22 November 2008


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


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


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


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.


Censor censor censor!

That's all for now.