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WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 16, 2009     08:43 pm
Lunch consisted of pizza, greens, salad, nuts, raisins, Jell-o, and a glass of something tasty.   My shower was fine...I still don't know if it's my last one or not.  Arby is outside at the monitor's desk and all is well.

Karina is back.  She was working on another floor, and the rotation has now brought her back up here.  She said she'll be here on Friday to assist with my, uh, return to the "new normal."  Dinner was tilapia, rice, a sliver of apple pie, a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and a glass of grape juice.  I'm online, nerding it up on the Home Theater Forum…

Arby posted the schedule for tomorrow: the break before the dawn, so to speak.  In addition to the usual, I also have another T-reflex test in the morning... yay, something to do!  Arby and I chatted for a bit and right now I'm just watching more clips on YouTube…

Amanda stopped by again; she asked me some questions about bedrest since she goes down on Tuesday.  I told her the first day isn't pleasant, but that she'll eventually get into some kind of groove.  We talked about the food, the massages, and the tests that we do during bedrest (T-reflex, plasma volume, ECG).  I reminded her that if I can do it, anyone can.  She mentioned the breaded fish and my reaction was, "That wasn’t chicken?"
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THURSDAY, DECEMBER 17, 2009     03:47 pm
Breakfast was an English muffin, a bowl of fruit, sausage, and a glass of OJ.  We were awaked by a song I haven't heard in a long time: Train’s "Drops of Jupiter."  I've already had a few people come in, saying things like, "Last day!" and "You made it!"  As I told Theresa, I didn't think I'd wash up half-way through bedrest, but at the same time, it was kinda touch and go there at the beginning… and like anything else, sometimes you just can’t imagine it until it's (almost) over.

Only three more T-reflex tests after this one.  Liz and Yuri made small talk; I still don't think they quite understand what improv is, or at least the form of improv I plan on learning, but it's great that they're interested, and fond of telling me: "You can use this for material!"  However, the nature of improv comedy is such that one simply can't walk in with jokes or any preconceived notions -- it all depends on the audience suggestions and the rhythm of the game, and one can't arbitrarily throw in a joke if it doesn’t fit.  We also talked about food.  Yuri has somewhat different taste in cheese than I do (read: she likes it).  The test itself was fine… the surface that we have to lay on during the test is so hard.  At one point during the conversation, Liz gave me one of these: "Bless your heart!"  I know that can be used in a few different contexts, but in this case, I think it was complimentary. (I understand folks in the South also use the phrase to pleasantly disguise contempt but I don’t think that was the case here!)

Lunch was spaghetti and meatballs, greens, grape juice, and Lorna Doones (to quote Shemp in a Three Stooges short: "Hi, Lorna! How ya doin'?")  I'm still on my first water pitcher. Some of the nurses were practicing a dance routine for a video they're planning.  Nikki was nice enough to ask if the music was bothering me but I didn't mind.  I had my headphones on anyway, watching an episode of Modern Marvels on Hulu about deep sea salvage technology… interesting stuff!  

Brian stopped by, and we chatted about the effects of standing up again after thirty days.  He said he's almost back to normal, give or take a few slight issues.  Todd told me he had some issues the first couple of days as well, but that he's fine now… this is all to be expected.  I won’t have a shower until Saturday, and by then I'll probably be able to take a normal upright shower; apparently, the nurses will give me a chair to sit on so I don't slip and break something.

I just finished stretching… my last stretches!  I'm sure there will be some kind of routine for when I'm ambulatory, but this is it for bedrest routines.  My massage is in ten minutes and, starting tomorrow, I'll have massages seven days in a row.

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THURSDAY, DECEMBER 17, 2009     08:52 pm
"I have never worked so closely with a Jew before," she said with a smile... the massage was fine.  At one point, I asked, "What music are we listening to?" and it turns out it was the score for The Secret Garden (the 1993 version, I assume).  She also mentioned she once brought Out of Africa, and I told her if she likes that score (by John Barry), then she'd love Somewhere in Time (also by Barry).  Sensing an opening, I told her about the time I saw Jerry Goldsmith in concert at the Doral Golf Resort and Spa in Miami… she seemed genuinely interested.  Back in the room, watched another Modern Marvels episode, this one about breakfast technology; they profiled a guy who collects toasters... some people just need to get a life –- ooh, Star Trek is on!... (smile)...

Dinner was chicken, rice, greens, a bowl of Jell-o, and a glass of milk.  Afterwards, I was wheeled out into the common room and played four rounds of Uno with Jerry… I won one of them.  Rest assured, once I'm up, I will strike back with a vengeance. Amanda was there watching Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.  Arby posted my schedule for tomorrow… breakfast and lunch are both split while dinner isn’t until 7:00.  I have two ECGs, a plasma volume test, a tilt test, a neurological assessment (the balance test), another T-reflex test, and a cycle test...

I'm done with my water.  I spoke to Mike on the phone for almost an hour.  Well, this is it... like a hundred other test subjects in a hundred other studies, I wait for the dawn...
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FRIDAY, DECEMBER 18, 2009     10:55 am
I tossed and turned for a while before the music came on.  Usually, I get up about twenty minutes before, but this morning, it must've been an hour before.  I remember hearing some ambient noise and thinking, "Well, the music should come on anytime now" and it never did.  Part one of breakfast was two bowls of fruit (peaches in one and apple slices and strawberries in the other).  I'm looking out the window and even though I can only see the building across the street, I think the sun might be out, for the first time in days...

Things didn't exactly go according to plan... the ECG (administered by a nice guy named Tim), the plasma volume test, and the IV went fine (to the extent that such things can be called "fine") but the Tilt Test was a personal disappointment.  Subjects can ask to stop the test at any time but this time they stopped it for me... after five minutes!  They tilted me up to 80 degrees and all of a sudden my legs felt like they weighed a hundred pounds each... 

My knees didn't buckle, but I immediately felt it in my head and I also felt some slight nausea.  During the tilt, you can't breathe too heavily, but since that is my normal reaction when I'm nauseous, they stopped the test.  Thankfully, they got all the data they needed.  Other than that, everything was the same: the blood pressure cuff on my right arm along with its little brother on my left middle finger, Tim jamming the transducer into my throat, Mike manning the IV...

I really thought I could last thirty minutes, or at least twenty... but no, they stopped after five and I admit I'm a little disappointed in myself.  I really thought I could last longer.  In this case, it's not a competition, nor are there any right or wrong answers, but hopefully I'll do better on Monday... 

Part two of breakfast consisted of a blueberry muffin, eggs, sausage, and another tiny glass of OJ.  I also met Dr. Cromwell for the first time; she's the chief scientist here, but since she was wearing a mask, I have no idea what she looks like!  She thanked me profusely for giving my time to the study, not to mention missing the holidays and being away from my family.  I told her I appreciated the opportunity.  After I mentioned that I return home on New Year's Eve, she told me not to drink alcohol at first.  "Believe me, I won’t!" was my response.

I feel better than I did a half-hour ago.  My head still feels slightly off-kilter, and I'll probably get some red spots on my feet later as the blood rushes back down there… other than that, I'm okay.

I mentioned to Kennisha that I had to use the bathroom and she told me to ring for the nurse(s).  Karina and a couple others showed up, which really wasn't necessary but appreciated.  Karina had the privilege of wheeling me a whole fifteen feet from the bed to the bathroom.  I simply urinated into the bottle as usual (it was nice to get an assist from gravity this time) and afterwards, I had to pull the red string adjacent to the toilet (just like the string in the shower).

They wheeled me back to my bed.  In order to fit the wheelchair through the room, they had to move the other bed at an angle.  I have no roommate, so they're simply going to leave it like that.

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FRIDAY, DECEMBER 18, 2009     08:24 am
The balance test went better than I thought it would. Julie and Lance did their usual thing, strapping me into the vest with the electrodes and the headset.  Julie said she'd read some of my blogs on Heather’s website and on the way out, I reminded her to keep reading... apparently, I'm still pretty fly for a white guy.  I had some slight trouble, according to Julie, it was during the really hard part (with eyes closed and feet unbalanced).  The test where the floor jolts wasn't that bad... I didn't flail my arms or yell "Laaaady!" like a certain comedian.  Nurse Olivia accompanied me to the test and wheeled me back to my room; she also sat in for the tilt test, having never witnessed one before.  All in all, I'm doing okay... my feet tingle a bit, but that'll end in a day or two.  To quote Spock in Star Trek IV: "I feel fine."

The sequel to lunch consisted of a tortilla, sandwich cookies, grape juice... and yes, I ate the cookies first.  I felt I deserved it!  The T-reflex test was uneventful.  It was nice to lay down on the comfortable cushion for a change.  Julie was there, cross-training.  Nurse Olivia accompanied me again as well; we talked about the holidays and Christmas decorations –- one area where I can speak from experience since, while I don't celebrate the holiday, I can still admire a good Christmas light setup.  Apparently, they got good signals from the sensors on my leg and I joked about adding that little factoid to my JDate profile.  The second ECG was fine, too.  Tim sure knows how to stab me with the transducer.  At one point, his iPhone went off and he has a cool ringtone: the sound of a theremin (at first I thought my heart was making that sound).  He asked me what I was going to do after the study and I mentioned going to New York.  I told him about the improv and we both agreed it'd be a good way to meet people (which isn't the easiest thing in the world).

The cycle test wasn't my finest hour.  Granted, they wouldn't let me pass out, but I was only able to do four and a half minutes before Brent stopped it.  Other than that, everything was the same:  Tim did the echocardiogram and Liz (not the T-reflex lady) connected the electrodes.  They had a few technical difficulties and much time passed before I was told to start peddling and even then, they had to make adjustments on the fly.  I tried looking out the window at the sunset (the sun decided to return today) but it didn't work.  Once Brent increased the resistance, I had a difficult time breathing, and the nose plugs didn’t help matters.  Other than that, I enjoyed the banter. "It’s like I never left!" I joked... thes also enjoyed giving Liz a hard time about everything.

The masseuse mostly focused on my back, legs, and feet -- not my arms and hands.  This was just fine, and my feet have stopped tingling when I stand up.  There were a couple of Jewish food questions.  I told her every now and then we'll do matzoh ball soup, but other than that, usually someone will prepare some Jewish delicacy only for holiday gatherings.  Right now, Christmas Vacation is on AMC again, and I tuned in just in time for Aunt Bethany's line, "Did I break wind?"  I have a full pitcher of water to knock out in ninety minutes and I really hope I don't wake up sore tomorrow (in terms of muscles, not attitude).
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SATURDAY, DECEMBER 19, 2009     03:51 pm
Another BM last night before I went to bed.  Not having to use a bedpan… it was bliss!  I actually forgot to use the bottle for urination since all I could think about was, "No more bedpan!"  Thankfully, the nurse was cool with that.  I also watched The Soup last night and Arby (a fellow Soup fan) joined me.  I slept okay, but my back is slightly achy this morning… but only slightly.  They let me walk to the bathroom, and I admit it'll take a little getting used to.  I am fully capable of performing the motor actions, but it's as if I have a few beers in me.  I'm not wobbly, but I can definitely feel a difference and I know I'm not 100% back to normal.

Breakfast was two bowls of fruit, a glass of OJ, and the dreaded (and hopefully penultimate) cheeseburger quiche.  I shaved this morning, but just the whiskers on the sides of my face.  I also took care of some light housekeeping chores, rearranging a few things, and getting my flip-flops out from under the nightstand.  I'm half-way done with the first pitcher and it isn’t even 9:00 yet!  Lance came by and asked if I'd be interested in doing my balance test early and I happily obliged.  I did just fine, all things considered.  Julie wasn't in, so we were joined by a nice guy named Robert who hooked me up into the equipment.

Todd and Amanda joined me in the common room afterward, and we watched the Special Edition version of Aliens.  Amanda asked, "This isn’t the one where she’s bald, is it?"  So, afterwards (and much to Amanda's enjoyment, at least I hope), we watched Alien 3.  While many people hate the movie with a passion (they kill off Hicks and Newt in the first two minutes, it’s not that scary, the characters are unlikeable, the cast consists of a bunch of bald Brits who all look alike, etc.), I love it.  That is to say, I love it in its extended form; I think the acting is excellent, and it's the most beautiful looking of all four Alien films.  We were joined by a couple of the subject monitors, and I promised I'd bring in "something lighter" to watch next time.  Neither film is that gory (the third film has its share of blood, but it's brief) and I forgot how many characters use the F-word but hopefully no one was too offended.
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SATURDAY, DECEMBER 19, 2009     09:26 pm
During Alien 3, we were served lunch... the dreaded cheese sandwich, along with salad, vegetable soup, and a glass of grape juice.  For some reason, it wasn't too difficult to eat this time.  I guess it’s just easier while ambulatory... in bed, it's a different story.  However, I seriously doubt I've developed a taste for cheese (again) all of a sudden.  My massage was fine; today, she played the score from Out of Africa.  I've never seen the film, but I'm sure I've heard parts of the score before.  I moved around earlier with the wheelchair but, for the most part, I am walking unassisted.

Dinner was chicken with rice and corn, greens, peach cobbler, vanilla ice cream, Lorna Doones, and milk.  Amanda asked me if I wanted to join her in the common room to watch The Mothman Prophecies, but after I politely declined, she walked away without saying anything so, feeling a little guilty, especially since she joined me for my Alien double-feature, I decided to head out there.  This time, I took the laptop with me.  Eventually, I had to use the bathroom and I noticed they had set up a chair in the shower.
  Tierra said I could take a shower (finally) but that, after twenty minutes, she'd knock on the door to make sure I was okay.  I put on my watch (for the first time since I left Florida) and timed myself.  The shower was fine; in fact, I was more afraid of the chair sliding out from under me!  Unfortunately, I forgot a towel so I dried myself with paper towels from the dispenser.  Tierra was pleased to see me unharmed and brought me more towels for later.

Returned to the common room watching "World’s Dumbest…" shows on TruTV with Todd, Amanda, and Jorge.  I also leafed through the textbook Amanda's been studying... yeah, not for me.
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SUNDAY, DECEMBER 20, 2009     06:24 am
I had an unsettling dream where I realized I would have two months of work to catch up on when I return to my job after the study, then I realized, "Wait a second, didn't I train some poor schlub to do that?" ... so I got lucky on that one.  We were awakened by Sonny and Cher and it was too loud.

Tierra said we all wore the same expression on our faces this morning: one that said, "Just another hour!"  The finger stick lady returned for my third (of seven, I think) sticks.  Kennisha had watched parts of the Alien films with us yesterday and was disappointed that they killed off Newt in the third film (who wasn’t?).  I tried to explain the reasons for that but, other than the fact that Carrie Henn would be five years older when they shot the film, I couldn't give her a satisfactory answer.  I did tell her that there were drafts of the script where Newt and Hicks were alive but, for whatever reason, Fincher and Company decided to go (much, much) darker.

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Continue on to Scott's Journal : Part Fourteen


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