O New England

Well hello, End of August. The last month has been a whirlwind: a week and a half in Nantucket, a weeklong trip to Maine, a weekend wedding in New Jersey; over 24 hours of driving, three ferry rides, a bus trip, and a 45-minute flight on a plane the size of a large van. I also wrote two papers, participated in a mock press conference, handed in a group project, and squeezed in nine days of work at the office. August was a lot of fun.

There were some un-fun parts, though. Our car started making funny noises when we pulled off the highway in Maine, and we ended up spending a good chunk of the week finding a mechanic on Mt. Desert Island and getting it all back in working order. (By the way, if you’re ever in this bind, we highly recommend this place—the guy was great, invited my whole family back into the shop so we could see what he was doing, talked to us about health care reform, let Stephen listen to different parts of the car with a stethoscope.)

And there was the supremely uncool matter of having to write a paper while on vacation yet again. This is one aspect of grad school that I will not miss: all of the assignments tend to come due right in the middle of August, when my family and Stephen’s are on vacation. It was particularly difficult this year because the house where we stayed in Maine didn’t even have electrical sockets in some of the rooms--just a single light fixture that was wired directly into the wall. It was a beautiful old three-story house with wide porches, tons of windows and lovely old wooden furniture, but the electrical system had clearly not been updated in at least half a century. Which is what I usually like in a vacation house—something a little rustic, a place with history—but it’s not an ideal setting in which to conduct internet-based research.

There were awesome parts, too. The weather and water were warm enough to go swimming several times in Nantucket, and I rode a bike for the first time in years. In Maine, the weather was cool and crisp. We walked around Jordan Pond and spent a foggy afternoon in my favorite garden. On Saturday, we sat near the shore and watched huge waves caused by Hurricane Bill crash on the rocks. (That was before this happened, which might have given us pause.) And I got to catch up with friends from college (and do a lot of eating and drinking and dancing) at the wedding in New Jersey.

This morning, it’s rainy and cooler. The oppressive heat has finally broken. I find myself, surprisingly, starting to anticipate fall weather and the turning of the leaves. I’m not 100% ready for summer to be over, but I’m getting there.

P.S. The title refers to this great song. And since we're on the topic of the Decemberists, this video is pretty cool, too. And if you think that's neat, wait til you see this.


What's Up, Doc?

So it turns out I don’t have osteoarthritis after all. At least, the physician’s assistant at my doctor’s office no longer thinks I do. She diagnosed OA when I complained of knee pain at my physical last November. I think her exact words were, "Well, these things happen as we get older." Thanks a lot, lady. I'm 26!

Anyway, I tried her suggestions (ibuprofen, rest, ice) and didn’t see any improvement. If anything, the pain got worse, so I went back a couple of weeks ago for another exam. The PA twisted and pushed my joints around to test the ligaments, but everything seemed sound. You know when you have a health problem, and then you can't replicate it once you get to the doctor's office, and you think they think that you're making it up? I was worried about that. But then, right before the end of the appointment, my left knee started to swell up rather noticeably. Thank you, knee! So nice of you to cooperate. As a result, the PA gave me a requisition for some X-rays and a referral to a hotshot orthopedist in Boston. In the meantime, I’ve got this Ace bandage, and a new potential diagnosis: patellofemoral syndrome.

I must say that I’m relieved by this development. Not that I won’t end up with OA eventually--it runs in my family, and most people encounter it as they age, so I almost certainly will at some point. But I hope to live another decade or two before that happens.