Sunday, October 25, 2009

One Last Cyborg-Emmo Update

I suspect this will be the last time I post about this stuff, since I don't want this to become a blog about my ankles... (It's nominally a food blog, after all, so it should obviously be about bunnies and football instead...) Nonetheless, I just wanted to post an update on how things are going, now that I'm (somewhat) getting back to my routine. I say "somewhat" because my back is still recovering rather slowly. I own two of these patio chairs:
one of which is now in my den and is the chair I sit in whenever I'm home (and not in bed), and the other of which is now in my office at work to help me ease back into sitting in a normal chair all day. As is my nature, I've been tending to over-do it, but hopefully in a few weeks my back will be strong enough to at least sit at my desk all day like a normal person. Being back at work has given me a chance to better gauge how much my cyborg parts are going to be able to help me. I work in a building with many hallways, and the floors in all of these hallways are made out of evil.
The stimulator definitely helped in terms of dealing with the pain that comes from a typical work day, but on Friday night things started to come into focus, and it's become pretty clear that my cyborg parts really aren't going to let me do any more walking than the very limited amount I was able to do before. What they can do is let me live that almost entirely sedentary lifestyle without all of the accompanying pain. The thing is, the stimulator can mask my pain (when it's turned up high enough), but that's quite different from being able to get rid of my pain. Since my pain has always been a cumulative thing, this means that even if I don't feel any pain while, say, walking to get water at work, the damage is still being done. Then when the stimulator isn't turned up high enough (the signal varies with position, so I have to turn it down to lie down and sleep, then turn it back up to stand again), all of that pain I've been building up is still very much there. This sort of sucks, quite frankly, but the situation is still vastly better than what it was before surgery, so I'll take it. Luckily, nothing can ever seem too bad when you get to sit around watching Rico eat hay:

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Cyborg-Emmo Update

So, it's been almost a week since I got my cyborg parts programmed. (This is going to be super-detailed for those who care to hear the details, but the short version is: "Things remain promising, but still uncertain...") Anyway, the day after my last post, I went on the walk outlined below with my mom:The total distance was about a mile round-trip, with a stop at the post office, a lunch destination of Kabab & Tandoor (a Hyderabadi Indian restaurant in my neighborhood at which I very much enjoy the lunch buffet), a stop on the way home at the library (for a great used book sale we stumbled upon), then home. My ankles held up quite well on the walk, with the only intense pain coming when we had to climb a flight of stairs and walk up a big ramp to enter the library. Even then, my cyborg parts seemed to help me recover much faster than usual from that pain. (Usually, once the pain starts, it's hours before it starts to subside, so this was good.) The trip was a really promising test, and left me quite optimistic. When dinner time rolled around, I needed to pick up a couple ingredients, so I decided to walk to the nearby grocery. (I'm not supposed to lift more than 5 pounds ever during the 6 weeks following surgery, but croissants, arugula, horseradish root, baked chips, and a lemon came in at 4.5 pounds, so I was safe...) This is a much shorter route:but the walk caused me all kinds of problems. My cyborg parts probably weren't turned up high enough (I had wisely turned them up before our lunchtime walk, but forgot this time). I was in quite a bit of pain already by the time I hit the parking lot, but again the stimulator seemed to at least help with recovery, even as I was walking around the store. This struck me more as a user error than a failure of my cyborg parts, so I wasn't too upset. In case you were wondering, here is the kick-ass sandwich we made for dinner (using my groceries with leftover mustard-rubbed pork tenderloin that I had roasted a couple nights before, as well as some caramelized onions from the freezer and a homemade fresh horseradish sauce):
Mmmm... I'm not going to lie to you: That was delicious. We didn't do much walking the next couple days, largely because my back didn't fare nearly as well as my ankles on that first long walk, but I got a lot of (seemingly random) pain again on Thursday morning, and the stimulator had trouble masking it. This was fairly disheartening, and made me start to wonder if maybe my cyborg parts can help make my usual almost-no-walking-ever lifestyle less painful, but maybe can't handle me walking all over tarnation. (Obviously that's less exciting, but I would still consider it a "win.") I suspect at this point that I'm in need of reprogramming. The guy who programs me said that this is to be expected as the wires move a bit while the swelling subsides and scar tissue forms. Thus, the jury is still out, but things continue to look promising. It will probably be several weeks before we find the best program after everything has settled into place and figure out what the real result of all this is going to be, and I'll have to try not to get frustrated with the roller coaster of relative effectiveness in the meantime. This is where therapeutic bunnies come in handy. I'll post more bunny pictures later, but here's Rico when I caught him leaping in the air mid-binky.
Who could ever be cranky living with such cuteness?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Emmo-the-Cyborg, Take Two

Apologies in advance for the rambling nature of this post... As many of you know, I went in to have new-and-improved cyborg parts installed on Thursday.
(Above is the totally-awesome card that one of my totally-awesome friends sent me for the occasion...) This was a fairly invasive surgery, so they ended up keeping me in the hospital until the next afternoon. I got to the recovery room at around 1:45pm and was fairly coherent by 3pm, but it was 9pm before they actually found me a room. Thus, I spent 7 hours sitting in the recovery room in lots of pain with absolutely nothing (aside from the occasional addition of something pleasant to my IV) to distract me from my discomfort. On the patient board we rolled past as we went to my room I saw myself listed, and next to my name: "Time Waiting: 437 minutes." Awesome. Those first 24 hours following surgery were pretty brutal, but I got through it with a little help from my friend, Percocet...
My back is doing infinitely better now. (I guess the good thing about a couple days of excruciating pain is that other pain doesn't seem so bad afterward...) I've been able to go out a couple times, including for football-watching on Sunday, but really can't handle being away from my comfy bed/chair and my pain meds for extended periods of time yet. I went in to get my ass reprogrammed on Monday morning, at which point I discovered that my new cyborg parts are vastly superior to my old ones. Because there are three connected wire leads instead of just one, the guy who programs me has a lot more control, and I even can control the balance between sides with my remote. I also learned how to recharge my ass last night, and took care of that. In case you haven't seen, this is what the thing looks like, essentially:
They re-used my two old incisions, and added a new one (which they kept saying was so very tiny, but which is totally 3 inches long, so whatever...) to get direct access to my spine to place the lead in the exact right spot. Apparently the surgery went about as well as one could possibly hope for, and everyone is very impressed with how lovely my incisions are... (Well, medical professionals think they're lovely... Lay people mostly think they're pretty gnarly...) The one point that you probably care most about and that I am most actively avoiding is whether or not this thing works... and the answer is that I'm not really sure yet. The failure of the last one was pretty soul-crushingly depressing, so I'm trying to stay very much on the "cautiously" side of "cautiously optimistic" this time... but, so far, things look promising. I went to Costco with my mom yesterday, and decided to forgo the cart that I usually need in order to get around (because the floors at Costco are made out of evil).
We were there for a good chunk of time, standing and walking on those evil floors, and I was... fine. That's pretty amazing if you know what Costco usually does to my ankles, but I still feel like it's too soon to get excited. We're going to take me out for a more strenuous test run today and see how my ankles hold up going for a walk... but I guess so far I feel comfortable saying that early indications are promising, and that I'll keep you posted.

Random Post Involving Eggs

Catching up on posting today, and figured I'd better put something here to avoid two consecutive Bucs posts... One thing from over a week ago that I didn't post was the totally fantastic breakfast I made for myself before that less-than-fun Giants-Bucs game. Behold:
(That would be poached eggs served over crab cakes with bacon and an arugula salad...) Throw in 12 shots of espresso, and you have a pretty good way to start a horrible day, no? I was playing with a new egg-poaching technique because I am inordinately intimidated by the poaching of eggs. If I have a wing-man in the kitchen I will delegate this task to them, and if I'm on my own I will most likely just not have poached eggs. Trying to keep the whites together and whatnot, draining them after they come out of the water without breaking them in the process... Ack! Too much stress first thing in the morning, if you ask me.. For these eggs, I brought a pot to a boil and cracked eggs into a small bowls lined with plastic wrap that had been lightly brushed with olive oil. Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper, pick up the edges of the plastic wrap to form a little bundle containing the egg, and close off the top with a bag clip. When the water is ready, simply drop the bundles in and cook until perfectly poached. The olive oil helps prevent the egg sticking to the plastic wrap, and you get a perfect egg with beautiful (unless you're Steph, in which case it would be gross) runny yolk:
In other random news, I am now the proud owner of the world's most totally awesome soap dispensers. They have motion sensors, so if you have raw chicken on your hands or if you've just been cleaning a bunny cage, you can get soap without having to touch anything. The dish soap dispenser is also great when you need more soap mid-washing-something but don't want to have to set down what you're washing in order to put more soap on your sponge. I am in love with them:
Alrighty... I think this is now a sufficient buffer between pictures of the Bucs...