Sunday, September 6, 2009

Better living through chemistry?

Every time I turn around I'm getting a new pill to swallow. As my doctor once said, while having a difficult time looking me in the eyes. "I can't do anything about the cause of your illness, I can only treat the symptoms." She's a good doctor, contrary to that less-than flattering recollection. I have a feeling it was much harder for her to say, than for me to hear.

Still, the bigger concern is that the drugs are just that, temporary numbness from the cause. It all seems so counter productive, when you think about the long-term result.
When will I find a better way to either cure the cause or relieve the symptoms without pickling my liver and drooling on my shirt.
Then there are the times when I must forgo medication all together.
My doctor recently prescribed yet another medication for pain. My research has me thinking that I don't want another sedating drug with all the usual side effects. Drowsiness, listlessness and the usual parade of masks.
Fortunately, anal leakage isn't mentioned, but weight gain is, which doesn't sit too well with me. Fibromyalgia's biggest side effect (other than pain) seems to be weight gain. Mostly, because it hurts like hell to move, yet exercise is often the only way to really get the best of fibro. I believe "cruel irony" are the words you're looking for here. So, do I sedate myself with a drug at the hope of getting some pain relief or force my way through exercising?
Do I give in to the allure of medication, adding one more to the cocktail I'm already hating?
Do I take the gun?
Do I leave the cannoli?
Jesus I wish I knew.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


I had a migraine recently, which was frightening -- since I hadn't had one in about a year. I know quite a few fibro sufferers who get regular migraines -- much worse, and more frequent than what I experience. The thing I hate the most (even more than the headache) is the aura that precedes it. You can't really see out of one eye and are unable to focus on anything. I usually get numb on one side -- well, more disassociated from one side, usually one of my arms. I imagine a stroke sort of feels this way. Then, after 20 to 30 minutes of this anxiety-inducing light show, the headache comes, and it's ... well, fucked. There are a host of medications out there for migraines, but timing is everything. If you don't take them at the earliest possible sign of the oncoming migraine, you're really in trouble. Then you have the nausea and the hangover, which is like a lighter version of the actual headache itself. That lasts another few days and I feel pretty disoriented during that time. Either way it's really a buzz kill, and yes, I puked, thank you for asking.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The sound of silence

There's a neat movie called The Fall of the House of Usher, starring Vincent Price. Originally written by Edgar Allan Poe, telling the tale of a man who suffers from hyperesthesia or an extreme hypersensitivity to sound , light, taste ... reality TV...
The condition, along with an anxiety (did I mention anal leakage?) drives him (Vincent) to the brink of madness. Perhaps this is the first example of fibromyalgia on film. This is among the crappiest symptoms I enjoy with fibro -- the sound and light thing, not the rest of it. Especially sound, where it can get so freakin' overwhelming that I keep earplugs with me at all times.
As much as I adore my daughters, there's some strange part of early-childhood development in girls, that indicates a need for high-pitched screaming for no reason at all. They shriek over just about everything -- pancakes for breakfast? Shriek. Going to the store? Shriek. Breathing in and out? Oh yeah.
These are the times when the earplugs come in real handy. The hardest, however, is during bath time. In addition to the shrill, wailing that seems to squirt out of them at the drop of a hat, you have the benefit of ceramic tile, that creates a sort of hyper-shriek. This is like putting a power drill with a hypodermic needle-sized bit into your ear and putting the pedal to the floor. After bath time, I Q-tip the blood and remaining brain from my ear canals, and usually end up with a real good headache, bless their little hearts.
I admit, I've played the Santa card a few times, as in "OK, if you don't stop screaming, I'm gonna call Santa..." What can I say? I have him on speed dial and it only seems fair that I have an ace in the hole when I need one. Besides, nothing else seems to work with a 3 and 5 year-old — I gotta hit 'em where they live, you understand. I also admit to being jealous of them having something to shriek about. I, however, do not. It got me to thinking... what would make me shriek in delight? Well, there's good pizza. Waking up next to Elizabeth Montgomery. (Jesus, that's a whole nother blog right there.) Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Ann Coulter being burned in effigy -- that would be a delightful shriek heard 'round the world. Dare to dream...

Friday, July 17, 2009

Joint pain

Medical marijuana is an interesting way to cope with fibromyalgia. Yes, I tried it and yes, I did inhale -- with a fury. I haven't smoked pot in about 20 years, so this was a bit of a walk down memory...
... what was I saying?

Oh yeah.
So, a friend of mine who suffers from chronic migraines has been a legal recipient of medical marijuana for about 6 months now. I was allowed to accompany him to a dispensary as an observer. I wanted to see how the stuff is sold to registered card holders and what to expect should I decide that this is the pain reliever for me. OK, this was among the most surreal experiences of my life, and I advise everyone to do this at least once. If for anything, it could be the closest any one of us gets to knowing what it's like to be in a David Lynch movie, minus the blood and breasts. The place I visited was considered (according to my escort) very clean and well run. Aside from the overwhelming smell of cannabis, the place could have been a massage therapy— or doctor's office. Everyone there was very accommodating, or was it stoned? I guess it doesn't matter, seeing how you never see people acting "drunk" when stoned. No loud talkers or people fighting and barfing on your couch. All very peaceful and mellow, just the way I like it. If I had my way, I'd insist on cannabis being part of the food pyramid the Surgeon General is so pumped about.
So, once our IDs are checked, my friend and I are escorted into large sitting area and parked on a big leather couch . Our host, a very lean, shave-headed, yoga-looking dude, is talking about the massage therapy they offer and how they are expanding their facility into a "wellness" clinic.
I'm still about 95 percent suspicious about the place, because in my un-stoned mind it just seems like a good place to come to to score some weed and just hang. I ask "Bob" about the number of fibromyalgia patients he services, and he starts beaming at me. "Right now," he says, barely containing his excitement, (excrement?) he motions to a door in at the far end of the room. "There's a soccer-mom in there getting a prescription filled for her teen-age son who is a fibro-sufferer." Sure enough, the door opens and Carol Brady comes strolling out with a brown paper bag clutched to her breast. She makes no eye contact and quickly heads for the exit. I admit, I'm somewhat impressed but fight the impulse to laugh my ass off when our host refers to her "prescription." Come to think of it, he refers (reefers?) to the marijuana as "medicine " every chance he gets. Look, I grew up in the 60s and 70s, ain't no way this old dog's gonna see it as anything other than pot.
Now, with the dispensing room empty, the "Bob" invites us in to take a look. Only one person or a particular couple, (in our case) are allowed in there at a time. I enter the dispensary and what I see is truly a wonder to behold -- a veritable buffet of all things marijuana. It's like a High Times candy store -- I'm Charlie Bucket and I've got a tune in my head and it ain't "Candy Man", it's "Purple Haze." We've entered a magical, wonder-weedorium and everywhere I look I see candies, baked goods, little baggies and pre-rolled cigarettes. Behind the counter is a proud, albeit, slightly unkempt attendant and behind him are shelves reaching up to the ceiling. Each shelf is burdened with apothecary jars, and each jar is filled with -- you guessed it -- pot. Not just your run-of-the-mill pot, it's the stuff of nice dreams, it's every pot smoker's fantasy. Every color of the rainbow, every shape and size -- it's Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes for the would-be stoner, which I guess makes me Harry POTter (I couldn't resist.) I am speechless, yes! I am without speech. I was then schooled in all the culinary uses for cannabis and couldn't believe that not only can you smoke it six ways from Sunday, you can put it in any number of edible delights, like peanut butter, suckers, tea, cookies and all magically delicious. Needless to say, my mind was sufficiently blown.
My escort then purchased a small amount of "medicine" and we departed as casually as we had wandered in.
Now, I'm not going to get into the details of how I came into possession of a small quantity of this medicine, being that I've yet to become a card-carrying reefer recipient, but I did. I informed the little woman of my intention when I got home that evening. She seemed curious about the outcome. Would I find relief from my pain and discover that the answer was right there the whole time? Would a few drags really make the pain go away?
And now a word about marijuana: What the hell happened? When I was younger So much younger than today... You could smoke a few joints between friends and even have a conversation afterwards. Maybe not an intelligible discussion, but a talk just the same. This is no longer your mother's, garden-variety weed here. I took only two drags and found myself trying to kiss the sky. I mean, my ass was kicked, if you'll pardon me being so blunt.
Speaking of goofy, why "Blunt" or "Spliff"? OK, I admit "pot" is goofy when you think about it, as is "reefer." "Grass" well ... although the stuff we smoked as young adults looked and acted like lawn clippings, it's no longer the case, is it? But now, this stuff is freaky-strong and although I think "Weed" is a timeless and endearing euphemism, I just don't think it tells the whole story. Something like "Coma Smoke" or "Brain Goo" makes more sense... I think I'd really appreciate a little help here.

So, I suspect the big question is weather or not it relieved my pain. Well, yes and no. While I was baked, I definitely wasn't thinking about the fibro. However, I'd have to smoke it every few hours -- all day to keep the affect working. My lungs just aren't that committed to the process. Then there's eating it. I didn't try any of the baked goods, and here's why. When I asked the Bob about how much I should eat he said, "It's different for everyone, you just eat some and see how it affects you." I looked puzzled and asked, "Well, what if you eat too much?" in which he coolly replied, "You just have to ride it out, I mean, at least you're not going to die."
Hmmm. I think I can say with utter confidence that Bob's P.R. skills left a bit to be desired.
Look, I'm a middle aged guy on Simvastatin, I don't need that kind of stress to my insides.
As you might have guessed, his disclaimer didn't sell me on the idea of ordering his laced, baked goods.
On a side note, I ask you this: Is it bad form to head butt a perfect stranger in front of a cornucopia of pot?

So, the important question is -- will marijuana really help with my fibro symptoms? Well, for me it helped, but I'm just not a big fan of smoking -- anything, and it really does take a toll on your lungs. Plus, the length of the relief from smoking it, although substantial, only lasts a few hours at best. That means you're probably going to develop a routine similar to that of a cigarette smoker. I haven't explored some of the newer technology, like the vaporizer. I hear it is much better, effects-wise, as well as a more intense experience. It 's supposed to be easier on your lungs because nothing is actually burnt, so you get a break from harmful carcinogenic smoke.
Then there's eating it. I hear that particular experience lasts anywhere from 6 to 8 hours and can be very helpful. Still, I haven't tried it yet so I got nothin' there.

It's always best to ask a lot of questions, because it appears that marijuana is really working for some fibro-sufferers. Here's what I suggest:
1. Are you up for the risks regarding smoking vs immediate relief?
2. Can you consume it in food and hope you can regulate the dosage to your liking?
3. Do you live in a state where medical marijuana is available? If not, do you have a green thumb?
4. Also, and most important -- do you live close to a Dairy Queen??
... damn.

Monday, July 13, 2009

I want to believe...

Not to get melodramatic here, but I'm in pain about 80 percent of the time these days. Even though I still see myself as a rather highly-functioning fibro-chotic, some days I'm really getting my ass handed to me, so-to-speak.
Here's the segue:
So, I was back at the doctor this week with prostatitis symptoms again. Well of course I peed in a cup, thank you for asking, albeit without a shred of commitment. It's kind of funny when you go to the lab and enter a bathroom with that cup in your hand. You stand there (or sit, depending on your anatomy) and look at that little metal door to the lab. I'm worried it'll fly open and there will be a sweaty dude in a lab coat panting and looking at his watch. "Hurry up my friend, I can hardly wait for your uurrrinnnee." I imagine his voice to be calculated and hypnotic, with just a hint of psycho right underneath. He picks random consonants to over-pronounce just to enhance the creep-factor.
Oh wait, this is Hannibal Lecter we're talking about --
yeah, that's the voice.
, I had to run the faucet to get the 'ol bladder's attention, you understand. I finish my "transaction" and realize I've given them gallons of pee over the last year, and now I'm getting suspicious.
On a side note -- I hate whenever I have a health issue, I go to the doctor and she says "Drop 'em." meaning my pants. One way or another, I'm assuming the position. "Got a hangnail?" Bend over. "Hey, did you just blink?" Grab your ankles. I'm getting plenty of action these days, no two ways about it ... but I diges

So, this week as I was being "inspected", my mind began to wander and it occurred to me that I'm missing a big piece of the prostate-exam puzzle.
Wait for it --
The world is infested by aliens.
No, hear me out.
Long ago, aliens would visit only rural, single-wide, mobile-home-riddled areas -- with, how can I say this delicately ... a less-than desirable gene pool. At some point the aliens sat down and had a conference.
They ordered dozens of bagels, with various flavors of cream cheese and those funky boxes of coffee from Starbucks.
A determined looking alien stood up, cleared two of his three throats and uttered the very words that changed their business plan:
"Hey, did anyone see American Idol last night?" I kid.
What he really said was that they'd been doing this human-experimentation thing all wrong. "What we have to do, is figure out a way to get them to come to us."
Enthusiastic nods all around, more coffee, some chit-chat and then they hatched a plan. They would infiltrate the cities and the media, telling everyone that the colon is in danger of disease, clogging, and hell, it very well could explode! We, being the gullible public we are, ate it right up. To top it off, we would even pay THEM to probe our tail pipes and feel up our unmentionables. It's really quite brilliant when you stop to think about it.
Oh, they're crafty all right. But I'm not fooled for a moment. I mean, who the hell goes to school just to poke their finger in your butt? Someone with a really sinister agenda, that's who. Gynecologist? More like twisted alien freak with a Freudian I-want-to-go-back-home-to-mommy complex. Even from a guy's point of view, I'd imagine the rate of really attractive vaginas can't be more than 30 percent, on a good day. Women often go to their OBGYN because something's gone haywire with their hoohaw, no? It's not like all women put their feet in the stirrups waring spiked heels and crotchless panties. And who the hell wants to look at man-sphincter all day? You can bet that ratio is about 3 percent for the entire year.
See how I rationalize?
You're welcome.
Where's the draw?
Oh, I can tell you since you're twisting my arm.
World domination!
I've got gelatinous swill in places I can barely reach because these bastards mean business. Don't be fooled! We must ban together before we are probed into complete submission.

OK, truth be told, I've had a bit more coffee than I normal do.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Cry me a liver

Just when I thought it was safe to get medicated, the FDA scares the hell out of me. The rumor mill was spewing all sorts of drizzle about acetaminaphen and turning your liver into pickled goo. Turns out that your liver is really the cheese cloth of the body. Everything chemical (among other things) zips right through the 'ol liver. So, what was once a warning about ingesting no more than 4,000 mgs of Tylenol a day to reach a toxic state, is now, not recommended.
You realize that Tylenol is in just about everything. Niquil, Vicodin, Nestle Quick (the chocolate, not the strawberry flavor) -- soon it will accompany fluoride in our drinking water. Here's something I didn't know about the liver -- it's the largest organ in the body and is the source of bile. Wow, bile is such a hostile quality in an organ. I'm guessing it's just angry because it's not as popular as the heart or the vagina. Which I'll guess is where the angry bile really comes in. Still, the cool thing about this pissy organ is that you can transplant a portion (lobe) of it and it will grow back to its original size -- so, hey lungs, let's see you do that, bitch.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Morning wood.

This isn't as interesting as it sounds. I'm talking about fibro sufferers who get morning stiffness. Mine is usually in the mid back and neck and sometimes will lessen throughout the day. Other times I can just be standing or sitting there and suddenly my neck will spasm and sort of seize up. Like today -- I was standing in my studio and without moving a muscle, it happened. I could swear it actually made a sound as it began to tighten. See the accompanying illustration? That's where it hurts, yep. Usually on the right side and today it doesn't seem to be getting better. So, I'm on pain medication and it's barely making a dent. I realize this could be your run-of-the-mill, old-guy stuff, but seeing how I was just standing there like a slug when it happened, I suspect something more sinister is at work here. OK, I was ironing, still, I can say with all confidence that it was less than rigorous. Believe me, there are times I iron with an unbridled passion, (Who doesn't?) this just wasn't one of those times, is all I'm saying. So, there I was, "calmly" ironing, when I paused to check my water levels, meters and gauges, Hazmat suit (it's a Black and Decker, industrial "man-iron") and then, without so much as a memo, pain and the sound of me whining.
Weekends really blow when you don't have access to a really good massage therapist. I'd even settle for a heating pad right about now. I guess I'll be living better through chemistry over the next few days, which means things will be a bit fuzzy... er. I wonder if anyone in my house will notice?