2011 – Year in Review

2012 New Years Fireworks photo by Meaghan Mostyn

Happy 2012!

Here’s my recap of 2011 in numbers:

15) Flights of steps I had to walk down TWICE – during both a fire drill and an actual earthquake!

10) Number of #smchat Twitter chats I hosted this year. Please join #smchat every Wednesday at 1P ET, especially on the 3rd week of the month when I moderate the #smchat Marketing topics!

7) Nights in Turks and Caicos (my favorite vacation destination).

5.8) Magnitude of the August 2011 earthquake that shook most of the East coast including my office building (see 15 flights of stairs above).

3) Events I spoke at in 2011 – Affiliate Summit, Marketing Profs and Baltimore AMA in the AM  – and the number of Proms that the kids attended!

2) Number of “day jobs” in 2011 – more on that as the new job is ready to be “launched” in mid-2012!

1) Number of completely available (no planned events) weekends in 2011… AND the number of times I was on TV talking about social media!

Plus more emergency room / urgent care visits than I’d care to admit, so let’s just say we’re still keeping our “frequent flier” status!

Leave a comment below and let me know your “numbers” for 2011!

The ER is for Special Occasions

St. Joseph Medical Center, ER of choice for Mostyn family chest pain
St. Joe’s, ER of choice for Mostyn family chest pain

I apologize to my friends, both online and in real life, if I’ve been distracted this week. Normally, I’d blame it on excitement about my birthday, but those that have known me a long time realize that special occasions frequently require a trip to the Emergency Room (ER) so it may not be the type of excitement that you expect. Our family has been to the ER/hospital for my high school graduation, Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, Halloween, the day of our Christmas party, several family members’ birthdays and anniversaries, and even vacations are considered special occasions as far as ER visits are concerned! My first date with my husband, T2, was delayed due to an ER visit, so you would think that I wouldn’t be surprised by this.

Usually, Mostyn Medical Mayhem can be handled by a trip to Patient First, a local urgent care center. They’ve handled stitches, broken bones, allergic reactions, foreign objects in the eye, walking pneumonia, fevers of unknown origins, last-minute pre-operative testing, and even severe cases of the flu for the Mostyn clan. Friends jokingly ask if we’ve got a special room there, to which I respond politely that we do have special front row parking. (At the location we visit, almost all of the parking could be considered front row…) We’ve been there so often that one day when there was no one else waiting to be seen when we arrived, a nurse felt comfortable enough to tease me that if we had brought her coffee ice cream she would make sure we were first to be helped. They’re good people. They can treat routine medical problems, including taking x-rays, performing lab tests and blood work, writing and filling prescriptions, etc. and they get you in and out pretty quickly, but sometimes you just have to go to the Emergency Room.

One of the times when the ER is required is when chest pain is involved. My father-in-law (aka T1) had the family visiting him at St. Joseph Medical Center one Mother’s Day when he had his heart attack. They did a great job with him and so that is where T2 went earlier this week when he was having chest pains, even though he thought he knew it wasn’t his heart. You see, about 3 years ago, T2 had a hiatal hernia about the size of a lemon that was pushing up into his chest and making it difficult for him to breathe. He was having chest pains so bad that he was physically sweating from the pain. T2 gives that kind of pain an “8” on a scale of 1 to 10.

So when he called me earlier this week with a “6” pain level, I called his Gastroenterologist who told him to go to the ER and have them rule out heart problems. T2 got checked out at the ER, and his heart is healthy, so they’ll be doing an endoscopy and unless they find something unexpected he’ll be having surgery to repair it soon. (If you’re keeping count, this will be the 3rd time he’s had a hiatal hernia repaired…and this time they won’t be able to do it laproscopically so he’ll have a much bigger incision.)

So what does this have to do with Marketing? Well, other than the Medical Mayhem portion of my blog, the cool Marketing tool that I’ve gotten from this experience is a mobile ER Wait Time app that St. Joseph Medical Center has for determining how long you can expect to be in the waiting room before they are able to see you. Check it out here: http://shortererwait.com/what-is-er-wait-time/ St. Joe’s has shortened total time in the ER by 25% – and the average wait time to be seen is only 14 minutes! Good to know, but even better is knowing that if you’re having chest pains they’ll see you even faster than that!

21 Years of Mostyn Medical Mayhem…Um…I Mean, Wedded Bliss

21 years ago today, T2 and I were married. It was a beautiful day, the weather was perfect – plenty of sunshine with no rain in sight, not too cold, not too hot – and here we are 21 years later with slightly colder but nearly the same weather. Even with amazing snow storms in 2009 and 2010, the weather is about the most peaceful thing to happen to the Mostyns in those 21 years.

T2 - 5 Stomach Surgeries, 16 Knee Surgeries (incl. Replacement), etc.
T2 – 5 Stomach Surgeries, 16 Knee Surgeries (incl. Replacement), etc.

I should have known when T2 missed our first date because he was getting stitches from an accident at work. When I called to find out where he was, the response from his family was, “he’ll call if he needs a ride home.” I was worried about having callous in-laws, but little did I know that Mostyn Medical Mayhem was so routine that you grow accustomed to it. T2 has had 16 knee surgeries (including finally having one knee replaced), 5 stomach surgeries, his gall bladder removed, had a finger sewn back on from a car hitting his bike as a kid, innumerable stitches, and still counting! Did I mention he needs a tonsillectomy too?

Sharon's 3 Foot Surgeries
Sharon –  3 Foot Surgeries

Being married into the Mostyn clan, I’ve had it comparatively easy…ONLY a tonsillectomy (putting a 30-year-old in the pediatric ward is a completely crazy, but that’s another rant…), 3 foot surgeries following a car accident, gall bladder removal and a hysterectomy.

T3 - Concussions, Traumatic Pancreatitis, etc.
T3 – Concussions, Traumatic Pancreatitis, etc.

T3 has taken after his father with stomach problems, but his Mostyn Medical Mayhem claim to fame is his concussions and traumatic pancreatitis from different sports. He also needed to have a crushed finger nail removed after he hit with a hammer while helping Dad, then accidentally shut it in the door, and proceeded to go rafting all day before finally deciding that maybe he would get it checked out. He was the second family member to get a tonsillectomy, and most recently a volleyball game in gym class left him with a black eye completely swollen shut.

M3 - Strained ACL, Broken Arm, etc.
M3 – Strained ACL, Broken Arm, etc.

M3 decided Dad wouldn’t be the only one in the family with bad knees. Last Memorial Day weekend she was playing 3rd base for her travel softball team and was going for the tag when she was run over by the base runner. One ambulance ride and two hospitals later, they decided it was a strained ACL. Softball isn’t the only sport where she has been injured…back in her “pony phase” she fell off and broke her arm. She has also had her tonsils removed, so that means T2 is next for sure!

Mostyn Medical Mayhem aside, we have two wonderful children and we’ve made it to 21 years of wedded bliss. As my loving husband sent in his ‘Happy Anniversary’ text: Only 54 more until our 75th! If anyone wants to sponsor our medical insurance between now and then…PLEASE let me know in the comments below!

Blizzard 2009 – Memories of Snowstorms Past

The "Blizzard of 2009" was quite peaceful here.
The “Blizzard of 2009” was quite peaceful at home in Maryland.

The Blizzard of 2009 is over for the East Coast of the US and it was a beautiful and peaceful event for us. The day was spent sitting by a cozy fire reading a good book and every few hours making a pass or two with the snowblower.

Baltimore, my hometown, received at least 21 inches of snow in the past two days – shattering the previous two-day December snowfall record of 14.1 inches from 1960 and accumulating more snow in two days than the average annual Baltimore snowfall of 19.8 inches.  The last time Baltimore received this much snow was when the February 2003 “President’s Day” snowstorm dumped nearly 27 inches on the city.

That snowstorm followed one of the scariest “Mostyn Medical Mayhem” moments of my life. On President’s Day Weekend 2003, our family (including my husband, our kids and my in-laws) was enjoying the long weekend at Camelback Mountain Resort in the Poconos mountains in Pennsylvania. I was nervous about the trip because the Poconos have historically been a place for Mostyn Medical Mayhem, but that’s a story for another time. Although my in-laws don’t ski, they came along to enjoy the beautiful scenery. Our kids have been skiing almost before they could walk, so it was no surprise that we skied all day even though the kids were just 7 and 9 years old at the time. After a full day of skiing, the hot tub was calling my name and our daughter, M3, agreed to go with me and leave “the boys” (T2 & T3) to ski after dinner. We stayed at a townhouse next door to the ski slopes and had long-range walkie-talkies (those were the days before cell phones were popular) to communicate while on the mountain.

About an hour after we went back to the townhouse I received a page from T2 saying, “You need to come to the resort RIGHT NOW. T3 has been hit by a snowboarder. Ski Patrol is on their way, but he’s not conscious.” My father-in-law drove me to the resort and returned to be with my mother-in-law who was keeping M3 occupied. I was soaking wet from the hot tub and in my rush couldn’t get my boots on correctly, so my hair was freezing to my head and I was quite disheveled when I burst into the Ski Patrol headquarters. I quickly told them who I was and that my son was being brought down off the mountain and a very wonderful woman calmly explained the current situation.

“The Ski Patrol is with your husband and son on the mountain. We don’t know the extent of the injury at this point, but we have three options depending on his status: 1) he could be fine when he gets down and we send him home with you, 2) he could be injured and require medical treatment, if we determine he needs to be examined by a doctor we have an ambulance right outside that is ready to transport him to the local emergency room, or 3) if the extent of his injury is determined to be serious, we have a helicopter on stand-by to fly him to a hospital in New York. If he goes by helicopter, there is not enough room for anyone to fly with him.”

This is NOT what I wanted to hear. What I wanted to hear that was that my son was fine, that my husband overreacted, and that we would all laugh about my appearance when they came down the hill.

After what seemed to be a very long time, but in fact was probably less than 10 minutes, the Ski Patrol came down the hill with T3 immobilized and strapped to a stretcher trailing behind the snowmobile. They moved him, board and all, into the building where I waited. My husband was ashen, his first words to me were, “He was run over by a snowboarder, I don’t know that the kid even stopped. He was just laying in the snow and wasn’t responding when I called his name.” He held my hand and we waited for the Ski Patrol to do what they do best.

When they brought him in, T3’s eyes were open, but he seemed very disconnected from what was going on around him. The Ski Patrol members took his vitals and checked for feeling in his arms and legs. He was diagnosed as having a concussion, but he would be transported by ambulance since he could feel his arms and legs once they warmed up (another scary moment there when he sad he couldn’t feel his feet, but it seems they were just very cold). We reported the update to my in-laws and T2 drove the car to the hospital while I rode in the ambulance with T3.

During the ambulance ride, the EMT asked T3 what his name was, how old he was, and who I was. He answered correctly. He then asked what day it was and what he had for dinner and the response was, “I don’t know.” Again, NOT what I wanted to hear…but I was encouraged that he was at least responsive with feeling in his extremities. We got to the hospital and they re-checked his vitals and prepped him for x-rays and a CT scan. After several hours, the results came back that he had a concussion but was ok to be released to go “home” as long as he was monitored every hour to make sure he was still coherent. T3 drove us back to the townhouse where we arrived at almost 2AM.

At 3AM, the first time I woke him to ask who I was, his response was, “I don’t know.” I asked him again louder, as if that would help, with the same answer. I turned on the light instead of the nightlight that we had on in the room asked again and he responded, “Daddy?”  NOT what I wanted to hear, part 3… By this point, T2 was awake and as I asked again (loudly) and made him really look at me, I finally got the answer that I wanted, “Mommy, can I go to sleep now?”

After hourly wake-ups with the 20 questions quiz – who am I, what’s your name, etc. by the time I woke him at 7AM his response was, “Moooommmm, can I please go back to sleep?” Now THAT’S what I wanted to hear. <Grins> At that point, I got up and found my in-laws, T2, and M3 watching the TV. This is very unusual for our family to watch TV on vacation, so I thought they might be looking to see if T3 made it to the news…until I saw that they were watching the Weather Channel and it was calling for a blizzard on the East Coast in the next 24 hours. It was an easy decision to cut the vacation short, pack up and head home to Baltimore so that if anything else happened we would be at home where we had medical facilities with which we were familiar. We made it home just in time for 27 inches of snow to arrive in Baltimore.

Which brings us back the the Blizzard of 2009, where the 20 questions of “Can you please being in more firewood?” and “Can you please run the snowblower over the driveway?” are answered with, “Moooommmm, can I please finish this video game first?” Exactly what I expect to hear from a nice, normal, “healthy” teenage boy.

Most of my posts have a marketing moral, but this trip down Blizzard Memory Lane has only a safety warning: if you ski or snowboard, please wear a helmet. Even though he had a concussion, I’m convinced that T3’s injury would have been much worse if he wasn’t wearing a helmet while skiing. Do you have a safety tip for skiing or a memory of blizzards past? Please share them in the comments below.

Cyber Monday Mayhem: Bigger Is Not Always Better

Cyber Monday started out for me with a phone call from the school nurse and Mostyn Medical Mayhem. It seems that T3’s (our son’s) lips and tongue were swollen from an allergic reaction, possibly to a medication he’s been taking. Bigger is not always better, especially when it causes breathing through constricted airways. Fortunately, it was not immediately life-threatening, so instead of the ER it was a trip to the doctor’s office. Several hours later, with a different medicine, antihistamines and steroids to take down the immediate swelling and we’re ready to do some Cyber Monday shopping.

Coremetrics Benchmark reports Cyber Monday 2009 total sales up 11% over 2008, and up 12% over Black Friday 2009. Sounds like bigger is better, right? Not necessarily when it comes to customer satisfaction. I spent more than two hours trying to make a purchase on a major internet retailer’s site due to slow page loading times and a shopping cart that would suddenly jump back to the homepage. Just as I thought I was getting to the page where I could pay for my purchase and be done and…”We’re sorry! We no longer have available the notebook PC you’re trying to customize, or some of its components.” This was a big ticket item (over US$500) but I didn’t buy it from that retailer at that time because of the bigger traffic numbers that the site was experiencing.

To end my evening, I was trying to catch up on Twitter posts when I came across an article by Tim Ash from SiteTuners.com on Landing Page Optimization. Tim’s take on landing pages, that I wholeheartedly agree with, is that ‘Less is More’ which plays into my bigger isn’t always better theme. In addition to testing and personalization, some of Tim’s main points for landing pages were:

  • Fewer and smaller graphics
  • Shorter bulleted text
  • Reduced number of choices and links

Have you found bigger isn’t always better or less is more in your marketing and/or life? Let me know how by posting a comment below. I’d love to hear from you!

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