Psycho Pigeon Week

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— 1 —

After finally deciding to proceed with bariatric surgery, then changing my mind about ten times before deciding on which type to have I finally made my choice and proceeded with the workup. I’m going to have a gastric sleeve (more info on choices here) and so had to have an EGD to look for any abnormalities in my upper GI tract that could cause problems during the surgery. Aside from a little gastritis all was well, which was a miracle considering the stress of the last few years combined with daily anti-inflammatory medication.

— 2 —

 It was absolutely the easiest procedure I’ve ever had, start to finish. I was due one, right? Seriously, I had blood draws by the home health nurse from Hell that were worse than this.  Everyone was polite, friendly, and helpful. Except for the pigeon.

— 3 —

Since I arrived mid-morning the parking structure was full. I literally had to park on the roof. John and I had to go down a flight of stairs to get to the elevator. At the landing this huge pigeon started dive-bombing us. My natural response was to scream, curse, and run. John just ran, so he didn’t look like such an idiot when we reached the open part of the parking garage, which we had to cross to get to the elevator (handicapped accessible my ass). Of course there was a women getting out of her car, and I would have been completely embarrassed except that John started talking about how he thought the pigeon had a knife, and he was pretty sure it had a teardrop tattoo under its eye. By the time we got to the elevators I was laughing hysterically.

— 4 —

I had originally planned on going alone, and just having Michael pick me up when he finished work. But I was really glad I took John. You should always take someone entertaining to any medical procedures. He even signed me out because Michael wasn’t there yet when I woke up enough for the surgeon to tell me my results and the nurse to give me my discharge instructions.

— 5 —

In fact, I was still relaxed enough from the diprivan for John to drive me home (following Michael,  of course). I remember telling him he was a really good driver except for the one stop sign he ignored. At that point I think he just wanted to get me home ASAP so he wouldn’t have to listen to my nonsensical ramblings.

— 6 —

I’m looking forward to the surgery. Once you’ve had someone cut your neck open and shove aside your trachea, esophagus, and major blood vessels and then yank out stuff compressing your spinal cord and line your vertebrae back up like dog-chewed brio track someone fishing around in my gut does not worry me. My only concern is that I get pain pills and muscle relaxers for my neck postop.

— 7 —

Next job: dividing all my clothes by size, so that I’ll have what I need ready as I lose weight. It’s going to be an adventure, and as always you’re all welcome to join me for the highs and lows :)

For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t The Lyceum!

Listen

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After last week’s Vacation earworm I tried to stay away from songs for this week’s prompt at Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop. Hopefully this one won’t stick with you all week 😉

I try to be a good listener. It’s not as easy lately, since I have these voices in my head saying, “My neck really hurts. I need to lie down. Right now.” or “We haven’t had a family vacation in eight years. Do you truly expect me to be sympathetic that the master bedroom in your condo on the beach only had a queen-size bed?” or “Does he use Nerium? Would she be interested in Nerium?”. That last one is kind of like “Squirrel!” to a dog for all Nerium representatives. We’re the Jehovah’s Witnesses of skin care and anti-aging. We want to fix all of your skin issues, head-to-toe, and we want to make every neuron in your brain and central nervous system healthy . . . and we want to tell you all about it now!

Those issues aside I think I’m a good listener, and that I communicate well. Even over the phone I can almost always tell when someone is lying or telling a partial truth. Even a sociopath I worked with for a while had a very obvious “tell”, which makes no sense because he shouldn’t have felt any guilt about lying, right? Go figure. I’ve only run across two people in my life whose lies I could never spot. One had, I suspect, invented her own version of reality. Since she believed it, she wasn’t lying. The other would have made a brilliant actor. He could look me straight in the eye and say, “There’s a dragon in the hallway” and even though I knew he was lying I’d have to peek outside to be sure. It’s a shame I never learned to play poker.

I almost never call someone out on a lie, though. I’ve chosen my battles with the boys (Michael included), and the only consistent exception is when someone I care about says they’re “fine” and I know they’re not. I never want to pry, so usually I send a text or email a few minutes later, saying I’m worried and am available to talk at any time. Sometimes life sucks, but you’re just not up to talking about it. I get that. But sometimes you need to.

Good communication skills involve listening to and mirroring a person’s speech patterns and cadence, mirroring their body language, maintaining eye contact, and asking open-ended questions. When I read that in Psych 101 I remember thinking, “Who the hell doesn’t know that?” Well, lots of people, apparently. I blame my dad. He’s an engineer and he really wanted to teach me Trigonometry in first grade, but I wanted to play jacks instead. So I suspect he taught me the psych stuff without me knowing it. I know that of I asked him all I’d get would be a grin. Both of us say y’all – but not all the time. And both of our Southern accents lighten and deepen – depending on what’s called for. Mom has a Harlan Country accent that hasn’t changed in my lifetime and her y’all is as firmly ensconced as her all-UK wardrobe. So my money’s on Dad.

On the flip side of the communication coin I don’t mind public speaking, even when the crowd is large or questions are involved. Just don’t make me keep my hands still. My mom still says if somebody tied my hands I wouldn’t be able to say a word. Probably true. The one aspect of communication it’s taken me a long time to master is talking to people I’m angry with. I can talk to people I dislike very easily. I am a well-brought-up Southern girl. But if it’s someone who has in any way hurt me or (worse) someone I love . . . then the redneck really wants to come out. The only way I’ve found so far is to completely avoid the person (like I’m now able to do with a close family member who recently emailed me never to contact him again about anything – such a relief!) or be professional.

When I say professional I don’t mean formal, distant body language, nor do I mean disguising the matter to be discussed in euphemisms. I mean speak to the person privately. Step close, lower your voice so they have to lean in to hear you. Make constant eye contact, speak slowly and distinctly, and make it quick. Don’t repeat yourself unless the person you are speaking to doesn’t understand. If you must repeat yourself, be blunt. One sentence. You’re fired. You and your family are never welcome in my home again. I have reported your behavior to your supervisor. I am going today to get a restraining order. “Brevity is the soul of wit.” Once you have a nod or some sort of acknowledgement that this is understood smile, thank the asshat for understanding, and get out. (You can forego the smile and thank-you if you are neither female nor Southern, but I find it rounds things out nicely.)

What are your best and most-used tips for active listening and effective communication personally and professionally? And how do you handle those pesky social in-between things like your kids’ team sports or group activities where there is always a communication break-down?

Vacation! The 80’s ROCK!

Thanks, Kathy! *insert sarcastic tone* One of the prompts this week over at Mama Kat’s Writers’ Workshop is . . . VACATION. Ever since I read the email I’ve been hearing this song in my head. I graduated from high school in 1984 (Go, Defenders!) and LOVED the GoGos. Not as much as Prince, but I loved them. Start this at :44.

Doesn’t that feel great? Don’t you feel like you can go out and do anything? The 80’s: best music, best movies . . . and really scary hair and fashion. Thank God we didn’t have the internet then! There are very few pictures of me with my girl-mullet and miniskirts. We called the cut a bi-level and thought we looked like Pat Benatar. I still know all the words to her songs. And honey, I could rock a miniskirt. I weighed about 110 then. Nowadays I’d most likely use the same piece of fabric for a sock bun.

Back then the purpose of a vacation was meeting guys and getting a tan. I “laid out in the sun” (an activity that is nearly at the level of IV drug abuse these days) with baby oil and iodine. We didn’t have “sunscreen”. We had “tanning lotion”. Of course that’s why I’m still fighting my last bits of sun damage with Nerium – but it felt great! I saw concerts before Ticketmaster existed. I sat overnight with wet hair for Rolling Stones tickets! Sadly, it was the 1981 tour and it sucked. I went to the RUSH Moving Pictures concert in Rupp with someone else, never knowing that my husband-to-be was in the audience, too. I got thrown up on at the Stones show (I blame the sharply angled seats at Rupp), got a contact high at a Moody Blues concert (don’t ask – really), and saw Adam Ant at Memorial Coliseum. A friend of mine even got the artist to sign his painting! Then another guy dressed up as Adam Ant, kind of as a joke, for the school mascot tryouts. We had a burly cartoon guy with leather fringe (kind of Davy Crockett meets Hulk Hogan) as the “Defender” on, um, I guess orientation packets and things. But since the guy wearing the Adam Ant costume had a leather jacket with fringe and no one in charge had any idea who Adam Ant was we were extremely cool for one year. The guy was one of those seniors who actually graduated. Some stayed longer because it was so much fun :)

I totally can’t dance, but for many years I thought I could because in the 80’s all people had to do was hop up and down. Flinging you hair around got bonus points (male or female). Slam-dancing was a big thing, and I patched up a few friends after injuries. I was also the person who would pierce people’s ears if they wanted. It was usually guys, but sometimes a girl would want another piercing. This was before people started piercing naughty bits, mind you. I only did ears! The worst? A huge football player that ended up playing for the Bengals briefly. I thought he was going to pass out on my feet and break my toes. Thankfully there were some other really big guys there to hold him up.

I even got called in early to work one Saturday because I’d pierced the assistant manager’s ear at a party the night before and he’d changed his mind. The fact that it was a 2-inch long white glittery spiral may have had something to do with it, but they were the only earrings I had on my at the time. I work with what I have! These experiences are probably what led me to check the “College of Nursing” box on my UK application. That and the fact that Physics made my brain hurt.

Thanks for letting me reminisce. Please drop by Kathy’s place and see what inspired everyone else this week. I’m betting I’m the only one with a GoGos video 😉

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Anything worth doing can be done in jammies!