Random Thoughts


10.22.13 Random Thoughts

Every once in a while I need to empty my mind of the clutter that accumulates over time.

10. Now that I’m a gym person (as documented exhaustively last week), I continue to be astounded by this inconsistency: other gym people drive to their fitness centers every morning to work out, but insist on sitting in their cars for 10-15 minutes waiting for parking spots close to the building to free up. These same people, mind you, later go into the gym and use a treadmill, for God’s sake.

I don’t think you should be allowed to have a gym membership ff you can’t walk the extra 25-50 yards to get into the building.

9. The disappearance of the CastScope machines from airports is a welcome improvement in air travel for amputees. I must say that I enjoy full-body radiation via the Rapiscan much more. For those of you keeping score, the now-defunct CastScope required multiple, successive x-rays. As an above-knee amputee, here’s what I typically encountered: (1) x-ray the front of my prosthetic shin/knee; (2) x-ray the front of my socket; (3) turn, x-ray the back of my prosthetic shin/knee; (4) x-ray the back of my socket; (5) (turn) x-ray the side of my prosthetic shin/knee; (6) x-ray the side of my prosthetic socket; (7) x-ray the other side of my prosthetic knee/shin; (8) x-ray the other side of my prosthetic socket; and (9) x-ray my prosthetic foot.

Yeah, faced with that or the one-shot dose of deadly rays that takes all of 4 seconds versus the 9-step, 5 minute process, I’ll take the one-shot dose of deadly rays.

8. We can add the Winter Soldier to the list of amputees in the movies. From the new Captain America saga, we learn that (a) Bucky Barnes can fall hundreds of feet from a speeding train and survive (b) even though his arm gets severed in the process and (c) when he’s awoken from deep freeze decades later, he’s outfitted with a prosthetic arm that allows him to catch Captain America’s shield. We’ll ignore the fact that Bucky is left a semi-insane husk of a human tortured and warped by the Nazi’s Hydra division, and say that this represents a positive depiction of an amputee insofar as he’s clearly not limited by his disability.

7. Don’t walk and text. Especially if you wear a prosthesis. I learned this the hard way two weeks ago in D.C. when I fell flat on my face in front of a bunch of prosthetists as part of the American Orthotic and Prosthetic Association’s annual Policy Forum.

While I’m generally humiliated by falling, this spill included a special Presidential layer of embarrassment because (a) the Capitol Building was rising majestically on my left, (b) the Supreme Court was standing proudly on my right, (c) I was in the company of people who notice the smallest gait deviations, so pavement surfing on my stomach was pretty easy for them to spot, and (d) I work for the company that designs the components I wear and about which I had the sneaking suspicion that said prosthetists were saying, “Wow – how awesome those devices must be if they can’t keep this guy upright!” Extra bonus shame points: walking into multiple congressional offices with (very) ripped pants and a bleeding hand. Classy.

I could have been in one of those new GEICO ads describing the litany of things that can go wrong if you make one bad initial decision:

Don’t text and walk at the same time. Or you’ll end up embarrassed, with ripped pants and bleeding while trying to educate Congressmen about the issues affecting the prosthetic profession. Don’t wind up embarrassed, with ripped pants and bleeding while trying to education Congressmen about the issues affecting the prosthetic profession.

6. I spent Sunday at the PAX East convention in Boston yesterday. For those of you who have no idea what that is, take heart. Neither did I, initially.

My younger son, Jackson, enjoys video games, and PAX is a massive assemblage of people who feel the same way as he does. Three observations about this event.

First, I have never been in a more crowded convention hall. Ever. Imagine trying to walk through the most packed bar you can think of. Then picture that this bar is the size of 5 football fields. Lastly, look around and realize that all the patrons are tweens. That’s PAX.

Second, it’s a bizarre mashup of live-action-role-playing and a massive arcade. I particularly enjoyed people dressed as masked video game supervillains carrying their swords, scythes or LED-equipped mock laser cannons in one hand and their convention swag bags in the other. Nothing says Destroyer of the Universe like a plastic bag filled with discount offers.

Third, I’m hard-pressed to recall a time that I felt older than I did in that convention hall.

5. Listening to 4 hours of Patton Oswalt’s comedic rants in the car back from Boston restored my sense of equilibrium.

4. If you want to get lots of steps in during the course of one day, attend a convention with a kid who only has a dim awareness of where any of the people he’s stalking for autographs might be. When you’re hunting 30 people in a sea of 10,000,your odds aren’t all that good.

Jackson employed the constant motion approach. It consisted of walking around the massive convention hall over and over with a sense of purpose you normally see in TV dramas where police are searching vast fields for a body.

3. Medicare issued two rulings in the last month that send a scary signal about the future of more technologically-advanced solutions for the mobility impaired. First, it declared the the BiOM powered ankle-foot system not medically necessary for all Medicare beneficiaries. Second, it labeled a myoelectric arm brace (the Myomo) targeted at patients with spinal cord injuries and stroke non-reimbursable, classifying it instead as “exercise equipment.”

2. I’m thinking there has to be a way all people with limb loss could collect and share data about their daily activities that might prove the efficacy of different kinds of prosthetic devices/designs. I’ll get back to you when I’ve figured that out. And no, I’m not joking.

1. We’re a year post-Boston Marathon bombing. Nike has offered to donate up to $150,000 to the Challenged Athletes Foundation for people with mobility impairments. However, people need to log miles to trigger Nike’s donation. If you’re interested in ensuring that CAF receives the $150,000 and learning how you can help, click here.

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