Saturday, August 25, 2007

My Theme Song

I liked the message of this song even before this all started, but now it has special meaning for me. I really believe what they say!

Another thing I like: these guys are even older than me! This live version was performed in 1971.

Rare Earth - I Just Want To Celebrate lyrics

I Just Want To Celebrate
By Rare Earth
Note: These lyrics are taken be ear and may not be entirely correct. Any
Corrections would be welcome at
One, two, three, four
I just want to celebrate another day of livin'
I just want to celebrate another day of life
I put my faith in the people
But the people let me down
So I turned the other way
And I carry on, anyhow
That's why I'm telling you
I just want to celebrate, yeah, yeah
Another day of living, yeah
I just want to celebrate another day of life
Had my head on the dollar bill
But the dollar bill flew away
But the sun is shining down on me
And it's here to stay
That's why I'm telling you
I just want to celebrate, yeah, yeah
Another day of living, yeah
I just want to celebrate another day of livin'
I just want to celebrate another day of life
Don't let it all get you down, no, no
Don't let it turn you around and around and around and around and around
Well, I can't be bothered with sorrow
And I can't be bothered with hate, no, no
I'm using up the time but feeling fine, every day
That's why I'm telling you I just want to celebrate
Oh, yeah
I just want to celebrate another day
Oh, I just want to celebrate another day of livin'
I just want to celebrate another day of life
Don't let it all get you down, no, no
Don't let it turn you around and around, etc.
Round, round, round, etc.
Don't go round
I just want to celebrate
I just want to celebrate
Well, I just want to celebrate
Said I just want to celebrate (celebrate)
I just want to celebrate (I want to celebrate)
I just want to celebrate (I got to celebrate)
I just want to celebrate

Song lyrics | Rare Earth lyrics

A Trip to OSH

Later this morning, about 10 am, Tim, Frances, and I went to OSH in South Pasadena. I had taken my morning meds about 7:30, and by 10 I was really doing well. I was balancing just fine, and walking like a normal person (with a funny hat). I walked up and down the aisles without needing any extra support.

I bought lots of new fun "toys": some WD40, paintable calk and a new calk gun, a socket wrench set, a new hammer, a new hat that looks better than my Gilligan hat (Frances' suggestion), some power strips, spools of wiring, new wire cutters, a circuit tester, ... things that provide a middle-aged man hours or days of fun in the workshop!

On the way back home, we stopped by Dave and Angelica Clark's house, so that Tim and I could help them set up their very nice new iMac. I strode right up to their door, and when we went in didn't need to support myself on anything. For the next hour or so, my attention focused on trying to get their iMac communicating on the network, and installing some new software Angelica bought for the girls to use on school projects.

When we were finished and I got up out of the chair, I found that my balance was off again. Angelica drove us home, and by the time we arrived (around noon), I was back to careening around the room. So at 12:30 I took my noon meds, and now I am waiting to see when I recover my balance... hasn't happened yet (1:22 pm), but I'll keep waiting and monitoring.

About Balance

I was thinking the other day that it's odd that so many people with various neurological conditions have problems with simple things like walking, but can still do "complex" things like solving differential equations.

But as I thought about it more, I realized that walking is in many respects harder for the brain than is any intellectual activity, no matter how sophisticated we regard the latter. If my brain has a small time delay in responding to sensory input, it doesn't affect in any significant way purely intellectual tasks. But walking or even standing still requires co-ordinated commands from the brain to the body (especially the feet and legs of course). The timing has to be precise. If you are standing, and start to fall over, your brain doesn't have the luxury of pondering what to do. It has to step into action quickly, before you end up on the floor.

So I conclude balance is actually really hard. The amazing thing is not that I can't do it very well, but that you all can! More on balance in the next post...

First Post-Operative Bike Ride

Yesterday I took my first bike ride since the surgery. Of course I wore a bike helmet, which served the dual role of protecting my head and protecting those I meet along the way from having to view my punk hairstyle underneath... I am happy to report I had no falls whatsoever, so its first role was untested.

Our neighborhood has lots of beautiful street with minimal traffic, just right for bike riding. Despite this, I set as my goal the Starbucks on Fair Oaks Blvd., just north of California Blvd. Maybe this is due to some mental deficit, or maybe I just wanted a good cup of Jo...

Anyway, after practicing getting on and off a bit in our driveway, I set out at about 6 am up our street to California, then right on California to Orange Grove Blvd., where the light was red. I managed to successfully negotiate getting off, walking the bike in the crosswalk, and getting back on on the other side. I rode on the sidewalk, figuring that my extenuating circumstances justified this minor violation of traffic laws.

My next stop was Huntington Hospital. I felt like it has been my "home away from home," so I rode up the main entry road, past the entrance, and then back out to California Blvd. I thought I might see someone I know, but I didn't, so onward to Starbucks...

When I got to Fair Oaks Blvd., I had to get off to cross the road. I walked the bike across Fair Oaks, and then when the light changed, across California. On the sidewalk outside Boston Market, I mounted the bike again, and rode the last few feet to Starbucks, where I dismounted, leaned the bike up against the window of Starbucks near an outdoor table, and went it to join the line of early-morning Starbucks customers.

I do have some distinct balance issues, although I found it quite easy to ride the bike. Much more difficult is walking on my two feet. By using the bike as a big two-wheel "cane," I was able to walk outside pretty well. But inside Starbucks, I didn't have my bike for support, so I leaned on the various tables or displays along the way to the counter. I did get a few strange looks. There were 2 guys dressed in hospital garb that suggested to me that they worked at Huntington in some capacity. I saw them looking at each other as if to say "who let that guy out?"

Anyway, I finally made it up to the counter in my lunging way, and ordered a Grande Coffee and an Apple Fritter. The latter is probably disallowed on an anti-cancer diet, but i figured one couldn't do too much harm, and it sure would taste good. So after I paid, I reversed my path, like a billiard ball bouncing off obstacles, until I made it over the the milk/cream/spoon station, where I added non-fat milk (see? I can be good too!).

Then it was just a few short hops and richochets out the door to the table by my bike. I let myself down into the chair, and enjoyed the coffee and fritter. About 10 minutes later, I was finished, so it was time to hit the road (figuratively). I headed out with my two-wheel Trek 15-speed walking cane. I walked all the way to the Vons parking lot (across the street from Huntington Hospital), where I mounted and did a few laps around the parking lot. Satisfied with my bike riding abilities, I decided to walk home, in order to practice walking.

I find that if I don't think about it, I often put my foot (especially on the left) down incorrectly, making contact at the front first. This is a long-term, Parkinson's-related characteristic, but now post-surgery this tendency is a little bit stronger. Maybe (hopefully) it is only a temporary deficit.

So as I walked my bike back home, I consciously worked on getting my leg out in front, and making contact with the ground with my heel first. Once I got into the rythm, it went fine.

So my "bike ride" ended up mostly as a walk. But it was very valuable for me to see what balance issues I do have, and maybe the practice will begin the process of my brain rewiring some circuits to take over control of balance, to replace ones that were damaged at some point by the tumor. I plan to go out for a ride/walk with my Trek 2-wheel walking cane most days. As they say, practice makes perfect.