Sunday, February 28, 2010


I readily admit to being mostly ignorant of the finer points, if there are any, of hockey. I’ve never been a hockey fan, even casually. Yet today I spent a lot of time trying to watch the US v Canada Olympic gold medal game. As of right now, they are playing an overtime period because neither team could win it in regulation time.

Regulation time—in hockey that means a weird three periods. They don’t play quarters or halves like normal sports. They play thirds. That right away requires an uncomfortable adjustment for me. I kept waiting for the quarter to end and the halftime entertainment to start. Of course the rules are a mystery to me. Icing? Isn’t that something you put on a cake? There just seems to be a whole lot of rushing around madly with no apparent purpose other than to work up a sweat.

Scoring? It seems to be mostly accidental. There’s a mad scramble around the net that usually ends up with the puck being sent flying away down the ice harmlessly. Boring. The announcers insist that there are actual plays being run by the skaters, but the puck’s serendipitous sliding makes a mockery of that claim. It all seems so totally helter/skelter for there to be any form to the proceedings.

Then with a mere 24 seconds left in the game the US scored a goal to tie the game. The whoosh of arctic air that changed the jet stream’s course was the sigh of disbelief emanating from the 34 million Canadians whose very existence depends on the play of their national hockey team. On to overtime and more formless skating around. Oh my, the Canadians just scored the winning goal. There will be no crying in Canada tonight. But I’m still crying over the three plus hours I just spent trying to make sense of the whole spectacle.

Fortunately, I caught a nice nap through most of the second third of the game so the time wasn’t totally wasted.

Friday, February 26, 2010

olympic revue

After nearly two weeks, the Winter Olympics are winding down. I will miss watching them each evening, wondering how in the world do they do those things. I appreciate the basics of most of the competitions—whoever gets to the finish line first wins. It’s all those other “sports” that require a judge to decide the winner that leave me somewhat confused and unsatisfied.

I have enough difficulty bending over and reaching to tie my shoes, so seeing those athletes up in the air spinning and twisting and flipping around like beached trout is beyond my understanding. I don’t mean to diminish the amazing physical skill shown by the snowboarders and freestyle skiers and figure skaters when they do those incredible physical feats. I just like my sports more basic—go faster, jump higher than the next guy. No arguments can result when the clock shows who the winner is, unlike the men’s figure skating where the judges decided the winner and the Russian skater won the gold medal for whining. What could be more basic than ski cross where four skiers scream down an icy mountain to see who can get to the bottom first. The grueling cross country ski races that push the athletes to the limits of their stamina and strength are the epitome of pure sport, unlike ice dancing, which is nothing more than a pretty interlude between real sporting events.

I know this argument will go on and on every time the Olympics are held, be it winter or summer. And I will always come down on the side of those events that put the judges in the spectator seats away from any decisions about the outcome. But that doesn’t diminish the fact that I am in awe of the tremendous skills shown by the competitors in those exhibitional events. I want to know who the first guy was to do a flip in the air while skiing down the hill and then deciding that it would be cool to do it again, only this time flip backwards. Who dreams up these things? And while I am entertained by those feats, I still want the stopwatch to tell me who the winner is.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

backache blues

Back pain is nothing to scoff at. For the past couple months I’ve been dealing with a badly strained left side Latissimus Dorsi muscle, or more familiarly, Lat muscle, which spasmed and locked up very painfully. I’ve been undergoing twice weekly treatments with a physical therapist that include electrical stimulation and ultrasound and massage of the offending muscle. The pt also showed me how to properly stretch to keep the muscle less rigid and prone to soreness. And while the pain hasn’t gone away completely, it has been greatly reduced with those treatments and become more manageable.

The real test of my progress in controlling the aching and soreness came yesterday when I had to deal with the 14” of snow that fell overnight. Knowing what the consequences would be if I moved wrong or tried to bend and lift shovels full of snow, I moved cautiously and slowly and restricted my cleanup efforts to guiding the snowblower. After a couple hours of effort I succeeded in clearing the driveway and sidewalk without hurting myself. I was justifiably proud of my accomplishment, not so much the snow removal as doing it without aggravating my sore back. I figured I was over the healing hump and on my way to being able to swing a golf club once again.

But not so fast backache boy. This morning I woke up feeling as spry as any PD afflicted 62 year old could hope to be considering the level of activity I went through the day before. Feeling nearly normal lulled me into thinking that I was safe from the attack of the muscle devils that lurk behind any wrong move the unsuspecting can make. My wrong move this morning was reaching up into the cupboard to fetch a cup for my coffee. Yow!!! A fullblown muscle spasm seized my back and left me screaming and grabbing the counter to keep from collapsing in an excruciating heap on the floor, whimpering and gasping for breath. All I wanted was a cup of coffee. All I got was a trip back to square one,

Luckily, I still have some muscle relaxant pills to stem the pain coursing through every little nerve ending in my body when I move the wrong way, which is to say moving at all. I just hate to have to use those pills, being reluctant to have to rely on them for any length of time. But use them I will until I can get back to physical therapist and her healing hands. But just my luck, she is on vacation all through next week. I am on my own.

I hate to whine, but this is getting old and so am I. I don’t heal as fast as I once did and Parkinsons Disease makes recovery all the more problematic. When do I get to feel normal again?