Monday, October 7, 2013

Getting My Bearings

This weekend, I cleaned my bearings for the first time. I used my fancy skate tool to remove the wheels from my skates and pop out the little metal doughnuts that are the physics behind skating.

I was unexplainably nervous about taking my skates apart. I’m a pretty handy gal. I can put together an Ikea bookcase in no time flat. But taking the wheels off left my skates looking spindly and naked. And they kinda hurt when you accidentally step on a bare axle. Just a little pro tip from me to you.

Pulling apart my skates to liberate the bearings for their cleaning turned out to be a bit fun. It was also the first time I have examined my bearings. I was a little surprised about how small they were. My skates are heavy compared to some of the skates of the veterans. Those girls have faster wheels and aluminum plates. My skates have big chunky wheels and a cast metal plate. Which, as it turns out, is a great setup to learn with.

But I was surprised that these diminutive bearings not only made the wheels go around, they held me upright. And, while I am pretty smart, it took me a while to see how they worked. It never really occurred to me that there was more at work in a skate wheel than spinning on an axle.

A bearing is actually a mini machine with the purpose of directing energy towards the intended location. Bearings can amplify motion in one direction. They can also aid the turning of a wheel by reducing friction. Another purpose of a bearing is to support part of the machine that contains it.

Leonardo da Vinci studies the machine of a ball bearing in the 16th century, using them in his design of a helicopter. Caged ball bearings—like the sixteen used in my skates—were originally described by Galileo in the 17th century.

Forgive this clunky segue, but…

Speaking of getting my bearings, I had my 6-month MRI Monday. I don’t know if I am sad or relieved that I am getting used to being in an MRI machine. I can close my eyes and think of other things while the tube around me bangs and shutters. I am even kind of looking forward to seeing the rainbow colors of my pee, tinted from the contrast dye shot up my arm. It’s like someone unleashed a bag of skittles in my kidneys.

I'll hear in a few weeks if I am growing any more lesions or if the Avonex is truly slowing down the MS. My poor brain. My crazy, short-on-myelin brain. I wish it was as easy to clean up as my skate bearings.

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