stardust holiday
chronicles of the chronically (and voluntarily) bedridden


31 July 2006
I woke up this morning with the sun. My cell phone/alarm clock, sang the Cingular Sound at 5:30 pulling me from my bed, covers, pillow, and lovers arms for the last time in 3 months. Tired, I drew away from my warm bed and familiar covers and slid into the coolness of my slightly air conditioned bedroom. I took in that moment for all it was for as long as I could. Fully realizing that it was the last time I would leave my bed, any bed, until nearly Halloween, weekday trips to the ZLS notwithstanding.
I showered, soaking up the warmth of the water and letting the steam fill my lungs, open my pours, and wrap my body in comfort. I wished I could have stayed longer but there were still a few things that had to be packed, and Twa needed to shower and get ready for the day also.

Once I got to the clinic it was just one thing after another, and before I knew it, I was in bed already. Twa stayed for as long as she could, kissed me good bye and left to try to work her way through the maze of the clinic. I'm still waiting for the big bang of things. The moment where all of me fully realizes what this is.

So far, though, so good. The small of my back hurts a little but as soon as I turn to my side it stops.

I keep, ever so slowly, sliding down to the head end of the bed. It is different scooting down without using my feet. Going to have to train myself, hard, not to do that.

All in all though, no real susprize. The only "complaint" I have, is how blocked the server I am on is. Some things I can understand being restricted, but I like myspace and stumbleupon. com. This is something, we are told, will be fixed. Hooray.

Lunch; Turkey on whole wheat, yellow American cheese, potato chips, a rice crispy treat (yummy!), and black berry flavored water.

Dinner; Cheese ravolli and a salad with balsamic basil dressing, and added cucumber slices. I list the latter separate because it is listed separately on the lid of the salad.
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Day 1: In the beginning...

This is my first official post from in bed. It's final now, it's irreversible, it's real. My head is six degrees lower than my body, and I will not be upright until October 23rd. Maybe it should sound ominous, but the first hour in bed has flown by, and I'm still pretty psyched about this whole thing.

This morning I woke up at about 6:45, and my dad and brother said goodbye, as they were both headed to work. I gathered some loose ends and I was ready to go when my sister picked me up. I said goodbye to Mom and we were off. I thought I might be quiet and pensive on the way to the clinic, but Holly made me feel pretty comfortable and at a few points I forgot where we were actually going. I'd have to say that the peak of my nervousness thus far was standing around in Lerner, waiting to take the rest of my belongings up to the room. Once I got up here and started putting stuff away, I got comfortable. Eleven O'Clock rolled around, and we snapped one last picture of us, upright for the last time until the end of October. I got into bed without making too big a deal of it for myself. You can't prepare enough, so you might as well just get in and wait for it to hit, which it definitely hasn't yet.

Right now the overwhelming feeling is hunger. We were told not to eat this morning before we came, so when lunch comes in a few minutes it will taste wonderful.

From here on out, updates will be plentiful and a little more substantial.
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I don't have much to say right now

29 July 2006
I don't have much to say right now, but wanted to make one last post before I went to bed on Monday. I just can't get ocer the fact that this is really happening, and soon. I have almost everything set at home and am going to Target to get a few last minute later things today. Sunday, strange as it may seem, I think I'm going to relax. I know being in bed is going to be stressful at times and I want one last day of just me with my energy in my home.
I am greatfull for the chance to do this. I am greatfull for all the help and support I have received from everyone around me. I don't think I could have asked for it to go any better then it already has. I am greatfull for a partner who supports me fully. For a job that sees this as the one in a lifetime opportunity that it is, and is going to do it's best to allow me to come back without consequence. I am greatful I get to run everyday. I am greatful that this list of thanksgiving can go on.
Next time I post it will be from the bed.
11:29 :: 0 comments :: permalink

Day negative six

25 July 2006
Strangely enough, despite a trip to the clinic yesterday for bloodwork and other reasons, I find myself forgetting that I'm lying down on Monday. This study has taken up roughly 70-75% of my brain since January when I first heard about it, and over the past few days I have caught myself thinking, "Oh yeah, that starts Monday." I am mostly excited, but also a little nervous. It's on par with an interview for a job I really want. But, as I have said before, everyone I have met that is connected with this study is beyond nice, beyond accomodating. Call me naive, but it seems like it could be smooth sailing for the most part. I'll deal with the hard parts when they come.

I am "moving in" to my room tomorrow. So far I just have a box of books and a box of other assorted items I don't think I could live without for three months. I haven't really even thought about how I'm going to decorate my room. I was joking around with a couple of the interns a little bit ago about how I wanted to have a beach theme. I wanted to cover the floor in sand and have a bunch of inflatable palm trees in the room, always playing reggae music and wearing Hawaiian shirts... of course I don't think that's reasonable. I was impressed with the way Erin made her room look so homey and comfortable, so I might try to go that route too. Non-flourescent lamplight is a definite.

Having trouble ending this one... so I'll just say that I'm going to pack this week and weekend with fun and activity, and make sure I lie down on Monday in a good mood.
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You can't always get what you want

22 July 2006
They say you can't always get what you want, and this is true quite often in almost every aspect of life. Then again, there are times when you can get what you want. Even when said "wanting" is completely random and no one has any control over what you get. On Wednesday I found out what group I was in for the study and am ecstatic. I got to the Clinic to drop off the ADR I had worn all day Tuesday and my stomach was in knots. I sat for a few minutes and talked with one of the interns about how I'm going to decorate my room. I'm thinking wrapping paper wallpaper and construction paper rings and stars. Something to cover up the white white walls. Ricki came in and I saw it right away. A little envelope, like the kind you mail the gas bill in was in her hand under the notebooks she was carrying. The green Cleveland Clinic Logo in the upper left, and a small index card inside. She handed it to me and I felt like I was 7 and about to open my first Hanukkah present. I held it in my hands, nervous as all get out, and looked down. No need to even open it, I could see the large capital T clear as day. I was an exerciser. I forgot what T stands for but I remember being told prior that was the letter to look for. For 5 days a week, for 12 weeks, I get to run for a few hours a day. I couldn't be more thrilled. I know I won't feel like that everyday, but I have to tell myself that running is something I get to do, not have to do. Now if you want to get technical, I do have to do it, but I think you know what I mean.

I am very out of shape. I seldom work out, and when I do, I generally put in a minimal effort and gain no real or noticeable benefits. This will give me the chance to jump that hurdle. I'll be in a room with 3 or 4 other people, all of whom will be pushing me to work my hardest and do my best. Being in this group will give me more to do, it will give me less time to watch TV, longer interaction with other people, and, most importantly to me when I get out of bed at the end of October, getting back to "normal" will not be as hard. Instead of having to gain back muscle I will just have to get used to walking again. I really hope to keep running a few times a week when I'm done. I've always admired people who get up n the morning, run 5 miles, and then go about their normal day and get ready for work/school. I look forward to the high people get from running and even if I have to join a gym when I'm done. I will continue to run. Not only will the bedrest project in itself be life changing, but the daily running, I hope, will also change my life for the better.

For the most part, I am all set for bed. I have a lot of yarn, a long lost of books, and most of the other things I want to do, can be done online. I went to Foot Locker after work on Wednesday and bought my shoes. They didn't have the one's I picked out and posted here, but I like the one's I got even more. An ultra light weight white and silver with a hint of mint green.

Since George summed up the ZLS pretty well, I'm not going to post a lot about it right now. But I will say this, it is really cool and I can't wait to finish the training for it. So far I've only had one day of it, and was being pulled at 50% body weight. When I first pushed off with it, the weight took me aback for a moment, but I got used to it right away.

I can't believe this is my last week. I wake up every morning now with the realization that in a few days, that will literally be the start of my day. Everything that I do will be done from that position.
This post is long enough, I'll stop there for now. I don't have Internet at home right now and my next post could be from bed. Wow.
15:32 :: 1 comments :: permalink

Not much longer...

19 July 2006
So the final preparations have continued. I've started moving all my belongings out of my apartment and into the spare room of my parents' house. I've been shopping for comfortable pants and gym shorts to wear while in bed. I've been taking down my caffeine levels, going for lots of drives with the windows down, checking out books from the library, taking longer showers, eating all the food I want.

The other night was when it really hit me that this was happening soon. I drove to Super KMart in Brookpark at about 11:30 pm to buy some gym shorts and toothbrushes. The windows were down, and I was listening to Yes' Close to the Edge album (which would probably make my dad proud). It had been a really hot day in Cleveland, but it tapered off into a great night for driving. I felt kind of lonely, but probably only because I was alone. But I walked around Super K for a while and realized that in two weeks I wasn't going to be able to do any of this. I won't be able to leave the bed, let alone go driving at 11:30 at night. The good part, though, was that I didn't care. When I get out, it will be October, an even better time for driving at night, and I have a feeling I'll have a better appreciation for that kind of thing.
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14 July 2006
In addition to this blog, I'm going to be writing weekly dispatches for McSweeney's. Whereas this blog will be updated several times daily while we're in bed, the McSweeney's dispatches will be a little more crafted. The first one is up on the main page today. Please take a moment to check it out.
11:51 :: 1 comments :: permalink

In ev'ry job that must be done There is an element of fun?

12 July 2006
As much as I may complain about my job, it does have its good points. Today, however I quit. More specific, I gave my notice. To my surprise to went quite well. As a matter a fact, I may be even be able to come back post study. There are a few small details that will have to ironed out when the time comes, but there is a good chance I won't have any problem. This is a huge weight off my shoulders. As optimistic as I may be in most situations, there are a handful where not only do I think the worse, I have nightmares about the impossible. This, for example, had me thinking that I would tell my boss I was leaving and I'd be fired on the spot. Then, with no last paycheck to cover incidentals and bills while I'm gone, I'd have to quit the study and get a temp job or work in fast food. Needless to say, that didn't happen and I really had nothing to worry about. Silly Becca.

Now, I don't have a 100% guarantee I can go back, but I feel less worried about leaving the study with no income to go back to.

Oh, Megan, any books you have that I may borrow, would be great, thanks. I'll be at the meeting Tuesday if you want to bring them by. :)
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ZLS training, Day 1

Yesterday was my first day of ZLS training. Obviously, walking on a treadmill mounted vertically takes some getting used to, as does the load. My exercise routine is determined by those 4 days that my walking was monitored with the ADR unit. Basically they're compressing a day's worth of walking into an hour-or-so long routine. This means jogging. They use air pressure to pull me to the treadmill at a force equal to my body weight. Yesterday, to start me off, they used 50% body weight. So I was only pulled at about 85 pounds, but it felt like 400. It's going to be tough to get used to, but the feeling is unlike anything else. It's very strange. I'll try to get some video and post it here when I do more training.
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Hey you, you want to read my goals, try my goals!

09 July 2006
Ever since I started the interview process for the study I've been keeping an ongoing list of of goals. Just random things I'd like to with with more then 1000 hours of free time on my hands over the 12 weeks I'm going to be in bed. Here is a list of a few of them.

Become a better speller. You will soon find, if you have not already, I'm not a very good speller. It is something that I may joke about once in a while but it is also something that can be painfully embarrassing.

Improve my typing speed by 50%. Sometime in my first week in bed I'm going to take online typing test from a few different webpages and average the speed and accuracy. Whatever the total is I'm going to try to improve it by 50%.

Create a plot outline for 5 young adult books. I've always, even today, loved young adult books. I don't expect to write 5 books while in bed, but writing the outline for a series is possible.

Make 5 squares a day. I, like Erin, knit and crochet. I'd love to make a blanket using scrap cotton, creating squares of various different sizes and textures that all fit together in the end. Granted, it may turn out to be the ugliest blanket on the planet, but it will be all mine. Not to mention, I will gladly sent the piece of fug to You Knit What.

Read 25 books. This is made of of 5 "chicklit" books, 10 books from classic literature, and 10 books from the American Library Association's most commonly banned books. The latter will be read from September 23-30. I recently found out that that is Banned Book Week 2006. Anyone want to join me? I'm going to read the ten books most commonly challenged. Seeing as some are short children's books, if I have time more books from the top 100 will be read.

Listen to more NPR.

Spend one hour journaling a day. Not just here though. I'm also going to keep a personal journal not open to the public.

Memorize all 194 countries (latest count according to the UN), location, capital, leader. This I think is going to be the hardest one of all, but also one of the most important.

Take an online class. I don't know what class yet, but I'll figure that out soon enough.

Write a personal statement for graduate school. I fell in love with this program, and I have to write a personal statement about what diversity means to me as a part of the application process.

Knit a sweater. I have 5 skeins white of white yarn 1 pink, blue, and purple. More then enough for something cute. I, of course, have more then 8 hanks of yarn, but this 8 is dedicated just to the sweater.

Learn a language. Now I don't intend to become fluent in one, but spending a few hours a week listening to language CD's will help me become familiar with one.

There will be a few more as time goes on, but this is what I have for right now.

19:04 :: 4 comments :: permalink

I forgot to add a title AGAIN.

I went to see the Devil Wears Prada today. It was a really great movie too. I just can't believe that the girl from The Princess Diaries went topless in her last movie. What did Julie Andrews say?
As I was leaving Tower City I stopped in Lady Foot Locker just to look at running shoes. You know, just in case. *crosses fingers*.
I also got a most of the cloths I'm going to need for the study, a semi new wardrobe of sorts, for just 3 bucks an item.
I picked out the shoes I may get if in deed there is a need to buy a pair next week or the following.

I'm less then thrilled at the brand, but the shoes are just what I was looking for.
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Woke up at 8:00 this morning to get to the clinic for my 2 hour long MRI. There were 4 done; right leg, both legs up to my pelvis, left arm, and then my spine. Ten seconds into the second one, I had to pee. Bad. Needless to say the second it was done I jumped up and asked for directions to the little astronauts room. Well, not really. I actually looked at the doctor and let out a whimper of "I have to peeeeee". Leading me out of the room he pointed down the hall to a sign, which, sans glasses, was a block of fuzz to me. Second later I did what I had to do and was back on my back. This is the last "pass/fail" thing we have to do, but no one anticipates any issues. I, and George also, have been probed from head to toe a several times, if something we wrong with either of us, one of the initial tests would have caught it.
I did my first day of ADR on Friday and I can't wait to get it over with. Mainly because I want to know what group I'm in. The first two people to do this were both in the control group, both participants were men. In the second group, both were women and one was a control and the other was an exerciser. In this group, seeing as there is one male and one female, it would be nice if both were exercisers, but I have a sinking feeling that I'm a control, so much in fact I'm resolved not to be to disappointed if I am. There, however, is no pattern to this. Everything is random, and the fact that George is an exerciser doesn't effect me whatsoever, as everything is separated between men and women anyway.

I can't believe this is going to start in just a few weeks. There are days were I have to stop and ask myself if I'm crazy for doing this. Then there are other where I can't wait. I'm giddy with excitement.

In the end though, I know some days are going to be hard, and getting out of bed is the thing I'll want to do most in the world. But I have a strong mind and a whole hell of a lot of will power. Not to mention the support of my friends, family, and study staff.

Now if only I can wean myself of Pepsi/Coke. I know if I don't do it soon I'm going to have a killer headache for the first few weeks of bedrest. The caffeine withdrawal combined with the headache I already anticipate from of all the fluid in my body flowing to my brain won't make the first few weeks easy. I should give up the stuff anyway, so unhealthy.
12:48 :: 0 comments :: permalink


07 July 2006
The card was pulled yesterday, and the card said that I get to exercise.

I'm going to keep celebration to a minimum until I know whether Becca has been selected as an exerciser or not, but I am very excited. This means that I'll come out of the study in pretty good shape, probably the best shape I've ever been in. My fate has been sealed...

I went to Parmatown Mall today to pick out a pair of running shoes for the study. Either NASA or the Cleveland Clinic is footing (pardon the pun) the bill, and after trips to 5 different stores I found a pair that was relatively inexpensive and very comfortable.

It was the first pair of running shoes I had bought in probably 10 years, since my athletic days came to an end. Hopefully this will start me on a program that I'll stick with and I'll be able to run more than ten feet without having to stop and catch my breath.

I've got my fingers crossed for you too, Becca...
20:29 :: 2 comments :: permalink

Ten D-Cell Batteries

05 July 2006
Just 12 hours after celebrating my nation's independence, which I did by eating McFlurrys and watching Seinfeld with some close friends, I found myself enslaved once again. My master is the Pedar unit that I am required to wear today for ADR (Ambulatory Data Recorder?). It's my last of 4 days with this thing. Here's a picture of me wearing it.

It doesn't look so bad, but included in that black pack is a cartridge which holds 10 D-Cell batteries. That's the only setup possible to power this thing for 12 hours. The computer is connected to insoles in my shoes, and the pressure that I put on my feet is turned into data, which is collected to determine how much I walk in a normal day. This, in turn, will decide how much I should exercise, should I be selected as an exerciser. I find out tomorrow whether I will spend 84 days without using my legs at all, or whether I'll be exercising daily and turning my fat into muscle. It's funny, though, how badly I want to exercise in the study when I can't bring myself to even go running on the outside.

One of the tricky things about preparing to spend 84 days in bed is deciding what I need to wean myself from and what I need to get while I can. I've definitely been taking longer showers that usual, knowing that I'll be taking unfulfilling baths and wipe-downs once I'm in the clinic. One thing I should be phasing out is caffeine, and I haven't been doing very well at it. I can go a couple days without coffee, but pop is hard to avoid. Later on I'm going to the grocery store and I'm going to buy a case of bottled water, to get myself used to drinking 2-3 liters of it a day.

Along the same lines, I've made a mental list of things I want to do before I go to bed. I already knocked one of them out on Monday with a trip to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. I hadn't been there yet this year and needed my fix. Here is a picture of me trying to befriend a goat at the petting zoo.

Next on the list is a trip to Cedar Point.
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04 July 2006
so far an 80% chance of go today. keep your fingers crossed and have a happy 4th of july!
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02 July 2006
no-go day one due to a CLOUD. it's not any better now, infact, it's a lot worse today, weather wise. we have to leave TOMORROW, no matter what. mike doesn't want to be driving home on the fourth of july, and he's got to go back to work wednesday.

but our friend Ben came through with some really close viewing passes. he used to live in cleveland, but moved down here to work at KSC.

-sigh- i hope this shuttle goes up today. otherwise, we're going to miss it.

hopefully i can get a hold of my brother too. i didn't get to see him thursday in charleston.

one word: blargh.

[edit: wow, big change of pace. launch was scrubbed for today, and rescheduled for tuesday, but i think we just made a group decision to stay for the launch on tuesday, go to the kennedy space center museums and stuff tomorrow, canoeing in the canal behind ben and colleen's house... sweet! but we won't be home until thursday now, a full week vacation. whew. ]
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Bedrest Study FAQ

01 July 2006
What is this study studying?
This study is to gain a better understanding of bone and muscle loss during periods of inactivity.

How many participants are there/will there be?
This study will have 24 participants total. There will be 2 subjects at a time for 12 sessions.

What kind of food do you eat in there?
We will be eating "real" (i.e. non-hospital) food. The participants are asked to fill out a food questionnaire, denoting their likes and dislikes. That info is given to the dietary staff, and ten different meals are created. Meals repeat every ten days.

Are you getting paid?
Yes. We are not permitted to disclose the exact amount, but we find it fair.

Can you get out of bed?
Not really. We leave our bed every weekday to go to the lab, where we are suspended. The subjects who exercise are gone for a couple of hours, and those who don't exercise are gone for about an hour. We are horizontal for the entire time we are out of bed. Other than that, we are in our bed for 22-23 hours a day.

So you're horizontal the whole time?
Not really. We are in head-down position, which means that our heads are six degrees below our feet. This is the closest simulation for microgravity that can be attained on earth.
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