Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Sad and Spent but Still Seeking . . . Something

Thing have been, very difficult, this summer.  Subjectively, I believe, very much so, that I have made tremendous progress.

The have been So Much change, not only to limb positions and the muscles upon them, but also in my torso, organs shifting in my abdomen altering my lung capacity and rib position.

Pain has been constant and significant, but always shifting.  Sometimes, it's a diffuse discomfort.  Others, it is sharp and exquisite, as when a segment of muscle moves to a new position, ripping across ribs, or when my leg suddenly has slack after a hip alteration such that my knee dislocates as thigh and calf muscles slide and shift to make up the difference.

I am spent.

*     *     *     *     *

And yet, I see a light at the end of the tunnel.

I do not know if it is The Light of The Path,

Or a semi-truck with one headlight out barrelling towards me as I stand, eyes closed, about to become road kill.

Either way, in my current state of exhaustion, it would be salvation.

*     *     *     *     *

I believe I have been wrong about something, all this time.  More off the mark, than wrong, but still . . .

I have long characterized myself as "all Yin, no Yang" to express how one sided I am.  This was a subjective illusion, I have now come to believe.

It is very difficult to express, and the Yin-Yang concept still fits locally, per several muscle groups, but not in terms of their connections.  This, too, suggests why my unfolding has been so difficult.

I believe the injury of my youth pulled muscle systems into the creases, past the creases of limb joints.  Imagine a quadricep, still partially atop the thigh, but also stretching into and to the side of the hip, where ligament should be.  The result, over the course of my life, was to develop a walk which predominantly uses the wrong muscle groups at the wrong time. 

To lift my leg, I mainly flex the portion of quad in my hip.  This is rampant throughout.  Everything I do is wrong, backwards.  Or was, and so returns when I let down my concentration.

*     *     *     *     *

Dammit!  I had two topics in my head before wrapping up (the above and one more) and forgot the second while writing about my backwardsness.  Perhaps I should have gone second idea first, and my backwards nature would have let me recall them both.

Another day, perhaps.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

M(R)I Tinnitus

Okay, weak title, but I wanted something better than What Happened During My MRI To Investigate My Tinnitus.  See, M(R)I > MI > My Tinnitus.  Ain't I clever?  Don't answer that.

*     *     *     *     *

So I had my MRI yesterday.  They did a close check around the left ear because I've been hearing my pulse in that ear for a very long time now (a Tinnitus), and they also did the every decade check for aneurysms, my third one now, which the smart guys at Stanfurd said I should do since they went tinkering in my fathers brain so many years ago.

*     *     *     *     *

Results we good.  Kinda.

No aneurysm issues.  Woohoo!

No evidence regarding the source of my Tinnitus, which is comforting in that there will be not cutting into my head, but also disconcerting as the pulse I hear is kinda driving batshit crazy sometimes.

*     *     *     *     *

Among the results,

"Paranasal Sinuses and Oto-mastoids: Small mucous tension cysts
of nodular mucosal thickening in the right sphenoid sinus."

This I have no idea what it means (not like I get what's next, either, of course), but since it may be relevent to being out of balance, I'm noting it, and

"AICA vascular loops appear to contact the seventh and eighth
nerve complexes near the ostium of the IACs, the contact surface
appears greater on the right compared to the left. This is of
unknown clinical significance. Recommend clinical correlation. "

Again, no idea, and unless the contact area is inversely proportional to a sound transfer, which I doubt, this doesn't seem to be related to my LEFT ear hearing my pulse.  Again, though, may be related to the out of balance aspect of things.

But here is the fun . . . The MRI itself.

*     *     *     *     *

I was not looking forward to this.  My hypermobility was going to make it difficult, and I knew it going in.

I can't stay still.  It hurts.  If I relax, my limbs slowly let gravity sublux them, partially taking them out of their sockets.

So, the idea of staying still for 40-60 minutes was almost laughable.  I figured if I got lucky and found the right position, I'd be able to use all my meditation techniques and get through it, possibly even without needing to stop and redo anything.

*     *     *     *     *

When I first sat on the table, I announced, "This isn't going to work."

The portion you lay upon was thin, thinner than the width of my chest.  Both shoulder were over the edge, and were difficult to keep in place with full concentration.

The nurse said, "We can put pillows under both of your arms."  This I thought could work, so we got started.

So I was slide into the MRI.  Right off, I realized the machine itself, like a jigsaw puzzle, has a level equal to the sliding table, and as such I could rest my arms upon it, at least with a chance of success.

The pillow strategy abandoned (and it would have been the opposite (too high and too much pressure, anyways), the MRI started.

Not 3 minutes into it, the sliding portion of the table slid slightly, just enough to adjust the imaging system's aim at my head, I imagine.  Unfortunately, my arms resting on the non-sliding portion of the machine stayed in place while the rest of me moved.

*     *     *     *     *

Let me be clear.  I have a horrible time riding in a car.  If I relax at all, the slightest shift partially dislocates at least one limb.

When at home watching TV, if my daughter gently puts any weight on me and I am not ready for it, I partially dislocate somewhere.

If I am tensed, I can maintain a position.  Relaxed, and the slightest of bumps pulls me apart.  This, too, is why I am too fearful to share a swim lane at the pool.  One bump from a direction I am unprepared for, and I am in trouble.

So, when the MRI slid no more than a quarter of an inch, it did so just when I had managed to maintain a position in a semi-relaxed state.  It dislocated both shoulders.

I had 40 more minutes to maintain the position, and the machine shifted several more times.

*     *     *     *     *

I understand that I have a high pain tolerance, at least in some respects, and that my meditation can greatly elevate those levels I can deal with, but this was something new to me.  I almost lost it a few times, ready to grab the panic trigger and end the test, but I kept going.  Once, it was a Led Zeppelin song in the headphones that helped to calm me down.

Anyways, the results were good, for the most part.

Ten more years and I get to do it again.
 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Core of the Matter

Suddenly, I am dancing around a potential adjustment in my core.

It is very much tied to my right shoulder, which then becomes a lynch pin for the rest of my body.  This is no surprise, given the childhood injury was the result of Dad dislocating the right arm, potentially tweaking things all the way down into my abdomen as the position I was in had been so compromised, pinned under the front of a car, license plate digging into my stomach.

When I manage to do a few things, none of which are easy, I'm getting some very significant changes in the right shoulder.  The focus is primarily on my core and hips.

It is also tied to the latest attempted change of leg positioning, having them pointed more inward whenever I remember.  It is clear, on top of everything, I stood with hyper extended legs forever.  This, when coupled with hypermobility, lends significant credibility to the idea that my situation sits on a far end of the Bell Curve.

My Ehlers-Danlos case is not severe (may potentially not even be Ehlers-Danlos, in truth), but the injury plus the posture problems resulted in this experience.  I do believe the hyper extended legs was a result of both hypermobility and the "tweak" in my abdomen.

So, time for more core work.

Once again, a swim stroke has changed ridiculously, this time my breast stroke.  I am too tired to write more at present, but felt I needed an update before things start to get really screwy. 

The tide is turning!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Turning A Corner?

After all this time, I know better than to get too excited over the latest revelation.  That said, I am fairly sure I am on to something good.

I've always known I relied too much on torque in my movements.  It was one of the very first realizations that lead me here, back when I first tried to stop being a toe-walker.

Yet, I had no idea.  The idea that I was all Yin, no Yang was always present.  I definitely could conceptualize it.  I thought I had felt it, too.  In fact, I am sure I did feel it.  I just never came close to feeling the extent of it.

*     *     *     *     *

How I came by this realization is a worthwhile post in an of itself, and perhaps I'll lay it out in detail some other time.  Yet, I must put a bit of it here.

I lost a friend this past week.  I won't pretend we were very close, but from our first few discussions over 3 years ago, he was one of a handful of people that could empathize with me.  He had it harder than myself, no doubt, but was always positive, very unlike myself.

Anyways, the day after his passing, very depressed, I went out for my bike + swim with the intention of channelling Scorchiebeanie (my friend's internet avatar) and really soaking in every bit of good that I could, the warmth of the sun, the feel of the water, etc.

In this meditative state while swimming, I had some big adjustments, which is nothing new.  Only this time, I felt them differently.  I felt how I could possibly maintain the position.  The best I can describe is that the connected arm could still swim, though not nearly as powerfully, yet much more relaxed.  There was a substantial lack of the reliance upon torque.

And while the daydream going on in my head during this meditation was very much centered upon my friend, with a very interesting, even possible, after life possibility included, I am content to say that even if his presence was not with me, helping me get towards the proper position of balance, his friendship was the source of the thoughts which coincided with it.

Thanks, Scorch.

*     *     *     *     *

To document a bit more, the change made it much clearer in my mind what I have been doing, and I will use examples from the pool to explain.

Take normal flutter kicks using a kick board.  Instead of just using my legs, and perhaps a bit of hips, I was maximizing torque with each kick, relying on muscles all the way up my back, and thereby not even really using my legs much.

An aside - this may too explain my near inability to pick up something heavy without using my back, because my back is pretty much all I used.  I do wonder if being SO out of balance made it difficult to experience normal issues of hernia concerns, which, presuming I begin to get things back towards balance, I will have to be very aware of in the future.

Another aspect would be my arms in front crawl.  I have often preferred using a pull buoy to just swimming, and as I noted in the past, I was very fast this way, too.

Now, I know why.  I used too much torque.  I leveraged a gigantic S-curve with each arm stroke.

*     *     *     *     *

Ultimately, this explains why I have always hurt so much during swims, runs, and exercise in general, with every move I've ever made, in truth.  Not only was my body out of balance, but I put pressure on the extremes of my mobility to leverage myself with each move.

This could also explain why I was able to dunk in high school while standing 5'9".  My toe-leaping was a product of excessive torque leverage.

*     *     *     *     *

A big question remaining is the extent to which my hypermobility lead to my relying on torque compared to the possibility that the repetitive nature of a body relying on torque lead to my hypermobility.

I'll inquire with my doctor this week regarding a genetic test for Ehlers-Danlos, but I imagine it will go on deaf ears (as well as my second request for a Disabled parking placard!).  The possibility, no matter how slim, remains that my symptoms of Ehlers-Danlos are correlational rather than causational.  It could be the childhood injury and subsequent reliance on torque created an out of balance body, and that being "out of balance" to such an extreme causes the symptoms I share with Ehler-Danlos.  Their symptoms, too, being the result of being "out of balance," but in their case the root cause is the genetic auto-immune disorder.

Regardless, genetic defect or not, I have little doubt that a new focus on eliminating the reliance upon torque will be a very good thing.

*     *     *     *     *

For starters, just a few days into the approach, I just (well, just when I sat down to start writing this)got home after doing over 3,000m in the pool.

I am usually aching quite a bit after a mere 1,600.  Instead, my muscles feel much more pumped from usage and my joints not nearly as sore from twice the work.

*     *     *     *     *

One last note - while in general, I was going slower than usual in the water, there were several moments where my form must have been much improved, such that I was still quite fast in the water, subjectively feeling like I exerted less force.

For my cool down, I even did a pair of very fast flutter kick 25m stints, not a full sprint, but with more force than I ever could before without really hurting my hips.  My kicking really has changed completely, making my feet feel much more like fins.

Time will tell, and then, I will, too.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Back in Action, kinda, sorta

The pool is back open for lap swim.  Horay me!

I road my new bike to the Rec Center and did 1,000m worth of submerged physical therapy.

It hurt.  I'm tired.

So, I get a mere 3 months of pool time.  Starting weight, 225 lbs.

I won't be running anymore, but the bike will at least get me out with a little excersice.  It won't, however, be the sweatfest in 100+ degrees that helped me lose water weight in years past.

Time to sleep and do it again tomorrow.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Bike

The lows got lower.

The weather finally warmed up, and once again, my local pool gave the high school dibs on afternoon (lunch hour) lap swim.  So, it's either before 8 am or after 5 pm.  Such crap.

Coupled with the news that my hypermobility is Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, I got a tad depressed.

My jogging has been doing more harm than good, mainly because I am just too heavy for my dislocating joints.

*     *     *     *     *

I did some thinking.

Three years ago, I had 5 1/2 months of my jog/swim routine in warm/hot weather.  I lost a lot of weight and got down near 190.

Two years ago, I got only 4 months in, thanks in part to a month of the flu, but I still had a decent amount of exercise, finishing the summer around 205.

Last year was 3 1/2 months, ending with a month of 100 degree weather still there, but the pool being under the control of the school.  I ended the summer at the 215, barely less than where I started.

I'm topping 230 right now.  The heaviest I've ever been is 235, back in law school.  With 20 more days until I'm swimming again, AND the pool again slated to go back to the kids in August, I'm only getting 3 months of access.  So, even if I avoid illness and don't go on any family trips or anything, the most I can hope for is 3 months of swimming.

Fuck me.

*     *     *     *     *

So, I bought a bike.  I had been saving money for a waterproof iPad, but since I'll barely be swimming anyways . . .

Since it was ordered, I have not been able to get Floyd's Bike out of my head:

I have a bike
You can ride it if you like
It's got a basket, a bell that rings, and things to make it look good
I'd give it to you if I could
But I borrowed it

*     *     *     *     *

The kid is finally starting to enjoy her bike.  It may prove to be the best activity we can do together.

Anyways, I picked up the bike yesterday and have already gone for two rides, and eaten one bug.

The second ride was great.  I was bored, looked at the new bike, and thought, "Why not?"  I found myself recalling all the biking I did as a kid.

I grew up on a hill, the side of a mountain, more like.  So, riding always had the added factor of being up for the return trip home.  Down was always fun.  Up always sucked.  Yet, I did love riding.  I could, and did, often go on very long rides.

The second ride yesterday was short, but it was a ride.  I wasn't going anywhere.  I wasn't trying to acheive anything.  I was just riding my bike.

It made me feel better than I have in years.  Well, while not swimming.

*     *     *     *     *

The bike is a Cruiser by Electra.  I got it through REI.

At first, I was going to by a cheap cruiser from Target or Walmart, but than I saw the Electra.  It cost $250 and has no frills, meaning I will need to go get a basket soon and probably other goodies to up the total spent over $300 (you know, a bell that rings and things to make it look good), but the quality difference is completely worth it.

This bike rides smooth.

*     *     *     *     *

I have no idea if this bike will help me lose some weight and allow more jogging again, or if I'll even need to jog.  I don't know how long I'll be able to deal with riding, whether my hips will have issues with the seat (or if I'll have to buy a bigger seat to try to help).  I don't know much really.

In truth, I'm still depressed as all hell.

But at least I can get out of the house again.  It's been a hellish 9 months.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

March Madness

How I wish I cold swim.

We had a moment of warmth here, such that I considered venturing forth to the pool again.  They actually are open all year.  I just can't handle the chill well, especially when the pool is kept in the mid 70s.  It's great for summer swimming, when you can warm up out of the water, but the joints need to be loose before even getting in the pool . . .

*     *     *     *     *

I had planned a "March Madness" entry way back on the 15th or so, given how much had already happened to me.  Much of it is a blur now, on all fronts.

It's been a very difficult month.  This was predicted, of course.  It has been my hardest month for several years in a row now, this last stretch of my Winter.

Soon, even if it does not get warm enough for swimming, it will be warm enough for some jogging.  I'll get out of this cage, er uh, house, if only for a few hours a day.

Or maybe not, if this chest cold lingers and turns into pneumonia, but I get ahead of myself.

*     *     *     *     *

The first real outing I have been on in longer than I can remember started the month.  This is honestly a bit disconcerting.  I actually can't remember the last time I left the area.  Has it been two years?  I don't think I went anywhere last summer.

Well, I went on safari.

One of my wife's birthday presents was an outing to Safari West, just outside Calistoga.  I knew going in it would be a difficult and painful outing, but I thought it would be worth it.  I'd say it was, though I was quite worried it would not be when the drive there (less than 3 hours) had me in agony the entire way.

Upon arrival, body screaming and very out of sorts, I loaded up on the pain pills and my afternoon dose of Adderall in preparation for another car ride.  I had not thought about that ahead of time.  You see, the drives are what hurts me more than anything (well, almost anything, but I'll get to that), and I had ridden in a car for near 3 hours so I could take a 3 hour safari tour?  I was worried.

*     *     *     *     *

My worries, however, were quickly put to rest.  First off, the gigantic vehicle used for the tour had seats which fit me quite well, where even the sturdy bars behind the seats were at great levels to rest my arms or stretch my back.  And I started the tour up top with the kids (mine and two friends).

 

And even with constant shifting and bumps, I was feeling no pain when I found myself a few feet from a gorgeous antelope or a mere 10 feet from a pair of rhinos. 



It was pretty awesome.  Up close with giraffes and zebras and the like.  We had some distance between us and the water buffaloes, which is smart given they can get testy, but it was still something to behold.

Our tour guide was smart and only missed on only a few jokes (out of probably a hundred over the three hours, which is a pretty impressive ratio).  The weather was near perfect.  What a win.

*    *     *     *     *

Then came the overnight experience.  I won't rehash it all, but I will repost a comment I sent out into the expanse of the Internet from by phone at 4:49am (which was really 3:49am given the clocks had been pushed forward for daylight savings only a few hours before):

Can't sleep and suffering. No idea when sun comes up with the time change. I have been more miserable. When this is over, I may still think it was worth it. Ten feet from two rhinos was really fucking cool.
I may have even found some sleep around one but the fucktard in the tent next to us was waxing poetic, telling someone his life story. By the time he stopped, I was wide awake and trapped in the bottom bunk.
Funny. While there are many pens and gates, most animals are roaming some decent patches of land. Yet, the cow finds himself caged.
Flamingos are noisy. All night.
I had to get out of the tent. It's pretty cold out. Very dark. And the sounds are cool, boarding on spooky sometimes when the big animals make low rumbles.
Going to try to pace out here a bit and stretch some and maybe become able to try sleeping again but I think I am going to wait for sunrise and see what the animals are like during it. You know, may as well try to experience something worthwhile, right?
It was certainly an experience.

*     *     *     *     *

I was pretty much shot for a week after that outing.  Then, the chest cold hit, and I've been coughing ever since, unable to breath well when lying down. 

Odds are I caught something when sitting outside that tent listening to the flamingos and other animals.  So, while I had determined (and still so believe) that the adventure was well worth it, I guess the possible lingering cost may still be able to work it's way into the equation.

*     *     *     *     *

I could write much more about the changes I have gone through this month as well.  I do seem to be able to make the most progress when subjected to stresses like that trip.

They are too tricky to explain well.  Major shifts.  Major changes.  Progress and pain.

One major change is happening around my chest, and I do think it related to my cold, though as a cause, effect, or both, remains a mystery.  the resting state is again changing, and I am getting muscle and flesh to creep up my chest, around the lungs.

This results in mys instability and changes to both shoulders, and then the neck and head.  A similar change then happens in my hips and with my legs.

Basically, I am spent, completely spent.

*     *     *     *     *

I have written about enduring, about just getting through rough times.

I may need to revisit my definitions.  What I called "enduring" took some effort.  I had to act.

It was never easy and I'd often want to give up, but I endured.

The past week, especially with my breathing difficulties, I have not had much to give in terms of effort.  It's mostly reactionary.

Yet, I am still here.  So, I am enduring.

*     *     *     *     *

This is easily the worst entry I have ever written.  If you actually read this far, I apologize.  I just felt I had to write something about the trip and my struggles of late.

Again, I had wanted to write it weeks ago, but while I could then map out some of what to write in my head, I lacked the energy to write it.  Now, the brain is shot, and the ideas and concepts I wanted to put down are lost, but the fingers work.

*     *     *     *     *

I'll throw out a thought I had recently, however, which could end up something I need to investigate.

A study I heard about recently suggested meditation helps increase one's life span, and they had data suggesting it may even increase the length of some DNA or RNA strand, not sure which.

This set off bells.

I suspect the body, in a more proper postural position, while practicing a form of meditation, may allow the body to resonate with "biowaves" (an inclusive term I may have touched upon earlier and likely will return to again), which may, in turn, allow those strands to lengthen.