Saturday, December 15, 2012

3683 A is for...

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Show me a man with both feet firmly on the ground,
and I'll show you a man who can't get his pants off.


People who have phobias often feel that their fears are reasonable, not irrational at all, especially if they don't interfere too much with life.

Like, I have two:  spiders (arachnophobia) and edges (*not* the same as fear of heights).  And they are absolutely reasonable!

Ever notice that if you see a spider walking past, and you think, "I should kill that spider", the damn thing will stop, turn, and look at you?  Spiders can read minds!

Edges are treacherous.  You can't convince me otherwise.  If you are standing at the edge of a roof, or cliff, or balcony, or if you've just stepped out of an elevator on the highest part of the Eiffel Tower and discover that the floor you're supposed to step out onto is an open grid (ok, I'm getting a little carried away here, let me get my breathing back under control), well, you never know if a strong wind is going to come up and blow you over, or if you might have a dizzy spell, or step on something slippery, or if someone might bump you, or if the guy who tightened those bolts was maybe drunk, or too many other things.  Edges are very dangerous.

Oh my yes.   Phobias are absolutely based on real dangers.  Not silly at all.  (I can control mine by breathing and being careful, but if I am surprised by an edge, I can panic and I stop breathing and freeze, I can't move.  I don't mind spiders in my house because they eat other more destructive bugs, but they'd better not come close to me, and being mind readers, they mostly don't.  I can climb a ladder and get onto my roof, but then I can't get off the roof unless the end of the ladder extends well above the roof, so I can climb down past the edge, not have to go over it.)

Well, I found these little videos by accident the other day.  I don't know for sure who made them, but Disney has selected them as "Disney Shorts".  They are about a little fellow named Figaro Pho who has phobias, and what can happen, or what he imagines can happen.  There's one for each letter of the alphabet (except for some reason there's no "R", and Disney skipped the "fear of poo" one).

You can watch them all right here, or go to the link after the video and watch them at your leisure. (Toward the end, there are some duplicates, and the "poo" one is tacked on at the end.)


I love Figaro's house!


Math is treacherous, too.

In the post on menopause, I had said I stopped taking HRT when the medical community got all het up about it up to doubling the incidence of certain cancers.  Well, the link for the report that explained what it really means explains the numbers (and now makes me wish I had stayed on HRT).

Doubling isn't necessarily as bad as it sounds.

Let's say the incidence of cancer A is 30%, or that 30 in 100 people can expect to get it if they live long enough.  Doubling the incidence, doubling your chances to get it, means that you now have 60 chances in 100.  Yikes!

Let's say the incidence of cancer B is .001%, or 1 in 100,000. Doubling the incidence of cancer B means that now 2 people in 100,000 can expect to get it.  Um, weighed against the benefits, that's a chance I'm willing to take.

It turns out that the cancers that might be increased by HRT are of the very rare variety.

My doctors were freaking about the word "double", without, apparently, asking "doubling from what to what?"

Friday, December 14, 2012

3682 What?!

The Newtown school shooting.  On TV, all stations.  I turned the TV on at 11:00am and they were saying one teacher had been shot in the foot.  It is now 1:50, 2 hours of continuous coverage, and the count of dead is up to 27, mostly children!  It keeps going up.  Adult male shooter.  Elementary school.

What?!  How?!  Why?!

I don't understand.  I really really really don't.


Update 3:30 pm:

Please newsfolks, let's not make this guy famous.  We don't need to know his name.  We don't need to see his picture.  You don't need to turn him into some kind of antihero.  If you need to fill time, let's concentrate on the victims.

Thank you.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

3681 Meteors tonight!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Sunshine is the best disinfectant.


I've discovered another thing I miss at the city house - meteors!  Too much ambient light.  At the country house there's very little light.  We'd seen some incredible meteor showers just looking out the living room windows.

There's a good meteor shower tonight and tomorrow night.  Best time is after midnight, but you should be able to see some any time after dark, anywhere in the world.

Except, of course, where city lights bleach the sky.  Like here.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

3680 Menopause and me

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The cost of living hasn't affected its popularity.


After circling each other for years, Jay and I started dating when I was 47ish.  I was "perimenopausal", meaning I was just starting the process.  I thought it would be a gradual thing, ya know?  And I wasn't having any of the common symptoms, like hot flashes (I think I may have had two mild ones - or maybe the thermostat was just too high), or sleep disturbances like night sweats, insomnia or intense dreams. No dryness or loss of libido, nothing.


I quite literally found myself terrorizing Jay.  "Found myself" because it was like I was outside myself watching me chewing him to bits, and I can't even say it was over minor things, it was over nothing!  He had been legally separated and was involved in a very nasty divorce, and needed my support, and here I was dragging him across the coals.  It was like I had split into two people.  Outside I was a harridan.  Inside, I'd see and hear myself, and I'd be screaming at myself, "Stop it!  Stop!  He doesn't deserve this!  He's the sweetest guy, and he's trying so hard!  Stop it!", but outside I'd keep on snapping at him.  I couldn't control it.  It just got worse and worse.

At some point I went to my doctor for some other thing, and he asked how the menopause was going, and I said that was ok, but there was something else going on, and I told him about how I felt like some very nasty person was taking me over and I couldn't control her and I was hurting the people I loved.  Many years before, I had been diagnosed with a "poorly integrated personality", but after years of psychotherapy I thought I was doing well.  I was worried that I was now having some kind of psychotic break or something.

He handed me five tiny pills, said to take one a day, and stop in his office on the fifth day and let him know how I was doing.  He wouldn't tell me what the pills were, just smiled and said, "Try them.  Trust me for five days."

It was wonderful!  The effect was immediate.  The nasty person went away the very first day.  I assumed it was some kind of "happy pill", like Prozac or something, I certainly felt calm and happy, and the doctor knew me well enough to know that I would have resisted if I knew it was Prozac or something.  I like being me.

On the fifth day I went to his office and told him it was pure magic.

It was hormone replacement (HRT/EPT), the smallest dose. Yea!  I was still me!

I was on HRT for the next ten or twelve years, until research was saying it caused various cancers, or something, and then I quit.  I wish I had stayed on it.  Current research shows a much lower risk than previously assumed, and it helps with bones and vaginal issues.  My last bone scan says I'm starting to thin,  and I like sex too much for vaginal issues!  I wonder if there's a doctor in the world who would let me start up again.

When I stopped the HRT, I expected menopausal symptoms.  Nope.  Nothing.

So, I'm not a good one to ask about menopause.  I am a good one to ask about HRT.

3679 12/12/12

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

My weight is perfect for my height -- which varies.


I had to keep the heat high downstairs in the house because the slab is so cold.  My feet and lower legs freeze.  I don't want to wear fur-lined boots all the time in the house!  I have a small fan set high up on the cabinets to circulate the air back down to foot-level, but it doesn't help much.  I spend a lot of time at the laptop on the desk in the kitchen, so I thought about buying a space heater to tuck under the desk - but they can be noisy. 

Last week I found a rubber pad you can put on the floor, and it keeps your feet warm.  It's 20" x 14", and with an optional plug has a high and low setting.  So far it's working fine. 

Yesterday Jasper discovered it.  Now my poor feet have to fight for space on it.


Someone was wondering about jokes and stuff that kids today might not understand.  Like we still "dial" a phone number, but when's the last time you saw a phone with a dial?  And we use a crank motion to ask someone to open a car window, but when's the last time you cranked a car window?

Sunday I was watching "Sunday Morning" and thinking about how the show has changed from the Kuralt days, when they'd go to small towns and report on special people or interesting things in the town.  Not any more.  I guess young folks today won't get the old joke, "My home town is so small Charles Kuralt has been there twice."


Whenever you're diagnosed with certain diseases, the doctors ask a set lifestyle questions particular to current research on that disease.  (If this is an effort to gather data that may point to a cause, I do hope the answers are accumulated somewhere.)  When Jay was diagnosed with brain cancer, every doctor we met asked about heavy cell phone use.  (Jay had never used a cell phone.)  No one asked how much time he spent in front of a CRT, and I thought that might be significant.  I mentioned it a few times, but it was waved away.

When someone is diagnosed with schizophrenia or other bi-polar conditions, does anyone ask if the person had lived with a cat?  Or if the mother had a cat during pregnancy? Or if the person had been diagnosed with any other parasitic infections?  Do they look for parasites?

When someone is diagnosed with breast cancer, does anyone ask about the person's reactions to various viral infections?  Do they have a history of warts, for example? It is (finally!) acknowledged that certain viruses are involved in breast cancer, but so far the test results are far from conclusive.  I think maybe the researchers forget that it's not just the virus, but the body's reaction to the virus that matters.

The verdict is still out on hidradenitis suppererativa, in fact, the Mayo Clinic writeup still refers to it as a form of acne, which is no longer considered valid. Some researchers say they find staph, some say there is no infectious agent, that it appears to be an autoimmune disorder (mine has been cultured, and they found only white blood cells - in my opinion the difference is in whether the contents of the 'bump' is cultured before or after it opens.  I believe the staph is secondary).  Does anyone ask (I was not asked) whether or not the sufferer'd had a bad case of boils or carbuncles at sometime in the past?  In about 1957, a severe case of contagious boils swept through my family.  My father had them on the back of his neck.  I had one on my breast and one in an underarm.  I remember my little sister having a bandage tied under her chin and around the top of her head - she had them all along her jawline.  The other kids had them hither and yon.  I wonder if that had "sensitized" my immune system, which now overreacts to the least thing irritating the skin glands (like the elastic around my panty legs).

The questions asked seem to be driven by existing theories, and only the theories with general agreement.  "Left field" questions aren't asked - but I understand why.  The left field is awfully big.

I believe that we all have had cancerous cells crop up here and there many times in our lives, but that the body detects it at the one-cell stage and kills it.  It's only when for some reason it goes undetected that it gets out of control.  Back when Jay's tumor was no more than a bright pinhole on the MRI, the doctors mentioned that there was an old lesion in that area of the brain, a spot of scar tissue or something.  They didn't go into detail, but later I wondered if the lesion "hid" the bad cell from the blood's detection.

When Jay was about three years old he fell off a ping-pong table onto a cement floor, and was unconcsious for a period of time.  I wonder if that's the source of the lesion.


Ever notice that there are some people who always look exactly the same in photographs?  Same tilt of the head, same angle, same smile, same foot and leg placement, always?  It's like they practiced for hours in front of a mirror until they found the perfect pose, and then practiced for hours to make sure they can "hit the mark" on a split second's notice.

I don't like those people.