Sunday, August 30, 2009

I'm Officially Well Enough to do Exercises that Hurt

I wasn’t mad at the driver who ran me down on my bike and put me in the hospital for 6 days. I wasn’t mad that he broke my collar bone and my nose and fractured my skull in 5 or 6 places, and bruised me all over. The driver is a neighbor (even though we’ve never met) and accidents happen. But it’s been almost 2 months now and he hasn’t called. He hasn’t come over. He hasn’t even sent me an apology or a get well card.

And now I’m officially well enough to start doing rehab exercises and stretches. Let me tell you, in case you don’t already know – those things hurt! And I have to do 5 sets a day of them. It adds up to about an hour a day of self-inflicted pain. And why? So I can get my body back. And why do I need my body back? Because my neighbor ran me down with his car. In a sensible world, he’s the one who should be doing these exercises. But no. He gets to go on about his life as if nothing happened, except maybe he’ll have to pay more for his insurance next year. Maybe. Lots of insurance companies don’t raise your rates if you just have one accident.

Yes, I’m lucky he stopped and gave his name and insurance information to the police. He could have been a hit-and-run like the driver who killed a bicyclist on a nearby street a week later. I’m lucky that between his insurance and my insurance, I probably won’t be out-of-pocket for anything but the co-pays on my rehab, and my bus-fares.

But when I’m trying to push my arm into positions that used to be easy, and it doesn’t want to go, and the exercises feel like I’m trying to break my own arm, I get mad.

It’s been almost two months and I’m not allowed to lift anything over 5 lbs. I can’t ride my bike because I can’t carry it downstairs to the sidewalk. (No, I can’t park it outside because it would be stolen no matter how well I lock it.) I have to take the bus everywhere which takes more than twice as long as biking. And on the bus, I meet people who want to talk with me.

The ones who know I bike want to know why I’m on the bus. Then they want to tell me their medical stories. One woman told me she had to wear a battery when she broke her collar bone and that was 30 years ago and it still hurts. This is not what I want to hear. I want to imagine than I’m going to get my life back.

The battery was supposed to make the bone grow back. It was the latest technology from the military. And her doctors made her show off the battery and its wiring to a bunch of student doctors. Showing off to student doctors is really not on my list. I’ve already had to demonstrate my range of motion to one of them who pretended it was good, as if that would soothe me. I know what I want my body to do. Whether or not my current range of motion is good for somebody who broke a collar bone is not interesting.

I have to spend my time going to doctors, going to rehab, doing painful exercises and stretches, and riding buses. I’m not able to carry my own laundry to the washing machine, or shop for my own groceries because I can’t lift over 5 lbs. All because my neighbor, who doesn’t care enough to drop by or send me a note, shouldn’t be driving a car. If anybody should be consigned to riding a bus – he should. That way he won’t run anybody else down.

So, yes, I’m mad. I’m mad at my neighbor for running me down. I’m mad at my city for not putting up protected bike lanes. I’m mad at the bus company because the bus routes don’t go enough places and I have to pay extra and wait a long time for transfers because they have inadequate routes and infrequent buses. I’m mad at the insurance companies because they make me submit the same bills over and over. I’m mad that I don’t have my life back yet. I’m even mad that my rehab PT thinks I’m funny and he actually asked me, “Is there anything else you want to ask me, so I can say, ‘No.’?”

Friday, August 28, 2009

Finally a PT Who Understands Shoulders

I fired my recent PT. At my appointments, she told me to do the same exercises that she assigned me to do at home. She set her timer for 4 minutes and walked away. I couldn't see paying $20 and letting my insurance pay who knows how much more for this, so I cancelled all my remaining appointments.

I talked about my PT problem with one of my clients. He mentioned that he's going to a shoulder specialist at a different clinic. This PT did his research on shoulders when he got his doctorate in physical therapy. He's been working on shoulders for 17 years.

I called and made an appointment. His clinic is in one of those places that is so easy to bike to and a royal pain to get to by bus with lots of walking and transfers. But I can't bike there because I am not allowed to lift anything over 5 lbs. My bike weighs more than 5 lbs and in order to ride it anywhere I need to carry it down the stairs from my living room to the sidewalk. So I had to take the bus.

It was worth it. Shoulder PT gave me new exercises. Exercises that make sense. I can feel muscles stretching, and I expect to gain mobility. Shoulder PT understands the needs of yoga. He commented that my body is now where most people end up. My range of motion is close to what textbooks call normal. I demand more and he's going to help me get there.

I didn't know there were PTs who specialize in different body parts. I guess I'm going to have to learn a lot more before I get my life back.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I Decided to Have Surgery Basedon Somebody Else's X-Ray

I was lying there doped up on morphine when several hospital staffers (don't ask me if they were doctors, nurses, or visiting clowns) put a laptop computer in front of me and said the broken clavicle on the screen was mine. The clavicle had 3 big pieces and about 20 little chips. It didn't look like it could grow back together easily. One of the staffers told me they could get a surgeon to fix it the next day. All I had to do was sign a form. My husband, the alien, called a doctor friend of his, who called up the x-ray on his computer screen and said, "Do the surgery." I signed the form. I had the surgery.

I had the usual side-effects. The skin on my shoulder and upper arm are numb. My shoulder is now straight instead of sloping. My range of motion is reduced, and I'm weaker. But supposedly rehab will heal all. I wasn't upset about these things. I'm an exercise junky. And a stretching junky.

The surgeon proudly showed me an x-ray of the finished job. I was disappointed to see that he had only saved 2 big pieces. But done is done and I didn't say anything. The 2 pieces were held together with a strip of metal and screws running through my bones.

The hospital offers one free set of records to every patient. I requested mine. They arrived last night. The x-rays came on a set of CDs. I looked for that x-ray of the shattered clavicle. It wasn't there. Instead there was an x-ray of a clavicle with a simple break -- into two pieces. No wonder the surgeon only saved 2 pieces. There were only 2 pieces.

I mentioned this to a friend who is a nurse. She said she wasn't surprised that they showed me the wrong x-ray.

I agreed to surgery based on an x-ray that was of somebody else's broken clavicle. If I'd seen only 2 pieces, I'd have demanded more information. I might still have chosen surgery. But now I'll never know.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Physical Therapy is NOT a Cook Book

Do I look gullible? Tom the Dancing Bug has a great cartoon this week. In it, he says, despite common usage the word Gullible is not in the dictionary. Go ahead, look it up.

I have a friend whom I consider to be very smart. She sent me a link to a web dictionary where she looked it up. Smart people can be gullible.

I used to be gullible about physical therapy. When I first went to physical therapy for my hip arthritis, I thought therapy was therapy. Two months later, I was weaker than when I walked in the door. I'd had the sense that the exercises were useless. But it took that long for me to have proof. I had to go another two months to a different therapist to get my strength back. I still do the exercises he gave me. He listened to me. If I said something was too easy, he modified it to make it harder. If I showed him something I wanted to be able to do, he gave me an exercises that would enable me to do it.

Now I've got a new therapist for my healing collar bone. She did an evaluation. She knows my range of motion and my strength level. But yesterday she gave me exercises that were all within my existing range of motion and that did not push my strength levels. When I commented that they were too easy, she said my doctor gave very explicit instructions about what exercises I should have. I'm not gullible. I read the prescription. It said stretching levels 1 and 2 and strength level 1. That is not a specific list of exercises. Restoring use of a damaged shoulder is not a simple matter of doing exercises in the order that they are listed in a book.

I asked her if this is how she would treat a 30-year-old swimming champion. She said she would make a 30-year-old swimming champion do warm-ups. I want to be treated like a 30-year-old swimming champion. I've taken care of my body and I deserve it.

Finally, at the end of our session she gave me two exercises that work on issues I had told her I want help with. Getting my hand behind my back and moving my shoulders to the back. Those are two exercises I'll do. I refuse to waste my time on exercises that don't improve my range of motion or my strength. Wasting time wastes muscles. I learned that the hard way already. It wasn't just the tame exercises. It was also the microcurrent. But the point is that I know what my body needs. And I want my physical therapist to work with me to make me stronger and more flexible. Not to treat me like a simple dough recipe in a cookbook. Physical therapy is an art, and I want a great chef who goes beyond cookbook recipes.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Not Pacific - They Wouldn't let me get my Toes Wet

I remember learning that Pacific meant peaceful. The Pacific Ocean was so named because it was supposed to be more peaceful than the Atlantic Ocean. I learned to body surf in California, in the Pacific Ocean. I always imagined that the Atlantic Ocean would be even more fun. Typical 4-foot waves and the occasional 8-foot waves after a storm were good, but I looked forward to more oomph.

When we moved to the East Coast, I couldn't wait to go to the beach. When I arrived, the waters were placid. Where are the waves? The Atlantic Ocean is like a big lake. I asked -- was I at the wrong beach? Where are the waves?

The natives assured me that the whole East Coast is like this. No body surfing. Not much surf boarding. Basically, you can get wet and you can swim. The Atlantic Ocean is just a big boring lake.

Then I read about Hurricane Bill. There were going to be 2-foot waves. I can body surf in 2-foot waves. Salt water is supposed to be good for my healing shoulder. That's why I put Epsom Salts in my bath tub. The casinos subsidize bus rides to Atlantic City. I called the Greyhound bus station. No, they don't have lockers any more. Homeland Security. All I wanted to do was put my street clothes and fanny pack in a locker and go to the beach unencumbered. Come to think of it, maybe the casinos had something to do with this. Do they imagine if I have money with me, that I'll waste it in a casino? Does Homeland Security imagine that clothing I'm willing to wear is actually dangerous?

I take that back. C-4 cannot be exploded with a match, and Homeland Security believes there was a shoe bomber. Homeland Security cannot be relied on for reasonable thinking.

My husband and I agreed we'd take turns in the ocean, and I bought the round trip bus tickets.

When we arrived at the beach, there were signs -- No Swimming Unless Lifeguard On Duty. Hours 10 AM until 6 PM. I checked my watch. It was almost 11 AM. I stood guard over our backpack while my husband went waist deep into the ocean. Screeeeeeeeeeeee! A lifeguard called him back. We saw other people about knee deep, so we figured maybe knee deep was the limit. My husband put on the backpack and we both went knee deep into the ocean. Screeeeee! The lifeguard came up to us and told us we were not allowed in the ocean at all. Not even our toes.

I tried to tell him. We know how to body surf. We're from California. We came to the beach because of the waves. Other people are being allowed to get their knees wet. He didn't care. He didn't want us in the water. At all.

We decided to take an early bus home. We went to the bus station. The bus didn't bother to stop at the bus station. It had filled up at one of the casinos. It looked like we had to go into a casino after all. There is a waiting room. It is devoid of gambling machines. This is not Las Vegas where they have one-armed bandits everywher, even in the toilet stalls. Instead there are No Sleeping signs all along the walls.

We had to wait an hour and a half for the next bus. I decided to exercise. Heel raises, leg abduction, hamstring stretches, some floor work with abs and obliques, some yoga. The poor security guard kept looking at me like I was dangerous. I expect by next week the signs will say No Sleeping and No Exercising. They don't have free reading material. And much as I'd like to spend an hour and a half meditating, I didn't feel that a casino was a safe place to leave my stuff unguarded. No, I didn't think the security guard would take care of my stuff.

That's it. I'm done with Atlantic City. Either they have no waves or if they do, they won't let me play with them. 2-foot waves. Baby stuff. When I got the newspaper this morning, it bragged that nobody drowned yesterday. The paper also said people were allowed out to their knees. People maybe. But an alien and his grey-haired wife -- NO.

Friday, August 21, 2009

My New Bike is Sitting in the Living Room

I should explain. My living room is my gym (in addition to the official gym with the swimming pool.) Along one wall are my hula hoops (yes I can spin more than one at a time) and my yoga lift headstand gadget, which doubles as my chair where I put on shoes before I go outside. And my big fat gray rubber band is tied to the banister of the stairs. On the opposite wall are my weights, my mini-trampoline, my exercise mats, my exercise balls, and my exercise circles. My husband's alien exercise stuff is here, too. Our bicycles get parked in the living room because if we left them outside they'd be stolen.

I'm not allowed to lift my bike up or down the stairs to my living room / gym because it weighs more than 5 lbs. For the same reason, I'm not allowed to do any exercises in which I support my own body weight on my hands or elbows or arms. But my bike was ready so my husband and I went to the shop where the owner fitted my bike to me (lowered the seat and adjusted the handlebars to an angle I like). And then my husband (not me) lifted the bike onto the bike rack of the bus and rode home with me, so he (not me) could lift the bike off the rack and take it up the stairs into our home.

Now I get to stare at it while I pull on the big fat gray rubber band. I'm finding these exercises boring and way too easy and they aren't doing anything for the problems I'm having with strength and flexibility. Yes, I'm doing them twice a day as prescribed. This is so dumb.

Exercises are prescribed. And when I asked for exercises for my left leg which got beat up in the accident, too, my new PT told me I need a doctor to write a prescription before she can give me exercises. I understand that it's possible to abuse drugs. But how am I going to abuse an exercise? I tried the official exercises on my right arm (my good arm.) They were just as hard (not very hard) with my good arm as they are with my injured arm. Maybe I'm abusing the exercises by doing them with my good arm. I really don't care.

My new PT did say, "You must have been in fantastic shape before the accident." It's nice of her to notice. She said most people who have the injuries and surgery I had aren't as strong or as flexible as I am at this point.

I suppose that's interesting, but I want my life back -- not platitudes.

I'll see her again Monday and she promised more exercises then. I hope the new ones are more useful.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

My New Friend is a Big Fat Gray Rubber Band

Big Fat Gray Rubber Bands have their place. Mine is tied to my banister and I tug on it to strengthen my arm muscles.

My new rubber band and I will be spending about 20 minutes a day together.

I have a new PT because the old one isn't returning my phone calls. This probably has something to do with the fact that I ratted out his colleague (rotten rehab doc) for ethics violations. The man has loyalty issues and his loyalty clearly isn't to me.

My new PT has a sense of humor. I told her that when jock-doc said I could now lift 5 lbs, the first thing I asked about was my 5 lb dumbbells. That is apparently not the usual request. She wanted to know his answer. Of course he said yes. When I told her, she laughed.

When a neighbor asked how my arms are doing now that I'm not wearing the sling, I bragged about the dumbbells. She asked, "what do you do with 5 lb dumbbells?"

I'd have asked the same question about 20 years ago. I always wanted biceps and I didn't know how to get them.

Now, I do Tamilee Webb's "I Want That Body."

And Donna Richardson's "4-Day Rotation."

Both exercise videos have 15-minute segments using dumbbells, that I call "Arms with Attitude." They also have abs and buns sections.

My arms aren't the only parts with attitude.

I got a much better friend than that fat gray rubber band yesterday. A woman I haven't heard from in over 50 years emailed me. The last time I saw her we were friends in elementary school. She had a big sister who was very mysterious because she used sanitary napkins. I had a little sister whom neither of us liked. She remembered that I had a beautiful mother. I remembered that her father had a weird blood type and got called down for emergency donations. And we both remembered the time she got something stuck in her nose -- she remembers it as a mulberry and I remember it as a pea -- that she had to get sucked out with a machine at the hospital.

When my family moved away, I thought she was gone from my life. There's something very final about getting into a car and driving away, knowing you'll never come back. My father was done with his old job and his old home and we all had to move on with our lives.

But the world wide web has changed all that. Our friendship just had a gap in it.

That big fat gray rubber band will mend the gap in my life. I will get back on my bicycle. Nothing is permanent. Even endings.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Rehab Again

I do hope old age isn't going to a series of rehabs. I just finished rehab for arthritis a few months ago. Then I got hit by a car while biking. Now I have to start rehab again to restore flexibility and strength to my left arm. The x-ray of my recovering collar bone was not reassuring. A strip of metal covers the break. The metal is held in place with 4 screws on each side. And oddly, my bra-strap shows up in the x-ray, too. I got one of those new bras with the guaranteed no-slip straps. FYI, those straps really do work. My mended collar bone is a different angle from the original and my old straps were not staying up.
I called three rehab centers, yesterday. Nobody returned calls. Not even the place where I went for arthritis. Or maybe especially not them, since I ratted out a bad doctor there. Finally, this morning, I got an appointment with a new rehab center near my house.
The rehab center needed my social security number. I asked if they are going to be paying me -- that's what the number is for -- income being taxed for my social security. No, they won't pay me. They are part of the new horrible trend of keeping track of people by social security number. And much as I find this reprehensible, a violation of my rights as a free citizen, and an aid to government snooping, I gave her the number because I want the rehab. I know -- that's how it starts -- people not refusing because they want whatever. I don't know how to undo it now.
I guess it would only really matter if I was trying to hide. So that's when I need to start refusing. If I don't give out the number when I'm hiding, then nobody can find me because that's where everybody looks. But if I keep needing rehab, I don't have a chance to hide anyway. I can't even hide that weird piece of metal inside my shoulder. There is no privacy left.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Make Pet Care Deductible

There have been many studies that have concluded that caring for a pet is good for your health. Now there's a political movement to make pet care deductible. This will go a long way toward reducing medical expenses for the human population. It's so important, I think it should be part of the national health bills currently in congress. But even if it has to be a separate bill, it's value is indisputable.

Here's where you can go to sign the petition:

Friday, August 14, 2009

Is this what it's like to be Normal?

I don't get it. I really don't. I'm not keeping up with what I expect of myself. All my life, other people were slow. Other people were late. Other people had excuses. But not me. I thought they had other priorities. Read -- didn't care about me and my projects. I thought they were goof-offs.

But now, I'm one of them. I'm trying to finish a 90 page screenplay by the end of this month. I spent 2 days writing the first 10 pages, but it turned out to be 18. The first 10 pages are really important. If you can't hook a reader by page 10, they're not going to read pages 11 through 90. Now, I've spent 2 days cutting those 18 pages. I'm down to 14 pages.

I need to keep writing. I have my plot outline. Starting tomorrow, I'm just going to finish the entire story. Then I can go back and cut. And make sure every line means something in terms of both the plot and the character who is speaking.

But I'm behind schedule. I'm acting like other people. Is everybody else on this planet healing up from a crash? Dealing with dizzy spells? And otherwise coping with a body and mind that just aren't up to the work?

And if I figure out the answers to these impossible questions will that help me finish my screenplay? The topic is enlightenment.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

For the First Time in my Life, a Deadline is Scary

Deadlines have never bothered me. I always get my work done early. Plenty of time to polish and correct. No school or business assignment was ever late. Until now. I'm supposed to reformat a book of magnet activities and I want to enter a mystery contest with a deadline of August 30. The magnet activity book can wait. The mystery cannot.

But I am not me. I'm sleeping overtime. I didn't get up until 7 this morning, instead of my usual 4 AM. I go to bed early. I even take naps. This healing up from getting hit by a car is not something I can schedule for next month.

I contacted my co-author. I've already done the first draft. I've written the plot outline. Could she help? She's swamped with other obligations.

I called my mom. "I'm sure you can do it."
Okay, she's learned. She didn't used to be so sure I could meet my deadlines. But now that she's convinced, I'm not so sure. I'm not sure I should be taking time from working on my mystery to write this blog entry. But I need a break. I just cut out a scene that I thought was funny, but that doesn't forward the plot.

Okay, this is enough of a break. I also took a break earlier to go buy milk at the corner store. A half gallon of milk weighs 4 lbs. That's the maximum I can carry. I carried it for 3 blocks. Back to work. If I don't meet that deadline, it won't be because I goofed off. I don't do that. But I do sleep.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Calling me Impatient is Totally Unfair

Ever since the car hit me on my bike and put me in the hospital, my friends have been calling me impatient. Friends, they call themselves. They tell me I'm lucky to be alive. Don't they know I'm far more afraid of being crippled than being dead? They tell me I'm lucky I didn't get a personality change. But in the same breath, they tell me they wish I'd become more patient.

Now that I'm home, they offer to do things for me, like go to the grocery store. I give them a list. Three days later they show up with part of the list in a sack. I'm grateful to have what they brought. I can't carry a sack of groceries. The weight might undo the collar bone repair and besides my left arm has become weak. I can't start rehab until the bone knits. I get my next x-ray next Monday. If you ask me, I'm being incredibly patient. I didn't even nag them for the groceries sooner.

But friends haul out old lists of things they think I did in the past that they think were impatient. Okay, yes, I have complained when other people don't meet their agreed deadlines. Yes, I have complained when a painter I hired hadn't finished a month after his agreed completion time. Yes, I have complained when editors don't respond to my manuscript submissions in six months, or maybe even six weeks. Hey, when I was an editor, I responded within one week. When I have to be late, like I am with formatting my book on magnet activities, because of this auto accident, I notify my publisher. I explain why I'm late and offer a new more realistic due date. I don't just sit quietly and ignore the fact that I have an obligation. It's not hard. It only takes a few seconds.

Yes, I want my body back in working order. I want to bike all over the city, do yoga, lift weights, do my own grocery shopping. Yes, I wish the accident had never happened. That is not being impatient. That is being honest.

Where is this mythical person who gets injured in a car accident and says, "Oh, this is interesting. I wonder what my life will be like now that I have to depend on other people to do basic things for me like haul my laundry to the washing machine? How fascinating that I'm sore and I have dizzy spells when I get up or lie down. And isn't it interesting to see how much I'll sweat while I wait in the 90 degree weather for the bus, and answer strangers' questions about why I'm wearing a sling? This must be what it was like to be a Queen a couple of centuries ago."

Would my friends really rather I found a way to enjoy being waited on? They all keep asking when I can start rehab. They are impatient. But when they do it, it's a good thing. So, now I'm not only inconvenient, I have unpleasant personality traits. Totally unfair!

I'm going to the gym later today and when I catch those stupid digital dragons, I think I've got names for them.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

I Caught 15 Dragons in 15 Minutes

I called my gym. What exercises can I do with one arm in a sling? One staffer suggested I get a note from my doctor and put my membership on hold for a couple of months. Since when do I need a note from my doctor to put my membership on hold? I called back and got a different staffer. He suggested I try the recumbent bicycle, the no-hands elliptical, and the inner and outer thigh machine.
I love bicycling. I do not like the recumbent bike. No wind in my face, no hills. Just a machine with pictures that change and pedals that get harder and easier to turn. One of the staffers showed me the dragon program. You need one hand for the steering wheel. I've got one hand. The screen shows you colored coins. You aim your bike towards one. You hit it. Then you look for a dragon the same color as your coin. Different colored dragons are worth different numbers of points. When you see a dragon of the appropriate color, you have to speed up to catch it. My usual speed is about 10 miles per hour. To catch a dragon I need to go at least 14 miles per hour.
It's less boring than going along a path where I'm not allowed to hit trees or run through campfires. But it's not fun. I caught 15 dragons in 15 minutes. I went 3.03 miles. Do they really think that statistics make up for being inside on a stationery bicycle? They gave a screen full of statistics showing how much time I spend at different speeds and giving me a penalty because I biked through some water one the screen. I didn't even notice any puddles and I didn't go into the ocean. I did see a message on the screen once saying that water would teleport me, but I didn't see any water. I guess teleporting means that the pictures on the screen would change.
I'm hard to please. I don't get to take the dragons home for pets, so why catch them?

I prefer the inner and outer thigh machine. I can see the real weights. I can choose how many of them I want to lift. I can choose how many times I want to lift them. I'm up to 29 reps of lifting 75 lbs. I'm supposed to build up to 30 reps of 80 lbs. I should be able to get there in a month or so.

But no matter how many dragons I catch, they're just pixels on the screen. And I don't even get to see them in a net. They just disappear when I supposedly catch them. Now, if they had a computer game that would heal my broken collar bone -- so many points for so many dragons means my body heals up -- that's a game I'd play for hours. As it is, 15 minutes is all I can stand before I'm bored, and sweaty.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Yoga Wearing a Sling

I should probably start a sit-com. People who wouldn't talk to me because I look scary wearing a sling, suddenly think I'm fair game when I'm also carrying a yoga mat. "You're doing yoga with a broken arm?" "No, it's just a broken collar bone. My yoga teacher says he can modify the asanas so I can do them with my lower body." "Okay, you must really like yoga. You gonna be out of that thing in a few weeks?" "A broken collar bone is a kid's injury. Nobody knows how long it takes to heal if you're over 60." "Gee. You're over 60? Maybe I should do yoga."

Or there's the other conversation. "How did that happen?" "I got hit by a car while riding my bike." "Yeah, biking is dangerous." "Not really. I've been being hit by cars since I was 9. This is the first time I ever broke anything." "If I ever got hit, I'd sue the city for not providing safe bike lanes." "And if you won, they wouldn't pay you. The city is broke."

In the yoga class, the teacher is thrilled, or he puts on a good show, and tells the class, "No matter what is going on with you, you can always do yoga." Then, he starts the class with downward facing dog. That can't be modified. So he had me do prone warrior. Next, the class does hand stands. That can't be modified. I did legs up the wall. After that we did variations on standing warrior. He gave me a wooden trestle to support myself instead of raising my arms. That worked. It went on like that for 90 minutes. I didn't have that wonderful warm buzz afterwards, like I usually get at yoga class. But I was stretched somewhat. It was worth going.

At the bus stop another woman from a different yoga class had her mat with her. "What kind of yoga can you do with your arm in a sling?" "Iyengar. The poses can be modified."

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

They Laugh About Cancer from Oral Sex on the Sport Channel

When I walked into my chiropractor's office, his dander was up. He was hanging up the phone. My chiropractor is recovering from extensive surgery to remove cancer from his mouth and throat. His cancer was caused by HPV (Human Papilloma Virus), the same virus that causes cervical cancer. The same virus for which young girls (but not boys) are being vaccinated. The most common way for men to get oral and throat cancer from HPV is oral sex. The men on the sports radio show laughed.

My chiropractor went for a regular checkup. He had one hugely inflamed lymph node. His doctor didn't think it was important, but he mentioned it. My chiropractor is a health professional, too. He went for a second opinion. His second doctor sent him for x-rays immediately. Within a week, he was in the hospital for surgery and then recuperation with a feeding tube up his nose. He lost all sense of taste. Then when they started him on chemo, all he could taste was metal. Now his sense of taste is back, but he has trouble swallowing. He's in rehab to regain strength and range of motion in his arm on the side where the surgeon had to slice his neck to remove the tumor. His voice sounds different. And there is no test to tell him if he's free of HPV, so he can kiss someone.

The men on the radio show laughed. My chiropractor called them to tell them this is a serious disease. He could have died. His doctor told him that the best advice for men is to wait until they are in a steady relationship with a woman. Then ask her to get an HPV test. 80% ofwomen test positive. Only if she tests negative, should he consider oral sex. But there is no HPV test for men. So, women might not want it anyway.

My chiropractor is a health professional. He's trying to help people stay healthy. Humor can be a teaching tool. I hope it was in this case.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Getting the Medical Bills Paid

First, my lawyer emailed me. The driver who hit me on my bike had $100,000 insurance coverage. The driver's insurance has not yet agreed with the police report that their driver was completely responsible for the accident. They're going to re-interview all the witnesses and try to get them to change their stories. Meanwhile, my lawyer says to send all the bills to him.

Then Hospital A called. They want to be sure I received their bills. They send out bills under 3 names. They said they are reducing the bills because I'm uninsured. I told the woman I have IBX insurance. She said IBX won't pay for automobile accidents. PA is supposed to be a no-fault state. I don't see how IBX can refuse to pay for anything. I'm uninsured because I don't own a car and don't have car insurance that would pay my bills.

Anyway, the woman from Hospital A wanted me to tell her my birthdate and address to confirm my identity. This also made no sense. She wants me to get her bills paid. And she already ought to know my birthdate and address since the hospital went through my fanny pack and took out anything of value, like my driver's license, library card, and IBX card, and about $20 cash. They gave that stuff to my husband, the world's best alien, along with the one ring that they were able to take off.

I told Hospital A the answers anyway, and then teased them that I don't have secret questions for them, so for all I know, they are the driver's insurance company calling to learn what my plans are. I also gave them my lawyer's contact information and told them that he's going to get their bills paid. That seemed to satisfy the woman.

We hung up. My phone rang again. This time it was a recorded call, also purportedly from hospital A. The recording wanted me to take a survey about what I thought of the previous call. They have to be kidding. After listening to a bunch of choices, I finally heard one that said "not interested." I picked that one.

Now, a survey about what I thought of their medical care might have been more interesting. Why did they put IV's in both my elbows? Why did they put a neck brace on me that didn't fit? Why didn't they have a regular bed for me, and instead kept me in the expensive ICU for 2 days after they discovered there was nothing dangerously wrong with me?

My husband got me transferred to the hospital he likes. There, they refused to use either of the IV's put in at Hospital A. Instead they jammed a new one into my hand. I was on a morphine drip and I'm still sure folks heard me screaming down on the sidewalk outside the building. At least Hospital B had some pity. They ran an MRI to see if I needed that horrid neck brace. They need to get one of those MRI-proof headphone sets. The sound is about 130 decibels and it goes BRAAPPP, AACCK, EEEP, for 40 minutes. Whatever injury the CAT scan at Hospital A detected wasn't recent, so Hospital B staff took the neck brace off. Of course, first, they talked about surgery. But old injuries aren't exciting. YAY! I've been being hit by cars on my bike since I was 9. Why shouldn't some injuries be old an boring?

Hospital A had wanted to send me home for 4 to 6 weeks and have me come back to get my collar bone repaired. Hospital B wanted to fix it right away. Hey, as long as I had an IV in, why not use it for something more than salt water and morphine drips? Hospital B was even willing to get me off the morphine. YAY! I haven't seen their bills yet. It would be nice if the total is under $100,000. My lawyer gets 30%. I don't really know how that works. But from what the woman at Hospital A said, you really need a lawyer to get car insurance companies to pay medical bills in this state. She felt confident my lawyer would get her hospital's bills paid. Also, her hospital's bills are arriving first. And that means, by law, they will be paid first.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Puzzle Boxes to the Rescue

After my grandson insisted on peeking in the secret boxes and ruining the surprise of the magic trick I'd created, and after his parents made me into the villain for asking him not to peek, I needed secret boxes that can't be peeked.
After some web surfing, I discovered: they exist. They're called puzzle boxes.
And sneaky grandma that I am, I got one style of puzzle box for my magic and a completely different style as gifts for my grandchildren. This way I get to introduce them to the idea of puzzle boxes. They get to have their own puzzle boxes (with a prism hidden in each one). And my magic will be safe. A child trying to get a quick sneaky peek into a box will know what s/he's up against when the box does not instantly open.
But, I could be wrong again. A quick peek on eBay shows that many sellers are getting rid of gently used and new-in-box puzzle boxes. At least nobody can undo the magic of prisms. They always make rainbows in sunshine.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

I Walked My Dog

Yes, I know. This sounds trivial. But I held his leash for the first time since the accident. Petruccio is not a good dog. You could guess that from his name. He's named for the most famous rejected suitor in literature. The cad from Taming of the Shrew. We got him because Buffy, the wonder dog, was lonely after Dante died. We took her to the animal shelter and she picked Petruccio. At that time his name was Cappucino. First thing, he tried to mount her, and she growled him off. Immediately we changed his name.
He's not an easy dog to walk. He tugs. He runs. Then he suddenly stops to sniff something or to grab a piece of garbage from the sidewalk. You have to have very good balance and strong arms to walk him. And I haven't had that. But yesterday, I decided to try. My husband walked with me, ready to run after Petruccio if I dropped the leash. Maybe Petruccio can tell I'm not my usual ferocious self. He didn't try any of his trickier stunts. He didn't even test my balance or my yanking power by trying to run into the street. As I said, he's not a good dog. He was about 8 when we got him and he was not then and is not now house-trained. But Buffy loved him, and we will take care of him for the rest of his life. He's abut 16 now. He's strong. He's fast. He's ornery and he's sneaky. And I'm getting there. In order to walk him I have to be stronger, faster, more ornery and more sneaky. I did it. I'm torn -- I want to be capable of handling his worst. On the other hand, I wish he would become a better dog.