Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Hip Improvements

Been awhile since I updated on the hip.

I finally got the red tape cleared and saw a specialist.  I had x-rays and an MRI, and no real diagnosis.  My x-rays look perfect, except a blur at the top of my hip socket where it hurt which "is probably a bad x-ray".  There was a tendinosis finding on the MRI, but I believe that was secondary to the bad PT I was getting while waiting to see the doc.  There was a secondary observation of an anomaly with the cartilage in the top of the hip socket (where my pain was), but that the imaging was of the wrong type to make any conclusions.  The doc said tendinosis is kinda like bursitis (uh, no reference I can find agrees) and wrote tendinitis on my PT referral (also not the same thing).  He completely ignored the observation that wasn't in the "findings" summary.

I took my PT referral to a new PT, and boy did I get lucky.  If you're in my area, I highly recomend Kelly Monsma, DPT of Gananda-Walworth Physical Therapy.  She did a very careful evaluation of my issues, she thinks independently, she is willing to keep learning, she seems to have a grasp of why my hyper flexibility is a problem and what to do about it.  She is willing to re-evaluate and change direction when things are not working for me.

During my evaluation, the PT pulled on my leg.  It felt pretty good, so when I got home I had my husband pull on my leg.  He pulled a little harder.  There was a pop, and the next day I was walking almost normally.  I'm still in PT to rebuild strength and address the secondary issues of my loose joints.  I have to have my leg re-pulled about once a week, or every couple days if I'm wearing barn boots.  When it needs pulling, I feel kinda compressed, like the feeling of putting on a frame pack laden near your max carry weight...

The best news is that I'm back to working as much as I want to, and sitting at my desk at home as much as I want to.  No more moping on the couch watching TV.  (Ok, at least not as a habit.)

So I'm making progress on hip stability, but it's pretty clear now that my ankles are the most limiting factor in balance right now.  My right side ankle control muscles got all cramped up and caused problems with my plantar fascia.  I'm currently weaning myself off of crutches in the morning and sports tape backing up my plantar fascia during the day.  I do mostly ok once I'm warmed up and moving.

There are lots of different methods of taping feet for PF support, this one works for me:

I tried an ankle brace that just didn't fit me well.  I can't find a night brace sized for my 18" calf.  (although some are sized by shoe size and others by calf size?)  If this goes on longer I may apply my corset making and shoe making skills to custom fit ankle bracing...

Barn boots provide some ankle stability but prevent stretching further, so they're a sometimes shoe.

I've also *gasp* bought another pair of Asic Gels, my old friends that turned on me...  I was in so much pain the day I bought them, and the sales guy too busy to help, I only tried 3 pairs and didn't give other brands a fair chance to win my love.  I also stuck over the counter PF inserts inside them.  They provide a lot of support and the heel rise means I can function before being fully stretched out, but again, this is a sometimes shoe when I need rest more than stretching.  I'm still barefooting and wearing moccasins at least half time to keep things as limber as possible.

Another thing that's been useful is a big fat foam roller.  Before putting my full weight on my feet when I get up in the morning, I sit on the edge of the bed and work the foam roller under my feet, stretching the calves by elevating the toes.  I still sometimes am in too much of a hurry to get up and just grab crutches, but it's a major improvement in my crutches-free days rate.  At work I have a lacrosse ball under my desk.  I don't work my feet intensely with it, but I do prop up the ball/pad of my foot to keep things stretched out as much as possible.  I'm considering getting rollers for my desks as well...

Two steps forward, one step back, hopefully I'll at least keep on making net progress...

Monday, November 7, 2016

Aidells Teriyaki & Pineapple Chicken Meatballs

Usually chicken sausages are lower fat versions of their pork cousins, but these guys pass the all but the strictest high-fat macronutrient tests:

 (per 5 serving package)
Total Calories665
% carb calories9%
% protein calories30%
% fat Calories61%
Ketogenic ratio131%
 And quite tasty to boot!

There are a couple soy products within, but just traditional sauces (soy sauce and miso flavorings). Soy sauce does contain wheat, so this isn't a good food for celiacs, but should be low enough gluten for most gluten sensitive individuals. It is ketogenic, but not strongly enough for the treatment of epilepsy. The meatballs are browned in vegetable oil rather than an animal fat, it's unclear how much of the fat content is vegetable oil, and how much is the fattier parts of the chicken.

So, not a perfect food, but close to my 600 calories per meal target, tasty, not likely to trigger my carb overload symptoms.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Autonomous SmartDesk 2

So, when you're uncomfortable sitting, but tire easily standing, and you have a desk job, what are you to do?  Well, I'm going to give a motorized sit-to-stand desk a try.  There's a one month lead time on my order, so a review will be a bit in coming.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Forearm angle, slouching, and vertical keyboards

First of all today, let's look at some of the stability problems with sitting, take especial note around 6:30 of the arm position comments.

Now the self-experimentation phase.  Sit in lotus, half-lotus, or indian position.  Sit up straight, with your arms turned upwards as in meditation.  Relax the spine without moving your arms.  I feel a bit of tension, like part of the body is hanging off another part, but I don't slouch much.  Now sit up straight and turn palms downwards and relax.  That tension doesn't occur, and I slouch forwards more significantly.  For me there is definately something to this hand posture affecting my shoulder and spine posture.

But for those of us that are stuck at a desk typing all day, is there anything to be done?

I've enacted phase I of the better desk sitting plan, my lotus bench:

The bench is a beast because we started with scrap barn wood, mostly 2x12s for materials, and assembled in rather a hurry.  I had a romantic notion that I was going to finish it in one evening and be back at work raring to go the next day.  In reality, exhaustion set in, and I stopped before making stupid design decisions in the interest of time.  It ended up taking a week, and my hubby finished it for me as I was too out of it by then to participate much, but he set it up while I was sleeping Thursday night and I've been using it since Friday (almost three days).  I do still need a big horizontal break at midday, but it is a vast improvement over chair sitting, and I think I can do longer shifts at work if I can stand the drive to/from.  (I've been working an average of 2 hours a day last week.)

I'm now considering phase II, which would better position my arms for a relaxed and upright spine: a vertical keyboard.

There are a few commercial options for a vertical keyboard:

The Freestyle2 keyboard with Ascent accessory:

I trust the Kinesis brand because I had very good results from their "Advantage" keyboard when I was having wrist mobility issues.  I think they have a pretty clear understanding of ergonomics.  The Ascent allows for multiple keyboard angles, and multiple distances between the boards, for lots of flexibility.  The price though is tough.  $119 for the keyboard,  (with longer cord) $219 for the ascent accessory.  But I suppose $338 is not horrendous compared to the competition, and I'd gladly pay the $299 to replace my ancient Advantage if having similar issues again.

The SafeType:

The SafeType has a Cornell study backing the claims on an early prototype, showing improved wrist posture and possible reduction in injury risk, but they only compared vs a traditional keyboard, and did no long term study, so the study is of limited use in picking an ergonomic keyboard.  The rear-view mirrors look like a useful feature, but the angle and distance are fixed, allowing no customization for different shoulder widths and such.  Refurbished price $189, new is $289.75 (on sale from $305)

The Yogitype has less hand separation than the other options, but has an adjustable angle, integrated adjustable forearm support, and a unique solution to the "I can't see the keys" problem.  On the backside of the board are unlabeled keys, on the front side of the board is a light-up key legend that shows you where the keys are and which you just pressed.  The marketing is heavily aimed at people who have never learned to touch type before, which implies that it has a pretty steep learning curve for those of us that can touch type on a traditional keyboard, but this is true of most radically different ergonomic keyboards.  It took a considerable adaptation period to adjust to my Advantage board, where I took an online touch type course to re-learn the key positions.  There is a note on their website that the arrangement of keys may not be optimal for programming as it is for word processing, which could be problematic for me.  USD price, $325.81, which makes it the most pricey of the three options.  It comes from europe so shipping may be an issue, and you might want Google Translate installed before proceeding to the "select options" page which is not in English.  

I've not committed to a purchase this time, still mulling it over.