Friday, August 27, 2010

SCI: San Jose (weight bearing)


In a time that predates digicams, the Internet, VHS tape recording, or even color television, a woman made a request of her husband. She wanted a wall removed from their home, and she wanted this passionately. He looked to her lovingly, compassionately, and explained that it simply could not be done.

His reason was that the wall in question was a weight bearing wall, and that the structural integrity of their home rested on leaving that wall in place. She knew her husband was a righteous, discerning man, and she knew that walls were indeed placed in buildings to bear the weight of the structure above. Whether she doubted her husband's honesty, or if she doubted his knowledge is uncertain. But, one day she decided that his claim that this unsightly wall was vital to protecting their home needed to be put to the test.

She waited for her husband to go to work, and she found herself a big hammer; she brought that wall down. Then, she waited to see if the ceiling to collapse, and for her husband to return home. I know that only one of those events came to pass. Jamie Hyneman, Robert Lee, and Adam Savage regularly test ideas like these, and I believe that woman exhibited the same zeal that keeps the weekly show Mythbusters on television season after season.

It can be argued that she did not have a mythbuster passion so much as she had a burning desire to destroy that wall, but over fifty years later there are few people who could reliably testify as to her motives on that day.

I have my own take on weight bearing now. I have only in recent months considered what I want to do to start walking again. I am recovering from a spinal cord injury between cervical spine 5 and 6. Taking muscle relaxant to control spasm, and having close to a year pass since I last walked, there is a lot of work for me to do.

One tool that is invaluable is the standing frame. Last year my therapists showed this to me, and I discovered immediately the value of it. By putting me up into a standing position, i am able to put weight on all the muscles in my legs and back. The frame straps me in, so I can stand for long periods of time without using my own balance, my own strength.

Regular use of the standing frame works on my body in several ways. I works to restore proper circulation in my legs. The weight bearing reduces tone/spasm in my legs. It increases bone density, and decreases my dependence on muscle relaxant. Most spinal cord patients take baclofen, a central nervous system based muscle relaxant. Regular use of weight bearing exercise makes it possible to gradually limit use of the drug as spasticity decreases.

My physical therapist wanted me to attend an adaptive PE class at a nearby college, so I could use a standing frame regularly. But, through the help of my family, and the encouragement of my cousin, my parents found a neighbor who as a great craftsman, built a standing frame which is now in my room, and I can use as often as I want. This is getting to be exciting...

Thank you for reading.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Register to Vote Today!


When I was shopping the other day, a man asked me if I wanted to register to vote. When I see them, I get to reflect on how current is my information with the voter registration people. In the last five years, I have had several addresses, and in spite of it all, I do remember my last time voting. In front of the store, the man smiled. I smiled back. I realized I do need to update my registration one mnore time.

As I held the clipboard in my hand, I noted there was no place to set the clipboard down. I looked at the thin Papermate pen in my hand, and the small boxes on the form. I noted the cardboard sign behind the man with the registration forms. The sign was written in thick black felt tip pen, the words simple and pure: legalize pot!

My hands are becoming more pliant and cooperative as I heal. Still, I am learning to write again with my more functional right hand. But, I write now with the aid of wide handled ink pens with a cushioned grip. I already was seeing the difficulty I would have trying to fill this out now. Before I decided to take the form home, the man said to me, "you know, I get paid if you register Republican... but, of course you can vote anyway you want."

I love the disparity. This is just a paying gig for this man. I support this man's right to spark up a roach while gathering people to vote for eMeg Whitman. Why not? The 1980's left me memories of marijuana, sitting in normal life situations, terrified for my life. I have known people that tried to convince me I did it wrong.... and I should give THC another chance. Of course this advisement comes from a select group of people who take vitamins, and wait to feel them take effect.

I have the voter registration in my bag. The satisfaction I feel is daily I see how I periodically forget about the difficulties I have. I still see the world through the eyes, my perspective, of years ago. I am also excited by the stories of other spinal cord patients. I listen to the prognosis of my doctor, and piece by piece, I gain through exercise abilities previously lost. The doctor believes I can regain nerve function over time. I look forward to proving him right.

In the meantime, I want to continue in my exercises to maximize my effectiveness today.

Thank you for reading.