Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Broken Foot

One Accident-Recounting to Rule Them All

Many have heard by now about my foot, but I've been inconsistent in how much I felt like retelling the story when various people have asked. So I'm going to write it up here, and refer people here for the details.

One-Stop Pub Crawl

The in-laws visited last week. On Wednesday night, Forrest's brother, Ari, stayed over at our house so we could do a "pub crawl" with our friends Jerry and Aaron. We ended up staying at the first bar we went to: Ballard Smoke Shop, my favorite locals' bar in Seattle. They pour cheap but strong drinks, and are always friendly in a down-to-earth, no-nonsense sort of way.

Walking Without Rhythm

After several drinks, we started walking the 1.5 miles back to our house. We were definitely buzzed, but no one was weaving or stumbling or talking funny or anything like that.

I forget how the subject came up, but I started talking about the funny dance/walk thing that Christopher Walken does in the music video Weapon of Choice. The lyric goes, "Walk without rhythm, and you won't attract the worm" (which is a Dune reference). I started to demonstrate the silly walk.

Unfortunately, I happened to start walking in this exaggerated, unstable manner right at the corner, where the sidewalk slopes down for wheelchair ramp access. My bad right ankle, which I have twisted before, rolled on the uneven ground. I fell onto my left side. Somehow, I skinned my left elbow and knee without tearing my jacket or pants — luckily, this means I got more of a "rug burn" than dirt and gravel dug into my skin.

I'm pretty sure I would have twisted my ankle regardless of whether I'd been drinking before; this is the ankle I've rolled several times over the years, and it's prone to injury these days. But maybe I would have tried to catch myself while falling. But then maybe I would have hurt my wrist too? Or gone down harder on the knee cap itself, rather than distributing my weight over my entire side? Being tipsy might have actually been a blessing in disguise. (I absolutely am willing to "walk silly" in public without any alcohol, so that wasn't a factor in the inciting incident. ;))

Painful Foot

I knew right away that I'd hurt my ankle pretty bad. I didn't even try to get up on it. Instead, I asked my friends to pull my fully onto the sidewalk and out of the street I'd half fallen into. (I'm grateful this was past midnight, so traffic was very light.)

In an encouraging note for humanity, no less than 3 separate strangers stopped and asked if I was okay. I looked up at each of them and calmly told them I'd just twisted my ankle, my friends could help me get home, but thanks for the concern.

They helped me stand up, and I thought I could still hobble on it. So Forrest helped me cross the street, continuing toward home. But we didn't even get halfway across the street before I realized my foot was hurt much more than the "usual" twists and sprains I'd had before. I really couldn't put any weight at all on the foot. So we ordered up an Uber taxi, even though we were less than a mile from home. (I learned that Uber has a $12 minimum. Worth it.)

Only 3 or 4 people could fit in the Uber car, so Jerry and Aaron graciously offered to walk home, leaving enough space for me, Forrest, and his brother to get back to our house. I'm really grateful that everyone was chill about me "ruining" the evening and having to cut the night a little short. Good friends.

Dealing With the Injury That Night (smart)

At home, Forrest had the unenviable task of bandaging my skinned elbow and knee. Damn did that sting. (And, unfortunately, we didn't get the larger knee scrape cleaned enough. It's still sore a week later, so I suspect it might be mildly infected.) He helped me to bed, got me a bag of ice to get the swelling down, and gave me some ibuprofen. Once we'd done everything we could, I stayed lying down while he went back out to the living room to spend some more time with his brother.

In the half hour or so that it took for the combination of ice and ibuprofen to kick in, I was very uncomfortable and distraught with the pain of it. But finally the pain subsided to more manageable levels, and I fell asleep.

Ignoring the Injury the Next Day (not smart)

In the morning, I figured out a funky way of moving on my left foot, sort of a "twist and shout" dance maneuver to get enough momentum to slide on my sock while only on one foot. I also used the wood trim of the house to pull myself along; it made surprising good handholds. I knew there was no way I was going to be able to go in to work that Thursday, so I stayed home.

Between my semi-mobility and Forrest still visiting with his family, I didn't think I needed to take the time to go to a doctor. I figured it would heal up and be fine, just like the previous times I'd twisted the ankle. We went to dinner at The Met to celebrate his parents' 30th anniversary. I hobbled around, often with help from someone, definitely in pain, but I was determined to be as normally-mobile as possible. (Dinner was fantastic, as always.)

But everyone at dinner expressed concern about my hobbling, and insisted that I have a doctor look at my foot. So I agreed that I'd take a taxi to a walk-in clinic the next day.

We also stopped at the drugstore on the way home and bought me some crutches, so I could stop doing the twist and shout around the house. ;)

Diagnosis: Fractured Metatarsal, Undisplaced

And I'm glad I did have a doctor look at it. Because, as it turns out, I actually broke the damn foot.

The doctor gently poked at my foot in various places. Based on where it hurt (the ankle, a little; and especially mid-foot on the outside) and where it didn't hurt (anywhere along the inside of the foot), he said that pattern of pain was normally seen with a fractured metatarsal.

How does twisting an ankle break the foot bone, you ask? Read Dancer’s Fracture (5th Metatarsal Avulsion Fracture) for details. But basically, there's a ligament that goes between your ankle and the outside metatarsal. When you twist your ankle, sometimes that tears. But other times, it holds, and instead pulls on the base of the metatarsal it's attached to so strongly that it actually fractures the bone. That latter scenario is what happened to me.

I took a wheelchair ride down the hall to get x-rayed, then was wheelchaired back. The doctor came back in and told me the x-rays confirmed the fracture. As far as broken bones go, mine was relatively minor: it's not "displaced," meaning it didn't completely break of a chunk of bone; and it didn't even go all the way through the bone, either.

I asked him to scare me with what would happen if I ignore his recommendation to keep my weight off the foot; he laughed and said, "Oh, you're one of those personalities." :P The potential Bad Stuff was sufficiently bad that I have not tried to walk on the foot since my doctor's appointment. Surgery and pins in my foot are things I'd like to avoid!

The doctor offered a prescription for vicodin, but last time I had it (for my wisdom teeth) it made me nauseous, so I declined. He told me to be wary of talking any NSAIDs like ibuprofen, because it might interfere with bone healing. He instead recommended acetaminophen, although you have to be careful with the dosage and avoid drinking while taking it.

Finally, he got me a "walking boot" to semi-immobilize my foot and told me to follow up with my regular doctor in a week.

I'll know more about how it's been healing up, and how long to expect complete healing to take, this Friday at that follow-up appointment.


Thursday, May 2, 2013

¿Otro Viaje a México?


Hace algunos años — creo que fue en 2008 — mi mamá y yo planeamos un viaje a San Miguel de Allende, donde asistiríamos en una escuela de idiomas y viviríamos con una familia mexicana allí.

Pero teníamos que posponer nuestro viaje. Así es la vida, algunas veces.

Ahora, cuando estoy pensando otra vez en una de mis metas de la vida — hablar español fluido — recordé estes planes olvidados. Llamé a mi mamá y la pregunté si todavía viajaría ella conmigo. Tiene que pensarlo más, pensar en el precio y el horario... ¡pero quizás me dirá sí! :)


A few years ago — I think it was 2008 — my mom and I planned a trip to San Miguel de Allende, where we would attend a language school and live with a Mexican family there.

But we had to postpone our trip. Such is life sometimes.

Now, when I'm thinking again about one of my life goals — to speak Spanish fluently — I remembered these forgotten plans. I called my mom and asked her if she would still go with me. She has to think about it more, think about the cost and the schedule... but maybe she will say yes! :)


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Treadmill Desk, Two Weeks Later

On April 11th, after months of toying with the idea of setting up a permanent treadmill at my work desk and asking my coworkers if they'd be bothered if I did so, I bought a (relatively cheap) treadmill off of Amazon. On April 16th, the treadmill was delivered. (Shout out to the amazing facilities crew at work, whose only questions were "when would it be convenient to you for us to bring the treadmill to your desk?" and "let us know if you need any help putting it in a vehicle later!")

It's been a little over two weeks of using the treadmill at work now, and I have to say: treadmill desks are awesome!

I had been using a standing desk for months, listening to my body: sitting when I was tired, standing when I was restless. I'd gotten to the point that I was standing most of the time. I think this has helped in my quick transition to the treadmill desk, which obviously doesn't allow for a chair at all. And anyway, I think walking is easier on your feet than standing still, at least for long periods of time.

When my feet really do want a rest, I just take my laptop over to the couch that's just 50 feet away and take a short break.

I am "allowed" the treadmill in an open office floor plan only at my coworkers' good graces. So the first thing I did to the treadmill after turning it on was disable its super-annoying, constant beeping.

Thankfully, the treadmill itself is only minimally noisy. Honestly, I think the tiny fan I bought is noisier than the treadmill. The important point is that no one at work has complained about the treadmill yet. On the contrary, even strangers have wandered over to ask variations on "what the heck is that?" and "how did you get it?" and "can you really type on that thing?" (Answers: a treadmill! with money! and yes, just as fast as before.)

The treadmill's computer console does not disconnect entirely, but its cords are long enough that I can set it down on my old standing desk and get it out of the way. The handlebars are welded to the base frame, and as such are not (easily ;)) removed. But they are horizontal enough that a $6 wooden shelf from Lowe's is extremely stable plopped across them. I thought I would have to somehow secure the plank to the handlebars, but so far it's shown no inclination to move and I haven't bothered.

From the photo of the treadmill's console hiding on the old standing desk, you might think that it's really inconvenient to use. Luckily, this treadmill model also has redundant controls at the ends of the handlebars, which stick out well beyond my shelf "desk". So I only need to reach across the desk to push the console buttons when I want to reset the statistics mid-day (which I almost never care enough to do; my Fitbit tracks all the stats I want).

As for the health benefits... Make no mistake, walking at a speed that doesn't interfere with creative computer work (ie, 1–1.5 mph) is not an aerobic workout. I barely break a sweat when I walk for an hour straight. But what it is better than is sitting my butt in a chair 8 hours a day, only to come home and sit on the couch until bedtime.

The treadmill does not replace my actual workout/gym time. But it does replace a large chunk of my 100% sedentary time that I otherwise couldn't get away from, given my job as a programmer.

Ask me how I feel about my treaddesk setup in two months... But after two weeks, I'm just mad I didn't decide to do this sooner!


Thursday, April 18, 2013

How to disable the buzzer on a treadmill in 8 steps

I bought a treadmill to use at my standing desk at work. It's just a cheap one, the Exerpeutic TF1000 Walk to Fitness Electric Treadmill. Given that it's not a, uh, deluxe model, there is no way to control the volume of the beep it makes, nor a way to disable it.

And wow does it like to beep. It makes two beeps when you first power it on, to say that it's boot-up test completed. Then it beeps when you press the Start button, and it does a 3-beep countdown as it's about to start, and it beeps every time you modify the speed — which you have to do a lot, since it changes in only 0.1–mile increments.

Since I'm using this treadmill in an open office plan, that beep had to go. Even if I were using it the treadmill at home, I want that beep to go! So here is what I did to kill the annoying beep (do at your own risk, unplug the treadmill & ground yourself, etc etc):

Step 1: open the console

Get a Phillips screwdriver and unscrew the back of the console.

Step 2: unscrew the circuit board

Set aside the back of the console and unscrew the circuit board too.

Step 3: identify the buzzer

See the little black cylinder in the top center of the circuit board? That is the buzzer that makes the terrible beeping!

Step 4: flip the circuit board over

Be careful when flipping over the circuit board — the LCD screen is just taped onto the board, not soldered, and it will fall off if you bump the board around too much. (If that happens, just put it back in place. The circuit board screws hold it in place.

Step 5: identify the trace to cut

On the back side of buzzer, identify the copper traces that connect to it. Those are the traces that need to be cut to shut up the buzzer. (See the next step, showing the trace cut, if you're not sure which ones I mean.)

Step 6: cut the trace

Use an exacto knife or similar to cut the copper trace to the buzzer. (I didn't have an exacto knife handy, so I made do with a puship and a pair of scissors. I don't really recommend those tools, but they got the job done.)

Step 7: confirm the trace is cut

Get some good light in there to verify that the copper is no longer continuous.

Step 8: make sure the buttons are "loose"

When I first put the console back together, I realized that my Start button was stuck down on the left side, and pushed up on the right side. So I had to open the console up again, unscrew the circuit board to un-stick the button, jiggle things around until the button was "loose" again, and the re-close the console.

So! Make sure your button is not stuck before closing up the console.

Success! No more annoying beeps!


Friday, April 12, 2013

CrossFit Seattle: not a "cult" gym

So @PhDinParenting on Twitter shared a post their personal trainer wrote about CrossFit.

And I have to say whoa, that is not my CrossFit gym at all! Thankfully!

"Everybody does the same exercise, with the same load, for the same reps with absolutely no respect to form and technique. Get it up with any means necessary."

This is so opposite of my gym, CrossFit Seattle! My gym won't even let you join the group classes until you've done three 1:1 sessions with a trainer to focus exclusively on form, because they don't want you to just jump into classes, not know what you're doing, push yourself too hard, and hurt yourself.

Then, once you're in the group classes, each individual is lifting different weights, depending on ability. And the trainers absolutely modify exercises for newbies or people with medical conditions. Because I'm a weak newbie myself (everybody's gotta start somewhere), the trainers have lowered my weights, reps, or changed the exercise entirely to something more appropriate for where I'm at as an individual. The other members are equally supportive of starting at where you're at, which is great.

I've also seen no evidence of other cult-like aspects I've heard ascribed to CrossFit. Namely, I've seen no one encouraged to "work until they puke"(!), pressured into adopting toe-shoes, or converted to a Paleo diet. Everyone looks like they're working with high intensity, but in a sustainable manner, not a crazed manner. People wear a variety of things, and no one seems judgmental or even caring about what you're wearing. I've overheard two members talking after a workout about how they eat, but it seems like a normal conversation about health, not anything evangelical.

In short, I'm thankful that I chose my CrossFit gym based on coworkers' specific recommendations of it as a "non-cult-ish" CrossFit place. I think I'm getting a challenging yet safe workout from CrossFit Seattle.


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Sneaky Valentine Cupcakes

A few weeks before Valentine's Day, a local cupcake vendor had samples at work and a sign-up sheet for people to send "cupcake-grams". I went and partook of the delicious samples and "casually mentioned" the sign-up sheet to my husband. He muttered that he had already been planning to do that and it took away the surprise for me to mention it.

Except that later, he sheepishly admitted that he had then completely forgotten about it until the vendor had left. I found it amusing, not disappointing, so it's all good. I don't really need cupcakes anyway, right?

Then today, Valentine's Day, I got up early, before Forrest, and walked in to work. (It's a 2.3 mile walk and I'm really enjoying the walk, which I've done every day so far this week. But I digress.) Not long after I get in to the office, I get a text from Forrest asking if I could meet him in the lobby of my building. It's our frequent meeting spot to exchange items forgotten, chat in person, or to meet up before going somewhere together, so I didn't think anything of it.

Can you meet me in the PKV lobby?

I got there in a minute, but Forrest wasn't there yet. I was mildly annoyed that he wasn't there already, because he personally hates being made to wait and complains about it. But I was generally in a good mood, so I just did language-learning flashcards on my phone to pass the time.

Valentine cupcakes & ladybug roses
Valentine cupcakes & ladybug roses

A couple minutes later, Forrest steps out of the elevator. He smiles, hugs & kisses me, and says, "Good morning!" This is unusual. I interpreted this as his Valentine's Day gift to me, and it really did make me happy. I thought he'd taken the time just to come over and say hi and be friendly.

Little did I know.

Forrest goes back to his building and I go back to my desk. As I'm plugging my cell phone back into its charger, I notice a cupcake next to my charger cable! I suddenly realize that his asking me to meet in the lobby was just a ruse to get me away from my desk!

(Unless the cupcake in the special cupcake container was sneakily left by a secret admirer, in which case nevermind. ;)))
Omg another!
And a baby one!
My coworkers confirm that some suspicious-looking bearded dude was mucking around my desk. ;)
Love you