adrian_turtle: (Default)
Spring has finally come to Massachusetts. It's the season of opening windows on warm days and closing them on cold night and when it rains. My apartment has horizontal sliding windows, which has been awfully inconvenient over the years (because window air conditioners are designed for ordinary up-and-down windows), but never so inconvenient as to make me move away from the bus stop, the bike path, and the supermarket.

The type of shoulder pain I've been dealing with for the last few months makes lateral motion exceptionally hard. More resistance makes the pain flare last longer. (Pushing a shirt on a hanger along the closet rod causes a sharp increase in pain. Pushing a heavy coat, or many shirts (all at once or one at a time) makes the pain increase for hours, maybe more than a day.) The windows don't slide easily. A friend came over this morning to open them for me, and we're not supposed to have another frost until Friday night, nor serious rain all week. I don't think this is a good long-term solution.

Do any of you know of a tool that would help me open and close the windows? I can push or pull (perpendicular to the window frame) reasonably well, but have trouble exerting the kind of lateral force that's needed. A wrench is too small and an automobile jack is too big, and either is hard to clamp to the window frame.
adrian_turtle: (Default)
Last month, I posted about a medical procedure I was planning to have on December 16th. It was scary and expensive, but I was hoping it would stop my migraines for a few months. I knew it wouldn't be an immediate fix. Patients who have good results report some pain after the injection, even headaches as a side effect. And the good results don't happen for at least a week. The doctor told me to expect optimal relief beginning 2 or 3 weeks after the injection.

I have mixed feelings about this "optimal relief."

The first week after the injection was very, very, bad. The shoulder pain flare was spectacular, and referred to hand and jaw. And my headache got worse. And a lot of my coping mechanisms stopped working, because I couldn't use my shoulder. (This made me overuse my bad hand on the other side, which wasn't any good for me either.) Fortunately, the worst of that effect was temporary. My shoulder pain is back down to the level it was in early December, with a reasonable range of motion. The problem is that I can't lift much at all.

You might have thought I couldn't lift much before. I certainly complained about not being able to do the hands-on part of my work in materials engineering. I was unhappy about not being able to carry a preschooler, or a whole turkey with a lot of vegetables. It's different when a 5-lb bag of oranges, all by itself, is too much to carry home in my backpack. It's different when it seems prudent to return paperbacks to the library one at a time.

For all that, it DID help my headaches. I had a continuous migraine from 10/29 to 12/29. Since then, my migraines have been frequent, but not continuous. I've even had a couple of half-day intervals with no headache at all, which were just lovely. That hasn't happened since the summer of 2000.

Thus, as I said, mixed feelings.
adrian_turtle: (Default)
Dear Health Connector,

Thanks for running this contest, asking people to tell their stories about why they are happy to have health insurance. I think it's great to have a wide range of personal stories as well as financial statistics to show why health insurance is such a good idea. I won't be entering the contest myself, though. I wouldn't, even if I really wanted the Red Sox tickets you're offering as a prize.

If I didn't have good health care, I would be so disabled by chronic pain and depression that I couldn't work at all. Thanks to the Health Connector, I have been able to afford health care when I was looking for work, or working intermittent contract jobs with no benefits. That makes me healthy enough to work 40-45 hours/week, doing the kind of scientific work I was trained for. Unfortunately, chronic pain and depression are both heavily stigmatized. Many employers would rather not hire somebody with that kind of problem, even if it's controlled well enough to not affect job performance. I don't want you to publicize my story, because I rely on medical privacy to protect me from discrimination.

I expect you'll get stories from lots of people whose lives were saved by health insurance. Or their children's lives. Stories of life and death are certainly dramatic, and a program that saves lives is impressive. But I wonder how many people are using health insurance to stay on the employable side of marginal disabilities? (Is the state as a whole supposed to turn a profit? Or is it just health insurance that is supposed to take in more money than it spends?) Those people are tremendously happy to have health insurance, but they aren't going to tell you about it, if they are trying to keep stigmatized disorders hidden.

Best wishes,
[name withheld]

ETA: Hours later, I noticed that I wrote "those people" to refer to a group that includes me. At the end of a letter *about* being a member of that stigmatized group. Speaking of stigma.
adrian_turtle: (Default)
Way back before Arisia, on January 12, I had a prescription to pick up from the doctor's office. One of the advantages of having a car is that I can leave work less than an hour before the doctor's office closes, while it can take almost 2 hours to get there by bus. Unfortunately, I could not start my car. There wasn't anything wrong with the engine -- I just could not turn the key in the ignition. I made a couple of phone calls to ask for advice, and see if a friend could pick up the prescription for me. [livejournal.com profile] marius23 suggested turning the steering wheel all the way to one side and then trying to turn the key, but that was no help. So I just left the car in the parking lot at work. Another friend (not on LJ) picked up my prescription the next day, and we saw each other at Arisia.

Arranging for towing and repairs seemed rather daunting, especially in a crowded, icy, parking lot. So I didn't deal with it right away. It's not like I had an urgent need for the car. All I did was look up what might be wrong, and discover it's a known problem. http://consumeraffairs.com/automotive/ford_focus_ignition.html
I didn't find the information terribly reassuring. While I was stalling, I got something from AAA that I would ordinarily consider junk mail. They offered me a discount membership, with free roadside service and towing. They were generous enough to include a temporary membership card I could activate immediately. It's a sensible business practice on their part; "It's January, your car might break down in the snow, wouldn't you like to buy some inexpensive insurance so you don't get stuck?" I don't expect many people receive the offers when their cars are actually broken down and actively in need of towing or other roadside service.

So, Friday night, AAA sent a tow truck out for my poor car that wouldn't start. The driver asked me what was wrong with it. Then he asked me for the key. He applied enough force to get it to turn, and the car started. I started it a few times, to check that I could, and drove it home.

It bothers me that my hand wasn't strong enough to start the car myself. Even when I wasn't being careful to avoid setting off pain flares, just pushing as hard as I could, I simply did not have the strength. It bothers me a lot more that it did not occur to me to consider brute force as a solution to the problem. There are strong people at work I could have asked for help (with a lot less time and trouble than calling AAA), if I had thought of it. I'm finally accustomed to not being strong, to not using my hands. But I don't like it.

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