Things I Learned Today: Monday, October 20, 2008

On the advice of a friend and with the inspiration of Ben Stein’s Diary in The American Spectator, I have decided to start a personal diary on this website. I assume that since I am such a fantastically interesting individual you will all flock to devour my gems of clever wisdom and sordid details of daily life.

If you have been visiting this site for a while, you might have read a previous series on my 5,000 mile bicycle trip across this great nation. I recently suffered a fractured left clavicle left over from a disastrous end to this trip and this has left me somewhat immobilized for several weeks. Although it is healing quite nicely, I still have a few weeks of general uselessness left, and I have been getting slowly more and more irritated with the rut I have been digging in the couch.

Some days have been particularly depressing, almost forcing me to do something, anything to motivate myself. I stare a computer screen, I stare at the TV, back to the computer, mostly looking at the same two or three pages over and over again. Thanks a lot Facebook.

The fantastic let down of ending an amazing journey to return to the cloudy skies and plummeting temperatures of Seattle in the fall, focused from behind the windows of my living room, seems to make even normal, minor incidents explode into huge problems in my mind. Girl problems; work stress; political frustrations; a wart on my finger: All seem like atom bombs. I was perusing some Emily Dickinson today, perhaps a bad idea when mildly depressed, and found a poem that reflects my views on life right now:

For each ecstatic instant
We must an anguish pay
In keen and quivering ratio
To the ecstasy.
For each beloved hour
Sharp pittances of years,
Bitter contested farthings
And coffers heaped with tears.

Sometimes it’s ok to be a Negative Nancy. In truth, I’m sure the opposite is more true, that life is not a “sharp pittance of years” scattered with “ecstatic instants,” but sometimes it is hard to see the forest for the trees, or more particularly past one or two big, rotten trees that seem to be blocking one’s view.

I started work this morning feeling on the short end of a “keen and quivering ratio,” but today I learned about the peso-electric effect. This electrical phenomenon describes how electrical impulses are part of the natural healing process within the human body. For example, fractured bones, while in the process of healing, actually develop positive and negative charges on the convex and concave pieces of bone, respectively. It is between these charged areas that new bone develops, first by sending feelers of calcium along the path of the charge that slowly build upon each other, then growing stronger and denser over time to become a new, fully developed piece of bone. By simulating the body’s own electrical systems, therapeutic devices such as electro-stimulation and ultrasound can be used to promote and accelerate bone growth.

As luck would have it, I work in a physical therapy office that uses just that sort of equipment on a daily basis. Time to become a human guinea pig. Even if I am a lonely cripple in a city without sunshine, at least I can still experiment on myself. And learning is fun.