Thursday, September 4, 2014

Remembering Caroline

I am not honestly sure what got me thinking about her today, perhaps it was the lady I saw downtown walking with a baby in a stroller that looked just like her.  I think of her often though, especially lately for some reason.

She was my role model at 19.   I wanted to  be just like her when I grew up.  She is the one who encouraged me to go back to school and finish my Bachelor's Degree in Business.  She took me under her wing and taught me so much about business, work culture, and life in general.  She was like a big sister, a bit too young to be my mom as she was only in her early to mid 30's...about the age I am now.  She was my first boss.

I remember in 1998 when she got pregnant with her first child, a son, Owen.  She took a lengthy sabbatical after he was born, but would still often bring him into the office and I'd babysit him while she was in power meetings with the other company executives - hey, duties as assigned right?   In late 1999, she became pregnant with a second child, a girl, Sophie.  I never had the opportunity to get to know Sophie as well as I did little Owen, as I quit in 2000 to pursue my education full time.  I had heard she quit as well to become a full time mom, her husband made plenty of money as a lawyer and she wanted to spend her time volunteering and raising her kids.

Caroline and I didn't really keep in touch after I left the company.  She was busy with her new life as a mom.  I was busy with my new life as a wife and trying to finish up those difficult last couple of semesters in college and trying to find a job.

Several years later, in 2008, I was chasing after a toddler Abbie, feeding a baby Alex and the news was on in the background.  I half-heard a story about a family that was tragically killed while vacationing at a friend's cabin in Aspen.  I caught the names of the kids, Owen, 10, Sophie, 8.  I thought, how strange, that would be the ages of Caroline's kids, and the same names too.  A few days went by and I couldn't stop thinking about that news story and decided to do a quick google search on Caroline.  She became a bit of a socialite, I knew that much, and I knew there would be a lot of results.  The first result I saw shocked me to my core.  That family who died in Aspen was Caroline, her husband and her two children.  They died a pretty gruesome death from carbon monoxide poisoning.

http://blogs.westword.com/latestword/2010/08/carbon_monoxide_lawsuit_filed_on_behalf_of_the_late_beautiful_lofgren_family_a_photo_gallery.php

After the shock wore off, seriously it was like the world went silent, my heart stopped beating and I just felt pure grief and agony for this family.  I shot off an email to a lady I worked with at the company who I knew still worked there and asked her if it was true what I was seeing on line.  She said that it was, and they were all as devastated as I was.

I guess I think of her a lot as I am about the age now that she was when we first met.  My kids are about her kids' ages when they died.  I'm still not the power executive that she was, but I am not sure I want that life anymore.  When I was 19 it seemed glamorous and perfect, but now my lowly 9-5 accounting job suits me just fine.


She was truly one of those NICE great people you just couldn't help but admire.   One of those people that nothing bad could ever happen to because she had EVERYTHING but was still likable and approachable, and did I mention NICE?  I guess the learning experience in all of this, besides have a carbon monoxide detector in the house, is just to appreciate life.  Because even those who seem to have it all, can have it all taken away in a heartbeat.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Answers...

The evening after my last post, I went to the hospital as instructed for more tests.  I had a Brain MRI, a Chest CT and two bags of Levofloxacin.  But before I got to all of that, I decided to make life really exciting and fainted as I was walking to the admission desk.  I got a pretty "fall risk" bracelet and free rides in wheelchairs all evening.  I was sent home though, my vitals were good and they said I was just dehydrated...which was BS because that wasn't the first time I have fainted recently.

I also got a 10 day prescription for the Levofloaxcin and am on day 8 of that.  It has really helped to knock this crap out of my system.  It's a very strong antibiotic, it's also used for anthrax and the plague.  I will likely be put on another round of it after this.

Anyway I did hear back from the ID Dr. two days ago and she said I have endocarditis, encephalitis and my left lung is 75% full of bacteria and other bad fluid.  I think that has resolved some since I had the Chest CT because my cough is much much better.  Regarding the endocarditis (which if you didn't click the link, is an infection of the inner lining of the heart) I have an appointment with a Cardiologist to talk about as they want to make sure I don't need heart surgery and that the antibiotics are clearing the bacteria.  That is also what is causing my heart palpatations  (heart skipping beats) and tachycardia (heart beating  too fast).  The Encephalitis is what is causing my confusion and walking into walls, getting bloody noses, headaches, all of that.  And if you didn't click the link, Encephalitis is swelling of the brain...caused by infection or virus.

So essentially I had a virus, they are still thinking West Nile but it was not this year's version and they do not know how I had a version that  they were aware of 2 years ago, reactivate.  I am a medical mystery as far as that is concerned.  The virus caused pneumonia and then strep, which caused the endocarditis and who knows what caused the brain swelling.

And the reason I had this train wreck happen is because I have Lupus.  Lupus is an autoimmune disease with no cure.  It, in laymans terms, is my body attacking itself.  My immune system is in overdrive and can't recognize bad bugs from my good cells and it goes after everything.  So my body was completely unable to fight off this what should have been mild virus, and the virus was allowed free range to wreck my body.  In fact, not only was my body unable to fight it off, but it was working against me by killing all of my good cells that would have helped attack the bad bugs.  It's been in remission my whole life (it's typically something you are born with.  It is not AIDS.  It is not contagious.  My kids are scared of me because they think I'm going to give them some disease.  I'm still me, and I can't hurt you - it's actually very similar to MS, another autoimmune diseases), and I"m at the right age for it and the right gender, and a simple virus which shouldn't have amounted to more than a cold, caused a flare.

It explains so much though.  Why I get sick so much, why I can't seem to kick things as fast as I should, why I am always so wiped out.  It always lays there in remission and the symptoms are mild then (fatigue, joint pain, getting sick often)...but when there's a flare, all hell breaks loose.  I recognize now, that week before I got sick where I was so fatigued I could barely function...that was the first sign of a flare.  Now when I recognize that, I know to get on antibiotics right away and steroid treatments.  A simple cold can kill me.  My immunity system is unable to protect me.  During a flare, not only will you feel very very sick, but your hair falls out, you have constant fever, no appetite, weight loss, severe fatigue and joint pain and for some people rashes, but thankfully mine hasn't done that...yet.  I did have all of that other stuff going on...still do.

Some of the symptoms include (from WebMD):

People with SLE can develop different combinations of symptoms and organ involvement. Common complaints and symptoms include severe fatigue, low-grade to moderate feverloss of appetite, weight loss, muscle aches, joint aches and swelling, hair loss(alopecia), arthritis, ulcers of the mouth and nose, facial rash ("butterfly rash"), unusual sensitivity to sunlight (photosensitivity), inflammation of the lining that surrounds the lungs (pleuritis) and the heart (pericarditis), and poor circulation to the fingers and toes with cold exposure (Raynaud's phenomenon). Complications of organ involvement can lead to further symptoms that depend on the organ affected and severity of the disease.

I have all of that except for the rash stuff and seizures and thankfully no sores or ulcers.  But the sensitivity to sunlight really hit home, that is new for me and it is literally painful to be outside without very dark sunglasses on.  
And I'm losing my hair, it's so bad I need to consider a new hair style and am constantly in headbands because I'm getting bald patches.  I've always had thick and long, what I would consider to be beautiful hair, so this rocked my world.  Call me vain, fine. It's just hard to deal with, I cry after most showers where I wash my hair and literally thick handfuls of it fall out.  The good news is it will grow back once the flare is gone.  

More bad news with this disease is that I have a very high chance of cancer, specifically lymphoma (which ironically enough I am awaiting test results back for that as my lymph nodes appeared abnormal on the chest CT).  When I mean high, I'm talking I have a 40% higher chance of getting cancer than that of the normal population, especially Lymphoma ,in my lifetime.

Half of Lupus patients also find that they have severe issues with their kidneys - another favorite body part the disease likes to attack.  I do not know yet if my kidneys are at risk, but I will be tested for it since there is a family history (with Alex) of kidney issues.  Likely he got that from me but he got diagnosed first which is a bit odd... normally a parent or grandparent is diagnosed first with genetic issues.

I have the SLE kind of Lupus for sure, which means it's systemic, it's also the most serious form.  It attacks everything.  The good news is there are periods of remission where I won't notice many symptoms at all. And of course periods of flare ups which I described above.  There is medicine I can take to prevent flare ups...I will likely be put on a course of steroids right away to help with the inflammation...and long term there is a cocktail of drugs I can take to keep it from flaring up...although a new friend of mine with Lupus said that in the community, most people don't know whether Lupus symptoms or the drugs are worse.  I have a good chance of living a normal life span and a mostly normal life if I can keep my organs healthy and keep that nasty cancer away.  But, I also need to think about some lifestyle changes...reducing stress, staying out of the sun, eating healthfully, trying to not get sick (ha ha, that's not possible with two kids and working in the germ cesspool) mild exercise, but my new friend said that lots of people with Lupus can exercise normally.  My Dr. told me for right now just easy walks and yoga are all I'm allowed.  Those even sound like too much, I still can't walk a block or even a flight of stairs without needing to sit down and catch my breath.

I have been referred to a Rhumatologist who will map out more long term care for me to manage this and hopefully prevent it from getting too bad later in life.

I don't think it's hit me yet.  I don't consider this to be very serious or life altering, but I think once I get more informed and am hit with constant periods of flares and remissions the rest of my life, it's definitely going to get real.  I'd love to hear from anyone who has it or knows someone who has it.  Knowledge is power and right now I'm feeling pretty clueless.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

ID

Today I had my appointment with the Infectious Diseases Doc.  Interesting place.  They obviously deal a lot with AIDS patients as the walls and literature were plastered with "living with HIV" stuff.  Thank God I don't have that.

While I was waiting for my appointment, I couldn't help but feel uncomfortable as to what everyone else in there had and whether I should be breathing the air.  Obviously whatever it is that I have going on isn't contagious, but what about them??  I don't want to think about it.

Anyway, of course today I woke up and my fever was gone.  My temp was 97.4.  What in the fuck?  It hasn't been below 100 in the morning since...um, never.  But she listened to my symptoms, listened to my lungs, and took 7 vials of blood.  She seemed to take me seriously and didn't seem to think I was totally insane, but she did say that my constant confusion and headaches didn't match the rest of the symptoms.   I'm supposed to go to the hospital at some point to get a brain MRI and a chest CT and IV antibiotics.  I have to wait for an "appointment".  All of this waiting is enough to drive just about anyone crazy, seriously.

She also prescribed some heavy duty antibiotics Linezolid or something like that.  It's supposed to kill just about anything.  The side effects also mention confusion.  Great.  I'm already confused.  Yesterday I got lost going to the kids' school to water the flowers.  I've been there 1M times and I got lost.  For 30 minutes I was driving around trying to find it.  Then I thought for sure when I was backing out of a parking spot, there was someone standing behind my car.  I slammed on my brakes, got out, and no one was there.  I had imagined it I guess.  So if I'm to be more confused, I guess I'll have to hire a full time driver and someone to sit with me since I can't be trusted to be alone.

Last night I started getting these terrible headaches on either side of my head, it's not the entire head, it's just on the temples.  I've had headaches almost this whole time....but what I had last night was unlike anything I've experienced before.

People, I birthed a baby weighing almost 10 pounds, after having a version to turn him around...with NO DRUGS.  I could handle that.  Yeah it was painful...but I managed.

This?  This was worse than that.  I thought I was going to die.  This was a pounding ugly thing where I saw stars flashing when I closed my eyes and could see my pulse in my vision.  I was crying out in pain and had to remember the birthing breathing I learned in hypnobirthing class...it was as bad if not worse than labor.  When I coughed, or moved it would just get bad and I'd have to cry and grit my teeth and breathe through it.

It was so bad I threw up several times.  I was scared...moreso than when I had that fever, I thought my brain was going to explode.  I was going to call 911, I was that scared, but had vertigo so badly I couldn't even turn my head to find my phone.  I couldn't do anything and don't even know how I made it into the bathroom to get sick.  A mega dose of Advil finally took enough of the edge off to where I could sleep.  I have another one right now, but it's muted by the help of Advil (caught this bastard early), but I can see my uneven pulse out of the corners of my eyes.  And light hurts lately.  I hate the sun.  It's so painful to be outside.

So that's all I know, which is not much more than I knew a week ago and even a month ago.  I just sit and wait to get an answer.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Heart Stuff and Some Whining

I got my awesome heart event monitor today.  Basically since I got sick, I have been having heart arrhythmia's and palpitations.  I had an EKG done and it came back slightly abnormal...how something can be slightly abnormal is beyond me.  It's either normal...or it's not.  So I'm on a full time heart monitor.  I have electrodes coating my chest and sides and a really terrible bulky monitor I have to wear around my neck.  To make matters worse, I have to carry this BlackBerry around which apparently talks to the monitor and sends the info back to the Dr. and I can't be more than 10 feet away from it.   If there's an event (like a palpitation or whatever), I electronically record it on the BlackBerry and my Dr's office can immediately see if it jives with what they're seeing.  It's mostly information getting, but if my heart starts doing some really bizarre stuff, they will call me.  Here is a link with lots of information if anyone is interested.  It's not very interesting.

http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/holt/while.html

Sad Panda.  You can see my lovely lanyard
and one of the electrodes.  Gonna have to get
creative with the old wardrobe to hide this
thing.
I've been off work for 4 days and kid free to boot, you would think that would make me feel better, but I am really feeling worse, if that's possible. I can't motivate myself to do anything.  I am nervous about going back to work tomorrow.  I don't know if I can do it and the thought of it at all fills me with pure anxiety.  I have been making so many mistakes and it's so hard to get out of bed and get dressed and get out that door.  So.Hard.  Almost impossible.  The thought of being unemployed again keeps me going.

I checked out some books at the library to keep me busy while they're gone and hopefully catch up on Book Club.  Last book I read was in February!  I am a book club failure.

While reading this last night, I started getting a fever.  I noticed it when it was 102 and took some Tylenol.  I briefly felt better and went to water the plants, then an hour later started feeling dizzy and weird.  My temp was at 103.9.  I couldn't take more Tylenol so I just sat and read.  I ended up under a blanket because despite it being 81 degrees in here (no a/c), I was freezing.  Goosebumps, teeth chattering, the works.  A half hour later my fever reached over 104 degrees, and it finally stopped at 104.8.  Despite being really uncomfortable, at around 104.5 I stripped down and layed on the couch with the fan on me and cold washcloths coating my body.  I was literally shivering.  I actually felt at peace when it was super high.  The constant pain I live with now was gone.  And I think I was delusional enough to feel super content.  Which is kind of scary.  I also thought the kids were home and in their beds and had a minor panic attack (okay, major, I literally couldn't breathe for seconds)...then realized they are on vacation.  Then I saw the neighbors in their back yard with their kids and dogs and thought I should join them even though I've never met them.  Glad I didn't leave the house.  It seemed like a really good idea at the time.  I did call the on call Dr. and he didn't think I should go to the hospital.  So I dealt with it at home and it broke around 2 a.m.

It's looking like tonight will hold the same kind of fun.  I am rocking a 102 fever right now and that's after Tylenol.  I'm starting to alternate with Ibuprofen, even though my cardiologist said not to take that.  I think getting my fever down is probably more important.

What else?  Oh, my hair is falling out.  I don't want to wash it because that's when the hair loss is worse, but I sweat so much at night that I feel like I should wash it every couple of days but I do use dry shampoo a lot lately (sexy I know...a chick who is all sweaty with electrodes all over her body.  Hot).  Literally handfuls come out.  I have a small patch on my hairline where you can see my scalp.  You all know how I feel about my hair so that's depressing.  I bought some headbands yesterday that are bright and colorful so it works for now.  Gotta work with the hand you've been dealt sometimes.

I am not sure how much weight I lost as I didn't start weighing myself until a week into this illness, but I lose about a pound a day.   I would guess it's in the area of 20 or so pounds now the past 3 or 4 weeks.  It's a miracle diet!  Who else is in?  Sadly some people would probably jump at it LOL.  We are all so fickle.  I take vitamins, but I can tell, I've lost any glow...and that's probably why I'm losing my hair.  I try to eat.  I just can't.  I force it down.  Anything that sounds good, which is usually carby junk food.  I eat a lot of Cheez Its and ice cream.  And Popsicles.  I also don't drink coffee anymore, it makes my heart too jumpy and honestly the thought of coffee makes me want to gag.  I am digging the caffeine free Fraps at Starbucks lately though.  I try to go high calorie whenever possible.  Thus, the milkshakes, ice cream and Fraps that I live on.

I have dark purple circles under my swollen eyes.  And usually I don't care enough to cover it up.  Or don't have enough energy.  I guess I still care.

I am just tired of the pain.  And tired of the fatigue.  I can't even go to the bathroom without getting winded and I just have to sit there for a minute, then I have to sit down again when I'm done.  I can't concentrate.  I get lost all of the time, or forget stuff.  I have notes laying all over the house.  I feel like a total failure half the time because it takes me so much effort and so much more time now to do simple, menial tasks.  My house is a disaster.  I'm a very neat person, but I can't muster the energy to deal with upkeep.  I cry a lot.  I am scared.  And tired.  Someone asked me the other day if I thought I might be depressed and I said no.  But maybe.  I suppose depression would be a natural reaction to living your life as basically an invalid...in constant pain and fear.  But I'm not even going to mention that to the Dr., I don't need another med and another issue on my damn chart.

And I'm scared about work.  I cannot take more time off (with the exception of another Dr's appointment on Thursday).  I don't want them thinking I'm some whack job hypochondriac.  I've just had a shit run of luck this year with health issues in my family but try explaining that to your new employer.

When Matt returns, I'm going to go through our wills and update them.  We drew them in 2006 so Alex isn't even mentioned.  And I can't remember who we put as the guardian of the kids or the trustee of the will.  Yes I am thinking about this stuff.  I started thinking last night that I was going to die and no one would find me for a week.  My dogs would die from lack of water, and my kids would be motherless.  I think about it a lot more than I would like to admit but last night I seriously thought it was the end.  I wasn't sure I'd wake up.  A lot of that was probably delusional from the super high fever, but overall, yes, I honestly feel that terrible with this thing.  I feel like I'm dying half the time.  Someone this sick and in this much pain can't not be dying...that's what I keep thinking.  I sincerely hope I get some answers soon and it's something small or fixable.  After you go a month with chronic pain and suffering (and yes, that is how I would describe this), you change.  The little shit that used to bug me doesn't matter anymore.  Not just because I don't have the energy to deal with it...it's just not important.  I just don't want to leave my kids, I want to see them grow up.  So I'm doing everything I can to get better and healthy.  I'm trying hard to think only positive thoughts.  It's hard, but I try.  I put positive affirmations out there and say stuff like, I'm grateful I am healthy and well...even though it's total bull shit.  I guess I just need to believe it more, maybe a miracle will happen.

I'm feeling you Grumpy Cat

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Sick

I'm sitting here at work before a long 4 day weekend feeling pretty unmotivated to...work.  I thought it might be helpful for me anyway and for anyone who might come down with whatever this is in the future, for me to type out what's been going on.

It mostly started June 16th.  I was just feeling very wiped out and had bad body aches and was really dizzy all of the time.  I didn't quite feel like I was sick though, just  felt more like I was pushing myself too hard.  This went on for another two days, then that Wednesday I got home from work and took my temperature and found I had a pretty high fever.  I somehow made it to work Thursday, Tylenol helped my fever go down to a more manageable range and I basically got home and went to bed.  I was off work Friday for my flex day and Abbie and I sat around and watched movies all day.  My fever was hovering around 103 regardless of Tylenol...I slept a lot.  And started having really bad headaches, body aches and was dizzy, weak, and tired.  Literally, so tired I could barely walk to the bathroom.  That went on all weekend. I did call the Dr. on Friday and they  told me it sounded like I had a late flu virus, not to come in and I should feel better by Monday.   Finally on Monday the 23rd, I went to the Dr. in the afternoon.  I had a fever of 101 when I checked in there.  They took blood and sent me to the hospital as my pulse ox was lower than it should have been and I had started having some chest pressure and a slight cough.  I went to the hospital and they did a chest CT and found I had pneumonia.  I was on oxygen for awhile until my pulse ox went back to normal then was sent home with cough syrup and antibiotics.  Two days later, June 25th, not only was my cough bad...not only did I still have the debilitating headaches and high fever, but I noticed my heart started beating weird.  It would beat, then sort of pause for a second, then start beating again.  So I went back to the Dr. for an EKG.  When I got there, my pulse was very high, 120, and my blood pressure was high, 130/90.  The EKG was slightly abnormal and caught three palpitations during the 30 seconds I was on it.  The Dr. ordered an event monitor for me to wear for awhile...which I still don't have; I get it Monday.  The hold up was because I had to wait for my insurance to approve it.   I also had two blood cultures done which as far as I know at this point have come up clear in that there is no bacteria in my blood...only an elevated white blood cell count so sepsis is out, which is a good thing.  

Basically since then, I went in again to be tested for strep, which came up positive also.  I was given a different antibiotic which I started Monday 6/30.  And more cough syrup, which I can only take at night so isn't super helpful.  My cough is still bad, but it's productive now so I hope that is a good sign.  The fevers are more intermittent...I can go 8 hours or more without having one, but then usually the next day I get a bad one again, so it's tricky.  I get hope that I might be recovering then the next day I wake up feeling like shit again.  The headaches are definitely still there, especially in the morning and night.  Fatigue is horrible.  I can't even walk up stairs without having to stop to catch my breath.  I'm really dizzy and afraid of fainting, almost constantly, I get that fade to black feeling a lot...way more than I'm comfortable with.  I'm scared to drive, I get confused and I've been getting lost driving to places that are common to me.  I totally missed my exit to work this morning and had to GPS an alternate route, I just couldn't think of it.  I've been making a lot of mistakes at work too.  I don't know if it's just that I'm tired or what, but my brain is seriously not working right.  My heart is still doing the weird beat thing...it's actually doing it more often.  About every 4 or 5 normal beats then it skips.  I woke up really bloated today...I almost feel like I'm not outputting as much as I'm inputting.  I'm drinking a lot of water but I don't feel like I'm going that much.  That might be something I should mention.  I don't eat much, I have no appetite.  I force myself to eat but it's not much.  If I eat normal amounts, I get sick, and my cough is so bad that I'd be scared of throwing up anyway.  I have dark circles under my eyes, despite sleeping on average 10 to 12 hours a night and naps when I can grab them.  Even though I've lost significant weight since becoming ill, I look like I've aged 15 years.

I sound like a hypochondriac, the symptoms keep building up and I know people are losing patience with me.

I have an appointment next Thursday to see some specialist who works mostly with viruses.  They think I could have encephalitis.  Which explains a lot.  Again, another condition of the original virus.  And nothing can really be done for it, pretty much it sounds like I have some kind of nasty bug (probably mosquito or tick borne) and I have to be patient and heal.   It's hard to be patient though when I have to wait forever for any answers, then there aren't any, meanwhile more symptoms keep popping up and I'm not getting any better.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Grocery Delivery Part 2

This week I decided to try out Wal Mart To Go.  It's not a 100% fair comparison as I chose the pick up option this time, and had my groceries actually delivered last time, but otherwise, the process was very similar.

I went on their website and after I did the one time registration, I was on my way.  Before I started shopping I was able to choose a store and a convenient pick up time/date.  I found the store right by me had plenty of options whereas the one two miles away didn't have availability until next week!  Odd!

I found it much easier with this search app to type in what I wanted (e.g. carrots, or pistachio almond ice cream) instead of browsing by aisle.  Browsing by aisle led to too many results to sort through and some of them didn't make sense to me (for example, cream for coffee, like half and half, wasn't in the refrigerated aisle but was in the deli aisle).  I liked that I could increase (or decrease) the quantity very easily of whatever item I wanted and could add more than one item per page unlike the King Soopers site. Like the Kings site, they didn't offer product descriptions or nutritional information.  All in all, it took me about 15 minutes to shop with the Wal Mart To Go site and I chose to pick up my groceries today (Sunday) with a time frame between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.  For what it's worth, I bought my groceries at about 3 p.m. Saturday and there were no Saturday pick up options available...I think they need several hours to a day - again you have to plan ahead, you can't be out of toilet paper and use this service thinking you'll be getting some toilet paper the same day.  Plan accordingly.

This morning, I received a call from Ashley at 10:10 a.m. letting me know my groceries were ready and that I wasn't obligated to get them right then, but to call her when I was about 10 minutes away so she could have them ready.  Nice!  I wasn't waiting around all day and they were very very prompt!  I told Ashley that I would be there in 10 minutes.

When I got to WalMart, I parked in the To Go parking spot and Ashley was waiting for me with my cart of groceries.  She explained any substitutions (which were all in my favor and not a big deal...for example, instead of 2-12 packs of Fiber One bars, I got 1-24 pack but they charged me the lower price.  On the ice cream, I originally ordered Blue Bunny but they subbed Blue Bell, a more expensive and premium brand, but only charged me the Blue Bunny price, same flavor and size though.)

I signed my bill and Ashley loaded my groceries into my car and I was on my way.  The groceries were bagged very nicely and made sense for how I would put them away (e.g. produce in one bag, dairy in another, snacks in another, etc.)  The entire shopping trip, including commute time and putting groceries away took 20 minutes.   So 40 minutes spent, total, for a week's worth of food.  And I do find that Wal Mart produce is comparable to King Soopers, in fact, they have even more organic options I think.  Most of their produce is pre bagged - so for example, if you were to buy green onions at King Soopers or Sprouts or wherever, there would be bunches of them and you'd grab one of those plastic baggie things and put your green onions in that.  These are pre-bagged from the manufacturer and look something like this:  http://www.greengiantfresh.com/green-onions

They do deliver, and charge $7 for it, no minimum, whereas King Soopers is $10 with a $50 minimum.  To be fair, I wouldn't do this at all for just a few items, it really is only for regular big shopping trips.  Also King Soopers does offer the pick up from the store option, but right now only offers it at one store, across town from me.

Overall, and I almost hate to admit it, but Wal Mart wins.  It was easier to order, it was ready on time (almost early) and they went above and beyond to ensure I was happy.  I plan to order this way again next week.  And I hope more grocers hop on this bandwagon, it is seriously so convenient for busy people.

 I actually like Wal Mart, I think they have an interesting variety of foods and they are often cheaper on just about everything, I just hate GOING to Wal Mart.  Problem solved, and best of all this service was free!



Thursday, June 19, 2014

Grocery Delivery Service

After getting very frustrated that  I didn't have enough time to go grocery shopping and never had food in my house (or toilet paper), I bit the bullet and decided to try out King Soopers Home Delivery.  I plan to also audit Wal Mart Home Delivery and when I do that, I'll update comparing the two services.

Basically you go online, choose what you want to buy, and it 's delivered to your door during a specified delivery window.  In this case King Soopers charges $10 for the service and I think you're supposed to tip the delivery person too.  I don't know about you, but $15-$17 for 2 hours of my sanity seems really appealing so I tested it out.  Outlined below are my initial thoughts with the process:

The first drawback (and some of these are probably very specific to this particular type of home delivery service) is that there were very few pictures or descriptions of the items.  Basically, unless you are familiar with exactly the product you want, you're going to be doing a lot of guessing and hoping it's the right thing.

On that same train of thought, there was no nutritional information available.  A couple of the items I ordered, I had to google for the stats to make sure it was something I wanted that met my nutritional requirements.

There wasn't the ability to select more than one item, for example, if I wanted two different kinds of potato chips, I had to put one kind in my cart then go back and put the other kind in my cart.  I couldn't just put a quantity of "1" next to each type of chip, then hit add to cart.  That became pretty time consuming.

Our school has a program where if you use the reloadable gift card they provide, a percentage goes back to the school.  Home shopping did not allow for this option, it was major credit card only.

The windows were all taken up for the convenient times.  People must be shopping weeks in advance or something.  So I had to choose a time which isn't super convenient and it's a 2 hour window so I am stuck at home during those hours.  And it's tomorrow and I'm out of toilet paper and coffee filters so I still need to run somewhere after work for at least those two items.  But that's my fault, if this were to become a regular thing, I'd have to plan ahead more.

Now for the benefits:

From beginning to end (including  the one time registration), it took me about 40 minutes.  I usually spend 2 hours when I go to the store, including commute time.

I only bought what was on my list.  There were no impulse buys.  So I saved money.  This shopping trip cost about $180 whereas I usually spend almost $100 more than that.

There seemed to be more variety, for example, there were more low sodium options for snack foods online...but we'll see what I actually get as they have the right to substitute with a similar item if the one chosen isn't available.

You can also use coupons if you have them, which is nice.

And obviously not having to hassle with a grocery store trip.

Overall I'm impressed but I can't see myself doing this on a super regular basis, only during those times I feel particuarily time crunched.  I actually like going to the store and really miss the tactile feeling of handling the products before I purchase them.  I am the type of person who likes to compare two products and I take time to examine quality.  You can't really do that with this service.  I'll update once I get my groceries tomorrow.

UPDATE:

My window was 10 to noon.  At 11:30 the delivery lady called and told me she was running two hours late and would be at my house by 2.  2 came and went and 2:30 I received a phone call that it would be another hour.  My groceries finally came at 4 p.m.  A full 4 hours after the latest part of my window.  If I weren't on my death bed all day, I would have been pissed, but I appreciated the updates and didn't mind the extra sleep before dealing with having to put groceries away.  They were bagged nicely with the exception of my refrigerated pizza, she brought it in sideways and caused the toppings to fall to one side which was kind of irritating.  She did bring the groceries to my kitchen which was nice.  She seemed surprised that I tipped her, but accepted it.  And she needed help backing her truck out of my driveway, I had to direct her...which I also thought was weird.  But there were no substitutions and I received everything I ordered and it was all in good shape.  Not an excellent first experience but I'd be willing to give it another shot.  If they're late again though, I would likely not use the service again.