Sunday, September 30, 2012

A Celebration and Anaphylaxis

Last night was supposed to be a celebration.  It was supposed to be a celebration for the delivery of a product to one of our biggest and most prominent customers.  As some of you know, I work for General Electric Aviation Systems.  We provide avionics to most of the aircraft manufacturing companies located around the world.  Well, we delivered big a few weeks ago.  We delivered a product to a customer ahead of schedule and under budget.  Everybody wins when this happens.  However, the evening did not quite turn out that way for us.

One of the executives (John) who oversees our work wanted to show his and the company's appreciation by having the team working the program over to his home for food and drink.  Deirdre and I made a conscious decision to remain in GR this weekend to catch up on some home projects, as well as to attend this event hosted by John and his spouse.

The event was announced earlier in the week, with a show time of 6:30PM.  We left our house about 6:15PM and it took us about 25 minutes to drive to John's house.  His home is in a densely wooded area in a suburb of Grand Rapids.  Deirdre and arrived at John's house at approximately 6:40PM.

We parked our car and headed to John's house.  We walked to the front door and I lightly knocked on the screen door, and we let ourselves in to John's house.  John was immediately in front of us, greeted us warmly, and introduced us to his spouse, Billie.  I thanked them both for their hospitality, then Deirdre and I walked through his kitchen to a deck at the back of his home to get a drink.  15 or 20 people from our program team were already there, and some were milling about the deck, enjoying the view into the woods.

Deirdre and I got ourselves something to drink, and we moved back inside to the den and had a seat on a sofa.  In the den, the Royals-Tigers was on TV.  The game was in the 8th inning and the Royals had just scored 4 runs to bring the them to within Tigers, who at the end of the 7th inning enjoyed a 6-0 lead.

We sipped on our drinks, and a moment later John announced that the the food was ready in their dining room.  Deirdre and I walked to the dining room, grabbed a plate and made our way through a very well appointed buffet.  We returned to our seats in the den to watch the end of the Royals-Tigers game.

Then, it happened.  I felt a scratch in my throat.  At first I chalked it up to my allergies, which have been acting up a bit lately.  I nibbled on the food I selected from the buffet, and it happened some more.  My eyes were watering and I felt a dull cough every few moments.  Deirdre was sitting across from me, and we both were making small talk with the people who had gathered in the den to watch the end of the baseball game.

Deirdre was speaking to one of my co-workers and I noticed that her voice was an octave or so lower than normal.  I felt my chest tightening up with each breath I took, and the scratch in my throat became more pronounced. Dee looked at me and she said, "I think I am reacting to something in this house."

I was having similar feelings, and I asked our very gracious host, John: "John do you have cats?"  John said to me, "Yes, I do, but they are upstairs."  John then walked out of the den to attend to a newly arrived guest.

At that moment, Dee and I made the decision to leave as soon as the next batter got out in the baseball game.  Well, the next batter was the third out for the Royals, so the game ended moments after we decided to leave.  Dee said to me, "Please give John my thanks, I need to get outside."  I walked over to where John was standing and I said to him, "John, Deirdre and I are both reacting to your cats.  I want to thank you for being such a gracious host, but we need to leave."

John said to me, "Paul, I am so sorry.  The cats were upstairs."  John followed me to his front door.  Deirdre was already outside on John's front porch, coughing a little.  John walked outside with me and said again, "I am so sorry about the cats.  They are upstairs and I did not think that they would be a bother to anyone."  Dee and I both thanked John again for inviting us into his home, and we politely took our leave and headed to our car.  We had been in John's house for about 45 minutes.

We got in our car, wheezing, sneezing and coughing.  We headed home, opening the windows to try to flush our lungs with fresh air.  We arrived at home and Samson greeted us as we walked into our kitchen from the garage.  Samson immediately started sniffing my legs and backside.  He clearly knew that we had been at a place that had "indoor bunnies."

I took off the clothes that I was wearing and threw them downstairs to be washed lated.  I hopped in the shower to scrub down the cat dander that had made its way on to my skin.  

One of the effects of an anaphylactic reaction is a drop in blood pressure, so after I got out of the shower and dressed, I checked my BP.  It was a a respectable 124/71.  I continued to cough and sneeze the rest of the night, but it was clear to me that I was going to live.  

Morale of the story:  Deirdre and need to continue to avoid being around cats.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Summer into Autumn

It was a good weekend to get away.  The last days of Summer, 2012, were upon us and Deirdre had a reading day for work, so on Thursday night after work we made trek to our cottage.  It was well worth the drive.

Michigan is known for its beautiful, albeit brief, summers and beautiful fall colors.  I was hoping that some of the trees here would have started the transition from green to the autumnal palate of red, yellow and orange.  We are still a few weeks away from that point.

I was able to get a couple images of Lake Huron in its last throes of summer:

Looking north to Oscoda
And what would a visit to East of the Equator be without an image of Samson the dog:

He loves it here and it does not matter the temperature of the Lake.  He managed to at least get his feet wet a couple of times.

So long Summer, hello Fall.