Slug-arm, Uni-fang, and Super-heart: Hyphens of the Day

As I type this, my left arm is feeling that awkward sluggitude that I get after immunizations. I had 3 today, plus some blood taken for my PT program physical. Lefty pretty much looks like it was hit by some really inept (and one single-fanged) vampires. (I’d feel kinda bad for a uni-fang. All single-toothed, looking like it had a confused overbite. Bad, you know, before it bit me.) I’m taking my lefty weakness as a chance to level the playing field for poor righty. It seems that after the concussion, the muscles on my right side started some weirdo movement patterns. Thanks to my lovely PT, I’m on a regime of scapular stabilization exercises.

I was all ready for my shots, because one of my favorite podcasts, Sawbones: a Marital Tour of Misguided Medicine, just did an episode on vaccines. I super-heart Sawbones. Usually they tackle the more bizarre paths of medicine (corpse theft, self surgery, history of headache treatments), but this one was more of straight-up history. Right after learning how the smallpox vaccine was developed, I read that vials of a smallpox virus were found in an unapproved Maryland lab.  Say WHat?!? Smallpox so deadly that only 2 labs, one in Atlanta and one in Russia, are authorized to have it. These mystery vials have just been hanging out in a cold storage room, likely since the 50’s.

And that, friends, is why you always clean out the refrigerator.

July 4th Weekend Recap

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday weekend! I was very lucky to spend time with some great friends and get in some quality outside and pet-snurgle time.

The 4th itself started off with my favorite weekend activity- a crossword and special chai for Pants and a fancy coffee for me. We hadn’t done a crossword in forever, and we were happy not to have totally lost our chops. We came in at just under 15 minutes (for a Wednesday puzzle) on the New York Times crossword app. We factored in the time it took to get used to the app with the new updates (it has been THAT long!) and the fact that we were total slackers and decided to be satisfied with our time. It was a holiday.

Once we showered and packed our bags for the day, we headed to Nationals stadium for the Nats versus the Cubs baseball game. I am a default Nats fan (when the Mets aren’t in town) so I was a little bummed to see our star-spangled hats handed to us by the Cubs. And – the President’s race? Boring! Sure, George carried the American flag (and won), but they appeared to be moving pretty slowly. On the 4th, I expected a little more.

Our next stop was our friend’s house for a World Cup/July 4th/birthday party that was just fantastic. Our friend engineered his TV and DJ tables outside, so we were able to watch the game and then enjoy chatting on their fantastic back deck. I was surprised I liked the two different cocktails (I am normally a very plain drinker). One was a Caipirinha, deliciously limey, and the other I forgot the name of, but it involved liquor, champagne and a fresh orange slice. Treats ranged from half smokes to a full rack of ribs and several (mayonnaise free!) coleslaws to a cherry bake. Deliciousness abounded, so I was happy to share everything (so of course I could taste more).

For the fireworks, we walked to nearby McKinley high school in NE. The little hill afforded us a clear view to the fireworks on the mall (and a bunch of other neighborhood displays). I was snuggled in near friends and fella, enjoying the beautiful night.

This little lady had yet to turn into a pumpkin, so I suggested that we stop at Kramerbooks for a night time book run. I had difficulty deciding, but settled on The Bayou Trilogy, by Daniel Woodrell. I really enjoyed the movie of Winter’s Bone back in the day, and was looking for a contrast to what I have been reading. I’m excited to start it!
By the time we got home, Boss was more than ready for food. We gave him some food, tried to give him some pets, and went to bed.

Saturday started off with Bossy finally being ready for pets, and about 2 hours of us snoozing (no really, me and Bossy), spoon style. I was shocked he didn’t pull his shake-shake-shake “Oh hey! You’re up?” routine, or scramble off the bed when I dozed off while petting him. When I woke up and realized he was still there, I stuck around for another 20 minutes or so of petting. I am a total sucker.
By the time I finally got up and prepared the morning beverages, I realized I had to get out the door for my first Barre3 class in a month. She was a new-to-me instructor, and I LOVED her class. All the teachers there are pretty great, but I loved the way she went through the class seamlessly and never went off beat. Not a big deal for everyone, but I find it much harder to work outside the beat during a barre or dance class. It just takes me out of what I’m doing.

Sunday I was feeling a little sore from Barre3, so I was glad to go for a walk out at Great Falls with my friend, fella, and her puppy, Ruby. Ruby is still new to her family, and always wants to be with her mama (even while she is driving). I was tasked he job of keeping Ruby on my lap for the drive. She is the sweetest dog! She shifted around a little, but didn’t fuss as long as I cuddled her and gave her pets. We were stuck in line to get into Great Falls for a while, so I was treated to a full lap of puppy fur (it was a nice contrast in texture to my usual kitty fur). Once we parked, we went to the flatter parts to try out Ruby’s hiking prowess. She enjoyed meeting new dogs and sniffing everything, but didn’t seem to tire out at all. Good pups.

Sunday evening started with another trip to Kramers. Pants wanted to exchange his book, as he read a bad review of it while we were on our way home on Friday. He picked out another, and we got Field Guide to the Natural World of D.C., by Howard Youth, to share. I was also tempted into Parasites like us by Adam Johnson. I just finished another book of his, The Orphan Master’s Son, and am eager to start this one. Ah, the freedom to enjoy fiction! We swung by Glen’s Market (and finally found some cilantro!) where I got a lavender mint Hint seltzer for the trip home. A lovely end to a lovely weekend.

Back in the Saddle Again

The trail at the end of the tunnel...

The trail at the end of the tunnel…

I love the feeling of a first bike ride. When I graduated from 6th grade, my parents gave me a Trek 800, complete with matching neon green lycra helmet cover. That summer, I learned freedom. I rode around the trails behind our house to the library, to Shop ‘N Save for popsicles, and to my friends’ houses. Feet on the pedals, the wind in my (neon green) hair. I can still taste those popsicles.

When I moved to Japan, it took me about a month before I worked up the nerve to buy a bike. When I did, the neighborhood bike man, after suffering through my broken Japanese, showed me the Practical Lady (so named for her brand name emblazoned on her side). I felt that same glee coasting down the street back to my apartment. My feet on the pedals, the wind in my (helmetless) hair. I can still smell the streets.

Here in D.C., I’ve been a bicycle and public transportation commuter. I live right near a trail and had an amazing little 12-mile commute to work. Instead of grumbling through traffic, I got my feet on the pedals and the wind in my (staunchly helmeted) hair. I can still cars on the highway, cruising to work.

About 10 months ago, I got a concussion (more on that later) and have been recovering from post concussion syndrome ever since. Basically, after the concussion, I had a limited reserve of energy and brain power. I could exercise, study or work, but I could not do all three. As difficult as it was to quit my job, and as crummy as it was to stay off my bike, I chose to study. I have been working toward starting a doctor of physical therapy program in the fall for the past 4 years. I couldn’t imagine waiting another year. So I focused my brain power on studying. I can still see the page of physics formulas.

Custis 2

I am thrilled that I was accepted into my program. After finishing my prerequisites this spring, I am more than ready to exercise. And finally, finally (!) with the a-ok of my physical therapist, I am back on my bike. I tried a couple of easy rides first, a short trip to the farmers market, a jaunt over to the bookstore (because I can totally read non-textbook books now). But really, I couldn’t wait to get back on the trails. My first choice was to do half of my old commute. I knew I couldn’t do the whole thing just yet, but half way out and back seemed manageable.

The double uphill in the bike lane was much more challenging than I remembered (oh VO2 where did you go?). But once I turned on to that trail, I felt my smile creep up. One downhill later, I was grinning, feet on the pedals, the wind in my (completely over-secured, double fastened, uber-helmeted) hair.