Monday, August 03, 2009

Research confirms: men are jerks

According to this study, men are 6 times more likely to leave a seriously-ill spouse than women. Not really surprising, but this plays right into my primary making-sense-of-having-MS story, which is, more or less, that among those with the crappy luck to develop MS, I am a very lucky guy.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Conquering Everest, or maybe the lawn

Lori Schneider, a 52-year-old retired teacher with MS, reached the summit of Mt. Everest on Thursday, May 21. "She said, 'I'm here Dad, I'm on the summit, I made it,' " Neal Schneider recounted. "She was very, very happy, as you can imagine."

Congratulations, Lori.

That same evening, Doug Lee-Knowles, a 38-year-old lawyer with MS, mowed the back yard. "He said, 'The Office was a re-run,' Doug's wife recounted. "He looked like he was gonna pass out, as you can imagine."

Congratulations, Doug.

As I've said before, I don't get much out of the adventures of super-crips like Lori. But I bet Lori gets plenty out of her climbs. I get a similar, if smaller, charge out of doing ordinary stuff that has gotten increasingly difficult for me over the last half-dozen years: mowing the grass, washing the dog, and, a while back, replacing a dodgy distributor rotor.

I suppose I've given up on doing the kind of stuff that other people would care to read about in the newspaper. But I'm still fighting hard to hang on to the trappings of ordinary life. Nobody wants to read about a guy with MS making dinner or continuing to drive a manual transmission, but stuff like that sure makes me feel good.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Honda develops robotic mobility aids

Kewl! Today, gearhead blog Jalopnik reports on a pair of gizmos from Honda that could be really useful to people with MS. Does the 7-lb. Honda Stride Management Assist (in the Jalopnik photo at left) sound like something you could use? Snip:
It's designed for people with weakened muscles that can still walk on their own, but could use some help getting back in shape after an injury or tackling difficult tasks like walking up steps. Basically, a motor sits on each hip and helps lift the leg using and arm and strap connected down by your knee. Its your own movement that activates and controls the length and degree of assistance, so you won't find the device trying to force you into movements you didn't already want to make.

The other gizmo is called the Honda Bodyweight Support Assist. It helps support the wearer's body weight in a variety of positions; Jalopnik says "It's like your very own seat that walks around with you wherever you go." It's wonkier-looking (kinda like a robotic dancing coach?) and weighs 14 lbs. Both devices are powered by batteries good for 2 hours of use.

The last time I got excited about a mobility aid was when the Segway came out. These seem to have a lot more potential for use in the real world (I think the lightest Segway, the p Series, weighs 70 lbs.). If American automakers were coming up with stuff like this, I'd have an easier time seeing the importance of maintaining a domestic auto industry.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Putting on your game hair

Interesting piece in NYT by Dana Jennings reflecting on the "buzz cut" hairdo he got shortly before undergoing surgery for prostate cancer. Jennings says he needed the "primal ferocity" that a buzz cut conveys. More generally, Jennings says that style or fashion or appearance is an important way for sick people to communicate with themselves and the world around them:
It was only after the fact that I learned that my hair-shearing reaction to having cancer wasn’t so unusual. I understood that the buzz cut spoke of a new me. It still reminds me that I’ve been tempered in the crucible of cancer, that I have changed. But it’s also part of a muted tradition that’s consistent with the transformation, transition and trauma that I’ve gone through.

I can dig that. I've been sporting my own buzz cut for the last couple years. Every two weeks, I sit down with the clippers and a #2 guard and trim off the half-inch or so that's accumulated. (For the record, Jennings goes with a much closer 1/0 cut every 3 weeks--dude, that's badass.)

I'll concede that my 'do had more to do with my thinning hair than it did with MS, but it has changed my own sense of who I am. I think it conveys the sort of no-nonsense practicality that I aspire to. It's low-maintenance, a little severe, and recession-friendly (not that I ever spent more than $20 on a haircut, but still).

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Dear blog: I'm just not that into you

It's not you, it's me. I don't know what my problem is, but I'll make it up to you somehow. Really.