Sunday, November 07, 2004

Spider hand

Things I kept meaning to blog about...

In the early days of this blog, I meant to tell you that I started doing this exercise against the shower wall that I called the spider hand: using all the digits on the hand to do a sort of push-up. And I was pleased that the digits on the hand became stronger. But I never got around to blogging about that.

I don't do the spider hand anymore because the fingers on my left hand just don't seem up to it. The index finger has trouble straightening out. You probably wouldn't notice it unless I tried to point at something with my left hand. But I'm right handed anyway.

Another thing is that the endless stream of colds and coughs, plus the bouts with the evil one, have put me on a nearly continuous series of symptom holidays. That doesn't mean the ALS symptoms stop, it just means that I lend them no weight, since I am messed up, and any weakness, stumbling or clumsiness must be due to the current temporary affliction. Valid or not, this is my psychological trick. At least it prevents me from worrying. Also, the endless stream of torment has mostly kept me from going to the gym or jogging. How well am I jogging these days? I'm not sure. I ran briefly with my son at the playground today. But can I really run? I dunno.

And then there's the nail clipper. Until this year I used a small metal nail clipper like you probably have. Then one day when I was in the store, I bought a large one with big blue plastic bits around it. I thought I had lost my old one, and this was the only kind they had. I was going to blog that the big blue plastic one was kind of geriatric, but perfect for me, since it was easier to hold and use, and provided more leverage. I never got around to blogging that. Everyone needs to cut their nails, unless they Howard Hughes. You know why Howard Hughes doesn't cut his nails? He's dead! The last several times I have cut my nails, I noticed that my left hand was having real problems cutting the nails on the right hand. I clawed for every last it of leverage I could get, and still it was a challenge.

Now I have no problem cutting my nails. I simply put the blue plastic-clad clipper on top of my thigh as I am sitting, insert the nails of the right hand, and press down with the palm of my left hand.

Problem solved and I feel as non-disabled as ever. But I wonder: What will happen at the end of the line someday when my tricks for coping run out? Generally, I mean. It looks like this problem will be solved until I can no longer move my arm. But generally speaking, when will I suffer a true inability?

We talked today about my cousin, who at my age has been struck my multiple, very deadly cancers. I am so glad I am not suffering what he is suffering. He's not worried about clipping his nails. He is, I think, worried about the extreme pain, and whether he will survive the month.

My cursed nail clipper doesn't matter to him, and I'd be ashamed to have him hear my worrying about it. But... But I am supposed to take care of this guy known as brainhell, and if I don't concern myself with his issues, I would be remiss.

ALS is often a fast killer, and I am so lucky that it moves slowly in me. I felt so fortunate tonight as I rocked my daughter in her room, sang to her, and put her in her crib. The luckiest man of the face of this earth.

I watched two movies recently on his computer. Time for me to come out of the closet: My wife and I both use Macintosh computers. I have extensive knowledge of Windows machines, from working with them for years. They're getting better, but they still are laughably bad in so many amateur and childish ways.

The movies were "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" and "K-PAX." They were both good enough to watch and recommend, but I still had criticisms of both of them. I tend to critique things I like. Things I don't like I don't bother thinking about.
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