Saturday, October 24, 2009

Soccer Saturday

Kelly played another game at St. Mary's today.

In one of her team's best games of the season, she set up a teammate for the first goal, and scored the deciding goal herself on a breakaway.

Michael's team is still winless, but he has scored a bunch of goals this season and shows signs of really understanding what he's doing out there.

Photography Fun

I have enjoyed working with the new camera, although most of the pictures I have taken have been at soccer games. Every once in a while, though, other opportunities present themselves.

A simple family dinner, or a Sunset magazine article about gracious autumn feasting?

Not bad for a 12 year old car and a cameraphone:

Both images are untouched. I'm still trying to figure out the basics of composition; Photoshop adds dimensions of complexity that I will not be prepared to approach for a while.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

So I Had An MRI Yesterday...

I'm not the first to observe that aging is, in many respects, no fun. While The Professor was preparing to compete in his first triathlon, I spent a month battling intense neck and shoulder pain. Oddly enough, the pain was at its most severe when I was seated with my arms extended, as if, I don't know, reaching for a computer keyboard and mouse or something. Now, maybe if I had spent every working day for the past 15 years in that position, I could see how this could happen ... oh.

I have had the typical slept-wrong neck pain many times before, the kind that makes it difficult to look over your shoulder to back up the car for a couple of days. This was something new. I could not sit anywhere without substantial discomfort. It was clearly some kind of neck-related pain, but the pain included sharp, knitting-needle jabs in the front and back of my shoulder joint, with pain radiating down my upper arm to my elbow. The pain was accompanied, in an amusing little bonus, with a slight loss of strength in my left hand. No numbness, though, so I had that going for me.

After more than three weeks of assuming it would get better without anything to show for my patience, I finally gave in and went to a doctor. I went in expecting to hear "pinched nerve," and that's basically what I got ("nerve impingement," in doctor-speak). Instead of a prescription for therapeutic massage or something equally fun, though, I was sent across the hall for x-rays and instructed to set up an appointment with an orthopedist. What, you mean there's something actually wrong with me?

The x-rays revealed some narrowing between the vertebrae in my neck, which, according to the orthopedist, could mean herniation of the discs, which then presumably caused problems with the nerves. It wasn't so much a diagnosis that bothered me, but that everyone who saw the x-rays immediately came to exactly the same conclusion. It was that obvious. In other words, something is in fact wrong with me. I'm not happy about that.

In order to determine the scope of the soft tissue damage, if any, the orthopedist set me up with an MRI examination. The MRI machine is a marvelous piece of equipment that does amazing things. It is a very Star Trek way of doing medicine, though. There's something fundamentally odd about being jammed into a smooth white tube that glows futuristically, buzzes and clacks in almost sentient rhythms and never touches the patient, and we which we still call practicing medicine. Where are all the strange hammers and sharp pointy things that mean "doctor's work"?

The only real discomfort of the MRI was that the narrow bed supported my spine but left my shoulder to dangle, which caused additional pain right where I didn’t want it. During the procedure, I closed my eyes and counted seconds, imagining a secondhand sweeping around the clock face. I passed the time reasonably easy; it helped that the entire procedure lasted only about 20 minutes. Thankfully, I'm not claustrophobic (apparently). I am, however, reasonably musical. The machine is also incredibly loud, even through ear plugs, but very rhythmic. Each set of films yielded a different set of rhythms. A couple of times I almost stifled laughter as one rhythm would be added to another, to which a third of them would be added, creating very interesting polyrhythmic patterns. Groovy, almost.

Having never been through this before, I'll be very interested to see the films. On the other hand, I don't do well with medical issues. Having the orthopedist even mention surgery as a potential outcome while he looked at x-rays of my neck nearly had me in a swoon. Examining images of some squishy bits inside me may yet put me on the floor.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Saturday in Fall = Soccer

Both kids are well into their soccer seasons now. Michael's Team Spain is a spirited bunch, although they have yet to win a game. They played to a 1-1 draw last week, and were down 4-0 at halftime this week. With just a little coaching on proper positioning, though (ahem), Michael scored a hat trick in the third quarter. It wasn't enough to pull out a victory, but it brightened up the day for everybody.

Kelly's team is very well coached and undefeated so far this year. They went up against an extremely disciplined Orinda squad today at St. Mary's College. It looked like Team Italy was going to fall to their first loss until Kelly broke the tie midway through the first half with a textbook breakaway goal. A penalty shot off an Orinda handball in the penalty box completed the scoring for Italy's 2-0 victory.

Through it all, I get to play with my new toy.