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Feb. 8th, 2014



Yesterday my right leg started itching, in front, just above the ankle. I looked at the area but couldn't see anything unusual. There was no redness or sign of problems. The area was painful to touch, though, and when I touched I saw the outline of several scales, each a third of an inch to half an inch long.

I scratched gently.

A few of the scales came off, each leaving a distance imprint of where they had been. I continued to rub the area, eventually producing about a dozen of the large scales. There was also a white powder and tiny white scales, which I've seen before. I had a very little of the powder with tiny scales on my left leg, too, but no more scales, no itching and no pain to the touch.

I rubbed on a skin cream. Today there is no sign of the scales and no more of the white powder.

I guess my skin had gotten super dry.

Feb. 6th, 2014


Bad Start

Yesterday I consumed a glass of whole cow milk, about eleven ounces. I haven't attempted to drink whole milk from a cow in about a decade. Delia, too, had a glass of milk at the same time. Both of us promptly started producing gas and feeling uncomfortable. Delia's problem deteriorated into diarrhea. This morning my blood pressure was much higher than usual, my blood sugar was slightly elevated and my weight had increased, probably due to bloating.

Delia asked me to check her email because she wanted to know if her boss had sent a new work schedule. I fired up the email program after I finished recording my health information; it told me it had just updated and had to check all of my add-on applications before it could connect. It eventually found the information it needed and finished loading but it wouldn't connect to my mail service.

Delia started asking me if she had mail from her employer. I tried to explain the situation. She was in a hurry, she said, and couldn't waste time listening to me. But she wanted me to waste more of my time trying to find out if she had mail.

This has happened before, many more times than I would like. The DNS (Domain Name System) information from the server was expired and inaccurate. I had to go into the closet to reset the cable modem and wireless switch.

The wireless switch has developed a new problem: it loses power at random, probably due to a loose connection somewhere in the tangle of wires in the closet. Sometimes just reconnecting solves the problem but at other times the wireless switch problem causes the cable modem to screw up. I had reconnected the wireless switch last night, before going to bed, but I hadn't reset the cable modem at that time. Some day I'll have to get into the closet, throw all of the junk accumulated there out of the way, and find the loose connection. But not today.

Finally I connected to the mail server and started getting mail. Delia was in the shower, so I just printed a copy of her schedule. She later said that was a waste of paper and toner and that I should just have told her she had the message.

Then she asked me to find out where the clinic was for the doctor's appointment she wanted to go to. Her doctor had moved from La Mesa to Chula Vista. My search for that information was too slow for her, so she called the clinic to ask for instructions how to get there. She hadn't allowed enough time and had to reschedule the appointment for this afternoon.

Finally I started to record my health information on the fitness application I use. I looked at my sleep patterns, recorded my weight, made some comments and was about to enter the blood pressure and blood sugar information when I got a message: is currently undergoing a little planned maintenance. Sorry for the inconvenience.

I have written this account while waiting for them to finish their maintenance.

Feb. 2nd, 2014


Credit Card Confusion

Delia got a statement from her credit card bank stating that we owed $300 plus over $30 in fees for late payment. Delia was sure the bank had made a mistake. She decided to visit the bank in person, rather than try to get their computerized phone system, to reduce our stress levels. She asked me to go with her, to share the stress.

We still had to wait a long time, almost to the bank's closing time. At first the guy helping us couldn't find out what was happening. Then he did something very basic: he checked the number on the credit card against the statement. It wasn't the same account.

Last year, when Delia's sister Stella invited Delia to accompany her to China, she advised Delia to open a new credit card account that had greater travel rewards. It was easy, so Delia just did it. But Delia doesn't like using credit cards and had never charged anything on it until Cathy's wedding. Delia charged the reception expenses on the new card.

Delia didn't tell me she had a new credit card. When she asked me to pay her bill on the computer, I assumed it was for the account I knew about. I didn't check the account number. I never do. I've been making payments for Delia on the computer for years now.

Of course, the payment went to the wrong account.

Once it was clear what had happened, the bank quickly offered to transfer the payment we had made to the account it belonged with. Since we had actually paid the amount due in a timely manner, they removed the charges. The matter was settled with no fuss.

Delia's decision to visit the bank rather than fighting with either a computer or the computerized phone system was a good one. The problem was well beyond the capabilities of an automated system of any kind. Some day we may have computers advanced enough to handle such problems but we aren't there yet, not by a long stretch.

Even I find computers frustrating. I can deal with computers better than most people can and much better than Delia can. I used to work with computers which nobody had ever figured out how to program, going from machine language programs to rule-based systems where nobody really knew what was happening internally (variants of LISP, for example).

I had one primary rule in dealing with computers: there is always a reason they misbehave. It may be something as simple as misplaced punctuation, something easily overlooked, but there is always a reason. I kept my job and even advanced despite my somewhat abrasive personality because of that rule.

And it can be something you don't know about, like a second account.

That is why you need to do research.

Jan. 25th, 2014



Delia wanted the stuff stored in the hallway coat closet to be arranged neatly, so she moved things around. The WiFi signal disappeared. There is one extension cord entering the closet that provides power to the cable modem, the network switch, the WiFi and a wireless hard drive. That one extension cord leads to a tangle of power modules, power extenders and another extension cord. The network switch still had lights indicating activity but the WiFi was dark. The entire tangle of power stuff was neatly covered by some of the stuff Delia had rearranged.

As soon as I opened the closet door, stuff started to fall. My attempts to dig out the power stuff caused more stuff to fall. Delia started yelling at me to get out of the way so she could take care of it. I stepped back, closed the closet door and started to move into the living room. I tripped on something, probably my own feet.

I fell.

I hit my right shoulder on something, probably a small table in the living room. I lay there for a moment, assaying the damage. Delia wasn't yelling at me, so she hadn't noticed that I fell. I moved to an area clear enough for me to try to roll over. I could tell that Delia noticed my problem because she was yelling again. She wanted to call 911. Then she wanted to call the fire department, to see if some firemen could lift me up, as they have done previously after Delia called 911. Then she wanted to go outside to see if a neighbor was nearby and could help get me up. I vetoed all of her suggestions.

I didn't seem to be hurt. My right shoulder was a bit sore, but nothing else seemed amiss. I tried rolling onto my knees but my knees will still not tolerate my weight on them. I scooted over to Delia's recliner, which was piled up with stuff, and decided not to try using it to get up. I scooted over to another chair, an older chair with no wheels, rocker, recliner or other mechanism to make it unstable. In three stages I got up into the chair into a sitting position. From there it was easy to stand up by myself.

After talking Delia down, I returned to the closet, found the device that had become disconnected, restored the connection and, at Delia's suggestion, went to my chair in the living room while she tried to clean up without causing any more problems. I quickly verified that wireless service had been restored.

As with the previous two falls, I was basically undamaged. Before, when I fell I would need help to get up. This time I managed it on my own. I may have lost a little weight but I still weigh over 330 pounds (336 this morning). I may be slightly stronger but I'm certainly not nearly as strong as I was two decades ago or before. I am, after all, 73 years old with serious health concerns.

I recently got a new pair of pants with a 54 inch waist. I used to wear pants having a waist greater than 60 inches. My weight and girth fluctuate; at the moment they are diminishing. I would like to get down to a 38 inch waist, at which point my weight would be somewhere about 230 to 270 pounds. It is happening more slowly than I expected.

I keep learning more about myself. For example, a year ago I had no idea that I was deficient in iodine. Who thinks about iodine? But my thyroid has been under-active since I was young and the thyroid needs iodine to function right. With my doctor's blessing, I started taking iodine supplements; she added thyroid supplements and L-Tyrosine, an amino acid the thyroid needs. Because of my lack of progress, she asked me to double my iodine dose. The iodine was causing me sleep problems, so I shifted my schedule to consume the iodine in the morning instead of the afternoon and started increasing the amount. I have been sleeping well at the doubled dose the last few days.

I made it through another small crisis.

I'm happy.

Jan. 18th, 2014


My Pot Arrived

I saw my doctor on Wednesday. She told me to double the amount of iodine I take and to start using a neti pot. She gave me a formula for mixing the saline solution to use in the pot. I also got her blessing on trying a supplement of FGHP (Food Grade Hydrogen Peroxide) to see if it helps with my balance problem, which may be ataxia.

For the moment I am going to wait on increasing my iodine dose. I recently shifted from taking a dose in the afternoon to taking it in the morning because I was having trouble sleeping. It is too soon to see if the time shift takes care of the problem. I use Lugol's solution, a liquid with no additives, because the Iodoral I had been taking contains gluten. Anyway, the solution to iodine keeping you awake is supposed to be to consume a sea salt solution. I haven't determined if that works for me nor how much to use. I'm working on it and don't need a distraction before I get it figured out.

A neti pot is a small pot with a spout for flushing the nasal passages. Many years ago I used a rubber bulb, the kind they use for treating ear wax buildup. Then the doctor who was treating me at the time switched me to using a Water Pic with a special tip. My Water Pic broke and I stopped flushing my nasal passages.

The problem didn't go away. I just ignored it until now.

I need to find a jar I can mix and store the solution in. I am supposed to sterilize the jar and pot with pharmaceutical grade peroxide, the cheap stuff, before each use. The solution should contain water, kosher salt, baking soda, Birch Xylitol and a few drops of GSE (Grapefruit Seed Extract). A cup of water should produce enough solution to flush both nostrils once, so I will probably brew up about a quart at a time. I have everything on hand except the xylitol.

I recognized that the xylitol is a sweetener. I didn't know it was used for nasal sprays. It also has other benefits. If nothing else, I can always use it to sweeten my coffee.

FGHP can be dangerous. It is commonly sold at a concentration of 35%, strong enough to burn the skin. To be safe, I ordered a small bottle at 8% which I will dilute to roughly 3% for my use. I know peroxide is touted as a miracle cure but I just want to be able to walk without staggering.

Using an ordinary doctor prescribing drugs to solve my problems would clean out my bank account. It's nice to be able to improve my health without going broke in the process.

Dec. 24th, 2013


Little Flowers

Last Sunday, Cathy gave me a fruit basket from the ranch. She gave Delia a similar basket. The baskets each contained a variety of citrus fruits, the super-traditional Christmas present. Down at the bottom of my basket I found a rather neglected bundle of herbs, lavender, held together by a rubber band. I put them in a plastic glass with water and a few drops of silver solution.

The next day I commented to Delia on the lavender, that it was producing a refreshing fragrance. She said her basket had a similar bunch. She dug it out and passed it to me. It was in even worse condition than my bunch. I tossed it into the glass with the others.

Now, three days later, I can see little tiny lavender flowers popping up everywhere, even on the hopeless bunch Delia received. The pleasant fragrance, somewhat weaker, is still present. All of the stems had been drooping; many now are standing proudly erect instead of hanging their heads.

Their improvement makes me feel better.

Dec. 16th, 2013



Modern calendars are rule-based; at first they were strictly observational. To determine the beginning of a month, observers watched the sunrise to see if they could detect the faint crescent moon against the sun's glare, which produced eye problems like cataracts. Through centuries of observation they knew that the length of the month varied with the time of year, which was determined by observation of the sun; the year was divided into four quarters by the two equinoxes and the two solstices. Months were shorter in the spring quarter, and accumulations of observations over a number of years showed how long a particular month was expected to be. They could predict the end of the month with good accuracy. Half-way through the month came the Ides or full moon, made famous by William Shakespeare.

But ordinary people don't appreciate the sacrifice involved in observation, the burned-out eyes and other problems. They wanted rules and rules for developing our common calendars required giving up observational months in favor of standardized months. It was eventually agreed (by all but a few) that a year would consist of twelve months of varying but predetermined length without regard for the position of the moon. Once we could predict the position of the moon with sufficient accuracy it became just another mark on our calendars and its relation to the twelve standard months was ignored if not totally forgotten.

Most people don't appreciate that the famous Blue Moon was the fourth full moon in a quarter, the result of the mismatch between observed and rule-based months. They commonly say the Blue Moon is the second full moon in a month. By the older tradition, this is utter nonsense because the full moon, or Ides, was by definition the middle of the month. You don't observe twelve full moons in any year because the movement of the sun is not the direct result of the movement of the moon in our skies.

We guide ourselves by our rule-based standardized calendars. By the current leader in calendars, I was born seventy-three years ago at about 10:28. I therefore celebrate my seventy-third birthday today. But I am an old man now and there won't be much of a celebration.

Dec. 14th, 2013


Low Chairs

Cathy called me from work: she would be delayed and was afraid Rocky might have an accident. I found Rocky seated on a green sofa when I got downstairs. He looked frightened so I sat on the sofa to calm him, hoping he would decide to go outside. Even though Rocky is a small dog, I was sure I couldn't lift him without damaging him or myself.

After sitting a while, I decided to see what I could watch on Cathy's television. Turning the television on was easy enough but it took me a while to figure out how to turn off the DVD player so I could watch a cable station. I watched for about half an hour, hoping Rocky would be inspired to get off of the sofa to go out. Instead, he fell asleep. I shut everything down and tried to leave but I couldn't stand up.

After about fifteen minutes of trying to stand up, I called Delia and asked her to come down and help me. While waiting I kept trying and, after another five minutes, was able to get into a squat. I bounced up and down until I could straighten my legs, then slowly straightened out to stand upright. A moment later I took a few steps without falling over, then was able to walk to the door. My movement didn't wake Rocky. I got to the top of the driveway just as Delia was coming out.

I'm getting better. Not too long ago I would have been unable to stand up by myself at all. The lower the chair, the worse my problem. I have had similar problems getting out of my chair at the dining room table, a reasonably high chair. It used to take me ten minutes to stand up at my Pump Club meetings after sitting 90 minutes or more; now it takes me just a few seconds. I weigh over 340 pounds and my legs, when my circulation has been cut off for long, are too weak for me to stand.

But I'm getting better.

Nov. 22nd, 2013


Symptoms vs. Diagnosis

Diabetes doctors believe in neuropathy, the painful death of nerve cells. It seems to explain everything. It is used to explain foot pain, constipation and lack of ability to perform sexually. It is probably used to explain other things as well.

After my first diabetes doctor retired because of ill health, I went to one who had a good reputation, almost fame, in the medical community. I tend to be an unruly patient, somewhat wearing on doctors, so he farmed me out to his new Nurse Practicioner. She tried to boss me around, so I severed the relationship and found a new doctor with a less lofty reputation. I told her about my delayed emptying of my stomach, which I had been told was due to neuropathy killing the nerves to my intestinal tract. My new doctor wouldn't accept my word for the condition. She insisted on having it tested.

Testing involved eating a radioactive egg salad sandwich and measuring how long it took for the radioactivity to leave my stomach. We did the test and it showed just what I had told the doctor: food is slow to leave my stomach. She decided I was suffering intestinal neuropathy.

That was quite a leap, from confirmation of symptoms she hadn't believed in to a useless diagnosis that explained the symptoms but offered no treatment. Apparently that diagnosis was the official, sanctioned, expected, accepted diagnosis for those symptoms. I have since found two other diagnoses that seem reasonable for my symptoms. The first is a vitamin or mineral deficiency, which leads to a treatment by supplementing with the missing vitamins or minerals, and the second is a Candida infection, which leads to treatment by taking probiotics and avoiding consumption of carbohydrates, a low carb diet. My current primary care doctor monitors my deficiencies and suggests appropriate supplements; she also has treated me for Candida. At least one of the treatments has helped. I don't care which one.

Had I stayed with that particular diabetes doctor or others like her who blame everything on neuropathy, having no treatment options, I would not feel as well as I do now. I still have a long way to go to recover decent health, but I have made progress.

I have noticed that many problems produce roughly the same symptoms. Many of the officially recognized diagnoses for those symptoms lead to either no treatment or a totally useless, perhaps even harmful, treatment. Many doctors, those who follow the official guidelines, are either useless or a danger to their patients.

I used to get rid of doctors by living until they retired or died off or until either I or the doctor moved. That isn't very efficient.

It is much better to do some research, figure out what treatment is viable, and fire those doctors who cannot or will not offer useful treatments.

I've fired quite a few doctors in the past decade.

Nov. 20th, 2013



I have been suffering from a severe allergy to gluten for many years. I thought I had made it clear to my family just how much suffering gluten causes me. They keep surprising me by unthinkingly and thoughtlessly ignoring my problem.

I rarely leave the house any more except to see one of my doctors. I avoid eating away from the house. I carefully read the labels on all the foods I buy. I still have problems. Most recently, over a month ago, I started taking two supplements for my health and one or both contained gluten that wasn't specified on the labels; both contained what the label called 'pharmaceutical glaze' with no explanation of what that might be.

I have my own set of cookware that nobody else uses ... or so I thought. Once in a while my wife decides to wash my cast iron covered cooking pot, never considering that the sponge she uses carries gluten from washing her stuff. Today, though, I feel insulted and hurt that my wife decided to use my slow cooker to heat some gluten-containing meatballs and carry them to a party she was attending.

I was aware she was fixing the meatballs and was prepared to take appropriate precautions. We had discussed what container she would use, whether glass, ceramic or plastic. Then I saw her walking out of the house with my slow cooker. I felt betrayed. My first reaction was that I could never use the slow cooker again. My second reaction was to wish that my wife suffered as much from gluten as I did, but I quickly retracted that wish. I wouldn't wish my suffering on her.

In order for me to be able to use my slow cooker ever again, I will have to place its ceramic insert in a very, very hot oven for a long time, as in the oven cleaning cycle. Its lid is a combination of glass and metal having lots of places for gluten to hide, so I should scrub it, too.

My most recent exposure to gluten made me decide I cannot risk travelling to England to see my son get married. My family is too careless with my health and suffering. And I'm still too fragile to recover easily. It takes me about forty days to recover from a gluten exposure, often longer for more severe exposures. A health specialist I met today told me that gluten allergic reactions can cause ulcers on the brain's surface, which was new to me. Gluten exposure can kill me in many unpleasant ways.

Nobody seems to care.

I feel very much at risk, even in my own home.

Thanksgiving used to be my favorite holiday. Now I dread Thanksgiving. I haven't gotten to the point of locking myself in my room from Halloween through the New Year.

Not yet.

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