An Open Letter To The Sharp Memorial Hospital Team

Dear Sharp Memorial Crew,

First off, let me say Thank You to everyone with whom I came into contact at your facility.  You were all smiles.  You cared, and it showed.  I was a 41 year old surgery virgin, and you were all gentle and sweet.  And also HILARIOUS!  I love you all.  Thank you.

It’s funny, but I thought this was going to be easy to write, but I find I’m having trouble finding the right words.  I guess I’ll defer to my usual style, which is organized chaos.

sharpexperience I thought I understood “The Sharp Experience.”  I was wrong.  You all completely blew my expectations out of the water, and made what could have been the most stressful experience of my life into an absolute pleasure.  No joke.  I spent about 29 hours with you all between Friday morning and Saturday afternoon, and you exceeded ALL of my expectations.  Everyone I met was friendly, smiling, and willing to help.  All completely professional, of course, but still willing to crack a joke and laugh with me.

Unfortunately, I can’t remember everyone’s name that I met.  I wish I could.  They all deserve individual credit, so feel free to contact me and we’ll track them down.  I can tell you that everyone was great.  Literally EVERYONE.  I don’t know anyone’s last name, so you’ll have to figure that out.  Here are a few standouts:

Cara in the SPA was SUPER friendly.  What a delight.  She really helped make the waiting bearable.

phlebotomistBlood-taker girl with tattoos who was also in the SPA – Only saw her twice I think, but both times she was great.  Memorably so.  Made me smile both times.  If she needs any more of my blood she knows where to find me.  With how gentle she was both times, she could be taking it right now and I wouldn’t even know.

MJ – Wow.  What can I say about MJ.  She was my RN the first night in the hospital.  Incredibly patient with me.  Was there every time I needed her.  We walked around the floor.  She got me jello after jello.  Helped me with all my meds.  Took me off the IV as soon as it was feasible (FREEDOM!).  Adjusting the bed.  MJ is awesome.  Special thanks to her.  I was so out of it during much of my time with her that I can’t remember a lot of the details.  What I do remember is an overwhelming sense that I was completely safe and cared for during this time. (EDIT:  So I was originally done and going to publish this letter, but upon re-reading it I wanted to write more nice things about MJ.  I know she was a former traveler who just recently started at Sharp Memorial full-time.  Sharp, you scored BIG TIME with this one.  MJ, just keep doing what you’re doing.  You’re awesome.  HOORAY FOR MJ!)

Dawit, my man.  Thanks for the stroll around the floor.  And for collecting and measuring my pee.  It smelled terrible, but you were a champ.

feast-2JUANITA!  OH JUANITA! Let me tell you a story.  It starts with a hungry boy, post throat and spine surgery.  It ends with custom meals handcrafted with love to ensure I could actually eat it.  Chicken cut up into tiny pieces.  SHE LITERALLY CUT UP A PIECE OF FRIED CHICKEN INTO TINY LITTLE SLIVERS OF AWESOMENESS so that my recently intubated and slit open throat could eat them.  Was that all?  OF COURSE NOT!  She then gave me a bowl of warm chicken broth so I could dip these chicken pieces and get them soggy enough to swallow.

She is freaking incredible.  Extra applesauce.  Apple juice.  Scrambled eggs cut up into tiny bite sized pieces.  Lactose free milk.  Hot cocoa.  Juanita went so far out of her way to make sure I was happy that I don’t even have the words to describe how big of a difference she made.  Thank you, Juanita.  I ate food besides jello solely because of you. (EDIT:  I am STILL telling people about Juanita 5 days after I left the hospital.  Woot!)

Renea.  My dear Renea.  Who wandered the halls and storage areas hunting for ever more jello for me (and finding it!).  I was already starting to feel better when we met, but you ensured my spirits remained high and I’d be ready to check out as soon as possible.  I say “check out” instead of discharged because I felt more like I was in a fancy hotel instead of a hospital. Renea, who never ONCE corrected me when I called her Renee.  I still think your shoes are cool.

anesthesiaObviously I’d like to thanks my anesthesiologist Dr. Fowler (I think I spelled that correctly?) who did an awesome job and didn’t leave me in that half-life you see in the movies where you can’t move during surgery but you’re still totally awake and able to see and feel everything that’s going on.  That would have been awful.  Instead I drifted gently off to sleep and woke up with no problems.  I have no memory of the recovery room following surgery.  Keep kicking butt, Doc!

nmc-logo-printDr. Ostrup.  My neurosurgeon.  The man who ripped out pieces of my spine with his bare hands, power tools, and force of will, then replaced it with robot parts.  BEEP BOOP THANK YOU FELLOW HUMAN.  Seriously though, Thanks for everything.  You took the time to answer all of my questions using small, simple words I could understand.  Like “Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion” and “Coffee.”  Your calm demeanor and nonchalant attitude really helped me relax in the days leading up to the procedure.  I hope you carved your initials into one of my vertebrae.  You deserve it.

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Day after surgery – still in hospital

There were so many others who deserve mention and I’ll blame a naturally poor memory mixed with a variety of pain medications on my forgetfulness, but we should be able to identify them here:  My three “shower girls” who came in and changed my sheets and towels, set up the bathroom for a hot shower, gave me instructions on how to do it without re-injuring myself, and were all smiles and happiness.  You all were great and had me constantly laughing and smiling.  My Occupational Therapist (Nancy?) who made sure I knew how to dress myself without falling on my face, and who shared some personal stories of success that made me feel better about my own situation.  My Physical Therapist who walked with me around the floor and was stunned by my mobility.  HAH!  Jokes on you.  MJ and I were walking around the floor all night long.  I couldn’t sleep anyway, might as well check some boxes off the board!  The two Charge Nurses (night and day) who stopped to chat and ask how I was doing during my walks around the floor.  Thanks for your concern!  All the nurses at the desks who smiled when I walked by.  Every smile is a bit of happiness you can share.  Carlos, thanks for the smooth wheelchair ride to the door when I was dischargedIf I forgot anyone, I’m sorry.  Your contribution was significant, and you too are appreciated.  And I suppose a special Thank You to someone I’ve never met but who had an equally important role to play: The Jello Stocker.  Thank you.  You brought more happiness to me during this experience than I can possibly express in words.  Jello is life.  Jello is love.

And what can I say about The Hotel Del Sharp Memorial.  They did everything right. Comfortable single rooms.  Comfortable beds.  Incredible food.  Super friendly everybody.  Awesome views.  This was a luxury experience.

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I have to keep coming back to the staff here.  Sharp clearly has incredible hiring practices.  This one deserves another mention.  Whoever is in charge of hiring the people with whom I interacted should be invited to the pizza party you’re going to throw for everyone on my floor.  I’m not joking.  Pizza Party.  Or, you know, whatever kind of awesomely catered food and party these people want.  Do it.  They deserve it.  Also, big raises, their own ponies, some kind of monogrammed scrubs that say BEST TEAM EVER, probably a tiara of some kind, and a series of crisp high-fives.

OH!  You know what? I thought of one critique.  One tiny space for improvement.  In the private bathroom in my private room, with my private view of the sunrise, the toilet paper rolls were a little low.  A bit hard to reach.  There.  That’s it.  Could you raise them up about a foot?  That would be awesome.  Thanks!

But the most important thing, to me, while in the hospital for what was my very first surgery (nearly 42 years old!) was this:  I never once felt afraid.  Nervous before the surgery, sure!  But I always felt safe, and surrounded by confident, knowledgeable people who could handle anything my broken down body could throw at them.  Except my jokes, which were apparently too painful to take. 🙂

Thank you all.

Kind Regards,
Humble Dave

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It’s The Simple Things

homer drooling

If you know anything about me, it’s that I love French Fries*.  Shoestring?  They’re okay.  Skinny fries are good. Crinkled?  Yes please!  Waffle fries.  Love ’em; they’re like a meal all on their own.  Steak Fries. Oooooohhhh steak fries.

Salt is mandatory, but ketchup (what the heck is catsup anyway?) is usually a nice addition.  Especially bacon ketchup, but I suppose that’s a whole blog post on it’s own.  Now ketchup packets were a wonderful invention, making it easier to travel, and was probably born of the fast food craze (hooray drive through!) but I’ve done zero research on that so I wouldn’t go repeating it as fact at your next ketchup party (as crazy as the world is, I’m fairly certain that’s a thing somewhere).  But the packet hasn’t evolved much over the years until fairly recently.

heinz dip&squeeze
This is the next evolution of the ketchup packet, and it’s genius.  Sometimes I don’t want to spray ketchup all over the place.  Sometimes I just want to dip my fries in the container, like chicken nuggets into a bbq sauce container.  It’s so simple, yet so elegant.  If you want to dip, you can dip.  If you want to squeeze your dead tomatoes all over your dead potatoes, you can do that too!  Clearly I have fries on the brain.  Obviously you could use this to squeeze ketchup onto a sandwich or something besides fries if you wanted to do so (even on your spaghetti, Dad).  It’s just amazing.  Now I don’t know if Heinz has some kind of patent on this or they buy them from a company with a patent, but I do know this: It should be shared with the world.  So simple, yet so much joy.

I suppose everything has its downside.  It looks like there’s more material, so more for the landfill, which means it’s probably terrible for the environment.   But it’s all about perspective, right?  The environment will absolutely try to kill you if given half a chance.  It doesn’t seem SO bad when we reframe it as self-defense.  Of course, if we kill the environment we won’t have anyplace to live, so that’s bad too.  Oof, I don’t think I can solve this puzzle in a ketchup blog.

This was supposed to be another short blog.  Literally just a picture of the ketchup thing and “These are great.  Go try ’em.”  Ah well.

Anyway, sound off in the comments if you know of any other genius inventions that are this simple and awesome.

As always, thanks for reading, and you’re welcome!

Living the Dream,
Humble Dave

 

*I capitalized them because French Fries DESERVE to be capitalized.  We capitalize your name and you haven’t made half the impact they have.  Show some respect!

American Airlines Saves The Day!

I’m an idiot.  I fully admit this.  I can occasionally do wondrous things, but like everything, they’re balanced with acts of such stupidity that it’s not impossible I’m the fulcrum on which the entire universe is balanced.

Anyway, Wife and I were supposed to go on an amazing family vacation last July.  16ish family members renting a giant house in Myrtle Beach (is it in or on Myrtle Beach?  Or at?  Meh, I’m going with in.), right on the beach.  My incredibly awesome parents bought tickets for wife and me.  That was very nice of them, but they’re very nice people so this makes sense.  We were REALLY looking forward to it.  Had boarding set up for the dog and everything.

So naturally we had to cancel because of my stupid neck.  We waited as long as we could.  Finally, it’s a few hours before the flight and I realize there’s no freaking way I could do it.  Moving was agony.  Sitting still was agony with the exception of ONE POSITION on my couch.  Seriously, I’m not even joking.  Sitting on the far right and leaning onto the armrest with my feet bent underneath me in a slightly uncomfortable manner but it doesn’t matter because temporary relief for my neck. So, yeah, the uber to the airport, walking through security, carrying a backpack, sitting on the plane, etc. etc.  Individually none of those things were possible.  Stacked together they were even more impossible.  If something could be more than impossible this was it.

I canceled online, then emailed American Airlines customer service and awesome CJ confirmed our cancellation and agreed to waive the rebooking fee for us.  He sent me an email confirming everything, and reminding me that I had to use the value of these tickets within 1 year of PURCHASE DATE, and fly within 1 year of the original trip date.  What a great guy.  This is customer service, people take note.

Now, please keep in mind that I’m in extreme pain, super disappointed that we won’t be going on this annual trip that’s been planned for a year, and very highly medicated.  Although this doesn’t absolve me for reasons that will become clear, I feel it’s worth considering in my defense.

Defense of what?  Be patient, people.  Dang.

My parents visited in October after I was starting to feel better.  Not great, but better.  My Dad, ever the pragmatist, suggested I should book flights for the next family vacation July 2018 to make sure I don’t run into problems with the voucher.  Did I thank him?  Did I bow to his years of wisdom and practice of the Six P’s to minimize the potential for error?  Nope.  I had PLENTY of time!  The trip wasn’t for 9 months!  I’m an idiot.

He mentioned it once or twice again during the week he was out, never pushing, but definitely emphasizing I should do it before something goes wrong.  Meh.  What could possibly go wrong?

whatcouldpossibligowrong

They went home.  Over the next couple months Pop mentioned it a couple more times. “You should really us that voucher and book the flights.”  Ugh, I have PLENTY OF TIME!  I’ll take care of it soon.

Anyway, soon rolls around this week.  I think, “Maybe it’s time to book those flights with the voucher.  It’s about 5 months until the trip, that seems like a good lead-time.  So I booked the flights and everything went smoothly, right?

Oh man that would make a boring post.  I called AA (American Airlines, not to be confused with Alcoholics Anonymous.  JUST BECAUSE I LIKE WHISKEY DOESN’T MEAN I HAVE A PROBLEM!  Shut up.  YOU have a problem.) and the lovely lady on the phone kindly informed me that the vouchers expired.  Excuse me?  That can’t be right.  You see, if this is the case then I have several problems that can’t be ignored. 1) I just wasted over $1,000 of my parents kind gift. 2) I now have to pay for an expensive flight cross country. And 3) I HAVE TO TELL MY FATHER AND HE WAS RIGHT AND TOLD ME SO!  AH!  NO!  Actually, that 3rd one happens more often than I’d like to admit.  I really, really should listen more closely when he offers me advice.  Kind phone lady insists (politely) that unfortunately she can’t help me, but I can email AA customer support and maybe they can do something.  I am despondent.  And unconsolable.  Inconsolable?  Inconsolable, that’s what I am according to this.

But wait, there’s a glimmer of hope!  I might be able to find… wait… yes!  I still have CJ’s email and contact info!  I email him with my issue, my challenge, my gross stupidity.  I prostrate myself before his infinite goodness and beg the forgiveness of American Airlines and the gods of “people-who-don’t-listen-to-their-parents-and-pay-the-price.”

And I wait.  And wait.  And wait.  No, not because they were slow to respond or didn’t care.  But because it was President’s Day, and George “Wooden Choppers” Washington and Abraham “Awesome Beard” Lincoln deserve some respect.

But the next day I receive a response.  Awesome CJ works his awesome magic and sorts me out.  Why did he do it?  He didn’t have to.  Could have easily said, “Sorry Mr. Dave, but you’re an idiot and if there aren’t consequences you’ll never learn from your mistakes and grow, emotionally, as a productive member of society and, more importantly, as a human being.”  I would have walked away dejected, but understanding of their position.  After all, it was obviously all my fault, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned in all the years of making mistakes is to own it and move forward.  I rarely make the same mistake more than 5 or 6 times.

one-on-one-meeting

But NO!  CJ doesn’t play that!  He walked right into his boss’s office and said, “Boss, this guy Dave’s an idiot, but we’re going to help him anyway.  Why?  Because we can!” and his boss said, “Yes we can!  Because we’re American Airlines and we’re awesome!  You go right back to that idiot and sort him out properly.” (dramatization)

 

CJ took some extra time and provided the type of customer service that happens fairly often, but you rarely read about it.  CJ and American Airlines are awesome.  How can I properly thank him?  I did the online survey, obviously.  But that didn’t seem like enough.  So I sent this:

“CJ, thank you so much. I really appreciate this.  You’re a legend.  I’ll be writing about this in the next few days on my blog HumbleDave.com so you’re definitely going to be internet famous.  I have about 30 readers so you’ll probably have to wear a disguise when you leave the house to avoid being mobbed by fans.
If any of your supervisors are reading this: GIVE CJ A RAISE!  And a promotion.  I’m thinking c-suite.  Maybe Chief Customer Relations Officer.  $500,000/year salary plus bonuses (obviously) and use of a company private jet.  I’ll be keeping an eye out for the press release, American!
Seriously, you saved the day.  Thanks a whole bunch.  I’ve attached a picture of a happy dog for your viewing pleasure.”

CJ, if you’re reading this: I now have 36 followers, so you’ll need a better disguise than a fake mustache and glasses.  Actually, I just realized that since I have no idea what you look like you might have a real mustache and glasses.  Oh well, I leave the disguise up to you.

Anyway, the point is this: CJ is awesome, and American Airlines is also awesome.  The other point is that great customer service still lives, but you have to give companies the opportunity to provide it.  In the immortal words of Michael Scott:

you missMichael Scott, truly “The Great One.”

Thank you CJ, and thank you American Airlines.  You saved my butt.  I appreciate it.

Living the Dream,
Humble Dave

 

It’s The Little Things…

This blog post was originally going to be about something else entirely.  A shelf.  Yup.  I know what you’re thinking, “Who cares about a stupid shelf?”  You do.  Believe me.  It’s an awesome shelf.  But, as will happen, something else caught my attention and distracted me.  I’m still going to write about it, just not here.  I mean, not any more than I already have.  Starting… now.

As I said, I got distracted.  I’m like that dog from the movie “Up.”  Don’t know what I’m talking about?  Here you go. But I digress.  We’re here to talk about the little things that make life better.

I am occasionally forgetful.  My wife would suggest I’m being generous with my adverb, but when she writes her own blog she can use whatever words she wants.  This one’s mine.  As I said, I am occasionally forgetful.  One of the things I forget is the porch light.  Either turning it on, or turning it off.  Usually it just stays on 24 hours/day, 7 days/week, 365 1/4 days/year (leap year is just bad math).  Of course, the ultimate goal is for the light to be on when it’s dark outside, and off when it’s light outside.  But, and here’s the kicker, I rarely use the front door.  My car’s in the garage.  I rarely drive my car out through the person-sized front door, preferring to use the car-sized garage door.  I know, I’m eccentric.  But this means I don’t often SEE the light, and forget it’s on.

So imagine my surprise when I discovered that I am apparently NOT the only person with this challenge?  And apparently some forgetful genius invented a solution!  The “Dusk-To-Dawn” Lightbulb.

Here’s how it works.  You screw it in to the fixture.  Then you turn the switch to the “on” position.  Huh.  That’s weird.  The light’s still off?  DON’T PANIC!  It’s all going according to plan (assuming you did this during the day).  All you have left to do is wait for sunset.  That’s when the magic happens.  The sun goes down, and the light goes on.  All by itself.  It’s like a little miracle.  But… you know… it’s science.

WAIT!  It’s too soon to celebrate.  This is only half our problem, right?  The other half is “does it go off in the morning?”  Spoiler alert: It does!  The sun comes up and the light goes off.  Celebration time!  WOOT!

So back to my original theme: “It’s the little things.”  It really is.  Little conveniences like this automatic lightbulb help make life just a little bit better.  Sure, I could have retrained myself to add flipping the porch light switch twice each day.  But I’ve got other stuff to do.  This is EXACTLY what technology is for: Improve our quality of life.  This is one product that delivers on that promise.

Want to buy one?  It’s about $10.  Here’s the one I’m using:

Philips Energy Saver Dusk-to-Dawn Light Bulb

I can’t say enough nice things about this bulb.  Enjoy!

Living the Dream,

-Humble Dave

SOONGO Mechanical Wired Floating Keys Backlit LED Gaming Keyboard

Listen, I want to be honest with you.  I’m not much of a gamer.  I like and appreciate computer games, I just don’t have the time to dedicate to them anymore.  I am, however, on a computer all day for work.  And over the years I’ve used a variety of keyboards.
Wired, wireless, bluetooth (with and without dongle.  Oh how I hate the dongle), noisy, quiet-key, etc.  I’m also old enough to remember typewriters, and my family even had smith-corona-typewriter-w-case-corsair-deluxeone. For those of you who have used a typewriter, there’s a very satisfying “KA-CHUNK” every time you hit a key and stamp the paper.  I miss those sounds and tactile feedback.  Well, I’ve found the next best thing.  Mechanical Keyboards.

Mechanical keyboards offer a number of advantages over membrane keyboards.  If you want to read an awesome piece about the differences, check out this piece on “How-To Geek” by Chris Stobing.  He does a better job walking you through the differences than I ever could.  If you want a tl;dr (to long; didn’t read): They’re better, but they cost more.

If you’re a serious gamer you’re probably going to buy an expensive keyboard ($100+).  If you’re ultra-casual (like me) or just going to use it for work because you like the feel (also like me), then you don’t need to spend nearly that much.  The SOONGO is perfect for my needs, and is priced around $40 on Amazon.

It’s a full-sized keyboard including a number pad.  The drivers are self-installing, so it’s completely plug-and-play.  Literally.  You plug it in and within a minute or so it works.  The keys feel great and have an extremely satisfying “click” when you press them.  Additionally their font is unique and gives the whole keyboard a very space-age feel.    The function keys are dual purpose, and will let you control your media, screen, and other things.

capture

Is that it, you ask?  Nope.  Each key is back lit.  There’s a rainbow array of colors.  You can leave them all-on, all-off, or what the instructions refer to as “breathing” which means they slowly fade in and out.  That’s my favorite.


So there you have it!  A great mechanical keyboard for the casual user, as an awesome price.  I should also point out that you get 932 style points for using a keyboard like this at your office when everyone else is using their dumb old dell keyboards that came with the computer and were assigned to them.  SPRUCE UP YOUR WORKSPACE!

Here’s a video I made of the keyboard so you can see the lights and here the clicks.  If you want to feel the keys you’re going to have to buy one yourself.  Enjoy it, I certainly am!

Live the Dream,

-Humble Dave

Amazon Product Link: SOONGO Mechanical Keyboard

Disclosure: I received this product at a discount in exchange for testing and review.  My opinions are my own.

Excelvan Decorative LED Book Light

I love books.  Love ’em.  Over the course of my life I’ve read literally thousands of different books, and many of them more than once.  I have my mother to thank for instilling in me a love of reading.  In fact, the only reason that my writing is the least bit palatable is because of all the wordsing I do.  You know I’m good because I can make up new words, like “wordsing,” and you second guessed yourself into thinking it might actually be a real word (it wasn’t, but it is now!).

But the question is: What do you get for someone who loves reading and books, but owns all the books they want (or has time for)?  Well I’ll tell you: You get them a decoration that looks like a book.  BOOM!  I just blew your mind.

The Excelvan decorative book light is exactly that.  It has a sturdy wooden cover with a decorative curved binding.  It feels solid and earthy in your hands.  You like it.  And then you open it and are gently BLINDED BY THE LIGHT OF KNOWLEDGE!  I’m just kidding.  It’s not blinding.  It’s a gentle white light.  I do liken it to the light of knowledge, which can be found in any book, from The Diggingest Dog to War and Peace.


Once opened, the book-light warms any room with its gentle glow.  It fits anyplace you could put an open book.  The magnets in the cover keep it closed and ensure the lights are off.  They can also be used to open the book a full 180 degrees and keep it open, creating a 360 degree ring of light.


It’s powered by an internal battery that lasts for about 8 hours, and is charged by an included USB power cord.  The port is small and out-of-the-way so it doesn’t interfere with the asthetics.  While it is plugged in, there is a red light to indicate it is charging which turns blue once fully charged.  When unplugged there is no charge indicator.

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I’m seriously considering buying a second one of these, because I know I’m going to miss this when I give it to my favorite book-lover.  I’m sure my mom will love it!

As always, live the dream!

-Humble Dave

Amazon Product Link: Excelvan USB Book Light

Disclosure: I received this product at a discount in exchange for testing it.  All opinions are my own.