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Showing posts from November, 2006

...to your regularly scheduled programming

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Yesterday, Robb had what may be his final visit with the neurosurgery team at Highland Hospital. As usual, there was some kind of insane screw up with the scheduling. We waited for over two hours, and on top of that, the hospital had no computer record of his case. The appointment itself was probably no more than seven minutes long. Dr. Patel pretty much said that there wasn't much more that the neurosurgeons could do for Robb, with the implication that his recovery was now in the hands of Robb's other doctors and therapists. The bone grafts in Robb's spine seem stable. The vertebra that was crushed seems to have good bone density. The completely freaky "popping" noises that Robb has been hearing in his back may be some of the stitches inside of Robb. Apparently, these are intended to break apart six to nine months after surgery. (When I asked where the stitches go after they break up -- "do they pop out of one's ear, or what? -- we were told th

family and thanksgiving

I just can't figure out how to talk about Thanksgiving. We attended a lovely vegan Thanksgiving dinner at Ashley's house. And, while we were all enjoying ourselves, one block over, a tragedy was unfolding. Strangely, one of the people at our dinner had been a passerby as everything took place. Madelyn, who had been such godsend during Robb's early recovery, and who is a volunteer for the American Red Cross, was on the scene trying to do something to help out. All of Ashley's guests knew something was going on, because the police had a large portion of the neighborhood blocked off, and there were dozens and dozens of police and emergency workers everywhere. I really can't sum up what happened without thinking that I sound callous, so I'm going to link to a couple of articles: click here or here or here I want to say something wise about the bonds of family, both the one we are born into, and the one we make for ourselves, but words really fail me. Per

it's going swimmingly

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Ever since my stay in the hospital, Lisa and I have had a pact: someday we would return to Kauai (the Hawaiian island where we spent our anniversary last year) and go snorkeling again. Well, today I took the first step toward realizing this promise — I went swimming. This evening, on the one year anniversary of the last time I swam in a body of water, Lisa and I went down to the community pool at Berkeley High and splashed around for about an hour. I don't think I can adequately describe just how strange it felt to be buoyant and surrounded by water once again. At first the sensation was almost too much to bear. I almost never walk without shoes these days because the stimulation of the parts of my feet I can feel right next to the parts I can't, creates an unpleasantly intense experience. Getting into the water for the first time was kind of like that. Eventually, though, I was able to adjust and get comfortable. It helped that the pool is kept at about 93ºF.

And while we're on the subject of Mobility....

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We bought a car! Our very first twenty-first century car! No more limping around town in a smashed up car with doors that neither open nor shut. Hurrah! Now we can get the adaptive hand controls installed, and Robb can begin driving again. The last time I bought a car, I called all the used car dealers near our home in Connecticut, and told them exactly what kind of car I wanted, and how much I wanted to pay. We ended up with a fantastic car that had been perfectly maintained (and which we bought from a dealer who had the same haircut as Wolverine in the X Men ). After visiting the first dealer (which was, interestingly, the used car department of our beloved mechanic) I feel I can offer a few pointers on How To Be A Creepy Used Car Salesmen. • Talk like you are following a script written by David Mamet. You needn't be completely sinister; the silent lurking sales guy in the gold satin shirt guy exudes enough creepiness for the entire sales staff. • If one of the shop

moving around

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Robb and I signed out the tandem recumbent trike from the Bay Area Outreach and Recreation Program again. This time, we took the bridge over the freeway, and rode along the San Francisco Bay Trail, past Golden Gate Fields. We made a lot of stops, to look at birds, or to adjust the straps that held Robb's feet to the pedals. This machine certainly is a conversation starter. Any time I stopped to take photos of birds, people would come up to Robb to ask about the bike. I did manage to do a little on-board knitting, but it was more symbolic than productive. Still, I think Erica would be proud of me, for finding a way to incorporate cycling and knitting into Robb's recovery. After our ride, we stopped by a little bay side sandwich joint and while we were sitting outside drinking coffee (and knitting), our friends Jim and Erin rode by with their baby Tyler. We chatted with them for a while, and ended up running into them again at the Cesar Chavez Park. It was an unusua

Where have we been?

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Something went wrong with our dsl, and we were without internet connection for the better part of this week. I've not gotten much done because I've had migraines. I tried to find a photo of Robb from the play, The Madman and the Nun, because his character gets killed by having a pencil jammed through his temple. I've been feeling like I somehow got a pencil stuck in my skull. I've decided to start tracking these headaches to see if there is any pattern. I suspect that stress is a likely culprit. But most of my favorite foods are also linked to migraines. If I had to cut out nuts, caffeine, dairy products, avocados, legumes (including all soy products), bananas, sourdough breads, aged cheeses, red wines, beer, and chocolate, I'm not sure that life would be worth living.

To clarify a few things from the previous posting.....

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Robb isn't so much sore in a muscular way. Anytime he does a lot of exercise, his nerve cells are irritated. I discussed this previously in this post . I suspect that the direct-gear bike was to blame. The fact that Robb was cramming nine months of missed cycling fun into one morning probably didn't help matters, either. I'm not certain if this neural irritation is "bad" for Robb's recovery, or if it is just terribly uncomfortable and annoying. This is very similar to the tandem cycle we were riding. I think the model we were using had a different configuration for the back rider's foot pedals. I remember the chain as being inline with the frame, not raised like it is in this photograph. Here's a funny thing. Each of us thought that the other rider had another wheel than they, in fact, did. I thought that Robb had one more wheel in front, and he thought that I had two wheels in the back. So, we were riding a trike, after all! And, here is

Cycling!

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Although Robb and I have taken my bike and his wheelchair out a few times, Robb has not actually ridden a bike since his accident. Now that his balance and stamina are better, I signed Robb up for the Bay Area Outreach and Recreation Program's Saturday morning cycling. This program rents out adaptive cycles for the shockingly low price of ten dollars a session. You can take the cycles out for four hours, which is such an astonishing bargain, particularly when you consider the price of some of these machines. The first cycle Robb signed out was a fixed-gear trike. Fixed- or direct-gear cycling is very popular in the Bay Area. This is a fact that has always mystified me, since you only have one gear, and you can never "coast" with this style of bike. You move your foot, it moves the wheels. You stop pedaling, and the bike stops. If you want to climb a steep hill, you've got no gearing to help you out. Nope. You just have to pedal harder. Direct-geared bike

parallels and perspective

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On Friday afternoon, I took a moment to photograph the progress on the herringbone floor that we have been building at work. And it suddenly struck me how much my photo resembled this painting. Same strong sense of perspective, but of course, our wood workers are obliged to wear shirts, and are not permitted wine on the job. And, of course, too, my photograph's lighting is much less lyrical than the oil painting's.

Go Robb, Go!

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Warning! Body Function Discussion Follows! If you've come for cute kitties, you can tune out now! Although we have not discussed it much on the blog, one of the issues Robb is dealing with as a result of his spinal cord injury relates to his bladder. This part of the recovery has been quite a challenge, particularly as urologists who accept Worker's Compensation Insurance are a rare group. If the truth be told, Robb's condition is not as dire as it could have been. Had his injury been a tiny bit lower on his spinal cord, he would have lost bladder and bowel control completely. As it is, he has to monitor his condition very carefully, because it poses a very serious health risk. Robb finally was seen for a battery of urological tests last week. (FINALLY!!!! It has been NINE MONTHS since the accident!!!) The tests indicate that the parts are all capable of functioning within normal parameters. But this doesn't explain why Robb goes to the bathroom between seve

Much Happier

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Niobe, our very popular white kitty, is feeling considerably better, if her non-stop purring is any indicator. I imagine that having a smelly, rotten tooth removed from one's mouth would make anyone happy. The kidney issues are trickier. We'll be adjusting her diet, but the efficacy of this approach is debatable. I can report that all the cats are ecstatic about the change to wet food. The blog will return to reporting on the conditions of bipeds shortly!

Niobe

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Last night I brought my kitty Niobe home from the cat hospital. She was heavily sedated from dental surgery, and could barely walk. She wanted to get back to her usual household routine, but could barely stand, much less walk. Despite the fact that she was literally dragging her legs around, she was her usual sweet self. I, as you can imagine, was pretty dismayed by all of this. I stayed with her, and tried to comfort her as best I could. (In fact, I fell asleep with all my clothes on, failed to set my alarm clock, and totally overslept.) Why does this all seem so familiar??? (Niobe is an old girl, and in addition to her bad teeth, she is starting to have kidney troubles. We'll be monitoring this situation. This kitty and I have a deal....I give her all the love in the world, and in exchange, she is going to live to be sixty years old!)

Spread Your Wings!

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One of the first Lisa-and-Robb outings we did when Robb was first home from the hospital was a trip to Arrowhead Marsh near the Oakland Airport. I parked the car, and I think Robb walked about two hundred feet, to a picnic table. We enjoyed the sun, and felt pretty good about everything. Today, we returned to Arrowhead Marsh, and covered a lot more ground. Robb had already walked down to the lake earlier in the day, so he decided to take the wheelchair. The migratory waterfowl are returning. This is a Northern Pintail. These are Black Necked Stilts. They have, proportionally, the longest legs of any bird on the planet. These guys kept getting into scuffles. This isn't a shot of birds landing, but I'm not sure what this feisty behavior was about. Here's a Mockingbird. What a spunky bird! Some unidentified sparrow or finch. And, best of all, here's Robb. We left the wheelchair behind so as not to make a lot of noise and disturb the photographer at the end o

The Blog Goes Crazy

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Blogger, who hosts this web log was clearly in some kind of a computer-tizzy yesterday. It didn't allow comments on our most recent entry , and at some point, it deleted the entry altogether. If you did manage to post a comment yesterday, it has been erased. Goodness knows what that was all about! We'll be posting another installment of career advice soon.

Robb's Jobs

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Prior to the accident, Robb worked as an actor and also worked with me as a theatrical scenic artist . Since both of these jobs require a great deal of physical agility, he has to figure out what career he wants to pursue when he is well enough to work again. But what to do? Hoping for some guidance, Robb recently met with a vocational rehabilitation counselor. He spent hours taking aptitude tests, and today the results arrived in the mail. Even as he was taking the tests, Robb thought they were pretty useless, and the materials he received did nothing to dispel this impression. The document offered some utterly generic opinions on Robb's personality, most of which I completely disagreed with (since when is aesthetic the antithesis of realistic?), and a long list of careers from which Robb might choose. Here were a few of the listed careers that Robb was encouraged to consider: flight surgeon soil scientist ampoule examiner embalmer eyeglass inspector tablet tester tis