Showing posts from October, 2010

Recovery -- The (mostly) Kitten Edition

... In the midst of all the turmoil of Robb's spinal fracture, our little Found Cat continues to thrive. I took him for a follow-up visit at the vet, and both the vet and the technicians were blown away by the Little Dude's improvement. We all admitted that none of us thought he would live through the first week. To see him so fluffy and spunky is a true delight. The other day he was play-fighting with his Big Uncle Cardigan. Cardigan gently tapped him on the forehead, and then did it again. He used his paw, and ever-so-slowly touched the Little Dude. The Little Dude got a crazy kitten look on his face, and tackled Cardigan's head. Adorable. His hind legs are getting stronger, and he's now able to jump up on the bed. He sleeps with us most nights. Linguine is consumed with jealousy and dyspepsia. If she would quit eating his laxative-filled food, she might be less grumpy. I'm going back to work on Monday, which means that Robb is going to be stuck at home b

Retail Therapy

... For those of you who do not have the benefit of experience, let me advise you on how to shop when the most important person in your life has a broken back. Things to buy: Bendy Straws -- Crazily valuable for anyone who cannot sit up in bed. Heating Pads -- Wards off painful muscular spasticity. Great cat-magnet. Analgesic Cream -- We call this stuff "Hot Mess." Warm "Wooby" Socks -- Staying comfy is incredibly important. Wool Blankets -- see above note on "Wooby." A Stupid Amount of Frozen Food -- I'm back at work on Monday, and Robb's gotta eat. Yarn -- Knitting keeps me from losing my mind. Things never to buy Rice-Filled "Aromatherapy" Heating Pads -- Far too lumpy to comfortably lay upon. Memory Foam Mattress Covers -- Might as well be quicksand. Robb got stuck, when he was trying to turn over in bed. This might have been almost funny, if Robb hadn't been screaming in pain. (We can laugh about this, now.)

Re-Opening Old Wounds

... Having Robb break his back for the second time is an emotionally complex thing. In addition to everything we're experiencing as a result of this injury, we also are getting a forced re-acquaintance with all the turmoil of the first catastrophe. When Robb was in the hospital the first time, we experienced an outpouring of support. And the minute he went home, it all ended. I'm not sure if people were sick of hearing about Robb's situation, and had moved on to the Next Thing. Whatever the cause, I was unprepared for how terrible it felt, when people stopped acting as if they cared. This time, it's like a speeded-up version of that experience. Maybe people have Compassion Fatigue, maybe everyone is busy with other things. Maybe *merely* breaking one's back isn't as big a deal as being paralyzed. Maybe I'm just being overly sensitive. I'll say this, not for myself, but for everyone else out there: If you *think* someone is going through a tough ti

The Customer is Always Righteous

... Here's the update to our interaction with the "nice lady" at the Durable Medical Equipment office. As soon as I got off the phone, and finished griping to Robb, I sent the Robb's doctor an email about the situation. I was polite, but firm. I quoted the conversation, and asked him if there was some way he could help us. Within an hour, Robb received a call from the head of the rehab department who must have apologized 19 times in a five minute conversation. Apparently the medical equipment department has been a problem in the past, and now the head of rehab was on the warpath. She wanted names, she wanted numbers, she wanted times. Another hour later she called back to say that our case would be expedited and handled by another office. Just goes to show, it is possible to get resolution in situations like this. We were nice, but we weren't chumps. And it has to be said that our experiences with Kaiser have been wonderful. Believe me, Robb and I know ab

I'm just sayin'

... While all of our experiences with the doctors and nurses at Kaiser have been wonderful, I'm not impressed with some of the support staff we've had to deal with. Both our emergency room physician and the doctor we met today told us to "be aggressive" with the office that will be ordering Robb's back-supporting brace. We were warned. But I really wasn't prepared for snotty lecture I got, when I called to ask about the time-line for getting this brace. The woman on the phone treated me to a tirade about how all the people with broken backs think they're so much more special than anyone else, and how we won't be getting any special treatment from her office. In fact, she hinted darkly, our "request" for this brace might not even be approved. All I'm saying is this: If you are the kind of heartless bitch who lacks the Empathy Gene, maybe you shouldn't be working in rehabilitative healthcare in the first place.

Broken Back Update

... Despite what some people have joked, dosing oneself up on narcotics isn't a fun holiday. Robb has been trying to manage his pain, and has pretty much decided to stop using any of the narcotic painkillers. There are just too many unpleasant side effects: creepy, circular thoughts, dullness of mind, and an all-out assault on his digestive system. We've got a doctor's appointment this morning, which will be the first time that Robb has left the house since he got home from the Emergency Room. He's taken a few short walks out into the back yard, but that's about it. He can manage laying down, and standing, but neither works well for long periods of time. Sitting is currently too painful to manage. Several people have asked us if we need anything, which is very sweet. At the moment, we're okay. We might be up for short visits, if you want to stop by. (Contact us before dropping by, please!) I had been feeling horribly nauseous for the past two days, no d

How many people break their backs -- TWICE?

. First off, I should say that in a glass-half-empty or glass-half-full world, we have a glass-half-full. Robb broke his back (again!) yesterday, but he had about the best possible broken-back experience imaginable. Robb was walking from the shower to the bedroom yesterday, and his feet slipped out from under him. He fell to the ground, and landed squarely on his butt. And he knew -- instantly -- that something was seriously wrong. He called me home from work, and we realized that he had to go to the hospital. Robb was in a lot of pain. It was clear that he wouldn't be able to get out of the house and into my car, so we called an ambulance. Xrays were taken, then CT scans, and then calls to spinal specialists. What made the diagnosis so difficult was all of Robb's previous injuries and his current conditions. (If someone came into the hospital after a fall, and exhibiting symptoms of paralysis and lack of sensation, what conclusions would most doctors come to? Ours were t

The Ride

... One of the greatest things about the Revolution ride is being in Wine Country in autumn. The grapes that remain on the vine late in the season are amazingly fragrant. The smell is somewhere between overripe fruit and wine. The harvest is mostly over and you can feel the pace of life on the vineyards is at a momentary lull. Team Torange, new friends on the trail The best thing about this year's ride was finding ourselves moving at about the same pace as a bunch of other riders. In previous years, we were by ourselves through most of the ride, left in the dust by the folks would go on to finish in a couple of hours and passing by others who were much slower than us. This year we kept a slow and measured pace which meant we got to make new friends along the way. Sam Craven of Sam's Team, is a Paralympic Medalist . His family is a great source of inspiration and support along the trail every year The other nice change this year was the weather. Without the rain or excessiv

Even More Cuteness

... Big Uncle Cardigan washes the Little Dude's ears. We are so happy that we've been able to give this small cat a happy life. It's amazing to consider how just a few weeks ago this kitten could barely walk. Robb and I were talking about how we didn't know if he would even survive through the first week with us. We didn't know what was scarier, worrying that he wouldn't survive a night, or having to make the decision to euthanize him, if it turned out that he didn't have a chance for survival. At this moment, he's busy throwing a knitted mouse around the bedroom. Linguine is not amused.

Oh, the Cuteness!

... Our little found cat snuggles with his big uncle Cardigan. The found cat still hasn't told us what his name is. As you can see, we maintain a sort of Open Door Policy for the backyard cats. Cardigan and Sleeves are allowed inside, under supervision. The little cat is so much healthier than when I found him. His fur is growing back. He's putting on weight.* He has become very playful, and will snuggle when he's not occupied with his Important Kitty task of patrolling the house. He's a fierce warrior in the eternal battle between cats and string. I finally talked Robb into letting the little cat sleep on the bed, instead of keeping him locked in the bathroom at night. (Robb says, "I think you should add the parenthetical statement 'Robb is mean.' ") The little cat's back legs are terribly weak, and he cannot jump all the way onto our bed. He can leap onto the futon in the front bedroom, probably because it lacks a box spring mattress. We

We Did It!

Well, that was fun. We still can't figure out how we did it but, with virtually no training or preparation and without killing ourselves, we finished our ride in record time. Record for us, that is. We're thinking of riding next year under the team name: Team Bringing Up the Rear . The weather was perfect, the reception was terrific, and best of all we got to hang out with the people who benefit directly from BORP's programs and see first hand how they transform people's lives. Oh, and we surpassed our fundraising goal, too. We didn't think it was possible, but with your help we blew that goal out of the water. It's not over, either. Donations continue to come in. If you haven't had a chance yet, you can click on the banners above. Contributions will be accepted through November 15th. Thanks again to everyone who chipped in!



Faces of the Revolution

... Look closely, and you'll spot Robb drinking a post ride beer. He's sitting cross-legged on the lawn, behind one of the people being interviewed.

Why Help?

... (I'm recycling this article from a while back. Forgive me. It's Monday.) *************************************************************** About two and a half years ago, Robb was working in the theater department of the University of California. He was working with a student, taking down some fluorescent fixtures. Apparently, the light they were moving was hung in a non-conventional manner, and as they were de-installing it, the entire unit broke loose from their control, and swung directly at the face of the student worker. Robb did what anyone would have done: he pounced on the light, and in doing so, disrupted the balance of his ladder, and fell to the ground. He landed on a concrete floor, shattered one of his vertebrae and suffered a paralyzing spinal cord injury. His career as an actor and scenic artist ended abruptly that morning. Luckily, we live in a part of the country that understands that a disabled person should have the chance to live a full, fun, advent

Overcoming Adversity

... Anyone who's been paying attention even a little bit will have noticed the heartbreaking news articles about young people who have killed themselves as a result of taunting by their peers . There's an ugliness about humans: we pick on anyone who's even a little bit different. I'm sure every blog reader can recall some example of this, from their own lives. I was one of those shy strange children, who was an instant target for torment by my peers. I kept my head down, and tried to avoid trouble. I did, as a teenager, try to kill myself. I took an overdose of aspirin, which (luckily for the adult me) did nothing more serious than make me deaf for three days. My parents and teachers never had a clue. I was sick as a dog, and couldn't hear a thing that was going on, but I just pretended that I had a head cold, and stayed out of everyone's way. Why do I mention this? Because I want you to imagine the difficulties of being a kid who is "different"

Why We Do It

... I've been riding my trike out on the trail lately, trying to prepare for a very hilly 25 mile ride. Very soon we'll be doing the BORP Revolution ride. So far it's been hard to feel ready for the physical challenge. Some days are easier than others when it comes to hitting the trail and putting in the miles. I've even entertained the idea of switching to the much easier 10 mile ride. On reflection, removing the physical challenge has no appeal for me but there would be one very good reason for riding the 10 mile course: we would be with most of the people we're doing this for. We hope that some of our blog readers will support us , as we raise money to provide fun recreational activities for people with disabilities! (This is a shameless re-blog from two years ago. But, hey, who's got time to write when there's last minute training to do!)

Here We Go Again!

Four years ago when I was still in the hospital recovering from my fall-- barely able to sit up, walking a distant hope-- I heard about BORP. They could keep me active. They sponsored field trips and sporting events. They had adaptive bikes and could get almost anybody cycling. Without BORP, I would never have tried that first trike. Or the second. Or the third one, either. Without that program I would never have figured out that cycling was something I can do. And now, with about 4,000 miles of pedaling behind me, I think I can say that I would never have the energy and good health I enjoy today if i hadn't tried out that first trike. So, it's that time of the year again. Time to say thank you. We've been putting off making the decision but last night we finally committed and ... OH, CRAP! WE'RE DOING THE BORP FUNDRAISING RIDE AGAIN THIS YEAR!! IT'S 25 MILES!!! AND WE HAVE ONLY NINE DAYS TO GET READY!!! and so-- without much by way of preparation, training or

of Underdogs and Kittens

... When I spotted this little cat, three weeks ago, he could barely walk. He would manage a step or two, and then fall over. This didn't slow him down. He was in a hurry to get to wherever he was headed. My heart was filled with compassion when I saw him, and without thinking, I stopped my car and scooped him up. Some people align themselves with proven winners. I tend to lose my heart to the underdogs. I like the runty little guys. I think they deserve a little extra love. Don't ask me why this is. I've always been the one to rescue earthworms, or revive neglected houseplants. As I write this, the little kitten is thumping around our house. He has become quite inquisitive and playful, and Robb tells me that today he was pouncing and playing in the garden, with his Big Uncle Cardigan. I'm so glad that we could give this little fellow time to heal, a warm home, and a second chance.