Repairing and Fixing

It’s odd to me that in this day and age, it is so much easier than ever before to troubleshoot, diagnose and repair various machines, appliances, and ‘things’ that we own. It is very easy to download a manual from the Internet for just about anything your might own. Yet at the same time, there seems to be less and less interest overall in repair. Many people see something breaking as an excuse to go our and buy a new one. I’m going to give two examples below of recent repairs I have done.

One morning I went in the bathroom and turned on the hot water. The water stayed cold. I went downstairs to the basement. The water heater was there, on, and connected. The LEDs seemed to show that it was ok. I looked up the model on my phone, adding some verbage like ‘will not heat water’ to the Google query. Up popped an article that said that the most common and likely culprit was that the heat sensor was dirty. So I followed the instructions to get to the sensor, and cleaned it for a minute with some sand paper. Turned the heater back on and it has been working flawlessly ever since. This was several months ago. It took me less than a 1/2 hour to fix, start to finish. If I had called service, it would have taken more than a 1/2 hour for them just to show up, and would have cost much more. (my cost was $0)

A couple of days ago my sister in law reported that her power recliner chair was not working properly. It would go up, but not down. I powered it off and on, reseated all the connections, no change. I looked online, and many articles said that the issue was  likely to be the hand controller. I took it apart and cleaned the contacts. It still did not work. Then I took the tip of a screwdriver and put it across the contact to lower the chair, and the chair went down. I cleaned those contacts again, still no luck. I came upon the idea of cutting a small piece of aluminum foil. I place it over the conductor for the top button part of the switch that was not working, and tucked it into a recess on each side to hold it in place. I put the control back together, and it has worked ever since. Again, less and $0.01 work of material saved $100s in either service or a new chair.

Sciatica, back pain, and mattresses

I have been dealing with sciatica symptoms for several years now. A few years ago, I decided to invest in a  Sleep number bed, thinking that I could adjust the mattress as needed to allow my back to heal. For the first year or so, I tried ‘dialing’ the bed (sleep number) up and down, trying to find that ‘Goldilocks zone’ that would be perfect for me. I never found it, and my back pain just kept increasing.

Last Spring, I saw a orthopedic surgeon to get a medical option. I went o Crystal Clinic, which is generally very highly recommended. After doing some physical therapy for a few weeks, I had an MRI. The surgeon showed me the MRI on a following meeting and she said it confirmed that I had degenerative disk disease. She said the only realy ‘fix’ would be a major surgery where they would remove and then fuse the vertebrae that was slipping/collapsing. This surgery would put me out of commission for 12 weeks. Doing my own research, the consensus was that this procedure was about 70% effective at reducing pain long term. I decided I would not elect this surgery until I could no longer walk. The surgeon did prescribe some anti inflammatory medications, which I took from time to time.

About two weeks ago (12/10/18), I decided that I would try sleeping on the murphy bed in the guest room. That bed had a memory foam mattress we recently purchased, that was lightly used. The very first night I found that when I woke up, I was not in pain. What a big difference! So I started to sleep a bit longer 7 to 9 hours vs 6 to 7. Then I started to notice that I had less pain during the day, particularly in the morning. And then I noticed that my flexibility was improving, it was less painful to put on socks in the morning, for example.

What’s of interest is that I had read and heard from many sources that the mattress does not make much difference with sciatica symptoms, it was all about the drugs, therapy, etc. Those accounts are  wrong!. Drugs and therapy may help, but the mattress you sleep on is critical. Also my assumptions about the Sleep number bed were wrong. I had thought that it was somehow the ‘perfect’ mattress. Just good marketing, I guess.

So my advice is, don’t just go out and buy a Sleep number bed (or any other ‘too good to be true’ mattress. Try a memory foam mattress first. They are inexpensive, and might just do the trick for you.