Saturday, September 10, 2011

That would be heaven

I am having a weird day.  No, I don't feel like justifying either my definition of weird or exactly how any other day might be called less weird.

Part of the problem is that I am on a new medication that is kicking mine buttocks.  Of course, I looked it up, sure to find big old looming black-boxed warnings and pictures of necrotizing fasciitis -- only to find bolded and underlined reassurances as to how freaking mild a drug it is, how virtually no one has ever experienced even a twinge of a negative sensation from this pharmacological concoction (it's two, two, two drugs in one!).  Yes, according to my research, even an overdose is cause for balloons, cake, and karaoke.  The most severe reaction ever recorded?  A sneeze.

Me?  I've had the room go black three times since starting it yesterday morning.  You know, that lovely feeling of the lips going cold as vision fades and the floor rocks-and-rolls.  Given that the other endearing side effect is diarrhea, the fainting part -- from orthostatic hypotension -- is not much appreciated.  I don't stand very often... In fact, the only standing I do is when I take the perilous journey of five steps from wheelchair to toilet, or from door to bathtub, also about five steps.

I am a tough person.  I know that I have to give medicines a chance, have to allow time for adjustment, and so on, but I do get tired of the process.  There's little point in calling anyone, the situation doesn't demand a brainiac to decipher its intricacies, and besides, the prevailing attitude is that I can, and should, put up with most any physical./mental/emotional problem.  It's my lot.  It's the dealt hand.  It's -- well, you get it.

Since "we" are talking medications...

Twice yesterday my judgmental self went into overdrive over "wrong" attitudes.  Of course, in my present mood, an attitude that is wrong would be any attitude that deviates from my own, "right" one.  I need life to be simple for a day or two.

Let's see.  First, Fred came begging for tizanidine because he has a terrible backache.  That's fine -- he showed up begging because I suggested he take some of the drug to begin with.  I had given him about 10 or so a few months back, as his back has become more and more of an issue.  For Fred to make an issue of pain is an occasion of note, to be taken seriously.  Another important detail?  We are both, after our fairly extensive experimentation with recreational drugging as middle-aged youth, ardently against drug abuse and tend to undermedicate ourselves as a result.  In other words, I know that Fred would never wrongly or casually take medication.

But the boy does suffer from a sometimes severe case of ADHD, as well as living with the tough distractions that come from PTSD.  Organization is a constant struggle, memory more an ideal than a reality!

He moves around the Manor, showing me that he is actively searching for the aforementioned previously gifted bottle of tizanidine.  "Look," his actions cry out, "See me search?  See me search and not find?"

Rather than have *that* to watch all afternoon, I decided to gift him with some more tablets.  I was hurting rather awfully myself, had just put mine self in bed, and didn't want to move a single muscle.  So I asked him to bring me an empty pill bottle for the stuff...

He first brings an old pill cutter thingy that also has three compartments for pills.  The problem is, each compartment is full, occupied by previous pharmaceutical offerings on my part.  Me being me, each compartment is labelled, and none of the labels say "tizanidine."

"You actually expect me to mix tizanidine, a round white pill, in with this prednisone, also a round white pill?" Knowing, as you do, Dear Reader, that I am feeling pissy and that I'm a dyed-in-the-wool teacher-type, you can imagine the tone I adopted.  (Yes, I also find that tone repulsive.)

"Hmmm?  What?  Oh, yeah, that will be fine.  I'll remember the difference,"  he proffers, while staring distractedly at the Nadal-Roddick match on the telly.

Anyway, after I reject that idea, he repeats it... and later, when my own pain pills have kicked in, I give him a properly labelled, single-use bottle.  But I make a point of adding a review of all those bottles on his side of the Big Round Bed to my Long List Of Seemingly Pointless Tasks.  It scares me, the thought of him reaching for one thing and possibly ingesting another.

My other pet peeve is activated, usually, on the internet.  I am incredibly judgmental of "pain" patients when they allow their tone to become too casual in referencing opiates, or any other strong medication.  It's my contention that that very laxity is what can get us in trouble, perhaps addicted to opiates even when/if our condition improves.

Language *is* attitude.  So when I read "perks," in lieu of Percocet, or "meth" instead of Methadone, I respond pretty negatively.  To everyone rolling their eyes, I say that vigilance in these smaller reflections of larger attitudes is warranted.

Even writing "scripts" for prescription bugs me.  I'm hyper-aware, hyper-judgmental -- which is just as abnormal as romanticizing tablets and pills, but I'd rather be sick with an abundance of caution than sick with opiate withdrawal.  Oh, dear God, I will never forget the Great Jump Off back in May and June! Never, ever.

Along with an inevitable hardening of my arteries, I am experiencing a hardening of my heart.  On the one hand, I am generous and would do anything for a loved one;  On that other hand, I am amassing a disturbingly long list of things that I find notably distasteful.  I thought that the apotheosis of my propensity for Hate came with the cut-out picture of Jesse Helms (next to one of Augusto Pinochet) that was neatly held to my apartment door by the knife embedded in his forehead.

I was wrong.

I'd better change the subject.

I bought a vacuum cleaner.  Two vacuum cleaners, actually.  Sad to say, I am all a-dither over my purchase.  Once upon a time, I felt that way about a new pair of shoes, a dress, a book, a reliable source of endive, inexpensive printer ink, or a sale on my favorite tennis balls.

I spent about a week researching vacuums.  I engaged the dichotomy of canister versus upright.  I did Consumer Reports, I did customer reviews.  I gauged the importance of  pet hair;  I pondered the impact of noise on my hearing.

I role-played.  I envisioned.  I convened a Blue Ribbon Panel.

Vacuuming via wheelchair is different from doing it while standing.  That's pretty obvious! Also different is losing the use of one's shoulders and having diminishing strength in the hands.  Clearly, we needed lightweight sucking tools and maneuverability, simplicity.  Ah, but the first thing that goes, I found, when you push those requirements to the head of the list?  Power!  Effectiveness!

So... I dragged out the adage of my youth:  It only costs 10% more to go First Class (an adage not known for its accuracy).  A more popular variation:  You get what you pay for.

So, yes, I spent a small fortune on my vacuum duo -- being both a lightweight upright and a canister with on board tools.  Rave reviews from me on the upright -- and consternation on the canister. That will change into the anticipated joy once I figure out how to carry it.  I looped it around my neck yesterday and that was quickly very painful.  It was designed to be tossed casually over the shoulder, but that I cannot do, so... I will have to find an alternative method of canister vacuuming.

O, but it has a beautiful telescoping wand for easy clean-up of things like slats and air vents!  O!

Ideally, I'd have gotten cordless devices but cordless and power don't go together any better than my initial demands.  And in this instance, the problem isn't solved by spending more money.

I do have a point, in case you are bored with reading about my Hoovering prospects: I end up spending more money (and working harder at the task at hand) than able-bodied people in order to achieve the same boring, everyday results.  Because I cannot work, I have less money to begin with... And it just is pissing me off.

It wasn't supposed to be this way.

Is it living when, at the end of a long day, I reflect on its various hours only to discover that almost every moment was dedicated to the alleviation of, or distraction from, physical pain, a goal never actually accomplished, and forever put off to the next day?  I don't think so.  It's not the way I wish to live.

At least the available remedies aren't difficult to assemble -- suicide, asinine sublimation, or less-asinine sublimation.  Whatever I chose to do, I am either dead, essentially dead, or a living-falsehood-biding-its-time -and-wasting-everyone-else's-time-until-dead.

You know what would really improve the gimp-friendly high end vacuum cleaners -- until that glorious day when cordless cleaners truly are powerful enough to clean Marlinspike Hall's peculiar kind of filth?  If they were all equipped with retractable cords.  That would be heaven.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Out in it, Lost

This is the thirty-fifth post on this blog about missing child Lindsey Baum.  Now 13, she was 10-years-old when she went missing the evening of June 26, 2009 while walking the short distance home from a friend's house in McCleary, Washington, a small town west of Olympia.

It's probably only a slight exaggeration to say there have been no leads in the case.  Most of the press about Lindsey has come in the form of reward announcements (now $35,000) and commemorative events -- her birthdays, anniversaries of her disappearance.

There is no new information about her case except for the occasional weirdness contributed by internet "sleuths" -- like the forensic astrologists and the disturbing number of psychic crime fighters who don't seem to have a clue as to the damage they might cause.  I've lost serious sleep over some of their contributions, as they've been known to call/write in tips to law enforcement without including the elucidating tidbit that their information was obtained in a backwater séance conducted by a wannabe Miss Marple whose cusped ass is ascending in venetian retrograde.

One of the worst offenders is a warlock named Ren.  (Now that's a sentence I never thought I'd write!) Ren claims residence in Japan, or Seattle, whichever suits his warlocky mood.

Please note, I've nothing against Wicca, and a great deal for paganism, in fact.  (My Beloved self-indentified, once upon a time, as a Druid.  One of our first dates had for purpose my introduction to a certain tree he knew.)

In 2009, I'd never followed a missing child case before, not with any sense of personal commitment, and I tended to believe in the integrity of anyone I "met" who shared my interest in this lost little girl.  Yes -- even online. Call it an exaggerated extension of my own sense of virtue. This tendency has caused me a whole host of difficulties and despite being made to attend workshops like How Not To Be (Quite Such) An Idiot and So They Say You're Gullible! -- I've not made much headway into becoming Savvy.  You know, Perceptive.  Shrewd.

What is making me squirm right at this very moment is my desire to Show-and-Tell, to sit with my Respected and Respectful Readership and vent, saying, "See!  Would you just look at this crap?" It might make me feel less alone in this big warehouse crammed to the rafters with carefully folded, rolled, bagged, and labelled Remnants of Insanity.

[With the help of psychotherapy, I've traced my Insanity Imagery back to the traumas of my youth. When I was but a child of five, I participated in a three-day forced search for the perfect rug to furnish my grandparents' living room.  Dragged from one textile outlet center to another, pushed through a frenzy of opium-drenched bazaars, insidiously trained -- against my will -- to prefer antique silk or wool colored by natural vegetable dye, by the third day of my carpet enslavement, I distinguished Turkish Ladiks from Iranian Kashans, but did so without enjoyment and in near catatonia.  I learned, above all, that the purportedly loving and discerning adults of my sphere had been rendered completely daft, dotty, buggy, batty, bonkers by a bunch of carpet.]

Give me a moment.
I try to remember that these sordid events of my childhood are also the experiences that shaped me into the perfect Caretaker for the Haddock family ancestral manor -- my knowledge of textiles, no matter how horribly obtained, is matched only by my grasp of the history of ductile iron development.

Okay, let's move on, or return, rather, to the online underbelly of internet cause célèbres -- cases that are not confused by truth value or hampered by much reality.

What matters is that folks like Ren not have their nonsense repeated, especially in a forum designed for the sole furtherance of mine own ridiculousness. There are, also, responsible members of his "community" who have begun to take him to task, as thankless an endeavor as I can imagine:

I think you are just using her as a vehicle to promote your non-existent psychic abilities.
I don't believe a single word you have posted about your supposed involvement in the matter, mainly because you have not posted any evidence indicating it is anything but another one of your fantasies.

Suffice it to say that Ren sometimes asserts findings from his Remote Viewings that could ruin a person.  He dreams, intuits, and magicks lists of potential child kidnappers;  He publishes small facts about real people with real names, with addresses, with jobs and telephone numbers, with shoe sizes and religious affiliations, and, sometimes, with tender children of their own.  He dribbles someone's reality all over his virtual pages and then illustrates them with, say, a helpful Google satellite view of their neighborhood.

You pray that it ends there, but it never does.

In short order, some poor fool, a Gullible, if you like, stumbles upon Ren's assertions through a search for "Lindsey Baum." To Our Bewildered One, not privy to the post-upon-post and site-by-site build-up of Ren's psychic babbling, it might well seem that here was someone with an insider's access to information.  Finally, some details about this innocent child's disappearance;  Finally, someone to blame!  How very exciting, how easily repeated, how effortlessly transformed from Pure Detritus into Semblances of Truth.

It's a fascinating but ugly process, watching inanity be teased from such threads, slowly divorced from the original conning murky source.  A name catches on, an idea takes hold, fevered brains go to work... and within days there's been so much cutting-and-pasting, citing-and-conniving, that you could find a housebound home-schooling Mom in Tucson blogging in red-faced exasperation about Ren's "suspects" and how these Walking Moral Turpitudes have repeatedly lied to the police and totally escaped justice... Though when they find time for police interviews is hard to figure, given that the pediatric sex orgies in the half-finished basements of their double-wides cannot long be left unattended.

It's a wacky world, and Lindsey, in one form or another, is out in it, lost.

If you have any information regarding Lindsey Baum,
please call the Grays Harbor County Sheriff's Office
at 866-915-8299 [Tip Hotline].


1-800-843-5678 (1-800-THE-LOST)

McCleary Police Department (Washington) 1-360-533-8765

Or simply call 911.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

From the Journal of Pain

Lone Knudsen , Philip M. Finch , Peter D. Drummond
Murdoch University, Perth Pain Management Centre, Perth, Western Australia

The Journal of Pain
Volume 12, Issue 9 , Pages 985-990, September 2011

Hyperalgesia often extends from the affected limb to the ipsilateral forehead in patients with complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). To investigate whether this is more common in CRPS than other chronic pain conditions, pressure-pain thresholds and sharpness to a firm bristle were assessed on each side of the forehead, at the pain site, and at an equivalent site on the contralateral side in 32 patients with chronic pain other than CRPS (neuropathic or nociceptive limb pain, radicular pain with referral to a lower limb or postherpetic neuralgia), and in 34 patients with CRPS. Ipsilateral forehead hyperalgesia to pressure pain was detected in 59% of CRPS patients compared with only 13% of patients with other forms of chronic pain. Immersion of the CRPS-affected limb in painfully cold water increased forehead sensitivity to pressure, especially ipsilaterally, whereas painful stimulation of the healthy limb reduced forehead sensitivity to pressure pain (albeit less efficiently than in healthy controls). In addition, auditory discomfort and increases in pain in the CRPS-affected limb were greater after acoustic startle to the ear on the affected than unaffected side. These findings indicate that generalized and hemilateral pain control mechanisms are disrupted in CRPS, and that multisensory integrative processes may be compromised.

PERSPECTIVE:  The findings suggest that hemilateral hyperalgesia is specific to CRPS, which could be diagnostically important. Disruptions in pain-control mechanisms were associated with the development of hyperalgesia at sites remote from the CRPS limb. Addressing these mechanisms could potentially deter widespread hyperalgesia in CRPS.


*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***
Earlier this year, in the fourth issue of Volume 12, Knudson and Drummond published this prefatory study investigating hemilateral mechanisms in pain modulation:

Cutaneous limb inflammation produces analgesia to pressure pain in the ipsilateral forehead of healthy volunteers
Knudsen L, Drummond PD.
School of Psychology, Murdoch University, Perth, Western Australia.

To investigate the pain-modulatory effects of a local inflammatory stimulus on pain elsewhere in the body, capsaicin was applied topically to the forearm of 14 healthy female volunteers. Pressure-pain thresholds and sensitivity to sharpness were assessed on each side of the forehead twice per day during 48 hours of capsaicin treatment, and in the treated and contralateral forearm before and at the end of treatment. Heat was applied to the treated area to rekindle pain at times of forehead assessment. Hyperalgesia to sharpness, but not pressure pain, developed in the treated area whereas sensations remained stable in the contralateral forearm. Sharpness ratings decreased bilaterally in the forehead after 6 hours of treatment, and ipsilateral analgesia to pressure pain developed in the forehead when the capsaicin site was heated after 48 hours of treatment. These findings suggest that pain modulation involves unilateral regulatory mechanisms in addition to local and generalized pain control. The dissociated changes to sharpness and pressure pain indicate distinct cutaneous and deep central pain pathways. PERSPECTIVE: The findings lend support to an increasing body of research which demonstrates that pain modulation involves hemilateral mechanisms in addition to local and generalized controls. Elucidation of mechanisms that modulate ipsilateral pain processing may help to clarify the pathophysiology of complex regional pain syndrome, which is characterized by hemilateral hyperalgesia.
Click HERE for References.

Sunday Morning

It's a scary thing, announcing that you've achieved some kind of relevance, and then offering as your first bit of evidence yet another piece extolling the virtues of hot heat applied to vegetable and animal flesh.  Okay, maybe "scary" is not the right word, just as more mushroom talk is not entirely appropriate, either.

Be these things as they may:

When your blood glucose reading is already low, and beginning to flirt with the concept of Plummeting, carefully prepare your perfectly seasoned black cast iron skillet  to receive the last two boneless-skinless-and-trimmed-of-excess-fat chicken thighs remaining in the refrigerator.  Salt them;  Pepper them.  Be liberal.

Sling them around a little on the cutting board while that pan gets so hot it would glow red if it weren't so black.  Get to know your chicken.

Just when you see the air start to shimmer, add a tablespoon or so of good olive oil.  If you're going to fret over how much oil to add, stop now and go find some other recipe to abuse.

Make yourself wait again, some more.  Squash any thought of caramelized onion or sweet red pepper.  Fuss at yourself.

Slap the chicken into the hot oil in the shimmering hot skillet, then don't touch it. Don't move it. Leave it the hell alone. Wait a minute or so -- in fact, yeah, wait exactly *90* seconds, then flip the bird parts, smartly, in one smooth move, and cover that sizzling mess tightly with foil.  Turn the flame down a bit.

Grab your mushrooms.  We only have big gorgeous button shrooms on hand.  I don't wash them.  Sue me.
They were large enough that, quartered, they were still meat-hunky.  How many?  That depends.  Today, I quartered six humongous mushrooms.  I didn't get 24 browned and caramelized mushroom pieces, though, so I must have either lied about quartering each piece o'fungus or I ate a few sections raw.  Or both.

Unseal the magic skillet, flip the bird again, toss in the mushrooms, seal it back up.  Again, refrain from touching the chicken.  Count the number of times you have chicken contact since it met up with the skillet -- to this point, three spears with a fork's tines.  That's it.

Learn not to touch the mushrooms, either.  Don't sprinkle them with special fruity vinegars or provide a nearly invisible crust of sugar.  Not necessary.  Hot hot hot heat and good fat, basic seasoning.  The side of the mushroom that touches the skillet is undergoing a transformation that reduces wide-eyed references to butterflies to annoying dead butterfly powder.

Try not to get splattered. If you broke the covenant and washed your mushrooms, you're likely covered in burns, and all is lost.  I mean it, everything is ruined, so just turn off the fire and go hide somewhere. If you got splattered but did not transgress against your food, be sure you replace the foil seal before you commence to whining about it.

Wait the perfect amount of time.  Turn off the gas. (Don't cook with anything but gas. If you're just now realizing your mistake, Your Bad.  You should have read carefully through these ridiculous instructions before beginning.  What's wrong with you?) Drag that pan to an unused burner.  If you want, you can call this "resting." The aroma ought to render you a quivering five-foot-nine column of self-basting salivary gland.

While everything is squirting and leaking and juicing itself, getting all married and united and stuff, wash up.  Chicken germs:  Ew, ick. Lots of soap and hot water.  Wipe down the counters, even the ones you didn't use.  Once you've done that, that snooty resting phase is over.

Serve yourself.  It goes without saying that you should have waited to hear the screeching tires of the last church-goers as they left Your Manor, late for the opening hymn, before embarking on this juicified, quick-fire adventure in moist mouth sin.

It's gonna be hell, when next you venture into that kitchen, to clean the skillet, but give it love. The dish you just made is now part of the perfectly seasoned black cast iron skillet mystique. It was good to you so be good back.

You should be feeling much better now.  Round off your protein with a glass of extremely cold water and a large, flawless, crisp apple.  Don't claim that someone left you the apple on a plate next to an apologetic note about having devoured some sweet-'n-sour golden kumquats.

Nibble at a bit of lemon wedge, let it cut through all that is viscous.  Realize that while everyone who flew off to worship God will be rolling home, repentant, you are the one who ate the pan-fried chicken thighs with caramelized button mushrooms.  That ought to put things in perspective and be a singular rallying point for you, later in the week.