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Friday, April 29, 2005

Fun at the grocery store

I was shopping yesterday, and Linda had put popcorn on the list. When I pulled it off the shelf, I noticed the packaging said prominently on it, "100% Whole grain." Boy am I glad they said that, because I really hate buying the popcorn that is 50% dirt, sand, and chopped up corn stalks.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Left-handed practice

Linda practiced today with her cane in her left hand. Lately she's had trouble with her right ankle turning out when she walks. It's something that used to plague her and had gotten quite a bit better until recently.

I suggested that she might try her cane in her left hand. Usually you put your cane across from your weak side, so you can lean on it when that side takes weight. It is also common to use your cane in your strong hand, which is what she usually does. I guess there are no immutable rules for what is perfect.

She's not as coordinated with it in her left hand, but she's had a lot less practice, so you can't really tell. In any event, working on challenging things is usually theraputic, even if she goes back to the right.

In general, she is enjoying her break from therapy. She is using the energy to step up some of the things she does at home. For example, she has cooked, or at least started, several dinners this week. I have really appreciated that. Even just getting things out and thawed is nice. It doesn't all go perfectly--she has several nicks and cuts on her left hand which came from the knife in her right hand. But it's something.

I'll have to work on getting her to do more things with Ellie now.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

How to know about the shampoo

Here's how you figure out that you are allergic to your shampoo. We use Pantene, and we have for many years. But recently, we ran out. It's because I do the shopping, and it didn't get on the grocery list. I was too lazy to go out and get more, so I bought whatever brand was at the gas station when I filled with gas.

Now for years I have noticed that I sneeze in the shower (this goes back to pre-college). I always assumed it was just allergies to the molds and mildews you can't every really get rid of no matter how you clean. But our bottle of generic shampoo just ran out, and when we went back to Pantene the sneezing came on again strong. I hadn't noticed, but it was noticeably less with the other.

Add another discovery. On the days when I know I am going to work out and be showering again in a few hours, I often don't shampoo my hair (I just rinse it so it will lay down). I don't sneeze on those days.

Subconsciously I have known for a long time. I very deliberately save the shampoo for very last, and I remember back to a time when I did it first.

Today I was stunned when I tried the fragrance-free color-free shampoo. It was absolutely amazing to be not sneezing. That's how I discovered that I was allergic to my shampoo.

Small revelation

You would think I could realize sometime before I was 34 years old that I am allergic to shampoo. I just figured it out this week. Boy do I feel a bit less smart than usual.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Messages for Don

When Linda told me she wanted to take some time off, we noted that she would still be doing her arm weights and using her parallel bars. She still works on her speech too. I told her, "I think you should start answering the phone."

Yesterday she answered the phone for the first time. It was apparently our insurance company. The irony could kill you. I never found out what the wanted. Linda told me they were very uncomfortable talking to her and asked her to have her husband call back. I called today, but there's no record (in the computer) of yesterday's call. I also called our old insurance--same. So I don't actually know who called. I figure if it is important, they'll call again.

Since I had the tape recorder going, I also called the wheelchair folks and asked them why I am still getting bills for rental when my insurance says they've met the purchase price. They looked Linda's account up in the computer and told me it is still entered as a rental. I said, "Surely there's a way to get it converted..." Her office couldn't do that, but she said she would call the office that could and I would hear back today.

I didn't, but she gave me the 800 number of the office that has the power to make things right, so I'll know who I have to call to follow up. It seems amazing, but this might actually get resolved.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

New prism

Linda got another new prism for her glasses today. Looking back through the archives, I believe her last prism was 4 diopters. Her new one will be one less, 3 diopters. When she gets to zero, she can wear her contact lenses again.

Free cat

Ellie hardly coughed at all last night. Yesterday I washed all of her bedding and closed the bedroom door to keep out the cats. And to think, I thought she had bronchitis. I, on the other hand, am up at 6am because my head wants to burst. Maybe I need to run my own bedding through the laundry.

I was talking to Linda the other night, and I mentioned that my allergies are really bad right now. She said, "Oh great. That means you'll snore all night." Five minutes later, she suggested that we give away Mira. I guess the prospect of 15 years of interrupted sleep pushed her to it in a way that seeing her loved one suffer could never.

So, we have a friendly, sterile cat who has had her rabies vaccination. Just let me know and she's yours.

Now I just have to wait for Kate to die, then I can get all the carpets and furniture cleaned. Until then, I'm just glad that I feel better at work. Today I definitely want to leave home early if I can get Ellie up.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Lawn king

Not one of our three gas-powered grass-cutting devices would work yesterday. I had mowed over the pull cord on the push mower last year. I bought a new cord to fix it in the fall, but it wasn't until yesterday that I took everything apart to repair it. It actually went just fine and started up pretty easily.

My lawn tractor had a flat tire. I'm not sure what that means about John Deere. It seems like it could have held its air all winter like the other three tires did. I pumped it up with a bike pump and rolled it out of the garage. It wouldn't start, and I promptly ran the battery dead trying. Luckily, it has a 12V system, so I jumped it from my car. It started right up after that.

After I mowed the lawn, I took out the string trimmer. It wouldn't start for anything. I tried every reasonable thing. It would start if I kept the choke closed, but then it would flood. If I opened the choke, it would run great for about 5 seconds and then get too lean and die again. I don't know how many times I pulled on the pull cord. I finally found that I could get it to run if I just barely nudged the choke open. It was enough to trim under the swing set at at the end of the drive where things get steep. I hope it was just bad gas and that new gas will bring it back to life.

The sum of it all is that I am stiff all over, and my right hand is bruised from pulling the pull cords so many times. But the lawn looks nice.

My allergies are killing me now. Ahhh, the smell of spring. I think Ellie's got allergies too. In fact, I think she must be allergic to her blankets. I thought she had bronchitis, but when I mentioned it at day care, they said she doesn't cough much. Just at home, and especially when I put her to bed. Laying down to read her a story is about enough to kill me.

I notice there's a lot of cat hair on her bed, so maybe it's time to wash her blanket again. I think our new cat is particularly allergenic. Lucky us. At least she prefers Ellie's bed to mine. She can at least torment someone who actually likes her.

Linda is doing well. She's tired today. She did loads and loads of laundry yesterday, and today was folding day. Laundry is the one house chore she does a lot of; that and picking up in the big room. She did tell me that she read outside for a while. Some of her papers blew into the yard. Linda told me that she retrieved them (using the walker I presume) but she said it was pretty hard.

She had dinner started tonight. It was leftovers from the freezer, but Linda peeled potatoes so we could have mashed potatoes too. There must have been some kind of glitch with that because Linda told me that she is now keeping bandaids in the kitchen and that I should resupply the bathroom! I noticed that she put aside the paring knife she usually uses on potatos and finished with a potato peeler. Much safer.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Taking a break

Linda told me she is too tired. She's taking a break from therapy until semester ends. She'll get some rest, and I'll be able to go with her actively again when she resumes. Her therapists took it in stride. Really, the fact is that they know she'll keep working on thing when she's away and the rest will probably help her improve too.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

That darned chair

You can guess how pleased I was to receive yet another bill for Linda's wheelchair today. According to my (old) insurance company, the errors on that account have been corrected and the purchase price of the chair has been met. I guess this is going to mean more phone calls and letters. Presumably the equipment company is confused at this point.

It's weird how these things seem to come just as we start winding down toward finals.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Tiring week

Like most everyone, we're a bit tired from the time change. Linda has been tired too, although at least last night she mentioned that she slept very well. It was a bit late even when we woke up this morning.

She fell on Tuesday walking from one therapy to another. She wasn't hurt, except for a bit of a bruise on her arm, but it shook her up a bit. She told me that she was just too tired (especially after physical therapy).

On Wednesday she decided to drop her speech therapy at Truman. The regimen of getting to therapy 4 days a week has been wearing her down over the semester. She told me that if she didn't lay off of something, she would end up getting hurt sometime. To round things out, she also canceled her therapy on Thursday to rest.

My week has been packed. It seems like I am always meeting with someone. I gave a test in my Calc III class today, so I needed time to get that written. My LAS Calc students have a test on Monday, so I'll be writing a grading now for a bit. I'm also collecting writing assignments in a class and working with several capstone students. Whew.

Tomorrow I intend to get my hair cut. I've not been able to get in and have it done all week. I love getting my hair cut.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Bad day good day

Most of today was a bad day. It started out that way, as bad days usually do. My alarm clock did not go off this morning despite having been set, so I overslept an hour. I apparently set the slide switch far enough to light up the "alarm set" led, but not far enough to actually set it. Why these two parts of the clock don't run on the same circuit is a mystery to me.

So I started an hour late, which meant I was in something of a hurry. I dressed Ellie and got my things together, and just as I am ready to go out the door, I find that Ellie has taken off all of her clothes because she didn't want to wear them. Today was only about the 1000th time this has happened, so you can be sure that I let her know in forceful terms (with plenty of percussive consonants) that I was frustrated.

She got me so worked up that I did my errands out of order. I had to take the new cat Mira to the vet to be fixed, but I planned to stop at campus first to give some papers to someone before their morning class. But I drove home, so the cat came first. At least I was able to catch her. She seems to be a smart cat, having enough sense to stay out of arms reach of me. I found her in a hiding place and caught her before she realized I could get her.

They asked me if I wanted her spayed and declawed, and I said, No, my wife doesn't want her declawed. Then I walked outside and learned why that was the wrong answer. She has apparently tried to claw her way into the car, because there is a cloud of vertical scratches at cat height on the driver side door where she failed.

That's the thing I don't get. You get cats, and you bring them in the house, and they tear the shit out of anything you like or value. What's the fun in that?

The day improved eventually. We watched some more Firefly tonight and that was really fun; we laughed a lot. Ellie actually ate some dinner, which is a small miracle. She went to bed reasonably well and she might even go to sleep.

Before that happened though, I got solicited for feedback from a software vendor I've had trouble with lately. They asked me how content I was with the resolution of my technical problem, and I marked zero because the software doesn't work at all at the moment. I told them that their product was a cancer and I was actively encouraging my colleagues to switch to a well-known free software alternative.

I suppose I have my grossly intolerant moments.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

I'm a poor blogger

It seems I am being a poor blogger lately. Not an update for nearly a week! Well, what can I say? Linda works hard at her therapies still. The work becomes harder and harder as you go, as your goals progress. I'm not able to see it as much lately because all of her therapy is scheduled while I am in class now. It pretty much will be till the end of semester now.

Linda has a new quad cane. It's pretty much the same as her other one, except she was borrowing the one she was using. I ordered the new cane on Thursday and picked it up on Friday. There really isn't much to say about it, since it is very similar to her old cane. I told her, But this cane is magic, because this one is yours. So much of everything is perception, I thought that putting the idea into her head that it was magic would do some subtle good even though the notion is downright silly.

So many things are like that. My favorite long staff for doing martial arts work is mine (and it really was made for me). Really, a staff is just a long stick--any broom handle would pretty much do--but knowing that my staff is mine makes it feel different. Like magic.