Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Happy Birthday to Me

Image of a Boston Scientific Implantable Cardioverter-Defibrillator.
I received one of the best birthday presents a few days prior to my 47th birthday. I now have an Implantable Cardioverter-Defibrillator (ICD) in my chest and heart (i.e., a defibrillator/pacemaker device). The surgery was considered to be an "outpatient" procedure with just an overnight stay in the hospital. I'm now rounding out my second day after the implant, and I've been on a steady stream of Tylenol and ice packs to help with managing the pain. Not too shabby, considering that I am now part robot. This was not at all an emergency procedure, and I feel very, very lucky as a result.

Two years ago I was diagnosed with Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, or HCM for short. This is a genetic heart condition. Hypertrophic translates literally as, "too much growth," and it means that the septum wall of my heart is too thick due to a genetic defect of the manner in which my heart's cells are built. Over time, the heart has difficulty pumping blood because the lower chambers become too small. The heart then overcompensates and starts working really hard, and that puts me at risk for sudden cardiac arrest. It's an electrical issue, not a plumbing issue. Plumbing issues cause heart attacks; electrical issues cause sudden cardiac arrest. Since it's genetic, it's apparently been with me my entire life. Gee thanks, ancestors.

I learned I had this condition during a physical exam just before turning 45. During a routine EKG due to hypertension, they found an oddity that led me to having a bunch of other tests done. I was originally on a list to have a defibrillator implanted at LFU's hospital, but I sought a second opinion from a Center of Excellence for the disorder. I repeated all of said tests (sigh), and they said basically, "You're fine for now. Come back in two years."

Fast-forward two years to present day. Here in BAC, I established with a cardiologist and was pleased to learn that the hospital affiliated with my current employer, PRU, is also a Center of Excellence for HCM. The surgeon is the head of the center for implanted heart devices here, so in other words she does NOT suck. She said, "You don't have to do this immediately. But if you were my favorite cousin, I'd go ahead and get the defibrillator implanted soon." One has a 5% chance of surviving a sudden cardiac arrest, but those go up to a 95% survival rate with an implanted defibrillator. As you can imagine, I followed the advice of the surgeon and used the available data to make the decision to proceed with the surgery.

My advice to anyone, especially to men who typically do not seek routine medical attention, is 1) go to your doctor once per year for a physical exam, and 2) when dealing with a major medical diagnosis, seek a second opinion from a Center of Excellence for your disorder, even if it involves a trip out of town. It really makes a huge difference.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Re-Energizing in the Old Routine

This is my second time starting a new position in about two years. While I do enjoy changes, I also enjoy familiarity. I feel like I can easily land on two ends of a spectrum, so it's tough for me to work out issues of my own self-awareness in this context.

(I'm not sure if that makes much sense, but this is my blog and I don't expect many others to read this.)

Also, I'm realizing more and more that I'm finishing up my TENTH year in what is really the same job. I've had the pleasure of working at, now, three different institutions in these ten years, but man that's a long time for a dude who doesn't mind change. Guess I'm hanging out with my familiarity side of the spectrum more than I thought before pondering the time that has passed.

Sometimes I wonder if I should have moved "up" in the administrative chain during this time. However, I do like what I do, and I daresay each lateral move in this decade has brought my role up in the chain of institutional prestige and salary. So that's pretty darn good. Also, at this point in my career I feel very little stress over the work I do because I know what the fuck I'm doing. And that's an awfully nice thing.

When I was younger I thought I would have been bored doing a similar role for ten years. But I'm still learning a great deal and I'm settling in. I'm far from perfect at what I do, and I still feel like I have plenty to learn, so that's probably what's keeping me moving. Guess I should take advantage of the fact that I've got this, in terms of the every day. routine. Now I need to polish myself off a bit.

I've grown a lot in the past 5 years or so. I've also had two very challenging supervisors whom I respect as leaders but admittedly not as people I would otherwise choose to emulate. Also, suffice it to say I've had my fair share of working with others who were a bit toxic as colleagues. Thankfully I've learned a great deal from all of these folks, and about myself, during this time, but I'm glad to be through that change into a far better place (practically, mentally, emotionally, and physically).

So now I'm feeling re-energized and ready to get into true self-improvement in addition to carrying on good work. I think that's what sustaining oneself in a career is all about - re-energizing, re-creating, and self-improvement.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Opportunity to Start Fresh

I am not one to rely on new year's resolutions as anything all that helpful, but I do find the time to be a bit re-charging especially after a long winter break as we tend to have in higher education. I emerge from the break a bit tired from mental and physical atrophy brought on by too much food and plenty of family celebrations. But that tiredness usually gets to a peak around New Year's Eve, and I'm ready to get back to work soon thereafter.

That brings me to this post. I need to view this new position as an opportunity to start it off right. There are so many opportunities here, I hardly know where to start and where to leave off. With so much information to gather into my head, it's getting a bit overwhelming. It's not a bad problem to have (far better than being bored!), but it's a problem nevertheless.

I may rely more on writing out my thoughts a bit more up here with the hope of mapping out the starting-over journey. Could become an interesting administrative article someday for how to take a whole bunch of new information in quickly and use it to do something new.

Or perhaps I'm just spinning plates too darn much.

Thursday, November 03, 2016

On the Move Again

We're off on yet another professional and personal adventure. Next month we will move to BAC (Big-@ss City) so I can start a job at PRU (Prestigious Research University). I'll do similar work to what I have been doing in institutional research, and I just can't wait to get started. The icing on the cake is that BAC is my home town, and I still have family and many friends in the area. It's a great opportunity for me professionally and also personally for my family.

Beyond excited! Anyone want to buy a house in VSLSC?

Thursday, May 19, 2016

On Turning 45

Last Tuesday I turned 45. As I mentioned before, birthdays ending with a 5 have been tough for me. However, at this birthday that was not nearly the case. I'm feeling more empowered by this particular milestone birthday. Wife told me she felt empowered with her age 40 milestone. For me, I felt a bit of that but not nearly as much as turning 45 has been. I think I know solidly how to "do" the 40s. I don't care nearly as much about what others think of my actions. I'm confident in my decision-making abilities and taking action on various aspects of my life.

Yeah, usually.

I mentioned the "acting on" stuff in my last post, too. I've started losing a bit of weight and dealing with some other health issues that have come up. None of these things are scary or otherwise setting me back. I am aware, however, that my time for taking this type of action will only be limited the longer I wait. So I'm not waiting anymore.

It's been a good week thus far. Empowerment by age is a nice thing.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Taking Action on Stuff

Well. It's been a while. Need to start exercising my writing habits, again.

No house updates at this time, though we're gearing up for some help with landscaping for the spring (today!) and have a few other projects on the wait list for now (flooring, some interior painting). We're still grateful to be living in a newer home that's already been updated in the last 25 years by the prior owner! A few photos forthcoming, so I can keep a good history of things.

Job front still is going very well. I am continuing to learn nuances about this particular institution every day, and that keeps it interesting and challenging. Better than being bored, that's for certain. I'm fortunate to work with great people all around.

Am needing to get going on a few writing projects. I realize that writing and publishing will be one of the better uses of my time in this job, albeit an administrative position. If I can work on a few pieces and also help others find time to write, it will only benefit this center both on and off campus. The trick will be finding the time to balance it all along with other unexpected demands that arise.

Another thing I'm working on is my health. I have a milestone birthday ending with a 5 this year. These milestones are always the ones that stress me out a bit, much more than those ending with a 0. Interesting. I need to eat better and exercise more. I've needed to do this on a more regular basis since I was in my late 20s. Hahahaha. It's nothing new. Just need to act on it...much like I need to act on writing. I wish "acting" wasn't viewed as a passive term when relating to movies or theater. It's more closely related to TAKING ACTION, so that's a better frame.

Rambling to myself in my public blog...again...

Friday, November 06, 2015

Mid-Career and Liking It

It occurred to me I a) haven't written in my blog in just over a year, and b) I do really enjoy and miss regular writing. I may take it up again to exercise my writing muscles by providing a few updates here and there.

This post is a brief reflection on my career. I consider myself to be in the beginning of my "middle aged" time, and I am also definitely mid-career. I like it. It's a good realization to actually enjoy one's career. I've been in higher education in some capacity for over 20 years now. That 20-year mark will be made official next summer when I will celebrate the 20-year anniversary of my master's degree in higher education. Earlier this week I celebrated the 5-year anniversary of earning my PhD in higher education. Time marches forward, and at the moment I feel I've usually used my time very well. Sometimes I felt it took a long while to complete my education, but if I look at it as an overall process, it's not like I'm "done" learning in my life. It's all one big ole process anyhow.

I enjoy directing the small research center here at LFU. It's been a good 15 months thus far, and I'm just beginning to get my grounding. That transition has taken quite a while, but here we are...transitioned in and moving ahead. I still have plenty to learn, but I'm certainly no longer "new" in this role anymore. Am at the time where I'm bringing about my own vision for the future of this center. That is both exciting and a little daunting at the same time, however, I definitely feel comfortable making these sorts of decisions based on my years of experience and steeped knowledge in this sort of assessment-y / research-y role. I look forward to working with the others in my department to help determine steps toward reaching that vision. If you had told me I'd be in this decision-making role at a LFU just a few years ago, I would have told you were you nuts. It's really cool to finally be at this point in my career.

It's also nice not to feel a huge push to consider what my next steps will be. And yet, I can visualize them pretty well. I will likely assume a role of AVP or VP for institutional effectiveness or something else in the long-range planning end of things to advise a president or a chancellor. I like the advisory, behind-the-scenes role. I think it suits me well to have some decision-making responsibilities but also to be supporting those who are on the front lines of our work. Sometimes I wonder if I want to be in a senior leadership role someday or whether or not I'd prefer the advisor-on-the-side sort of role I'm in now. Not sure yet, but fortunately there still is room for me to consider all sides and grow. And it seems that growth could occur here at LFU, so we may not be moving to Chesterley IV anytime soon, which is GOOD.

That's all for now. Next up will be some sort of a house update or two.