Beware the Woo: Nausea Relief Bands

Once upon a time there was a show that specialized in debunking the myths that surround us on a daily basis. That show was called Mythbusters. Unfortunately for those of us still trapped in the real world of today, Mythbusters only ran for 20 seasons and their last season was in 2016. The show ended the year where it seemed we needed mythbusting the most and the real world has only gotten more mythbegotten since 2016. Beware the Woo is a tribute to the science that was present in-between the explosions that were in pretty much every episode of Mythbusters.


The Wife handed me a set of flimsy little fabric sweatbands. On the insides of the bands there were these little plastic dimples. I just looked at her.

“Those go against the bottoms of your wrists.” She said. “They worked wonders for me when I was pregnant. Give them a try, please? It can’t hurt.”

She was right. It couldn’t hurt. Nothing else had worked for me so far in the vertiginous hellhole that had opened up and threatened to consume me since my Meniere’s symptoms had accelerated and started to occur almost weekly. So I placed the little plastic bumps in what I thought was the right place on my wrist and wore the glorified sweatbands around for weeks. It felt like weeks, at least.

The vertigo, nausea and vomiting happened anyway so I threw them away in disgust and went on to the next thing, which was probably dosing myself with meclizine if I remember my timeline correctly. Who can say? I really can’t say for certain because I had forgotten everything about those silly little wristbands until this post appeared on the subreddit a few days ago:

I was wondering if anyone else had tried a ReliefBand yet and what their experiences were.

r/Menieres

I didn’t understand the reference at first. I though they meant Sea-Bands, which was the sweatband with the plastic pimple on the inside. So I riffed on that subject for a bit before I even googled ReliefBand and discovered that it was basically a wrist-mounted TENS unit that sent electric shocks into the point on the wrist that the Sea-Bands just pressed on. A wrist-mounted TENS unit that costs a few hundred dollars. I would have sworn I’d never heard of them before. Then I googled a little further and I discovered that there was a Mythbuster’s episode on the subject:

youtube.com

…an episode where they not only tested the Sea-Bands but they tested a version of the ReliefBands and about a half-dozen other anti-nausea myths. The only thing that proved to work reliably was taking a ginger tablet when you feel nauseous. I drink a ginger beer when my stomach starts to give me trouble, so this result doesn’t surprise me. I probably picked up the idea of eating ginger for tummy troubles from watching this very episode and then forgot all about it.

In a nutshell the idea that you can quell nausea by poking the P6 spot on your wrist is quackery. There is no established (or establishable) mechanism for these bands to do anything at all, much less reduce nausea. The Sea-Bands that I was mistaking the ReliefBands for work on exactly the same (non)principle. The P6 spot is an acupuncture point:

This wrist acupoint is known by various names: the Nie-Guan point, pericardium 6 or, more commonly, P6. Look for the skin crease that denotes where your palm ends and your wrist begins, and go down the wrist two to three fingers’ width, and you will have found P6.

mcgill.ca/oss

…and acupuncture is a pre-scientific attempt to explain why people get sick by ascribing healing and or sickness causing powers to rivers and streams of Qi (Chi) energy that supposedly flows through the body, power that can be harnessed by doing an oriental version of bloodletting; now reformed into sticking needles into your body, although some practitioners will still practice a version of bloodletting in certain circumstances. (see cupping. –ed.) The premise that both these types of bands are supposed to work on is the same one as the acupuncture point they utilize. One type of band is just more expensive than the other and has electrical stimulation to make it seem more effective.

…On the other hand if you convince yourself that these bands work and that stops the symptoms then there is no reason not to keep using them. I mean, you’ve already spent the money, might as well get your use out of the device. Half of the problem of dealing with symptoms is just reassuring yourself that you are dealing with them, even if the thing you are doing is just reassuring yourself. There is no arguing with what works. However, if all you are doing is tricking yourself into a feeling of non-nauseous normalcy, you could also trick yourself with a free piece of string tied around the same place on your wrist. Or any old bangle that creates the sensation that you associate with preventing the nausea.

The Wife says I’m an asshole on this subject. She still swears the Sea-Bands worked for her. She swore that even after watching the same Mythbusters episode that I now remember watching with her and the children; although she did question the wisdom of a wrist-mounted TENS unit when I brought up the subject of the ReliefBand. Then and now. I’m certainly not going to buy one.

The price of these woo devices varies based on the misery of the group being pitched to and their relative level of wealth. Sports teams pay a fortune for the silly tape they put on players and that is every bit the same kind of snake oil that all of these bands are. Magic magnetic or electrical surface contact that alters the perception and makes the person who is being treated believe that something in them has altered. Which is, as I already observed, half the problem.

If there is any doubt remaining on this subject after the Mythbusters deft analysis is over, a Pubmed article should put it to rest:

Neither band nor placebo prevented the development of motion sickness, regardless of whether the bands were used correctly or incorrectly.

nih.gov

Save your money for the ginger beer. You’ll enjoy that more anyway.

Fat Acceptance

My understanding of my own body as a fat body, which I think of pretty neutrally – when I say that, other people, and usually thinner people, rush to object to that. And what they’re responding to there isn’t the accuracy of my statement, right? They’re not disputing that my body is, like, actually small. They’re sort of shadowboxing with their own kind of assumptions about what it means to be a fat person, right? They’re assuming that what I am saying is that I am unlovable, that I am undesirable, that I’m ugly, that I’m rejected, that I’m unlikable, all of these sorts of things. And while they think they are defending me, what ends up happening is that they don’t end up listening to me, right? And this becomes a place where thin people start to name fat people’s experiences and bodies for us without really realizing how kind of wild that is to tell someone else how to feel about their own body and how to describe it.

Aubrey Gordon

..and on the day that someone says to me “I’m fat” and I don’t hear them subvocalizing all of those things about themselves; when the Wife says “I’m fat” and what I hear is “come over here and roll around on the floor with me you hot, round hunk of love” and not all those negative things that I know she means? On that day I’ll let the observation stand because I will know that it isn’t said out of self-pity. It’s said because you acknowledge that you need to get larger-sized clothing.

I’m fat. Everyone I know (that isn’t my hyper-vigilant fat-shaming extended family. You know who you are) is fat. The majority of Americans are fat. As the above quoted author also observed in the podcast this comes from, we are building a static environment that is hostile to the majority of us. Why are we doing this? It’s asinine and wasteful and says bad things about our own mental attitudes.

Consider This from NPR – Author Aubrey Gordon Wants To Debunk Myths About Fat People – January 12, 2023

If you are a woman in the world today looking for blue jeans, none of them is clothing is created or styled to fit you. It’s not styled to fit you unless your name is Natasha.

Radiolab – Butt Stuff – NOV 11, 2022

The idea of average-sized grew out of eugenics efforts at the beginning of last century. Eugenicists started asking these kinds of questions, and then they created answers to the questions that suited their pre-conceived notion of what normal should be. They threw out all the non-white measurements that were collected prior to the creation of these average-sized models, and then modified them to match their ideals of normal.

Normman & Norma
twitter.comcabinetmagazine.org

We have gotten larger since 1943. Significantly larger in some areas, smaller in others. Apparently. Why aren’t women’s clothes sized like men’s clothes? With sizes stated in inches so that you can tell what will fit just by knowing your own measurements? Why is it a shame-filled guessing game just trying to find a pair of pants that fits properly?

Shchedryk, 100 Years Later

“Carol of the Bells” returns to Carnegie Hall 100 years after its North American premiere on this stage, when New York audiences first experienced Ukraine’s unique choral tradition thanks to a historic tour by The Ukrainian Republic Capella. “Carol of the Bells” has since become a worldwide Christmas favorite. Hear it and other beloved Ukrainian carols in a once-in-a-lifetime holiday concert that also features contemporary choral works, a world premiere by composer Trevor Weston, and artists including conductor Daniela Candillari, soprano Janai Brugger, Ukrainian-Canadian singer Marichka Marczyk, the Shchedryk Children’s ChoirThe Choir of Trinity Wall StreetUkrainian Chorus Dumka of New York (as seen on Saturday Night Live), and Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus of North America.

carnegiehall.org/Calendar
NPR – State of Ukraine – 100 years ago, ‘Carol of the Bells’ came to America — from Ukraine – December 2, 2022

Carol of the Bells is almost unique in the fact that it is a Christmas song that I don’t automatically loathe upon hearing the first chord. Every other Christmas song that gets airplay in the United States has been played so often to my unwilling ears that I can’t stand to hear the songs even one more time.

I never knew the history of the song before today. It’s a Ukrainian shchedrivka or New Years song that was introduced into to the United States back in the years between World War I and World War II, the last time that Ukraine was desperately trying to escape from Russian aggression, Russian oppression. Happy New Year, Ukraine. Here’s hoping 2023 finally delivers you from the Russia that you never wanted to be part of in the first place.

Bountiful evening, bountiful evening, a New Year’s carol;
A little swallow flew into the household
and started to twitter,
to summon the master:
“Come out, come out, O master,
look at the sheep pen,
there the ewes have given birth
and the lambkins have been born
Your goods [livestock] are great,
you will have a lot of money, by selling them.
You have a dark-eyebrowed beautiful wife
If not money, then chaff from all the grain you will harvest
you have a dark-eyebrowed beautiful wife.”

wikipedia.org

The Carnegie Hall performance is tomorrow. Wish I could be there.

youtube.com/LindseyStirling
youtube.com/TSO

Autumnal Equinox

Celebrate the autumn equinox, or Mabon, by harvesting your inner fruits of awareness and finding gratitude for the seeds that you have both reaped and sown. The good, the bad, and the ugly. All mistakes can become beautiful lessons that guide us toward the next step in our journey when we hold gratitude in our hearts.

rhythmsofplay.com

The Autumnal Equinox 2022 in the Northern Hemisphere was at 8:03 PM tonight. I’ve always thought that these annual astronomical events should be observed with some kind of ceremony that occurs at the time of the event.

Tonight we held a little ritual: lighting a candle, sharing the food, saying the words. It was nice to finally mark the equinox in a way that the event warranted. The ceremonial candle was a hurricane candle that we first lit during SnoVID. The panic-bought firelogs still in the box visible behind the fireplace glass are also a relic of that Texas tragedy.

We feasted on homemade spaghetti afterwards. It was a nice family affair. I offer my thanks to a local pagan that was willing to share a bit of their traditional ceremony with us.

The Wheel has once more turned, and the change of season begins.
What will be is. What was will be.
The Equinox is upon us, and the time to reflect, at hand.
All time comes together, here and now in this sacred space.
And I, but a moment in time, feel the change as I pass from one season to the next.

wicca.com
reddit.com

Constitutional Reverence

Some men look at constitutions with sanctimonious reverence, and deem them like the ark of the covenant, too sacred to be touched. They ascribe to the men of the preceding age a wisdom more than human, and suppose what they did to be beyond amendment. I knew that age well; I belonged to it, and labored with it. It deserved well of its country. It was very like the present, but without the experience of the present; and forty years of experience in government is worth a century of book-reading; and this they would say themselves, were they to rise from the dead. I am certainly not an advocate for frequent and untried changes in laws and constitutions. I think moderate imperfections had better be borne with; because, when once known, we accommodate ourselves to them, and find practical means of correcting their ill effects.

…But I know also, that laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy, as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.

Thomas Jefferson, 3rd US President (1743-1826)

h/t to Eric Buck

The reverence for the founders is at once misplaced and well earned. Any number of people could produce a better document now than they could then; what is a shame is that most of those people are not to be found in government.

Facebook

Choosing Leaders

Choose your leaders with wisdom and forethought.
To be led by a coward is to be controlled by all that the coward fears.
To be led by a fool is to be led by the opportunists who control the fool.
To be led by a thief is to offer up your most precious treasures to be stolen.
To be led by a liar is to ask to be told lies.
To be led by a tyrant is to sell yourself and those you love into slavery.

Octavia E. Butler, Parable of the Talents (Earthseed, #2)

Vertigo Sailing. Vertigo Flying.

Since being diagnosed with Meniere’s twenty years ago I’ve been on a boat three times. Getting on or off a boat is always the scariest part for me, relative movement being nearly impossible to predict even for the ablest of abled people. Even when I was an abled person myself this was the task that could break legs or ankles or feet and so I took it quite seriously.

I used to own a sailboat. It was a dinky little thing, a fourteen foot sliver of fiberglass with a nineteen foot mast. We took it to Twin Buttes in San Angelo and to Lake Travis here in Austin and I’d have people hanging off the trapeze on the side of the boat while we tacked across the wind. The wind whipping your hair as the spray hit your face and you flew across the water like a bird. Those were some of the most invigorating moments, the kinds of moments that you know you are alive because your heart is pounding in your chest and the adrenaline is coursing through your veins and you know (know, because you’ve done it more than once) that one wrong move could capsize the boat and cause all manner of upset for your passengers.

I loved the water and was more at home in it and on it than I was on the land. I swam like a fish and did my best to sail like a veteran captain, but not anymore. The vertigo seems to be always on the verge of occurring the entire time I’ve been on the water or even in the water since I started having to constantly fight it. Just looking at a moving ship’s deck spikes the anxiety and makes me want to run the other direction. It takes an iron will to propel me onto the boat, and I don’t dare go below decks or fail to hang onto something that isn’t structural as I move around on deck, always keeping my eyes on the horizon so that I don’t tempt the nausea to rise.

I’m know I’m alive at these times too, but it’s not a good kind of alive feeling. I could kill the anxiety with Xanax, but then I’m not going to be at my best. I’ll just be enjoying the show and marveling at the pretty colors and people, never taking any of it seriously. So I don’t go on boats much anymore and I haven’t gone for a proper swim in almost a decade now.

reddit

This is going to change. I’m taking a few weeks off. Maybe more than a few. I’m not sure why I need to tell anyone this, I post sporadically at the best of times. Still, it bears mentioning that I will be AWOL and probably not posting much during the first few weeks of September because I’m heading to Illinois to visit relatives and to attend Chicon 8.

This will be my first convention experience since being diagnosed in 2005, much less my first flight and convention since Coronapocalypse. I might even get on a boat and go out on Lake Michigan like I did the last time I was in Chicago. The last time I was on a boat.

Next year we are thinking of going cross-Atlantic on Cunard and catching the Northern Lights (fingers crossed there) cruise ships might be stable enough for me not to notice the movement. Seven days on the water will be long enough to kill any anxiety about triggering vertigo even if it does ultimately trigger vertigo. Who knows? I used to get car sick riding as a passenger in any vehicle but these days I can’t even tell if we are moving unless I look out the window or the Wife hits a bump (she drives, I don’t) I’m planning on taking a bottle of Xanax with me anyway just in case.

Take what you need to cope and get out of town if and when you can. That is my suggestion. Take the things you need to feel safe and/or confident in your ability to manage the planned excursion and get some form of document from your doctor explaining why you need it in case anyone asks. Then just be prepared to sleep on deck so you can see the horizon line when you open your eyes. That’s my plan and I’m sticking to it.

reddit

I’ll see ya’ll on the other side. Who knows, I might even post daily from the convention. A sailor’s wish is for fair winds and a following sea. When fighting ocean currents and weather can spell death even for the best of sailors, it’s a blessing worth having. The equivalent blessing for the modern technologist? Four full bars and direct access. Fingers crossed on there being wifi.

Postscript

Yep. I was on a boat.

instagram

…and I didn’t need a Xanax while on the boat, either. I did need to cling to stabilizing surfaces though. My balance is very bad and there is no denying this fact.

Let The World Back Into Me

This song has been haunting my dreams for a few weeks now:

spotify

At first I thought it was a brainworm, just another catchy tune that won’t go away. Now I’m beginning to suspect that this is my subconscious trying to tell me that I need to crawl back out of my shell and see if there is still a life to be had out in the wider world. A terrifying thought.

I don’t know that I can afford to let the world back into me, but I’m beginning to suspect that I really don’t have a choice in the matter.

This one too has been haunting my dreams.

spotify

I’m less mystified by what it means than what the first one means. I’m more than a little pissed at the people who have kept me locked in my house for three years. People who won’t do the basic minimum required of a good citizen. The basic minimum? Get your fucking vaccinations.

spotify

Newbs. Am I Right?

I was a little more annoyed with Reddit and r/atheism than I thought I was.

I don’t do TikTok. Or YouTube. Or Instagram, unless it’s pictures. I don’t do video and I don’t talk on camera. It’s a phobia that I’ve dealt with for decades.

I don’t find short videos interesting, I find them maddeningly abbreviated and too quickly replaced with another distracting thing that tries to make me laugh. So I was kind of surprised to be emotionally resonant with this TikTok persona:

tiktok.com/@iblamebill

If you force a religion on people, then they get to own it too. If you shove it down their throats, they get to write a review about the taste. Because that is the other side of the coin. You don’t get to go out and make disciples of the nations and then cry foul when you’ve made critics too.

I’m not attacking anyone else’s culture, I’m criticizing my own. This is my lane.

@iblamebill

I’m punching up when I attack christianity as well. I don’t do it very often because the harm I’ve experienced was small, but the potential harm for other people in this day and age is massive and tending towards growth.

Christianists are moving out and attempting to force their ideals onto the rest of society and the rest of the world and I am no more inclined to allow them to do this than I was inclined to allow Islamists to overrun the countryside in Syria, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan.

It was in this spirit that I wrote:

It was a reaction to Christianists insisting that “atheists deny god.” We deny god, so we are guilty of believing something about god. We don’t deny shit, we insist on proof; and there is no proof that the god of the Holy Bible exists. The rules that the universe obeys exclude that kind of power from existing.

I was kicked off of r/atheism for posting a link to that atheism article. I told them that I wouldn’t be impressed with the power of their authority unless I was permanently banned from the forum, and so they obliged me. Fuck authority. Fuck authority in the open market of ideas that is the internet.

In the moderator’s defense, there is a rule on r/atheism about posting links. I happen to disagree with Reddit’s sense of self importance on this issue, but the rule is there for me to read if I was inclined to kowtow to authority. Unfortunately for everyone involved, I don’t tend to kneel before power. Power of any kind.

Writers do not write for you, Reddit. Writers/creators should not write for any platform’s benefit, they should write/create for themselves. Had I been interested in observing Reddit’s war on bloggers I would have cut and pasted the 10k plus atheism article into as many 10k limited posts as it would have required to get the content in front of the members of r/atheism just to make the point. I wasn’t and so I didn’t.

I accept my punishment with pride, in the same way that I have accepted ridicule for telling believers that their God could not possibly exist because the universe doesn’t allow for wish granting sky-men. It is the principle of the thing that matters. My ideas live here not on Reddit, Facebook or Tiktok. If they want me and my ideas, they know where I am.

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