Monthly Archives: March 2013 - Page 2

Day 240 – All Work and No Play

My name is Rick and my cancer status is unknown…

It has been a busy week. Every day has been filled with some type of work from 6AM to 10PM; with little or no break. My main focus has been parenting, family and earning. I am happy with all I have accomplished but I am pretty darn tired. I haven’t sat down with nothing to do for more than 30 minutes in over a week. I don’t think I can keep this up and plan to relax a little today. I think the cold that put me down down yesterday is the price I paid for all the activity… I felt incredibly lousy the last 2 days but today I am feeling much better.

Weds was a momentous day as I participated in the first of hopefully many meetings with leaders at Penn’s cancer center. The meeting was organized by a person whose entire job is to improve care at the center. Based on our initial conversations, she invited medical people, process managers, nursing administrators and various other support management to interview me in person. We focused on a number of aspects of cancer care; doctor visits, trips to the “machines”, patient orientation and the paper given to patients after they see the doctors. The feedback the organizer gave was very positive. That felt good. We were scheduled for only an hour but went 30 mins longer. I suspect it is very unusual to keep folks at this level engaged past their allotted time! I really hope that my involvement will help improve care for others (not that it was bad, it was GREAT, but you can always do better) and it is an honor to be involved. Next steps are more meetings, some of the individuals want to talk to me directly and I am going to get involved in a one-on-one support system they have. This “network” appears sort of hush hush but I guess I am in the club now. You have to be trained but once you are, select patients will have access to you. I am looking forward to speaking with people about to or who are in the middle of treatment. Beyond the network, they have an action to improve a specific process step — the “after visit summary” per my original suggestion — so there are actions related to that as well. All-in-all a very gratifying, energizing and enlightening experience. More to come.

My energy level is high enough to keep me going at the blistering pace I am on right now. I am probably doing too much but it feels good. A good amount of my effort is doing things for others… something that always seems like my focus. For example, 2 days ago I went to Temple U in order to do a talk on IT to students. They have these things called “toolbox talks” that they conduct throughout the semester. I have been in conversation with the head of the program for a few years about doing an IT talk. She has been hesitant because she hasn’t seen the need. I have been giving a talk on competitive analysis for 4 years which has been consistently well received and I assured her that this technical subject is essential. Sure, technology can be boring but it is hard to ignore for any business. She finally relented and agreed to have me give the talk. We were scheduled for 1 1/4 hours and it went nearly 2 1/2. Hardly anyone left and the administrator of the program said it was the best session of the semester… by far. I enjoyed it tremendously.

My mother-in-law has been in the hospital for nearly 2 weeks.  She went to the emergency room the day after her second impacted tooth was removed and ended up with sepsis.  I was the first to arrive at the hospital that day and it was a very unsettling sight but I won’t bore you with the details.  The emergency doctors saved her life that day but she continues to be very sick given her age, prior medical condition and the severity of the illness.  The bacteria that caused her infection turns out to the MRSA which further complicates her situation.  My wife visits nearly every day and I try to get there every other.  The whole situation continues to be very stressful and time consuming with no end in sight.

On the business front I have been busy but not as busy as I expected to be. There were 3 contracts I was told were “green lighted” that have yet to start. One is a bust but the other 2 are supposed to happen. While it would be great if they did from an earnings standpoint, I don’t have a lot of time right now. I always make time for projects that bring in money but it can be difficult from a time/energy perspective. Right now I have one solid contract that is paying the bills and that is just fine. Beyond the consulting side of world, I am actively working with 2 people in startup mode. Hopefully something comes of those opportunities as well.

From a health perspective, things are going along just fine. The cold I have is pretty debilitating but other than that, I am making the right kind of progress. The steroids seem to be doing their job meaning I am no longer seriously chilled or unduly tired. The pain in my neck area from radiation continues to diminish. I am having some problems with a dry mouth… I really have a difficult time chewing on my left side because food gets really dry over there. I have no idea whether that is going to be permanent, but I can live with it. I see the radiation doc next week so we will see. People ask if my taste is back and I would say that it is. I am starting to get some feeling back on the left side of my face and tiny amounts of beard that disappeared are starting to emerge as well. I didn’t have much facial hair to begin with but it is still weird that I shave only one side of my face. I haven’t looked at the back of my head in a while so I don’t know if any of that hair is starting to grow back. I don’t really care either way.

I heard a lecture a few months back by the guy that co-founded Whole Foods (John Mackey). He said he uses the acronym SOUL as way to guide interactions. The acronym is means Stop, Observe, Understand, Love. I don’t know why I threw that in this post but… I did. Enjoy.