24 December 2008

devoid

four years post-injury...

still sucks, pals

07 December 2008

dull blades and evil penguins

Hello kitty! We're pretty light on worthy news this time. Wait, is any ever worthy?

PT: Wed and Fri were both bike/weights/sit in some order - long sit on the W, short sit for the F. Lots of "reach out and touch" action during sitting, which rapidly devolves into "picture people's faces and punch hard"... Remember, an angry patient is a strong patient! Grrr.

OT: Thurs session was violent in a more ninjaish fashion. Our plan for the rest of my OT time is to play around with all sorts of orthotic toys; this round was knives. Hyah. I tried out several different weapons, but the main conclusion was not to eat therapy putty.

Burnt hand update: 'tis in great shape. I'm keeping the worst finger wrapped to protect the part that remains slightly open, so there are still birds for everyone, but we're not afraid to use the grip gloves for weights, Giger, etc. No more hookers, I guess.

Dumb joke spoiler: for those who have been following along and wondering, the "hookers" are just wrist straps with metal hooks on them, mostly useful for operating the cable-based weight machines without using hands or fingers. I'm not kidding, though, each is quite prominently branded "The Hooker". Not exactly P-C marketing genius.

More stuff with a colon: the plan is still to return to cville 'round the 18th. It's way way cold here. Insurance is being dumb about getting a manual chair, but I think we can out-dumb them. Badtz-Maru is by far the best Sanrio character. Most animals have colons. I heart coffee.

Methinks that's all. Catch you on the cosmic highway.

02 December 2008

vvvvvvvv

Hello all! Prepare to be oversummarized, though somehow still windily.

Last week's therapy was more of the new stuff. I don't remember exactly what happened when, but there took place tricep/shoulder exercises on the Wave vibration plate, more of the bolster-supported army crawl, some long sitting (legs out straight), a brief session of improvised weight training (careful with the hand), all sorts of leg e-stim bike - surprise! - and some more peanut sitting.

Wave work is way way effective! Perhaps even wave effective. Har har. I can do much stronger tricep extensions on that machine vs. without vibration because I can constantly feel where my triceps are and what I need to do to contract. Cooler, though, was the peanut party; once the PT put my hips into proper pelvic tilt position (pull the hips forward so that my lower back is unslouched and back/legs are at the perfect posture angle), all of my back/shoulders/neck/head would just snap into place and I would all of a sudden be sitting perfectly upright! Even better, after getting into this position, I could use my lower trunk muscles to hold it without assistance for even up to 30sec or so. eee! If only I could get into the position on my own...

So that was last week, which was only MTW (lunes/martes/miercoles, lundi/mardi/mercredi, segunda/terca/quarta, mon/dien/mitt, getsu/kay/sui... choose your poison) due to the holiday and my lack of desire to go in on F (v/v/s/f/k, respectively).

This week so far: Monday was leg zap bike, more improv weights, and some short sit stuff. After a delicious four days of nothing, my muscles were recharged and ready to go... But joints? Not so much. Hello, pain meds.

This Tuesday was another interesting variety pack. Bien sûr, warmup on the leg bike. Then Wave craziness. I started out doing bizarro pushups - most of my body lying chest down on a mat/table/whatever, hanging off the end from the chest on up. To do the exercise, put hands on the vibration plate and push to elevate the upper body. Verdict: I am such a wimp. Recall from grade school P.E. that pushups are almost entirely a tricep task, and also recall from just about any previous post that my triceps are mega weak! The vibration effects helped a bit, but I still needed mod/max assistance to pull these off. PS, hanging half of your upper body off the end of a table does not yield any comfort whatsoever. However, impossibly difficult? Incredibly uncomfortable? Sounds like the ingredients for an effective workout to me!

Also on the Wave were a few other slightly more tame shoulder and tricep exercises. Then it was off to one of the big mats for some "bed mobility", aka rolling side to side. Shoulders voted no to this stuff rather quickly. Snap crackle pop.

To wrap up Tuesday, I had my first real return-of-OT session! Yay. I put coins in a cup for the whole session. That was a lot of nickels. It was fairly hard since my hands were so stretched out from all the hand-body support I had done earlier on the Wave. Tenodesis (magical natural passive hand grip) just doesn't work with rubber fingers. Sure would be easier with some voluntary digital control.

Anyway, what did I do with the recent super-long weekend? Well... Nothing, of course! Wednesday we had a floor mini-party with food, festive tunes, and cream cheese oreo magic. Thursday: sleep. Friday: sleep. Saturday: sleep. Sunday: sleep. I strive to be the most boring person on the planet.

Hand update: still keeping my most burnt finger wrapped, although it's fixing itself much faster than I expected. The blisters on the other fingers have essentially disappeared. We're still taking it easy on the wrapped one since one of its wounds hasn't closed up yet; hence, no Giger, careful weight bearing on that hand, and improvised methods on the weight training. No arm e-stim bike either, as that would also require grip gloves. At least I can do weights with Hookers!

Might that be all? Possibly maybe. Björk out.

22 November 2008

toasty

Gratuitous incremental update! Enough has happened differently in the past few days that I should probably write before I forget...

Thursday night wasn't so good! I burned my hand pretty hardcore. Actually, they're rather minor burns (I don't remember my burn degree characteristics; feel free to offer up a guess in the comments), but I blistered up three fingers like a pro. Now I'm all antibacterialized and gauzed up - it was impossible not to open up a few of the blisters, either accidentally or on purpose... eewww. Fortunately, this all happened to my non-dominant hand, so I can still do stuff with ole lefty. Also on the bright side, the, umm, "most expressive" finger is now basically splinted straight - very convenient in case I run across certain people I'm not too fond of.

Skipping the obvious negative parts, let's try to find some optimism: at least it doesn't really hurt. My fingers are more tingly than usual, but it's not uncomfortable. In fact, I'd like to look at it as positive overstimulation, like the Wave machine I talked about last time. That is, I'm constantly reminded of all those hand muscles, all the way out to my fingertips; feeling them all the time might help my body rewrite the neural pathways to improve finger control? Maybe that's a long shot, but long shots are often what it takes.

BTW, Effington could be a wonderful effingplace. Thanks for the interruption (and Central Illinois geography lesson), Mr. Folds!

Back on track, Friday's PT session was obviously messed up. We didn't really want to do anything involving hands, so that cuts out a large chunk of the arsenal: no Giger, weights, sitting balance (involves hand weight bearing), arm e-stim bike, etc etc etc. We ended up breaking out the new "pseudo army crawl with body supported/rolling on bolsters" activity from recently, as it puts weight on the elbows and keeps my hands free to slap myself in the face and inadvertently pass the bird to passersby. Again, this exercise set is tough on every muscle from my neck down to below the bottoms of my albatross shoulder blades. Further, my shoulder joints eventually start to sublux under so much pressure. This time was particularly über-rough too, since I didn't have the Giger warmup beforehand to work out all those joint kinks and back cramps. Eh. Is rehab supposed to be lounge around time? Bring it.

After the crawl work was a nice long workout on the leg zap bike. Then there wasn't really anything else I could safely do, so when I was done giving Wii tennis lessons ;-) I cut out a few minutes early. The rest of the day was a giant waste of time, as usual.

Finally, the Steph dropped by for a bit today. Smiles.

Speaking of wasting time, I have concerts to listen to and air guitar to play. It counts as unofficial occupational therapy in my book, anyway - those who have seen air Claypool know I'm not kidding. Hasta luego, mis amigos!

20 November 2008

~~~~~~~~

Tomodachitatchi wa konbanwa! Ha ha, that's not right at all. Prepare for something even more disorganized than usual...

OT is back! After such a long insurance-induced hiatus, occupational therapy is back on for my remaining month or so this year. Who knows what we're going to do? Welcome to "Blue Man" therapy. Smiles.

Also, I've been moved to Monday afternoons - good riddance, morning session! Smiles times two to that one.

I don't think I mentioned officially yet, but for now we're planning to stick it out up here until just before that fat-guy-and-elves holiday. Most importantly, it's the best move for the mom's health care; also, insurance somehow decided that I now have unlimited phys and occu therapy visits, so sticking around won't completely obliterate the pocketbook (oh wait, too late for that). We do plan to go back to so-IL for the holidays and winter hibernation, though.

Phys therapy this week has been stuffed with new activities! Err, mostly. Monday was classic Giger and weights, plus the arm zap bike. Wednesday was a regularly-scheduled muscle strength/control evaluation, then the standard Giger workout and a little more time than usual on the arm e-stim ergo. Those muscles (biceps/triceps/traps) are getting quite a bit stronger, so I'm able to do harder work on that machine... Even though my muscles inevitably regret it the next day. Eh, oh well! As for the muscle eval, I'm usually one for thorough disclosure, but I like to keep those results to myself; just trust me that cool stuff happens!

Backtracking a day - do I ever do anything in order? - Tuesday was new stuff day. We did typical Giger/leg bike bookends, but with Wave and "peanut" exercises in the middle.

The Wave machine is basically a giant vibrating plate. Giant, as in something on which you can sit, stand, or lie down. As far as I can tell, the idea is to have constant full-body stimulation while you do exercises. Then all of your muscles are being cued while you work; that is, since the muscles are being stimulated, you can feel where they are and are more likely to be able to contract the right ones. Sorry, I know that's a bit of a tough concept. In short, it just means you're being shaken into knowing how to do the right work. Further, the vibration intensifies the exercise since you have to fight it was well.

To clarify, here's what I did. First, I was positioned face-down (prone, pals!) on the plate, propped up on my elbows. Then we let the vibration run, and I would push through my elbows to raise and lower my upper body - sort of like elbow push-ups, trying to arch my back like a kitty cat. The vibration stimulation helped by triggering the necessary back muscles; usually I have a hard time with similar exercises because I simply don't know what to do to activate the right muscles, but with the vibration I could feel where they were and had a much easier time finding the pathway to get them to react. Again, sorry, difficult notion for the average abler.

The other Wave exercise consisted of sitting upright next to the plate, leaning sideways with one hand on the plate, and bending/straightening that arm with the torso as weight resistance. This is a classic tricep workout that was much more effective with vibration, as the triceps are another muscle that's just hard for me to find.

Moving on from that explicative disaster, after vibrationland I did some sitting balance... On a peanut! Said "peanut" is like two large yoga-style exercise balls fused together. You know, a big rubber Venn diagram of sorts. Anyway, the goal is to sit straddling the peanut and keep upright. It's a bit easier on this equipment than on the table because the shape induces a more proper pelvic tilt. I was having some difficulties though, since (1) my blood pressure started acting strangely, and (2) the abdominal binder makes it quite difficult to breathe when I am in absolutely perfect posture... But aside from these minor setbacks (come on, breathing is overrated), the peanut was enjoyable and effective.

Ok, therapy tales exhausted. Not much going on otherwise. Cold cold cold. Happy birthday to the punk of punks, who no doubt won't be reading this.

I am ambivalent about Teen Jeopardy - should I feel good because I know almost all of the answers, or is it a blow to the self esteem because there are a few responses that I don't get?

Ponder. Ask. Rock out.

16 November 2008

where's the butter

Boo!

Let's see... Rehab rehab rehab, as well as an ER party. It's been a week of old and new since Montag.

Tuesday was Giger, bien sûr, followed by a pretty sad hour of short sit mat work. Subterranean blood pressure made it pretty unproductive, although by the end I was holding my own for the most part. "Oh noes," you might be thinking, "ur BP has ben teh grate fur so lonng! What givz?" Uhweleruh, when I do the Giger, we loosen up my abdominal binder (see "corset") because the combination of Giger position (inverted ladybug) and tight binder makes even my blood pressure skyrocket; after the Giger, though, we were sort of rushing to take care of a thing or two, and I forgot to have the abdobinder retightened... oops! My blood pressure is pretty dependent on that thing, so without it I am inevitably flirting with unconsciousness. Also, if you're thinking in lolspeak, you might want to get that checked out. Tuesday's session was rounded out with some lower extremity e-stim biking.

The rest of Tuesday was oh oh even better! Taste the sarcasm. I went to the ER directly after therapy because my blood was supposedly - that's the key word - dangerously thin. As in, if you know blood stuff, my INR from the last test was about 12 (again, supposedly). So, we went over and waited circa two hours to see someone at the ER. First thing they did, of course, was draw some more blood to check INR and Protime, the other clotting test, to see if my blood was still water before administering vitamin K, a hardcore blood thickener. It's a good thing they waited on the K, because tests showed PT/INR were right on - a little low, even. If I would've had the expected 500mg tablet of vit K, I think my entire body would have turned into one giant clot... Instead, the doc ruled that tests from Monday were erroneous and that I was a-ok. That's good - healthy is the way to be - but it was a six-hour adventure, and I want my Tuesday back.

On a related note, I predicted last time that my hands would be giant green blobs by now after so many pokes for so many blood tests... Wrong! The bruises are staying small and dark, so I'd say they're more like "bullet holes" than "hulk smash". btw, this paragraph is more gory than An Inconvenient Truth.

Moving on, Wednesday was a pretty cool therapy day. Post-Giger, we did some completely new prone (face-down) mat work. Describing this one should be interesting; prepare your imagination. It was a bit like army crawling in place. Most of my body was rolling on bolsters - think those rolling factory conveyor things used for sliding boxes along and such - and I was holding myself up on my elbows. Then for the first part, I used my shoulders and lats to push myself forward and back, rolling on the bolsters. For the second activity in this position, I shifted my weight left and right, trying to get all of my weight on one elbow so I could lift the other one and reach that free arm forward. Not surprisingly, this stuff was way hard and a bit uncomfortable. My back muscles are megaweak, so I always run out of steam on prone work right quick; similarly, they are not particularly willing to stretch quite as far as required for these exercises. However, hard and uncomfortable means effective and worthwhile. Bring it on.

Speaking of, after these prone exercises (and some supine ab crunches), I got to do the upper extremity e-stim bike! It's been a while because that part of the bike was broken, but I'm finally plowing through this biceps/triceps/traps nightmare, err, workout, again. I love this ridiculously grueling part of the bike. I coasted through the rest of the day just fine, but when I got up the next day my traps were so sore I could barely hold my head up. Yesss.

Friday's session was more textbook, coasting through Giger->weights->leg bike. Not even a trip to the ER!

Hmm, in non-therapeutic news, my typing wrist/hand/finger splint is broken as of about halfway through this post, so updates might be a tad more brief for a little while. That's probably a good thing anyway. Otherwise, not much going on. It's snowing. Brrr.

Ok, plenty. As Chop Chop Master Onion might say, "that's it for today!"

10 November 2008

hulked

Hey hep cats! Feeling existential? Let's rock it.

Therapy has been therapy, of course. Some sitting, some weight training, all sorts of Giger and RTI bike. Such is as you likely predicted. Nothing profound really happened in the three sessions (WFM) since the last post, other than constant flak for my previous statements about weights, so let's move on to something more gory.

Beware, the following is not for needlephobes...

--------------------------------
My hands are hilariously rainbowed again.

If possible, when I need to have blood drawn or an IV inserted, I have it done in my hands. This choice is for 1.5 reasons: first, I can't really feel sharps in my hands (that's an ASIA 0-1 on pin prick sensation, for those in the SCI-testing leet); also, kind of the same reason, I'm way way hypersensitive in the normal elbow poke zone. Then I've been stuck a million times in the past week or so. It started with surgery day last week, when they first tried to put the IV (and simultaneously draw blood) in my left hand several times, unsuccessfully, and blew a vein in the process. The IV eventually went in the right hand. You might guess that all of this was sufficient to turn my hands wonderfully green - hence the title of the post.

But wait, there's more! I take blood thinners because I had a hardcore clot in 2005; thus, surgery messes up my regimen, since thin blood is dumb when I'll potentially be cut up, and afterwards I have to monitor very closely until everything's back to normal. In other words, I had to go back and be poked again on Wednesday to check up. This one was not so great because they didn't have any of the tiny butterfly needles around, so we used the next-smallest ones on hand (pun pun pun). Let's just say it was not a particularly small weapon.

Then I had to go back in today for another check. Yay! This time we did have a butterfly, but I was not sacrificing quickly, so filling up the bottle took a long time and lots of pokes. I predict that in a few days, both of my hands will be purple and green to the point of featurelessness. It reminds me a bit of my Portugal experience - at any given time, I would have at least four IV leads in either hand... I was green up into my forearms. They really wanted to turn me into the Hulk, I guess. Eu não posso fazer!

Optimistically, as I said, I don't really feel it in my hands, so none of this has been a big deal. In contrast, if any of these pokes would have been higher in my arms, I think I would've had to injure someone.
--------------------------------

End nasty needle stories!

Worse than all the pokes is this lovely Detroit weather! All last week it was 60's-70's and gorgeous. Weekend: cold/rain/sleet. This morning on the way to therapy it was snowing. Summer clearly told fall to shove it and cut straight to winter. This isn't all too different from c-ville weather, but what's bad is, where a little below freezing and a bit snowy is as gross as it gets in mid-IL, I know this is just the beginning of Detroit's, umm, beauty?

Hmm, what else? Watched Juno again. Still awesome. Got the That 1 Guy discography. Addicted. For those of you who like extremely strange music - Nate - this is great stuff. It's like Ween with a whamola. What could go wrong? Nobody even knows what I'm talking about.

Ok, that's as far as we'll go for now. Sure took a bunch-o-commas. Keep an eye out for JLink's Complete Guide to Pharmacology, coming soon. Stay warm and such.

04 November 2008

quickie

Que onda, toda la gente. A lightning round post.

Had kidney stone surgery este Lunes - lithotripsy action. Weee. I've had this surgery several times, but this is the first time my kidney has actually hurt afterwards. So, I missed therapy Monday - for the surgery, obviously - as well as today (Tuesday) (terca) because my kidney hurt quite a bit. I'm hoping to feel good enough to do at least a lightweight workout tomorrow (Wednesday) (quarta). After all, as nice as it may be to sleep all day, I'm here to work...

On a related note, Tylenol 3 is like eating Sweet Tarts for pain relief. I'll stick to my oxycodone, thank you very much.

Therapy was pretty humdrum last week. If I remember correctly, I lifted weights every session. No offense to pumping iron - I know it's extremely important for progress - but it's also not overly exciting... Oh well.

Otherwise, update: I have no clue how long I'm going to be here. As long as the mom is illin' in the hospital or going there almost every day, I guess I get to stay and keep doing therapy. That's good and bad all in one, as the sick mom is extremely not good, but therapy gives me a purpose in the world. Once I'm out of therapy, my life returns to being a waste.

Also apart from therapy, the weather's been fairly nice. It's been 60-70 degrees F lately, and it's supposed to be like that for a few more days before it returns to the inarguably unpleasant standard Detroit weather. At least I don't have to be outside much.

You know? I'm in a terrible mood. I quit for the day. Go read something worthwhile.

PSA

Censor censor censor!

That's all for now.

25 October 2008

jacques chiractober review

Hey all! It's been so long, there is no way I can put together an all-inclusive update to bring you completely up to speed. Here are some randomized entertaining parts. If I skip anything you want to know, either ask in the comments or make it up.

Apart from the distributed time at home, phys therapy is going quite well. The short breaks actually appear to have helped my body rest and rebuild even stronger, so it seems. I've improved across the board. More weight during lifting. Average Giger revs have marginally increased, barring days where dysreflexia cuts time short. Neck strength is getting better for sitting balance. Same with arms. And my traps are ridiculous. Apparently my trunk muscles are getting a bit stronger, too: sometimes those conniving therapists of mine will leave me sitting upright under my own power - no arms, even - without telling me. Sneaky people they are.

Manual chair propulsion (with the power assist wheels) is getting waaay easier with practice. Back in the days of warmer weather, we went on a few trips around the DMC campus, finding all of the non-ADA-compliant ramps to various buildings and trying to take them on. We've been in the up and down world of "the tunnels" a bunch, too. I've taken the manuchair home overnight a few times as well to test out the skilz on relatively boring (to you) daily use stuff. Let's rock it already!

(For those familiar with the DMC underground system, miercoles I did a few laps for warmup, then went from the CSCIR all the way down to the end of the downhill hot part with the pipes and back, then the other direction to the other end elevators, up to the ground floor, and through the hospitals past Wendy's. And back.)

Further, an update on the manual chair acquisition story: schooled. Last time I checked in with you guys, I needed to demonstrate sufficient incline/decline/propulsion/stability/everything skills in order to get the doc's Rx approval, necessary to ask for stuff to be covered under insurance. Let's just say that has been done, and then some. QED.

On the not-so-optimistic end, there are a few sad notes. First of all, Katie's gone! My awesome main therapist has been transferred temporarily. Positive: I still have the same rockin' trainer, and my replacement PT is also pretty much sweetness. Also a bummer, an assortment of the most inspirational people on the floor either left recently or about to leave. Boo. Next on the ugh list, insurance is about to give up (already has, really), so I don't think I get to be here much longer. Continuing, I had another DXA last week, and it confirmed that my bone density is indeed terrible. Eh, I don't want to talk about negative stuff anymore.

Finally, I spent today with my hands in an electrified bucket of water. I heart neurology.

Beyond therapy, umm, it's cold here! Detroit weather is not cool. Er, I guess it's extremely cool, and that's the problem. Fortunately, it's not far from the room to the RIM. So far, I've been able trick myself, too. I have quite vivid memories of several occasions at school when it was way below freezing, there was heavy sleet/snow/wind, and I was trapped outside my building because the accessible door was either frozen shut or just plain broken... So before I go outside here I just think of those times, and then it doesn't seem so bad out. This has a second benefit of getting me pretty fired up, and anger improves therapy performance! Ha ha, you know who you are.

Otherwise, I severely hacked my phone, and as a "computer guy" who does not fear the technical aspects, it is delicious. On a related topic, I'm trying to figure out some good certifications to pick up in order to improve my prospects in the computing job world. A+ and similars are pretty much out, since I can't physically manipulate hardware very well. Once upon a time, someone recommended getting into WWAN stuff. I like *nix/platform-agnostic projects, too, and I'm all about the educational sect. Any suggestions?

Ok, drugs say I should probably stop talking. I would like to say, though, thanks to everyone for diligently checking for updates all this time that I've been MIA. I'm sorry to have abandoned you; you're the ones that matter, after all. Continue being amazing, and I'll do my best to keep up.

16 October 2008

children fear and critics rage

29 September 2008. Majestic Theatre. Detroit. Buckethead, featuring That 1 Guy. Photos courtesy of the mom and my old Moto Q, usually without zoom because we were that close. Click the pictures to see them full size, of course. Caption comes after photo.

"Let's begin." --Stick Pit
-----


My brave, brave front row cohort for the evening.



Opener: That 1 Guy. Awesome, impressive, bizarre. He plays a homemade concoction - two one-string "basses" made out of metal pipe and connected by a bunch of metal pipe joints - and a little drum kit thing. Lots of buttons all around. Here he's using a classical upright bass bow.

We actually met this dude before the show. We were inside getting out of the rain, and someone asked me, "you know who the opener is?" I said, "yeah, I think it's 'That 1 Guy'..." And out of nowhere the Guy himself walks by and says, "hey, that's me! Hope you like it!" Crazy.



Upright slap bass technique, combined with words from BizarroLyricLand. (example: while improvving a bit, he rhymed "biotch" with "iotch". Delicious.)


More upright slap style - here you can sort of see both necks on the bass contraption. (Technically a true double bass? Har har, music nerds...)



Goofy singing face #1 of many.



Let's play with a drumstick. Whamola, anyone?



The tiny drum weaponry.



Uh oh...


For triangulation purposes, to demonstrate how close we were. Compare with other head-on and his-left-side photos. Also, he's showing off his guitar strap antics. The big metal thing on the left is That 1 Guy's instrument. Mr. Striped Shirt was actually next to us, not in front.


Classic. Gorgeous. Creepy.


Shred shred shred shred wail.


Mmm, elastic guitar strap



More blurry, but a better demo of what he does quite a bit. In case you haven't gathered yet, his git strap is stretchy; he likes to push the thing away from his body to get weird bends/distortion while still playing notes with his fret (left) hand. Buckethead? Weird guitar noises? Go fig. BTW, blurry as it is, this is probably my favorite photo from the collection - he's shoving his guitar in my face, after all.


Here he hides behind the speaker stack stage right, poking his head out to stare at the crowd. (Another good triangulation photo, since he's really offstage at this point.)


Slap pop slap pop


Posefest.


Magic killswitch button!


Reminds me of some other slap/popper I know...



Nunchaku!


Next he picks up a giant rubber chicken and invests a solid minute or two walking it all the way across the stage. Yesss.



Robot dance also mandatory

He's not too bad at it, either.

Again, bad blur obfuscating guitar insanity. By now you may have also noticed that he never looks at what he's playing. This means he spent a lot of time sharing stares with all of us up front.


tappy tap, shreddy shred


Magic button, even more up close!


Another standard "huh?" mask break. Sadly, I recognize that mask from another concert...


Why pick when you can 8-finger tap?


The original robot wail maneuver.


Eight fingers again. His hands are huge.


Could it be merely six digits?


That 1 Guy returns for some jam time.


Simultaneous Bucket shred and T1G thump/wallop/???


Turn, pose!


PS he's pretty good.


To close, something dreamlike: so about 2/3 of the way through Buckethead's set, he picks up some unidentifiable object from on top of his equipment and starts playing some bizarro Star Wars-like riffs/noises, using the object as a guitar pick of sorts. This goes on for about a minute. Then he stops, walks up to the front of the stage, crouches down, pushes everyone's grabby hands away... And directly hands me a little R2-D2 action figure, pictured - the thing he had just been playing with. I reiterate: Buckethead stopped the show to single me out and hand me something. Wow. :-D

(Still only the second-best concert ever, Tim)

15 October 2008

choose your time zone wisely

happy birthday, jarmstro,

smartest human I know!

you should read his blog and leave best wishes...
(because it's waaay more interesting than mine)

sugoi, ne? desu yo.

(it's the 16th, btw, but he's in Japan, so he really lives in the future for most of us)

13 October 2008

17 September 2008

...

brotherrr
clone
DJ
cohort
ally
accomplice
idol

best friend

gone

14 September 2008

LimaFest 9/'08

So... Last weekend Dr. Lima was here in Detroit, I think mostly to give a presentation on research, methods, etc. Let's review.

If you haven't been following über-closely, Dr. (Carlos) Lima is the front man for a band of neurologists in Portugal who perform a pretty complicated adult (non-embryonic) stem cell transplant for treatment of spinal cord injury (details: 'net search for "OMA" or "olfactory mucosal autograft", or read some of my older posts). Noncoincidentally, this is the operation I had 11 April 2008. Several of his patients are/have been living on the same floor of the I-House where I am, doing similar hardcore PT, and having awesome results. Beyond those of us at RIM, his patients are all over in Detroit - including even the one other wheeling dude at the Death Cab concert! I don't remember exactly how many people have had the surgery from around the world so far, something like 150-175 or so.

Anyway, I digress. Dr. Lima was here the whole weekend; Friday night a few of us went to have calamari 'n' wine and just spend time with him and some of the people from where he was presenting. Yum, squid! Not as good (or bizarre) as takoyaki, of course, but still quality cephalopod cuisine.

Then Saturday afternoon we went out of Detroit Proper to the WtLtSCIR facility to attend the seminar and schmooze more. Dr. Lima talked about his surgery and recent advances a little, and threw in a smidge about other stem cell surgeries, but mostly discussed the benefits of full weight bearing and braceless training in PT for SCI patients, particularly post-operation. Oversimplified summary: (1) the surgery yields results, (2) don't use leg braces. This may not sound like the most fascinating of lectures to non-SCI folks, but I promise, it was great. Dr. Lima is an information machine, and even though his op quite clearly speaks for itself, his style makes it energetic/riveting/xlnt.

Moving on, the next speaker, a superpowered lab research master, talked about the aforementioned surgery's effects in rats - scientists heart rats, after all. O-Summary: they used to think the procedure didn't work well enough in non-humans... But look! It works with rats, too. Come on, FDA, approve this stuff already!

To round out the PowerPoint party, we went through the slides from an SCI doctor who couldn't attend (appendicitis, anyone?), annotated on the fly by some therapist surrogates. O-Summary: (1) rehab is better when it's holistic, and (2) Dr. Lima is right.

Okay, there ya go; that's about it for a quasi-objective recap. On the more subjective end, the handful of us from therapy were thoroughly excited to talk to Dr. Lima, and, well, show off... It's incredible to see what people can do that simply wasn't going to happen before that trip to Lisbon. I don't think it's appro for me to share many details about other rehabbers, but let's just say they can do some pretty sweet stuff.

Ah, did I mention that I spent the whole weekend pushing myself around in a manual chair? *evil grin*

11 September 2008

this WiR

Hey all! A delicious week in review. Be excited.

To start, I'm still on hold or whatever for OT, courtesy of red tape, so nothing official to report on that front. I've been doing wrist/hand e-stim, playing with my tennis balls and baseball, and rocking all sorts of air guitar (like right now), though, so I'm not slacking off too much. Further, methinks the new phone counts as pretty intense dexterity practice...

Phys therapy has been busy! Let's see...

Friday's session was serendipitously cool, not even counting the slightly secret part. I went over an hour early to get in some leg zap bike time, as usual, but, also as is common, all of the bikes were occupied. So there I was, an hour early (me? early? I know) with nothing to do. Hmmm. Well, (1) I'm always up for some manual chair practice, (2) the chair I've been tooling around in was set up and begging for some action, and (3) doing laps on the track is benign enough of an activity that dad could monitor me sans therapist, so I asked my substitute trainer for the day (the 'cenzo) if I could go for it. But (4) he was done with lunch, and (5) was also bored, so he suggested we get started early and go for a trip! Rock, I said, so we went out to push around the medical center campus, testing out my control of the power-assist wheels on inclines/declines and bumpy sidewalks and such. It was fantastic. I can go pretty much anywhere, up and down and all around, with those wheels. Heart. Get me out of this lazy power chair.

After cruising around like that for about 2h, we returned to do the Giger, followed by the now-open leg e-stim bike. Grand. It should be noted that, despite all the ups and downs and how far we went in the power-assisted manual, my arms were neither sore nor tired. It's still a ton of work, but not quite as gruesome and futile as trying to do the same trip with the completely manual chair. Hrrrg!

Okay, that was Friday's crazy four-hour session. Mon/Tues/Wed's times were a bit more standard - Giger, then either weights or manupropel, then fighting with the broken upper-extremity e-stim bike. Wednesday we completely avoided the uppers bike in favor of the arm cycle part of the MOTOmed. The MOTOmed machine is yet another arm and/or leg ergometer that does not include FES assistance. Instead, I pedal as usual, as much on my own as possible; then it either provides resistance or passive motor assistance, depending on [details omitted] my speed relative to a preset speed goal [mostly]. In other words, first I set a speed, something like 40rpm or so. Then I pedal (I was doing it with my arms). If I went much faster than 40, it increased resistance to make it more difficult and slow me down. If I dropped a lot lower than 40, it would either decrease resistance or move the pedals for me, letting me have a short break without stopping the movement. If I were doing my legs, then, since I can't pedal, it would do all the work for me, passively running my legs through the motions. This isn't as great as the active exercise provided by coordinated electrical stimulation, but it's still important, as repetitive motion is key to retraining my body how to do stuff. Anyway, this machine was holy cow hard, but I could tell that my triceps were working with a fair amount of strength. That's a, umm, huge discovery.

Today? Mammoth sleep session. I'd be better off if I were smart enough to go to bed 3h earlier on nights before therapy. Diurnalism 101: Fail.

I suppose that's about all for now. I haven't even mentioned that Dr. Lima was here over the weekend - that deserves its own post. Coming soon. Word out, skillets de la maison.

03 September 2008

y su gemelo diabólico

Que se passe, mes amis! Il y a peu amusant à dire. Lisez si vous osez...

First, there's not much to report in the OT sector - I've been dancing the insurance limbo for a while on these sessions, so instead of going there I'm taking a little break and just zapping my arms at home.

PT sessions have been fairly standard if you've been following along. That is, I'm still running various combinations of Giger, upper and lower extremity e-stim bikes ("FES ergometers", for the PT-snooty), sitting balance and related exercises, prone (face-down) mat work, weight training, and manual chair propulsion. Oh yeah, beating my trainers at Wii tennis, too ;-)

Exciting part: lots of manuchair work with essentially the chair configuration I'm hoping to get. This means cruising with both completely manual peg-rimmed wheels and power assist wheels of the "e-motion" brand variety. I must admit, the power-assisted method feels like sort of cheating, but also feels extremely nice. Don't be misled - it's still quite a bit of work horsing around in the e-motion-assisted *evil twin* setup, particularly since the assists add about 22.5kg (50lb, you lazy empirical folks) directly to the wheels. However, the first day I used them I clocked a 100m lap in 3:10, which is way down from my completely-manual best of 4:30. I used the e-motions again today, and I'm getting used to them a bit more; it's going to take several metric buttloads of practice, though, before I can actually book it in a straight line, rather than like paraZorro... We didn't time any laps today, but considering I don't remember how many we did, they must've been at least a little bit faster. The 3:10/100m rate is by no means fast enough to be useful among the masses, but improve improve improve (and improv!) I must. Anyway, if Captain Insurance comes to the rescue on this one, I should be manual/semi-manual soon... Caution though, wheelies abound.

Also, be on the lookout - the gun show may be coming to your area. Tickets are free.

24 August 2008

dash dash

Watakushi no tomodachitachi wa, konbanwa! The past week or two have been pretty heavy on the suck; let's dig for some optimism. Prepare for a short list.

--Manual chair propulsion practice has been rockalicious since I started using a peg-rimmed chair (that perhaps I will post a picture of eventually). We've been timing laps around the track; 5min/lap is pretty common now, with a record of 4:30 or so. But:

(1 lap/4.5min) * (100m/1 lap) * (1 mi/1620m) * (60min/1h) = (6000/4.5*1620) = 0.823 mph

= turtlerrific. For comparison, consider that walking speed is somewhere around 3mph, and people can maintain 12ish mph for an entire marathon.

Anywho, with some negotiation muscle, I'll soon be trying different projection-enhanced rims that are closer to the style I've been hoping for, and perhaps even power-assist wheels as well. We'll see how that goes. Maybe I'll graduate from turtle to millipede speed.

--Also on the manual chair front, I might get to steal one to take home for a day or two. Then I can check out tolerance during long-distance travel, bed<-->chair transfers, and typical daily whatnot (ADL!) to make sure I can handle it before I actually try to take the complete manuchair plunge. It may be ridiculously difficult, but my power chair days are numbered. If not ridiculous, would it still be me?

--John vs. Wall: jlink wins!

--OT has been mostly the typical pick up/move/stack stuff, along with the classic find-marbles-in-bucket-of-rice. One day I was threading blocks with holes in them onto a shoestring, à la kindergarten macaroni necklaces. My therapist told me I was "pretty good"... You know, like a toddler. Weee.

--I can has Sennheisers?

--Buckethead is going to be in town in about a month. Soon after that, it's Ben Folds. Yesss.

Okay, everything else I have to say is even more whiny and negative than the above, so game over. Thanks for dropping by! Secrets are waiting to be revealed. Word yourself out.

15 August 2008

yarr!

*exclamation point noise*

Wednesday PT = finally wheeling around in a manual chair with projection-enhanced rims (pirate ship helm style, of course). Not precisely the peg type I've been dreaming of, but pegs nonetheless. Five laps around the track (500m) in the time necessary to do only one or two in the other chairs, even with surgery the day before? Ding ding, we have a winner.

(mostly)

10 August 2008

time and time and time and time again

In honor of the late superpower and pioneer of funk and soul, I must respectfully say...

Hello there, children!

Courtesy of my perfectionism, I've let news pile up without telling you. Let's get started.

Kicking things off, as of this past week I have been upgraded to four PT sessions each week! Now I'm on a Mon/Tues/Wed/Fri schedule, and it's awesome. Okay, maybe by the end of Wednesday's round I was completely shot. Okay, maybe before Wednesday even started. Oh well. I heart. This means that, combining official session time (4d*3h) and unofficial lunch hour e-stim biking (3d*1h), I'm up to 15h/week for just PT. Throwing in my time downstairs at OT, it's nearing 20h... Doesn't that qualify me for medical/dental coverage or something? ;-)

So what happens with the extra time in the new schedule? Well, MWF sessions are still the newly standard Giger --> (weights, sitting balance, manual chair propulsion, etc.) --> upper extremity e-stim bike. Then Tuesday, with a different therapist club from the other days (which is strange and kind of bittersweet, since my k/a MWF trainer is still there, but with a different patient), we plan to wing it a bit more. This past Tuesday, for example, we still started with the Giger for warm-up/cardio, but then we did a few new tricks on sitting balance, followed by a fairly long bout of manual chair cruising. In fact, since we spent more time in the silla (thanks ali-so!), I managed to wheel three laps around the track - that's around 300 meters, and one more lap than my previous best - with each lap loaded with rest breaks, of course, yet faster than the preceding. Grrr, muscles! Since I'm a lefty, though, and have subsequently built up more overall strength on that side, I really like to turn right.

Otherwise in PT, I'm working quite a bit on the uppers e-stim bike. It tears my traps up sumpin' fierce, but I guess that means it's working... Then with sitting balance, I can sort of nearly barely almost keep myself up with decent posture on my own for a split second? I have little trouble keeping my head up for most of the time (which also tortures the traps); comparing all of this to when I started rehab, umm, you'd notice. Finally, on Friday we did some prone (face-down) work. Equals not comfy plus still improving anyway.

On the occupational therapy front, it's been more picking up and twisting and stacking. One day I sorted a deck of cards. I don't think I'll be playing again anytime soon. We did another mini-eval, too - since I started a bit more than a month ago, I can move my right shoulder/arm about 10 degrees higher, when both in front and to the side. Rock. Still digging for fingers >;-}

Eh, we're done. The Olympics are calling... Oyasuminasai!

06 August 2008

Video: Giger



There it is; questions/comments? Rock out.

31 July 2008

esiwkcolcretnuoc

Hey, punks. !emit ni sdrawkcab og s'teL

I missed Wednesday's sessions because Monday night I decided getting sick would be a great idea. Boo to that. I'm better now (I think), so hopefully it's game on again tomorrow. Doing nothing and wasting time are indeed my areas of expertise, but such activities are quite poor rehabilitation.

Pre-sick, Monday = grand! Well, okay, some parts were, at least. The evening saw a visit from the Grand Master K (no, not Käpt'n K), a pal from school, who made the inconveniently-not-as-the-crow-flies trek around the lake from the Cleveland area to hang out for a few hours... I believe "rocktastic" would be an appropriate word to describe such a character. He even schooled the streets of downtown Detroit at 11p. eeks.

Continuing anti-chronologically, Monday aft's OT was typical pick up/move around/reach/stack with various objects and locations. It's hard to describe this stuff in a sufficiently exciting manner... They seem like humdrum everyday activities, but that's the idea; further, we're working tenodesis, range of motion, gross and fine motor skills, strength against gravity/with weights, posture, and patience(!), all at once. Anyway, look at it however you wish - I heart.

Before OT, I had a kidney ultrasound. No need to hide your extreme jealousy.

Then Monday morn's PT was also mostly standard procedure. I wheeled around in yet another manual, this time a major low rider. Gratuitous photo:



This one wasn't too bad though, minus the kindergarten-chair-knees effect. As you can see, we wrapped stretchy Thera-Band tubing around the rims to help out with grip - not necessarily the best solution, but effective enough that I squeezed in two laps in the allotted time, twice as far (but still equally as pathetic) as in the two chairs I've tried with completely unmodified rims.

Moving backwards again, Friday was a slight change of pace, as I was paired up with a different therapist for the afternoon. Yes, still Giger and arm e-stim bike, as has become the new usual, but in between was a mix of sitting balance and boxing-style arm exercises. Time to start punching people out. Be afraid! I could smudge your mascara or something.

Other randomness:

--Monday: first time I've ever operated an iPod
--Coincidentally, I saw the real Käpt'n K and friends in Cleveland
--Finally got some stickers (and openSUSE 11.0 64-bit) on the lapster
--A linked list is surprisingly efficient when recursively reversing characters in a string of unpredictable length (thoughts?)
--Blueberries.

No mas para ahora! BTW, I'm sorry I am having trouble keeping up with replying to everyone's comments, but I really appreciate your support, hellos, stories, questions, contributions, and even the occasional mockery... Readers are what elevate this from a diary to a blog, after all, and without any responses, it's really just a lecture. So, hardcore thanks for the interaction, because I'm listening.

TTFN, Tigger might say. Joyeux vendredi à tout le monde.

24 July 2008

fat half recap

Hey all! It's been a while, no? Here they come.

First of all, massive congratulations to Jonathan Roche on completing last Sunday's Ironman triathlon! Wow. That's a lot of miles of self-propulsion.

Next, thanks to everyone for contributing to Mr. Roche's efforts, and therefore mine, in whatever way possible - I'm secretly a real softie, and reading so many notes saying that you've been thinking of me (and Jonathan, too!) the past few days is and has been extremely touching. BTW, it's still ok to send a donation to Jonathan until mid-August; check out his site or one of my last few posts for the address/method. You're not too late ;-) Again, both your contributions and thoughts are so incredibly appreciated. Try as I might, I don't think I can say that enough...

On to the therapy updates.

OT has been grand. Lots of picking up and moving, of course. My Fri session was moved to Thurs. We played Scrabble for almost 2h. It was beautiful. Then Monday saw some stacking of washers and such, as well as folding towels to work on two-handed coordination. As it turns out, I still can't do laundry. Today (rather than Friday) I went for about 2h again, picking up blocks, putting together a disaster of a pipe-and-joint sculpture, playing some speed Scrabble, and wrapping up with some back/shoulder e-stim.

Since the last update, there have been all sorts of the usual Giger, e-stim bike, weights, and sitting balance in PT. Some changes have been coming around, though. This week I have started spending the "lunch hour", 12p-1p, at rehab on normal therapy days (Mon/Wed/Fri), extending sessions unofficially to four hours at a time. During this extra hour, which comes after my "official" time on Mondays and before such on Wednesdays and Fridays, I can go in and use the e-stim bike semi-unattended if one is free. This is a fairly popular thing to do, as it means patients can do other therapeutic stuff during official session time without missing the benefits of the zap bike.

So what am I doing instead?

Ironically, I do the e-stim bike. Starting last Friday, to be accurate, I've been working on an upper extremity FES cycle, exercising my arms, shoulders, and back muscles. The idea is the same as the leg e-stim bike - synchronized muscular stimulation to pedal a cycle - but this time with arms instead of legs. Many muscles may be stimulated, from forearm/wrist to upper arm to shoulder to back areas; so far, I've been doing biceps (elbow benders), triceps (elbow straighteners), and traps (trapezius: muscles that go from the neck through the shoulders to the back, moving a lot of stuff). While the leg bike runs a full warm up/exercise/cool down in a little over 1h, the upper extremity cycle goes through a complete workout sequence in around 30min (which, trust me, is plenty).

For me, it's definitely a hardcore neck/shoulder task. On one end, the traps are mostly in charge of holding my head up, which is a fair load of work on its own, as they are weak and I have an enormous melon. But then they are also being zapped into submission and expected to help out in the cycling process! eek.

However similar the two may be, though, the uppers cycle is much different from the leg bike. To be honest, the leg bike is a fairly passive exercise; fire it up and then play Wii or something, not exactly putting in a lot of effort because I can't move those muscles on my own. But not so with the arm cycle. Instead, here I'm expected to pedal like crazy to maintain a pretty fast pace, and the electrical stimulation kicks in to keep me from slowing down too much. That is, the leg bike does all the work, but I actively do the work on the arm bike. It's doable, but by the end of the sequence (if I haven't lapsed into "passive" yet) I'm getting shocked at full blast and still not quite keeping up to speed.

Overall, it's pretty much awesome. Sure, it tears my shoulders/back to painmed-justifying shreds. It works my biceps super solid, though - I do basically no stimulation power to them because I have good sensation there, so shocking hurts - and I think the stimulation to the triceps is very important to regaining their strength and control. So in summary, simultaneous ouches and yays I suppose.

Ugh! There are still a few more points to cover, but I'm spent for now. Feel free to go back to doing something useful, and I'll distract you again soon.

19 July 2008

man of iron

Hey! Follow Jonathan Roche as he swims, bikes, and runs around Lake Placid:

http://ironman.com

You may need to click around a bit to find exactly what you're looking for, but it's worth it.

Nighty nighty.

15 July 2008

posty

Hey hey, friendlitons! Just a quick one.

Friday and Monday, physical therapy = mostly the usual. I got to humiliate myself with another manual chair for part of the Fri session. It was essentially an average, everyday chair - a bit larger front to back to accommodate my 3.2-mile-long femurs, but no mods to help with grip - so, umm, not so easy to use. I wheeled a little less than 150 meters in the hour I spent in it, down from 200m in the flat-rim chair. Afterwards I was also quite more sore than after the other chair... Sob sob.

Occupational therapy was lots more grip practice with both hands, all the while sporting some wrist weights. We may have shown in PT that my right arm is at least a little bit stronger than the left, but entirely not so with dexterity (if you can call it that); ole righty just isn't so nimble yet. But, avoiding it will definitely not effect improvement. Monday I also worked on upward reach, moving things around - OT Christmas ornaments? ;-) - between high and low horizontal bars.

That's about the size of it. Again, this weekend is the Ironman Triathlon over at Lake Placid, and Jonathan Roche is participating, graciously raising funds to help support my family and my continuation of such effective rehabilitation. Please please consider helping out if you can; just send a check made out to "John Link Benefit Fund" to:

Breakthrough Health & Fitness, Inc.
370 Interlocken Blvd., Suite 400
Broomfield, CO 80021

(Make sure to include your full name and address!)

I appreciate your support so incredibly much. Keep an eye out on the 20th for Mr. Roche! Just amazing. :-)

11 July 2008

a real boy!

Ha ha! Sorry about completely vanishing, especially at such a key time. The Google Bots declared this a spam blog and barred me from posting until the Google Humans reviewed it. I guess I write like a v1@gra e-mail author... oops. So again, I apologize. Thanks for coming by, whether I'm here or not.

10 July 2008

clips

Hey hey, hep cats. It's back to the city of motors, with tales for all to enjoy/be bored of/skip! Let's dig in.

As you may have picked up by now, I was down in Carlinville for the past week or so, having a raucous time meeting with case managers, getting a haircut, and going to the dentist. We did have some fun - happy 60th anniversary to the Grandparents Link! - but I missed out on Fourth-o-July festivities because I am an infection machine. I did have the opportunity to squeeze in a round of writing splint guitar before the week was over.

Yesterday's physical therapy was Giger-->FES bike-->weights downstairs, working on triceps and the variety of muscles used in rowing during the lifting portion. My triceps, though not functionally useful, appear to be a bit stronger every time :-) We also finished watching Miracle, and I talked to Jonathan Roche and the FlyLady while on the Giger.

Occupational therapy today = picking up various items and moving them to various places within my range of motion. I was a little late and more than a little sore from all the time in the car, so I felt even less productive than usual. There is some major envy of some people, such as a portion of the OT crew, who got to go to Rothbury... *due for my next Primus fix*

As I mentioned, I'm hurting a bit from the drive back and forth. It's anywhere between 9-12h to travel from Point A to Point B. To prevent major repetitive friction issues, I ride this long haul with a small ROHO cushion behind my lower back. However, such eliminates any lateral support from the chair's back rest; thus, I must brace myself with my elbows on the arm rests to keep from falling sideways. Doing so wears pretty hard on my neck, shoulders, and upper back - "coat-hanger" pain, for the shape of the affected regions. It was ouch enough that I had to take some pain meds before therapy, which I feel bad doing (although I really don't have a good reason why). If it counts for anything, though, it was only the children's Tylenol of prescription painkillers... Oh well! Whine whine.

Not much else worthwhile to say. Again soon it shall be. Peace yourselves out.

09 July 2008

wow

Whatup, friends old and new! Beware: this post is sort of serious.

Allow me to explode with appreciation for - okay, pretty much everyone. Specifically, though, I would like to highlight two people I talked to today, whom you very likely already know.

Jonathan Roche is a personal trainer, double-digit marathon and triathlon competitor, and motivator extraordinaire. He spearheads many projects, such as the Momentum Fitness system and the No Excuses! workout (and more), focusing on helping normal people exercise and improve health without having to rewrite their entire lives. Inspiration level: astronomical. Check out Momentum Fitness/No Excuses, his radio show, and his Yahoo! group.

Next, one quite famously known as "The FlyLady" is another incredible motivator, with emphasis on simple accomplishments and easy daily routines that help people reclaim their lives starting on the home front, again without requiring commitment to unrealistic lifestyle changes. She’s a lifesaver and cheerleader offering free online help, centering on perfectionism, procrastination, and the accompanying guilt. Inspiration level: from 1 to 10, a 37.2. Check out her online resources.

Today my mom and I (mostly mom, as I was on the Giger) had the privilege of talking to this awesome pair on Mr. Roche's radio show on BlogTalkRadio (listen here). We discussed quite a bit of stuff, from my injury to surgery to college to rehab to what may lie in my future. Mr. Roche is swimming+biking+running in the grueling Ironman Triathlon on 20 July 2008, at the end of next week. He is generously donating funds raised from this event to my family to cover medical expenses and my continued rehabilitation. Wow.

You can help contribute, too, by pledging support to Jonathan - simply send a check made out
to "John Link Benefit Fund" to:

Breakthrough Health & Fitness, Inc.
370 Interlocken Blvd., Suite 400
Broomfield, CO 80021

Please include your full name and address. Understatement: your support is very much appreciated.

Let me point out that such people, including you, oh reader, amaze me. To barely know me, yet support so enthusiastically, is unbelievable... I don't want to lapse into too much Brie and Camembert here, but when it so often gets difficult just to keep plugging along, people like this (and you) reveal themselves.

Cheese aside, thanks. l8r.

05 July 2008

repostfest

eek!

To start, you might notice that I reposted all the old stuff from CaringBridge to this site. Everything in May 2008 is a relic from those days. I recommend reading those entries if you have a minute, even if you rocked and kept up with them from the beginning... If you haven't gone through them yet, they contain quite a bit of useful info about me, surgery, and the start of rehab; if you had already glanced over them on the 'bridge, I changed/updated enough when re-posting that it's worth another perusal. Either way, I would greatly appreciate your comments on those entries so I can fill in missing info and start writing better overall.

Moving on, last week's therapy sessions weren't much to write home about - same PT capers as usual, plus stuff in OT that really doesn't seem to excite anyone but me... Lots of faux nerf equipment.

Speaking of home, that's where I've been for a few days and will be for a few more. It's nice to have a little break (and kitties and a subwoofer and constant secure internet), but rehabilitation is what I'm living for, so home is Detroit now. Oh well.

I thought I was going to write something interesting, but now I'm out of time :-( oops. Again soon it shall be. Continue to rock.

01 July 2008

trabajando con manuel

Whatup! To start, I'm headed home for about a week as of tomorrow (Wed) - drop me a message/comment/call/whatever if you will also be in the area, and we can organize some rendezvous action.

Moving on, here come a few mildly interesting points, like needles in a mudaneity haystack.

First, I started occupational therapy last Wednesday! This stuff focuses more on hand/wrist stuff and other fine motor skills as applied real world style. Sessions are MWF afternoons. So far, it's just been evaluation and some experimentation to figure out what to work on. Meetings are only about 45min! After spending 3h at a time up in PT, these sessions barely show up on the temporal radar.

Coolest thing we've done so far: submerged e-stim. Get FES e-stim equipment and a bucket. Fill bucket with water. Stick one electrode in water. Attach other electrode to forearm. Place hand in water. Turn on electricity. Watch magic.


Upstairs at PT, Wednesday was typical Giger-->weights-->FES bike. Woohoo. Friday was out of order; first was Giger, then a cut ahead to the zapcycle for circa 1h15min. Then...



I got to try out a manual chair with special grips to compensate for my lack of, umm, grip. Let me describe poorly. A typical manual chair essentially just has a smaller wheel attached to each of the large back wheels; to move, the user grabs and pushes forward or backward as necessary. You already knew that.

This chair instead had wider, flat, semi-sticky rims in place of the "smaller wheels". Then the idea is that the user may place the palms on the flat rim part, thumbs forward, and use the friction to push around. This eliminates the need for significant dexterity - where a tight grasp is necessary (or at least a huge advantage) in an average Joe chair, fingers aren't used with these flat rims. Gloves with sticky palms further improve the effect. So, someone with shoulder/arm/back muscles but no hand control may implement such a chair to move manually.

I try to be one of those people. I made two laps around the track, extremely slowly and with quite a bit of assistance, for a total of around 200 meters. Pretty pathetic, huh. I'm a wimp. To give myself a tiny bit of credit, though, the grip gloves I was using did not even remotely fit (must acquit!); also, as is evident in the picture, I am enormous and ordinary manual chairs are designed for munchkins. Oh well. BTW, the chest/shoulder wrap is obviously a fashion statement.

This implementation of manual chair propulsion for those with minimal dexterity is relatively common - I had seen chairs with similar flat rims in my time at the RISL. A less common style, which I had assumed to exist but not seen until coming to Detroit, is to have pegs (projections!) coming out of the otherwise-unmodified "smaller wheel" type of grips. I always think of these as being like the wheel at the helm of a pirate ship... Imagine as you wish. With such rims, the user may push the palms or thumbs against these pegs for propulsion. These are what I was and still am hoping for, but no appropriately-equipped chairs are readily available here. According to basic physics, these make more sense than the flat+sticky kind: all of the user's energy is directed tangent to the wheel - the direction that actually causes rotation, and therefore motion - rather than expending some energy non-tangentially to create enough friction to rotate the wheels. Since I'm such a pathetic weakling, I don't really have enough strength to direct some away from movement and still expect to go anywhere. We'll see how it goes, matey.

Pack pack pack. Thanks for checking in. Palabra.

23 June 2008

offshore scratchiness

Hey hey. I like to make up words. Here goes.

Therapy sessions: last week's sessions were just not so great. I've been a bit sick lately, and thus did not have a good time. Today's session wasn't too bad, though! It was the usual Giger/sitting balance/electrobike schedule, but my usual therapist crew were MIA, so sitting balance in particular was different given the different team. Anyway, I got to do some new arm exercises with neato wrist weights during breaks from uprightness. Weee. Hopefully this week will continue to be quite a bit better.

Complaining: I've been sick. This is where living in Smalltownsville is much more simple/convenient - let's just say the diagnosis and treatment process is fast and smooth in the land where everyone knows everyone else. Here, the most effective way to get things done is to go emergency-style and jump through hoops for a few hours... Blah. BTW, DMC guarantees that you will see a doctor in 29min or less (or something to that effect); this is not the same as being treated/in and out in that amount of time! Oh well, whine whine.

Coolness: First of all, some pals of the awesome variety dropped by on Sunday. Rock.

Also, my "line of irritation" is moving down! Sounds bad already, huh. Here's what I mean. On the edges of areas where I have full sensation, i.e. where "normal" sensation transitions into "limited", I am waaay hypersensitive to touch. It's like having a vicious sunburn all the time in those places. The injury left me with full sensation only above C5, so really just my head and neck have normal feeling. That leaves the line to be along the tops of my shoulders, down to an inch or two below the collar bone, as well as on my deltoids and upper arms. Now I've noticed that the line has crept down my arms, into my forearms on both the radial (thumb) and ulnar (pinky) sides. My hands don't hurt, but I don't expect them to because their sensation develops very quickly enough to skip that step. This is pretty spiff - if my explanations aren't clear enough (likely!), it means that perhaps I'm making significant gains in advanced sensation... Fancy stuff like temperature and sharp things and whatnot might appear sooner than I thought. As in, ever. I must admit, it's nice to be invincible to needle pokes, but I'll gladly trade that for the possibility of holding your hand and feeling its warmth.

And not wanting to injure you for touching me.

13 June 2008

plus a thousand words

Whatup friends! Update on the past few days, sort of.

Therapy:
Wednesday was typical Giger --> weights --> zap bike. Nothing magical.

Today, Friday, saw Giger --> sitting balance --> e-stim bike. Also superficially unentertaining. However,



I sat up slash leaned around with my hands grip-gloved to a bar for 20min at a time! For those keeping score, that's several minutes longer than on Monday, and easily ten times as long as the usual before this week. Total sitting time was about an hour. It was a bit difficult, as I barely have any of the necessary muscles... In particular, the back of my neck hurts from trying to hold my head up perfectly (and failing) for so long. Oh well. No pain no, umm, pain meds? Whatev.

Speaking of feeling like someone slashed my neck open with a knife, it's been more than two months since surgery! Also, if I count correctly, I've been at rehab for... three? Four weeks? No, five wonderful weeks of therapy, ah ha ha ha ha! (Okay, so nobody's going to get that one.) Time is screaming by. Just throwing that out there.

C'est tout pour aujourd'hui. Thanks for reading and commenting and whatnot! You're so incredibly awesome. Rock it.

09 June 2008

dysreflexia with a smile?

Whatup! Good enough day of therapy to warrant an update before I forget, but you'll have to dig in pretty far to get to the happy part.

The day actually started out not so great. I woke up around 4:30a and couldn't get back to sleep - that means maybe 3.5h of z time, slightly reminiscent of school... Then we started getting up at 7:00 to be on time for the typical Monday's bummer of a 9:00 session. Blah.

---[don't be worried in this part]---

Commence Giger. Pedal pedal pedal. After a little while - not even 1000 revs, as the resistance was up perhaps just a bit too high - I could feel my blood pressure creeping up. I was having a rather difficult and rather not fun time on the Giger already, so once the BP jump started, I wasn't sad to ask to get out of the machine. Good idea.

Feel free to e-mail me questions (thejlink at gmail dot com) or post in the comments if the following is incomplete, confusing, or flat out incorrect. For that matter, I'd appreciate confirmation that I have a clue what I'm talking about...

Quick medical lesson: Autonomic dysreflexia (AD) is a syndrome that troubles many spinal cord injury patients with higher injuries, including me. The deal with AD is that the brain/body (the "autonomic" part) misinterprets and therefore incorrectly responds to messages sent from stuff below the level of injury (the "dysreflexia" part). Common messed up signals are temperature extremity/irregularity, needing to go to the bathroom, and anything that should cause pain, among others. Common reactions are nausea, sweating, body temperature change, a dramatic increase in blood pressure, redness, headaches, dizziness, eye pain and more. Severe dysreflexia, not treated right away, can cause stroke and death and stuff. Don't be scared! It's not a big deal, and even useful on occasion, as long as everything is under control. Treatment involves (1) fixing the reaction and (2) removing the stimulus that is causing the problem. That wasn't a quick medical lesson at all!

In short, the patient has to go to the bathroom or whatever, but instead of communicating "I need to go!" with the normal recognizable feelings and signs, the brain cranks up the blood pressure knob, causing headaches and redness and such. To fix, the patient must be moved to as much of an upright position as possible, fetch ice packs, take the appropriate drogas if necessary, and do whatever else may be done; then, hopefully at the same time, the patient needs to empty the bladder, get off the pressure sore, find a cooler location, or stop whatever else is causing the dysreflexia.

Another note before we continue: The Giger is just about the worst position to be in when this happens. If you're lying on your back with appendages up in the air, your circulatory system doesn't really want to bother pumping blood up against gravity, so most of the blood just flows around in your head/torso. Throw in some distal vasoconstriction, and there is more fluid divided by the same volume equals higher pressure. Uh oh.

Yet another: I was prescribed an abdominal binder last week to help boost the BP, and I've actually been wearing it. As far as we're concerned, the binder is a medical corset.

So anyway, that's where I was, strapped into the inverse turtle equipment and starting to get dysreflexic. The therapists are of course very familiar with this stuff, so I was develcroed, debindered and upright at top speed. They even took my shoes off, a trick I had forgotten. To monitor pressure, I was equipped with the "angry nurse" automatic digital wrist sphygmomanometer. She loses some accuracy as pressure strays from 120/80, but this time she measured a ridiculous-but-dramatic 240/160 [corrected: thanks]! Eek! That's about four times my usual measurement, and even double that of the average human... There's no way my BP was that high, but it was ludicrous and temporarily frightening enough to evoke some therapeutic language from those around me.

No really, 240 systolic is a guaranteed stroke, and I'm still alive, my eyes didn't explode, and I'm, umm, as coherent as I get... The angry nurse is a sensationalist. Dysreflexia typically means catheter time for me, ooh yay, so that was taken care of and all was well. Game on, end scary.

---[stop not worrying]---

Here is where the rehab session was smiles. Getting back on the Giger would have been fear-provoking and a waste of time, so we moved on to mat work. Usually after the cath my BP drops back down to the point of nonfunctional dizziness... Not today. I went straight to sitting upright at the edge of the mat with no intermediate rest period, and I was able to stay upright and lean side to side with my arms on giant exercise balls [insert AC/DC song here] for about 15min without stopping to recline! This usually only lasts for 1-2min at a time before I get dizzy, with pretty heavy neck pain after two or three bouts of uprightness. Eeee! I ended up taking only two breaks total during my entire time on the mat, racking up about 30min of sitting without blood pressure loss or neck ouchness. :-)

Okay, that probably doesn't sound very exciting to you, but I felt slightly less abnormal, at least for those few minutes...

I also interrogated my main therapist about her trip to Alaska during the short sit, albeit not very well because it's a bit hard to breathe with the abdobinder. Then it was time for e-stim biking and Wii watching to round out the session. Last week someone Wii-bowled a 279. Wow.

The rest of the day was also pretty good. I even squeezed in a tiny nap.

I have no idea why this all worked out as such, but it was quite serendipitous. Hmm.

08 June 2008

fair enough

Boa tarde! Quick recap of last week.

Therapy: All sorts of Giger and e-stim biking. Weights on Monday (segunda!), short sit on the mat on Friday (sexta!). Wednesday (quarta!) was about an hour of Giger/weights, cut short by an outstandingly brief trip to the ER for a non-emergency. Nothing too entertaining, huh.

Not therapy: As I have stated previously, I went to see Death Cab on Wednesday. As I have also stated, it was like a dream. Saturday (sabado!) the dad returned to c-ville to do a little work here and there. No sharp little pieces involved.

This weekend in Detroit there was a large art fair downtown, complete with art nouveau fingerpaintings, a giant sand sculpture, and several rather small stages for odd local and international bands. The mom and I attended for a little while Saturday aft/eve to browse through the booths and listen to Peter Lewis and friend. Mr. Lewis was the front man for Moby Grape, a late 60's-early 70's rock group that I must confess I had never heard of... Anyway, it was super mega hot and humid out, so after that performance we went back to housing to roast indoors. Did I mention that I'm still reeling from the DCFC show? I would melt to see them again. For some odd reason though, they weren't playing at the fair.

There's not really more worth mentioning, and I should probably be getting to bed. Thanks for reading, pals! Rock out.

05 June 2008

downtown punctuality

This is so incredibly not health-related.

So last night I had the chance to see a wonderful show down the street here in the guts of Detroit. The headliners were Death Cab for Cutie. It was like a dream. If you are not familiar, Death Cab are an indie rock-ish ("college rock" or even "quasi-emo" perhaps?) band that have been extremely popular in the past several years with those my age and a bit older I think? Anyway, there were quite a lot of people there, 20-year-olds and otherwise. The show was at the stunning and enormous Fox Theatre, which is located pretty much as downtown as you can get. Surrounding were plenty of bars and restaurants and such, as well as another venue showcasing Stone Temple Pilots for the evening. Notably, the Hockeytown bar that even I had heard of on ESPN was right next door.

Sports fans can already see where this is going...

Last night was also game six of the NHL's Stanley Cup Finals, with Detroit's Red Wings preparing to Zamboni all over (my team, if I can claim to have one) the Pittsburgh Penguins, here in Detroit. The Red Wings were up 3-2 in the series, such that if they won, they would be this season's champions. It should be noted that hockey is a pretty big deal in Detroit - who wears a hockey jersey to a concert? - and since the home team was just a game away from the Cup, everyone was wound up and a little wild.

The game and the concert started around the same time. After the opening rockers finished up their set (Rogue Wave, for those keeping track), the emcees announced that the Wings were up 1-0 at the time, followed by plenty of cheers and whatnot. On it goes; commence DCFC. Pretty deep into their set I think some people found out the game was over and that Detroit had won, as I could see some crazed dudes running up and down the side aisles of the theatre...

Concert ends. Showgoers dump out into the downtown night. Commence madness. The streets were already fairly full of bar-prepared fans from Hockeytown et al, and now add a theatre's worth of hipsters excited from the show... It was nuts. Traffic was in the process of being stopped, so there were still a few cars trapped in the mix; police vehicles were all over the place. Everyone was honking horns, yelling, cheering, hi5ing, watching the big screens, (vomming on the sidewalk) celebrating in general. It took us at least 15min or so just to get a few blocks away to meet dad with the van. eek!!

Great timing, eh?

01 June 2008

onest p0st!!

Hello pals! Welcome to thejlink, home for John-related news, updates and such (take two). Feel free to read as much as you want and leave commentary where you see fit. Your interaction is highly encouraged and appreciated - even if it's telling me how dumb I am or just saying hi, your comments keep me writing.

Subject material:
Of course, most of the information in these posts will be related to my medical state and progress, therapeutic activities, and other details of my health, because that stuff is interesting and the rest of my life really isn't. However, since this is not a medical blogging site and I have an extremely short attention span, I don't feel particularly obligated to stay on topic all the time. So, beware?

Me:
You (1) probably already know and (2) can find this info in the appropriate profile section, but let me pass on a few relevant details about me.

To start, here's the important part (in extremely summarized form). On 24 December 2004, I was in an automotive accident that left me with an incomplete C4-C5 spinal cord injury. Then on 11 April 2008, I underwent experimental non-embryonic stem cell spinal surgery to treat this injury. Directly after this surgery, I began physical therapy in Detroit, Michigan, for rehabilitation. This is where I am as I write this post, and it's what I'll be talking about the most.

The injury - I broke vertebrae C4-C6 in the accident, including a burst fracture of C5. The spinal cord lesion was incomplete and approximately 2.4cm in length, at the C4-C5 level. By chronic phase (several months post-injury), I achieved a score of B on the ASIA examination.

The surgery - Spinal surgery was performed in Lisbon, Portugal, approximately 3.5 years after injury. The procedure was an olfactory mucosal autograft - a transplant of stem cells from my nose to the injury site. The medical team was led by Dr. Carlos Lima of Hospital Egaz-Moniz.

The rehab - Starting 5 May 2008, I have been performing physical therapy at the Center for Spinal Cord Injury Recovery (CSCIR) in the Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan (RIM), located in downtown Detroit. RIM is a part of the sprawling Detroit Medical Center (DMC). I currently live in DMC International Guest Housing, about a block away from RIM. So far, therapy has been one three hour session every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, for a total of nine hours each week.

Other jlink details - I was born in 1984, and I have lived in south-central Illinois most of my life. I have two older brothers. I graduated in 2007 from Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, IL. I majored in mathematics and minored in computer science. I am quite obviously a total nerd. I like long walks on the beach and late summer sunsets... Are you actually reading this far?? Anyway, I was a Resident Assistant at school for three years, and I loved it. I really like that kind of stuff. I'm also pretty big into anything related to music and musicians, as well as other languages and computational holism. Let's move on already.

--

OK, that's all for now. Thanks so much for dropping by. I can't even pretend to convey my appreciation of your support. Keep an eye out for updates, and I hope to catch you again soon. Au rev, mes amis!