Thursday, December 8, 2011


We all are faced with being labelled every day by every person we meet. And we do the same with others. It's human nature, to catagorize everyone, to simplify to what we remember. Compexity isn't our nature. So with that in mind, here is what I am according to the labels most recognized.

I'm shy and an introvert. I prefer being and doing things alone, something I've known from childhood. I'm a very private person, but when I retired I decided to tell the world about myself and my life, or at least what I want to share with the world.

I hoard empty boxes. Yes, everything I buy I keep the box. I recycle shipping boxes, or most of them as I keep some to ship things to others, but I will almost always keep the original box, just in case I'll need it. I never do and never have outside of moving and then only using the boxes for special things, stereo, computers, etc. But I still keep the boxes anyway.

I have genetic, lifelong Dysthymia. It's a milder form and doesn't require drugs. I use exercise and personal work in place of drugs. I have fallen into periods of double depression at various times of my life - the feelings are never out of my mind. I have thought about and even come close to suicide. Twice, at 28 and 50. There won't be a third time, or at least to live.

I'm an INTP person on the Myers-Briggs personality test with a few differences or quirks, whichever fits. I tend to trust my intuition slightly more than my logical thinking. I'm also very hard on myself when I make mistakes, good or bad, dwelling on how stupid I feel or how bad of a decision I made, to where I often end up hating myself.

I'm also a great procrastinator about decisions, which often leads me to reply to requests or questions, "I'll think about it.", meaning either I don't want to answer no or don't have an answer right now. Small note about this is that if I respond with that twice, it means I'm not interested, and if it's the third time, it's a polite no, meaning don't ask me again.

I can not sing, dance or play an instrument. I love listening to music, but I can't understand it beyond that it feels good. I once tried to learn the guitar, actually my parents tried and I failed, because I realzed my hands work together, which works well for coordinating movement and control, but doesn't when playing an instrument.

I used to stutter, from age 6 to past 21, and while I've learned to adjust for it in public situations, it's always hiding and waiting. it's why I also respond with some sentences when a few words will answer, the sentence overcomes the possibility of stuttering. This is all instinctive to me now.

And the rest of me is something too. It's just who I am. Just am. Just like everyone else who they are, I am.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Iron Butterfly

I saw this group in concert in 1969 at the Denver show with other bands, Big Mama Thorton, Frank Zappa and Three Dog Night. I wasn't high, stoned or drunk, and this band blew me away, especially with the really long rendition of In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, like 30+ minutes.

Well, I've never forgotten them or this album I bought a few months later when I had a stereo system to play. I was in technical training at Lowry AFB in Denver, Colorado before being assigned to McClellan AFB in Sacramento, California. The concert was in the old Denver stadium about where Mile High Stadium is today. The accoustics were all that great but no one minded.

We attended the Friday concert and the next night the concert had a fight with erupted into a riot and closed the concert. The Sunday afternoon concert went better. But the Friday concert was great, outside of the occasional individual being too far gone to realize where they were and needed to be helped or escorted out of the crowd.

We had good seats and stayed the whole time getting back to the barricks well into early morning. After that what can I say, I was 19 years old, it was 1969, and music was cool. And they were awesome. And for what it's worth, Erik Braun, one of the guitar players, was a violin prodigy before playing the guitar. And folks then thought rock musicians were self-taught, garage practicing players.

It's always a turn-up-the-volume album and ... the neighbors music. Even now in my 60's.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veterans Day

Before there was a Veteran's Day, there was Armitice Day. This occasion was the day of the signing of the treaty to end World War 1, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918. The day was changed in the US to Veterans Day after World War II and remains as it was created, a time for reflection on the sacrifices of our ancestors

My maternal grandfather emigrated from Germany around 1912, changed his name and joined the American Army to go fight against the Kaiser. He returned from that war to Boise, Idaho where he married a young woman from Soda Springs, Idaho, and become the Postmater of Boise. She was as strong minded and willed as he as she spent some of the younger years working as a cook in lumber camps.

One of their daughters, a young socialite, fell in love with and married a year later (1943) a young Army Air Corp officer stationed at Mountain Home Army Air Force Base. The officer, my father, served from 1940 to 1964, transfering to the new Air Force on its inception after World War II. They had three children, and one son, me, who served in the Air Force during the Vietnam War era, 1969-1973.

Let us give thanks to all veterans over our country's history and let us hope and pray we'll need fewer in the future and fewer still who will be injured, disabled or killed.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Being Naive

I am naive. I've been naive all my life. Often stupiditly naive and occasionally innocently naive, but still naive. I still am and will probably always be somewhat naive. Less than in my youth for obvious reasonsIt's who I am and will be. The reality of how I see the world.

I have been so naive I sometimes forget where I am and what possible risks I have found or put myself. This was and still is true when I do street photography. I love to walk around and take pictures of the ordinary, or what I call walking around images, and occasionally find I have lost track of the world around me.

I have also often, but less often now, when meeting people of all descriptions and walk of life. I remember a time a homeless person was walking down the other side of the street yelling at the world and people. He suddenly walked across traffic to the plaza were I was standing still yelling. People anywhere near him were scattering.

When he saw he everyone leaving he approached me who was just watching the whole event. He kept yelling untill he got about 5 feet from me and stopped. After a short while he stopped yelling and I asked, "What's your name?" He suddenly froze, he face blank. I asked, "How can I talk to you if I don't know your name?"

He remained still and quiet, just looking at me, without knowing what to say. I have no idea what he was thinking but when the police arrived and walked up to him, he gently put his hands behind him to be handcuffed and walked with them, calmly and quietly. He looked back once to see I was still there watching.

It occurred to me all he wanted was someone to talk to and when he found that person, he didn't know what to do or say. I didn't see him as a threat. I didn't see any real risk, and could have easily avoided anything if he had. I just thought he deserved a chance. Yeah, naive.

I often wonder what happened to him. Did he get the help he needed. Did he find someome to talk with. And more importantly did he find a friend. That's all he wanted, we just didn't see it. And I doubt we helped. Yeah, naive of me too.


Update November 1st.--Well, between 7 and 9 pm I had all of 3 trick-or-treaters, all small kids from the apartment complex where I currently live. Last year I had none and about half a dozen the year before. And now I have a really big bowl of snack-size candy bars. Hmmm...., far too many calories and sugar for me.

Original Post.--I hate halloween. I don't know why I do and I've tried to overcome it but it's always there, the desire to hide halloween night by covering the bell with a big pillow so I can't hear it and going to bed with everything dark. Not matter how much I've tried to enjoy the halloween parties, I just don't get interested let alone excited.

I've often wondered if it's because I can't remember one Halloween we celebrated as a family. I just can't remember one. I don't remember any school parties. I don't remember ever going out to trick or treat. It's a big blank what we did that night. So I have no childhood connection to make it a happy holiday.

It's also since leaving home I don't really like parties. I'm one of those who lingers in the corner in quiet conversations until I can leave. I don't seek attention, and in fact hate it. I don't like be anywhere near anyone who's the "life of the party" as I've found those people often irritating.

Ok, I'm not a fun person. Blame it on my Dysthymia and being someone comfortable being alone (and yes, we're normal too). It's who I am. Even these days, when I out and find all the socialization tiring, I want to say, "Can I go home now?" and mean it. And then leave. And I don't like people invading my privacy, like with Halloween.

Such are some people. We're all normal, just different. Not any better or worse, just ourselves.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Burger Chef

Sending e-mail back and forth with a friend reminded me of a time long ago and two things, mescaline and Burger Chef. Yeah, strange combination, but not if you were there in the late 1960's. Ok, and the story goes how?

I served in the US Air Force (USAF) from March 7, 1969 to January 2, 1973 (everyone who served remembers those dates and days, enlisting and being discharged). After basic training at Lackland AFB in Texas and electronics training at Lowry AFB in between Denver and Aurora Colorado (now gone, turned over to the city), I was stationed at McClellan AFB north of Sacramento, California where I spent the duration of my service when not on temporary duty assignments (TDY's).

It was there I was introduced to drugs and fast food restaurants. The drugs were marijuana, of course, and something more interesting, mescaline. While marijuana was the drug of choice of many of the service people at McClelland, of those who partook of drugs, with the close proximity of San Francisco there were others but far less so.

A friend in our dormitory was the local drug source. Knowing and trusting your source and knowing the quality of the drugs was paramount then, one bad trip or buy and all could be disasterous, as one found out when the marijuana was laced with speed. His source didn't last very long after that as we stopped buying.

Anyway, while this was going on, on the east side of the base was Watt Avenue, the main thorough fare for north-south bound traffic from Interstate 80 and all areas north, which at that time was pretty much open country once past the base. But on the east side of the avenue was housing developments and small commericial malls serving base personnel, like a lot of fast food places.

And one of those was a Burger Chef. At the time they were popular and had good food that rivaled all the rest. One of my favorite was the Big Shef, a hamburger, when it was actually meat, with mayonaisse-like dressing instead of ketchup or mustard. With fries, it as a great meal then.

And when I was on marijuana, it was the place of choice for the munchies, followed by the local pizza place (long forgotten the name), but mostly I loved Burger Chef, and on mescaline, it was heaven. The problem was that on the drug you have no sense of the world around, only what you thought you felt and saw.

That was good if you had a guide, someone to make sure you didn't do anything bad or stupid, especially in public. Sounds strange to some folks, but once I tried to cross Watt Avenue, a four-lane major highway, during rush hour against the light. Not smart, and my guide held me until we could cross.

There are more memories of those days and those trips, drug-related or not, and of those people. The memories we have of then, lost in the back of our mind, filed in mental shoe boxes in storage until someone jingles the bell to remove it and open the lid, to remember an interesting time and events. And something lost, drugs and Burger Chef.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


I came to the realization I'm chasing a physical ghost I can feel but doctors can't see. I tell them but they're not listening. I show them, but they're not looking. I explain to them but they're not hearing. All they see is normal and my imagination while I see a ghost I know and feel in my body. They just won't believe me to care. And so we sit looking at each other, they wondering when I'll leave and me wondering when they'll ask to help.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Conundrum

Here's the conundrum about eating.

With respect to the digestive issues and problems, I can't go anywhere if I eat breakfast, brunch or lunch because I don't know how and when the system will react. I can't eat anything if I go anywhere for the same reason.

With respect to the recent problem of Temporomandibular Joint Disorder I'm not supposed to eat or only eat soft foods or liquids, so the muscles and ligament can heal in the proper position. If I eat any food, soft or otherwise, the jaw may still shift out of joint for the rest of the day and has to be gently pushed back into place.

If I eat I get tired, sleepy and go to the bathroom, often. If I don't eat I get tired, sleepy and hungry and still go to the bathroom, only less often.

So that's it, damned if I eat and damned if I don't.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

A Lost Year

Tomorrow, Sunday, I turn 62. Precisely about 6 pm to be exact. Yeah, about then, and since a few weeks after that day and time last year I've lost almost the entire year, all of it chasing a digestive system that went south and having a good doctor who understands but specialists who don't. I'd say they suck, but that's impolite, even if it is appropriate.

There's nothing worse than a specialist who is totally dismissive and condescending. Really. She didn't want to hear what I had to say and even interrupted me to say it was my imagination and that every thing was normal, at least according to the results of the proceedures and lab tests, but they didn't look for what I wanted to know, only for obvious abnormalities. Which is ok if that exists, but they wouldn't answer my question, what i if normal is abnormal.

And so what happened, like you want to hear a story that's not much except irritating to live with and frustrating to find an answer? After taking some photos of the tissues masses the doctor finally said they clearly appear to be blood clots, or most of them, some were really, "Huh?" masses.

Anyway, she ordered lab tests for some, except they didn't analyze them for what we were looking for, only for the obvious. Like one had blood vessels attached and they didn't see it or at least said they did, or they called it normal tissue. The thought was that my small intestine is bleeding in several places, or so it appeared from mulitple moderate to large clots.

Anyway, as always happens, it got better after the latest tests where it's not obvious (blood clots) but still a problem with consistent mild to moderate diarrhea, like 3-5 times a day depending on when and what I eat. It's more of the same I tell my doctor, "I only feel good when I don't eat and that's not a promise things won't still go wrong."

So, from last October when it started to just a few weeks ago, I spent chasing diagnoses for something no one can find, or really wants to look, and without a diagnosis I can't get more test to eliminate ideas. The new cost-efficient and effective healthcare, if it's not obvious, then you don't get test. You only get them when the doctors think something is wrong.

It's the catch-22. You know something is wrong but they don't believe you, so you can't prove it either way because they won't order test because they don't think something is wrong, only it's your imagination, or your diet, lifestyle, health, fitness, etc, but still it's you. So I'm back to square one only 11 months later and older.

On top of that, last winter they discovered a 20% blockage of my Aorta, you know the artery that supplies blood to the lungs to replenish the oxygen in the bloodstream and leave carbon dioxide behind to exhale. It's been there about 20 years since I noticed I get short of breath when I exert myself and I have to rest or slow up to catch up.

I had some of the more extensive heart tests where they discovered it. Otherwise, my heart is good and sound, only one very small artery on the bottom with a slight blockage at a high heart race, which is the reason it can race from normal to over 180 beats per secongs in seconds, which is what happens when I exert myself. My heart races trying to feed the lungs with blood but can't until the body slows up to balance the supply versus the demand.

So on statin drugs I went, which last about 2 months when my body crashed. This is not uncommon but two statin drugs later, the same results but each time the reaction is sooner and worse, so I'm off statin drugs until the cardiologist has some ideas. Because it's only a slight, long-lived blockage, the only issue the high cholesterol which they want to get below normal where it's never been.

So that's on the horizon when I can get the digestive problems sorted out or better, or we can find something that fits in to those problems and not thoroughly crash the body into being a permanent couch potato. And this last June I got Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD) where the joint in the upper jaw shifts position.

It's caused by the cartildge shifting, yes, it's not permanently attached to anything, from tired or weakened muscles and ligaments or from pressure from chewing. It's often caused by stress or other physical problems. So when I eat my jaw shifts slightly to the right and the teeth don't fit and sometimes grind. The dentist wasn't optimistic it's cureable but merely treatable.

And as always my Raynaud's Syndrome effects both my hands and feet now. Below 50 my toes swell and turn bright red, along with the feet swelling unless I keep them inside shoes, but then swell when I take the shoes off. My hands are still the same, it takes temperatures near 40 before they become stiff and cracked.

Gee, and they say life doesn't suck. Wait, that's doctors. Life just is what it is. And the sad part is that the last 3+ years chasing a minor digestive problem into a bigger one (March 2008 to October 2010 for the minor ailment and this from there for the obvious one no one wants to see) has diverted another change in progress, which has had it's own issues and problems, but that's another story.

The rest of the issue I don't have a choice but to live with them. The digestive one is optional but first I have to find a specialist who will listen enough to think beyond obvious and think beyond routine test. I'd rather they do that and prove something, even if I'm wrong, than keep hearing it's me. But then without a diagnosed problem I don't get a specialist or tests.

Maybe the next year will be, like what, better?

Friday, August 5, 2011

It's the Little Things

It's always the little things, but with age, they compound themselves over your life and somewhere between the time you're 50 and 60 they begin to become noticed, and then after 60 they become real, the daily part of your life you can't ignore and have to resolve to live until the reason can be found and fixed or for the rest of your life. Those pesky little things.

I'm no different, and time, age, genes and life has found me and given me some of them I now live with and hate to no end. Yeah, just bitching about and at life. Nothing new, just mine and me, like everyone else facing being over 60 and the pesky little things become part of myself and what I now live with. They're annoying, but there is nothing I can do about some of them.

And then some new ones seem to find you, or me in this case, to add to the list of those pesky little things. And what, if you're still reading this and wonder what?

Well, for one, the Raynaud's Syndrome which have had in my hands since my early 40's found my toes two winters ago and since then they're progressively getting worse. They're now perpetually swollen and red no matter the temperature and my feet, especially my right foot, often swells too. Kinda' makes shoes uncomfortable.

I know it's not something else as I've done the things to help other problems and nothing changes very much. The ends of them are always mildly to moderatley scabbed and in cold weather look like little popsicle only to turn cherry red when the weather warms up, still popsicles just red.

In June I came down with Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) when the cartlidge in my upper left jaw shifted and the joint has a mild to moderate clicking sound. The dentist agreed and could only suggest an OTC to help reduce the inflamation and time. Then when eating a few weeks ago there were some very loud clicks and most of it faded imediately but not all, so now it's a little inconvenient click with soreness.

I learned the cartlidge in the jaw is permanently atttached to anything but floats in the joint, held in place by ligaments and muscles, and the cartlidge can, and will as I experienced, shift causing noise, problems and more so pain. Lots of pain. A number of years ago I had a blockage in a salivary gland which almost required surgery. Not fun so, at least this isn't as bad and, like that probem then, slowly healing.

I've written about my digestive issues, and we're slowly resolving them. We'll know more in a month or so when the lab analyzes the samples of the tissue masses, but the current diagnosis is that the masses are blood clots from the small intestine because it's bleeding, and likely in several places. When the lab confirms what the tissues are, and all aren't just clots but something else too, then I'll get to see a gastroentrologist.

I haven't decided if I want to go back to the first one, she was condescending and dismissive, but with real evidence it would be hard to deny it's my imagination this time and hard not to think her initial diagnosis of IBS, age and diet, was premature to say the least and now worse because of her decision not to get more information. I'll make that decision when we have something.

On top of that, the whole issue has made me add 10-12 pounds I can't seem to lose. I don't overeat, and am eating less these days and still gaining weight. Yes, I'm not exercising as much and that's critical for me as I easily gain weight when I don't exercise, but this weight has come since last October and this problem. It's a sudden weight gain, something I really hate the feeling.

Now, well, slowly developing over the last few years and only recently really obvious, my left hand goes numb. Namely 2-3 fingers. It's always been a problem when sleeping and why I can't sleep on my left side, my left hand goes completely numb after about 15-20 minutes. Not fun waking up with that feeling, or lack of it.

I'm sure there are many people, if any are reading this blog, who would say, tough shit or live with it. Like I have a choice. I can and we will resolve the digestive issue, not that I look forward to the examination and proceedures, but still maybe something better than bathroom visits 4-5 times a day. The rest, yes, I will learn, as I have, to adapt and adjust, and just be pissed at what life handed me.

I know it could easily be worse, far worse, and I'm lucky there. So, this entry is more a rant or vent on life than anything, and all those pesky little things that hide until you're 60 and remind you about yourself. Nothing you can undo or change, and everything you have to live with from now on until life decides otherwise.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day

I was wandering around the Web and found an interesting blog, found here and got to thinking if there was anything beyond my existence as his son that I'm thankful about as his son. And sadly nearly 17 years after his death, which I wrote about it two years ago, I struck me with the blog entries he did it before me.

And the "it" is? Well, when he was 19 after his first year of college his Dad told him the same thing he told me then, meaning the front door, but he got to stay around awhile until the war started and he enlisted in the Army 1940. He then served 23-plus years and rarely went home again. His Dad died when we were in England, and as far as I know didn't go home to Kansas for the funeral.

Anyway, the blog about Dad doing it before us is right, my Dad did to me what his Dad did to him. My Dad treated his oldest son, my brother, like his Dad treated his oldest son, my uncle, the same way, as the son who stuck around hom and could do no wrong. My Dad was the black sheep of the family as I became because we were the same at that age.

But I won't thank my Dad as he never said, "I love you.", beyond when it's expected. He was a very private person and rarely even said it to Mom in front of us kids, so I couldn't expect it from him. He probably did what he learned from his Dad, who did it before him. The English half of my family (the other German).

I will, however, thank my Mom when she said a few years before he died, "Do me a favor, don't become your father." Ok, thanks Dad for showing me how not to be. You did that before me as your father did it before you. I owe for that, but don't expect a thanks for it. It took me too long to realize it and change.

The only thing you taught me was what I taught myself. And that you didn't do before me.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Looking for Abnormal

I was trying to think why the Gastroenterologist(s) can't seem to think that something is wrong. Well, besides the obvious that they assume something wrong is obvious, even after the patient flushes away most if not almost all the signs of something with the preparation liquids which cleanses the digestive tract for the proceedure. And besides the fact they're looking for something abnormal instead of normal being abnormal.

Well, my thought while making coffee this morning? It's not what they're looking for that matters but what they're looking at that matters. They're looking for something wrong. When they don't see anything wrong and the lab test (biopsies) are "normal" then they think everything is normal.

But it's what they're looking at that is the problem, the normal which isn't normal, but since the "evidence" isn't there and what they see is normal, then they don't suspect the normal is abnormal. That's because when normal is abnormal, then the abnormality, in their thinking, should be there, and when it's not, then normal isn't abnormal.

That's because they looking for those abnormalities. So when the results are normal, then it's the patient and it must be IBS, age, diet, and all thing the patient is doing wrong. Except when a recent finding noted there are actually three distinct types of digestive bacteria, then what is normal for whom?

When Gastroenterologists have always assumed one size, or type with digestive bacteria, fits all, then what about the others with the other types which are distinctly different? They're not looking for anything different, they're asuming the standard and when there are no signs of any difference, then nothing is different. Except everything is different, and all the abnormalities are different too.

So, what they thought was normal, isn't normal for that type. I can say this because we, as patients, know what are body is telling us, and when it says something is wrong and there is a difference from before it started, then we're frustrated with the medical profession over their inane insenstivity about our condition and us. And blow us off as an overly sensitive and obsessed patient.

And that's also now the crux of the issue. When the patients knows the symptoms and sees the signs of something wrong, including that which seem to defy the Gastroenterologist's knowledge, or what they take as common knowledge, then there isn't much the patient can do short of looking for a specialist who will listen and maybe actually do something to help. What's the adage there, good luck?

Which gets to my question, even if the specialists actually knew something was wrong and they had the test results which showed normal was abnormal, what if there isn't anything they could do anyway? What if there wasn't any treatment, no drug and really no cure. That the abnormal is the patient's new normal. Get used to it?

Gee, that's comforting. But isn't that one of the most common results? How many times do doctors and specialists chase the conditions to find there isn't anything they can determine, and nothing they can do, or at least all the known treatments have little, if any, effect and no cure?

I say that because here's what I know. I have a normal bacteria that is abnormally out of control for periods of time until the body finally rids the tissue masses from the digestive system. The body, meaning me, then feels good and normal again, just like before it all started, for awhile until the bacteria gets out of control again, triggered, by of course, food.

And since it's not a known bacteria which does get out of control, the specialists don't know what do look for or what to do when they see it. And there isn't anything they can do anyway even in the face of all the information. They're as useful as we are about it, meaning useless, so what do they do? They don't see it as abnormal, and our abnormal is their normal, so our abnormal doesn't exist.

It's easy for them to just be blind to see beyond their own knowledge and experience. If it's not obvious and not obviously abnormal, in their eyes and mind, then nothing is wrong except the patient's own view of things. It's, as they like to say now, IBS, age and diet, when in fact it's their own indifference and ignorance, and their own insensitivity to want to understand to learn.

And they blame the patient and cite the common wisdom about IBS, age, diet, exercise, or lack of it, and other things. Have a nice day. Next patient please.

Monday, April 25, 2011

And so what now

It's been two months since I wrote the last entry about why some medical tests fail, for the obvious reason the preparation remove much of if not nearly all of the signs of any abnormal condition and the proceedure is looking for both the obvious and the abnormal. This means the test will miss the obvious when normal is abnormal, it's something they're not looking for and not seeing.

But that's aside from the conundrum between my digestive condition and my pulmonary artery condition. What's good for my digestive system, meaning food which it will tolerate, and what's good for my artery, meaning drugs, namely statin drugs to reduce my cholesterol and hopefully begin to remove the plaque on the artery, a 20% blockage if you don't remember. It's significant but not enough to warrant further proceedures or surgical intervention.

What's left on the table now is that I'm at the age, and have the genetic predispostion, to have additional problems from a higher than normal cholesterol level (in the mid 200's), such as additional plaque and late onset type-II diabetes, which my father had later in his life and really wrecked his one hobby, cooking and food.

In the time since the last entry, I've been on full dosage of a statin drug (Simvastatin) and off it, several times and then permanently when it crashed my digestive system and my body. I became a couch potato and did very little else. Everytime I went off I started to feel better and every time I went back on it, even at half and then quarter dose, I crashed.

So I went off it permanently and about a month later felt almost good again. Ok, but not great. Then my cardiologist prescribed another statin drug in the form of a health supplement (Red Yeast Rice similar to lovastatin). Well, less than a week into it, ditto, the same thing, my digestive system and my body started to crash. I went off and am slowly feeling better again.

And that's the conundrum. The two aren't compatible for successful treatment for both. One has to get and be better and the other suffer what happens. The digestive systems seems to be getting better with time, and watching my diet to avoid foods which cause temporary problems, or just get through those periods when it does. But it's a matter of the body solving itself.

We know the artery problem won't get better unless somethings happens and I change. I'm working on the latter, but it won't be enough, that's obvious. It started and happened when I was in my best health and fitness so anything less won't make it better. But I can slow down or stop making it worse, and then hope the body can and will do something to help, all by itself, at least keep it from getting worse.

So that's the tale to date. It's the old adage, if the illness doesn't kill me, the (drug) treatments will. So, it's choose my own poison. And so far I've chosen food and living than being a nothing on a couch.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

When Tests Fail

I was thinking, as it seems a lot of late considering the situation and circumstances, about why the Gastroenterologist couldn't find and didn't report any "abnormal" with my recent test (colonoscopy and lab tests). In her words, "Everything is normal", and despite the obvious symptoms of something being wrong, she decided the problems were IBS, age and food sensitivities.

As the old saying goes, "Yeah, right." But in defense of her, from her perspective, and while there was reason to investigate the problems more and didn't, she went with the obvious. Except that at the same time, she dismissed the obvious of why the results failed. There are two reasons.

First, with a colonoscopy you have to do the preparation preceedure which is 2 quarts of a liquid which flushes and cleanes the intestinal tract. I mean really flush and cleanse, no pun intended. It's terrible stuff and causes terrible reactions. The problem is that, while food and all the normal stuff in the testinal tract is flushed and the tract wall cleansed, any signs of problems is also flushed away.

The colonoscopy is designed to look for obvious physical problems, such as infections, perferations, etc of the wall, protrubing polyps, and other problems. Lacking those, the diagnosis is that everything is normal. Except, what was lost in the flushing and cleansing which would have indiciated problems, no one will know because that's all down the toliet.

Second, the lab test looks for the obvious. When everything is normal, then obviously to them, everything is normal. But that only accounts for the signs of the normal biochemical processes. It misses one obvious issue and raises the question.

What if normal is abnormal? This is what Pseudomembranous colitis is, an abnormal and uncontrolled growth of the normal bacteria in the intestinal tract. In some cases the infection, of which only a few have been recognized, leave signs in the wall of the tract. But what of the other bacteria which don't leave signs but create the same symptoms?

What if the preparation proceedure removes all the obvious signs of any abnormal and uncontrolled growth of bacteria? And wouldn't the abnormal growth of any normal bacteria in the intestinal tract produce similar symptoms but won't necessarily be obvious?

This is something they can't answer, partly because they don't know and partly because they don't test for them since it's harder and not obvious. So they call it your imagination, but in medical terms like IBS, age and food sensititives. It's the line from the Dire Straits song, "You have industrial disease. Next patient please."

So that's where I'm at. The symptoms haven't changed for the last 3 years now and more so since last October. But the test show everything is normal and thus it's my imagination. Tell my intestinal tract that. It's not listening.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Fear of Eating

I wrote about food and my body, and about the battle between my taste buds and my digestive system. It finally occurred to me that I have a fear of eating. Not the many definitions of fear of eating, but a simple fear of eating, despite that I really like to eat and really like food, because I don't know how my body, and more so my digestive system, will work and react.

I used to keep a list of foods I could eat without problems, foods I keep trying now and then to see, and hope, I can eat them more, foods I know I will have problems and foods I just can't eat. During the last nearly three years that list was always changing and it still continues to change. For brief periods during these years, I could throw the lists away and eat almost anything and the body was ok.

Since last fall, the list has changed weekly and sometimes in days, and for periods nothing was on the list. It's created a situation where I fear eating because I don't know what I can eat because the digestive system just won't work. Nothing changes it and nothing helps it. And as quickly as the system stopped working, it would work, I mean (hint) really work.

I don't have answers anymore. Not even the Gastroenterologist has answers beyond IBS, age and food sensitive, and of course the obvious advice you hear everywhere, eat right, watch your diet, exercise, get the proper amount of sleep, and so on down the litany of common sense. And you pay a specialist for it?

So, that's my life for now. Eat and hope it works today, tomorrow and a few days on, or not and be ready when it doesn't.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Laurel and Hardy

Somedays I feel like my body is like Stanley Laurel and Oliver Hardy. My appetite and taste buds are Stanley and the rest of my body Oliver, meaning what I crave, cook and eat will leave the rest of me with a fine mess as Oliver always said, "Well Stanley, here's another fine mess you got us in." I've written that at times food is my enemy, and of late more so like Laurel and Hardy.

The problem is that I love fried chicken, especially crunchy deep fried chicken. Recently a store (their on-line store) had a good one on sale. It's the same brand, Breville, as my other recent acquistion, a convection oven. The oven is way cool for cooking a lot of foods. You don't have to worry about watching it or the time to take it out when it's done.

The only real issue I have with it is broiling things, like bacon or other foods which splatter. Don't, simply don't. It's messy. Use a real oven where you can put a big pan around or under it. Otherwise I use it several tiimes a week, often for a favorite baked chicken. Yeah, after fried chicken is baked or roasted chicken.

Anyway, I got the deep fryer up and running, prepared breaded chicken parts, and cooked up a platter of chicken. The Stanley in me felt good and the food was really good. Ok, I need to find a good breading recipe. But alas it was short-lived as these days are with food and the Oliver reminded me later into the night and the next morning.

Needless to say I won't give up. I suspect, ok hope, it was the spices than the chicken or the deep frying as I've had deli fried chicken without problems. And I can work toward really good stuff, homemade potato chips and french fries and the best, doughnuts. If you have had a fresh homemade doughnut, you're missing a great food.

And on the horizon now is, according to Jimmy Buffett, the eighth deadly sin, Pizza. Stanley is alive and well despite the problems and medications. Oliver will do what it does and wants, and yes, I'll learn about it and live with it, but that's later.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Consistently and Constantly

What do you do when you're taking a medication and the side effects are worse than the benefit of the drug? And you have to take the drug consistently and constantly, meaning you have to take it at the same time every day and not skip a day. It's one of those drugs, or at least it's what the pharmaceutical company and doctor(s) say, that you can't skip one without problems.

Yet people miss them and they even provide instructions when you do. That's not my point here, it's the side effects. I'm taking a statin drug to lower my LDL or bad cholesterol for the 20% blockage in my pulmonary artery. And the side effects are making my life miserable, especially with the digestive system which I've written about and seemed to be improving, but this drug made it worse.

If it weren't for the physician to send me to a cardiologist as a precaution, we wouldn't have found the blockage. My heart (muscle) and arteries on and around the heart are fine, nothing wrong. The problem is just the pulmonary artery. But it started nearly 20 years ago and has been, or at least from what I know personally, been about the same for the 10 years.

And that's the question, when you do decide to discontinue a drug because you want to than the physicians and specialists say you should?

I have just over 2 months on the high dosage (one month of half dosage and then full dosage) before I have another evaluation, with a blood test, to see if it's working. If so, and toward the goal, they'll either discontinue the drug or lower the dosage. if not, then it's a decision of directions, continue the dosage and continue personal changes, medical intervention or something else I don't know.

That's the question. At 20%, it's significant but not significant to interfer with life that I can as I have make adjustments. The goal with the drug is something I've never done, get my cholesterol below the upper limit of normal (LDL < 100) and more so get it to about 70. If the drug can't lower it significantly, it's a question if or when it will get worse.

That's the conumdrum, we don't know what will happen until April, but until then the drug is unliveable on a daily basis. When my Dad was just a few years older, he was on 11 drugs for a variety of medical problems and just over half of the drugs were for countering the effects or interactions of the drugs. It turned him into a physical wreck.

And watching him then, I can't see becoming him. And even if it's just one drug, to me it's one drug too many. Yes, I take a number of supplements every day and have for nearly two decades. Some are the normal recommended supplements and some help with the body and aging. Their effects are small but over the years have kept things from getting worse beyond normal aging.

So, that's the question I face. I hate the side effects of the drug and the drug is one of choice. Necessary, probably and helpful, absolutely. But at a price of my daily life.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

When an answer isn't

When is an answer isn't an answer? When the answer isn't an answer. When the answer is they know you're right from your perspective but they don't have anything to prove you wrong, only something to prove them right. Really.

Well, I went for my followup for the colonoscopy three weeks ago. Ok, They took the video, took some samples for biopies and whatever else they do when they shove the scope up your ass (fortunately you're sedated and likely asleep, I was). Anyway, despite the evidence my digestive system hasn't been normal for nearly 3 years, worse for about a year, and even worse for 3 month, there isn't anything obvious.

They didn't see any signs of an infection or other condition. The lab and biopsy results were normal. And so all they can offer was more of the same rhetoric about lifestyle changes, meaning watching foods and diet, drink less coffee, drink more water - the recommended 6-8 (8 oz) glasses per day except that's never been studied let alone proven to be beneficial as your body extracts water from any liquid and not just water itself, so any 6-8 glasses of liqiud will do - and get more exercise.

And above all, find a food regime that works and stick with it. Gee, that's sound medical advice from a Gastroenterologist? I mean I'm not doubting her or her advice, it's good and sound, but it's nothing I couldn't get from any physician or even a naturopathic doctor. Or even any health or nutritional specialist. And for that I paid good money.

The truth is, as she kinda' admitted, they really don't know very much about the digestive system beyond the obvious problems when they are obvious, like something physical or someting lab tests or biopies can find. Anything else is simply beyond their knowledge, partly because the system is complex and partly because the state of knowledge isn't very good beyond the obvious.

I'm sure she thinks I'm a nutcase, like many other nutcases, er people, she sees and hears about digestive problems. And that's why it's call Irritable Bowel Syndrome, the catch-all condition when they can't tell and can't determine anything wrong outside the experience of the patient. We're not dumb, although some medical professionals would like to think we're imagining things, and they're not stupid.

I could tell she knew she wasn't convincing me and it appeared to me she wasn't convinced of her own advice will help beyond the rhetoric already said. She's always kept asking if I had more questions like my expression was that obvious I'm not convinced, and I had to eventually say no and accept the reality this is what I will have to live with, or hope it improves by itself because they don't have anything to offer.

In the end we're just at a place we know what's wrong and they don't know what's wrong to find a treatment. There's a gap of knowledge in between our experience and their knowledge, and there is no bridge connecting both sides because the knowledge just doesn't exist to build it let alone to answer the questions.

And so until they do, I don't think I'll go back again unless it's really obvious to me it will be obvious to them.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Memories Not Forgotten

We all have memories of our past, of places, people, events, situations, and whatever else we remember. Some memories fade away over time. Some don't and evolve into something resembling reality but not really. Some are clear as yesterday. And some just exist quietly in corners like shoeboxes in mental closest which accidently fall out and spill out into the consciousness.

One such memory is when I was 6. I have a visual memory. I remember places, scenes and landscapes, and this is no different. We lived in Wherry Housing on Mountain Home Air Force Base. We had moved there from Sculthorpe, England where we lived in the country (1952-55) and found ourselves in the southern Idaho desert.

We lived in the end townhouse of a row of them. It was a two-story house with a small backyard and a fuel oil tank in the back near the gate. The townhouse had two bedrooms and one bathroom upstairs and a master bedroom and bath on the first floor with a den and the rest of a normal house with a living room, dining room and kitchen.

My parents decided that my year-older sister and I were a bother to his work and her social life. So they emptied the den and gave it to us to play. My sister didn't want it and used her bedroom. I used to create cities with my cars. I collected those metal cars called Dinky Toys and Corgi Toys, and created cities with books and magazines and anything else I could find (really steal for awhile).

I stayed there for hours. It was then I realized, and really looking back where it started, I like being alone. I hated being in class, in groups or playing with others. I never changed from there, and all through my life have always been most comfortable being alone. I'm rarely lonely, which is a big difference, if you don't know.

In that room it was just me and my imagination. No one to interfer or intervene. No one to tell me what to do. My parents just left me there, and while in later years tried to get me to learn other things, like Cub Scouts, guitar lessons, etc., it always failed and I eventually started stuttering which lasted through high school and is always there which reminds me in some situations.

I still have the box of about 40+ metal cars which I added when we moved to Germany 3-plus years later. I loved Germany but missed that room. Outside the townhouse was a big open field, which was encircled by the rows of townhouses. It was designed to give kids a safe space to play. My brother and I though chose the desert out beyond the townhouse.

We loved to walk endlessly around the housing areas isolated between the enclaves of other developments, the school a mile away, other housing areas in the distance separated by more desert, and the commercial area with the base exchange and grocery and other places for adults to be and socialize, where my Mom went most days.

And out the main gate the long road to the town of Mountain Home where my brother went to high school, only an elementary and junior high school on the base. We often took our dog, Judy, a Boston Terrier, who was dumb as a post but loyal and obedient. He always came back when called so we never worried if he ran off chasing jack rabbits.

But it was always that room I remember most from that time, my world and universe. Everything I needed and wanted, at age 6. I don't miss it but often find myself in my own mental room with the same feeling, where I'm most comfortable, like sitting here writing this about a memory not forgotten.

Waking up

I've always had trouble waking up. Before it took just a few minutes but it's taking longer the older I get. You see, it's not the actual waking up that is the problem but opening my eyes. There are three body processes when you wake up. First your mind becomes alert to your surroundings and you realize you're awake. Then the body slows increases its function to be fully awake so you can get up.

The third, which surprises many people, is your eyes. They're on a separate mental-physical process than the mind and the body. They have to get the signal to open and stay open. Ever notice how you feel awake but just can't seem to hold your eyes open? That's it, but out of a regular sleep, it's the last to come awake.

And that's what's been the problem. When I was young it took only a minute or two. And in my forties, roughly three to five minutes where I'd think about the day ahead and then get up when the eyes opened and stayed open. Now is often 10-15 minutes and sometimes longer. The doctors say that happens with age for some people.

Like me. Gee, thanks. And so I lie in bed most morning, the mind alert and paying attention and the body ready for the day, but the eyes won't open, or they open and quickly close to stay close no matter how hard I try to hold them open. It's strange because this doesn't happen when I take a nap, all three wake up in seconds. Or when I get up in the middle of the night.

Only when it's morning. I lie there trying to decide if it's better to go back to sleep or wait it out for the eyes to come awake. They said it's a innate action so we can't really force it, except of course walking around trying to hold our eyes open which don't want to open yet. And that often leads to confrontations of the body, usually the toes, with immoveable objects and a sudden realization of the impact which automatically open the eyes.

You see the this process has some built-in reaction to open when faced with sudden events. Why we wake up to strange sounds. Why we wake up to get a glass of water or go to the bathroom. And why we wake up from a bad dream or nightmare and get up to relax to get back to sleep. It's the process when we wake up in the morning where it often has problems, and with me, increasing ones.

And yes, I wrote this post in my head while lying in bed with my eyes closed waiting for them to open to the day.