25 August 2009

Knee stabilizing exercises

This actually *exactly* what I need! I have what is called a "mal-tracking patella" which means that my kneecap doesn't run vertically in its little grove, but cants off to the outside a bit, in a kind of diagonal action. Remind me, the next time I see you, and I'll show you what I mean.

Thanks, New York Times!

17 August 2009


Via Claire's Facebook post:

David likes to describe the rehearsal hall at the Stage as the place where the stuff in one's attic goes to die. Well, it seems that we missed a bet because the all of the fabulously terrible (or merely impressively outdated) items in Awful Library Books are still sitting cheerfully on the shelves.

12 August 2009

Still a few bugs in the system

Google tells us that we can now use Google Maps to get transit information. "Oh, how nice!" I thought, because WMATA's website isn't always very user friendly and Google Maps usually is.

So I went to the site to give it a try and I picked a pretty darn simple trip: from my office to Silver Spring Stage, which is about 2 1/2 miles, largely up a main road served by about a zillion buses. I typed in the two addresses and got the following:

[my office address], Silver Spring, MD 20910

Travel time: about 46 mins
Showing Trip 1
Walk to 10145 Colesville Rd
About 46 mins

Beta: Use caution – This route may be missing sidewalks or pedestrian paths.

1. Head west on [] Ave toward Georgia Ave/US-29 194 ft
2. Turn right at Georgia Ave/US-29 0.1 mi
3. Turn right at Colesville Rd/US-29 0.9 mi
4. Slight right to stay on Colesville Rd/US-29 1.2 mi

Walk to 10145 Colesville Rd
About 46 mins

Hmmmmmm. So I figured it was some kind of little glitch and ran it again using the car option (worked fine) and then ran it again using Public Transit. Apparently, Google wants me to get more exercise, because it still suggests that I walk the 2.3 miles. (And it seems that Google thinks I won't actually make the hike if they tell me how far it is because the total mileage figure doesn't show on the "public transit" results.)

So I tried WMATA. They have a newer, spiffier, prettier website since my last frustrating experience with them. I typed in the office address* and the theater's address and voila! I got three different suggestions, with cost information.**

I wouldn't have thought to go to WMATA's new site without the prompt from the less-than-optimal response from Google Maps.

So - once again - Google has quickly and easily provided me with lots of useful information! Just not in the way they had intended.

*Important trip: Type in only the street address, not the city, state, or zip because that's apparently just TMI and confuses the software.
**WMATA really, really wants us to use SmarTrip cards. One gets a ten-cent discount on the bus fare with a SmarTrip card.

10 August 2009

What I learned at the Neurologist

Mom had an appointment at the neurologist's office the other day and I went along for moral support and, possibly, practical assistance.

Mom has been living with Multiple Sclerosis for the past twenty years. An auto-immune disorder, MS is a particularly vicious foe which attacks the nervous system of the body, destroying the myelin sheath which covers nerves - effectively cutting the phone cord in the house of the body, like the villain in a thriller. Only MS isn't all that thrilling.

Mom has chronic progressive MS*, and suffers from spasticity and muscle loss. She hasn't walked at all in nearly ten years, her vision is affected, and her cognition is somewhat impaired. She can't write legibly very often and cannot remember things long enough to tell them to me if I'm not standing in front of her when they occur to her, which means that when she does remember, she tells me things over and over.** I know quite a few people with MS and Mom has it the worst of all of them. She now lives in a "skilled nursing facility" which wasn't how she intended to spend her retirement years.

So, anyway, one of the staff where she lives noticed that Mom hadn't seen her neurologist in the last five years and suggested an appointment. The appointment was duly made and I met her there and we saw the neurologist. He asked some questions, checked her muscle strength in her arms ("Push against my hand. Uh-huh.") and her coordination ("Touch my finger. Now touch your nose. Now touch my finger. Uh-huh."), and then sat down to talk to us.

What he told us I essentially regard as good news. My biggest fear about Mom has been that she would get worse and worse and eventually be in a lot of discomfort all the time. But the doctor told us that if we could see her the nerves coming off of her spinal cord, we wouldn't see any active lesions, just areas where the nerve had withered. Mom has stabilized. In other words, he said, she is a paraplegic, and could be compared to someone who had been hurt in a riding accident as Christopher Reeve was, rather than to someone with, say a slowing progressing cancer, such as Elizabeth Edwards has. The flood has been and gone; Mom won't be living in the middle of a river with the water getting ever higher.

Which is good news for appropriate values of good news.

After the appointment, we went to Baja Fresh for lunch and I learned that while Mom zips around the nursing home in her electric wheel chair at speed, she is much more sedate on the sidewalks of Wheaton. And that when she crosses the street at less than a mile an hour, the kindly drivers wait for her very patiently. Thank you, Kindly Drivers!

A very educational trip. If one is supposed to learn one new thing every day, I'm up two.

*The other kind is relapsing/remitting where the patient has good days and bad days. Mom generally has bad days.

**Of course, I tell people things over and over and I don't have MS. Maybe it's a mother-daughter thing.