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Posts Tagged ‘technology’

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke says “nearly everyone” at some point experiences lower back pain. What an optimistic thought!

Well, I can say I am now a card-carrying “nearly everyone” because for a few months now, my lower back has been complaining about being Itself. When I ran out of physical therapy sessions, I trotted off to see the Spine Specialist to get some more.

Now, the Spine Specialist was not someone to be taken lightly. Like a college course, he had Prerequisites. After getting over the first hurdle and demonstrating I had insurance and could otherwise afford him, I had to get over the second requirement: get the offending lower back x-rayed. However, that was not a difficult chore. I showed up at the Imaging Center, put on one of those silly hospital gowns that no one can tie in the back, and stood in front of the x-ray machine, having a pleasant chat with the technicians for about ten minutes. Blood pressure barely raised. Mission Accomplished.

A few days later, armed with my lovely pictures in black and white on a DVD in a cute little pink and green paper sleeve, I was ushered into the August Presence of the Spine Specialist, who turned out to be a nice young doc with a lawyer sister and a great sense of humor. He watched me walk back and forth across the office a few times, poked here and there, and said I’d have to get an MRI. I decided it would not be polite to point out that I’d already brought him some perfectly nice x-rays that did, in fact, report my lower back had Issues. He had The Picture, in other words. What more did he want?

Now I had my doubts about that MRI from the get go. A couple of years ago, I took a big, splatty fall in my house and wound up in the emergency room around 10:30 at night where they were trying to decide if I had injured my spleen and, therefore, was going to bleed to death shortly. After the CT scan, which I was not a fan of by the way, they decided my spleen was perfectly all right; but not to be outdone for drama, they then decided I had an unknown something on my liver. At around midnight, they announced I was going back to radiology for an MRI to see if the newly discovered spot was going to kill me any time soon.

And I said, NOT! For a number of very good reasons. First, it was the middle of the night. Second, I’d been there most of the afternoon. Third, I was starving. And, fourth and most important, I wasn’t in the frame of mind to hear I was going to die on an empty stomach in the middle of the night. That news could wait a few days. Or at least until I’d eaten and slept. (In that order.) So I went home, leaving the ER Drama Queens without their fix for the evening.

And then, ever obedient, I showed up a few days later, rested and fed, for the MRI at the Imaging Center. As you’ve probably guessed, it didn’t end well. After about a hour of being stuffed into the tube with a belt around my middle which didn’t let me breathe, I pushed the panic button and got ejected from the contraption, white as the sheet covering me and on the verge of passing out.

The technician panicked and called the radiologist, who brought along the rest of his lunch to finish, in case I wasn’t actually going to pass out or die on them. Both of them stood over me while I gasped for air and tried not to see stars. Ejected from the tube, and with the happy news I had nothing worse than a birthmark on my liver, I headed home. But not before the radiologist, still munching his lunch, leveled a parting shot as I exited: New time, TAKE DRUGS.

Which I hadn’t the slightest intention of doing. I don’t like to be drugged. I’m not addict material.

Anyway, in order to return to the August Presence of the Spine Specialist, I had to report to the Imaging Center once again this last Saturday morning. I was DETERMINED to get through this one , and to prove I was not a wimp. Everyone said MRI’s were nothing, so nothing they would be to me, too.

Besides this one was an OPEN MRI. Which I quickly discovered was about as closed as the other one. It just had a kind of peephole on the left-hand side.

However, still DETERMINED to spend all fifteen minutes in the thing, I put on the headphones which were playing Chopin and let them slowly slide me into the machine. AND THEN —- It sounded as if a jack-hammer was drilling inches from my tummy. Chopin vanished, to be replaced by the worst banging and vibrating I had ever experienced. I closed my eyes and tried to go into Zen mode, wishing for an out-of-body experience that would last all of fifteen minutes.

But, alas, I remained firmly stuck in body and under the jack hammer of the machine. Suddenly I realized that the vibrations were triggering an odd little heart arrhythmia which I’ve had all my life. The doctors assure me it can’t kill me, and so far they’ve been right. But it is very weird to feel your heart actually pause long enough for you to wonder if it’s going to beat again.

While I was urging my happy little heart to make up its mind, I pushed the panic button. I had lasted less than a cowardly three minutes. I had completely and utterly flunked the MRI. Again.

Well, Spine Specialist happily forgave me because I’m such a doer. I stretch and work out my core, and buy new chairs to sit in. And I chant Louise Hay affirmations about moving confidently into my future (although I don’t tell the Spine Specialist that one.) My back is better and I’m determined it is going to GET WELL.

But here is my question for the medical profession. If we can put a man on the moon, find water on Mars, and transplant hearts and faces, how come we can’t make an MRI that lets you have a pleasant chat with the technician the same way you can with an x-ray? I mean get real. Who actually wants to be stuffed into a tiny tube and subjected to all the joy of having a jack hammer go off above you every so many minutes? Who said that is utterly benign activity? Definitely NOT ME! I think the attorney who gave the Bush administration the legal opinion that water boarding was just fine, should have suggested the MRI instead. Those guys would have cracked in a heartbeat. (Especially if they have hearts like mine that sometimes stop to Make Up Their Minds.) And I’m sure the Geneva Convention wouldn’t have batted an eyelash.

The MRI

The MRI

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So from my last post, you could pretty well guess the Windows Phone was not going to be a part of my life for very long. On Monday afternoon, after I brought it home on Sunday, I boxed it up and headed for Verizon with my youngest son, Michael in tow. The phone itself was wonderful, but it did not have Google Maps; therefore it did not have Google navigation. We had downloaded the Garmin Navigation app, but it wasn’t knocking our socks off.

Still the Windows Phone gazed at me and Michael from its box and begged for one more chance that Monday afternoon. So we left the Verizon store unvisited that day.

The charms of the Windows Phone were so seductive, Michael went out and got one, too. Now he has interned for IBM and MicroSoft and will be with Google next summer. So I kept telling myself, this Windows Phone has got to work out because Mikey likes it.

For the rest of that week, I gave the Garmin Navigation app a chance. I even turned it on to take me to places I knew how to get to. And I discovered a couple of disconcerting things about it. One, it took the most indirect route it could think of. Two, it loved U-turns. I mean it REALLY loved U-turns.

Michael flew back to school on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. He flew into Pittsburgh and picked up his girlfriend, so they could drive back to Virginia Tech together. On Monday he called to let me know the navigation app hadn’t been reliable on the trip to Blacksburg. I have to say, after just tooling around San Diego with it, I wasn’t surprised.

Well aware our Fourteen Days to Take the Phone Back were rapidly expiring, me and Mikey headed to Verizon stores in California and Virginia to divest ourselves of the Windows Phone. In its place, I got a the 4G version of my old Incredible. Needless to say, I am happy to have the new version of my little Droid sidekick back.

This whole episode has impressed upon me just how dependent I have become on my Goolge Maps Navigation. Back in the old days, I’d print directions off the computer, and then struggle to read them in heavy traffic in unfamiliar places. I once had to kidnap a couple of Michael’s friends to read the directions to LAX because my daughter was returning from Ghana, I had to pick her up, and I could never have read the printed directions and executed them in the traffic that perpetually surrounds LAX. (The boys were highly rewarded for their reading skill, I might add. We stopped at In and Out for the best burgers this side of the Mississippi – and probably on the other side, too. I mean, these burgers ROCK!)

My flirtation with the Windows Phone is now history. I am back to plugging in my little Droid friend and sailing off into parts unknown while I listen to its ridiculous, flat computer voice calling the shots. I take this experience to mean, it is good to try new things; but it is important to know when to go back to the old way if that turns out to be the best way. Life is not just about old and new. It’s an ebb and flow of the tide between the two. And besides, you have to love a phone that belches “DROOOID” at you whenever you get a voice mail!

4G HTC Incredible

P.S. If you like to read, check out my book review blog,at deborahsbookreviews.wordpress.com.

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A few weeks ago, my faithful 3G HTC Incredible began to do weird things. For example, when I tried to open my text messages, it would tell me its memory was full. But three text messages a full memory doth not make. Ever resourceful, I hit *228 and, against a background of really strange electronic music, Verizon updated my operating system. Problem solved. Or so I thought.

Faithful 3G Droid

But no, my otherwise highly reliable companion since 2009, kept refusing to go about business as usual. And while the *228 trick worked every time, who wants to hear weird music several times a day just to open an app? Not me. (Now if the background music had been my favorite jazz/ska band, Western Standard Time, I might have taken a different view of the proceedings. But what if’s don’t count.)

Favorite Jazz/Ska Band: Western Standard Time

So I went to a Higher Authority – namely my sons, who Understand Technology and speak Geek Speak to perfection. The answer turned out to be simple, but deadly.

“Your operating system is a piece of shit,” my oldest son Chris said with true Geek Speak elegance. “Verizon has stopped updating it. You will have to get a new phone!”

“But I don’t want a new phone. This is the best phone I’ve ever had!” (Read between the lines: I actually know how to use this phone and It Understands Me.)

“Sorry, Mom.”

I was in heavy denial over the impending death of my little Droid buddy. So I sought a Second Opinion.

Not long after my youngest son Michael, computer software major extraordinaire, stepped off the plane for his Thanksgiving visit, I asked him if my 3G baby could be saved. Answer: “Not a chance, Mom.”

So with a heavy heart, after turkey feasting on Thursday, I set out with Michael for the Verizon store on Friday. While we waited eons for our number to come up on the Next Customer List, we browsed around, trying out the 4G phones. Chris had just upgraded to the gigantic Samsung Galaxy. Ever competitive, I announced I wanted one, too, only to be laughed down by the Geek Speakers who said it was Way More Phone Than I Would Ever Need. Ten minutes of swiping its touch screen not only convinced me they were right (to my great humiliation), it also convinced me the phone was way too big to fit into any evening purse ever invented. Clearly a male designed it. Possibly a male who had never seen an evening purse.

Next, I worked my way through the smaller Samsungs and then, at last, found the 4G version of my beloved Droid. Happily I tried to figure out where in the world they had hidden my favorite icons on this new incarnation of my baby. But they were not in the same places!

Michael found me trying to get the hang of the new version.

“It’s not the same phone, Mom.”

“Yes, it is.”

“No, it’s not. If you get it, you’ll still have to get used to a new phone.”

“No, I won’t.” I was too proud to admit he was right. And I was wondering why they had changed things. At least it wasn’t any bigger than my own little Droid. It would fit into an evening bag!

But, then, for some reason, both Michael and I turned to the left and saw IT: The Windows Phone. It drew us like the Sirens singing to Ulysses or like the Monolith dropping out of the sky in 2001, A Space Odyssey. We picked up its ultra sleek thinness and began to explore its touch screen. I expected to hear the opening fanfare from Thus Spake Zarathustra. (That would make a killer ring tone, by the way.)

The Monolith

Guilt settled over me. How could I even consider another phone? It was like picking out a new husband while the old one watched. But after I discovered the Windows Phone understood my southern accent and would let me dictate a text message, I let Michael talk me into trying one out. After all, I had fourteen days to Bring It Back. And my tiny little thumbs are not user friendly on touch screen key pads. (What do people with big thumbs do? Buy the Samsung Galaxy I guess and forego evening wear.)

Anyway, in deep emotional conflict, I left with the smart, sleek Windows phone in my purse, and its various charming accessories packed into a suitably Christmasy Verizon logoed shopping bag. How could buying a new phone leave me feeling as if I were setting out alone on uncharted waters? Because, truth to tell, the next not quite fourteen days would show me I had done exactly that.

Siren’s song: Windows Phone

Next time: Trying to Survive Without Google Nav or Droid Love II

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