Archive for Ease and Disease

An idea sprouts in Brussels

Belgium, which needs to get at least another decade out of its nuclear power plants, will address the possibility of catastrophic failure proactively, sort of:

The Belgian government has agreed to distribute iodine pills to the country’s entire population as a nuclear safety precaution.

Health Minister Maggie De Block said current rules requiring pills to be given within 20km (12 miles) of a reactor should be increased to 100km.

Belgium’s neighbours have criticised the state of its nuclear reactors.

However, the minister said the change was as a result of the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan.

An earthquake led to a tsunami and all three reactor cores largely melted down.

“Every country has updated its plans for a nuclear emergency,” Ms De Block told Belgian TV.

And after Fukushima, the Japanese government handed out these same pills, intended to block radioactive isotopes of iodine from lodging in the thyroid gland, a potential cause of thyroid cancer.

As for the state of the Belgian reactors, well, it’s been better:

[German] Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks called for the Doel 3 and Tihange 2 reactors to be taken offline because of a report by Germany’s independent Reactor Safety Commission.

They were temporarily shut in 2012 when defects were found in the walls of the reactors’ pressure vessels.

It may be 2017 before the pills get into the hands, and thence into the mouths, of the Belgian citizenry.

Comments (1)




From the We Are Doomed files

A couple of years ago, I posted something about a couple of antihistamines that had a tendency to screw up, so to speak, one’s libido. The title — “Friends with Benadryl” — got no reaction whatsoever, perhaps because we have a tendency to venerate drugs that do us a favor. We also have a tendency to forget that every drug has side effects, and sometimes those side effects can be nasty:

A new study, published Monday, offers the most definite proof yet of what scientists have known for at least a decade: that anticholinergic drugs [pdf] are linked with cognitive impairment and an increased risk of dementia.

Though you may have never heard of this class of drug, you’ve certainly heard of the medications themselves, including Benadryl, Demerol, Dimetapp, Dramamine, Paxil, Unisom and VESIcare. They are sold over the counter and by prescription as sleep aids and for chronic diseases including hypertension, cardiovascular disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

At the link, there’s a scale for various drugs, each of which is assigned an anticholinergic “burden score” of 1 to 3 points, 3 being the worst: “Evidence from literature, expert opinion, or prescribers information that medication may cause delirium.” The brand names mentioned in the article generally score 3.

The new study [pdf] seems to reinforce this judgment:

The study looked at 451 people, with an average age of 73. Sixty of them were taking at least one medication with medium or high anticholinergic activity. To identify physical and physiological changes that could be associated with the reported effects, researchers assessed the results of memory and cognitive tests; PET scans, to measure brain metabolism; and MRI scans, to assess brain structure.

The cognitive tests revealed that people taking anticholinergic drugs performed worse on short-term memory tests, as well as on some tests of executive function, including verbal reasoning, planning and problem-solving.

Anticholinergic drug users also showed lower levels of glucose metabolism — a biomarker for brain activity — both in the brain overall and in the hippocampus, a region of the brain associated with memory and which has been identified as affected early by Alzheimer’s disease. The participants using anticholinergic drugs were also found to have reduced brain volume and larger ventricles, the cavities inside the brain.

The catch here is that those 60 individuals were taking those meds on a regular basis, presumably allowing the deleterious effects to accumulate. The conclusion is actually rather modest: for older patients, at least, it might be wise to seek alternative treatments. Of course, since this came out on CNN, there are going to be shrieks of “We’re All Gonna Die,” exactly as there are for any such health stories that get into the popular press. That said, I have about 500 tabs of Sominex (AC burden score: 3) that I may just chuck into the landfill.

Comments (2)




The body in rebellion

And you wonder if it’s ever going to behave itself again:

I have a much higher pain threshold than a lot of people I know, but it’s a skill rather than an inborn trait.

I can train myself for this, if it lasts long enough, but this far into an ordeal that is costing me so much sleep, the long term is not high on my list of priorities.

This is not to say that he’s just sitting there and taking it:

I move around and stretch out as best I can to work the knots out, and for a man of my age and weight class I’m finding I can make my hip and knee joints do things that could probably have gotten me a spot on Johnny Carson, back in the ’70s or so.

It turns out I have to do those things to keep up with my younger (and quite a bit heavier) self. And I have yet to adjust myself to thinking of “trick” as an adjective: “trick knee.” Which it is; though the nervous system seems to be tricker, and the brain interpretation of that nervous system may be the trickest of all.

Comments (3)




Failure to remain vertical

I seem to be falling down a hell of a lot these days.

Today’s spill was at the office, while moving boxes of paper around. (Which I wouldn’t have had to do if someone hadn’t asked for something wholly worthless, hint, hint.) Straight backwards; honestly, trying to pull myself up probably hurt worse than the fall, at least at the time. Left shoulder and right knee were twinged, but the worst of it was around the beltline. I discovered rather quickly that I wasn’t walking anywhere without help.

The manager sent me to an occupational clinic on the opposite side of town — no, I didn’t drive — where the lack of obvious damage led to the decision to perform an ECG. It’s full of weird little timing issues, though without the rest of my medical records handy, it was impossible to say much of anything about them other than that they were weird. I was able to drive home without incident, and the shoulder quit hurting almost immediately, but the beltline discomfort remains. I am starting to believe it’s a combination of one banged-up bursa and a sudden onset of stress-related indigestion: I got home after 2 pm, not having had lunch, and warmed up a sausage biscuit, which came this close to inducing pole-vault vomiting (performed in a parabola), the same sort of feeling I had after my first drink of liquid after the fall.

Still, I need to get a second opinion on this, so I’ll be hitting up my regular doctor Monday, a couple weeks in advance of my usual appointment.

Comments (7)




Someone remind me of this later

One of the reasons I continue to maintain this unauthorized autobiography, as it were, is that I don’t want all this stuff to be forgotten when I’m gone — or, perhaps worse, while I’m still here but unable to remember any of it. So this bit of news maybe lets me breathe a little better:

Researchers at MIT may have made an important breakthrough in the fight against Alzheimer’s Disease.

The school announced Wednesday that it may be possible to retrieve recent memories of Alzheimer’s patients that were thought to have been “lost” to the disease.

Neuroscientists reached that conclusion after extensive tests on mice that have been genetically modified to develop Alzheimer’s symptoms.

First, the Alzheimer’s mice were put in a chamber with normal mice and all received a foot shock. When the mice were put back in the chamber a few days later, only the normal mice demonstrated fear while the Alzheimer’s mice didn’t seem to remember the shock.

But when scientists shined light on the specific brain cells that encode the unsettling event, the Alzheimer’s mice immediately showed fear.

This approach has its limitations, mostly contained within the word “recent.” Still, it’s a beginning:

“It’s possible that in the future some technology will be developed to activate or inactivate cells deep inside the brain, like the hippocampus or entorhinal cortex, with more precision,” neuroscientist Susumu Tonegawa said.

And the prospect of inactivation? Are we on the verge of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind?

Joel [Jim Carrey]: Is there any risk of brain damage?

Dr Mierzwiak [Tom Wilkinson]: Well, technically speaking, the operation is brain damage, but it’s on a par with a night of heavy drinking. Nothing you’ll miss.

Just a thought. Nothing more.

(Via Daily Pundit.)

Comments (1)




Probe being withdrawn

I’m at the age when rather a lot of people seem to want to know if I’ve ever had a colonoscopy. Short answer: yes, and I’m not looking forward to doing it again. Those wacky Canadians say I probably shouldn’t bother:

Colonoscopy should not be used for routine screening of colorectal cancer in patients with no symptoms or family history of the disease, the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care advises in updated guidelines issued Monday.

Instead, the task force strongly recommends that low-risk patients aged 50 to 74 be screened for colorectal cancer using stool-based testing every two years or sigmoidoscopy every 10 years.

Sigmoidoscopy is a procedure in which a flexible scope allows the doctor to view the lower portion of the colon and rectum, not the entire colon as is the case with colonoscopy.

Stool-based tests look for signs of blood that may indicate cancer in the large bowel.

[insert “pain in the ass” reference here]

Maybe our friends in the Great White North are trying to save a few bucks on healthcare?

Comments (2)




Stand up straight

Believe me, I’d love to.

Comments (1)




Rudest intrusion

Some hackish types are in it for the lulz; some others, I am told, for the advancement of knowledge. Then there are the ones who are in it for the money:

The computers at a Los Angeles hospital have been down for more than a week after ransomware ended up on its internal network. Patients at Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center have been transferred to other hospitals because of the outage, and connected medical devices and portals are offline, as well. The attackers have reportedly asked for more than $3.6 million to decrypt the system and the hospital’s files, CSO reports. Staff are now having to turn to fax machines and landline telephones to get work done, and medical records are being kept on paper.

The hospital didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment and hasn’t elaborated on how far the attack has spread, what kind of ransomware infected its network, or how it was even infected in the first place. According to CSO, the incident was random, likely meaning a hospital staffer clicked a malicious link or attachment that ultimately spread the malware throughout the network.

Reportedly the LAPD and the FBI have been called in.

The invaders, CSO says, aren’t asking for dollars: they’re asking for bitcoin, to the tune of 9000 BTC. Last I looked, 1 BTC was worth just over $406.

(Via Emin Gün Sirer.)

Comments (4)




Question of the ages

Ages over 21, anyway:

I imagine it’s about the same reason we non-celebrities are similarly plagued, with the additional proviso that celebrities who are not so plagued — see, for instance, Zooey Deschanel — are considered to have “fat knees.”

Zooey Deschanel slouches a bit

Doesn’t mean, of course, that ZD is always going to look like this. (If nothing else, it encourages saving pictures; this shot is probably two or three hairstyles ago.)

Angelina Jolie in an LBDReading the actual Scottish Daily Mail article, incidentally, cost me 99 cents through PressReader: the not-Scottish (and therefore crap) Daily Mail doesn’t provide a gateway to this edition. It quotes a physician who blames sarcopenia, the loss of muscle mass that afflicts those of a Certain Age, and perhaps afflicts celebrities worse because they’re trying so hard to be thin and spindly. Included with the article was a shot of Angelina Jolie cranked down to Maximum Knob, as seen here, and examples which are, incredibly, even worse. (Do not go Googling any recent shots of, say, Catherine Zeta-Jones.) This is the sort of circumstance, I believe, that calls for a somewhat-lower hemline; however, Hollywood types are not known for taking my advice, and very likely never will. I do not know if high-heel abuse is a factor here, though it seems at least somewhat possible, given the distortions of the frame that seem inevitable with the elevation. The physician suggests that if you can’t rise from a seated position without using your hands, you’re already on the wrong side of the scale; for me, with my architecturally questionable knees, it depends on the height of the seat. Then again, no one, I’m quite certain, is wanting to see my legs, which, this being the dead of winter, are, in Johnny Carson’s phrase, “the color of a born gosling.”

Comments




The alarmist

It is of course inevitable that something will eventually kill me; this is the fate of all of us, and God knows there’s no reason I ought to be spared. But I have this unfortunate tendency to see my eventual demise as, well, imminent. And it’s not. (I think.)

Comments (3)




That perches in the sole

There are always stops along the annual Architecture Tour, usually private residences, where Trini and I will be asked to remove our shoes, which of course we do because it’s the respectful thing to do in someone else’s house, and in all those years I’ve messed up only one pair of socks, and Trini’s never lost any. (Then again, she’s hard-nosed about socks; if I didn’t know better, and technically I don’t, I’d swear she wears socks in the shower fercrissake.)

I doubt, though, that anyone was actually worried about germs:

Unless you have a special circumstance, you probably wear shoes inside your house.

But several scientific studies suggest why that’s a bad idea — and the reasons are pretty gross.

Though some bacteria is good for us, if you’ve ever gotten a stomach virus, you’ll know that other kinds of bacteria are not.

A study done by the University of Arizona found an average of 421,000 different bacteria on shoes. Coliforms, a bacterial indicator of the level of sanitation of foods and water (and universally present in feces), were detected on the bottoms of 96% of shoes.

In addition, E. coli was detected on 27% of the shoes, along with seven other kinds of bacteria, including Klebsiella pneumoniae, which can cause urinary tract infection, and Serratia ficaria, which can cause respiratory infections.

Various cautions:

  • This study goes back to no later than 2008, and the supporting video has long since 404ed;
  • God only knows what might be living on the surfaces of our socks;
  • Since my normal (non-winter) after-work wear consists only of shoes, I should probably be dead by now;
  • Then again, I go through a hell of a lot of mop heads.

Conclusion: The guys who wrote the linked article were hard up for material.

Comments (9)




Viral music

In perhaps the most literal sense. Genetic Jen explains:

I took the entire HIV-1 genome and transformed it into music. This is something I had wanted to do for quite a while. The four nucleotide base pairs are cytosine (C), thymine (T), adenine (A), and guanine (G). Every C in the sequence has become a C note. The A bases are A notes and G bases are G notes. A friend suggested making the thymine (T) a pause in the music, but I preferred the idea that every base has a note so T has become a D note.

Is it great music? No. This is just yet another way to observe the genome. This is the smallest genome I’ve worked with and the track is one hour long. Obviously it could be shortened by altering the tempo but I liked it like this. Amazingly, a number of people have actually downloaded the music.

“Clearly I do strange things when I’m bored,” she says. I don’t think it’s all that strange: it’s still the same information, information of genuine value, simply converted into a different medium. And I am admittedly somewhat drawn to the idea that every single genome has a song of its own, even if the same four notes keep coming up.

Comments




Surprising health-integrated technologies

After reading this, I suppose I should be grateful that my knees, rather than my ankles, are giving me grief:

One of the braces the nurse gave me was a simple ankle brace that anyone who has had a sprained ankle will be familiar with. The other brace looked like a bondage device for foot fetishists. The simple ankle brace came with a forty page pamphlet in twelve European languages (including Slovenian) and four Asian languages, two of them being Chinese in both simplified and traditional pictographs. The foot fetishist’s wet dream came with no instructions in any language at all (including Slovenian). The nurse quickly showed me how to put the thing on and then rushed off to see other patients. As you might imagine, I have worn the foot fetishist’s delight exactly once, because I cannot figure out how to fasten and secure the device to my ankle. In fact, I wear the brace for my left ankle on my right ankle; it seems to work, but there may be dangers here that I will comment on at a later date. As for the left ankle brace that I wear on my right ankle, it strikes me as decidedly odd that anyone would choose to print out, in twelve European languages (including Slovenian), four Asian languages, two of them being Chinese in both simplified and traditional pictographs, detailed instructions on how to put on a sock. I realize that the bureaucratic mind will seize at any opportunity to make itself annoying to the public it allegedly serves, but this seems to be unnecessarily annoying.

My familiarity with the foot-fetish subculture is probably less than you think it is; at any rate, I can imagine a device that would make putting on a sock problematic, but I’d rather not.

And at least nobody’s having to wear bondage sandals.

Comments




Half nuts

Hitler, said the song, “has only got one ball,” and it was assumed that shrapnel — not Henry Shrapnel himself, of course, as he died in 1842 — was responsible for der Führer’s condition. Apparently not:

A German historian claims he has proof that Adolf Hitler had just one testicle, lending credence to a World War II-era song that mocked the maniacal leader’s manhood.

Professor Peter Fleischmann of Erlangen-Nuremberg University said medical records show the tyrant’s right testicle was undescended, according to The Telegraph.

The documents, from a prison exam taken in 1923, after Hitler’s failed attempt to seize power, surfaced during a 2010 auction, but were confiscated by the Bavarian government, and have only now been properly reviewed.

The prison’s physician, Dr. Josef Steiner Brin, noted that “Adolf Hitler, artist, recently writer” was “healthy and strong” but suffered from “right-side cryptorchidism,” a condition when a testicle fails to properly descend.

No confirmation is yet available for the song’s assertion that Hermann Göring “has two, but very small.”

Comments (1)




The money men are wide awake

Regular readers will by now have noted that I have occasional bouts of insomnia. Often they ask why I don’t try out the Latest Technology. And the answer, ever-so-slightly simplified, comes out this way:

If you use a CPAP machine to help you sleep, be aware that they’re hardly rocket science. It was developed by a man who tested it on his friends, with no medical monitoring whatsoever. Nevertheless, if you want one you’ll have to undergo a “sleep study” costing at least hundreds, if not thousands of dollars; get a prescription from a doctor; have it sold to you by a medical supply company that inflates the price dramatically; and have that company refuse to give you the instructions you need to reprogram the machine yourself in case of changes in your sleep pattern. No, you’ve got to go back to them, and perhaps get another “sleep study”, before they’ll condescend to do that for you — all at a cost to your pocket. None of these steps except the original diagnosis are actually medically necessary, and they often don’t apply overseas.

There may be better systems, but I suspect they are cunningly designed to cost even more. My current drug cocktail is not in the least appealing, but it’s under a dollar a day.

Comments (4)




Nothing up my sleeve

Blood donation sticker from AANRThis is, of course, due to the fact that I have no actual sleeves at the moment.

I received the following this week in email from the American Association for Nude Recreation:

The AANR home office will be hosting a blood drive on January 29, 2016, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the AANR office in Kissimmee, Florida. AANR invites everyone in the area to stop by, donate, and meet its staff.

While January is National Blood Donor Month, you can support the thousands of people in need of blood daily, any time of the year. Let’s show AANRs support and help save a life one nudist at a time.

A nice, public-spirited thing to do, and it’s not like the staff goes to work in the nude. At least, I don’t think they do. I’ve never visited the home office, and you can’t assume anything from occasional pictures in AANR’s Bulletin.

That said, if you’d like to swap a pint for a rather unique sticker, it’s 1703 North Main Street, Suite E, Kissimmee, Florida 34744.

Comments (2)




All I have to do is drine

Fifty percent Dexedrine, fifty percent Benzedrine, according to this vintage promotion:

Amazingly, there seem to be four pieces of whatever left in that pan. More recently, the word “anoretic” seems to be been supplanted by “anorectic,” or, in case you didn’t get it, “anorexic.”

Speaking of Benzedrine, you might want to keep it out of your Ovaltine.

Comments




In the midst of sassafras

Which, come to think of it, you’re probably not:

You can still buy supposed sassafras concentrate. It doesn’t taste a bit like the stuff tasted when I was young. Good sassrass faded out gradually — I used to find short lengths of the root in simply-labeled cellophane packets at the grocer’s, Indiana-produced and presumably with most of the safrole steamed away. But I guess even that was too much for the drug warriors; you’ll look in vain for it now. Safrole, the stuff that gives sassafras a distinctive taste, was determined to be more bad for you than good and withdrawn from commercial use in 1960. By 1976, the DEA labelled it a drug precursor: it’s used in the manufacture of MDMA, “Ecstasy.” And not only is it illegal as can be, overuse of MDMA appears to be not at all good for you, either, and in several ways.

Fortunately, there are those who still tend the eternal flame:

The smoke shall rise again, to the place above where it began.

Comments (2)




Loud booze

You already know what I think about homeopathic remedies, typically diluted beyond any recognition and then dissolved in water. (Classic, for me anyway, quote: “[D]ump a teaspoon of the stuff into Lake Itasca, at the headwaters of the Mississippi River, and then wait for it to show up in New Orleans.”) CVS, though, is vending a homeopathic laxative that’s made of stronger stuff:

CVS might have stopped selling cigarettes, but you can still buy booze at the drugstore chain — without even getting carded. Just head over to the homeopathic medicine section and pick up some store-brand “constipation relief,” which just happens to be 40-proof.

In a piece for Slate on homeopathic medicine, chemist and blogger Yvette “Sci Babe” d’Entremont notes that this particular CVS product is 20% ethanol, meaning it contains more alcohol by volume than beer or wine.

So it may send you to the bathroom, but not for the reason you bought it.

In her video, Sci Babe downs six 1-ounce bottles of the stuff and gets, well, thoroughly hammered. At least your Wandering Drunks, or teenagers desperate for buzz, are unlikely to mess with something at $7.99 a shot.

Comments (4)




Mandating the inferior

About a decade ago, decongestants containing pseudoephedrine were barred from drugstore shelves and hidden behind the counter, lest some toothless jerkwad try to brew up some methamphetamine with the stuff. Desperate to appear au courant, or simply to appear, makers of OTC drugs hurried out new preparations containing phenylephrine, which doesn’t lend itself to meth production.

There’s just one hangup. Phenylephrine doesn’t work worth a flip:

In a new study of more than 500 adult allergy sufferers, researchers found that the common, over-the-counter (OTC) decongestant, phenylephrine, was no better at unclogging noses than placebo — even when given at higher doses than those currently approved. The study’s authors called on the Food and Drug Administration to strike phenylephrine from its list of effective nasal decongestants.

Were this a rational world, sufferers would be FedExing snot samples to Washington on a regular basis as payback. But no: it is deemed necessary to preserve all the defectives splashing around in the gene pool, because diversity or something.

Study particulars:
The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice, 2015.
DOI: 10.1016/j.jaip.2015.05.007.

Comments (5)




Unwellness of a sort

This is no way to start a week:

I retweeted this and received an answer: Panera Bread. Nearest might have been Beverly Hills, which for some inscrutable Beverly Hills-related reason closes fairly early, though not that early. And delivery? Perhaps it would have been better had she been in Louisville.

Anyway, there was no improvement the next day:

At least she’s sticking to serious remedies.

Comments (2)




Whatever this may mean

I have bloodwork done a minimum of three times a year, since some of the numbers derived thencefrom have occasionally been alarming. For the last decade or so, the blood has always been drawn from my left arm — or, when the veins are too embarrassed to show themselves, from my left hand.

For some reason this week — the only good reason I can think of is that they’d moved the furniture around — they drew from my right arm. And right there in the bend, for the first time in a decade, is a nasty bruise.

I’m not sure what to think of this. I mean, it’s not like I’m all of a sudden left-handed; I have always been a northpaw, and I thought that was why they drew from the left. And the left never bruises. (Used to the trauma, I suppose.) It will go away eventually, as bruises always do, or at least as mine always have. But it’s still strange.

Comments (8)




Least-surprising development

This is part of a press release, but it’s so much more:

Imprimis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: IMMY), a specialty pharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialization of proprietary compounded drug therapies, today announced it has made available a customizable compounded formulation of pyrimethamine and leucovorin available for physicians to consider prescribing for their patients as a low cost alternative to Daraprim®.

Last month, Turing Pharmaceuticals LLC, the sole supplier of Daraprim, increased the price of this prescription drug from $13.50 per tablet to a reported $750.00 per tablet. The FDA-approved label for Daraprim indicates that it is prescribed for toxoplasmosis and other types of infections. Toxoplasmosis can be of major concern for patients with weakened immune systems such as patients with HIV/AIDS, pregnant women and children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pyrimethamine works to block folic acid synthesis in the parasite Toxoplasma gondii, the cause of toxoplasmosis, and leucovorin helps to reverse the negative effects on bone marrow caused by this mechanism of action.

Imprimis is now offering customizable compounded formulations of pyrimethamine and leucovorin in oral capsules starting as low as $99.00 for a 100 count bottle, or at a cost of under a dollar per capsule. Compounded medications may be appropriate for prescription when a commercially-available medicine does not meet the specific needs of a patient. For ordering information, please visit www.imprimiscares.com.

There is, of course, a catch:

Imprimis’ finished compounded drug formulations do not have an FDA-approval label for recommended use. Imprimis compounded formulations are not FDA approved and may only be prescribed pursuant to a physician prescription for an individually identified patient consistent with federal and state laws governing compounded drug formulations.

This state has some fairly specific laws on the subject: a long list of “Good Compounding Practices” takes up six pages of the Pharmacy Lawbook [pdf]. Still, since Imprimis claims to distribute their compounds in all 50 states, one might assume that they’re in compliance with Oklahoma law.

And truth be told, it would almost be worth it to shell out $99 (plus, presumably, shipping) for a bottle of this stuff, purely as a way of saying “Screw you, Martin Shkreli.” That would, however, be, um, illegal, since I don’t actually have toxoplasmosis. I think.

Comments (3)




Preemptively clearing the lawn

There is, after all, such a thing as too much connectivity:

Recently there’s been a commercial on television for a drug / alcohol rehabilitation center that emphasizes that “you can bring your cell phone and laptop!” (I’m pretty sure it caters solely to the very well heeled.) The possibility that being continuously available and perpetually connected, via one’s cell phone and the Internet, might have something to do with one’s dependencies on drugs or booze should be of interest to the proprietors of such an establishment. I do hope they know what they’re doing.

I mention this because of a bit of knowledge that seems to me to fall into the “obvious / overlooked” category:

To the extent that one concentrates on worldly things, he neglects his own mental and spiritual health.

Just so. You must have time for yourself: for hobbies, for relaxation, for contemplation. Not having that time is genuinely Bad For You.

Having time each day merely to amuse oneself, or just to sit and think, greatly improves one’s life. Yet we’re practically taught to avoid such periods — to stay as busy as possible virtually all the time. The emphasis on work, on “multitasking” (which, as a former expert in the architecture of multitasking operating systems for embedded devices, I can assure you is always an illusion) and on achieving ever more per unit time is using us up in ways we don’t always perceive and even less often appreciate. You’d almost suspect that time spent in introspection had been deemed an offense against the social norms.

One of the reasons I’ve stayed in my particular job so long is simply that I can put it aside at 4:30; I don’t take work home with me, and seldom do I take calls from the office. I consider this practice absolutely essential to my mental health, and gradually, the powers that be are seeing it my way. Poor you if your particular set of TPTB doesn’t.

Comments (1)




Quote of the week

This is the opening to a Daily Beast article:

What Happens When You Survive Ebola

Memory loss. Irreversible skin and nerve damage. Hair thinning. Arthritis. The lingering effects of Ebola can last a lifetime.

Glenn Reynolds replies:

To be fair, when you don’t survive Ebola, the effects also last a lifetime.

Heh. Indeed. ™

Comments (2)




Physician, **** thyself

Prescriptions, so far anyway, are not actually mandatory, and Roberta X isn’t interested in the most recent one pushed in her direction:

… one of those stupid damn anti-depressants they hand out to fibromyalgia sufferers* and on the package insert, in at least 24-point type, it says, MAY MAKE YOU SUICIDAL. MAY WORSEN DEPRESSION. I’m not taking that stuff. I have, in the past, long ago, been almost that depressed and I’m not going back there. I’m not even taking a chance of going back there. Ibuprofen, acetaminophen and aspirin are sold at at every drug store, five-and-dime, grocery store, convenience store and corner gas station; it’s even free from the first-aid cabinet at work and if those drugs don’t make the pain go all the way away, they do well enough just about all of the time. And they don’t make you wake up wishing the planet could be improved by your absence.

I did my time on antidepressants. I still have one tablet on hand, probably expired, but it’s not here because I might need it; it’s here to remind me that I don’t.

Oh, that asterisk leads to a footnote in the original, and since her footnotes are always worth reading:

* I’m not saying that’s not a real thing — who am I to talk, after all, with my chronic pain with apparently no findable cause? — but people diagnosed with it are most certainly one of the favorite targets of those gawshawful drug-pushing ads on the TV, with twenty seconds of happy scenes and forty seconds of Dire Warnings read in a rapid monotone over still images of pastoral settings. Y’know, if the stuff was so wonderfully wonderful, M.D.s would be pushing it high, wide and mighty, ‘cos they are the kinds of people who are nagged by unsolved problems. Since they’re not — Ahem. The corollary should be obvious.

The most egregious failing of said drug-pushing ads, if you ask me, is this apparently invariable line: “Ask your doctor if [brand name of drug] is right for you.” If it then fails you, it’s your fault, because you asked for it. By name. Generics don’t advertise, which is one reason I got seven (!) prescriptions filled Friday afternoon for under $25. Meanwhile, the one brand-name drug I take is $2.50 per tab, $75 a month; the little puzzle box of Belsomra (suvorexant) is $99.99 for ten of ’em. You can buy a hell of a lot of Benadryl for a hundred bucks.

Some day, given the general trend of things, prescriptions likely will be mandatory. Remember THX 1138? The big crime was drug evasion, failing to take whatever meds were issued to you. I have to assume that Big Pharma is okay with this.

Comments (6)




Because you gotta have heart

This strikes me as almost certainly a Good Thing:

The National Basketball Players Association is working on a program that would fund cardiac screening and supplemental health insurance for its retired players, an initiative expedited by the recent sudden deaths of legends Darryl Dawkins and Moses Malone.

The joint effort between union executive director Michele Roberts and NBA commissioner Adam Silver — at a time when there still may be potentially acrimonious labor negotiations looming for their sides — is intended to ease the health concerns of its retired players.

And there are plenty of concerns:

The good-faith actions of current players were welcome news to retired veterans who have been rattled by the spate of cardiac-related deaths. Although there is no concrete data linking basketball players who are large in stature to early death from cardiac distress, the prevailing opinion among many former NBA stars is there has to be a correlation.

“It’s too close to home,” former star center Bob Lanier said. “It’s the topic nobody wants to address. How many people have we seen in our lifetime who are big and really tall and are 70-something years old? Not many. That’s because people [my size] don’t live that long.

“I know things are evolving. People are taking better care of themselves. They exercise, they watch their nutrition, they try to limit the stress in their lives. I do all of those things. But we’re still losing guys younger than we should.”

Lanier is 67; Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is 68. I’d hate to lose either of these guys any time soon.

Comments (1)




This I want

From Roger’s September Rambling #2:

From Donna: “Thinking of writing a bedtime book for grownups along the lines of Goodnight Moon. It will be titled Shutup Brain.”

Yes, yes, YES!

Comments (2)




Fark blurb of the week

Comments (1)




Life in Non-Drowsy Land

Saturday night, about five minutes before midnight, I extracted the little blue-green tablet from the card, and began my first test of Belsomra (suvorexant).

  • 12:00:  A book at bedtime.
  • 12:15:  A couple of yawns; I abandoned the book and turned off the light.
  • 1:45:  Still awake, and barely even drowsy.
  • 2:15:  Got up and cranked up the computer.
  • 4:00:  Went back to bed.
  • 4:45:  Last time I remember seeing the clock before sunrise.
  • 7:20:  Sunrise.
  • 7:25:  Discovered I’d pitched a pillow onto the floor.
  • 8:30:  Actually got around to retrieving the pillow.
  • 10:55:  Crawled out of bed.

Obviously I did get some small quantity of sleep, with various interruptions, out of this deal, but its onset was so long delayed from the time the pill was taken that I question whether it contributed anything.

Dosage: 10 mg. The prescribing information contains enough Scary Stuff to suggest that 10 would have been a heck of a lot safer than 20.

I will try again next weekend, perhaps on Friday night. I am not, however, particularly hopeful. The Holy Grail of sleep tabs — works in 15 minutes, disappears completely in six hours — has yet to be approached, let alone found. I will say this: it’s a wholly different dream function. Instead of the bad urban-fantasy stuff I find with Ambien, I got a bad memoir. Not really an improvement, but perhaps less frightening.

Comments (2)