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Jul. 31st, 2014


Too Many Wires

My Pebble watch buzzed me early this morning. I couldn't figure out why but the temperature display on the watch face showed question marks.

The Pebble is an Android Smart Watch. It talks to the Internet through my Android phone. I was able to connect to the Internet on the phone, even able to use Skype, but not from the Pebble. I tried to connect to Skype from my tablet. Things got stranger: I could get messages but I couldn't use voice or video. I looked into the hall closet, a small coat closet where I get my Internet connection. The lights were off on my wireless transmitter.

There was a real rat tangle of wires. If I pulled on a random wire, sometimes the wireless would light up briefly and sometimes the cable modem would go dark. I started trying to untangle wires. My back gave out, so I had to get myself a chair. I probably spent over an hour sorting out wires and devices. When I gave up, I still had my cable television, I had restored the cable modem and wireless, the Pebble once more showed the local temperature, and I had an extension cord and two wall warts left over. I have probably disconnected my local cloud storage, but it has been down for months. A couple of lights are lit, one red and one yellow. Some day I'll figure out which wall wart belongs to the cloud drive and get it working.

Before I finished, Delia asked if I could give her a Skype connection to our son in London. I was able to send him a message via Skype but I couldn't connect with the tablet at that time. I had to make the connection using my phone, which bypasses my wireless system. He was busy and could only spare a moment to talk with Delia. Still, it was nice to be able to pull my head out of the hot closet while they spoke.

I'm going to have to stick my head back into the closet to figure out how to connect the wireless hard drive. I don't feel up to it today. But, when I do get around to it, the extension cord and the wires from the two wall warts are nicely coiled up, ready to go.

Jul. 28th, 2014


Day Three on Steroids

Things are never as simple as I expect them to be.

Yesterday I was convinced that the doctor was right, that the pain in my arm was coming from my neck, due to a pinched nerve and inflammation. Now that only seems partly right. At least some of the pain and inflammation in my arm is due to using a mouse. The mouse pain is concentrated just below the shoulder while the neck pain is lower, close to the elbow.

What has changed?

Before, my whole arm hurt. Now it is more localized and I can feel different parts of the arm hurting differently. Right now, with pain that originates in use of the mouse, my thumb and ring finger on the right are tingling and the pain is concentrated below my shoulder. All I feel from my neck, apart from an occasional twinge when I turn my head, is a mild pressure on opposite sides of the neck, as if somebody were resting their thumbs there but  not pressing hard.

I'm sure I should immobilize my neck as soon as possible. I'm also sure my decision not to drive yesterday, when the muscle relaxants were making me drowsy, was a good one. I don't think I should drive today either even though I have not felt drowsy so far today. I just don't feel up to it yet. I still feel badly balanced when I try to walk.

One good sign is that I have been sleeping well the past couple of nights. Despite Delia's protests, I have continued taking GABA before bed and taking the muscle relaxant three times per day, including just before going to bed.

Jul. 25th, 2014


My Arm Hurts ... But Not Because of the Arm

My arm hurts. It has been hurting for five weeks, gradually getting worse. For the first time in several years, I have had to use Acetaminophen to control the pain. I started with the maximum dose, two tablets, early in the morning. After four hours, I took another two tablets, then two more in another four hours. I took the final two tablets just before bed. I woke early in the morning in severe pain. The second day I followed the same pattern but an hour later. I woke an hour later in the morning in severe pain. The third day, I stretched the interval to five hours, with similar results. The fourth day, I waited as long as I could stand before taking a dose. I only took three pairs of tablets during the day. I was not comfortable.

This morning I got up an hour early, did my health recordings, bathed and dressed, had breakfast, and went off to the doctor. I had seen a doctor about the same problem two years ago and I was prescribed four months of therapy. The therapy only helped slightly with the pain but it taught me several techniques for getting past the pain, techniques I had been using without a lot of success in my current problem. This doctor, an osteopath, listened to my symptoms and did a few simple tests, then informed me it was my neck that was causing the problem. Specifically, a pinched nerve had gotten so inflamed it sent inflammation down my right arm.

Oh, neat! I get to wear a foam collar, a cervical support, for a couple of weeks.

I also get to take a program of steroids, starting with six tablets the first day and taking one less each day. Half an hour or so after each tablet I have to measure my blood sugar. It will climb but I don't know how much. It may have other effects, too. I'm also supposed to take a strong muscle relaxant daily, so I can sleep. I already seem zonked out most of the time. Now I'll really resemble a zombie.

Delia has been reminding me for months that we are supposed to attend a party tomorrow. I am deathly afraid of parties now because I always get poisoned with gluten and other toxic foods. I've been telling Delia for weeks that I might not be able to go but she interprets that to mean that I might be able to go, just the opposite of what I tried to convey. Now it is absolutely certain that I can't go without unreasonable risk to my health and life. Delia still insisted I get a haircut today, so I'll look nice at the party. She took me to Fantastic Sam's, the first time I've ever gone there. They left plenty of hair, so I can have a fresh haircut at a real barber's in a few days to correct it.

I tried to find a cervical support collar at a pharmacy near the place they did the Samson bit on me. The clerk couldn't find one. I did my own search and found a piece of trash that didn't inspire me. I was too tired of being in pain to try either of the other two pharmacies in the area. I came home, dosed up and had lunch, two pork tamales, late in the afternoon. Now I'm going to hydrate for a few hours, to get enough water into my body to justify a trip to the bathroom.

Today was hot and humid. I got rained on. We had gone to Costco to fill the prescriptions and it was raining when I came out. I waited until the rain stopped before trying to walk to the car. It started coming down hard before I got half way to the car. I was hot and wet, then.

Today was filled with pain. I can't turn my head without my arm hurting. I can't do much of anything without my arm hurting.

I don't want to stand up ... but I have hydrated enough. I have to stand, and walk ... .

Jun. 30th, 2014


Change in Health

Today, for the first time in two weeks, I watered my plants.

I have always had back problems. For the last few decades, the pain has limited the amount of time I can stand still. The pain used to go away if I walked for a while, but this is no longer always the case. More and more often I've simply had to sit down for half an hour or so before the pain would diminish. This year, even that hasn't always helped. It got to the point that an hour or two of walking would be followed by a day or two that the pain made walking impossible.

Two months ago, my doctor told me to double my intake of magnesium from two 400 mg capsules to four. The problem got worse. After a month, I was in pain all of the time. But I realized that the pain was different from what I had suffered earlier, it was due to my muscles spasming and binding up. The pain came from a multitude of small cramps. Using my muscles made the cramping worse and more general. Now the pain originated at the backs of my knees and spread to the middle of my back and sometimes one or both shoulders.

I finally made the connection. I hadn't noticed the pain for a long time because it was always there but varying in intensity.When I used my muscles, the pain became more intense and spread to new locations. It had become noticeable when I increased my magnesium intake. The day I finally made the connection I could barely stand enough to make it to the bathroom, even supporting myself against the wall all of the way. After a day without my magnesium supplements I was able to walk by occasionally leaning against the walls. The second day, the pain started to diminish and I could walk comfortably for short distances and even stand comfortably for a few minutes. Today I could stand well enough to water my plants, which were sadly in need of such refreshment. Well, the plants that survived needed water. I'm pretty sure I've lost at least one tomato plant.

I had been taking a single 400 mg capsule of magnesium for several years. Before that, I was taking an ounce or two of magnesium chloride solution, Delia's concoction, for years. I also chose to eat foods high in magnesium. It worked well for me. I think I'm ready to go back to the one capsule dose, taken late in the afternoon. I'll resume the supplementation when I feel well enough, perhaps tomorrow.

I missed out on Cathy's party because of this problem. Delia and Cathy were both happy following the party but they were also both worn out. I hadn't been able to help in the preparations, either. I have been told my absence was noticed and commented on. I didn't plan not to be there. It just happened.

After the party, Cathy and Tom packed the truck, a little trailer they have and Cathy's Honda with most of Cathy's stuff. Cathy drove the truck with the trailer and, I imagine, the three dogs. She was still weak from having the stitches from her surgery removed a week early, so Tom did the heavy lifting. They left here after midnight and arrived in Tucson before 09:00 following a short nap on the road. Tom called in to take today off. They will probably sleep until tomorrow.

My hair used to be a medium brown. Then it got sprinkled with gray in gradually increasing amounts. As the white hairs populated my head, the number of hairs diminished. My hair grew coarser. I was in danger of my head being capped with a layer of snow. Then it reversed itself. There is more hair, finer hair, and the white and gray are disappearing. People have remarked on it spontaneously, without prompting. That tells me that my pseudo-Paleo diet is working for me.

I still need to lose 120 pounds and get my blood pressure down a bit.

But, for the moment, I'm thankful to be nearly free of pain with the hope of actually getting better.

Jun. 28th, 2014


Back and Leg Pain

For the past few months, I have been suffering a variety of pains. I have several different problems that cause my body to hurt: gluten allergy, several food allergies, low thyroid function, assorted vitamin and mineral deficiencies, arthritis, and inflammation. I've had to figure out what triggers each problem and how to treat it. Many things trigger the inflammation including inflammation in different parts of the body. Many of the pains are similar enough to be indistinguishable from other pains but there are whole families of pain: burning, nerve pain, cramping, dull generalized pain, stabbing or electrical pain, and so on. Some pains come on slowly, others rapidly. Some disappear promptly, others linger.

My new pain would hit me whenever I managed to get in a bit of exercise. That aspect was getting progressively worse. The pain would come on about 24 hours after exercising and would take up to five days to go away. The more exercise I did, the more intense the pain was. Cramps usually involve a whole bundle of muscle, with calf cramps being among the most common. These felt like individual strands of muscle cramping and, when in spasm, unable to function. It became difficult to walk. I could stand up easily enough but as soon as I tried to take a step the muscles would freeze up. And I couldn't work through it.

I thought that if I did just a little exercise, the pain would be light enough that I could work through it. On Wednesday, I walked for a little bit. On Thursday, the pain was light enough that I could walk again, about half as far. On Friday, the pain was so intense I was having problems getting to the bathroom; going out was out of the question. Previously, the pain would diminish after I took a few steps. Now the pain remained until I sat down. Lying down, which previously had allowed the pain to diminish, now triggered the pain. Only sitting brought relief, and that only briefly. The pain began starting up all by itself. On Thursday it started at 06:00, on Friday at 03:00. It was the early pain on Friday that got me thinking about magnesium.

I had been taking two 400 mg capsules of magnesium each day. My doctor asked me to double that dose. After a few weeks, I started having the pain problems, long enough for me to forget that the doctor had warned me that if I started experiencing pain I should drink a lot of water and cut back on the magnesium. Getting to the kitchen to pick up a bottle of coconut water and then to my chair in the living room was a long and painful task. My legs barely functioned, particularly the left leg, and they felt as if they were going to give out. I sat and drank the whole liter of water. I waited. After a while I was able to get to the bedroom and my bed. This morning I was able to walk. It was painful and slow but I could walk again.

I skipped this morning's dose of magnesium. The cramps still slow me down but the pain has diminished. I have a pain in my right shoulder, at the shoulder blade, but that feels more like my arthritis. I can ignore it. I'll drink a lot of water today and I'll skip my next dose of magnesium. I hope that will take care of the problem.

My daughter drove here from Tucson to attend a baby shower being given for her. I am unable to attend because I still hurt too much to even take a shower.

I don't want to miss out on any other celebrations.

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.

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