No fire brigade, just pyromania

Okay, first and foremost — it was a great big no go on the MRI. When I had an MRI on my knees 2 years ago, the tech only put me in the machine up to my chest. It was no big deal at all, I could handle that. The guy today? Wanted to put me practically all the way into the MRI machine. Um. No. Not just no, but HELL NO! I really truly do not see the need to put me into the MRI machine up to my nose, just to get scans of my knees. I’m not claustrophobic per se, but when you put me into a teeny tiny tube? Yeah. Not going to happen. I had a hard enough time getting through the one they had to do on my brain last year, and there’s no way I could do that again.

If it was going to be maybe a 5 minute test, I might’ve been able to stick it out. But I was going to be in there for about 40 minutes per knee. Almost 2 hours. Oh god no, there’s no way. I started to have a panic attack when the guy put me all the way into the machine. I’m still having little mini-attacks now, heart going insane, but I’m slowly calming down. So, the front clerk gave me the phone number for the Plano facility, since they have an open MRI machine. I have to call them tomorrow and get an appointment scheduled there to get the MRI done. Thank god for open MRI’s! hah.

But. Yes. Now to finish the Halloween Hell Adventure. After I left on Wednesday, Deb & Barney & IT moved our PCs down to the first floor, as well as all my cash office equipment. We’ve been down there since, and likely will be until the end of this week, or beginning of next week. They’ve got our part of the 4th floor mostly dry, but it still REEKS up there. My work phone was ruined, but they got me a brand new one. Yay! Outside in the hall, directly under the flow of water, was a metal rack holding a couple of printers as well as a fax machine, tons of paperwork, etc. All of that was completely ruined.

Now, for the theories. The Fire Marshal claims that the sprinkler was set off by someone standing directly beneath it, and holding a lighter right up against the cover. Ummm. Sorry, but no way in hell. The big boss in my dept is over 6’3″ tall. He cannot reach the sprinkler without standing on something. Even the (rather tall) fireman who plugged up the sprinkler so I could escape had to have a chair to stand on to reach it. Now, if some one managed to stand on a chair directly in front of the open door of my office and hold a lighter to the sprinkler without me seeing it, wouldn’t they have also ended up pretty damn wet when the sprinkler finally activated? And yet, I was the only person who got doused. And if the Fire Marshal wants to imply that it was me who did it? HA! I invite their investigators to come meet me. I’m only a mere 5’3″ and overweight with bad arthritis in my knees. Not only that, but on Halloween I had that holter monitor which could not get wet, and I could barely walk (much less climb on anything) due to worse-than-normal problem with my knees.

The more plausible situation was provided by the building maintaince guy. He mentioned that apparently there have been people in the building for about 2 weeks leading up to (and including) Halloween who have been working on the sprinkler system on the upper floors. He wasn’t sure what they’ve been doing, he just knows they’ve been doing work. So, it’s a little too coincidental that there have been people working on the sprinkler system for a couple of weeks, right before it breaks. I have a hunch we might not find out what really happened, but I’m more inclined to believe our own building guy, than the Fire Marshal. Especially since I know there was no one standing outside my office with a lighter. Hah.

Black water keeps rollin’ on past

Time for (hopefully) the last of the big 3 posts. This one is all about Halloween. The evil was definitely strong that day; danger lurking around every corner, in every hallway, and in the pipes.

So, allow me to properly set the scene, if I may. First, there’s me. I am injured, hobbling around on a pair of bad knees. I am wearing a holter monitor, since my doctor picked up an irregular beat in my physical the day before. In addition to all that, I am also fresh off a nice little vacation. That is important to mention, because while I was out of the country, absolutely no work was done. So I’m back and have been working like crazy to try to get things caught back up.

It’s roughly 10:40am, on Halloween. I am at work, sitting at my desk. The recorder portion of the holter monitor is on my desk, to the right of me, wires running from under my shirt out to the recorder. I have just completed entering a check run into the system, and am about to print out the check register. And that is when what was a more-or-less good day takes a sharp turn for the worse.

There’s a noise in the hall in front of my office. In the split second it takes for me to lift my head to see what’s happening, I’m suddenly being sprayed with foul, black water. I screamed, grabbed the monitor recorder off the desk, shove my chair back and jump up, moving away from the water. It takes a second, but it dawns on me that my office has a door! I race (as fast as I can) to the door, pulling it shut, while trying to guard the monitor with my life. As I’m shutting the door, I notice one of my coworkers standing out in the hallway, staring towards my office. I stare around at my office in total disbelief and shock. It’s then I start to realise what was happening — that black sludgy water was pouring out of the overhead sprinkler. There isn’t a sprinkler head inside my office, only directly outside the door.

All of this happened in a matter of seconds — 20-25 seconds max — but it felt like an eternity. Everything was moving in slow motion, yet flying by at the same time. At first, I was only aware of two things – I was being sprayed with water, and I was attached to a heart monitor that I’m not allowed to get wet under any circumstances. (That monitor costs $1000 to replace, and I really didn’t want to have to pay for that if it got ruined, or have to do the test all over again.) I checked the monitor and luckily it had only taken a tiny bit of spray on the carrying pouch, everything inside was safe. After that, I start looking around my office, and see that everything is covered in this nasty, inky liquid. And it wasn’t just gross to look at — it smelled bad. I realised that my iPod and cell phone were sitting in the area of my desk that had gotten sprayed, so I snatched them up, wiping them dry with the hem of my shirt.

At this point, I’m also starting to really wonder what’s going on, what happened, why the sprinklers had gone off. Time keeps ticking by, and yet all I can hear is the sound of water coming out of the sprinkler, pounding against the door and walls. I look down at the floor at the front of my office, and see that water is pouring in underneath the door. I back up, moving away from the water that’s creeping into my office, heading for my feet. At this point I’m beginning to panic and worry. It’s been a little over 5 minutes, and the water is still coming down outside. I’m still in my office, and no one has tried to contact or rescue me. I’m afraid that I’ve been forgotten in there, that no one knows I’m still trapped inside my office, unable to leave because I cannot get the holter monitor wet.

I finally decide I need to work as hard as I can to stay calm. I’m being monitored because my heart was acting weird, so I didn’t want to risk anything happening to me because I freaked out. I used my cell phone to snap a couple of pictures of the disaster area that was my desk, as well as the encroaching flood waters. (I’ll include these pics at the end of this post.) After what felt like an eternity, my boss called my cell to check on me. She let me know that they’d evacuated the entire building, and the fire department had arrived. She’d let both our building maintainance crew and the fire department know that I was trapped inside. After we hung up, I started to listen very carefully, and finally was able to hear the fire alarms going off. They were barely audible over the sound of the water forcefully pouring out of the sprinkler, beating against my door.

The flood waters were slowly coming further into my office and I found myself backed into a corner with nowhere to go. A few minutes later, my boss called me again to let me know the firemen had just shut off the water, and that the last of it should work its way out of the pipes within the next few minutes, then I’d be able to evacuate. One minute passes, then two. Minutes three and four tick by, and the sound of the gushing water hasn’t slowed at all. Seven minutes pass, and there’s no change in the volume of water at all. Deb calls me back again to check on me, and I let her know that I’m still very much trapped. She informed me that the fire men were on their way up to rescue me.

I gathered together my purse and carefully trudged my way through the sludgy waters towards the door. After a couple of minutes, I decided I was going to be brave. I made sure the monitor recorder was behind me, and that the electrodes on my chest were covered, then I cracked open the door to peak out. There were a couple of people standing at the end of my hall — one I didn’t recognize (who later turned out to be the volunteer marshal for my floor) along with the building maintainance guy. He saw me peeking out, and I waved and he smiled and waved back. Right about then, I saw a couple of firemen come up to them. I shut the door so I didn’t get any wetter, relieved that rescue was now close at hand.

A bit later, my office door opened, and a fireman came in. Another one was checking out the sprinkler head, trying to figure out why it was still going off since they’d supposedly shut off the water. He grabbed a chair out of another office, using that to stand on so he could get closer. He knocked the sprinkler head off, and was able to put his hand over the valve and temporarily stop the flow of water. As I was waiting on the firemen to correct the problem so that I could escape, I heard another set of sirens headed for our building, ambulance sirens. Once the fireman on the chair was sure that it’d stay stopped while he had the end plugged, he motioned for me to come on out of the office. I hobbled out of there as fast as I possibly could, and over towards the maintainance guy. That was when I made an interesting discovery — ONLY the sprinkler directly in front of my office was going off. None of the others on our floor had been set off.

The floor marshal made sure that I was okay, then had me follow him towards the emergency exit. He opened the door to the stairwell, and I had to shake my head no. I have a note from my doctor on file that states I’m not allowed to take the stairs during any emergency — I have to be evacuated via the freight elevators. (Those stairs would destroy my knees on a normal day. As much pain as I was in on Halloween, I wouldn’t have made it down more than 1 floor before I could no longer walk at all.) I made my way to the freight elevator, and headed on down to the first floor and outside to where everyone else was waiting. I quickly found my boss to let her know that I was okay. Apparently they’d only evacuated floors 3-5, and not only was my sprinkler the only one on my floor to go off — it was the only one in the entire building to activate. Lucky, lucky me. Deb had gotten very worried when she heard the ambulance pull up, since we hadn’t talked for a while and I still wasn’t out of the building. She’d called our emergency liaison, to find out that someone on the 6th floor had a heart attack from all the excitement. 🙁

My boss and the admin for our area got me away from the crowd, and found me somewhere to sit down and rest for a while. A bit later and they came over to let me know I could go home for the rest of the day, and Deb said she’d call me when she knew more details on what was going on, and if I was going to need to come into work the next day. It was on the drive home that it really started to hit me, and I got shaky and upset over the whole ordeal. Once I got home, I changed out of my wet clothes and curled up in bed. I desperately wanted a shower, but I couldn’t take one because of the heart monitor. (Once I got home from turning that in later in the afternoon, though, I headed straight into the shower. hah.)

I ended up being trapped in my office for almost 30 minutes that morning. I do have some info now from the fire marshal as to what they believe happened, as well as info from building maintainance as to what they think really happened. But, all that is going to have to wait for another post because A) this one is getting too long already and B) it’s time for me to get ready to head out to my cardiologist appointment. heh.

But, as promised, pictures behind the cut! Just remember these were taken on my cell phone, so they aren’t the best. Continue reading “Black water keeps rollin’ on past”

An invisible man sleepin’ in your bed

Tuesday evening, I had a new ceiling fan installed in my room. Finally, considering the old one gave out several years ago. Afterwards, I was taking some pictures of my room for a friend. The first shot I took, something felt … off. So I took another one, figuring that the first was just blurry. Well, it was blurry, but that wasn’t all. There was also a floating orb in the first shot. I’ve gone crazy, trying to figure out what on earth was between me and the wall that possibly could’ve reflected flash back at me … and there isn’t anything at all. It’s more than a little creepy. Heh.

Before the spooky picture-taking, though, I had to run out to the store to buy new lightbulbs and a new electrical box, as the one the wall switch for the new fan is supposed to mount in is too small. I was on my way home, at the last major intersection between me and my house, waiting for the left turn light to turn green. An 18 wheeler came out of the gas station to my right and pulled across so he was right next to me and blocking all 3 lanes. The driver straightened up as the main light went green, so he was still next to me, but still should have gone straight. My lane got the turn signal and the 18 wheeler went and turned left from the lane next to me; and almost right over me. Almost crushed me under his wheels. Luckily I was able to react fast enough because I’ve been in too many accidents and I know when someone’s trying to kill me so I held back and didn’t get flattened. The driver of that fucking 18 wheeler didn’t care at all that he was making an illegal turn, or that he almost hit cars who were making the turn, legally. It was only my reaction that stopped me from getting hit. The last thing I need is to get hit again this year. Twice in one week was more than enough for me, thankyouverymuch.

Wednesday was time for me to head back to my orthopedist for a consultation on my knees. We opted for another cortisone injection in the right knee, as well as my first injection in the left knee. I’m only allowed 1 more shot in the right knee for the next year, or else the steroids could have an adverse affect and do more harm than good to my knees. The injection into the right knee went well. It hurt, but that pain didn’t last too terribly long. The left knee, however, that didn’t go so bad. I don’t know what happened, but the shot hurt considerably worse going in, and has caused some pretty nasty bruising around the injection site. The steroid itself has helped – there’s no knee pain from the osteoarthritis – however the bruising is still very painful, and it also limits my range of motion! It feels like I traded off one type of pain for another. At least I know the bruise will fade soon enough, and hopefully the pain will dissipate with it, and I’ll actually be able to walk like a normal human being for once.

My bestest friend in the entire world is coming to visit me in just 11 days. I cannot wait for her to get here. My credit card got a bit of a workout today, as I was ordering things I’ll need for our vacation. New shoes, toys to play with, etc – now all that’s left (I think) is to order a new swimsuit, and I’ll be all set. Mostly. I think. I hope. We’ll see. If I’m not, I’m not. But I really hope I am.