I got life

29 09 2015

So: “pinched nerve” might be a lay and not medical term, but it does describe a real phenomenon, in my case, an impingement upon the sciatic nerve.

No, I didn’t get this diagnosis from a doctor—there’s not much she could do, so why bother—but it’s pretty clear from my symptoms that my occasional lower back troubles can cause what is literally a pain in my ass.

If I want a more exact diagnosis than “o.l.b.t.”, then, yes, I’d need to see a doctor and undergo a variety of expensive (e.g., MRI) tests, but as a more exact diagnosis would likely lead to no greater precision in treatment—rest, time—there’s seems little point in doing so.

I am gonna have to get more ibuprofen, though.

I.

While I haven’t enjoyed in any way the pain from my grumpy sciatic nerve, I did take interest in the (non-pain) side effects of the jumped-up nerve, namely, the random twitching up and down my lower right side.

At one point early on I watched the middle toe of my right foot flutter like a drunk hummingbird. It didn’t hurt at all, and if I concentrated, I could stop the movement; in any case, after 10 or maybe 20 minutes, it stopped.

Sometimes my glutes twitched, sometimes, the muscles in my calf. It’d start, then stop, seemingly at random.

I still get the occasional muscle-shudder, but as whatever is annoying the nerve is slowly retreating, so to is the twitching.

II.

One of the reasons I love teaching my bioethics course is that I get to talk about human biology, which is so astonishingly jerry-rigged that I can’t help crowing “biology is so cool!”

Most of us Homo sapiens sapiens have 46 chromosomes occupying the nuclei of our somatic cells, but some of us have 45 and some have 47, 48, or even 49 (that’d be one of the varieties of Klinefelter’s).

A woman with Turner syndrome is missing a second sex chromosome (45,XO), and while she’s infertile and may experience some developmental delays, she likely will have normal intelligence and may live out a normal life span. On the other hand, a child born with a deficiency in the short arm of the 5th chromosome will be born with Cri-du-chat syndrome, which affects both her physical and intellectual development, and may leave her unable to communicate.

So, missing an entire chromosome might have fewer effects than missing a portion of an arm of chromosome. A man who is 47,XYY is likely to experience no effects whatsoever, 47,XXY will have Klinefelter’s (and thus be infertile), and 21,XXX (Trisomy 21 or Down syndrome) will experience profound physical and intellectual effects.

Oh, and some women are 46,XY.

Now, one of the things that can be inferred from this little recitation of chromosomal abnormalities is that the genes on these chromosomes are tremendously important, such that the genes on the short arm of the 5th chromosome are involved in aspects of our development that genes on the sex chromosomes are not; similarly, the Y chromosome is so gene-poor (~350) that doubling up on the Y has no discernible effect.

Then again, the few genes—most importantly, the SRY gene—that do remain on the Y are clearly important: their dysfunction, after all, can result in an XY woman.

The second thing that can be inferred from all of this is that biology is messy—I haven’t even discussed mosaicism or chimerism, or situs inversus or any of the other kinds of weirdnesses within us—and that the messes themselves are messy: sometimes they matter a whole lot, and sometimes not at all.

III.

So the first day my sciatic nerve commenced its protest it hurt to stand, was uncomfortable to walk, and running felt fine.

The second and third day, it hurt so much in the morning that shortly after rising I would sit down, gasping, from the screaming in my leg; after moving around a bit, however, the pain receded.

A couple of days I limped. Some days it hurt to put pressure on my right leg, some days it hurt not to put pressure on it. If I positioned my foot this way I was fine, that way, not; later, the fines were reversed.

I can walk quickly, but for the past 4 or 5 days, can’t run. Going up and down stairs was initially problem-free; now I grasp the railing.

Slowly, slowly, I am getting better: while the troubles migrate, they also abate. I was hoping they’d be gone by now, but I expect by next week, they will be.

IV.

Aging sucks.

V.

I’d rather not have gone through this and will do my damnedest to forestall a recurrence, but it does make me wonder what is going on beneath my skin.

Yes, I pay attention to my body, but usually when something is wrong I can trace it back to its source: I ate too much, didn’t stretch after a workout, wiped out on an icy sidewalk;  thus having linked effect to cause, I lose interest.

)And with migraines, well, they’re just SO irritating that I become preoccupied with the pain itself; the rare occasions when I get auras I am less fascinated than, well, irritated. Knock it off, shimmering lights, you’re blocking my view.)

In this case, I’m pretty sure I know what set off the latest back pain, but how that migrated down into the sciatic nerve, and how that nerve proceeded to respond to this trespass hopscotched around predictability. Why is my toe shaking? Why is my calf muscle clenching and unclenching?

What the hell is going on?

Oh, I know: what’s happening is that my body is now more assertive in letting me know it is unhappy with my treatment of it, i.e., that I’m getting old.

It’s not that when younger I thought I was in charge of my body, but, yeah, I thought I was in charge of my body.

I’m not humbled, but bothered, to learn otherwise, and I will not be gracious in relinquishing control.

It will be a fight to the death.





Sunday afternoon

20 09 2015

Do not put on icy hot just after getting out of the shower.

Lotion out of the shower makes sense: you’re naked, and your pores are wide open and ready to soak in that moisturing goodness.

Pores wide open and ready for mentholated cream? Not so good.

Lesson learned.

~~~

“Planned Parenthood is profiting from [women’s] pain and that’s what we’re standing up to,” said Lila Rose, who founded Live Action when she was just a teenager and has been working to discredit Planned Parenthood for years, said at the rally last Thursday.

Extending that logic:

  • Oncologists are profiting from [cancer patients’] pain. . . .
  • Pain specialists are profiting from [pained peoples’] pain. . . .
  • Rehabilitation centers are profiting from [injured peoples’] pain. . . .
  • Hospices are profiting from [dying peoples’] pain. . ..

I’m sure you can come up with your own.

h/t Wonkette

~~~

I haven’t read Timothy Snyder’s Bloodlands (it’s on the list!), tho’ I understand it’s been generally, although not universally, well-received, and have read only a few reviews of his lated book, Black Earth.

Thus caveated: While I have no beef with the contention that Stalin was as great a criminal-against-humanity as was Hitler, and that it is useful to compare the Nazi and pre-Khrushchev Soviet regimes, I am skeptical that the great crimes of Hitler, et. al. are the same as those of Stalin, et. al.

I am even more skeptical that the Bolsheviks, bad as they were, were somehow also responsible for Nazi crimes.

~~~

Funny how back pain can migrate into leg pain.

I don’t know what happened—is a pinched nerve even a thing?—but my minor back problems flared up earlier this week, then decided to migrate down my right leg for the weekend.

Oddly, however, while sitting or standing upright is painful, walking isn’t that much of a problem, and running is completely fine.

The bike, however? Fuggedaboutit.

Anyway, I had to take my food scraps to the Greenmarket in Grand Army Plaza yesterday (and yes, I really did have to, as my little bin was full-up), so decided to hoof it instead of either biking or taking the train. It was not a comfortable walk (made worse by blisters—honestly!), but it was completely worth it, for not only did I unload my food scraps, I was able to score my most favorite fruit of the fall:

The cortland apples are back!

So even tho’ I looked bad enough waiting for the 2 train home that a woman stopped and tried to convince me to sit down (“Thank you, but really, no it feels better to lean against the wall than sit”), the five pounds of apples I scored was totally worth it.

I just hope next week I’m well enough to bike for my apples.





Shopping never end

30 03 2015

Bought the chair.

Assembled the chair.

Sat in the chair.

Adjusted the chair.

Sat in the chair.

Adjusted the chair.

Adjusted the chair.

Adjusted the chair.

Disassembled the chair.

Returning the chair.

~~~

I did want to like this chair—and not only because I’ll have to schlep this sucker to a UPS store and eat the return shipping cost—but it did not work for me. I don’t know that it would work for any short person.

The flip-up arms I liked? Yeah, it was nice that they flipped up, but when down didn’t go down far enough. I had to put a cushion on the chair as a kind of booster seat in order to rest my arms comfortably.

Synchro-tilt? Yeah, no. I don’t know what I was thinking on this—I guess that the there’d be more “give”, or something, but as a lounger, I felt bunched-up.

Lumbar support? Feh. Again, I like lower-back support, but this was, I dunno, aggressive? Or just badly positioned for a shrimp? Either way, even with an added small pillow, it was a no-go.

By the way, have you noticed that with a new chair I needed a cushion and a pillow for it even to approach comfortableness? Riiiiidiculous.

There was one review from a guy who thought the chair seat could have been a bit larger, but said, hey, I’m a big guy (6’4″), so, y’know. Well, given how massive the seat was, he was probably HUGE.

Anyway, this would probably work fine for someone who is, well, bigger’n me.

I’m currently looking at these two chairs. The first chair is more expensive (tho’ it’s available for less thru a different seller), but it really well-reviewed. The second chair, well, the second chair has no reviews—and on the manufacturer web site notes both that is has asynchronous and synchro tilt, so, y’know. . . .

Blegh. I hate shopping.





Sittin’ on the dock of the bay

12 03 2015

My back is killing me.

Now, the initial reason has to do with introducing a new lift in my weight routine—my form was fine, but the initial weight was too heavy, hence the strain—but the strain is exacerbated by the fact that my current desk chair is. . . no longer adequate.

It’s been more-or-less fine for years, but over the years it’s moved more toward the “less” side of the spectrum. Because I’m working my second job from home, I’m spending a LOT of time in the chair, and thus have a lot of time to reflect on its inadequacies. And while I don’t expect a chair to fix my exercise mistakes, I also don’t want it to magnify the effects of those mistakes.

So: search for a chair. Search search search. Read the reviews read the reviews read the reviews, consider the features, select, delete, et cetera.

So: I’ve found what seems to be a decent chair. I like that the arms are padded (current chair? no) and flip back, I like (I think) the syncro-tilt, and I like the price.

The problem? There’s only one review. Positive, but still: one.

I’ve search for more reviews, but no luck. The price isn’t outrageous—130 bucks or so—but this is out of “what-the-hell” territory. There were a couple of other chairs I looked closely at, and the reviews were helpful in deciding to eliminate them: the negative/meh reviews were over twenty percent and a fair number of them were quite recent and about the same problem, while the in-depth 4- and 5-star reviews were all older. That there are negative reviews doesn’t bother me, but if out of 300-400 reviews a solid 25 percent are negative, well, I think I’ll look at something else.

(I bought a small vacuum cleaner recently, and in trying to figure out which of two to buy, that the negative reviews were recent and pointed toward the same problems with one machine pushed me toward the other. Which works fine, in case you’re wondering.)

Anyway, the specs on this chair seem decent, but then, so did those on the chairs I ultimately eliminated.  *Sigh*

I have to admit that were I to have the cash, I’d buy a Herman Miller. Not necessarily the Aeron chair—I’ve never sat in one, and you betta believe that before I plunk down a thousand bucks I’m plunking my ass in that chair—but this Eames lounge chair, and precisely because I have sat in it.

Sister, it is worth every penny.

When I was in grad school I took a course in human rights, which meant that, in doing research for my papers, I had to trudge from the Social Science tower over to one of the upper floors of the law library, where the human rights collection was located. It was there that I discovered this amazing chair, tucked in a windowed niche—and it was to there I returned, long after the class had finished, to sit and read and, on more than one occasion, doze.

(Sometimes it wouldn’t be there, and I’d find it had been dragged somewhere else on the floor. I clearly wasn’t the only person who liked that chair.)

I became a little obsessed, so much so that I finally flipped the chair over and ripped the fraying product manufacturer tag off. Then I went on a hunt through furniture store after furniture store—this was pre-internet—until a woman at a place in north Minneapolis said “oh, that’s a Herman Miller. There’s a store in [Edina? Hopkins? one of the nearby suburbs].” I then got on my bike (no car) and rode out to that store, frayed product tag in hand, and began the process of ordering myself a Herman Miller.

That was, oh, over twenty years ago, so it was nowhere near $1800 bucks, and that I’d buy it directly from this store  would mean I could probably get the cheapest version for less than 500 bucks. (I remember the person who worked with me as professional, helpful, and a bit bemused at the sight of this broke-ass grad student trying to figure out how to afford a freakin’ Eames chair.)

I didn’t buy the chair: incredibly, that I didn’t want the cheapest chair was kept me from following through on the purchase. No, I decided, I’d get a Herman Miller when I could [afford to] get exactly what I wanted.

I still have the product brochure, by the way, though the tag seems to have gone missing.

So, huh. Is there a point to this story? No, no point, other than, perhaps to point out (ha!) that I am willing to lay out crazy money for chair I know is comfortable.

But if I don’t know? Then 130 bucks seems a lot.





Dum de dum dum DUM (III)

15 10 2012

Remember when I said guts were stupid?

I stand by that. As I do to notions of “wisdom of the body”.

I should add, however, that I am also stupid when I do not pay attention to the signals my body gives me.

As in it hurts when I lift this and I continue to lift this just. . . because.

So now I walk like a hunchback around the apartment and, in my foray across the street to the pharmacist, as if I had a stack of plates atop me noggin’.

A noggin’ I did not see fit to use properly.

*Sigh*