Monday, September 24, 2012

-------------------From Timeline of Kings; Queens from Charlemagne to Elizabeth II by Gordon Kerr -----------------------

1135  England: Henry I dies from food poisoning after famously eating "a surfeit of lampreys."
          Hungary: King Bela I dies when his throne's canopy collapses on top of him.
1141  Hungary and Croatia: King Bela II dies of over-indulgence in alcohol.
1188  Leon-Castile-Galicia: Alfonso IX is nicknamed "the Slobberer" for his habit of foaming at the mouth when angry.


The US has 3900% more solar radiation than Germany and yet Germany produces 6000% more solar energy than the US and we subsidize the gas, oil and coal companies. Brilliant!!!
From the Facebook page: I love it when I wake up in the morning and Barack Obama is President 

On our travels, Fritz and I have discovered that Europe is full of solar and, especially, wind power -- way ahead of the US in that regard.


A couple of months ago I began to get severe shooting pains down the back of my left leg from just below the buttock to the back of my knee.   I know enough about my body and have read enough to realize that the sciatic nerve was acting up, and that the probable cause was a damaged or deteriorating disc in my spine.  Conventional over-the-counter pain killers didn't touch the pain.  I discovered that if I bent slightly forward and dipped my left hip I could decrease the pain for a while but it remained a problem.

As I was in a very busy time of preparation for an opera production in Boston that I was designing and building, I had no time for the gym for a couple of days and the pain down the left leg cut back noticeably.  I decided that one of the machines at the gym must have been the trigger if not the cause of the problem.  I guessed it was one of my favorites, the torso machine where the upper body remains in a fixed position and the lower body, with various amounts of weight applied as resistance, swivel around and back with the lower spine being the pivot.  Without that motion for a couple of days I had fewer attacks.  I then called my doctor who met with me and sent me right into x-ray.

The x-ray showed that I had succumbed to the family disease (on my mother's side), arthritis in the spine with attendant disc deterioration.  To get the full picture he sent me for an MRI which showed four discs deteriorated, three with moderate narrowing of the channel through which the nerves pass, and one disc with severe narrowing and some herniation, which I assume is the disc that's pinching my sciatic nerve.  I met with my doctor again and he laid out the options.  I told him that if the medical treatment option involved being on pain killers for the rest of my life I wasn't interested; he agreed it was the least desirable choice.  We both felt that surgery -- which admittedly has advanced radically from the old, dreaded spinal surgery -- was something we should hold for last in case all other treatments fail.

Today I had a first meeting with the chosen option, Physical Therapy.  There's a small but good PT practice here in Raymond.  In our first meeting I was examined for posture,  taught a new way of picking up objects from the ground/floor, given a set of exercises, and told which machines at my gym I should avoid completely and how to use more effectively those that won't damage my spine.  This last was extremely important to me as I don't want to risk falling out of shape.

Oh, the Physical Therapist was very impressed with my legs, the muscularity and strength of them.  I told her that I thought of them as soccer legs and that they'd given my father the false hope that I'd be the big football hero in high school and college he had been.  He wanted a jock but got a son involved with the performing arts.  I know I disappointed him in that regard, but when he saw how my career was going he became very proud of that and very supportive.  And that was nice.

My partner had much the same diagnosis, but hers came out of the blue and stayed for 9 months despite long hours of PT. She was a runner when the pain hit and it drove her crazy to be sidelined. Suddenly, as it started,the pain simply stopped. Now she is running again. But...carefully.
My spinal situation is idential to yours except mine is nearer my neck. The goal is the avoid surgery, forever if possible.

To that end, I have weekly or bi-weekly appointments with a spinal-specialist phyisotherapist and frequent massages. Gentle exercise like walking and especially swimming was recommended (although I haven't done any swimming.)

I've discovered that excellent posture is of PRIMARY importance. Good luck!
Oh, so sorry to read about the arthritis. Good for you for taking control of it right away. I hope the PT helps tremendously. (I love "soccer legs"; I have runner's legs... not nearly as sexy!)

Henry I was Jerry's 26-greats grandfather. No wonder he has panic attacks about potential food poisoning! (And Alfonso IX was his 23-greats... Fortunately, Jerry doesn't get angry.)
Mitchell, I would SO love to meet you and San Geraldo someday. My husband traces his family directly back to Sir Humphrey Gilbert with some very colorful personalities along the way.
Wow! These kinds of stories fascinate me. San Geraldo is a skilled researcher. My family only went back to one set of maternal great grandparents who arrived in NY from Poland in the early 1900s. San Geraldo has now traced back to my great-great-great-great grandparents in Poland. Amazing! Of course, unlike San Geraldo's royal lines, one of my great-great somethings had his occupation on the Polish census listed as "beggar"!
May your powerful legs regain their wonted mobility...Alas, we grow old...
Sorry to hear about the problem. Best wishes for success with the PT. Route. I think surgery is not as scary as it once was but definitely better to exhaust the less invasive options first.

Good luck!
Thank you all for your concern and good wishes. I used the alternate lifting technique this morning helping Fritz reset chairs and tables for a group coming into the Conference Center this weekend and am trying to adjust my posture, which will come in time.
Happily you are/were in the happiest most enthusiastic people on earth - physical therapists! Better than "Up with People".
Very sorry to hear about your pain. I myself have knees that are starting to trouble me, but in that region, I'm proud to report outstanding gams myself! As to Jock aspirations from my own father, fortunately he saw the handwriting on the wall early, and positioned his support behind my artistic endeavors without looking back. Best of luck with your PT!
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