hankrules2011

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Posts Tagged ‘business’

An Overdue Overall Update

Posted by Scott Holstad on December 31, 2017

12/31/17

Hi. Last day of 2017 and I’ve blogged almost nothing at all this year. I regret that, but it’s been the toughest year, toughest two years, of my life and I haven’t had the ability to blog or even write book reviews like I once did. I started an “Update” blog about 6-7 weeks ago, but never got very far, and have been horribly ill for a week, and don’t have the strength to finish it, but I’m determined to write a blog post for 2017. I’m including what I had gotten done last month at the bottom of this post, but am just going to give a brief synopsis here to let those of you still reading this blog know I’m still alive.

2016: I had 8 minor surgeries, most on my back. I had at least 33 tests and procedures that were diagnostic tests for my stomach ailments alone, the final result being I was ultimately tested for the rarest of diseases into 2017 with no results, leaving the doctors to discard me and wish me the best. I also had at least two strokes in the fall, the second of which was pretty major and continues to impact me to the present. Before the strokes, I had lost the ability to drive, and became largely homebound except for 2-3 medical appointments a week, every week, for which I took either a city disabled van or taxis. I had to start walking with a cane in late spring. The strokes impacted me in various ways, as my memory started to fail, and I lost my balance and coordination, resulting in numerous, regular falls. I was also on 3 of the 5 strongest pain medications in the world, whose side effects messed me up, but none of which really helped me. I stopped responding to virtually all pain medications of any type around November 2015.

2017: This year, I’ve only had two minor surgeries for my back, both failures. I was scheduled for a third, but the surgeon refused to do it, saying it’d be useless. Gretchen and I later met with the chief surgeon who said even a major surgery would not only be ineffective, but counterproductive, and he refused to perform any. He recommended as my only realistic hope an experimental and dangerous brain surgery that is hard to find and obtain. More on that in a minute. Before that, I started to experience more falls and greater memory impairment and even total memory loss, progressively, day by day. We explored getting me a home health aide, part time, but can’t afford one. I’m now wearing one of those fall alert pendants. Gretchen’s worried she’s going to come home from work and find me at the bottom of the stairs with a broken neck. I started having bizarre “episodes” — don’t know what else to call them — beginning March 31, in which I woke up and started wandering around the house at 3 AM, disoriented and unable to control myself, resulting in 15 falls, the last of which Gretchen witnessed as I tripped in the dining room and fell face and head first onto our hardwood floors, breaking my nose, knocking me out, and busting the hell out of my head. The pain in my head was unreal. I didn’t care about the nose or anything else. I refused to go to the hospital, even though four paramedics were there when I regained consciousness, working on me, and trying to convince me to go to the hospital. I don’t go to ERs. I had a horrible experience in early 2016 and vowed to die at home with dignity than go back to another damn ER. I tried to get a CT or MRI for 10 days, but no one would refer me for one without my going to the ER. Finally, on the 11th day, I went, had a CT scan, was told I had a severe, probable long term concussion, had possibly experienced some brain damage, and that was a joy. According to multiple doctors, I had already experienced brain damage with each of my strokes. My nose bled 24×7 from then into June, and the incident screwed up my neck and back, forcing me into home healthcare PT. My memory impairment and losses became much worse from that point on. I experienced more “episodes” like these in August and September, and have watched my memory deteriorate badly, as well as seeing my forgetfulness increase exponentially. It was about two months ago when this orthopedic surgeon stated I need Deep Brain Stimulation surgery, which has a 4% mortality rate, and which is available for Intractable Chronic Pain possibly only at Mayo and the Cleveland Clinic. One of my doctors put me on a supplement for memory loss/retention two months ago, and earlier this month, my neurologist put me on a hard core medication for severe dementia and Alzheimer’s, while allowing it’s possible I may be in the early stages on Early Onset Dementia. I am 51. I no longer expect to live to see, say, 54. And this drug he put me on has caused a very serious adverse reaction, or reactions, so that over the past week to week and a half, the symptoms have been so bad, I’ve honestly felt I was going to die several times, and today is the first day I’ve had the energy and wits to actually get online and do anything. I’ve simply been lying here trying to survive during one of the most hellish and painful weeks of my life, sick to death.

After those two depressing paragraphs, there were other things that happened in my life. In 2016, Gretchen and I created a startup that I poured myself into far more than I should have and it badly impacted my health. We decided, due to having to delay opening for business indefinitely while suffering tremendous costs and state taxes, to start to shut things down this fall, and I’m still trying to tie up loose ends, as I’m able to. Additionally, both Gretchen and I have started new side businesses, just to see how they’ll do, part time. Just really getting underway, but who knows? Gretchen’s oldest son was married last month in Maryland, so we made a long car trip to the wedding, which was lovely, but it was hard on me. Still, it would have taken a lot to make me miss that, although we didn’t decide I would actually go until the last minute. It was touch and go. Nonetheless, it was a joyous occasion. It was also good to see the rest of her family and meet some new in-laws.

Gretchen is busting her ass holding down the fort, working full time, having to do all of the errands and chores I once did when I was mobile and more able, and still find time for her side projects and to look after me. She stays very busy. And as limited as I am, I stay busier than I want to, mostly with technological projects that would take too long to go into. I’m worn out now. Sorry. I wrote more than I intended, but I just wanted to say I haven’t forgotten you folks out there, and I miss interacting with you, and if my health ever improves sufficiently, I’d like to resume blogging and book reviewing, but I have no idea if or when that will be. I hope everyone has been doing well, has had a good holiday season, and here’s to a good 2018 for all of us. Cheers!

— Scott

 

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Hi! I don’t even know where to begin. I haven’t posted a “real” blog post in nearly a year. It’s kind of stunning, because I’ve been blogging since 2003 and used to every day, but the past year and a half have worn me down until I no longer had the strength, energy, physical or mental abilities to continue doing so, and had to call a halt to it.

Lessee, for the past 3.5 years, my health has been unbelievably bad. Most of you know I have Trigeminal Neuralgia Type 2, a very rare, very, very rare, extremely painful head and facial pain disease, considered the most painful disease in the world, typically referred to as “The Suicide Disease.” I also have three other head pain disorders, including Cluster Headaches, which are also known as one of the most painful disorders in the world, and which I’ve also seen described as “the Suicide Disease” in some sources.

After having had a nice little break from that, my head and facial pain came back with a vengeance in the summer of 2014, but this time bilateral, which is unusual. I immediately had three minor brain surgical procedures, but I told my doctors they wouldn’t help, as this pain was different. I was right. Then, in early 2015, my back started giving me real problems again. Serious pain to match my head’s serious pain. I’ve had back problems on and off for six years, but like my head, it had been off for a couple of years, and this was an unpleasant surprise. I went back to my orthopedist and started seeing a rheumatologist, who told me I had “massive” amounts of osteoarthritis throughout my body and would need two hip replacement surgeries at some point in the not too distant future. Meanwhile, my orthopedist told me my DDD had gotten much worse, and I had other problems in my back as well, which I knew — spinal stenosis, a broken tailbone, nerve damage, etc. She sent me ultimately for six months of PT, but it didn’t help at all. In February 2015, sick of being far too overweight, I went on a massive low carb diet, ultimately averaging 6 carbs, then down to 4 carbs, per meal per day. I lost weight and it felt good. However, and I do think this was coincidental, about four months later, I started developing stomach problems that developed into a nightmare. At first it was just gas after meals, but then it was joined by nausea, and progressively advancing, stomach pain — incredibly severe stomach pain. So severe, it easily matched my back and head pain, each of which were at least a 10 on a 1-10 scale every day without a break. This happened over a period of months though, so I had no idea it would get so bad.

I suffered through the remainder of 2015, still losing weight from my diet, but my stomach was causing me to lose my appetite, along with my stomach shrinking from my diet. My back didn’t improve, my head didn’t improve. I had a new neurologist, who was trying things like Botox and steroid injections, as well as Trigeminal nerve blocks, but nothing helped. By November 2015, I stopped responding to virtually all pain medications, both OTC and prescription, with one exception that helped me so little, it was almost a non-issue. In January 2016, after two months of bugging her, my pain doctor put me on a new, much stronger pain medication with another strong pain medication to take for “break through” pain. The new ones had lethal side effects. I’m not joking. I had to be really careful about how and when I took them. And when I took the other one in conjunction with the first one. But they, too, didn’t really help, and their side effects seriously fucked me up in the worst way. I complained about both the low dose of the main one and the break through pain med, but my dose on the ER medication was not increased. The new IR literally almost killed me. Taking both, and a third to boot, almost killed me. Several times, I basically lost the ability to breathe and my tongue swelled up so much, it largely cut off my breathing passageways. Another time, I became paralyzed from the chest down, and Gretchen had to lie me down — I had been standing — where I lay for a couple of hours until it wore off. I thought it was going to kill me then for sure. Backing up a moment, in December 2015, I also lost the ability to eat. It’s hard to explain. I couldn’t eat, didn’t want to eat, got sick at the thought of eating. I’d go 3, 5, 7 days without eating anything, then take a couple bites of rice and a bite of chicken, and go vomit. I was nauseous when dinner was being made. My diet was thrown away; I now had some form of eating disorder, for all intents and purposes. I lost about 150 pounds…

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Jobs

Posted by Scott Holstad on July 23, 2013

My wife begins a new job today. It’s not necessarily ideal, but it’s pretty decent and she should enjoy it. It’s been a frustrating process, because she’s gotten interviews, but not offers. However, I’m not even getting interviews. I’ve been looking for a job for 13 months. I got one in February, started in March, but it was a contract job and they had virtually no work for me. They terminated my contract after only five weeks, saying only positive things about me. It was weird. And it was back to square one for me. Since then, I’ve found nearly no jobs to apply for, and the ones I’ve applied for haven’t called me. In fact, I’ve only interviewed with three companies over the past 13 months! One of my problems is I’m in a niche field — tech writing/editing. There aren’t many jobs like that in Chattanooga. They’re few and far between. So I’m stuck. Unless I take a retail job or something like that, which would force me to work nights and weekends (which I don’t want to do), I guess I’ll keep looking for something in my field. I’ve also done project management, but increasingly those positions require a degree in that particular field, so it’s hard to even find a decent project manager position. It’s been really frustrating. So we’re poor as hell!  We’ve been doing some contract work out of the house, but it doesn’t pay much, and certainly isn’t worth the time we put into it. So anyway, back to my wife. She starts today. It’s going to be a satellite office for a company out of Nashville and she’s going to be her own boss, for all intents and purposes. I’m really happy for her. Maybe I’ll go over and have lunch with her sometimes. Meanwhile, I keep applying for full time, contract, and free lance jobs here. I applied for a free lance copy editing job two weeks ago, having copy editing experience with newspapers and magazines, and they haven’t called me. I don’t know what the problem is. I think my resume’s pretty good. One of my problems is I’m over-educated. I have three degrees. But I take one of them off my resume for some jobs. Which really ticks me off because I spent a lot of time and money getting those degrees — I shouldn’t have to leave them off my resume. But I think that has hurt me. I also think my age has hurt me. I have experience dating back to the mid-90s on my resume, so clearly I’m in my 40s. I think a lot of companies want younger employees, which irritates the shit out of me. I’ll work for as cheap as a 25 year old — I just need a damn job! I’ve thought about branching out as a full time free lance editor, but I really want the security of a paycheck every two weeks. You know? I’d also like benefits, truth be told. But at this point, I’ll take practically anything. If a contract job pays enough (and it should), I can buy my own insurance…. Anyway, offer some congrats to me wife and if you have any advice for me, feel free to offer it. Cheers!

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New Job!

Posted by Scott Holstad on March 11, 2013

I started a new job today! I’m very excited. I’ve been unemployed for a VERY long time, not counting some part time contract work I did out of the house for awhile last year. Didn’t bring in much money. I’ve been looking for awhile, but it’s been frustrating because in my small city of Chattanooga, there aren’t very many positions for which I’m qualified.

I have three degrees and years of experience as a writer and editor, mostly as a technical writer. I also have some experience as a project (and program) manager with several companies. Awhile back, I interviewed for a proposal writer job with a company that managed prisons, but for whatever reason, that was not meant to be. In November, I interviewed with a large government agency for a technical writer position and my first interview went very well, but the second one was a bust. Seems like they didn’t know what they were looking for. The main guy seemed to want a developer, which I’m not. Back in L.A., I could have gotten a tech writing job any day of the year, and in many places, there are project management jobs too. Chattanooga’s a different beast. Just not much to choose from. So, I’ve been using Indeed, Monster, CareerBuilder, LinkedIn, and others, but I found this job on Craigslist, of all places! It was for a technical writer/project manager position with a company based out of Atlanta that would allow telecommuting for the right person. I applied immediately.

I usually wait to be contacted, but I hadn’t heard from this company in about a week, so I sent a follow up email and got an immediate response from the CEO, telling me he wanted to conduct a phone interview. I was elated. So it happened. And it went pretty well. I think we hit it off and we talked about a lot for a good long while, and then he told me he was going to forward my information on to the Director of Project Management, for whom the position would be working, and I would hope to hear from him. I heard from him that evening. He set up a phone interview for a couple of days away, and that worked out pretty well. We also seemed to hit it off and talked a lot about his company and his needs from this position, and he asked some tough questions, but I think I did OK in answering them. He asked me to send him some writing samples, and he especially was interested in anything I might have that was translating technology to a non-technical audience. Well, I have a lot of that sitting around! I emailed him four articles I wrote while at EarthLink that translated techie stuff into easy to read info for our non-techie customers. One was on TCP/IP and another was on secure file deletion utilities. In addition, I emailed two user guides I wrote for some products I worked on while in the engineering division of a company that manufactured specialized telephones. He must have liked them, because he wrote back and wanted another interview and wanted me to do a writing exercise for him. He emailed me some details that he wanted me to use to draft a project change order, fairly detailed. I spent three days on it before getting it back to him. I was pretty detailed. I had no idea whether he would like it or not, but I got a call from the CEO asking me when I could start, offering me the job!!! I told him I could start today (that was two weeks ago), and so I did.

Now, it’s not a perfect job. It’s a contract job, so no benefits, but it’s a long term contract, for something like three years and with the way this company creates its contracts with its clients, it’s quite possible I could be there for awhile longer, if they like me. It’s a very good situation. Last week, they asked me if I could participate in some conference calls with a new client of theirs, so I could get in at the very beginning and be a part of the process from start to finish, so I did. But today was my first official day and it went well. I mostly read tons of documents, mainly dealing with quality management from their perspective. It was highly enlightening. I’ve been preparing for this by catching up on reading some project management books. I especially have to dive into a book on Agile project management methodologies, which this company employs, and an area I’m sorely lacking in. It’s all the rage, but I’ve never worked for a company that used this method before, so I really need to get up to speed quickly. But the net result of all this is I’m very grateful to be employed again, and I think this will be a great company to work for and I think it’s a great opportunity and I couldn’t hold it in anymore — I had to spill. I have a new job! Awesome.

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