Category Archives: Daily stuff

Jibber jabber about daily life

Health musings

So, the other day I mentioned that my TSH levels are way down and my free T4 levels are slightly lowered. The doctors have lowered my prescription of Armour Thyroid back to the previous level, and hopefully that helps. But I got to wondering why my thyroid took such a dramatic dip so suddenly. I mean, it could have been the medication, but it could be a lot of things too. Medication doesn’t work in a bubble. I have to look at this thing holistically…

Definition of holistically: in a way that treats the whole person, taking into account mental and social factors, rather than just the symptoms of a disease.

In other words, totally not the woo “science” that sells snake oil and vitamins as a cure all for everything from bruises to cancer. If you follow such people, I’m sorry for you, but I don’t believe in that clap-trap.

Image result for holistic
Google image search

Anyway, I never depend on medications alone to treat my problems, though they do play a big part in the treatment of things that *need* medications. Things like thyroid issues and bipolar — in my humble opinion — need medication and no one will convince me otherwise. I’ve tried other approaches to treating my bipolar without medicine. They didn’t work. The meds work. I’ll stick to using them. The thyroid meds help — I’ll keep using them. But — and this is a big but — I will also treat my whole self. I don’t work because while my bipolar meds do keep me sane, working with other people in certain situations can and will cause me to have breakthrough episodes of mania, which leads to depression and a vicious vicious cycle of… well bipolar rapid cycling. It’s not pretty. I don’t like going through it. So I avoid situations where it can happen. I also don’t work because I cannot take the medications for my fibromyalgia and function as a normal human being. So there’s that. But I’m going off on a tangent. Sorry about that.

So, back to what I was talking about… I got to thinking about what I’ve been doing in my life these past months and realized that there were probably a few things going on with me that exasperated the issue with my thyroid. Now, I take my thyroid meds at night because they do make me sleepy no matter what, and I’m supposed to take them on an empty stomach. Normally, I have a strict rule not to eat after about 8 pm in the evening for two reasons. One, it helps me digest everything I’ve eaten during the day and two because I take my meds about 10 pm and (as I just mentioned) I’m supposed to take them on an empty stomach. For some reason over the last few weeks, I’ve just… forgotten that rule. I don’t even know why. I’ve been eating willy-nilly, even as late as 9 pm. That might have had something to do with the change in my thyroid levels. Maybe. I dunno. I’m only guessing here. You know?

I also did some research online and found something called iodine deficiency. From that website: Iodine is a trace mineral and an essential component of the thyroid hormones, triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). According to the stuff I found, iodine deficiency is actually pretty common, but happily enough, is easily turned around just by eating the right foods. Especially here in the USA because we have iodized salt. I think that might be part of the culprit because I have not been cooking for myself these past few months — because, tired! You know how it works, dear reader. I got tired, so I didn’t cook, then I didn’t eat the right foods, so I got even more tired, so I continued not cooking, and the cycle continued. See, I used to eat a lot of eggs and leafy greens, which are a good source of iodine, but lately I just haven’t been. Now, do I know if I have iodine deficiency? No, not at all. But it won’t hurt to start cooking for myself again, and eating an egg (or salad) a day with a little salt will hardly kill me.

Also, carbs. Now I’m not a low-carb fanatic, but damn me, dear reader, if I haven’t been eating a ton of what we used to call “empty” carbohydrates — as opposed to what we used to call complex carbohydrates. My caloric intake didn’t go any higher than before — that I can tell, I stopped counting really — but I guaran-damn-tee you that my carb intake was through the roof. I was eating all kinds of crackers, cookies, chips, jams and jellies, breads… blah blah blah… Honestly, it was carb city over in my house. That and Diet Coke. For years and years I went without one Diet Coke then suddenly I was drinking the stuff like there was no tomorrow. I don’t know what came over me. I craved carbs and Diet Coke like they were going out of style. I know for a fact that the carb craving at least is a side effect of the Seroquel, which I take for my bipolar. I know this because it’s happened before, like way back when I first started taking it. But I can’t tell y’all why it hit me again so suddenly and so hard. Maybe they changed an inactive ingredient or something. I dunno. But I’ve controlled that side effect before, and have even lost weight — a lot of weight while taking Seroquel. I can control it again. Interesting note here that I didn’t notice before (see image), Seroquel also messes with the thyroid. Huh. I’ll have to bring this up next time I go to the doctor’s. Let me tell you something, dear reader, I will not stop taking the Seroquel despite the side effects. I’d rather be fat and sane than skinny and bonkers. I’ll tell y’all that right here and right now.

Seroquel side effects
Side effects of Seroquel. From this site This explains so much

Anyway, I’m back to monitoring my food intake, which totally helps keep me in check when it comes to what I’m putting in my mouth. That’s another thing that I’d let slide these past few months. I was just too tired to bother. Having a phone app for it helps — myfitnesspal if anyone’s interested. There’s a widget in my sidebar that shows how much weight I haven’t lost. I totally plateaued at 256 pounds. Sigh. But if you read the little image above, I probably have Seroquel to blame for that too. Ha! I have to eat less than most people just to maintain the weight I’m at. Grumble grumble grumble. Anyway, I’ve ordered a couple of books to read up on the whole thyroid matter. I just now as I was typing this got a call from my doctor’s office to follow up in a couple of weeks to talk about all of this — meds, lifestyle, thyroid, the whole shebang.

Image result for thyroid spark plug
Gotta fix the thyroid… Google image search

I hope that I’m not boring y’all with all of this. I read somewhere that the thyroid is the spark plug for the body. If it’s not working correctly, nothing else works quite right. That’s why I don’t want to mess around with the woo and snake oil. Same with my bipolar. Everything else that’s going amiss in my body is… important but not as important. Like, I can kind of deal with the fibromyalgia, the IBS, the migraines, and all that rot, but the bipolar and thyroid? They’ve gotta be taken care of or everything else just goes to shit.

Answers — of a sort

So I went to my doctor’s a couple of days ago to see why I’m so freaking fatigued these days. And it appears that my thyroid is acting up again (as I suspected). My TSH levels are… low… very low. Like the low scale would be .4 something and I’m at .13 something. Which is weird. Low levels are generally associated with hyperthyroidism not hypothyroidism, which is what I have. My free T4 levels are low too, but not as low as my TSH level. My free T4 levels are just below the normal range, but still low.

Anyway, what this all means is that kind of explains why I’ve been falling asleep fatigued lately. My thyroid is acting up again. The main problem is that this is probably a direct reaction to upping my meds a few months ago, but we upped my meds because (if I remember correctly) I went to the doctor’s because I was feeling tired and my nails were getting brittle, and blah blah blah — same reason why I went to the doctor’s this time. So I don’t even know if going back on my old dose will be helpful. But here’s to hoping. And here’s to hoping that there isn’t something worse underneath all of these numbers (adrenal or pituitary problems).

Image result for thyroid fatigue

Anyway, that kind of explains my lack of posts these past few months. My thyroid is misbehaving, and it’s playing merry hell with my energy levels. It’s not an excuse for ignoring y’all, but it’s definitely a reason.

Some memory thoughts

Way back in the 1990’s I was writing a letter to a friend of mine on this newfangled word processing program called WordPerfect. I absolutely adored WordPerfect back in the day and would use it over any other word processing program — including Microsoft Word for many many years. I’d actually been using WP for a while at the time of this letter writing event, but it had just been updated to Windows, and it had some nifty new features — like fonts! I was all over the cursive font because how awesome was it to be able to type in cursive? And wow! The program would, like, capitalize the first word of a sentence if I used the proper punctuation. And there were suddenly these wavy red lines under misspelled words and wavy green lines under grammar errors! It was pretty mind blowing at the time.

Of course, punctuation doesn’t always equal the end of a sentence, so that got frustrating once in a while. And spellcheck has since been proven to be very fallible. It is still a good place to start, but yeah, spellcheck just won’t see the mistake in I red the sentence. or She bread rabbits for fun and profit. because the words red and bread are spelled correctly. Still, spellcheck in all its forms is a good program, and I still use it as a jumping off point whenever I proofread my stuff. And, contrary to popular belief, I do proofread. ๐Ÿ™‚

Anyway, I was thinking about that letter back then — about 25 years ago I guess — and it occurred to me that the wonder of that first letter is still kind of there. Because before word processing programs like WordPerfect and Microsoft Word, I either had to use a typewriter to type a letter, or write it by hand. Both of with were tedious processes for me, because while I can touch type ,and do a fairly good job at typing, I do make mistakes. And, OMG, don’t even get me started about writing business letters and/or books on a typewriter. Mistakes just couldn’t happen. It was so stressful. Same with writing by hand, I used to have pretty good handwriting, and actually enjoyed writing a lot, but I do make mistakes. I used to be way too much of a perfectionist to leave mistakes in my letters. I’m better about it now (as can be attested by how many mistakes are usually found in my blog posts ๐Ÿ˜› ), but back then? No way. Word processing programs were a godsend for me because I could just go back and correct my mistakes — helped along by the little red lines.

typewriter
The old way of writing letters

And here I am, still writing with similar word processing technology, but on a different scale. But many things are the same. My words will still automatically capitalize if I use certain punctuation, and I still have the same squiggly lines under misspelled words — twenty some odd years later. You know what, dear reader? Even now, I think that word processing programs are pretty awesome. I think the fact that I can write these words on my computer, hit the “publish” button, wait a few seconds, and it’s published for anyone in the world to see is pretty damned amazing. Even with the glitches and foibles of certain websites. I’ve always thought the internet was rather remarkable and awe inspiring, despite how ubiquitous it is nowadays. Childbirth is an everyday experience, but it’s also a wonderful event.

Aunty Acid I love my computer, all of my friends

Blah, I’ve run out of steam. ๐Ÿ™‚ I just wanted to share this kind of stream of consciousness with y’all. I had that memory and it just went from there. I really did love writing letters on WordPerfect, though I use Microsoft Word now (because I have the whole Office Suite). And I guess I’ll always have that memory of, “This is pretty awesome.” And I still think that this is whole word processing, picture processing, and internet thing pretty awesome, even though it’s pretty much the every day hum-de-dum nowadays. Without the internet, I couldn’t torture y’all, dear readers, with my strange musings. And then what would you do for weirdness? ^_^

Quick Updates

We took Poptart to the vet today to get his stitches out and he has a clean bill of health. We need to keep his wound covered for a bit longer because the other dogs keep trying to lick it, but he doesn’t need to wear the inflatable donut around his neck anymore, And, more importantly, he doesn’t need to be confined to his kennel anymore. Though we’ll probably keep him there at night for a while because I feel uneasy having him sleep in the bed because I move around a lot.

Poptart and Cocoa sleeping
No more worries
Look Fibro Fatigue, if you're going to hang around all day, bring cookies

I, dear reader, am exhausted. Doug and I have been slowly but surely purging things out of the house — we’ve gone through the cat’s room, the kitchen, the dog’s room, and part of what used to be my office, but it is slow going. I look around me and I see so much more that has to be purged and we’re slowly running out of time to get stuff out of the door. We haven’t even looked at the shed yet. But y’all, I’m tired. Like exhausted. Some days it’s enough that I get out of bed and into the living room. I try to get dressed every day, but sometimes I just don’t. That was the one thing I’ve always tried to do — get dressed. I didn’t even have coffee today. I just couldn’t work up the energy to run the coffee machine. I’ve been falling asleep all day. I mean, I took Poptart to the vet and brought him back, but it was a colossal effort. Y’all don’t even know. I went to bed early last night too, but as I said, I’ve been falling asleep all day. I just don’t sleep during the day. I made an appointment with my doctor to have my thyroid checked again because this tired business just cannot continue. We’ll see what goes on from there.

job hunting in typewriter

In other news, the job that Doug was supposed to have until January is letting him go at the end of June. I dunno if I’ve told y’all this, but there it is. He’s going to try and get another contracting position, but man is that getting old fast. We found out not too long ago that they were going to let his whole team go last month (like three weeks after they hired him) but his manager convinced the higher ups that his team was more important than they (the higher ups) think, and should be kept around for a little while longer. Even with the extra time, the team won’t be able to finish what needs to be done, but what can you do? Anyway, this means we’ll be out of health insurance again in a little over a month. *Sigh* This is getting tedious. I just need to remember to get my meds filled before we lose our insurance.

Bellevue College catalog cover

In other other news, I got this in the mail today and found it amusing, so I thought I would share. College courses sure are different from when I went to community college. ๐Ÿ™‚ I have no idea what Cannabis 101 is about, but hey, whatever gets them in the door, right? I mean is it the study of cannabis? The history? How to open a cannabis store? I dunno. I suppose I could look at the course description, but what’s the fun of that? ๐Ÿ™‚ Hmmmm, it’s not on their website. Let me find that catalog again… Okay, so it’s a “basic, general information” course about how weed works, the difference between CBD and THC, and the medicinal uses of weed. It’s in the catalog, but not on the website… Anyway, I found the cover amusing because, wow I never thought I’d see the day one could take a course in weed. And hey, I’m glad that day is here.

So I read a book

A few of them actually but this one burned my butt. I wanted to “review” it a while ago, but thought it might be a good idea to — deep breath — calm down a bit before I did. See, the author of this book (Martin Lindstrom) fancies himself an expert on the human psyche because he’s in the marketing biz, makes an ass-ton of money doing it, and has conducted “studies” using brain scanners to try and figure out why we buy the things we buy — which you can read about in his other book Buyoloy if you want to. I don’t recommend it, they’re not very scientific studies IMHO, but hey, it’s… interesting… reading. The book I’m gonna be talking about here is called (oh, so cleverly), Brandwashed. Get it? Like brainwashed, but with brands? Huh? Huh? Clever, right? *sigh* Titles are hard, so I guess I can’t give him too difficult of a time for that. Except man, does this guy come off as a pompous know-it-all. Like, I’ve read some books in my time — a lot of books, and many of them have that, “I’m gonna tell you something you probably didn’t know…” tone to them — you know, Things [they] don’t want you to know! kind of books — but this one takes the cake. Like his second chapter is called Peddling Panic and Paranoia: Why Fear Sells and it starts with the how the companies of certain products like soaps and disinfectants started to aggressively market their wares during the SARS and Swine flu epidemics. According to him, it’s why hand gel is so ubiquitous now when 15 years ago we’da been, “Hand gel? What for?” And I kind of agree that companies do feed on fear and world events. That’s true. But then he makes this ludicrous statement: Turns out, though, that neither the Swine Flu nor SARS can be prevented by the use of antibacterial cleansing gels. and he’s halfway right. But the gels he’s dismissing aren’t just antibacterial, they are alcohol based gels, which do prevent the spread of flu, and the CDC does advocate the use of them if washing one’s hands isn’t available as an option. And, the simple act of washing one’s hands with any soap will help stop the spread of the flu. So there’s that. That was the first time I really went, “This guy isn’t the brightest bulb in the bunch.”

Later on in this chapter I came across these statements, and I’m gonna type them out entirely so you, dear reader, can enjoy them as much as I did.

…Restless leg syndrome? Fibromyalgia? Premenstrual dysphoric Disorder? Who knew such things even existed? Well, thanks to the psychologically manipulative and oft-aired commercials, we all do now.

Do you suffer from shyness? Apparently shyness isn’t just a personality trait but an actual pathology, and one that only Paxil can cure. What about acid reflux disease, formally known as heartburn? Today there are over a dozen drugs, from Nexium to Prilosec to Zantac, available to treat it. Who know that irritable bowels weren’t just the unfortunate repercussions of a spicy Mexican dinner and were actually a “syndrome”? PMDD, or “premenstrual dysphoric disorder,” is a relatively recent condition, though is bears much in common with the monthly hormonal changes fertile women have been experiencing for centuries. LBL, which stands for “light bladder leakages,” is an even newer one, pharmacologically speaking. Anyone who’s ever gone swimming in a public pool has probably encounter a young child who suffers from this.

These days , we’re being persuaded to ask our doctors for medications to address what were once considered nothing more than everyday inconveniences. A recent study by two York University researchers found that big Pharma spends nearly twice as much on promotion and advertising as it does on research and development. No wonder Americans are the most overmedicated people on earth, with overall domestic sales of prescription drugs totaling $235.4 billion

Brand Washed — Martin Lindstrom 2011

This was Chapter 2, dear reader. Chapter 2. Trust me, it doesn’t get any better. Because nothing entrusts me to an author more than to be told that the pain that eats away at my guts day in and day out (IBS) is nothing more than “repercussions” of something I ate – or hey, that heartburn that kept me up for most of my adult life? To the point I couldn’t even drink water? No matter what I ate or drank? That heartburn? It’s nothing more than a minor inconvenience. It’ll go away eventually. I should just throw away the medicine that made that disappear for good, that’s just Big Pharma. What about my daughter’s crushing, curl into a fetal position pain she gets every single month — sometimes for a week? Oh, women have been suffering that kind of pain since time immemorial. Aren’t we used to that shit by now? She should just buck up and take it. But whatever! We didn’t know about it before, right? So it didn’t exist, but hey, Big Pharma made a commercial about it, so they’ve brainwashed — sorry, brandwashed us (see how clever he is?) into thinking we need to take medicine for that now so we can lead normal lives. Nothing like a man to tell us how real our menstrual woes are.

Pharmaceutical companies do spend a lot of money on promotion and marketing (link to the study from the quote above). That’s always been true, and it’s truer still since they’ve been allowed to have TV commercials here in the United States — which I’ve always been against. I don’t think that TV commercials for prescription medicines do anyone any good. However, that does not invalidate any of the illnesses people legitimately have. I mean, they’re prescribed for a reason. Doctors are not on “Big Pharma’s” payroll just dealing drugs for the fun of it. I’m not on two very powerful psychiatric drugs because some pharmaceutical company dreamed up bipolar disorder and said to psychiatrists everywhere, “Hey, give these to people.” Actually, the meds I take are a-typical for bipolar, so that wouldn’t have worked anyway — one is an anti-psychotic and one is for epilepsy that is also prescribed for migraines. Go figure. But my point is, there’s no conspiracy for “Big Pharma” to create disorders and have doctors dole out the meds for them. And if any doctor does give meds where they’re not needed — that doctor is unethical and needs to be in jail. Maybe they do exist, and I’m being naive. But I think this author is using the same fear mongering technique that he’s warning his readers to be wary of. And it persists throughout the book. All I had to do was turn the page

Here, he talks about how supermarkets put “freshness” strips on products so that consumers will know that the product is somehow been uncontaminated or “unsullied by germs, untouched by another human being.” Maybe he’s too young or wasn’t in the US when there was a series of murders that happened in Chicago in the 1980’s where someone put cyanide into Tylenol capsules and placed the tainted capsules (in their Tylenol bottles and boxes) back on the shelf. There was also footage of grocery security store camera that hit the news in my area around the same time that showed two store clerks doing all kinds of disgusting things to the food and putting that food back on the shelves. In both cases the tainted food was sold to unknowing customers — because there were no seals. Now the clerks probably didn’t have much of an impact on how food is packaged, but those murders sure did. Now, I can’t speak for you, dear reader, but when I’m looking at the seal around the food I buy, it’s not because I want to believe that it’s “freshly flown in from… just this morning.” as the author of this book thinks we want to believe. Because I’m not stupid. I’m looking at the seal to see that some bored clerk hasn’t spit in it (or who knows what else) or that some mad person hasn’t slipped cyanide into it or something. I mean, this guy must think that we, the consumer, are mindless sheep — and he’s here to save us from our stupidity.

As an aside, he also mentions that the “popping” sound we hear when we open a jar of jam is manufactured and patented in a sound lab. So when I’m canning stuff and my cans “pop” to signify that the seal has taken… I’m stealing that sound? Good to know. Hope I don’t get sued.

I could go on and on. And I did read the book to the end. Most of his observations are pretty much the same. He sees a trend — sometimes not even a trend – the experiment later was because he heard someone make the same statement twice — and then makes an outlandish observation like the ones above with next to nothing to back it up, but because he’s an “expert” in marketing he has some kind of clout I suppose. He even had a weird experiment in the end were he planted a fake family in some neighborhood, and had them brandwash everyone by… showing off? their stuff? In his words (again)

The point of this multimillion-dollar experiment was to test the seductive power of word-of-mouth marketing. By filming a “real” family in spontaneous, unscripted situations and scenarios like these, from barbecues to champagne brunches to shopping expeditions, we would document how the Morgensons’ circle of friends responded to specific brands and products the Morgensons brought into their lives. When put face to face with another family’s “enviable” lifestyle — and the brands and products that sustain it — would they want all the things that family has? And more important, would this influence be so powerful as to make them actually go out and buy those things?

Brandwashed — Martin Lindstrom

The trouble with this is — One: not cool messing with people like that. Not ethical either. I’m pretty sure of that. Especially for a whole month. And two — You can’t plop some fake family down for a month in one neighborhood see what goes on in that neighborhood and say, “See? What I’ve been saying all along about everything is right.” That’s just bad science! Plop that family down in anywhere but Southern California and I bet they’d be laughed at (...champagne brunches… snicker… Who does that?) or worse. Seriously. There might be one family who’d buy the same stuff but honestly… no. Just… no. In some parts of the country that family would be ignored until they’d lived there for a year. I’ve personally lived in places where they’da had to keep that family there for maybe five years before anyone could call them “friend”. But hey, he did an experiment that proved his point, so what are you gonna do? One fake family, one neighborhood, and he’s the smartest man in the world. Science, bitches! Then again, given what he said above about “Big Pharma” I don’t think this guy and science are more than kissing cousins.

Anyway, I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone unless you need to raise your blood pressure. It wasn’t even good for much of a laugh. He tries to be funny, but he’s not. He is full of himself though — I bet his eyes are brown.

Good news y’all

Small dog in kennel
Poptart is not a happy camper

I’m gonna use this picture of him again because any other picture I take will look basically the same. ๐Ÿ™‚ Anyway, got a call from the vet this morning and the tumor they removed from Poptart was invasive but benign. A rather aggressive fatty tumor. He’ll be fine in a couple of weeks or so. He’s so not happy being confined to his kennel, but every time I let him out, Brandy’s all: Let’s play! and yeah, back in he goes. Plus every time a car comes anywhere near our driveway he has a tendency to race out and bark ferociously at it. Since the tumor was in his chest muscle just under his right leg, he can’t go racing willy-nilly about the place without tearing things open. So in the kennel he stays. It’s like trying to keep a sick kid in bed, only easier because with a kennel I can lock the door — but harder because at least with a sick kid I could try to explain why I was torturing them thusly.

Anyway, thought I would update y’all on what the vet said. Aggressive but in the end, benign. So, good news.

A snippet of thought

So, something about being so fatigued is that I crave caffeine and carbs like crazy. Maybe not a physical craving, but my mind keeps telling me: “Maybe if you had more sugar and/or caffeine in you, you wouldn’t be so tired.” Logically I know that sugar and caffeine are — at best — short term solutions to being tired, but that doesn’t stop my brain from whispering to me, “Drink some coffee, have a cookie… go on, it’ll help.”

Give me the coffees. ๐Ÿ™‚

Now, I drink coffee most of the day anyway, but I normally drink it black with no sugar. When I get this tired, I *want* to add sugar, and sometimes even cream cream to it. I haven’t had coffee with sugar and cream in years… I’ve refrained from doctoring my coffee in such a way. I put a little maple syrup here and there, but that’s it. (Maple syrup is easier on my digestive system) But it’s really hard to not give in to the craving for sugar. Really hard. And you know, dear reader, I totally just want nothing but cookies all day long. Because I know I’ll get a bit of a boost from it, even if it’s short term. I totally don’t get nothing but cookies all day long because that would make me feel shitty in the long run, but I crave it. I totally crave it. Fatigue messes with the mind in more ways than one. And I will totally give in to those cravings now and again… Because I’m just too tired to fight it. The thing is, that my overall caloric intake doesn’t go up. Okay, it goes up a little, but mostly it’s just my carb intake that goes up when I’m feeling this way — which is almost as bad. You know?

Anyway, just thought I’d make a small post about whatever was on my mind, and that’s what was there. I know I haven’t been posting as much as I used to. I need to rectify that. My word recall is pretty dismal right now and posting actually helps with that. ๐Ÿ™‚