Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sunday At The Opera

A friend who ushers at the opera here got me and another friend tickets to Cavalleria Rusticana and I Pagliacci on Sunday, surprising us both. We sat in the mezzanine level which offered great views of the stage and the orchestra pit. The music made all the difference as the acoustics were terrific. While it was unfortunate that I forgot my dad's opera glasses,  and could not note all of the expressions worn by the performers, everything I  did see and hear was lovely. Our opera company, in existence for seventeen years, has grown phenomenally and is widely and consistently supported by individuals and businesses throughout this area. The performances on Sunday were delightful. As an opera fan, I can tell you that a live performance trumps all else.  I am fortunate in my friends and will remember this as a rare and special treat.


Playbill courtesy of the Straz Center and OperaTampa.

Monday, January 30, 2012

That's Bloody Expensive!

You're probably wondering what's gone on at chez moi for the last three weeks or so...

Early days mean I've been up at six and gone by half past seven, putting in a good hour three times
per week with the trainer, doing thirty to forty minutes of sprints in my chair for cardio and then spending 45 minutes in the pool. I haven't gotten home before 2 in the afternoon, which is a huge chunk of the day. Two evenings per week I leave about 6:45 PM and return after ten, once for choir practice, the other for services.  Much of this time is spent waiting for public transport. Another chunk is spent on laundry, cleaning and cooking, from which there is no escape unless one is wealthy enough to hire a cleaner. I do utilize my neighbor, but only on an as needed basis and he charges a fraction of what a professional would in terms of expense.

This morning I had a builder in to assess the cost of making this flat more accessible. Unlike others who have looked, measured, scratched heads and slunk away with nary an estimate, this one was personable and quite candid regarding the potential problems and costs associated with re-doing doorways and the bathroom, which is small and narrow. He would have to move walls, pipes and drains, loosing a foot or two in the bedroom, re-tile. The cost might be higher than the unit is worth in the current housing market and would leave me with no cushion at all, financially speaking. He took photographs and promised to call again after consulting colleagues at the local remodeler's association. In the interim, I'm attempting to contact realty agents to see what is available that was built after 1990 that should have wider doors and a more open layout. Of the three persons recommended by friends, none have returned my calls while another has sent a form e-mail with her contact information.

I'll see what happens...

Until Next Time...

Monday, January 9, 2012

Anniversary: January 8, 2004

The radio played a song from the Beatles Abbey Road album, softly, as the car hummed along the road way. As it was late afternoon and traffic was building to the inevitable climax known as rush hour, the smell of newly-laid asphalt drifted through the slit of the driver side window. Stop, first at one light and then another, snaking along the two-laned avenue. The last in a line of cars creeping homeward...It wasn't until I extended my leg toward the accelerator, pushing my body forward and glancing into the rear view mirror that I heard the sudden crunch of metal, breaking glass and felt a wave of something up my spine...

The paramedic unit further along the street, which was about to return to its station, stopped, and all of the first responders came running...I was told a woman had hit me in a rear-end collision at about 45-50 miles per hour...

Strapped down. unable to move my neck and head, I was taken to an area hospital. Though in shock, nothing was broken or bleeding, merely bruised. I was eventually released with a stern warning to see my own doctors within the week and return if further symptoms developed...

In the eighteen months that followed, I saw doctors, physiotherapist, chiropractor, massage therapist and two acupuncturists, none of whom could provide any answer regarding the chronic pain that appeared to plague the left SI area of my low back.

Finally discharged from treatment, I was told that I would simply have to live with the situation, that nothing further could be done. Dutifully following medical advice to stretch, my alarm grew exponentially when one morning, I found it nearly impossible to get out of bed due to pain and pronounced spasm.

Seen the following day at the medical school's clinic near my home, the doctor said my back was visibly spasming and that I should return to my chiropractor, who was, as it turned out, unavailable. Instead, I called another physician in private practice whom I had seen for something else, explained the situation and asked if she might know where I could possibly go for relief.

That conversation was a godsend. I was referred to a small, private physiotherapy clinic specialising in back care. A four-month regime of pain reduction, continual core and back strengthening, some restricted activities, and work outs, supplemented by daily stretching left me pain-free for the next two years. It wasn't until my knee was wrecked and I began using a wheelchair that my back once again became a concern, since sitting exacerbates the original problem.

I now stretch daily and see my physiotherapist regularly. Soft tissue injuries such as this can appear deceptively minor. The bills from the original accident mounted into thousands, and I was able to have them paid with the aid of an attorney. In the years since, I have spent increasing amounts for physiotherapy, fitness specialists and trainers not covered by insurance, even as the cost of insurance has skyrocketed.

That said, I am grateful to be writing these words, happy that these events weren't much worse, as they so easily might have been. Eight years on, I know that all doctors, physiotherapists, hospitals and allied health professionals are not created equally, so to speak, and that the healthcare system many like to rave about here is, in fact, difficult to navigate and in many instances, inefficient and broken.

 I have poured over articles from both medical and training journals which told me things about this injury which my doctors and other professionals should have known, including the fact that the majority of injuries of this kind are the direct result of rear-end collisions.

If any of you were to experience these things, I would suggest doing your own research and turning over every stone until you find qualified help. If they cannot provide answers, keep looking and learn what you must do to take care of yourself.

Until Next Time...

Thursday, January 5, 2012

@###@& And Other Nasties From Upper Respiratory Hell...

I knew one of the Y's teeming numbers of little kids with runny noses would eventually do me in....
Last night, I crawled in bed exhausted at eight, slept until one and then into the late morning. It was not until I was fully conscious that I realised I was ill, something I have not been in over two years.

My day has been spent sleeping between large cups of hot tea and homeopathics and I've cancelled my appointments for the rest of the week. I was planning a couple of funny posts but those will wait until I feel at least somewhat human. My mother used to refer to sleep as beauty rest. If only rest would make us beautiful. At the moment, I feel quite ratty, and look it as well...

Sunday, January 1, 2012

First Post For 2012!

Fireworks ushered in the New Year in my neighbourhood last night . The felines barely concealed their contempt for the noise, alternately yowling madly and ducking beneath furniture. Before arriving home for what I hoped would be an early night, I spent a lovely afternoon with a friend and her sister-in-law. We saw War Horse which I enjoyed though if you go, I'd recommend bringing along tissues. Having seen the film, I'm searching out the book, originally written for older children, in which the story is narrated from the horse's perspective. It takes place in Europe just prior to and during World War I. When the film ended, I turned to my friend and remarked that I'd always liked horses better than people, and this film confirmed that for me. While there are things worth dying for, the older I become, the list of those things grows shorter.

Last Sunday was the fifth day of Hanukkah as well as Christmas and I, along with others from our synagogue, volunteered to help at a local charity which provides meals and other services to the homeless. Initially concerned about wheelchair access, I was assured that this would not be an issue since we would be working in a large tent with solid flooring. Things went smoothly in that regard and I found myself stuffing backpacks with ladies underwear and socks and handing them out. Nearly all of those who came through my line were alone, but there were mothers with children, elderly men and women and whole families in evidence in that tent as well. Many looked as though they could use medical or dental assistance which is next to impossible to obtain here without a permanent address. People from various sectors say that things are looking up, but how can that be when unemployment remains high, wages are stagnant and the numbers of people in need of food banks, free school lunches for their children, social services and  homeless shelters appear to be increasing?

Midweek saw me traveling across town to meet the trainer my physiotherapist recommended. She seems knowledgeable, interested in working with me and confident that I can meet the goals I've set for myself. The only drawback was having to wait for an extended period for the bus ride back to the flat. As the day was beautiful and cool, I did not mind being outdoors until a total stranger approached, prayed over me in the name of Jesus, and departed, though none too swiftly for my liking. She was completely oblivious to the Star of David around my neck and the fact that I kept my eyes focused on the magazine I was reading. I wonder if she makes a habit of preying on people in wheelchairs...

Happy 2012 everyone.

Until Next Time...