Archive for August, 2009

For every shuttle launch, NASA Langley employees are offered the opportunity to see the launch from on NASA Kennedy’s center grounds. For the STS-128 night launch, I got a pass to go. I could take 6 people with me so I asked Bob, Friend of Survivor, and Bob’s sister to see if they wanted to go. We filled up really quickly! I would have loved to take a full bus but am glad, now, that I didn’t.

We got to the causeway (right across the water from the launchpad – beautiful view) at 11:00 pm. Then we waited since it was scheduled to go at 1:36 AM. Then we waited again. The weather was really getting bad, but we were trying to optimistic those clouds and that lightning away. It didn’t work. The launch was scrubbed around 1:20 AM Tuesday. The 2 (TWO!) hour drive back to our vehicles only took about 45 minutes before. Bob & I didn’t get back to our hotel room until around 4:00 AM and check out time was 11:00, so we only got about 5-6 hours of sleep. The launch was rescheduled for ~24 hours later (1:10 AM on Wednesday) so Bob & I decided to spend another night and vacation day to try again – everyone else was on board as well.

Just our luck – that launch was scrubbed as well. At least we found out at 7:15 PM instead of late at night/early in the morning. We called everyone to cancel (another good thing about the limitation of guests) and decided to drive back home that night. 12 hours later and we got home at 7:30 AM on Wednesday. Not wanting to burn vacation time, I went straight to work. Eight hours of a boring task in a warm room made my day hard to live through.

I am so glad that we decided not to go since the launch is now scheduled for Friday (we aren’t going). It would have been neat, but I’m okay not being able to experience it. Bob & I have seen quite a few launches from afar as well as really pretty close (on a jetty close to NASA Kennedy) when we lived in Orlando.

I was really worried about the lack of sleep schedule that I have trained my mind and body to adhere. No problem for the most part. Bob & I need to clean up our sleep hygiene to get back on track for good daily rest, but my brain handled it really pretty well.


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I had to pick Bob up from the airport at 1:30 am Friday night/Saturday morning. We got home and settled in around 2:30ish. I couldn’t get to sleep and wasn’t feeling great. So, I decided a bathroom trip might help for some reason around 3:30 or so.

Sitting on toilet, doubled over thinking ‘I don’t feel so good’. That was all the warning I got – I woke up on floor. Apparently I passed out while sitting on the freaking toilet – took a face plant into the wall/floor (not sure exactly what happened). Actually started dreaming and felt uncomfortable from having my neck wrenched. I started to move to get more comfortable not realizing where I was. Very confused why the bed was so hard and I had no pillow.

Realized I was on the floor. I tried to push myself up & my butt bumped against the toilet. It started to crystalize what happened but I just got up & went to bed.

DH comes to wake me up and sees a goose egg above my left eye and a huge scrape from just above my right eyebrow extending into my hairline. Oh, it’s beautiful!

I am easy to pass out, so we don’t think much about it. But, I’m too dizzy to get up before noon. Actually, before 1 pm. We justified it since I really didn’t get to sleep until 4 am or so.

We go to eat & I’m feeling good, no problem at all. We leave & about 1/3 of the way across the parking lot, suddenly, I can’t walk straight. I am listing to the left. DH has to help me walk to the vehicle. I felt no weakness, just felt like I’d been spinning in a circle and then trying to walk straight right after spinning, you know?

It freaks us out & we go to ER. I get a CT & a CT with contrast.

Good news: The carotid and vertebral arteries are widely patent without evidence of stenosis or dissection.


Weird news: Tiny left thyroid cysts or nodules suggesting minimal changes of goiter.

What? I have a goiter? Man alive.

In the end, the ER doctor said that the disturbed gait may have been from the head bump.

Anyway – all is well. I may have a little vertigo, but that is nothing new for me. I follow up with my regular doctor tomorrow morning. I have a slightly swollen forehead (I look very Cro-magnon) and a scrape that is healing well.

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Has it really been three months since I completed the USC (University of South Carolina) IMT (Intensive Mobility Training) study?

It really has. Looking back, I’ve done a lot since the study – I now “run” on a regular basis, we moved (although my father-in-law helped with the heavy stuff), & I feel better about my walking and stair climbing.

I worked four 10-hour days so that I could have the Friday to drive to Columbia, SC to complete the follow-up portion of the study. The measurements were the same as the baseline, pretest, and posttest &, although it was my intention, I didn’t practice the parts that I felt I needed practice on (you know what they say about good intentions!).

On the drive there (6.5 hours there + 2 hours for the study + 6.5 hours back = a long day!), I was chatting with my dad who broke his wrist a year ago. He was lamenting his loss of movement and actually said to me “I sure hope you kids don’t have major medical issues.” I was without words. He compared a broken wrist to a stroke (or forgot completely that I had one? I don’t know, I didn’t further the discussion, I was too speechless). Good thing that I love him and understood where he was coming from, otherwise I may have given him the whatfor! Eh, like most people (myself included), he just didn’t think about (1) what he was saying and (2) who he was saying it to.

Anyway, we get there in time to have a lovely lunch before the follow-up. When we got to the lab, I didn’t get to see my favorite PTs, but I saw a few friendly faces. I felt pretty darn good about my follow-up capabilities (I have the record distance of the 6 minute walk! Woo hoo!!) and the researcher complimented me on a few things that I had begun to notice but hadn’t been able to articulate just yet. He said that my strategic planning of gait is really good. I think that, more than anything, the improvement is due to an increase in confidence in my ability to do something. Instead of analyzing a task to determine if I would be able to do it, I am more likely now to try it first rather than analyze it to death. He also said that he may use my youtube video of my “running” as an example of what can be accomplished with intensive therapy.

I truly recommend the study – they have ongoing studies at USC for stroke survivors & this is just one I happened to hear about. Totally worth it.

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