hummingwolf: animation of green and gold fractal, number of iterations increasing with time (Iterations in green and gold)
"Help, My Friend Won't Stop Having Fibromyalgia At Me!"
Here's that bad advice you were hoping for.

(Link via [personal profile] supergee)

Two Links

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010 04:20 pm
hummingwolf: squiggly symbol floating over rippling water (one)
Sometimes people online will link to a comic strip and tell you, "This is the story of my life!" Well, yeah, this is the story of my life. Thank you, XKCD.

In other news, The Doctor has been following the news: Wikileaks, Cablegate, the media, and you.

QOTM

Friday, March 5th, 2010 03:29 pm
hummingwolf: Drawing of a creature that is part-wolf, part-hummingbird. (Hummingwolf by Dandelion)
Because I've been reminded of this by recent discussions in other journals (especially [livejournal.com profile] nellorat's), here's Dorothy L. Sayers, from her 1941 book Mind of the Maker, in the "Problem Picture" chapter (in which she is discussing both theology and detective stories):

2. The detective problem is completely soluble: no loose ends or unsatisfactory enigmas are left anywhere. The solution provides for everything and every question that is asked is answered. We are not left with a balance of probabilities in favor of one conclusion or another; nor does the fixing of the crime on the butler involve the detective in fresh enigmas connected with the cook. Such uncertainties may appear to arise in the course of the story, but they are all cleared up in the end by the discovering of the complete solution. It should not be necessary to point out here that this happy result proceeds from the simple fact that the author has been careful not to ask the questions that the solution will not answer.

Now, our tendency to look for this kind of complete solution without lacunae or compensatory drawbacks badly distorts our view of a number of activities in real life. Medicine is a good example. We are inclined to think of health in terms of disease and cure. Here on the one hand is (we think) one definite disease, and there, on the other hand, should be the one, definite and complete "cure." Apply the cure to the disease, and the result ought to be an exact "solution" of the "problem" presented. If the physician cannot name the disease on sight and immediately produce the prescribed cure, we feel resentfully that the man does not know his business.

In the same way, there used to be a firmly-rooted belief that to every poison there existed "the antidote"--a benevolent drug which would exactly reverse, each by each, the effects of the original poison and restore the body to the status quo ante. There are in fact, I believe, only two drugs which are complementary in this way, atropine and physostigmine (incidentally, neither of them is "benevolent"--both are deadly poisons). With other drugs which are used to counteract one another, the reversal of the effects is only partial, or is rather a counteraction of the symptoms than a healing of the mischief done to the organs. In most cases, the usefulness of the curative drug is only to hold off or mitigate the effects of the poison until the body can summon its physical resources to cure itself. In certain instances, one disease can be got rid of only at the cost of contracting another, as in the malaria treatment of syphilis. Or the treatment demanded by--let us say--a diseased condition of the lungs may be impossible for one particular patient, because his constitution could not stand its violent effects upon the heart.

We have, perhaps, abandoned the superstitious belief in antidotes; but we continue to hug the delusion that all ill-health is caused by some single, definite disease, for which there ought to be a single, definite and complete cure without unfortunate after-effects. We think of our illness as a kind of cross-word of which the answer is known to somebody: the complete solution must be there, somewhere; it is the doctor's business to discover and apply it.

But the physician is not solving a cross-word: he is performing a delicate, adventurous, and experimental creative act, of which the patient's body is the material, and to which the creative co-operation of the patient's will is necessary. He is not rediscovering a state of health, temporarily obscured; he is remaking it, or rather, helping it to remake itself. This may indeed be looked upon as a problem; but it is not the same kind of problem as that presented by those in the algebra-book: "If a cistern is filled by pipes A and B in 25 and 32 minutes respectively"; and the answer is not likely to be so precise or to cover all the conditions so satisfactorily.

The patient's best way to health and peace of mind is to enter with understanding into the nature of the physician's task. If he does so, he will not only be better placed to co-operate creatively with him, but he will be relieved from the mental misery of impatience and frustration.

Still here

Thursday, February 18th, 2010 09:50 pm
hummingwolf: hummingwolf in front of brick wall with flower drawn on it (Wallflower)
Not up to saying much at the moment due to extreme tiredness and brainfog. I trace these problems to two major causes:

1. Walking through the obstacle course that was created when the Snowpocalypse and Snoverkill dumped more snow on the region than people know how to deal with is exhausting. Even on days when I could walk four miles on dry sidewalks, I am not so good at walking two miles if those two miles involve uneven ice, knee-high slush, and shoulder-high snowbanks.

2. Lyrica is not my friend. It actually does relieve some of the fibromyalgia pain and I can understand why it might be appealing as a drug of abuse, but I'm sleepy and even more uncoordinated than usual and I'd rather be in pain than be unable to concentrate. Highs are overrated. (Speaking of controlled substances, I'm thinking of asking one of the doctors to prescribe me some Ritalin again since that did help me to think more clearly even if some old studies suggested it was related to increased risk of seizures.)

Might feel up to posting more tomorrow. That'd be nice.
hummingwolf: squiggly symbol floating over rippling water (one)
"An important analysis conducted by Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute scientists suggests the importance of ensuring optimal dietary intakes of vitamin K to prevent age-related conditions such as bone fragility, arterial and kidney calcification, cardiovascular disease, and possibly cancer (1). Vitamin K is concentrated in dark green plants such as spinach or Swiss chard, and is either not present or present in only small amounts in most multivitamin pills."

Found article because various things lately have been nudging me in the direction of looking into vitamin K. "Various things" including the facts that I bleed far too much from my assorted body parts (including nose, hands, [TMI DELETED]), that antiepileptic drugs block vitamin K, that I feel better when I eat vast quantities of yogurt--that sort of thing.

This page from an interested layperson is certainly... interesting. Must do more looking.

In pleasanter news

Tuesday, January 6th, 2009 11:16 pm
hummingwolf: Current Mood: Girly. Animated sparkly pink icon. (Girlymood)
Based on news reports coming out today, incoming U.S. President Barack Obama seems to be right on track in his goal to assemble the Hottest Administration Evar. Behold the potential Surgeon General!

Info via [livejournal.com profile] urbpan, who may think the potential Surgeon General doesn't look enough like Dr. Koop, but still includes a lovely photo in this post.
hummingwolf: (My world is askew!)
Opening up the health insurance market to more vigorous nationwide competition, as we have done over the last decade in banking, would provide more choices of innovative products less burdened by the worst excesses of state-based regulation.

--John McCain, from his article "Better Health Care at Lower Cost for Every American," in the September/October 2008 issue of Contingencies, the magazine of the American Academy of Actuaries. You gotta love the timing. (Link via [livejournal.com profile] supergee, fount of many links.)

In other news, we're on a road to nowhere. Well, noted fiscal conservative Sarah Palin backed a $26 million road to nowhere--it leads to the water's edge, where the infamous Bridge to Nowhere would have been. Some perverse part of me wants to see that road when they've finished with it.

~~~~~

In news unrelated to the presidential race, I have locally-grown apples and I'm not afraid to eat them.
hummingwolf: squiggly symbol floating over rippling water (one)
Monday: Considerably better than the weekend. Felt energetic enough to go to the library and various other places, walking a little less than four miles total. Hurrah!

Tuesday: Scrubbed the bathroom tub & tiles a bit, though not enough to keep the bathroom from still being a bit disgusting. Hey, something is better than nothing. Went to the library again. Got lots of typing practice. Did some walking around for pleasure as well, walking a bit more than four miles during the day, which was a lovely change of pace from my recent lethargy.

Wednesday: Felt like all my limbs were made out of lead. Wondered why my arms ached so much, then remembered the previous day's scrubbing. Didn't bother leaving the house all day. Developed a nasty migraine in the evening, so went to bed earlyish in hopes that getting a good, solid eight or nine hours of sleep would help me feel better the next day.

Thursday: Was awakened after about five hours of sleep. Ugh. Migraine still nasty, so I took some prescription medication for it and ended up feeling slightly high, or possibly low (it was a little hard to tell which way was up by that point). Constantly bumped into walls as I walked through the house. Headache waned enough during the day for me to go to the grocery store for a few good foods, so that was a plus. Went to sleep relatively early, woke up an hour later to put a load of laundry in the dryer, then spent the next hour-plus in utter misery because the headache had gotten much, much worse and would not allow me to get back to sleep no matter what position I contorted myself into.

I called my doctor's clinic's answering service to find out the maximum dose of my headache medication that I could safely take in a day, enthusiastically thanked the doctor on call when he told me that yes, in a 24-hour period it was okay to take about three times as much of the drug as I had already taken. Took another pill. Promptly puked my guts out (was grateful that my body had given me enough warning for me to run to the bathroom and pull my hair out of the way first). Greeted incoming housemate with the words, "You know, intense pain and nausea really aren't conducive to sleep." Refreshed my memory of the symptoms of meningitis. Decided that migraine + muscle tension was still a better fit for the symptoms, and besides, the thought of enduring the lights of even the most dimly-lit ER for any length of time sounded like a taste of Hell. Took another pill, which stayed down this time and noticeably decreased the pain within a few minutes. Wondered if any of that relief was related to placebo effect, but decided I didn't care as long as the pain went away enough to let me sleep.

Friday, so far: Woke up after sleeping somewhere around seven hours, which was better than I'd expected. Still feeling a wee bit headachy, I took more of the headache meds as well as my usual drugs. The migraine's still there, but it's more of a normal migraine rather than something seriously making me consider a trip to the emergency room, so I'm grateful for that. I haven't braved breakfast yet, and I do have an appointment with the neurologist today, so wish me luck!

Based on the way I felt Monday & Tuesday, I'd say my good days on Keppra are better than my good days on Depakote were (at least in the last few months I was taking it). Based on the last couple of days--especially last night--I'd say that my bad days are significantly worse. I wonder if this dose of Keppra is actually helping any, or if I'm just relearning what it's like to live without Depakote's side effects.

(no subject)

Saturday, August 9th, 2008 12:23 pm
hummingwolf: (My world is askew!)
Via [livejournal.com profile] bad_science: Bill Nelson wins the internet. You know, I've put up with doctors who stuck Q-tips up my nose and called it therapeutic, but if anyone ever started singing his career history to the tune of "Simple Gifts," I do believe I would run away screaming.

[Edit: biography. A must-read. (Well, read it for as long as you can stand it, anyway.)]

It seems somehow appropriate that the one other video I've watched today is this one: play Crazy for me.

Mind and Hearts

Wednesday, July 16th, 2008 09:06 pm
hummingwolf: (two)
So within the last few weeks, when other excuses wore out and facts had to be faced, I finally acknowledged that the CNS depressant I've been taking for a little over a year has, in fact, caused a low-grade depression. Well, the medication's known psychiatric side effects were likely boosted by the fact that the drug hasn't been keeping either migraines or seizures under control at the current dose, and any higher dose tends to make my digestive system deeply unhappy. Mostly it's the medication's current ineffectiveness which the neurologist was focused on (though nobody's particularly happy with some of the other recent side effects, even when you're not taking the Great Bleh into account). Since a higher dose is a bad idea, I'm now on a lower dose and will be going on a lower dose still until I've stopped taking the drug altogether. For those interested in such things, I'm tapering off of Depakote and will start taking Keppra--beginning with a low level of that, since we've established that my body is oversensitive to the nastier effects of mindbending meds. Wish me luck!

(Note to local people: Keppra's side effects include mood changes too, most famously RAGE. If any of you happen to notice me being more psychotic than usual, please let me know (from a distance, if you have to)!)

Anyway, the big thing that made me realize that Depakote's been less-than-good for me mindwise is that I've barely even wanted to be creative this last year, except perhaps theoretically. I hardly recognize myself! Did play pointlessly with some POV-Ray pigment patterns, though. At first I wasn't sure if I wanted to experiment with fractals or heart curves, so I did both:



See?

After that, I played with hearts a little more: In my heart of hearts )

So if things go well I hope to find some of that old creativity again, or possibly find some new and fresh creativity that I can call my own. "Better living through chemistry" can be such an elusive goal sometimes.
hummingwolf: squiggly symbol floating over rippling water (Cuddly plush toy)
A lovely essay via [livejournal.com profile] mind_hacks: COOKIE MONSTER SEARCHES DEEP WITHIN HIMSELF AND ASKS: IS ME REALLY MONSTER?
How can they be so callous? Me know there something wrong with me, but who in Sesame Street doesn't suffer from mental disease or psychological disorder? They don't call the vampire with math fetish monster, and me pretty sure he undead and drinks blood. No one calls Grover monster, despite frequent delusional episodes and obsessive-compulsive tendencies. And the obnoxious red Grover—oh, what his name?—Elmo! Yes, Elmo live all day in imaginary world and no one call him monster. No, they think he cute. And Big Bird! Don't get me started on Big Bird! He unnaturally gigantic talking canary! How is that not monster? Snuffleupagus not supposed to exist—woolly mammoths extinct. His very existence monstrous.

More seriously, and also via Mind Hacks, there's a story about Erick Turner, a professor of psychiatry at Oregon Health & Science University and a clinician at the Portland VA Medical Center, ...[who] published a paper in the New England Journal of Medicine that revealed antidepressants are not as effective as we’ve been led to believe.

While I'm looking at Mind Hacks anyway, here's one that will come as no surprise to some of you: "Karelis, a professor at George Washington University, has a simpler but far more radical argument to make: traditional economics just doesn't apply to the poor. When we're poor, Karelis argues, our economic worldview is shaped by deprivation, and we see the world around us not in terms of goods to be consumed but as problems to be alleviated."

Sidewalk Psychiatry.

My head still hurts. Bah. Me want cookie.
hummingwolf: squiggly symbol floating over rippling water (Kaleidoscope (purple & white))
You know those anxiety dreams everybody has? The dreams like the one where you're in school, say, and you've just found out that you have an exam in five minutes in a class you'd forgotten you were supposed to be taking and if you don't pass it you will FAIL at LIFE with no chance of repentance, no opportunity for clemency? I don't have those dreams. Not a single one. Ever since sometime in the nineties, I have had, instead, dreams in which I suddenly realize that tomorrow is the last scheduled day of classes, I haven't been to class since the beginning of the semester, I don't even know who all my professors are--and it doesn't matter. All of the professors are kind and understanding, they all recognize that circumstances have made things difficult, and they all are willing to wait as long as it takes until I am finally able to do the work that was supposed to be done. No matter how stressful my life has been on the outside, in my dreams, at least, there has been acknowledgement that patience is necessary.

Since the latest diagnosis, my dreams have taken a different turn. I have had one dream that I remember clearly and another half-remembered one where it's been made clear to me that some assignments will be due soon and I need to get working. This still isn't the standard hectic anxiety dream, but it is a dream involving a deadline and an implied threat. Is this my subconscious mind's way of saying that it believes my limitations will be reduced soon and I'll be able to tolerate the levels of subconscious nagging everybody else has to deal with? If so, that's kinda nifty, in a perverse sort of way.

One of my other recent dreams was a rarity for me--a nightmare. This one involved people being tortured and small, furry animals feeding off the--
no, you're quite right, you really don't want to know. Anyway, the man directing the torture was Detective Tritter from this last season of House, M.D., though he seemed to be working for the Initiative from Buffy season 4, which means that one single dream managed to combine pain, adorable animals, and really crappy story arcs from two otherwise entertaining TV shows. Buffy the Vampire Slayer did recover from that one substandard season (though I know some of you think some later season was worse); but I have substantially less faith in the writers of House, possibly because the writers of House are the folks trying to convince us that a character who is in genuine, chronic, incurable pain for perfectly valid reasons; has been prescribed pain medication in accordance with best practices (at least as far as anyone on staff can tell); and has proven that he functions much better when he's got some kind of pain relief, is somehow a bad person because he wants to keep taking the drugs rather than go cold turkey and endure more pain for no good reason. (The previous sentence did not spoil the latest season of House, by the way, since the writers have apparently been compelled to pull this stuff every half-dozen or so episodes since the series began.)

I really do miss the Joss Whedon shows. I said as much in comments at [livejournal.com profile] house_md recently, mentioning that I'd like Charisma Carpenter, J. August Richards, and Alexis Denisof to appear on the show. "I don't think they should be ducklings, necessarily, but people House can bounce ideas off of who are capable of restraining him when he loses his soul is about to do something stupid..."

Speaking of bright doctors doing stupid things, I was looking through some of my old medical records and saw in a neurologist's notes in early 1995 that "She [me] will have an EEG for possible partial complex seizures." This never happened. After my father died two months later, the doctor decided that all my health problems must be related to my reaction to Dad's death--in spite of the fact that my health problems had begun several years earlier and my father died from meningitis, which isn't exactly what you'd call a chronic disease of long duration. I do wonder how different life would be now if the neurologist had listened to me after that point. Maybe nothing would have shown up on the EEG back then anyway; maybe nothing major would be all that different now. I still have to wonder, though.

(no subject)

Tuesday, June 19th, 2007 08:36 am
hummingwolf: (two)
When you've spent the last seventeen years dealing with health issues you have no "objective" confirmation of--no abnormal tests to point to, no grossly misplaced body parts, in short, no way to convince any determined doubters that the problems you're describing are not entirely imaginary--it is oddly comforting when you finally get a diagnosis that comes with some clear, objective abnormality. While I'm not one of the many fibromyalgia patients who constantly say "I wish I had cancer so people would take me seriously for a change!" I do understand the feeling. So yesterday after seeing a doctor who gave me what was by that point one of the least-unexpected diagnoses I've ever gotten, I was almost cheerful on the long bus ride home. The fact that the bus was nicely air-conditioned probably helped, too.

Unfortunately, looking up info about the prescription drug my doctor wanted to try first as well as various other therapies available made me somewhat less cheerful. I know that not everyone develops the popular side effects for each drug. Come to think of it, at least one drug in the class is one I took in the early '90s with no noticeably bad effects (or noticeable benefits, for that matter). Still, I grew tired of the pharmacological trial-and-error games years ago and am not looking forward to playing them again this year. Oh well.

So anyway, the EEG earlier this month confirmed that my brain keeps doing things it shouldn't. My new diagnosis: seizure disorder (a.k.a. epilepsy). Though the preliminary report on this month's test doesn't make it clear (to me, at least) where all the abnormal activity was, the report from last year states that the majority of those spikes were in the left temporal area--and what I've heard about temporal lobe epilepsy does explain some things rather too well. On the plus side, my nice, normal MRI indicates that there's no structural damage, so there are at least some things I don't have to be concerned about.

Still no idea why I've got this abdominal pain going on, though. That's actually got me more disturbed than anything else does at the moment. Well, that and my continued lack of air-conditioning now that summer is attacking in full force. I'd like to place an order for cool, breathable air, please.
hummingwolf: (two)
So, on V-Day I celebrated by going to the ER because I'd been
coughing up blood.

Not sure what I celebrated today, but went to the ER because my
vision had become majorly distorted on the right side of the
visual field in both eyes and I figured that can't be a good
thing.

I should note that my vision is normally disturbed anyway, and often more so when I'm close to passing out. But I wasn't feeling faint, the problem did not go away when I lay down, and it's never been something which suddenly affected my field of view on just one side--of each eye. That was just odd. Well, odd and disturbing. It was kinda like someone playing with the controls on an old TV set so that the picture went zigzagged, but somehow affecting only part of the screen. My vision's mostly back to (what passes for my) normal now, but for a while there it was very... well, odd.

They asked me questions, didn't do a whole lot that i noticed
but I was kind of out of it after being sleep-depped for so long
because of the coughing. My oxygen levels were excellent, my blood pressure was way above my normal (146/70 is only a bit above normal people's normal, but my normal is more like 90 or 100/60), pulse 122, temp 98.6, and I'm guessing the flu swab was negative since they never mentioned it again. I was advised to make appointment with ophthalmalogist whose name they put on the discharge papers. Still have bronchitis, but they told me I'm already taking all the things they'd advise me to take for it and should go back to my regular doctor. And since I do not have Medicaid anymore, I can't afford any of this.

Oh, there was a fun moment when someone brought in a computer to check me in and discovered that I was already in the system, listed with the address and phone number I grew up with. "Oh! This must be the hospital where I had the laparoscopy!" Heh.

Also learned from one of the nurses about a guy in a wheelchair who needs someone else to take care of his hygiene and assorted other ordinary tasks of daily living and she still can't get him on medical assistance. To be fair to the system, he may be ineligible because he has too much in assets. She didn't volunteer that much information and I thought it too impolitic to ask. Maybe I should feel lucky that I ever got Medicaid at all, but the fact that other people need it & can't get it doesn't change the fact that I need it too.

I wish somebody could take a wet/dry vacuum to my lungs and suck all the mucus out. Also, it'd be nice if somebody would figure out what distorted my vision & make the problem go away.

I think I'd be freaking out if I weren't too tired to work up that much emotion.

(no subject)

Thursday, September 30th, 2004 12:05 pm
hummingwolf: Drawing of a creature that is part-wolf, part-hummingbird. (Hummingwolf by Dandelion)
In Donald A. Norman's book Emotional Design, there's some discussion of why human designers might want to create intelligent machines with something like human emotion.
The component failure should be detected at the visceral level and used to trigger an alert: in essence, the system would become "anxious." The result of this increased anxiety should be to cause the machine to act more conservatively, perhaps slowing down or postponing non-critical jobs. In other words, why shouldn't machines behave like people who have become anxious? They would be cautious even while attempting to remove the cause of anxiety. With people, behavior becomes more focused until the cause and an appropriate response are determined. Whatever the response for machine systems, some change in normal behavior is required.

Animals and humans have developed sophisticated mechanisms for surviving in an unpredictable, dynamic world, coupling the appraisals and evaluations of affect to methods for modulating the overall system. The result is increased robustness and error tolerance. Our artificial systems would do well to learn from their example.
Yesterday afternoon I went to see a psychiatrist, in part because my rheumatologist suggested a newish drug which he thought Medicaid would be more likely to pay for if it was prescribed by a psychiatrist. The new doctor did write a prescription for the rheumy's recommended drug, as well as a new prescription for Ritalin (which I've taken off & on for somewhere between eight years and a decade). After hearing a bit about my life as it is now, he also tried to convince me to take several more drugs, based on the fact that I'm clearly anxious and not sleeping all that well. The man was rather insistent.

During the appointment there was an uncomfortable argument going on in my mind as I tried to decide whether I should tell him that maybe the best treatment for the anxiety of someone who's worried about ending up homeless within a very short time period would be to figure out how to help that person find a home

or tell him that he really needs to change the medication for his own ADHD because he was acting very much like a ferret on crack.

The more reasonable part of my brain won, and I did tell him that I'd rather not take a bunch of new drugs when I've got an anxiety-provoking situation to deal with. He wasn't convinced. I guess there's just so much you can say to a crack-addled ferret.

A friend thought last night that I was pretty anti-drug. I'm not against drugs. I do take Ritalin and am grateful for the help it gives me in dealing with the cognitive problems that go along with fibromyalgia. What I am against is a culture where a person can say "Hi, I'm very upset right now because I'm afraid I'm going to end up on the streets and I need to find a place to live quickly and I don't know where to turn," a doctor can say "Here, take this pill to wipe your anxiety away," and the doctor's response is considered a helpful one. Of course I don't expect a doctor to help me find a place to live. But I do think they should recognize that not every emotion is a disease in need of a cure.
hummingwolf: Drawing of a creature that is part-wolf, part-hummingbird. (Hummingwolf by Dandelion)
Today on the Christian Conservative World Magazine Blog, someone asked:
Alzheimer's drugs could be used to heighten the attention and concentration of airline pilots or similar jobs, or to improve the memory of students studying for tests. Amphetamines in small doses have been shown to improve motor learning in stroke victims--why not use them to help people learn how to swim or play the piano? Treatments for depression could be adapted to help put people in a good mood. Drugs to combat attention-deficit disorder could be adapted to help students study more effectively. Beta-blocking drugs that blunt the emotional effects of traumatic events could be used to reduce the negative memories that can cause stress at a family reunion. Already actors and other performers are reportedly using medication to keep them from being nervous. Do you see anything wrong with such "quality of life" medication?

The blogger included a link to Beauty and the brain, which includes the statement "Chatterjee said in the future it's plausible that neurologists will become 'quality of life consultants.'" (It also includes the horrific phrase "large gray area between normalcy and abnormalcy," but let's ignore that abomination for now.) The abstract for the Neurology article ends with the sentence "Neurologists and other clinicians are likely to encounter patient-consumers who view physicians as gatekeepers in their own pursuit of happiness."

Really, I just have to ask: How many of the people going on about the quality-of-life enhancing possibilities of these medications have ever taken the medications? Even patients who acknowledge a need for some kind of change in their brain chemistry complain about nasty side effects; what kind of effects will people suffer if they muck about with the chemistry of a so-called normal brain?

Also: Those of you who have ever had to deal with a doctor for any kind of chronic or long-term illness: Do you believe it's an even remotely good idea to view physicians as gatekeepers in your own pursuit of happiness? For that matter, as an adult, do you want anyone else to be a gatekeeper in your own pursuit of happiness?

(no subject)

Tuesday, August 31st, 2004 11:11 am
hummingwolf: Drawing of a creature that is part-wolf, part-hummingbird. (Hummingwolf by Dandelion)
Essay by Seinfeld writer Marjorie Gross.

Cancer Becomes Me )
hummingwolf: Snowflake-like kaleidoscope images (Kaleidocoolth)
One of the little visual weirdnesses I've had for years is that I see semi-transparent thingies circulating around in my visual field, often making it difficult for me to focus on whatever it is I'm trying to look at. They're not your typical floaters (which I also get (like everybody else)). Sometimes I think they're kind of neat, in that my hunch--which an ophthalmology student years ago agreed with--was that I was watching blood cells circulating in my eye.

Well, a discussion elsewhere prompted me to look online and see if there's any info on the topic, and I found out that your basic ability to see the dancing of your retinal leukocytes is called Scheerer's phenomenon. This is something we can all see under the right circumstances, but most of you won't be seeing it all the time as I do! As it turns out, there's at least one discussion board devoted to the topic of visual snow. Cool! Now, I wonder if I can find info on my other visual oddities, like the part where the world seems to be expanding and contracting as if it were some giant organism breathing...

Edit: Looks like some of the visual snow board (snowboard!) people share other visual weirdnesses of mine which I tend not to think about too much. Some of them get upset about entirely different things, even when they have the same basic sets of symptoms. One person is upset by visual "graininess" at night, while another person is unbothered by it. Second person is so disturbed by "worms in the sky" that they're a bit agoraphobic. It's interesting.

(no subject)

Thursday, June 17th, 2004 12:28 pm
hummingwolf: squiggly symbol floating over rippling water (one)
Because a few of us have been discussing (and experiencing) potassium deficiency recently, here's a list of some foods and their potassium content, taken from the book Prevention's Food & Nutrition, 1993.

Food Portion Potassium (mg.)
Avocado 1 1,204
Raisins 1 cup 1,089
Acorn squash, baked 1 cup 891
Potato, baked 1 844
Spinach, cooked 1 cup 838
Cauliflower florets, raw 1 cup 795
Navy beans, cooked 1 cup 719
Apricots, fresh 1 cup 628
Plain nonfat yogurt 1 cup 579
Asparagus, cooked 1 cup 558
Mushrooms, fresh 1 cup 555
Orange juice 1 cup 496
Cantaloupe 1 cup cubes 494
Apricots, dried 10 halves 482
Lima beans 1/2 cup 478
Banana 1 451
Skim milk 1 cup 447
Chicken breast, broiler/fryer 1 440
Sockeye salmon, fresh, cooked 3 oz. 319
Flounder, cooked 3 oz. 292
Ground beef, extra-lean 3 oz. 266
Turkey white meat 3 oz. 259
Turkey dark meat 3 oz. 247
Chicken breast, roasted 3 oz. 220


This month, I have craved every food on this list. Well, everything except raisins, which I'm still convinced are demon spawn disguised as dried fruit.
hummingwolf: squiggly symbol floating over rippling water (one)
"Additionally, Dr. ----- reports that Ms. ----- only has 10% use of her hands, fingers, and arms for grasping, turning, or twisting objects, fine manipulations, or reaching."

The sentence struck me as absurd. Granting that the words were written as part of a process of appealing for disabilty benefits, I couldn't help wondering if someone had misunderstood something somehow. Ten percent use of these hands, these arms? I looked at them, flexing my fingers. The skin's dry, opening in small cracks on two of the knuckles. Blue veins run over muscles you can watch working along the arm as the fingers move. These are not hands you'd see in an advertisement for moisturizer or dishwashing soap. Still, they're not what you'd expect from the sentence above. At least, they're not what I would expect.

Thinking of the reasons why I never got a job after graduating from the training school a couple years ago, my hands are nowhere near the top of my list. They type 80 words per minute, for Pete's sake!--faster if I've been practicing. All right, I knew that my manual dexterity tested below the fifth percentile. And it's long been obvious that I'm not someone you'd want flipping burgers at your favorite fast-food joint, carrying fragile objects, using needle and thread on anything you wouldn't want stained by my blood, or performing surgery. As for upper-body strength, it's not much, never has been. Opening a fresh jar of my favorite salsa is an exercise in absurdity that can take longer than anything else I do in the kitchen. Reaching my arms up and lifting are actions with unpredictable results. But something about that number, 10 percent, leaves me struggling to make sense of it. It sounds like I should be someone who can't tie her shoes in the morning or unlock the front door. I don't get it.

I look at my hands again, asking them what they make of all this. They tell me they want to give someone a backrub. Not quite the answer I was looking for.

(no subject)

Thursday, March 20th, 2003 12:35 pm
hummingwolf: squiggly symbol floating over rippling water (Default)
Oh good grief.

Why is it so many people think they're healing when all they're doing is finding something else to be dependent upon? That's not health by any stretch of the imagination--it's just finding a new way to hide your emptiness from yourself.

Don't mind me. This is just the crazy woman ranting off in the corner. At least I'm not talking about you-know-what.

[Edit: I'm not talking specifically about anyone likely to pay any attention to this. Though come to think of it, the people I'm thinking of wouldn't pay attention to this even if they were reading it.]
hummingwolf: squiggly symbol floating over rippling water (Default)
I sent this to a mailing list in Jan. 2001, may as well post it here too....


When life is at its worst, what things keep you sane? Or, if you've never been sane, what things at least keep you from committing suicide and/or homicide?

Here are mine:

Movement. No matter how tired I get, I feel compelled to move--I hate sitting still for very long and become exceedingly cranky if forced to do so. You do *not* want to see me when I've got a sprained ankle.

Communication. I love e-mail, chats, and real life conversations, but often the best thing is a phone call lasting hours at a time, where I can hear a friendly voice but don't have to deal with the other person's reactions to the expressions on my face. Sometimes it helps to talk to someone who understands what I'm going through; sometimes it is better to talk to someone who doesn't have a clue and doesn't pretend to. Sometimes I need to talk about my problems with someone who cares about me; sometimes I need to hear about anything not related to my life or my problems, to know that the world does not revolve around me.

Some creative outlet. When my health was at its worst, this was limited to drawing random lines in a graphics program and tracing around them to form maze-like patterns which were pretty painful to look at. I would do this for hours at a time. I had to.

Reading. When I could barely focus my eyes or my thoughts (and that only with intense migraine pain), there were days when I could read only about eight or ten pages. I still had to read *something*, had to try to fill my head with thoughts that weren't my own.

Listening to music. I fear for the lives of all those around me should I ever lose my hearing.

Chocolate. Dark chocolate truly is a food of the gods.

Trees. I love trees. I never knew how much I loved trees until a few years ago when I spent a week at my brother's place, a then-new development with only a few tiny little baby trees. I *hated* it. I do not know how to express the intense relief I felt when I moved again to a place with trees. I love trees.

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