed (as many of the doctors were from all corners of the globe it appeared a spirited point of commonality). Someone had a glass in their throat. The baby on the other gurney in the corridor was so cute (affirmed by every passing staff member). I am so lucky. Someone had trouble understanding that alcohol shows up in the blood tests they had taken for her. I am not pregnant (one of the "we have to rule this out because we have no idea of the cause of the rash" things). Tattoes do not look good when set off by lilac hospital gowns. When someone is pronouced dead before arriving at the hospital, their details aren't put into the emergency system. One of the nurses is going to have a boy in seven months. Another has 5 grandchildren. The ambulance brought in a man in work clothes with something solid being held from his stomach - from the blanket outline, I am assuming a dagger. No doctor was officially assigned to me, hence the wait.

Anyhow - now nearly Saturday and I have a sleeping baby (so bottle feeds, crying because no access to boob and self-settling has its upside) I have just resettled Paris who has decided that Formula will no longer be contemplated as an option, so we have a finite amount of expressed milk to play with - and a blooming long unedited post for you to wade through.

I didn't get to my 1 pm. I explained to her why I had disappeared off the face of the earth, and I could hear her struggle between the "oh my, you obviously aren't dead, come and meet me for work anyway" and "oh my, you could have died - but you didn't so come and meet me for work anyway" and "oh my, I suppose throwing a baby into the mix is so pathetic, when are you coming to meet me for this work" camps. I didn't get back to the electrician. I explained to the convenor, the principal and the administrative staff why I had disappeared off the face of the earth and wasn't contactable. They were more sympathetic.

All well here now, however. Still getting little itchy flares and the occasional red showing up here and there, but the drugs are battling hardy, and I am sure that most of it is psychosomatic or my hypochondria kicking in.


Leenie said...

Whew! Jeanie, you live a high stress life! Felt like I was watching an episode of the "I Love Lucy" show. (I know you get it there. I watched Crocodile Duneee-"Yeah, seen it.")

Now I'm starting to itch. Sheesh! Do you think it's contageous?

Debby said...

Holy cow! What was that? Allergy? Stress? Dunno? Sounds perfectly awful, and it doesn't sound like anything is settling down any time soon.


(as long as you're not contagious, that is...)

BB said...

Look after yourself, baby sister!!!

Jayne said...

Hope you're better soon!
Can you identify what it was that you reacted to, just so you can avoid a repeat performance?

Anonymous said...

Holy cow indeed! What was it? Is it? Look after yourself!!

River said...

Sounds to me like some miniscule bug breding in all those old paper files might have given you an un-noticed bite and you reacted badly. Old, old paperwork is often full of breeding things, lice, dust mites etc.
I suggest spraying all that old stuff with a good insecticide or Baygon. Double up on the antihistamine before going anywhere near it.