Friday, February 17, 2012

Brandi, 1978-2012

For those of you who have been following Brandi's blog, we want to let you know that she lost her battle with Cystic Fibrosis on Wednesday, February 15, 2012.

Brandi asked that donations be made in her honor to Great Strides. Here is the link to her memorial page:

Thank you for following Brandi and for your thoughts and prayers. She was a courageous and wonderful woman who has touched the lives of so many and who will be sorely missed.

Breathe easy, Brandi. We love you.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Hello? Hello! Anybody out there?

[peeping my head up out of the ground]

Wow.  I just realized that my last post was on July 29, 2011.  I honestly didn't realize I'd been gone that long.  You know what they say about having good intentions - I've been meaning to put pen to paper (or hand to keyboard) for quite a while but I have let time escape me.

I think most of my family and friends have kept up with me on Facebook, but I needed to write a longer post to write the update I've promised to so many.  I'm home from the hospital, but still not functioning at 100%.  I was in the hospital for 28 days in December (the second longest stay I've ever had), for a visit that just didn't go as planned.  Here's a quick overview of what's happened.

  • November 10th - Clinic visit.  PFTs were down and probably worthy of IV meds, but I wanted to try and "plan" my next admission so that it fell between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  My doctor and I made an agreement that I would be seen in two weeks and do a 14 day course of Avelox. He made me agree to an admission if my next FEV1 was less than 45%.
  • November 22nd - Clinic visit with my nurse practitioner.  An odd day, because my PFTs were actually higher than expected, but I sounded like a freight train was rumbling through my chest.  I "presented" as being sick, so my NP wanted to admit me.  Once again, I begged and pleaded my way to holding the admission until after Thanksgiving.  I was already scheduled to be off the remainder of the week (Wednesday, Turkey Day, and Black Friday), so I would be able to rest and finish out the 2nd course of antibiotics that my ENT had prescribed.  "Patient reluctantly agreed to admission on Monday" (as my nurse stated in my progress notes).
  • November 28th - Showed up (suitcase in hand) and prepared myself for 21 fun-filled days of doctors and antibiotics.  For all intents and purposes this was supposed to be a "routine" visit.  Through many years of trial and error, I have found that 21 days of antibiotics gives me my best outcome - bringing any infection under control and giving me a boost to stay out of the hospital for the next ten or twelve weeks.
Let the fun begin...

At my first clinic visit in November I talked to my doctor about the hip and leg pain that I had been experiencing since September.  As it had been getting progressively worse, he agreed to order a hip x-ray and MRI to see if we could find the cause of the problem.  The results:  two compressed discs in my lower back (in between L4 & L5 and L5 & S1) that are strategically positioned to sit right on the nerve root.  This explained the sharp, stabbing pain I was feeling in my hip that radiated down my leg and the numbness/tingling sensation in my foot.

By the time the x-ray and MRI were ordered, my pain had worsened significantly - bringing me to tears, barely able to walk from my bed to the bathroom.  While my normal "drug of choice" for pain is Tylenol or Advil, I was to the point of begging for something stronger.

[Cue massive drama and theatrics] .  Consults had been made with Neurosurgery and Anesthesiology (the god-like creatures who deign to treat the pain in mere mortals held captive at UAB).  To make a long story short, there was a difference in opinion in how I was to be treated.  Of course, those differences tend to happen when the resident assigned to the case fails to read the MRI results before concluding that said patient is merely "drug-seeking" and states there is no evidence of why she would be in pain. Interesting theory, considering both the radiologist and neurosurgeon had identified two compressed discs in my lower back that are sitting directly on the nerve root.  That explain exactly why I was in excruciating pain.

I was, of course, just the slightest bit pissed off that a resident I had never laid eyes upon was standing in my room accusing me of a drug problem.  I kindly showed him the way out and proceeded to raise holy hell with my pulmonary doctor and NP.  I am very fortunate to have an outstanding relationship with my NP, and although the attending Dr. that was seeing patients in December may not know me that well, he knew enough to be able to rely on my nurse's assessment of the situation.

In the end, my pain was managed by my pulmonary team.  I was discharged with a stack of prescriptions and referrals to both the Pain Clinic and Neurosurgery.  The plan-of-care recommended trying a steroid dose pack (which was done in the hospital, but with no benefit).  Up next in the play book are an epidural block and/or surgery.

On the Pulmonary front, things went from bad to worse.  My pulmonary functions declined throughout my hospital visit rather than improving as they normally would.  Overall, I never felt that I was truly "getting well" - on Day 21, I felt as bad if not worse as when I was admitted.  On Day 24 (the Friday before Christmas), my PFTs were extremely poor (FEV1 = 25%), which kind of sent me into a downward spiral.  To be perfectly honest, I am normally one of those people that can just put on a happy face, even if I am upset or frustrated.  After such a long and intense stay, though, I lost my cool.

I ended up completing 28 days of antibiotics and received a Solumedrol kick in the ass (high octane steroids) my last weekend there.  Unfortunately I was in the hospital over Christmas, but was able to go home the day after.  The hospital is never where you want to spend the holidays, but we made a go of it.  I dressed up in my Christmas PJs (a gift from my mother) and my family came to visit. My aunt made her famous fried chicken nuggets, so I enjoyed a good meal that day (Thanks, Cheryl!).

I've been home for two (almost three) weeks now and recovery has been slow.  When I was younger, I was always raring to go the day after I got home.  The older I get, the longer that seems to take.  I would say that, on average, it now takes me almost a full week (at least four or five days) to get myself back in the swing of things.  The negative side of receiving the steroid boost at the very end of my hospital visit meant that I had to come home on Prednisone.  And although my lungs appreciate the effects of the steroids, the rest of my body does not.  My taper runs for two more weeks.  This means two more weeks of insomnia offset by moments of pred-mania.  I am also suffering from a severe case of pred-munchies and cravings of the weirdest sort (Arby's mozzarella cheese sticks and a vanilla milkshake, anybody?).

So, where are we now?

Well, if you've made it this far, then I applaud you!  Because my PFTs were so low when I left the hospital, my doctors wanted to see me in clinic in two weeks rather than the usual four-week followup.  I went to clinic on Monday.  My PFTs were up some from my discharge (FEV1 = 34%), but not at all close to my "well" standards.  Generally speaking, if I blew a 34%, I would be admitted, but since we had just finished 28 days of strong antibiotics, my Dr. and I agreed that adding another seven or fourteen days would not be helpful.  So, fortunately, I was able to hold off on being re-admitted to the hospital.

Right now, our goal is to find out what is causing my PFTs to drop so suddenly and not bounce back like they usually do.  My Dr. wanted to check for ABPA (Allergic Bronchopulmonary Aspergillosis), which is a fungus that can wreak havoc in CF lungs.  Technically, I have not met the criteria for diagnosis (having a serum IgE greater than 1000), but previous studies have shown that I have had an elevated IgE for quite some time (in the 700-800 range).  Because I have a history of ABPA (in high school), my Dr. wanted to order a special test (which is, of course, expensive) that is more sensitive and may be able to determine if ABPA is causing my current issues.  If it is, then the plan is to treat with anti-fungals and steroids.  Honestly, although I do want to find out what is wrong, I really don't want it to be ABPA because I'm not sure I can stand to be on steroids for much longer.

If the test for ABPA is negative, then my Dr. wants to do a bronch to take a peek at what is going on inside my lungs.  Right now, this is currently scheduled for February 6th.  I'll also have a clinic appointment the same day so that we can discuss the results of the bronch.

Finally, we discussed the possibility of a referral over to the transplant clinic.  The appointment would be more of a "meet & greet" (although I know most of the doctors because they rotate in and out of our CF clinic).  We would discuss the possibility of beginning the evaluation process.  It does not necessarily mean that I would be listed right now (or any time in the near future), but if I get the tests done, they will be good for two years.  Although I'm OK with the eventual possibility of a transplant, I'm not quite ready to jump the gun.  However, once a Girl Scout, always a Girl Scout, so I will at least look through the window of that future possibility and "Be Prepared."

I think that about sums up everything that has been going on for the past month and a half.  I will try and do a better job of updating my blog with the latest information. 

And now I'm off to do something FAR more interesting -- getting the hair did! Catch y'all on the flip side.

Friday, July 29, 2011

New medical FICO score sparks controversy, questions

See the original article here.

Within the next 12 months, whether you like it or not, about 10 million Americans are expected to be scored -- much like a credit score -- on how likely they are to fill a prescription and take all the pills the doctor ordered, on schedule.

FICO , creator of the widely used credit score that predicts whether you'll borrow responsibly, is now rolling out its new Medication Adherence Score.

FICO based its score on a formula that predicts whether you will take your prescription drugs. FICO says that since correct use of medication is important for patients, medical providers, insurers and pharmaceutical companies, the Medication Adherence Score will help achieve that goal. They predict it will improve therapy effectiveness and reduce health care costs.

The company says those who score low can be targeted for extra reminders and educational efforts, with the goal of making patients more likely to complete their prescribed regimens.

"It's very important to identify those people who may need that additional education and that additional help," says Dave Shellenberger, senior principal consultant in FICO's health care division. 

Critics aren't so sure. Since the score uses information on patients' employment, homeownership and living situations, they say that in the current economic environment, the Medication Adherence Score may unfairly target people who have found themselves in challenging financial situations. It could also, they say, open the door for a new way for insurance companies to charge different prices for different scores. This happened in recent years to consumers buying auto insurance: The cost of those policies are now likely based on an auto insurance credit score .

What's in the score?
FICO launched the Medication Adherence Score on June 23, 2011. To create the scoring algorithm, FICO looked at data from a random sample of several million anonymous patients provided by a large pharmacy benefits manager. FICO observed patients who filled (or refilled) their prescriptions and patients who failed to, with the company then identifying those variables that best predicted medication adherence. For the Medication Adherence Score, those variables include age, gender, family size and asset information -- such as the likelihood of car ownership -- data also used by direct marketing companies. FICO says that with only a patient's name and address, it can pull the remainder of the necessary information from publicly available sources. 

The scores range from 1 to 500. "The higher the score, the higher the likelihood a patient will be adherent to a drug regimen," FICO's Shellenberger says. FICO says patients who score 400 or higher are likely to take medication as prescribed, while those who score below 200 are at high risk of not taking medication. According to FICO, patients who earn a low score may receive a medication reminder in the form of an email, letter or phone call from their doctor -- tactics that would be too costly to apply across the board.
FICO says those who wouldn't want to receive notices should contact their health care providers and ask about their opt-out policies. High scorers who appear likely to take all their meds probably won't be contacted. 

FICO: No insurance implications
What won't happen, FICO says, is your insurance taking a hit because of a low score. "No decision is being made as to whether someone is getting access to health care," says Shellenberger. That's because companies can't use the Medication Adherence Score when deciding whether to provide health insurance and how much to charge for it. "The score was not designed, tested or validated to serve as an underwriting tool. And, underwriting is not an allowable use of the score under the terms of our client contracts," Shellenberger says.

FICO declined a request for a copy of the contract. FICO says consumers can find out if they have scores by asking their health care providers. 

Age, gender taken into account
Who's likely to score low? Shellenberger notes that older patients are typically better about taking their medication than younger patients -- until those older patients begin to reach their 80s and 90s -- and men typically are a little better about taking medication than women. "One hypothesis is that women tend to be caregivers and take care of others rather than care for themselves to the extent that they should," he says.  

It's against the law for FICO to factor some information into its more-familiar credit scoring formula. It's forbidden from considering, for example, your race, religion, national origin or sex. In addition, it voluntarily does not consider your age or salary. But gender and age are two factors in the Medical Adherence Score. FICO says that's because the score only results in communication with a patient and only uses "publicly available third-party data sources, such as the U.S. Census," Shellenberger says. None of your personal credit information -- the data used to determine your FICO credit score, which is regulated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act -- is used in the medical score, he says.

Whatever it includes, your own personal Medication Adherence Score is coming. FICO estimates that by the end of 2011, 2 million to 3 million patients will have been given a FICO Medication Adherence Score, with a total of 10 million patients expected to be scored during the next 12 months. As a patient, you probably won't be informed of your actual score, however. 

A very real problem ...
FICO and medical industry experts both say that medication noncompliance warranted the creation of the new scoring system. According to FICO's press release , medical industry estimates show that up to half of the 3.2 billion prescriptions in the United States annually aren't taken as prescribed, with nonadherence "cited as the primary cause for 10 percent of hospital admissions and 23 percent of nursing home admissions each year." It's also costly. According to a company fact sheet , the cost of medication nonadherence to the U.S. health care system totals an estimated $290 billion a year.

Pharmacists agree that nonadherence represents a challenge. "We recognize that adherence to medication has been a problem for 40 or 50 years. And the ability to identify people who would most benefit from interventions would provide pharmacists and others an advantage in their ability to target services to where they are needed the most. No one would argue about that," says Lucinda Maine, chief executive of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) in Alexandria, Va.  

Patients are unreliable medicine-takers for a variety of reasons. "Some people don't understand the condition that they have. Some people might have high blood pressure but they're not experiencing symptoms every day," says Anne Burns, senior vice president of professional affairs with the American Pharmacists Association in Washington, D.C. Such a lack of symptoms could discourage patients from consistently taking their medication, causing their health problems to return.

As a result, "programs like this are starting to appear in the marketplace," Burns says.

... But is the score the answer?
While there's general agreement about the problem, not everyone thinks FICO has the solution. "There are many programs and assessments for patient adherence currently available and whether this algorithm is better than any others has yet to be seen," says Dr. Richard Perry, an assistant professor of pharmacy practice at Long Island University.  

Experts stress that medication adherence is a complex issue, with many factors -- some tied to a patient's finances, culture or attitude -- contributing to failures to take medicine.

For example, Dave deBronkart, also known as "e-Patient Dave," a personal health data rights advocate based in Nashua, N.H., says financial problems once kept him from buying a prescribed medication.

When deBronkart left his last full-time job -- but before his COBRA insurance kicked in to provide continued health benefits -- he went to refill his prescription for generic blood pressure medication. "I was very short on cash," deBronkart says. His prescription, which cost just $4 with insurance, nearly tripled in cost to $11. "All of a sudden, I don't have insurance and the price goes up," deBronkart says. Due to that jump in price, "I didn't buy it," he says, instead delaying the purchase until his COBRA took effect.  

Those types of situations may be increasingly common as more patients find themselves unemployed in the tough economy. That could mean low Medication Adherence Scores for otherwise responsible patients. "Apparently under this scoring model, you are at higher risk for not taking your medication and thus have a low score if you, among other things, don't have a job, don't own a home or a car and live alone," says Tena Friery, research director with the nonprofit consumer group Privacy Rights Clearinghouse.

Although some critics have voiced concerns over the Medication Adherence Score and possible privacy issues, other experts say that privacy isn't the problem. "Health plans already have information on what drugs you're on and which ones you went to the drugstore and picked up or got through mail order. The third step, the piece they don't know, is whether you took the drugs," says Deven McGraw, director of Health Privacy Project at the Center for Democracy & Technology.

"I think it's far less of a privacy concern than an age-old concern about how people can use health data to discriminate against people in the insurance marketplace or employment," McGraw says.

What's next?
Looking ahead, FICO says the Medication Adherence Score -- like any of its scoring models -- can be updated about every 18 to 24 months to make it work better. Just don't expect too many details when the company does. FICO guards all its algorithms closely as proprietary information. "I don't know whether they will ever allow researchers to look behind that green curtain of Oz to know what their analytic model is," says the AACP's Maine.  

And FICO also isn't identifying additional scoring formulas it could create to predict other areas of everyday life. If it were to do that, however, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse's Friery guesses that it could be some sort of "lifestyle" score. Since poor lifestyle choices can result in high health care costs, the score could be used to target individuals about health initiatives, such as weight loss or smoking cessation.

"Reports are that people of low income or those who live in certain areas are more likely to be overweight, to smoke, to be inactive. I assume that any future scoring, like the Medication Adherence Score, would not be based on an individual's past behavior but rather certain factors that would put them into the high-risk category," says Friery.

Although the "objective of lowering health care costs is certainly a good thing," Friery says that with such a score, consumers may receive unwanted phone calls or other contact about services that don't apply to them. "I can only hope that users of such scores would use caution in initiating these contacts. As a minimum, consumers should be given the right to opt out, to stop future contact, whether or not the targeted behavior applies to them," she says.  

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Clinic Update

Today was my one-month post hospital clinic appointment and I'm happy to report that, overall, it was a fairly good visit.  My FEV1 has finally shown some improvement after being in the tank last time I was in the hospital and is near baseline.  I'm still hanging out around 44% lung capacity, which I'm happy with. Given that a few years ago I was struggling to keep it in the 30's (when I was battling back-to-back pneumonia infections -- SIX times in one year), I am always thrilled to see a higher #.

So the plan for now is to keep on keeping on.  My stomach issues are still rampant, but my GI doctors have been less than forthcoming in ways to fix or improve it and I'm just in for the long haul.  I have been on the Domperidone for over a month now and while I will say that while I see some improvement over the Reglan (which was doing absolutely nothing to treat my gastroparesis), it is still an everyday problem. In addition to the stomach issues, my doctors are having me checked for possible gallstones, so I have an abdominal ultrasound scheduled for Monday. I have been having sharp, stabbing pains in the area of my gall bladder every time I eat, particularly if I eat anything high-fat (which I typically try to avoid).

I talked with my NP today about scheduling a tune-up in August because I want to be in tip-top shape for September when I go on a cruise.  Two of my BFFs, Angela & Brien are getting hitched and are doing a wedding cruise out of Mobile.  It's actually the same cruise I went on last year (to Progreso and Cozumel), but ANY cruise is a good cruise in my books.  I am definitely looking forward to some true vacation time (even though I qualify for four weeks of vacation with my employer, I typically only get one week and forfeit the rest when I am in the hospital).

And that's about all the updates I have for now. That, and the fact that my legs are numb from allowing my sixteen pound beast to sit in my lap while I've been typing this blog (love ya, Beau-ba-lo!).

Catch y'all on the flip side!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Work Day Survival Kit

Our volume has been a little light over in the Complaints arena recently, so we've been outsourced on a few different projects that our team is currently involved in. Even still, today has been one of those days where I've watched the minutes tick, tick, tick S-L-O-W-L-Y.  It's made me think of all the various things I use to survive the day (and it also gave me a chance to play with the Hipstamatic app on my iPhone).

Yes, I'm a caffeine junkie and Diet Coke is my drug of choice.

The Sound of Music
I absolutely have to have music playing to be able to focus on the task at hand. For some reason, that little bit of background noise helps me concentrate better, whereas utter silence sends me off into la-la land. Pandora rocks my world!

Flower Power
A little splash of color helps brighten up my officle.

You win some, you lose some.  The overall strategy to dealing with complaints around-the-clock is being able to step back and laugh. And then put on your big girl panties when you have to face a Federal examiner and answer their questions.

This is the touchstone that I was given at the UAB memorial service for Lauren. It sits on my desk for remembrance, as a reminder. A single glance has served me well at work and at home.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A to Z

I haven't participated in a fun little me-me in awhile, so while I have some free time, I figured, what the heck...

A - Age: 33

B - Bed size:
Queen (just enough room for me and the three kittehs who think the bed belongs to them).

C - Chore you hate: Getting the clean clothes from the dryer back into the closet.

D - Dog's name: Louis, Louie, Rose, Simba, Bailey, Henry and Argyle (aka "Pooter").  No, none of them actually live with me, but they are all my adopted babies.

E - Essential start your day item: Caffeine

F - Favorite color: Pink

G - Gold or Silver: Silver

H - Height: 5' 3"

I - Instruments you play(ed): I took piano lessons as a kid, played the recorder in fifth grade, attempted to play the clarinet (briefly) in middle school and then played handbells in high school. Handbells were, by far, my favorite.

J - Job title: Compliance Analyst III

K - Kid(s): My kittehs (Issy, Beau, and Hallow) are the only children I'll ever have.

L - Living arrangements: I'm a city girl.

M - Mom's name:
Mona Lynn

N - Nicknames: B, B-Ri, Shortcakes (that's an oldie from high school).

O - Overnight hospital stay other than birth: To many too count!

P - Pet Peeve: Bad grammar and misspelled words. Hypocrites.

Q - Quote from a movie:  "I'm your huckleberry..."

R - Right or left handed: Right.

S - Siblings: Not a single one.

T - Time you wake up: During the week, I am usually up around 6 AM. I don't need an alarm clock, I have cats. On the weekends, I like to sleep until 8:30 or 9.

U- Underwear:
Yep, I wear underoos.

V - Vegetable you dislike: BRUSSEL SPROUTS.

W - Ways you run late: I'm usually a pretty on-time person.

X - X-rays you've had: I couldn't begin to count the number of chest x-rays that I've had. I've also had my ankles, wrists, and elbow x-rayed at different points, usually due to sprains or breaks.

Y - Yummy food you make: I don't. I can handle brownies from a box, but that's about the extent of my cooking ability.

Z - Zoo favorite: Penguins, sea lions and big cats. 

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Thankful Thursday

I've never participated in one of Ronnie's (of RunSickBoyRun fame) Thankful Thursday postings before. I probably don't say it often enough, but I am thankful for all of the wonderful things that I have in my life (my friends, my family, my co-workers, and my health among others), but today seems like a most appropriate day to truly be thankful.

Yesterday was -- weather-wise -- one of the most tragic days that we've seen in the great state of Alabama. The death toll is currently 162 and it will be several more days before the final counts are complete. Why? Tornado season, which typically runs from March to May for the Heart of Dixie. We experienced an EF4, possibly an EF5, tornado that was ON THE GROUND from Tuscaloosa, AL to Birmingham, AL (about 60 miles) that was at times more than a mile wide. Below is a video of the devastation that can be seen in Central Alabama from ABC 33/40 (home of James Spann, the world's greatest meteorologist).

Please take about five minutes out of your day to watch this video and remember all of the families and businesses that have been devastated by the power of Mother Earth.

Fortunately, my little corner of the world escaped damage.  I live downtown and the storm tracked about five miles north of me.  My condo is on Red Mountain, directly below the TV stations, so the view from the cameras atop the station were essentially exactly what I was seeing from my front window.  What appeared to be a wall of clouds a mile wide was actually a tornado devastating my hometown.

 This picture is from the UAB campus, which is about six blocks north of me. What looks like a wall of clouds is actually the tornado that struck north Birmingham.

 I'm not sure of the exact location of this picture in relation to my house (it appears to be a little west of my condo looking back downtown).  The white office building in the center of the photo is where I work.

 This is a view of the tornado from BBVA Compass' corporate headquarters (my employer). This is a block south of my office (the building in the left corner of the photo is actually my office).

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Great Strides 2011 - We're going to BLOW CF AWAY!

Dear Family and Friends,

It's that time again! Please consider joining us for the annual Great Strides event in Birmingham, AL on May 14, 2011. Our goal this year is a simple one ... it's all about BREATHING EASIER! GREAT STRIDES is the CF Foundation’s biggest fundraiser and provides us an opportunity to help make a difference in the lives of those with Cystic Fibrosis.

Cystic Fibrosis is a genetic, life-threatening disease that affects approximately 30,000 children and adults in the United States. According to the CF Foundation’s National Patient Registry, the median age of survival for a person with CF is now approaching 37 years.

Advances continue to be made in finding a cure, but your help is needed to help keep up the momentum of this life-saving research. I know that the last few years have been hard on many, but I hope that you will be able to help us raise money for a cure. Remember, every donation - large or small - goes towards supporting the Foundation's goal of finding new & novel therapies for CF patients. As you may know, the CF Foundation receives no government funding. Therefore, the funds that you donate go directly to helping us find a cure.

This year, I will be walking with the other members of the UAB Adult CF Team, with a goal of raising at least $3,000 by May 14, 2011 in Birmingham, AL. With that in mind, please save the date in your calendar! Plan on joining the members of the UAB Adult CF Team for food, fun, and music at Veteran's Park in Birmingham (Hoover), AL. I know this year’s goal can be met with your help!

If you would like to participate in the walk, you can log on to my website at:  If you have any problems registering online, please let me know and I will be happy to process your registration manually. You can reach me via e-mail at bankrgrl -@-

If you can't join us for the walk, please consider making a donation. Donations are accepted online, through a secure server, provided by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Just click the "Donate Now" button on my blog to make a donation that will be credited to our team. Any amount you can donate is greatly appreciated!

I look forward to seeing all of you who participated last year and hopefully a few new faces. Please help this be an outstanding year ~ let's start taking GREAT STRIDES to cure CF.

Thank you!!!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Updates, Updates, Updates

At the end of February, early March, I had the opportunity to travel to Orlando, FL for work.  I attended a conference (training) related to my job.  For four days, I studied the basics of Deposit & Lending Compliance.  I know that might not sound exciting to many of you, but YES, I actually enjoyed it.  I was familiar with most of the deposit regulations (Reg CC, Reg DD, Reg E, among others) but the lending session really kicked my butt (especially Reg Z & RESPA ... my brain was toast by the end of Day 2!)

While I was in Orlando, I also got to have a little bit of fun. (Don't tell my boss that!)

On Wednesday night, I met up with an old friend ... we haven't seen each other since 5th grade, when she moved back to Japan.  We'd kept in touch over the years via letters (yes, real ones) and then found each other on Facebook not too long ago.  When she saw my post about being in Orlando, she contacted me that night and we immediately decided that we had to get together.  We met up in Downtown Disney and enjoyed dinner at an Irish Pub (where we had meat pies ... savory & sweet pies for you Sweeney Todd fans). Later that night we went over to the Magic Kingdom where I got to do some shopping and we watched the fireworks show. All in all, it was a great night!

On my last night there (after the conference was over) I decided to catch the final performance of Wicked. I love, love, love this show and this was my second time seeing it.  Although the Bob Carr Performing Arts Center was a little smaller than I expected for a city the size of Orlando, it was a nice setting.  Even better, the tickets I scored were three rows back (which I had no idea when I purchased).  To say I was thrilled would be putting it lightly.

15 minutes til curtain! 

After a whirlwind week, I was glad to arrive home on Saturday. I was in kitteh withdrawal after a week in a hotel (Although I highly recommend the Homewood Suites in Maitland, FL if you are ever visiting the area, it was a little off the beaten path. However, it was very close to the office my training classes were being held in and the rooms and free food made it even better).

I was home for a couple of days when my body crashed and I had to be re-admitted to UAB Hospital.  So, on March 9, I checked in for sixteen fun-filled and exciting days.  Although it meant celebrating my birthday in the hospital, it wasn't a bad visit overall.  I am now officially back to work and back up to all of my old tricks!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Heart Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day to all of my lovely friends and family!