Summer Doldrums

I haven’t felt like writing, or even up to the attempt at writing, for more than a week now. I don’t know why. It could be my allergies. It could be the tinnitus that is making even listening to podcasts extremely hard. I did manage to finish reading my first physical book in several years. I will write about that experience soon, I hope. I hope I’ll feel up to reading another book soon, too.

I’ve been playing a lot of Horizon: Zero Dawn lately.

That is all I’ve been doing, aside from reading. I haven’t even managed to get online to run with my guild in World of Warcraft. Sinuses feel like they are going to pop out of my head. Sick to my stomach with something, probably just the Irritable Bowel Syndrome acting up.

It is even possible that it is the summer doldrums affecting me in ways that I’m unaccustomed to. I haven’t felt this lethargic at this time of year since 2015. The sum total of all these complaints means I’m on hiatus for the foreseeable future. I’ll see you all when I see you.

How Are You?

I never say “I’m fine” When asked this question. Well okay, almost never. Even when I was reasonably healthy I hated the “How are you?” and “I’m fine” responses. It is all so meaningless. Just say hello.

Just say hello, because you don’t really care how I’m doing. I can prove this general assertion. If someone launches into a list of their illnesses when asked “how are you?” it is demonstrably seen as a breach of manners. They don’t really care and the mannerly response to this feigned interest in the other person’s health is the discardable reply “I’m fine.” This allows the real conversation to commence.

So why ask? When I’m asked this question as part of a greeting I try to give “fair to middling” as my response. Why? Because it evades the question and makes a mutual joke out of the feigned interest in my health. Unless that person is my doctor or a fellow chronic illness sufferer, I assume the question is just an assumption of familiarity that does not exist. If we were familiar, they would know not to ask me that question unless they wanted to talk for an hour.


The Wife took me to task for this beef of mine.

…one thing I find highly annoying is your beef presumption that the person who asks how you are doing is just babbling meaninglessly. That is the utmost arrogance. Yes it is part of polite conversation but it is intended as a conversation starter and can be as short or as long as you chose. How often have you seen me ask that question without wanting the real answer? That’s probably why so many people talk to me and though yes they do sometimes give me more that I wanted, it starts connections. Just something more to chew on.

She is allowed to give me beef in return because I have been forced to wait on her for half an hour to an hour while she talks to clerks and cashiers, fully engaged in a total stranger’s complaints and whims, and I’ve done this more times that I can count. I’ve gone out to the car on more than one occasion. Gone out to the car, gotten in the driver’s seat and pulled out of the parking space. Started to drive off. This is the only way to get her to come out to the car so we can leave on some errand that can’t wait for a spontaneous conversation to end.

When I go into a convenience store, it is inconvenient to talk to the cashier for a half-hour when all I needed was a doughnut and something to drink. A five minute excursion, tops, when it is just me. When she’s along, pack a lunch to eat in the parking lot waiting on her to finish her conversation. She is on the other end of the spectrum from the average person when it comes to conversation. An anomaly. An outlier. The exception that proves the rule.

Chronic illness sufferers know this to be true. No one wants to hear about your pain. A good portion of the time even the people you pay to care don’t care about your pain. This fact is demonstrated to us repeatedly until we learn to shut up about what is bothering us. Just say hello. It’s not too much to ask.

Virus Targets Senators

The name comes from the ancient Roman Senate (Latin: Senatus), so-called as an assembly of the senior (Latin: senex meaning “the elder” or “old man”) and therefore allegedly wiser and more experienced members of the society or ruling class. Thus, the literal meaning of the word “senate” is Assembly of Elders.

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

They are the people who should not be exposed to the coronavirus. The senex/Senate/older people. It’s too bad that half of them are too dumb to know that COVID-19 is virtually designed to kill them, specifically. Or maybe that is a good thing. We do need fresh young blood in the Senate. In any case, the Republicans who attended CPAC were all exposed to COVID-19 because a big-dollar donor was diagnosed with the disease shortly after attending the conference.

Science denial comes at a cost. I’m pretty sure I’ve made this observation before, and Donald Trump continues to meet and shake hands with people even though he too was exposed to the virus, just like his HHS employees who spread the virus after bringing it back home with them. Congratulations Mr. Trump. You are the new typhoid Mary.

Hat/tip to Chris Hayes All-In for March 9th, 2020

Victim of Weather, Again

I’m suffering brain fog and vertigo for the third fourth day running today (February 12th) The symptoms became noticeable sometime before sunrise Saturday morning (February 8th) and now it is Wednesday morning. I’m going back to my World of Warcraft marathon that I interrupted in order to type this short paragraph. Hopefully I’ll have more to say than this. Eventually.

I tried doing a few of the vestibular exercises that I mentioned in the above post, and I nearly fell over twice (February 12th) I’m done. I’ve had two drafts sitting open on the desktop (they are still open on February the 22nd) They’ve been sitting open on the desktop since the day I wrote the piece that published on the anniversary of mom’s death. One of the drafts is about a Meniere’s trigger that I never took seriously until this week, the other one is about the three R’s (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) that I’ve been wanting to work on for months. They’re just sitting there waiting for me to write something. I have 365 drafts already sitting in the edit interface, and there are two more just waiting there like I haven’t got more things in the works than I can manage already with this lack of clarity.

February 19, 2020. I’m moving this article forward in time because, frankly, I haven’t felt what I would call normal (interested in writing, interested in doing anything other than watching TV and playing World of Warcraft) since I wrote this piece on it’s original publication date. That was February the 11th, eight days ago.

Today I’m once again in active vertigo land and I’m once again enjoying my Xanax. A new cold front has moved into the Austin area and I’m definitely not myself. Weird dreams have dominated my nights when I can sleep, and sleep hasn’t been at night since I can’t seem to make myself go to bed until sometime between 3:00 and 7:00 am. That is going to sleep in the morning in my book, not at night. That side effect of Meniere’s symptoms is something that I have been trying to overcome for the last few nights, but even on those nights bedtime is still in the 3:00 am range.

I slept more than eleven hours last night after going to bed right before 3:00 am, and I woke up at 2:30 in the afternoon. So the Meniere’s symptoms that started sometime in the first week of February continue to plague me day and night more than ten days later. At least I was using my time productively for the first six days of February. I had no idea that what I wrote on or before the sixth would be the only substantial writing I would get to do for the entire month of February.

Editor’s note. This was written on 2/6/2020 because I added the featured image to Atheism is Not a Belief System on the same day that I wrote this piece. I recorded that date in the edit history at the time. I never figured I’d be using edit histories to tell me what the hell I was doing nearly a month after the fact when I started including them in the articles that I re-edit.

That first lapse of debilitating symptoms didn’t even last an entire day. Neither did the next one. Or the next one. Stay tuned. I’m still here somewhere. Hopefully there will be more on the blog soon. I may sit here and write a dozen news-related pieces while I sit and listen to podcasts. (I wrote four short commentaries for news articles that day)

Saturday the 22nd of February. I’d like to say the spell is past, but I’d be whistling past the graveyard if I did that. I feel better for the first time since I can’t remember when. Since before reading that Atlantic article that inspired the last post I linked. I wrote it and then I scheduled it, and the next thing I know it’s the 22nd and I’ve missed almost all of February. I’m going to walk while I feel up to walking.

Why 4:04?

Essential Oil Isn’t

It’s all the rage these days. You can’t swing a dead cat on the internet without hitting someone trying to sell you essential oil.

Our presenters will explain how to build a daily immune boosting routine, how to manage digestive issues, how to use oils during your pregnancy and so much more! Plus, we’ll have a special guest talking about why we created the Online Oil Oasis. You won’t want to miss a single minute!

DoTerra promotional information

Mother was into essential oils for the last few years of her life. Right up to the point where the cancer she refused to admit she had killed her. Part of her insistence on doing things the natural way was from her early education in Christian Science. At some point during her life she shifted god into nature and was convinced that living naturally, organically, was good for her. She did fine with that belief until she started denying the findings of science.

It is a common delusion. Much more common than Christian Science itself is. Most people think organic and natural signify good things until you point out to them that poisons are natural and organic. They are simply natural or organic poisons. Too much water can kill you, as the most basic example. Organic simply means that whatever the product is, it once was alive. Natural means that it can be found in nature. That’s it. That is all that the words mean.

An essential oil contains the smell of the thing. That’s all they are, the smell conveying particles of whatever is infused into the oil. There is no more and no less to the product being marketed as essential. Marketed as something you need or require, need or require being mistaken for smell (essentia) Essential, not essential. It smells like something, not you need that something.

The real problem I have with essential oils is the exaggeration of their effects. If the only claim that proponents of essential oils made was “this smells good, I think you’ll enjoy it” I wouldn’t be writing this at all. That’s not the case, though. The benefits of essential oils are exaggerated because exaggeration sells. Websites like this one make extraordinary health claims like curing colds, asthma, bronchitis, hypertension, liver congestion, heart palpitations, depression, and boosting your immune system (what does that even mean?).Other websites make fanciful claims like “restore your body’s natural energy balance” – a claim so bad it’s not even wrong.

Skeptoid

Every time I go on a Meniere’s help group or talk to a layperson about my disability, almost without fail, someone will suggest I try some essential oils because they will fix whatever problem I’m complaining about at the time. Never fails. These days I have to actively restrain my own desire to lash out when whoever it is looks down their nose at me and pronounces the phrase essential oil.

I’ve tried essential oils. I still have some DoTerra oils that mom had amongst her possessions when we cleaned out her apartment. Tons of DoTerra branded products from vial purses to empty sample containers to dozens if not hundreds of different types of oils that she had read somewhere did this or that for her.

The Breathe formulation does open the sinuses when rubbed under the nose. Several of the essences in the formulation are known astringents. Astringents cause the skin to tighten, opening passages in the sinuses if you rub the oil under your nose. This is a known effect discovered by science. This isn’t because it is natural or organic, it is the chemical formulation that has this effect, an effect that can be duplicated artificially if needed. It’s simply cheaper to get the essence from the natural source. If it isn’t cheaper there are artificial manufacturers out there supplying the cheaper product. The chemical process will still work exactly the same, and you can save a buck at the same time.

The Digestzen has ginger in it. Ginger has long been used to calm digestion. I prefer chewing a Gin-gins to the grassy flavor of Digestzen, and excessive oil in the stomach is an agitant all in itself. Have a ginger ale. It’s all natural.

I can (and probably eventually will) go through every single oil that people offer to me as something that will fix my vertigo and dizziness. Mom offered me dozens when she was still with us. None of her magic concoctions worked. I wanted her concoctions to work, which is half of the necessary equation. The other half, science, simply wasn’t there to put the treatment over the line to make it effective. If it didn’t work when mom dispensed it, it isn’t going to work when a stranger suggests it. Zip it before I lose my temper and tell you what I really think of your woo.

New Year, New Vertigo

I noticed it as I headed for bed this morning. Turning over in bed caused the world to spin, requiring me to focus in order to calm the spin. It wasn’t bad, but it was persistent.

It was also present when I woke up. As I moved about today, the spinning has gotten more persistent, tending towards nausea. So it is time for the Xanax again. The knee and the back are still painful from my bathtub flight last year, so I’m going to sit here and play World of Warcraft in my pained and vertiginous state. Because I’m going to do something today other than drool on myself. I’m hoping I’m not coming down with whatever sickness the Son brought home from college with him.

Happy New Year?

Flying in the Bathtub

I was going to make spaghetti. That was my resolution. I was going to make spaghetti because the Wife had declared that her spawn and I were on our own for dinner since she had fed herself. The Son is in town for the New Years holiday, and I remembered that he loves spaghetti. So I thought “I’ll cook spaghetti tonight.”

Then I turned around in the shower to get my towel to dry off, and my feet left the floor of the tub. I slipped. As I’m suspended in midair I think to myself, “So this is how I die.” Naked, tangled in a shower curtain, with water raining down from the still-running showerhead. Neck broken, maybe? They’ll find me dead on the floor of the tub and they’ll say that I died due to a lack of adhesive ducks.

My second thought was “I’m not dying in this tub, motherfucker!” Ask the Son, he heard the cursing as I hit the edge of the tub and then hit my head against the wall so hard I thought I had broken it. Broken the wall. I was pretty sure I broke my head as well, because I lost vision for several seconds after the impact of skull against wall. I also mashed my left shoulder against the tub edge and jammed my left knee into something even more painful but I don’t recall what that was. Soapdish? Who knows. Somehow I managed not to drag the shower curtain down into ignominy with me.

This was on December thirtieth, the day before New Years. I spent several quality hours sitting in the hospital emergency room as they did a CT scan of my head and then waited to get back results. The CT scan was required because I’m still on blood thinners after getting the stents put in my chest in May 2019. Internal bleeding is a frequent problem when you are on blood thinners. I get bruises all the time for no good reason these days, much less accidentally trying to kill myself in the tub. So a brain bleed from whacking oneself so hard that you are certain the tile wall might have broken under your head (it didn’t) was a very likely possibility.

I got lucky there. No internal bleeding in the head. I wish the same could be said of my knee, shoulder and backside. All of which have impressive bruises all over them. The shoulder is finally starting to feel better today (the third of January) and the knee is strong enough to let me get up and down the stairs a few times so that I can write on the blog for the first time since the accident. The bruises on the backside are still going to require more heat to get them to be less pronouced and painful. Here’s hoping that they respond to heat treatment. If they don’t I’ll have to be asking medical professionals to look at my ass.

…and really. Does anyone want to do that? “Check out my butt Doc.” I’ll pass, thanks.

Southpaw Hazard

Every year, more than 2,500 left-handed people are killed around the world from using equipment that is meant for right-handed people. The right-handed power saw is the most deadly item.

Statistically, one person in 4,400,000 is killed every year from using equipment which is meant for right-handed people, and this accounts for more than 2,500 deaths of left-handed people every year. In terms of numbers, 10.3% of left-handed people (both males and females) suffer an injury while driving a vehicle, and 31.6% of left-handed people (both males and females) get injured in sports.

Unbelievable Facts
RAnt(hony)-ings

Fish Oil

I was prescribed fish oil in the last year of the last millennium. Fish oil was supposed to treat my triglyceride levels that had topped 300 at the time. This was back in the days when there was just fish oil, and you took a lot of it. There was little understanding of what was desired in the supplement, but the doctors back then were pretty sure that you should be taking fish oil on a daily basis to lower bad blood cholesterol. I was prescribed nine 1400 milligram softgels, to be taken every single day. That meant that everything tasted like fish oil for several years. Everything tasted like fish oil until they started enteric coating the softgels. I got pretty creative with how I took them, so as to limit the flavor and gas that the fish oil imparted to everything. There was no mention of what kind of fish oil in that original script. Omega 3 might have been a known thing at that point, but it wasn’t on my radar.

As we scrolled past 2000 and headed for the middle of the next decade, researchers started to get a better understanding of what kind of fish oil was desired. That was when Omega 3 fish oil became a thing. Omega 3 was what they were finding made the difference. When I learned this fact I did the math and figured out that I could cut my dosage to two or three softgels if I bought the right kind of fish oil, a reduction that was grudgingly okayed by my GP of the time.

But then the next set of research results came back, and it looked like the researchers were backpedaling on the benefits of fish oil in avoiding heart attacks. I tried to get the doctors to let me stop taking the stuff because I hated having to work around the taste of the oil in the back of my throat all the time. At every visit, the general practitioner and then the cardiologist kept insisting that I had to keep taking the nauseating stuff. I humored them and kept taking it, but I stopped worrying about how much and how often.

Fresh Air – The Science And Environmental Hazards Behind Fish Oil Supplements – July 9, 2018

I stopped worrying until the last of my current keg ‘o fish oil from the warehouse shopping club started to run low, and I went looking for a replacement bottle. It was when I checked the Omega 3 content of the brand I had been taking against the new bottle’s Omega 3 content that I realized that I had been slacking off the one thing that might have been keeping my cholesterol at bay. That my recent adventures with angioplasty might have been partly of my responsibility. The brand I had been taking had about a third of the Omega 3 of the brand that I had just purchased. Which meant I should have been taking 9 of the damn things just like I had been doing at the beginning. So the bottle that I had been dipping out of for over a year probably should have only lasted about 3 months, and there is no telling for how long I haven’t been meeting the minimum dosage of Omega 3 that the cardiologist expects me to take.

Healthline – 17 Science-Based Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

How much is that? you might well ask. I had no idea, so I asked the cardiologist today and they said EPA over 660 DHA over 60, twice a day. I had to look on the bottle label to find out what EPA and DHA were references for, and only then realized that EPA and DHA are two different kinds of Omega 3.

1400 mg of fish oil is a completely misleading measurement, and a straight reading of Omega 3 isn’t enough to know whether what I’m taking is the right stuff or not. Nope, now I need to be taking those two specific variants of Omega 3 (EPA and DHA) and those are the minimum numbers, twice a day.

If I die from a heart attack, it will be obscure nomenclature that kills me. You can put that on my tombstone.

Stability? What’s That?

I wake like a newborn foal. What is this thing called stability? The world spins when I roll over. I try to drink deep because I am thirsty, but the vessel is dry. Time to try walking.

Babies walk better than I do. Wino walk. There are things I need to do when I wake up. What were they again? Ah, the glowy thing in my hand that is mysteriously called a phone has lists on it.

Meds. Past time to take my meds. I need food for meds. Time to make oatmeal. I went to sleep with meds and vertigo, and I wake up with vertigo, still needing meds. Such is life with Meniere’s disease.