Friday, June 26, 2009

B12 Shots, Surgery, and Cheap Shirts

Yesterday I learned how to give myself shots.

Last month I had surgery for Crohn's disease, an intestinal disorder I'd had for almost 20 years. Without going into excessive detail a small portion of my intestine was removed (the diseased portion) and I'm now Crohn's free. This is good. (If you'd like to know more about Crohn's disease see CCFA—Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America for a good description of the disease.)

One consequence of the surgery is that the part of the intestine that was removed is the part that absorbs vitamin B12. This isn't always the case—sometimes patients have the disease in a different part of their intestine—but it's very common to have Crohn's in the area where I had it. So it's equally common that post-Crohn's-surgery patients require B12 supplements. Vitamin B12 comes in a pill form (so I'm told) but the easiest and cheapest way to get it is by injection. Pills have to be taken daily while the injection for most people is just once a month. The pills also have to be taken with certain foods to increase absorption while the injections are independent and easily absorbed. All things point to injections as being the way to go.

So yesterday I went to the doctor's office and a very patient nurse showed me how to give myself shots. In general I'm ok with needles; you get a lot of blood tests when you have Crohn's disease so you kind of get used to it. But I do have limits—and a very weak stomach when it comes to medical things. Suffice it to say I learned how to do it, but whether or not I'll be able to give myself the shots or need to have my husband (who previously had EMT training) do it remains to be seen.

On a different subject... Don't you love it when department stores give discounts? Most department store discounts seem to be in the form of percentages: 20% off your total purchase for some items (and not others), for example. Those types of discounts generally don't get me into the store. One department store near me, though, periodically sends coupons for $10 off everything—now that I like. That's free money. Of course the $10 coupon is a marketing gimic, intended to get you into the store so you'll spend more than $10 and that will be money that you may not have spent there otherwise. It's not a bad strategy, as marketing strategies go. It just doesn't work well with me. For me, it's $10, and this particular store almost always has decent shirts for only slightly more than $10, so I end up going and getting what turns out to be a very cheap shirt. Rarely do I pay more than $10 and usually it's closer to $5. Today I paid all of $3.73 for my new shirt; last time it was $5.33. So unfortunately for the department store they don't end up getting a whole lot of extra money out of me. Ok, I'll acknowledge it is a few dollars more than I would have spent (since without the coupon I wouldn't have gone in and would have spent zero), but those few dollars a few times a year don't break the bank for me—and I can't quite see how it could be profitable for the store. But if thousands of people go and spend just a few dollars like I do I suppose it adds up. Ultimately it must be worthwhile for the store since I keep getting the coupons, which means more new shirts for me!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Taking the Plunge

After much deliberation, consternation, and procrastination I've decided to enter the world of blogging. So here it goes.

I've avoided all social networking sites like the plague for a while now. I don't blog (until now), don't Twitter, don't have a Facebook page, have never looked at MySpace, and I've only recently become aware of Ning, which I gather is a relative newcomer to the social network scene. I'm sure there are many more sites I'm not aware of, to say nothing of the thousands of communities out there that provide discussions on various topics. I do have a profile on LinkedIn but only because it's a professional gathering and when I started that way back when it wasn't included in the same group as the social networking sites; now I usually see it listed along with all the others. I considered social networking an unnecessary, frivolous activity that would just be time consuming and could potentially open up numerous cans of worms including security, identity theft, and most importantly the ability of people (like future employers) to dig up personal information about you on the Web. (I never said all of my concerns were rooted in reality.) I figured staying away from social media sites entirely was the easiest way to avoid the potential pitfalls. That, and I'm a pretty private person, anyway, so joining a social network "just for the fun of it" never really appealed to me. And there's definitely that time consuming thing—I figured I spent enough time on the computer already as it was!

So why am I starting a blog now? For a number of reasons. I'm still not going to establish accounts with Facebook or Twitter but I've come to see that having a blog could be fun. Recently I've been reading some blogs of people I know and I find that I enjoy reading them, so if I enjoy reading other peoples' blogs maybe some people will enjoy reading mine.

I also think having a blog would be good for my career. I recognize that social media sites aren't just for fun anymore: More and more corporations have an advertising presence on them and organizations use them to communicate with their members. (I was recently told that my department at school now has a following on Facebook. Intriguing, but I'm still not going to join it.) Next semester I'm taking a course on social media and public relations so I expect to learn a lot more about the positive aspects of social networking.

I've also come to recognize that if I want to get a good job in technical communication I need to have some sort of Web presence. I'm working on putting together a personal Web site but in the meantime I think a blog is a good start: It's definitely more practice for my Web skills than I thought it would be. (I've spent the past several days tweaking the template to get it exactly how I wanted it.) Technical communication also includes technical writing, and employers usually want to see writing samples for prospective employees. While a blog doesn't substitute for professional examples it is a good platform for my general skills as a writer. It (hopefully) will show employers that I can communicate clearly on various topics—whatever those topics may be, because frankly I haven't planned things out quite that far yet.

So there you have it—my reasons for starting a blog. Better late than never, right? As a Christian artist I like says, "The river's deep, the river's wide... So sink or swim I'm diving in." I'm taking the plunge. We'll see what the future holds!