Archive for Ease and Disease

Rehab: day zero

I think the decision was made when I worked myself into a walker, and then promptly dropped to the floor. (Hey, gravity works.)

Physical therapy, industrial strength. Nobody knows how long it will last.

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Technical difficulties

It is extremely difficult to run this place off a Chromebook; no respectable FTP clients, and Google of course thinks it knows what you want in a keyboard. (They don’t.) I had major problems with the next Vent, because CHROME DOESN’T HAVE A GODDAMN TEXT EDITOR and HALF THEIR APPS ARE FUCKING AD-DISTRIBUTION DEVICES. It will be very short, and mostly video.


To my surprise and delight

Who knew?

From the text:

I remember when he took time from his World Tour ’05 to visit me. I can barely believe it’s now over 10 years ago.

He’s been having some spinal issues. Look up “spinal stenosis.” It’s certainly not pretty stuff.

This is a guy who has always been independent. He’s taken his paid days off and now … well, let’s rally around him.

Chaz is not a guy who would ask for help. He’s too proud but just a little will go a long way. Help him with some bills. Let him relax and take the time he needs to get better.

To have such friends…

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On the table

About the time this goes live, I’ll be on the operating table, getting my nerves realigned. (Literally. Look up “spinal stenosis.”) I have been given no reason to think this is a particularly complicated procedure, and I expect to come out of it no worse than I went in.

Saturday I sprung this idea:

I still hate the idea. Then again, I’ve burned up the last of my paid days at work as of this afternoon, so “subsequent expenses” are still something of a worry. (I have, I think, enough on hand to cover the annual out-of-pocket on my gold silver bronze zinc health-insurance plan.) I don’t plan a formal fundraiser or anything like that, largely because this requires setting an official goal, which sort of rubs me the wrong way. (If you’re curious, I was thinking in terms of $4,000.) That said, I would be grateful for anything anyone feels like stashing into my PayPal account (chaz -at-

Any posts I have in the can will be dribbled out over the next day or two. I expect to be released Tuesday, maybe Wednesday at the latest.

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Gonna send you back to Walker

Johnnie Mae Matthews, the Godmother of Detroit Soul, once wrote a song called “Gonna Send You Back to Georgia”; singer Timmy Shaw recorded it in early 1964, early enough for the Animals to put out a cover version, though since Eric Burdon and friends knew nothing about Georgia, they replaced the word “Georgia” with “Walker.”

Of course, “walker” to me these days is a made-in-China medical device, with which I can get around a bit easier. There is, of course, one exception: the walker is 1.5 inches too wide to get into the bathroom unless I remove the bathroom door. I am not removing the bathroom door; I’ll leave the device parked in the hallway and stagger the three or four steps to whichever bathroom function I require.


This is spinal tapping

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You may wait here in the sitting room

This is not the least bit heartening:

By the time a new patient hears the words “the doctor will see you now,” it may have taken weeks or even months to get that appointment. Need to see a dermatologist in Boston? The average appointment wait time is a staggering 72 days, according to a recent survey.

“It’s often said what sets apart the American healthcare system is that if someone encounters a problem, they can schedule an appointment and be seen by a doctor at any time,” said Daniel Ehlke, an assistant professor of health policy and management at SUNY-Downstate Medical Center School of Public Health. “But if you look closely at the local level, it usually takes a considerable amount of time to see a doctor.”

Merritt Hawkins, a healthcare consulting firm, conducted a survey [pdf] to determine the average time new patients have to wait to see a doctor in 15 metropolitan areas. The survey focused on five medical specialties: cardiology, dermatology, family practice, obstetrics / gynecology, and orthopedic surgery.

The average wait time was over 18 days. Orthopedic surgery was the only specialty that averaged less than 14 days.

And that was 2014. There’s no reason to think things have improved since then.

Unless someone cancels between now and then, I have a 33-day wait to see the neurologist. By then, I might be dead. (And right now, that looks like the preferable outcome.)

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Staggering about

After three days of doing a whole lot of nothing — nothing’s easy to do when you can barely walk — I decided to force myself to fill up the car and make a grocery run. Both these events were dispiriting. At the Shell station, regular had dropped a dime from last time, while premium hadn’t budged. And the trip to the supermarket ended, as it always does, with unloading a week’s worth of groceries, which took seven paper sacks at a time when I was barely able to carry two. (The arms are not weak, but the thighs buckle at every opportunity.) Add to that a Heat Advisory, and by the time it was all over I was wilted worse than last week’s lilies.

Still, if I can manage that, I suppose I can go back to work on Monday, provided I can foist off the heavy lifting on someone else. In the meantime, though, I feel like hell, and any medical resolution to this matter remains several weeks away.


Private sedentary

In which I consider the possibility of spending the rest of my days in a seated position. Not that I want to or anything, you may be sure.

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34 points in its favor

I looked at “ixekizumab” and immediately thought: bad, make that really bad, Scrabble® rack. Well, no. For one thing, you’re only allowed seven letters. For another, this might be a serious medical breakthrough:

A new study has shown ixekizumab completely or almost completely cleared the disease in 80 per cent of patients with moderate to severe psoriasis.

Kim Kardashian West has spoken out in the past about her struggles with the condition, which causes red, itchy and painful patches, often on the star’s legs.

The new findings from three large, long-term clinical trials, are published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Well, okay, I’m not going to complain, even if it helps a Kardashian. But that name? Never, ever going to wash. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to, at least for now while the stuff is under patent. From the manufacturer’s site:

Taltz® is a prescription medicine used to treat adults with moderate to severe plaque psoriasis who may benefit from taking injections or pills (systemic therapy) or phototherapy (treatment using ultraviolet or UV light).

Five letters, 14 points. A decided improvement, if you ask me. Both the FDA and its European counterpart have approved the drug for this specific use (treating the heartbreak of psoriasis, not playing Scrabble).

(Via Interested-Participant.)

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Tomorrow the wrinkles

Actually, I thought they were supposed to be wrinkled, but apparently I am falling behind the times once again:

Move over manscaping — the latest trend in male groin grooming is a scrotal lift.

The procedure, otherwise referred to as scrotoplasty or reduction, is performed to reduce, repair or reconstruct the scrotum to get rid of excess scrotal skin.

And with men more body conscious than ever, doctors say the op is rising in popularity as word spreads.

The nip and tuck procedure was first carried out to correct abnormalities, treat cancer patients or those who had suffered an injury down below.

But clinics now offer it as a standard cosmetic treatment alongside more established procedures such as moob surgery or a nose job.

In other news, guys are having moob surgery.

I wonder how many men are having this operation specifically for trompe l’oeil purposes; as Myra Breckenridge used to say, some guys are all potatoes and no meat. Or maybe that was Myron.

(Via Fark, with a blurb right out of Carla Ulbrich.)

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And then something rises

Sometimes it’s the simplest things that keep you going:

I’ve had smaller, less intense dissociative episodes almost constantly, in addition to chest pains, anxiety attacks, and other symptoms. I have difficulty believing that I am really here, that my life is real, that the world around me isn’t a dream. I feel like I flicker in and out of reality.

But baking helps. Baking is something that knits my body and soul together, calming the mind that is so desperate to escape. My body becomes an anchor to the real world. Baking is tactile, purposeful, and produces a usable result (most of the time). Due to years of unemployment, under-employment, and abusive workplaces, food has not always been a guarantee. I’ve had to choose between keeping my phone connected, feeding my cat, or buying groceries for myself. Things are still tight. I have no hope of owning a car any time soon. I’ll never own a house or be able to retire. Some weeks, all I can afford to eat is cheap pasta. But as long as I have flour, water, yeast, and salt, I can make bread. Bread takes on a new importance when it is an essential part of a meal plan. It may not be exciting, but it’s always nourishing, always filling, always simply there. It’s not a feast, but it is food. It keeps me going.

I may tell myself that I reposted this here for you, but I suspect I reposted this here mostly for me.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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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?

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Stand up straight

Believe me, I’d love to.

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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.)

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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.”


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.)

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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.

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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.


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.


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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.


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.

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