So, I started my new job last week.
I spent much of the first week trying to stop the “message waiting” light from flashing. I knew what I had to do – call the voice-mail system, listen to all the old messages and dump them.
So, I press the button for voice-mail and get an alternating tone. What does that mean? Does it mean I’m in the voice mail system? Does it mean “enter your password”? I have no idea, so I enter my password, and it makes a different beep, so maybe that means “no, wrong password”.
I go to the “self-help” page, and the “phone training” pages. They disagree as to which is the default password. Great.
Now I have to do the thing I hate – I have to call the help-desk. So I call, and I let them know what the problem is. I give them my email account and all the other information that they need.
Finally, I come into work after the weekend, and I think I’ve figured it out. I leave the voice-mail button alone, and dial the voice-mail extension by hand. This time, it says something like “welcome to the voice-mail system, please enter your password”.
Seventeen messages later, fifteen of which are from before I started at the company, I reach the cracker. A message from the help-desk, telling me that maybe my voice-mail button isn’t programmed yet, and detailing the default password. They end by telling me “if you are still unable to access your voice-mail, please call the help-desk”.
I call the help-desk in return, and suggest that when people are having trouble with the phone system, that the phone system is not necessarily the best method of contacting them.
Three years ago, just before Thanksgiving, I went in for a relatively routine (if rather uncomfortable) surgery.
While I was under anaesthesia, the doctor found, and excised a “stage I seminoma”. For those of you unfamiliar with Lance Armstrong, that’s early testicular cancer.
Since that time, I’ve had radiation therapy (curiously, at the same time that the movie of “The Incredible Hulk” was being advertised on TV), a couple more surgeries, and several more doctor visits, blood-draws, and CT-Scans. The end result is very much worth it – I’m cancer-free, and have been for three years.
The peculiar aspect is the most frequent response I get from others:
“You don’t look old enough for cancer.”
That’s flattering, to be sure, but testicular cancer is usually found in men between the ages of 25 to 35. As such, I was on the upper end of the age range, and I was lucky that my tumour was found before it had spread. Testicular cancer is particularly fast-spreading, but if caught early, can be treated with a minimum of radiation. In the vast majority of cases, this (and monitoring) kills the cancer with no remission.
During my radiation treatment, I initially lost weight, then gained it (and a little more) as I kept snacking to fend off the mild nausea. I lost hair from the affected area – a rectangle roughly from my belly-button up to the base of my rib cage (and a matching rectangle on the back – X-rays go right through you!) And… that’s it.
Yes, that’s the limit of the uncomfortable aspect of the treatment.
For those of you worried about asking the awkward and embarrassing question, let me assure you that you can “fly with one engine” just as well as with two. [Testicular cancer travels “up” rather than “across”.]
I like to tell people you can check as often as you like, and as fast as you like, but you need to make sure you check yourself.
Sure, the treatment may be embarrassing, and I know there are parts of it that still irritate me. But nobody ever died of embarrassment.