The Silver SpoonToday has been a real challenge. Most of last week I kept having lower back pain on top of the usual fibromyalgia issues. It was constant pain with, now and then, a bad twinge. Finally, today I just couldn’t take it anymore and took a muscle relaxer.

I figured I’d been thinking it was kidneys and drinking water like crazy but it still hurt and every bend and lift was…let’s just say not fun. So, the muscle relaxer. It helped. So, I’m guessing it was the muscles in my lower back all the time and while I was trying to take it easy lifting anything I was probably just making it worse ignoring it. I’m a bit floaty but the pain is now in that “over there” place. You know — you’re in pain and you know it but it’s like one step to the side of you so while it’s here, it’s over there and ignorable.

Meanwhile, we’ve got all the ornaments off the tree and packed. We’ve managed to get all the branches smooched together. Next we need to take it apart and wrap it up for storage. That’s the sticky point with my back as it is. Guess that waits a bit until either I feel better or Hyperion tackles it on his own.

I really hate it when the spoon just get all used up while I still have a full TO DO list and lots of day left over. Meanwhile, I’m doing mindless knitting on my sock — the stocking knit bit in the foot so I’ve got 3 more inches before I have to think about the heel.

I really need many more spoons in my life. So much time so little energy and so few hours not in pain. Okay, I’m whinging again but darn it sometimes you just have to get it out so you can move on.

Hyperion Avatar Okay, this has nothing to do with muscle pain, but a lot to do with mental anguish. Gayle and I watched two sci-fi movies today. Supernova and The Black Hole. Neither are the “classic” by that name, but newer and if anything, worse. Worse because you’d think after all this time movies could actually afford to have a science adviser that could tell them they’re making complete idiots of themselves. Actually, maybe they do have advisers. Just because you have one doesn’t mean you have to listen to them. And in these cases, they most certainly didn’t. Let’s take a second to hit the highlights on the lack of any conformity to high school level physics knowledge.

First in Supernova we have our sun about to go supernova. Okay, we can stop right there. Our sun would need to be about half again its current mass at the very least, so the very premise is already impossible. But wait, there’s more. Why is it going supernova? Because a planetoid crashed into it. Never mind the fact that you could dump the rest of the solar system (which, including ALL the planets, is less than 0.2% of the mass of the sun) into it without causing much more than a ripple. But no, this single planetoid has “punched a hole” in the sun and caused it to become unstable. The instability causes Coronal Mass Ejections which, for some unexplained reason, seem to be aimed at the Earth time and time again. But wait, there’s more. Despite the fact that CME’s are huge energetic clouds of gas larger than the Earth itself, in the movie, they arrive as swarms of little fireballs that rain down and blow up individual buildings. UGH! And the solution to the problem of the impending supernova requires a suspension of disbelieve far above the capacity of this viewer. In most ways, the biggest problems with this movie revolve around the fact that the writers were incapable of understanding anything about the scope of what they were trying to meddle with.  The sun is just too big to fiddle with, and CMEs are just to big and diffuse to cause any problems on less than a hemispheric scale.

Next up is The Black Hole, in which an “accident” with a particle collider causes a black hole to form in St. Louis. Obviously based of the nonsensical ravings against the Large Hadron Collider, this movie quickly goes from the absurd to the disparagingly laughable. Quick lecture in two points. First: The energies produced by the Large Hadron Collider are of a lesser order of magnitude  then the energetic collisions taking place every second in our upper atmosphere between air molecules and cosmic rays. If those collisions haven’t created a black hole in the last few billion years, the LHC isn’t going to be any worry. Second: Assuming a black hole was formed, it would be a microscopic black hole which would flash out of existence in a few microseconds due to Hawking Radiation. Despite what you may have learned about black holes, they do actually emit energy due to quantum mechanical effects at the event horizon. And the smallerl the hole, the faster they evaporate.

So in the movie, we have an impossible event, creating something that wouldn’t actually be of any danger at all.  Furthermore, any black hole that did form, would be subject to gravity like anything else. And since gravity is a universally attractive force, the black hole would fall into the earth (the larger gravity field) and make its way to the core in no time at all before being snuffed by the aforesaid laws of physics. But that would make a short and pointless movie. So instead we get a full scale black hole, hovering over the ground, and eating St. Louis. Interestingly enough, the black hole appears to think (like Khan in Star Trek 2) in two dimensions. Instead of gobbling everything up all around it, it swirls like water going to down the kitchen sink, slowly expanding outwards, but letting helicopters fly over it with impunity. Now we get the part that REALLY doesn’t make any sense. If we ignore physics (and boy do we ever), there’s not much one can do to stop a black hole that’s on the rampage. So we get the addition of an alien entity that uses the black hole as a transit system from planet to planet, and feeds it by sucking in electricity. And “all” we have to do to save the Earth is kick the alien back through the black hole and all will be well again. Gayle and I yelled the solution at the TV about 15 minutes in when the alien first started moving around. Pity it took until 15 minutes from the end for the protagonist to think of it as well.

Okay, that’s enough ranting for now. But be warned, there are two more movies in the collection, and as soon as my craw can take it, we’ll dive into those stinkers as well. When? You’ll be the second to know.

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Broken Heart in Red LightRemember people telling you to just get over it when you got picked last for games, when you never got invited to the cool parties, when you were a wall-flower at dances, or when your best-friend canceled because he/she found something better to do at the last minute. Well, those rejections hurt. The problem though was that everyone said it was in your head that it didn’t really hurt — you were just pretending.

Well, according to this article in Telegraph.co.uk, that pain was real.

Psychologists at the University of California, Los Angeles say the human body has a gene which connects physical pain sensitivity with social pain sensitivity…

Their study indicates that a variation in the mu-opioid receptor gene (OPRM1), often associated with physical pain, is related to how much social pain a person feels in response to social rejection.

I’ve often wondered why people think that psychological pain is somehow less painful than physical pain when the pain receptors are basically the same. Pain is pain no matter where it comes from — whether you fall down a flight of stairs or have your significant other walk out on you because s/he need to find him/herself (as if they got lost and can’t get dressed until they find their body — where ever it went off to) is painful. Some people react to social rejection as if it was physical.

I’d hope that this finding will get educators and other to be a bit more proactive in stopping bullies and intimidation in the schools. But, since not even having children go postal or committing suicide because of the painful torment they suffer every day seems to be helpful, I doubt that research that shows these children and adults (faced with the same bullying and intimidation) do suffer pain will cause anyone to actually change their behavior.

Those who have suffered the pain for social rejection however, should feel a bit of vindication to know that the pain they felt or feel was not imaginary, it was real. And while from social rather than physical stimulus it still takes a toll on a person’s immune system and stamina.

Now if only someone could come up with a cure for a broken heart. Any ideas? Personally, I like to spend time with Ben & Jerry when I’m feeling the pain of social rejection.

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Pain of the BluesToday when I opened my online news source, I was greeted with an article about the FDA wanting to pull many of the prescribed painkillers containing acetaminophen off the market. Philly.com has this article Painkillers at a crossroads as FDA decision looms. The Globe and Mail had this article, U.S. FDA recommends pulling some painkillers off the market. There was an article with an opposing view that was rather mild in my opinion.

In the Globe and Mail article, it said:

Despite years of educational campaigns and other federal actions, acetaminophen remains the leading cause of liver failure in the U.S., according to the FDA.

Panelists cited FDA data indicating 60 per cent of acetaminophen-related deaths are related to prescription products. Acetaminophen is also found in popular over-the-counter medications like Tylenol and Excedrin.

Those of you who read my blog know that I suffer from chronic pain. I found this bit about “years of educational campaigns and other federal actions” to be laughable. At one point, before my arthritis was diagnosed, the family practice doc I was seeing didn’t want to do anything about it because I was simply fat and needed to lose weight. The pain had gotten so bad that I was scaring myself with the number of Tylenol that I was taking just to manage to walk with a cane. I made an appointment and told her how much Tylenol I was taking and that I was concerned with liver damage. She laughed told me I could double or triple the dose and to just lose weight.

At the time, I was well below liver damage’s (LD 50) but that level has been lowered twice since and now I’d be just a bit below. I was so angry. I left the doctor’s office and went to see my chiropractor without an appointment. They took a look at my swollen knee and referred me to a specialist (at the time I couldn’t see another doctor without a referral). After seeing the specialist, I was diagnosed as having arthritis in both knees and later the added bonus of it was aggravating my fibromyalgia — a double whammy.

The point is that I knew more about the drugs I was taking than the malpractice-suit-waiting-to-happen doctor that I’d been seeing. Needless to say, I also changed doctors that day.

The second point is that most doctors, though they write the scripts, are not experts in drugs, drug interactions, and doses — most of the time they rely on the pharmacist to flag if something they prescribe is going to conflict with something you already have, or needs special information or training for the patient. Remember, there is a reason that so many pharmacies ask that you keep ALL you Rxs with them. It’s also the same reason they staple those informational notes to the Rx’s bag and ask if you have any questions.

If you take prescriptions be sure you understand how to take them and how often and whether you need to keep taking them if you feel better or should quit. Always ask questions if you don’t understand or feel confused. It’s your body and your life — you are the best person to take responsibility for keeping yourself healthy and safe.

Doctors have years of schooling, internship, and practice under their belts but, at heart, they are people. They know more about their fields that we ever will, but when you have a chronic condition, it’s worth your while to learn about it and ask questions, because no doctor can be an expert in every condition and disease that will walk through their office door. Mistakes and accidents happen.

My story about the doctor that suggested I take a near lethal dose of a Tylenol is a case in point. If I hadn’t read about the dangers of Tylenol/acetaminophen and liver damage, I just might have followed her suggestions. Luckily, I didn’t.

Do I think these painkillers with acetaminophen should be pulled from the market? NO. A resounding NO! Here in America many people live with pain — chronic, near crippling pain. Most people who deal with pain are under medicated and ignored. They need help. If these drugs are pulled, there are other that can be used, but we don’t have access to them in the US. Unless the FDA is going to allow alternatives they should consider leaving these on the market with strongly worded cautions and plainly worded Dosage Limits.

Even more important — the FDA should make sure that pharmacists, doctors, and the public have access to this education and training that they THINK they have done over the years. I’ve heard more stories similar to my “ignorant” doctor (used with the meaning that it can be cured) than I have of the other kind. I think information on drugs should be easier to find online, with easy to understand material explaining doses, uses, and contra-indications. Most dosage info online is convoluted or needs a chemical degree to figure out what’s too much and what’s safe — we need better resources for patients and doctors.

Mostly, we need better pain management. I have my good days and my bad.  And I do it mostly without painkillers.  But today, I slipped and fell, landing full force on my knee — it sure would be nice to take something, but I can’t, because I might need it more later on and I can’t waste the few painkillers I have. (I’m not the only chronic pain sufferer who has to balance need this way, and the sad part is none of us should have to.)

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Mind Storm PosterAll day today I’ve felt sort of off. By they time we had supper ready, I realized I had a headache — took some Tylenol. Two hours later I realized it was a whopping migraine. After taking one of my bazooka pain pills (of which I’m getting really, really low) it seems like the edge is off a bit but I can’t wear my glasses around my neck, everything has a halo, and just this bit of typing is taking for ever. (I’ve got a spell checker that works in forms and just about every other word is coming up with the red underline that means it’s misspelled. Thanks to the geeks of the world, I can still post correctly spelled drivel with a migraine.)

At least I got the proofing I needed to get done today for work before the migraine hit hard. I’d forgotten just how bad and painful these things can be. I had a minor one last month. Tomorrow I see my acupuncturist, she’s really helped with relieving the migraines. Usually, I have the halo and inability to think clearly but I don’t have more than the usual headache level of pain. So, now I’m not used to it like I was when I was on Tamoxifen (after having breast cancer) and had migraines every day for five years.

It’s like falling into a black pit of memories that I would really rather do without. If you’ve never had a migraine and you’re thinking, “it’s only a headache.” Well, take the worst headache you’ve every had in your life then imagine whacking yourself with a hammer or 2×4 and then multiply that by 100 — that’s migraine pain. If you’re really lucky you manage to medicate yourself enough to fall asleep or pass out — either one is a god sent relief. I’m signing off and taking another of my hoarded pain pills (remember doctors are very leary of giving out pain medications — my insurance company says aspirin and Tylenol work just as well for migraines as the Rx’d pain meds — I wish every medical insurance company exec would have a migraine at least once a week for a year and be only allowed to have aspirin or Tylenol — I believe they’d rapidly change their tune.)

Hopefully, the weather will stabilize (I’m pressure sensitive), and my acupuncturist will be able to help, and by tomorrow evening I’ll be able to think straight and talk coherently.

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