Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
comic strip overdue media

Thursday, November 05, 2015


Earlier this evening I hurt my neck, and spasms have gone down all the way to my lower back. At first I could barely move it at all. Now I'm mostly okay when going to the left, but moving it to the right sends pain through the muscles of the neck and down into my back. I was having pain and a little numbness in my foot and hand on the left side earlier; now I'm not sure. I did come home and immediately took a very low dose of tizanidine, a muscle relaxer, and half a Percocet that I had left over from my knee surgery last year. I almost never take anything stronger than ibuprofen or acetaminophen, but the pain was the type that took your breath away. I am having trouble bending down at all, because the spasms went down to my lower back and it's messed up as well. The midback muscles are tight and the pain reaches around to right under the shoulders into the sides and even into my pectoral muscles on the chest. So I'm pretty stiff and while not in the pain I was, I still hurt. I have cervical degenerative disc disease anyway, which translates to bulging discs in my neck, and my neck curvature is opposite of what it's supposed to be, on a straight and J-shaped spine rather than the normal S-curve. So it's easy to make it worse. If I still feel bad tomorrow, I'll try to get in to my doctor's office for an evaluation.

I laid down about 7 pm and woke up just before midnight, feeling pretty decent until I moved. Apparently in that time I moved over to my left side and got my pillow back (I had been keeping my neck straight on the mattress). When I moved to my right side, it was a different story. I went ahead and got up. I'm eating a breakfast sandwich and thought I'd post on my week so far. I know I haven't really done much writing the last few days. Sorry about that. Sunday was the game, of course, and I don't normally write then because, well, I'm usually pretty tired afterwards, especially when we play late, which we did, till about 9:30, and I got home around 10:30 pm, so I'd been over there about 13 and a half hours, and we played about seven.

I think I mentioned that I was feeling overwhelmed at work. If not, let me do so now. I'm working three positions in a standard 40-hour work week, and I'm non-exempt, meaning I clock in and out and should not have overtime. On Monday morning I was in scheduling from 9 am-noon, had lunch, and then my temporary boss asked me to come back from 2-3 pm since a couple of people were leaving at 2. I did so, but wound up there till 3:45 pm. Then I desperately started tackling the backlog of charge sheets I had to enter. I usually work on the same day or maybe the day after at the most. Monday I was working on a giant stack from last Wednesday, where we'd had a very crazy busy clinic. I couldn't work down a list like usual because it had been more than the same day or the day before, so I had to look each encounter up by financial number, which slowed me down, and also, some numbers had been punched through and I had to look them up by medical record number instead, which further slowed me down.

My regular boss came by to ask me about the referral queue, which normally has about 7 or so encounters on it in a 10-day period at the beginning of the week, and had 65 or so this time. I simply have not been able to work it down, and it has crept up each week that I've worked in scheduling, then jumped up this past week, with all the charge sheets I got. He found me sitting there attempting to get through my giant stack of charges, and we wound up having a long talk about how it's affecting my work. I was very candid. I also admitted that I'm not particularly assertive, and probably shouldn't have agreed to help extra when I was so far behind, but I hadn't expected to be there for almost an additional hour. I also told him that I've been having to use almost every moment I'm not in scheduling to try to keep up with the revenue cycle job. I'm even further behind on the library; I've done a few interlibrary loans and troubleshot the copiers or helped others with the computers, but otherwise, no, I haven't been doing much to keep the library going. I have a large stack of books that are stacked up about four feet tall behind my desk. I need to put out new journals, and have two large stacks of them. There are some donated books I was going to put out but haven't. The clinical early literacy programme cart hasn't been filled--that sort of thing. And I told him all this.

On Tuesday, I went in early and was finally able to, between the hour and a half I had in the quiet of the morning and then being able to work between phone calls in scheduling, I was able to get through Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday's charges, then picked up Monday's and did them. I also worked on the monthly audit, various reports, and caught up on the OR charge reconciliation. My temporary boss came by and we talked for awhile. Instead of working three days and 12-15 hours a week over in scheduling, we decided I wouldn't come in on Wednesday, and then each Friday for the next three weeks we'd decide on one day for me to come by and help depending on my schedule and workload and their clinic numbers and staffing. In about three weeks, they'll have more information about when or if the person I'm sitting in for will return, so there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I felt a lot better after I talked to her.

Today I went in and really hit the referral queue, and got some of it down. I'll do more tomorrow. I did the normal OR reconciliation (I do it every day, normally). I did the rest of the sheets from yesterday and the ones they had for today by about 2 pm. Then at 3:30 I needed to leave for a doctor's appointment. I went to it, got some refill prescriptions for my psych meds, and then went to the pharmacy and picked up a friend's medication. I went over there briefly, at which point the neck injury happened, and I came on home. Which bring us back around to the present. Tomorrow I hope to really bring the referral queue down, especially by Friday, as a report is run Monday. If I can do that, I'll be in better shape. The plan is to totally catch up and then be in good shape for when I go to Chicago later in the month, as I'll miss two days.

Did I mention my itinerary for the Chicago trip? I think I may have. Anyway, I fly out of Lexington at 6 am on a Thursday to Atlanta, with an hour and a half to navigate through that nightmare of an airport, and then into Chicago O'Hare, travel by train to the Medical District, check into the hotel, and go to the meeting. The next day I leave the hotel, go by train to Midway, and then fly to Detroit, where I have an hour and a half layover, before getting into Lexington about 3 pm. So I'll be doing a lot of travelling, and I'll travel four states, five airports, that sort of thing, all for a four-hour meeting. :) Ah, well. I saw the forecast for Chicago that went right up to my trip, and it looks like it'll be in the upper 40s, low 50s while I'm there, although I don't know the rain chance yet--the day before is 20%. I did e-mail them today about the hotel--I hadn't heard anything yet, but they've reserved the block of rooms but are waiting for the confirmations from the hotel, so all is well. Tomorrow I need to e-mail the Kentucky Medical Library Association to get their input before the trip (they have a meeting on the 10th, and while I can't make it to Louisville, will attempt to join the meeting remotely), and also I need to ask them if they want me to continue being the state representative to this committee now that the University of Chicago at Illinois is in its last year of a five-year contract, or if they'd like to appoint someone else in the upcoming cycle. I've really enjoyed being able to participate and the travel has been wonderful, as I never have had a travel budget at work, have never gone to a major conference, that sort of thing. I did miss one year, the 2012 meeting, when I got hit by the car and broke my ankle, but I've been to Chicago now three times, and I'm about to go again. Last time I was able to stay an extra day at my own expense and experience a little more of the town, including going to the Field Museum. I can't do that this time, but still, I'm looking forward to it (although maybe not that many airports!) And this time I can mark Michigan off of the number of states I've been to. :) I think that makes just over half. Anyway, I'm grateful for the opportunity, but someone else might want a chance to do it, and it would be a good time to change, since either UIC or someone else will start the new contract cycle next year.

Okay, I think I'm going to go on back to bed. It's been an hour of sitting and I'm hurting a little. Good night!

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