The Best of April - Horror Stories From Advertising

I don't think I will ever run out of gossip. I have officially been away from the advertising agency for 6 months, but I have stories to last a lifetime!!!

Back in December 2006 - Panic Attack began planning her annual client meeting. This is an opportunity for all of the guys in one organization to get together, figure out their advertising strategy for the next year, and budget for everything. That's all well and good - except the meeting is consistently held in Hawaii. What actually happens is the clients show up, go golfing, and expect the advertising agency to foot the bill for everything. Whatever.

Panic Attack truly wishes that the clients will one day develop a sincere desire to care about their advertising... but it's been 15 years and I seriously doubt that anyone can teach the old dogs new tricks. Her hopes in December 2006 were that if we could get some nice gear from the major TV networks to use as prizes for participation in team-building events for the clients... the guys would actually give a crap.

I had worked at an NBC affiliate TV station years before, and still had some contacts at corporate. I volunteered with, "Let me make a few calls to my contacts... maybe there's some promotional items to be shared with us." BEFORE I EVEN FINISHED MY SENTENCE - The Boss broke in with, "We can't help you." Gee - thanks for answering for me, bitch. Bless Panic Attack - she looked at The Boss and said, "Let her look into it. I don't expect anything, but if Conqueress can come up with SOMETHING that would be great!"

Par for the course - immediately after the meeting I was summoned into The Boss's office for a closed-door meeting. "I am sick of your can-do attitude. You're just going to let people down and I'm not going to defend you. If you want to try to make this happen, I won't support it with time or energy from the Media department. You need to make those call in your free time on your dollar." This woman actually wonders why people hate her? My response? "Fine."

"Don't let me catch you on the phone with anyone that's not on your client list. I won't hesitate to search the phone logs to make sure you're not making those calls on the company dollar." "Okay." "You just need to do your job and not try to help anyone else." "Umm..." "I've tried to pull stuff off like this before and failed. Your small-town mentality won't work on big city corporate people. They don't even want to deal with someone like you - you don't even have a degree!" I want to tell her that she FAILED because she treats everyone like a second-class citizen and no one in power over a situation wants to do favors for angry little Nazis. I left thinking that as kids we are taught to help others and to try to be effective members of society. I can't and WON'T stop doing what I think is the right thing to do, especially just because an angry hateful bitch told me to stop.

In the mornings during MY drive to work and on MY lunch break, I made MY phone calls to MY contacts on MY phone using MY money. I spoke to the assistants of CEOs and Media Directors in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles - and every person was wonderfully pleasant! Everyone had questions about what kind of event was going on, who the clients were, what types of goodies I was wanting... and I always replied with, "I don't want to be picky since beggars can't be choosers. It would be nice to give our clients gifts representative of your appreciation for them advertising on your stations for over 20 years."

Two weeks later a HUGE box arrived from NBC. It was filled to the top with awesome gimmies - embroidered baseball caps and duffel bags, branded note cubes and martini glasses, silk-screened mini laptop mice, engraved stainless steel pens, 1 Gig thumb drives on lanyards, sealed DVDs of special programs... and that was just in the top half of the box!

The next week another HUGE box - this time from Comcast. Embroidered jackets, polo shirts, leather-bound embossed notepads... CBS, ABC stuff followed soon after.

Panic Attack was giddy. When the April trip came - several team building events were ready for the clients with incentives of giant duffel bags filled to the top with goodies for people who actually participated. And they did participate!

The Boss still hated me. I would chuckle to myself just thinking about how she had taken home the phone records to check on my calls... wasted hours trying to catch me NOT following directions. I was glad to have done it on my own time, and to have proved her wrong - AGAIN!




Lasik Surgery vs. ICL

It has been exactly one year since I had my eye surgery completed. It was a long road that took some strange turns - so now that I'm completely through my recovery I'd like to share my story.

When I was in 2nd Grade I started having terrible headaches in class. My teacher thought I was just being lazy, the school nurse though it was stress-related, and my mother was the only one who thought my eyes might be bad. Sure enough - a visit to the family optometrist proved I needed glasses. It seemed odd to my whole family because everyone had made it to the age of 15 before they needed any vision assistance (including my older brothers, who were age 20 & 22 at the time). I got my first pair of glasses at age 8, and it was just me and the retarded kid wearing them all through elementary school. Yeah - I was way popular.

At age 14 I began actively competing in scholarship pageants and programs, and my mother decided it was time for me to convert to contacts. We had moved across the state by then, so we found a new doctor who wasn't afraid to tell us like it was. I had extreme astigmatism... and my vision was worse than my brothers and my parents. To me, I just had progressively gotten a little worse every year and didn't think my eyes were THAT bad. The doctor explained that he could get me into contacts that would improve my vision - but I would never be able to see 20/20 with them.

I wore my new eyes for competition, and on special occasions, but was in my glasses the rest of the time. It was too hard to read without glasses - and I'd been wearing them so long that I felt almost naked without them.

So that's the way it was until I moved to Arizona. I began to research laser eye surgery when I was 21 because my eyes had gotten so bad that contacts weren't a good alternative even for "special occasions", and the "birth-control lenses" in my glasses weren't helping my dating life. I went so far as to put a deposit down for my surgery when the cattle clinic I went to popped up in the news for 3 cases of blindness in one year. In response, there were public service campaigns all over Phoenix for laser eye clinics - trying to restore positive opinions about Lasik and related surgeries. To me it didn't matter, I got my deposit back and was too afraid to think about it again for a long time.

Last March I visited my eye doctor for my annual exam - and spoke to him at length about contact technology. I had a pair of contacts that I would use once or twice a year, but wanted to get into something more comfortable for long-term use. He took a deep breath and said to me, "The best vision I can give you in contacts would barely make you legal to drive... I would even recommend driving glasses to go with your contacts. It may be a better idea to see what alternatives are out there for eye surgery in your case." Yes - my eye doctor referred my business away since my eyes were so crappy.

An example of my vision without glasses - I could see colors and basic shapes only.

I started researching again... and found a world renowned eye surgeon who specialized in cataract procedures, and was the person who thousands of Lasik surgeons trained under to get their certifications. He had been in business for almost 30 years, and had an impressive list of celebrity clients and references (70% of the medical professionals in my city who had laser eye surgery had gone to him). After talking it over with my husband, I made an appointment.

The first order of business was to analyze my eyes and see if I was even a candidate for Lasik. My eyes were dilated, pupils measured, corneas scanned, and then I was put into an examination room to wait. A young doctor came in about 15 minutes later and sat down with a grim expression. "Your astigmatism is the worst I've seen in years. I'm not sure what kind of procedure you qualify for... so I'm referring you up to our lead surgeon." He left.

I sat and waited another 10 minutes - and then the doctor I had read so much about walked in. He was a distinguished older man with a calm demeanor that instantly put me at ease. "Let's talk about your alternatives. There may not be enough material in your eye to allow us to make a Lasik correction. We could attempt it, but if the tissues are thinned out too much to try to correct for your extreme astigmatism the correction may not last beyond a couple of months. Also - Lasik is permanent and whatever the outcome you will have to live with the result. At your age, the next suggestion I want you to consider is an ICL - Implantable Contact Lens. It is similar to the procedure used in cataract patients where we would place a hard floating lens behind your cornea. It would give you 20/20 correction without a doubt - and if you have any more changes in sight we would simply change out the ICL later in your life." I was sent home with a pile of paperwork to read through and more questions than ever.

I read every last piece of paper my doctor had sent me home with. I researched countless articles online. Here's the summary of what it came down to in my decision:

- Lasik and similar procedures have been practiced for nearly 35 years.
- ICLs have been used in cataract patients for decades, but only used in patients with healthy eyes for the last 12 years.

- Lasik is permanent.
- ICL is reversible.

- Lasik does not guarantee 20/20 vision in my case.
- ICL guarantees 20/20 vision in my case.

- Lasik has a long recovery period (up to 1 year).
- ICL recovery is almost instant.

- Lasik will not further effect your eyes once the recovery period is over.
- ICL causes cataracts in many healthy eye patients within 10 years.

- Lasik (at a clinic that doesn't herd people through like cattle) should run in the $3,000 ballpark.
- ICL is only performed at professional eye clinics and runs in the $4,500 ballpark.

Price was not a big deal - I had started saving up for eye surgery the first time it was mentioned by my eye doctor. With our tax return last year, there was more than enough money to cover either procedure and still pay for vacation. I had to consider my age first and foremost to determine what would be my best option. I was torn...

I decided to talk to my optometrist for some extra guidance - because I had trusted him for so long with my eyes. I valued his opinion and wanted his professional evaluation. He told me, "ICL is a risky procedure because not enough is known about it for long-term. If you were older, in your 50's or 60's, and the ICL procedure was recommended as an alternative to Lasik, I would recommend it because your years of good vision are limited - and ICL would give you the best vision at that age. Since you are younger - I have to say that Lasik should be your front-running choice. Even though you may not get 100% correction with the procedure, glasses or contacts would get you there after the procedure, and there are no foreign objects to work around."

I decided I didn't want to face the chance that I could have cataracts in my 30's. Lasik had been around for so long, and the doctor I had chosen knew what he was doing when it came to eyes... so I went back to him with my decision. "I think you're making a great choice. Just know that I can't guarantee 20/20 because of your particular situation - but I will do my best."

My Lasik procedure was over with in 10 minutes. I sat up from the table and could see across the room without any help - it was the first time for me to see like that in 20 years. While it was like seeing through watered-down milk, I could still see things people take for granted (hands on the wall clock, the outlines of trees in the distance, people faces across a room). I took it easy on my eyeballs for a few weeks - following all of the recommended care while adding a week to everything (wearing goggles at night, using eye drops, not wearing makeup). With each monthly follow-up I was seeing better and better - 20/60, 20/50, 20/40... my eyes were always a little off of each other, but close in correction.

At 3 months I had my last healing follow-up. My right eye was 20/40. My left eye was 20/15. There was concern that my right eye might not catch up and I would need to wear a contact in that one. My doctor decided to wait for a little more healing to see if the correction could be made with an adjustment surgery. At 6 months I went in to see if it would be another surgery in the right eye or wearing a contact on my right eye from there on... and to everyone's surprise I was at 20/20 in my right eye. NOTHING NEEDED!!!

The money I spent to have the procedure done (even with the potential to still need some correction) was the best money I've ever spent. I see the world differently than ever have and it's incredible! I cried eight months after surgery when I was looking at the night sky and could see the stars... STARS!!! I had only been able to see a fuzzy moon even with glasses for over a decade.

What 20/20 vision has done for my outlook on life!

For fun I went in to have my eyes checked again - and at one year both of my eyes are at 20/20.


Moving Right Along...

It always takes some time to get back into the swing of things after vacation. It's usually a week to catch up on laundry, and another week to fully restore old habits.

Our vacation ended almost a month ago, and just this week I feel like I've caught up.

The difference? Clients become desperate when they can't reach you (regardless of what the answering machine says). Then they find more projects for when you do get back to them... and everything is urgent. I spent a solid week doing work orders - no time for laundry, no time for vacuuming, no time for cooking.

Also - there's a project we're doing in our basement. We've had our permit to add a room in our house for about 8 months - and we're down to the last of the work for the final inspection. So on the weekends when I could have been catching up on house stuff and restoring order, we were hanging sheet rock (thanks Lady D - for loaning us your husband).

On top of that - we've made the decision to become more active for overall health. We go bike riding, or frisbee golfing, or walking. An hour or two every afternoon is a nice change considering that at the advertising agency we would never leave before sundown. Now we exercise, come home and cook dinner, then work on our house project.

Finally - I've started an intense hormone treatment. I won't go into the long explanation, but I've got a cocktail from my doctor that is loaded with side-effects. Everything from emotional swings and hair loss, to hot flashes and disconnected memory. Good times!

So this week I feel back to normal for the first time since vacation. The house is clean, my sleeping schedule is about normal, the laundry is all caught up, and the animals are calm again.