Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Maranta is dead. Long live the Maranta!

Okay. So.

A formal complaint has been lodged against Tuesday's bad doctor, the one who required intervention from Helen Hunt.

Helen Hunt, again, looking a wee bit less photoshopped. Photo by Alan Light. From the Wikipedia entry for Helen Hunt.

I don't expect that this is going to amount to anything, but am assured that the situation will be investigated and at some point I'll get a report on their conclusions. Presumably, these will be that the doctor was giving me his full and utmost attention and expertise, and the hospital is nonetheless sorry if my experience was less than satisfactory. It turns out that it's not so much about the results of the inquiry as it is about making them do one, however superficial and self-serving it may be.

(Or perhaps I totally want to see the man spanked hard -- metaphorically, he hastened to add -- but am pessimistic enough about that happening that I'm telling myself that making them do an investigation is good enough.)

I have a new work schedule. Now, instead of working from 8 AM to 5 PM on the days when I work, I'm working 6 AM to noon or 6 AM to 1 PM, with the last hour or two spent at the cash registers. This isn't enough to keep me out of the heat entirely (I was actually pushing to start at 5 AM.1), but it worked out well enough the one time it's been tried, on Friday, when I worked and didn't have to go to the hospital at all. Like, not even once. And Friday was actually relatively hot. So okay. This will entail a certain drop in income, most likely, and it's not going to be doing any favors for the plants in the greenhouse (so please, dear readers, show up and buy them all already), but it's a bad situation, and this is the best we could do, and it's only temporary.

The discarded Maranta leuconeura 'Marisela' has been replaced. I decided I didn't care enough about the M. l. erythroneura to bother, but I wanted 'Marisela' back. So as soon as I pot these all together into a single pot, the overall Maranta balance of the apartment will be sufficiently restored. Though I haven't checked all the plants in the apartment for mealybugs, so it's possible history will repeat itself in short order.

So things have been dealt with, mostly. I suppose there's still the little matter of an ER bill, eventually. But that's still better than a third ER visit.


Photo credits: mine except as otherwise noted.

1 The boss refused to present a specific objection; as near as I could tell, the sticking point was mostly that she wasn't sure I could get up that early, and/or that she thought the police would be alarmed if they saw someone on the premises that early. Neither of these strike me as particularly valid reasons to insist on 6 AM, so I infer that there's some other thought process involved that I'm not seeing.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Pretty picture: Degarmoara Flying High 'Stars and Bars'

Yet another orchid, ho-hum.

No, I kid the orchid -- I actually like this one a lot. I think the less they look like Phalaenopsis, the more interested I am, and this one has a different color palette and a different petal shape, so it's . . . well, you know. Pretty different.

Not that there's anything wrong with Phalaenopsis; I'm just kind of bored with them. We've gotten in some very nice ones, but they're repeating themselves now. Show me a new color every once in a while, guys, huh?

Degarmoara is a Brs x Milt x Odm cross, which means it has genes from Brassia, Miltonia, and Odontoglossum. I think this is the only one I've seen, though, so I don't know if there's anything particularly cool about that particular combination.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Top Ten Reasons Why I Hate Outdoor Gardening

Longtime close readers of PATSP are already aware that I and Garden Ranter Amy Stewart are locked in a months-long blood feud over her piece Top Ten Reasons Why I Hate Houseplants. Sadly, these readers are far ahead of Ms. Stewart herself, who has so far given me no indication that she knows she's involved in a feud, or would care if she did know. Few things are as pathetic as an epic battle against a completely oblivious foe -- but that's not going to stop me from perpetuating it.

Perilla 'Magilla Purple'

As the next sad and pitiful attempt in my ongoing effort to be noticed by Ms. Stewart, I'm responding to her post in kind, with a post of my own, which I'm assuming will show her, and eventually she'll acknowledge how completely right I am and we'll become BFFs and I'll totally forgive her 'cause I'm nice like that, and all will be well, and then we'll stay up all night on the phone eating cookie dough and talking about boys at least three nights a week or however often we can both get it together to make synchronized cookie dough. Or at least, that's my plan. There may be some kinks to work out.1

Anyway. So behold:

The Top Ten Reasons Why I Hate Outdoor Gardening

10. The plants that will actually grow well for most people in most circumstances, everybody has already. They're boring. And if they're really easy to grow, they're liable to turn invasive and take over a garden, which isn't boring so much as obnoxious. Plus, most of them have relatively plain foliage, making them only really interesting during the small portion of the year when they're flowering.

Petunia 'Burgundy Madness'

9. The ones that are interesting and cool also have to be fussed over endlessly, and won't even necessarily come back the next year.

(#s 9 and 10 are cheap shots, since plants that are easy to grow are obviously going to be the ones everybody has, and plants everybody has are obviously going to be the ones that everybody finds kind of boring. But the fact that it's a cheap shot didn't keep Ms. Stewart2 from using the same two points in her original list, so I think that gives me permission to use them too. Even though I know better. :^P)

8. You can't change your mind about a location without hours of dirty, hot work in the blazing sun. Indoor plants in pots can be picked up and moved in five seconds with no mud, little to no sweat, and (usually) no back injury.

Solenostemon scutellarioides 'Rainbow' mix

7. What's the point of trying to keep bugs off of outdoor plants? Outdoors is where the bugs live, after all. Better to have the plants indoors where the bugs can't get at them as easily. And yet outdoor gardeners are forever complaining about the bugs, slugs, birds and hooligans that are destroying their plants. Well duh. It's like plopping a big chocolate cake in somebody's kitchen -- every couple hours -- and expecting them not to eat any. That's why the plants are supposed to be inside. Where you can protect them.

6. Weather is unreliable. One too-wet or too-dry spring, and you have to replace half your garden. Indoors, not so much of an issue.

5. A lot of annuals (geraniums, marigolds, salvia, bacopa) smell funny.3

Salvia 'Red Hot Sally'

4. Ornaments. Jesus statue, gazing ball, gnome, peeing cherub fountain, pink flamingos, peeing gnome on a crucifix with a shiny ball balanced on his head and a flamingo on his shoulder – whatever your particular variety of appalling taste, not only are you looking at it, but you're inflicting it on your entire neighborhood as well. Thanks, but no.

Secretly, the other club members resented Anthony's holier-than-thou attitude, but none of them ever said anything.

3. Weeding. Raking. Mulching. Deadheading. Pruning. This all sounds suspiciously like work.

Platycodon 'Sentimental Blue'

2. Outdoor gardeners think they're so cool, with all their fancy trowels and fertilizers and composters and riding mowers and koi ponds and Garden Weasels and exploding gopher deterrents. When of course if they would just keep the plants inside, they could get all the required equipment (save maybe the koi pond -- but there are aquariums) reduced down to some dirt, fertilizer, and pots. Obviously outdoor gardeners are people with more money than sense.

I'm not saying I'm never going to need a riding mower in the apartment, but I think I've got at least a couple hundred plants yet to go.

1. The heat, the heat, the heat, the heat, the heat.


Photo credits:

1 Like for example learning to make cookie dough.
2 Persistent use of "Ms. Stewart" is actually out of respect. Also 'cause I don't know her well enough to use "Amy," at least until the cookie dough thing gets going. But mostly out of respect -- I actually really liked her book, Flower Confidential, and fully intend to write a very nice review about it as soon as I can do so, though it's looking like I'm going to have to read it again before that happens so don't hold your breath.
3 This may be the moment to note that I consider Portulaca an honorary indoor plant, because it's just so damn cool, and because it doesn't smell funny like all the others.

Iowa City Graffiti (naughty language)

Since I stayed out of the emergency room yesterday, I guess we can try to return to normal, or something kind of like normal. I'll be meeting with my boss at some point today, to discuss whether there's anything that can actually be done re: the heat exhaustion thing, which might allow me to keep my job. I have my doubts, but I'm still trying not to think about it much, and mostly I'm succeeding.

Meanwhile, we have graffiti. I don't anticipate this becoming a regular feature, but I saw this one a while back and thought, what the hell? And I have, semi-recently, posted a sort of graffiti picture from Cedar Rapids ("WE HOPE OUR LOSS GIVES U SCENIC PLEASURE") So why not.

No clue what it might mean, but it's interesting to me that this was an important enough thought to somebody that they took the time to write it on a wall. Somebody's to-do list?

A more plant-related post will follow shortly.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Work-related: The Emergency Room, Again (in which I am rescued by Helen Hunt)

So now Tuesday. The ER, on Monday, set up an appointment for me to see the Occupational Health department. "Occupational Health" is apparently mostly a euphemism for work-related drug-testing (the husband's theory), but they do some actual medicine, occasionally, as well. Or at least so I'm told. I never saw any actual medicine, but they had posters up in the exam room that looked sort of mediciney, and there were gloves and stuff. I mean, you would have thought that medicine was practiced there, or at least had been at one time, to look at the place.

It sure looks like a doctor's office.

The appointment was set for 8:30 AM. It took until 9 AM to get and fill out the paperwork, at which point a nurse took me back to an exam room and took my blood pressure, which seemed alarmingly high (something over 100), considering what it had been in the emergency room on Monday. Then she left, and I didn't see another soul until 9:30ish, and that was just a doctor popping his head in, saying, whoops, wrong patient, and leaving again.

Actual further medical care had to wait until about 9:45 AM, at which point a second nurse came in to take my blood pressure. Again. She explained that the doctor wanted to get a reading standing up vs. a reading laying down. So far so good. She also got some really high numbers, which by 9:45 AM I would have expected my blood pressure to be high, just from rage over having to sit around for an hour fifteen minutes, but she didn't ask me for an explanation, she just went and got a different blood pressure cuff and tried that one, and the numbers were better then. Then they got a urine sample and I waited some more.

At about 10 AM, one and a half hours after my "appointment," I finally saw a doctor, who said, basically, well, looks like you were dehydrated, and had heat exhaustion, but it looks like you're not and you don't now, so I'm clearing you to go to work. Drink lots of water -- you should be aiming for having to pee about every hour or so -- and keep away from alcohol and caffeine and heat as much as you can.

That's it? That's what I waited all morning for? I knew all this already! So I pushed him:

Look, I said, that's all that anybody's told me all along, drink lots of water, drink lots of water. I've been drinking lots of water. It doesn't help. I'm not dehydrated, I never was, my urine's as pale coming out as it is going in, drinking lots of water is not cutting it. And anyway I already knew all of that, that's what they told me last night, that's what they told me at work, that's what I knew on my own since I looked this up last summer on Wikigoddamnpedia.

And he got visibly annoyed with me, and said, well, maybe this just isn't a job you can do. I don't have a magic pill to give you. Maybe the Wellbutrin you're on is doing weird things to your blood pressure; it can do that, sometimes. (I wasn't thinking clearly, or I would have pointed out that neither the stand-up nor the lie-down reading she'd gotten was out of the ordinary: if it was the Wellbutrin, it obviously wasn't misbehaving then, nor was there any evidence that it ever had.) And then he said to wait for a bit and the nurse would get me and take me back out to the waiting room, where I could collect discharge papers and be on my way.

At some point in here, the combination of rage over having to wait that long to be seen, the pre-existing stress over what this meant for my employment situation, and complete uselessness of wasting my whole morning to be told nothing I didn't already know (and it's not like the follow-up visit had been my idea, please note: the ER scheduled it for me), all kind of got to me at once and I came about as close to crying as you can without actually, you know, crying.

And then I was rescued by Helen Hunt.

(Insert your own angelic-choir noises here. I would also accept Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus," as performed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, if you want to get all fancy about it.)

No, seriously. Helen Hunt, smiling her angelic photoshopped smile from a magazine in a rack on the wall.

And I thought, okay, let's get some perspective here. This sort of thing happens to people all the time. Let's pretend it's not real, and that this is just a Lifetime movie where Helen Hunt is a tough-but-loveable greenhouse worker who's having some heat issues and maybe also solving a murder. What would normally happen next in this plot? What would Helen Hunt do at this point?

I concluded, after some thought, that if it were Helen Hunt, she'd have the big emotional breakdown scene like I had just had, and then she'd pull herself together in some kind of big pulling-oneself-together montage and be all feisty and dignified and go out there and be victorious over whatever it was anyway. And then she'd catch the killer and learn the true meaning of family or Christmas or puppies or something, 'cause, you know, Lifetime. And, well, if Helen Hunt can do it, then so can I, right?

(Note to self: I totally need to make some WWHHD? bracelets.)

I freely admit that this was a pretty dumb train of thought. But it worked. I think I basically just needed the distraction, something else to think about for a second. (Like Cesar Milan does with dogs sometimes on "The Dog Whisperer," or like Jo does with kids on "Supernanny." And yes, "Dog Whisperer" and "Supernanny" are both shows I've been known to watch. Having a couple drinks with Jo in a nice neighborhood bar somewhere is totally on my life's to-do list. And yes, "Dog Whisperer" and "Supernanny" are essentially the same show. But it's a show I like. Shut up.) So I managed to pull myself together, in Helen Hunt fashion,1 and back out to the waiting room, where I did eventually get to leave.

Never again with [hospital name], I said to the husband as we drove to my job. Never ever ever. What incredible, useless dicks. I'd previously used [other hospital], which, they weren't, like, jumping to attention as soon as I came into view, but they never inspired me to homicide, either. Not like this. Grumble grumble. Bitch bitch.

So I was seething when I got to work, but eventually I did settle down (after ranting briefly at one of the nursery lot guys). And actual work got done.

We have two greenhouses that are attached to the store: a north one, which was built first and has better ventilation and tends to be cooler, and then a south one, which was added on at some point and has comparatively little ventilation.2 The south house is normally only open in the spring (maybe February to June), for annuals, and then the fall (October to December), for poinsettias. When the flood happened, all kinds of stuff from the store got moved to the tables in the south greenhouse, because that was slightly higher ground than where they were, and since then, everybody's been really busy trying to get stuff back where it needs to be, and the stuff in the south house is really only a priority to me because it really only affects me. So that was what I did. It was cloudy out, and not unbearably hot, so I figured Tuesday, what was left of it, was my best shot at accomplishing something in the south house (when am I going to have another reasonable-temperature cloudy day, after all?), and maybe accomplishing something would make me feel better.

So I finished moving stuff out of the south greenhouse, and I started spraying down the capillary mats on the tables. Capillary mats, for those of you who don't know, are just big black mats that are supposed to hold water -- the theory is that you can put plants on a mat, spray the mat with water, and then the plants will soak up the water from the mat, and it's all very neat and tidy. In actual practice, it's never that simple, because sometimes the soil has dried up and contracted and isn't touching the capillary mat anymore, or the mat isn't exactly perfectly level, so water pools in some spots and never reaches others, etc., but on paper it sounds like something that should work. Anyway. So during the course of the season, dirt gets spilled on the mats, and dead leaves fall on the mats and get absorbed into them and turned into algae and scum, and roots grow out of the pots into the mats and then get left behind when the plants are moved, and so on and so forth. So I elected to spray the capillary mats clean for the rest of the day.

The "before" picture.

And that was really slow work, but I was still, you know, able to do it. Went and drank a bunch of water about every ten to fifteen minutes, the greenhouse wasn't unbearably hot, everything seemed to be going okay.

And then the rain hit.

Outside rain, of course. But there was so much of it. I mean, seriously, you would have thought the place was getting sprayed by fifteen fire hoses at once.

Unfortunately, we hadn't gotten all the sandbags moved away yet, from the flood preparations, partly because the boss wasn't sure she trusted that the flood was over, and partly because not enough people had had enough time to get to them all yet. Like I said, we've been busy pretty much across the board, trying to get things put back where they're supposed to be. So long as the sandbags were behaving themselves, other things were the priority.

So but you see the problem. Huge quantities of rain falling, gutter attachments that had been removed or had flopped into the wrong spots and were pouring water into the space between the building and the sandbags -- we had water coming into the building, fast, in at least three spots. I mean, the actual rain was maybe only really intense for about ten or fifteen minutes, and we still managed to have water an inch deep in one room inside.

So it was a problem. But still - doesn't sound like an obvious heat problem, right?

But. Then everybody opened all the doors for maximum air circulation (they'd been closed previously to keep in the air conditioning: the store and flower shop are air-conditioned). Which meant that there was nowhere air-conditioned I could go to, to cool off, except the flower cooler, which was cold enough to be, possibly, dangerous (as explained in footnote 5) for me. Plus everybody was running around crazily trying to mop up, or squeegie away, the water that had come in, which meant there wasn't anywhere I could actually stand that was out of the way. And then the humidity went to basically 99% in the whole building, the whole outside, everywhere, and the air also got really still.

Oh shit.

I had already not been doing that great, for reasons I don't completely understand: I elected to take a short break at 2 PM and eat something. WCW always has a Snickers bar at some point during her shift, and WCW has no problem with the heat, so I decided to get a Snickers, on the theory that maybe that was her secret.3 And I got a "Powerade," Coca-Cola's entry in the sports drinks sweepstakes, on the suggestion of the boss's husband,4 and also because it was cold and non-caffeinated.

The Snickers bar went fine, but the first drink of the Powerade, when it hit my throat, immediately gave me a weird feeling in my head. Pressure, mostly, like a sudden, bad sinus headache. This was odd, certainly, but I didn't know that it was necessarily bad -- I figured maybe it was a cousin of ice-cream brain-freeze, and it'd go away momentarily. And meanwhile, I had potassium to replenish, so I finished drinking it, just slower.

That weird head pressure feeling stayed with me for the rest of the day, and I never really got an answer as to what it might have signified or whether it was necessarily a problem.5 But so anyway, back to the rain. After about half an hour of trying to figure out whether I might be useful, or trying to find a place to go where I could cool down, I realized that I was kind of deeply fucked up (the weird head-pressure thing, plus I wasn't cooling down, even standing in front of a fan, and I could tell that my brain wasn't really operating normally, though I'm not sure how it was malfunctioning, exactly) and needed to go home. So I punched out, told people what was going on ("Yeah," said one of them, "you do look really pale." There was no need for her to add, again.), and then there was a brief conversation with co-workers about exactly how useless the ER and Occ. Health had been, and then the husband arrived and took me home.

Wasn't feeling any better at home, though it was cooler. Head still felt weird, and I was actually beginning to feel a little dizzy and nauseous, I was able to speak more or less coherently, but I remember being kind of frustrated at how slow it was -- I was having all the same thoughts; they were just taking longer to get to my mouth,6 and my arm was cramping up. We discussed whether I wanted to go to [crappy hospital I'd been to already] or [other hospital], and I said [crappy hospital] was probably the better choice, because at the very least they'd just seen me the day before, so maybe the fact that I was coming back would mean something to them, where I'd be starting over from scratch with [other hospital]. Husband argued that [other hospital] was the better choice, by virtue of not being crappy, and because we weren't mad at [other hospital] for the morning. The conversation was long. Eventually we wound up going back to [crappy hospital].

Hey everybody! I'm back!

Got there at just about 5 PM exactly, and didn't leave until just before 8 PM. Much, much, much better doctor this time. He said that the Wellbutrin really probably was not the cause, that if I'd already been on it for a couple years then my body was probably adapted to it just fine, that neither antidepressants as a class nor Wellbutrin specifically were known for causing that sort of problem, and so he didn't see any reason to go off of it. He also said, when I asked about what the Occ. Health doctor had said, that yeah, sure, there are blood pressure issues for some people with Wellbutrin, but if that was my problem, I would have found out when I first started taking it, not two years later.7

There was a urinalysis, and a blood workup, neither of which turned up anything terribly unusual or interesting, and I got a liter of saline solution by IV, which was interesting only insofar as getting a liter of room-temperature liquid stuck in you makes you cold,8 and so I was shivering during a lot of that. Also, judging by how many times the nurse had to stick me with the needle, I apparently have difficult, crooked veins that pretend to go one way but then go a different way. Which does (sigh) kinda sound like me.

The doctor said that it looked like I may actually have been drinking too much water, that my urine was awfully dilute,9 and my blood sodium and potassium were also on the low end of normal, which could also indicate some excessive dilution, though none of it threatened health or anything, just, it was noteworthy, especially for heat exhaustion, since overhydration and heat exhaustion aren't normally problems that go together.

He also said I shouldn't probably go to work on Wednesday, which I hadn't been planning on it anyway (I'm scheduled, but so is WCW, and it seems a bit silly to even try, at this point. One emergency room visit in one day: Oh, you poor dear. Two emergency room visits in two days: Oh my god! What's going on? Are you going to be okay? Is there anything I can do? Three emergency room visits in three days: Oh. So . . . you just really like going to the emergency room, right?). Didn't really address the question of whether to go back to work after that, or how.

Which is something I'm going to try to avoid thinking about today.

Side-note: I appreciate all the comments on yesterday's post. Obviously I would have responded to them, but I was kind of otherwise-occupied all day Tuesday.


Photo credits: Well, me, kind of obviously, though an argument could be made that Redbook sort of owns the Helen Hunt picture.

1 This is actually sort of unusual for me. I mean, I don't think of myself as being especially effeminate, and I don't get the impression from other people that they think I am either. But there must be something: I don't imagine many straight guys in that exam room have ever looked to Helen Hunt as a role model.
2 (North has a ridge vent, vent fans, a door to the west, and a door to the north which leads into a work area in back; south has only vents along the south wall, and two big industrial fan vents on the west. There's also a door on the west end, but it's broken in such a way that if you ever open it to get air moving, three different people will descend upon you on three separate occasions throughout the day, usually when you're holding something really heavy, whether you were the one who opened it or not, screeching that the door is never to be opened under any circumstances because there's something screwy with the door frame and it's, allegedly, hard to get the door closed again once it's been opened, so don't ever open the door ever, for any reason, ever. Though I've not had that much problem closing the door, when I've had to close it, so I'm a little confused still about what the deal is. In any case, having the vents at person-height along the walls, while better than nothing, also lets the heat build up along the roof. There's no ridge vent, and only two small exhaust fans up high, so the heat just builds and then gets blown down by two ceiling fans, so that there are two spots in that house where the plants dry out every fifteen minutes, and that are really uncomfortable, brain-cooking places to stand. Having a door to open on the west end would be helpful, though it's probably not the whole answer.)
3 (She also smokes. I used to smoke, and I don't recall having any problems with heat back when I was a smoker, so there's a hypothesis, but unfortunately I can't test that to see if smoking is WCW's secret heat-adaptation strategy, because not only would the husband not approve, but I'd likely wind up with asthma again, since developing asthma is why I was eventually forced to quit in the first place.)
4 Who is also a boss, but they apparently worked out a separate-spheres kind of arrangement a long time ago: he runs the flower shop and deliveries, and she runs the landscaping, billing, annuals, greenhouse, etc. There's some small overlap in the store and in the greenhouse, but otherwise they're more or less autonomous in their own part of the business.
5 My best guess is that the cold, when it hit my throat, caused some set of blood vessels in my throat or head or somewhere to constrict, which then led to feeling pressure in my head. I have no actual idea of this is correct, though I do know that this is the reasoning behind why they say not to take someone with heat stroke and toss them into a bathtub full of ice: the cold hitting their skin makes the blood vessels on the outside of their body constrict, and then the heat at the core of the body has a harder time getting out, so they actually, contrary to what you'd expect, stay hotter longer, in the areas where the damage is actually happening. This, on a smaller scale, could have been responsible for my headache, though if that were all, I'd think it would have gone away sooner than it did.
6 Which is kind of one of my very special fears about getting old. If I had a stroke or something, and it left me able to think but not able to communicate . . . .[shudder] I'd kind of rather be dead. In this case, I was really only having to be a little more deliberate about speaking than usual, and it wasn't that big of a deal, but even that much was panicking me a little bit. I want to be able to take communication for granted. In fact, I'm going to insist on it.
7 At this point, it occurred to me that the Occ. Health doctor hadn't even asked me how long I'd been taking Wellbutrin, and that information wasn't on the sheet I had had to fill out, and I got mad at him all over again. I really kind of hate him and wish him ill. At the very least he could have reminded me that I might be somewhat weakened by Monday's experience, and that I would be, consequently, more prone than usual to heat exhaustion on Tuesday. But no. Not even that.
8 Makes perfect sense, of course. The average body only has about 4 1/2 to 5 liters of blood to begin with: mixing a liter of saline at 72F (22C) with 5 liters of blood at 98F (37C) is going to drop the temperature of the mix down to about 94F (34C). Which I'm assuming is part of why they stretched it out over 30 or 40 minutes.
9 Specific gravity of 1.005 g/mL; the lab report said that the normal range was 1.001 to 1.031. Wikipedia gives the normal specific gravity of urine as 1.010 to 1.030, in which case I was outside the normal range, on the too-much-water side. Though we know Wikipedia is not necessarily to be trusted. In any event, I was only following the instructions from Occ. Health, may he burn in hell forever, and trying to drink enough to pee every hour. And I was peeing every hour, even after I left work: I went three times at the ER.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Work-related: The Emergency Room

So, I wound up in the emergency room today. It was my second day in a row week of having to leave work early, because I passed the point of being too damned hot and was in heat-exhaustion territory. I told the boss that she was maybe going to have to find herself a new greenhouse person, because I couldn't keep doing this, and she said back that what I needed to do was go see a doctor, because clearly this was a medical thing, and it needed to be fixed. The implication being that there's something wrong with me, if I can't work for eight hours a day in heat indices of 140-160F. So, a doctor. Which kind of glosses over the part where she's been scheduling me full-time hours but hasn't once brought up the subject of health insurance, which I think she's legally required to provide some kind of insurance if I'm working full-time hours. Though in fairness, I've been missing enough days here and there that it's possible I haven't yet worked enough hours at the right times to qualify for full-time status. I'm not sure how full-time status is actually determined.

But so anyway. Her answer was to see a doctor. So before I left work, I had the husband call the free medical clinic in town, who said to call one of the local hospitals and describe the situation to them, and then the hospital would make an appointment for me, or something like that. When I actually got home and talked to the hospital, though, the nurse I talked to said that it sounded like I was bad enough off that I should just go ahead and go to the emergency room instead.

The planters contained Dracaena deremensis 'Lemon-Lime' and assorted cvv. of Aglaonema, both choices that I approve of, though I'm pretty sure they're overwatering the Dracaenas.

A completely ridiculous amount of time was spent verifying my birthday and having people tell me that I had heat exhaustion. Absolutely nothing helpful happened. The doctor, when I eventually saw the doctor, said basically that I should drink lots of water, cut back on alcohol and caffeine, and consider the possibility that maybe I should look for a new line of work. All of which I was already aware of and doing, though caffeine is hard to give up and I hadn't cut it out completely, or very much, and the new-line-of-work train of thought is extremely depressing. Not something I want to be spending a lot of time thinking about right now. Job-hunting is a miserable thing.

So exactly how much water is a person supposed to drink? I mean, it's not like I was actually dehydrated: my urine was very nearly as clear going out as it was coming in, all day long, and I was drinking a half-liter bottle of water about every fifteen to twenty minutes. I could, it's true, drink more water than that, but I'd pretty much have to be doing nothing but drinking water, all day long, and not dealing with the plants at all. It's hard to see how that's to anybody's benefit: I could stay home and drink water all day. Also, the doctor said I should aim for drinking so much water that I'm having to urinate about once an hour, which is not far off of how often I actually was. So apparently I was getting it more or less right and being overcome by the heat anyway.

Which leads me to the conclusion that I need to be looking for another job. Even if I'm able to make it through the remaining six weeks of summer (or however many it is), and that's a fucking gigantic if, there's another summer where that came from next year, and then the year after that. This is not something I'm going to be able to keep up without some kind of serious injury sooner or later. Which of course just figures, 'cause this job I kind of liked, unlike the previous two.

Tomorrow, we've got a follow-up appointment with a different doctor about the heat thing, and then I go and try to work whenever that's over.

I saw this coming. I think I saw this coming. I've been anxious and depressed quite a bit this last week, and spending a lot of time worrying about whether or not I was going to be able to stay, not really seeing any ways to make it work out. And I've been telling WCW for months now that I didn't think it was going to work once it got really, truly hot -- I just kind of, as I was telling her, hoped that maybe it wouldn't really happen, like if I said it to somebody, instead of keeping it to myself, then the universe's natural tendency to try to make me look like a moron in front of people would work in my favor, and I'd end up staying.

Which maybe things can be done yet. I mean, I'm not sure which things, but it's not definitely over, either. It's just not looking very good. If this year follows the usual pattern, this isn't even the hottest it's going to get.

Meanwhile, adding insult to injury, I found mealybugs on my Marantas yesterday and had to throw them out (they're too easily replaced, and have too many crevices and hiding spots, to bother trying to fight the bugs over them). Which is depressing all on its own, because it means there's probably more on something else, somewhere in the apartment. I haven't had any luck getting rid of them on my Cereus peruvianus, not with neem oil, rubbing alcohol, or imidacloprid, and I've only maybe gotten them off of a Ficus lyrata and the Asplundia 'Jungle Drum:' it seems a bit much right now to be hopeful that I actually got those plants' bug problems under control.

Random plant event: Gymnocalycium graft blooming

I suppose this probably happens all the time, but I'd never seen it until the last month or so: grafted Gymnocalycium cacti can bloom. I've only rarely seen the non-grafted ones flower, so this was kind of doubly cool for me.

Or even triply cool: all the plants with purple grafts (but none of the other ones) were setting buds, but until last Monday, they always sold right before I got to see the flowers open. (Sometimes it works like that.) So it was nice to get the chance to see it at all. That it also happened to be pretty is a bonus.

I'm still not a fan of grafted cacti, and I still feel like the Hylocereus are getting screwed in the deal, but this was still pretty neat.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Pretty picture: Adenium obesum flower

This post is also a question for the hive mind: as sometimes happens, one of these followed me home from work, and now all of them, both the ones left at work and the one I bought, are dropping lots of leaves and looking kind of miserable. We've had these since either December or March; they behaved themselves just fine until the last few weeks. Googling the species brings up a lot of complicated-sounding care advice that, frankly, makes me a little angry I bought one, but I'm willing to work with mine if we can learn to communicate. I gather that I haven't been watering enough: does anybody have any other advice?

(UPDATE 26 Dec. 2008: It wasn't just watering. I did figure it out well enough to write a profile about Adenium obesum, but the plant in question was gone a long time ago.)