Wednesday, September 30, 2015

I wish it was just a towel issue

This morning, while in mid-transfer to my shower chair, I realized I didn't have a reachable towel.

Annoying for sure, but not worth trying to alter my transfer. I'd just get in my wheelchair post-shower wet. But I'd be able to grab a towel shortly after I was back in my chair. I've forgotten my towel before, so I knew I'd survive.

I also knew that if the no-towel thing was the worst thing to happen that morning, it would qualify as a good morning.

Stupid thought!

Soaking wet, I got in my chair OK. Then I turned on my chair. "CNTRL INHIBITED," it shouted back at me, and it wouldn't move. (Just to be clear, it didn't actually shout, but that would be cool, like a Kitt wheelchair.)

The chair gets errors like that not infrequently because the stupid designers put at the levers that make it a free-wheel instead of motorized (like a clutch) fairly out in the open and at a height that makes them easy to mistakenly trip. But there was nothing near any of the levers this time.

I tried flipping the power switch a few times, but that achieved nothing.

Finally, I had to call my sister.

She came down flipped the levers up and down, and when that didn't fix things, she pushed me out of the bathroom. She also grabbed me a towel.

She was going to get my old chair, but first had to go turn off the water in the shower. When she returned, I had her flip the levers again -- that usually works --and sure enough, this time it worked and was fine the rest of the day.

But if you thought that was the extent of the morning's tribulations, you'd be wrong.

I was drinking my morning "Jungle Juice," as my brother-in-law calls my Metamucil drink, when I  coughed and spilled a mouthful on my pants, which I then had to change with more help from my sister.

I survived, but I was pretty overcome, shall we say.


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

How to stop restless legs

I went to bed about 10:30 Sunday. I had been swimming so I took some Advil shortly after. And at 11m I turned off the TV to go to sleep.

At 11:01, my right leg started jumping.

Since Advil usually stops the jumping, at first I tried to ignore it. Then I tried pulling the covers off my feet.

When that didn't work, I turned on the TV and watched Judge Dredd. But that didn't help, not even when Stallone kills the crazy cannibals.

Finally, I decided to stand up, confident that the movement would settle my leg. But, and "buts" are never a good thing in my life.

Somehow, my boxers got hooked on my wheelchair and caused me to fall. Not only that, once I fell, they were still hung up, and I wound up giving myself a powerful wedgie.

Next, I had to grab my phone, which was lying on the other side of the better. Using my shoe, I got it and called my sister to help me get back in bed.

All that totally stopped my restless leg.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Doggone fun

I went to a get-together Saturday with wonderful food, good people and a bunch of hilarious dogs. It was really hard.

I knew going in that it would be tough: talking about Claren and not having my own dog running around being goofy -- these puppy plays were Claren's favorite days, especially if they included a trip to the nearby pond.

But I wanted to go, if for no other reason than to show people I am not yet overcome. And I am not.

Friday, September 25, 2015

The worst grade I have ever gotten

If a cardiologist tells you your heart is performing at less than 50 percent and he wants another echocardiogram in six months, don't freak out, which is what I did yesterday.

I only went to make sure my heart was OK enough for the colonoscopy, and he totally ignored that.

I managed to remember to ask if a colonoscopy was OK, and he said yes, but I was kind of too stunned to ask anything else, like why my normal cardiologist, the top guy in the practice, wasn't worried in years past when my heart was basically the same, what were the implications of a pathetic heart and what a normal heart performs at?

Instead, I made Mom call back and find out these answers.

The heart is ridiculously inefficient, performing at 50-70  percent normally, a nurse told her. And this was no big deal.

Why the doctor didn't mention is not clear. He didn't seem worried, but ...

One of Mom's friends apparently had a bad experience with him, too, so it is not just me.

Onward to the colonoscopy.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Waiting for a new awesome

Now we wait. I interviewed with CCI for a successor dog Monday.

Normally, you need to go to New York, but they were willing to chat on Skype.

Mostly, I am excited about getting a service dog to succeed Claren. Mostly.

A small part of me is scared that I got too used to having an older dog and that I won't be able to train or exercise a new dog the way it deserves.

An even smaller part worries I am being unfaithful to Claren.

Mostly, though, I am excited, and I know it will be awesome.

Friday, September 18, 2015

I am so old

My niece and nephew have fallen in love with The Simpsons, which is awesome. Everyone should watch The Simpsons. I love that they come in my room whenever they hear Homer or Marge.

But I went through this with my older nephews. It makes me feel old.

I felt really ancient, though, when it occurred to me that my new physical therapist is closer in age to my 10-year-old nephew than to me.

Granted, she is a grad student but still.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

I don't want to watch

Being doomed as I am does have one perk: I get to see the miracle march of modern medicine, though, of course, it can't cure me, but that's just being bitter.

I was thinking about this today at my painless echocardiogram. It is just to make sure the ticker doesn't conk out during the colonoscopy.

At my first one years and years ago, a mean, old nurse told a 10-year-old Matty to relax and not take deep breaths as she rammed the 3-inch-wide sensor between my ribs in a freezing room. OK, she was probably 30, but she was mean.

By contrast, today's technician did no ramming with her quarter-wide sensor. She did not, however, have the jelly warmer that they have when I get the ultrasound on my kidneys and bladder.

There is much more -- thermometers you don't have to shake, automatic blood pressure cuffs. But the echo registers at the top, probably because the first experience was so bad.

I get to watch another march, but this one is less cool: the inexorable downfall of my body.

I remember walking into appointments and hopping onto the table, then wheeling in but still getting on the table myself. This time someone had to lift me on, and the technician got Mom to help me roll onto my side.

If they'd just find a cure, I could go back to singing the praises of that alliterative first march.

Monday, September 14, 2015

'I'm doomed' to say there's no difference

My little sister gets exasperated when she reads comments to me on Facebook that suggest I have a good outlook on life.

What are you telling these people  different from what you tell your family, she yells; you're a bitter sad-sack (I'm paraphrasing because I lack her command of the four-letter word).

Now I have the answer: absolutely nothing!

I have had various medical appointments lately, like Wednesday's echocardiogram to make sure I am healthy enough for the dreaded colonoscopy next month. A friend at work noticed, and at lunch asked if I was OK.

"I'm doomed," I replied. And if that is not what I'd say to my family, I'm a monkey's uncle -- and my nephews and nieces are mostly homo sapiens.

P.S. I love my sister, and I may have put a modest spin on things. She does, however, have a fierce command of four-letter words.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

What am I feeling?

When I was younger, I used to read Bob Levey's neologism contest in the Washington Post. People would come up with new words to match a definition, such as "You're beat after a long day of work. All you want to do is sink into the couch and watch TV. You turn on a show that you've been eagerly anticipating and have watched only once or twice. Yikes! It's a rerun! This aggravating phenomenon is called..." Deja view, of course.

I need him now because I don't think effing pissed is the right words.

I decided to get a lift system. I have been falling more than I like, so I figured a lift might be the answer. I wasn't happy about it -- it would cost a lot and it would be rather obvious evidence that I am getting worse.

But the lift didn't fit my body.

Mom and I agreed the salesman was actually not much of a salesman. He was not really interested in working to get the lift to work. Nevertheless, I won't be getting a lift at the moment, which I didn't want but would be safer.

Monday, September 7, 2015

A very Regal fail, and walkers say the darnedest things

And by "walkers," I don't mean zombies. My life is fortunately zombie-free at the moment. No, I just mean one who can walk. It is a little less ominous than "TABs," or "Temporarily Abled Bodied," which I agree with my older sister, sounds a little threatening.


I praised Regal Cinemas a few years back for being at the forefront of assistive technology that brought closed captioning to movie theaters. They are still the only theater chain I've been to that uses  captioning glasses, which are so much better than the pane of glass other theaters use. For a hard-of-hearing person in a wheelchair the panes never line up right, so you are constantly raising and lowering your eyes to follow the action on the screen or the captions.

But with the glasses -- you see captions and the action; they're awesome ... when they work. But the the last few movies at Regal Ballston, they have been less than great. When I saw Ted 2 (yes, I laughed and yes, I am embarrassed), the captioning skipped lines regularly.

It was as if the moviemakers were trying to save a few bucks by not having the captioners caption everything. Or maybe the captioners can't rewind the movies, so if they miss something, they just skip it. Or something.

Saturday, though, was a fiasco.

The captions regularly skipped lines in Ant-Man, but I was OK until the finale, when the captioning just died completely. I followed the last 15 minutes, but any quiet talk was lost on me.

After the movie, I returned the glasses. The woman asked how the movie was, and I told her the glasses died on me right as the finale was starting.  Oh, I wish you'd brought them back to me, she said.

This was the darnedest thing.

It would have meant leaving the theater, which would have meant wrestling open a door since they aren't automatic, riding an elevator to the main floor of the theater, explaining the situation, waiting for them to go get another pair of glasses, riding the elevator again, another wrestling match with the door, then retaking my seat. I figure I'd have made it back in time to see the post-credit scene, which incidentally really needed captions.

I didn't say all this, and she again asked, well, how was the movie. I again pointed out that the captions failed during the finale. Her response: A refund? A free ticket? No. "I'm sorry."

Friday, September 4, 2015

She has the easy part

My sister performed yeoman's work yesterday. First, she helped me up when I fell transferring to my shower chair in the morning. Then she came home from happy hour to help me up after I fell getting out of bed and called her not knowing she wasn't here. Actually, I think she also came home to mock her daughter, who came into my room, determined I was OK, told me her mom was en route, then left my room and me alone on the floor. Personally, I think my niece, was a little freaked by seeing her uncle on the floor.

So my sister worked hard, but have I mentioned how exhausting it is to call for help? It's more than I like to deal with.

I actually decided to try to buy a lift system that you operate yourself. Of course, accepting that I need one made me feel pretty crappy.

And it got worse when I went to a doctor who asked how Claren was. I told him she died and said all the usual things -- she had a good life, she was old, I'm OK. I felt like saying, I can't breathe again. But I didn't.

These might explain my tenuous grip on my tears yesterday.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Let's hope it isn't the shoes

I started hearing about these new shoes from Nike about a month ago.

The shoemaker apparently worked with a kid who has cerebral palsy to make shoes that met his needs. And they are a pretty neat engineering feat. There are no laces to do. the back and side zip open to let you slide your foot in.

It's a hightop, and I was looking forward to finding a shoe with more ankle support. I ordered one pair, and it was too small. I ordered another and it didn't fit a whole lot better. It also took my sister jamming my foot in to get the shoe on.

I'm sticking with my Salomons.

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