Saturday, May 9, 2015


A mallard on the pond behind our condo

For Christmas last year Deborah gave me a lens for my camera. It's a super-telephoto zoom lens from Sigma (150-500 F:5-6.3, if you're a photography buff) and lets me get some great shots even from far away. I have been out a bunch of times experimenting with it and learning more about photography. The lens is so big and heavy that I have to be careful not to tip out of my chair when holding it up, although I am figuring out how to use a tripod from my chair as well. The picture here, a duck in the back yard, I think is one of my better shots so far. You can see some pictures that we took at Boundary Bay on my Facebook page here (you don't need a Facebook account to see the pictures). Now that the weather is getting nicer, I'm planning to get out a lot more often to use the big lens, and to learn more about photography as I go.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Nerve Transfer Surgery Restores Movement to Man's Fingers

This video from the Ottawa Hospital gives details of the operation to restore some movement to Timothy Raglin's fingers. There is some graphic surgical content that you may want to skip through.

Last month in Ottawa, surgeons performed a nerve transfer operation on Timothy Raglin, a quadriplegic, to give him some movement in his fingers. My understanding of the procedure is that there are duplicate nerves in your arms, and the surgery involved rewiring two of these duplicate nerves in Timothy Raglin's arm to nerves in his fingers that are not connected to the brain after a spinal cord injury. Some regrowth of the nerve is necessary, and the doctors figure it could be up to a year before any results can be seen. According to a story on the Ottawa Hospital's website, this type of procedure has been performed only a few times before, but research is ongoing.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Paralyzed Rats Walk Again - Update

A flexible implant helps restore walking in paralyzed rats

A couple of years ago there was news about a study in Switzerland involving paralyzed rats that were able to walk again after intense rehab with chemical and electrical stimulation. I wrote about it in June of 2012. Now comes news from the same group in Switzerland that they have developed a flexible implant for the chemical and electrical stimulation part, with good results on rats. Because the implant is flexible, it can stay in the body for longer without inflaming the spinal cord where it is placed. More details are in this article from CNET magazine.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Physiatry and Occupational Therapy

Some two-wheel shenanigans earlier in the summer

A couple of weeks ago I had an appointment with my physiatrist - the rehab doctor that oversees everything and looks at the big picture as far as how I am doing. I hadn't been for two years and even this visit was more of a checkup, but it was a good opportunity to ask some questions that I've been saving up. The physiatrist seemed quite happy with everything and we talked about making a couple of changes to my supplements and routine to make some things a bit easier. It was all pretty much good news, and she said there's no need to see her again, even in two more years, unless something specific comes up.

One thing we did talk about was travel and how I could be a bit more independent away from home. Right now I am okay when Deborah and I go away somewhere, as she can help me if I run into trouble with anything. Hotel rooms are sometimes not as "accessible" as they could be, and it doesn't take much to make doing something a lot more difficult for me. A couple of examples: Some hotel beds are really high, so the transfer into bed can be a bit tricky. Or, sometimes there is a really nice bench in the bathtub, but it's fixed to the wall at the opposite end to the shower controls and I can't reach them.

I am good with most of the other aspects of traveling. Last summer I helped one of the teams in the Canadian Superbike Championship, going to three of the races. For those trips, I flew on my own to my brother Peter's place near London, Ontario, and he came with me to the track and could help me if I had trouble in the hotel room. For next year, I would like to be able to do this on my own if Peter can't make it, which means staying on my own in a hotel room.

The physiatrist made an appointment with an occupational therapist for me to see if it's something I need to work on myself or if it's some kind of equipment that I need to make things easier. It was an interesting appointment, the therapist showed me some benches and sliding boards that are small enough to go in a suitcase or even as carry-on luggage on a plane, and we came up with a few good ideas. Now I have a few options to look at as far as different equipment and what I could use on my own, and it looks like I may be able to come up with an answer.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Mute Swans

The mute swans busy preening in the historic fishing village

Our little village is home to a pair of mute swans that we occasionally see when we take a stroll on the boardwalk. The first two springs that we were here, the swans had a nest near a building in the historic fishing village but unfortunately the eggs never hatched. Both years the nest was quite close to the water, and it's likely that at high tide in the spring the nest and eggs got wet. This year, though, the swans built their nest on a higher nearby bank (according to this news article, a local fisherman actually towed the nest from its usual spot to the new location). We couldn't see the nest from the boardwalk, but we were told that it was there and safe, and eventually the chicks hatched. There is a great picture here by a local photographer of the family in the nest. Two of the babies survived, and we saw them several times over the summer in the village. Evidently the cygnets, as they are called, fledge at 60 days old, but can stay with the parents until the next breeding season.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Cannon Beach

Deborah and I recently went on a holiday to Cannon Beach in Oregon. We took two days to get there, taking the scenic route along the coast. On day 1 we drove down Whidbey Island and took the ferry across to Port Townsend, and stayed the first night in Sequim, Washington. On day 2 we followed the 101 through Aberdeen, Astoria and through to Cannon Beach. We spent three days in Cannon Beach and then returned home on the less scenic round, Interstate 5.
Most of the buildings in Port Townsend date from the late 1800s, and have large signs painted on the side. We stopped in the downtown area for an hour or so before driving through to Sequim to stay the night. We will go back again sometime and stay longer for sure.

A tall ship was sailing through the harbour when we were in Port Townsend, I am not sure what the occasion was. The cannon shot it made sure gave us a jolt though!

The salt air near the beach is not so good for anything made of steel...

Deborah on Cannon Beach. The huge rock in the background is haystack rock, the centerpiece of the town - although the town itself is named Cannon Beach because of a cannon that washed ashore long ago.

Haystack Rock is 235 feet high, when the tide is low you can get out right to the rock and look around in the tide pools.

This is the view of Cannon Beach (and Haystack Rock) from a lookout in nearby Ecola State Park.

The lighthouse on Tillamook Rock, as seen from the same lookout in Ecola State Park.

One of the highlights for me was actually getting out on the beach, the first time I have done that in my chair.

My friend Andy Cherney, who I used to work with in Los Angeles, now lives in Portland and came to visit us at the beach. Even though the weather was not quite as nice, we went out on the beach again at low tide and wheeled out to the rock for a look around.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

More Exploring

On one of the trails in Redwood Park in Surrey

Deborah and I have been busy exploring around Vancouver, it seems like we have been going to a different park every weekend. In the last couple of months we have been to Tynehead Regional Park, Pitt Polder Ecological Reserve, and Redwood Park. Tynehead Park and Redwood Park have nice gravel trails that are fairly easy to get around on, although both are a bit hilly. The highlight of Pitt Lake was seeing ospreys for the first time in BC. Considering how mountainous British Columbia is and how hilly it can be in and around Vancouver, almost every place we've been to has been very accessible with trails that are nicely looked after and relatively smooth and flat. We will continue to check out new places, there are still plenty of parks that we haven't been to and it will keep us busy for quite a few weekends.

Ospreys at Pitt Lake

Tynehead Regional Park