Thursday, December 13, 2007

It's All Good (Maybe)

Just when I thought it was safe to cook healthily, it appears that scientists have, once again, muddied the waters. For reference, take a look at this news article. And if you don't feel like reading it, the summary of it is this: It appears that there is no scientific evidence to support the idea that saturated fats are actually bad for you. And there never has been.

This is disconcerting, since we have all (or at least, I have) been going to great lengths to avoid saturated fats in our diets. Saturated fats are bad, so the theory has been. This is different than trans-fats, by the way, which should just be avoided at all costs.

It appears that consuming a diet higher in saturated fats does not increase your likelihood of heart disease. And while it may increase your total LDL levels, it also raises your HDL levels in a way that keeps things balanced. It has been determined that the radio of HDL to LDL matters more than total LDL levels. The higher HDL levels offsets any negative effects of LDL.

So, where does that leave us? Well, as it turns out (and I'm sure this fact has Dr. Atkins rolling in his grave), carbs have a more significant role in heart disease than it was believed. That's because a diet high in carbs can lead to higher levels of triglycerides in the blood. Triglycerides are actually more significant in determining heart disease. One major source of triglycerides is, of course, consuming high fructose corn syrup. Avoid the stuff. But also just sugars in general. Because it triggers the release of insulin, which leads to the conversion of excess sugar in the bloodstream guessed it...triglycerides.

This would seem to be consistent with the Type 2 diabetic's inclination toward heart disease. A diet high in carbs, which eventually leads to the diabetes.

And just what, then, is the proper way to eat?

Moderation, of course, is the key. A diet high in fiber and fruits and vegetables. And avoiding trans-fats. But those simple sugar and corn syrup-laden foods? It should be no surprise they are bad for you. And foods heavy in saturated fats? Well, they may not be as bad for you as once long as you are, again, eating in moderation.

Take a look at peanut butter (and a variety of tree nuts). These are known to be healthy choices. Yet, they have high saturated fat content. The key is that they are also high in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. So, find foods rich in both of those.

Maybe, just maybe, that diet I was prescribed when first diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes is the best diet after all. Not necessarily low-carb, but low-sugar. And I suppose this means I'll have to cut back on those Hostess Chocolate Chocolate-Chip muffin loaves I love so much.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Believing Science

Back in college, I took a very pro-evolution class called "The Nature of Science", which fell under the realm of Philosophy, according to my University. In this class, we talked about various aspects of science from a philosophical point of view. But about half of the semester was devoted to the evolution versus creation debate. And, the instructor was undeniably biased toward the evolutionary point of view. Fine.

In this class, we learned of an argument that, once upon a time, evolutionists used to use to prove that evolution takes places. Then, it was shown how this, as it turned out, did nothing to prove evolution. (Nor did it make any difference whatsoever to the creation side of things.) This case was about some butterflies (or moths...actually, I forget), and how prior to the industrial revolution, there were all these butterflies of a certain color. But, once the industries started their task of polluting the air, the butterflies changed their color. It was thought that, as a result of the darkening of the trees due to air pollution, that those butterflies that were white were obvious targets for birds, and quickly had to either adapt or be eaten. So, evolutionists of the day believed, the butterflies adapted by turning dark. Soon, all the white butterflies had become dark butterflies.

The problem was that no actual adaptation took place. Instead, it was just a shift in the already existing population. Very few dark butterflies survived prior to the pollution. After the pollution, the dark butterflies blended better, and soon the white butterflies became bird food.

I bring this up because of something I've noticed recently in regards to recent news about various viruses that have either mutated or may mutate, causing a health hazard. The idea is evolutionary in nature (micro-evolutionary in nature,, having nothing to do with supporting evolution versus creation, since the creation view supports micro-evolution). There is a virus. But this virus mutates, developing characteristics that allow it to better survive, and harder to kill by modern medicine.

We've seen the news about the bird flu, for example. Or how about the new one about the rare cold virus that has killed some folks recently? Are we seeing evidence that a virus as truly "evolved", in a sense, and mutated into another form?

Or, is it possible, that we are seeing a population shift? Or, perhaps, different breeds, in a sense, of the same virus? It is possible that both viruses descended from the same parent virus. Over time, and through isolation, one strain of the virus lost certain genetic information compared to the other strain. So, yes, they are different...but not as a result of a mutation. Both, then, coexist. However, for whatever reason, there is a population shift. The more dangerous strain is becoming more prominent, possibly because whatever external factor that used to keep it in check isn't around any more.

I raise this because it has implications on the "fear" that the bird flu may mutate at any given moment to something more dangerous. Perhaps it won't.

And look at the implications for the overuse of antibiotics. It has been suggested that viruses are becoming resistant to antibiotics. They have mutated. But it is also possible that these antibiotic-resistant strains have always existed. Only, now that we have been successfully eliminating their competition through antibiotic use, the ones that are resistant are, again, experiencing a population shift.

What I haven't seen is any real evidence given that we've actually ever witnessed a mutation as has been suggested in the media. Would we be able to differentiate a mutation from a population shift? History would suggest not necessarily. What I'm curious about is if anyone who is more familiar with this has links to information that provides such evidence. Because as of right now, I keep reading phrases such as, "scientists believe...," qualifying any such claims.

Such qualifiers sound suspiciously similar to the very phrases scientists balk at when they come from creationists. It only goes to show how much of science, even today, is framed by our beliefs.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Case of the Missing Case

Two days ago, the three movies we borrowed from the library were due back. Two of the movies were ready to go. The third? Well, we had the DVD, but no case for it. This, of course, is not unusual in our home. With four kids (not to mention myself!), things get misplaced frequently.

So, a mass search of the house ensued. First, in all the usual and expected places. When the case didn't turn up, we searched all the unusual and unexpected places. Still no case. We interrogated the kids, but none of them knew where it was. Under the beds, behind furniture, stuffed among the piles of papers and books strewn across the house, in the laundry room (including, yes, in the washer and dryer!), through piles of laundry, bathroom cabinets, and everywhere.

Nothing. Of course, we're in the process of preparing for a move, so things are in a general disarray at the moment. I explained this situation to the librarian, and he gave me special dispensation, renewing the disc for me to give me more time to find the disc.

I, of course, checked under our bed, between the wall and our mattress, in and around our nightstands. Very thoroughly, I might add. So, of course, I was a little put out when my wife grilled me on just how well I checked there.

"Did you look between the wall and...?"


"What about underneath...?"

"Yes! I did!"

I detailed where I looked quite extensively. But the next day, the case was still missing.

That night, just before going to bed, I decided to make one last check in our room. Just to be sure. You know. Just in case. Which really means that little voice in the back of my heading saying, "Uh, Ryan? Are you sure you looked as well as you say you did?" Of course, admitting I hadn't would only prove my wife's distrust of my searching ability as correct. So, I wouldn't admit.

Anyhow, there I was at eleven o'clock at night on my knees, searching under the bed once again. And that's when I noticed something. Near the wall, behind a box. It was thin and white. Just like a DVD case. I moved the box and, lo and behold, there it was! The DVD case!

Of course, the only possible solution was that at some point one of the kids found it and stuffed it back there at some point after I had searched under the bed. That's it. Really. Because it couldn't be that I didn't search good enough. Not after tearing apart the entire house.


Okay, okay, okay. I admit it. I was wrong. I looked under the bed, sure. But not as thoroughly as I had made my wife believe. And as a result, I went to my wife on my knees and begged her forgiveness. (Honestly, I really did do that. Because I know when I'm doomed.)

So the case is missing no more. Of course, the question still remains. How, exactly, did the case get there to begin with? That, I'm sure, was the misdoings of my kids. Still, it taught me something. I'm just not about to admit what that is.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

What's Next? No Friends Allowed?

Well, I think we're approaching the end of civilized civilization as we know it. And I'm only partly joking. Because from this point forward, you are not allowed to hug anyone. That would constitute a "public display of affection" after all. Even if that hug is a friendly "good-bye" hug among friends. That'll earn you a detention.

Oh, and I guess that little tear drop forming in the corner of your eye when you know you won't be seeing them for the entire summer vacation? Cause for suspension, I'm sure. In fact, you'd better not even have friends, because that would eliminate any possibility of displaying any form of affection at all.

That's what this world is coming to, least as evidenced by this article.

Something is wrong here. I'm sure the school board was originally trying to preventing the "suck-face" displays that irritate the on-lookers in the school hallways. Seems reasonable. But come on, a good-bye hug among friends?

I'm tired of the implications that touching implies some impropriety in this world. If anything, I think there is a serious lack of touching in the world. People need affection. People need to know they are loved and cared about. People need a shoulder to cry on or a comforting embrace at times. Girlfriends need (for some reason that eludes me) to hold hands or lock arms as a way to prove their BFF status to everyone around them. Even boys need to rough house. Touching is a part of life. It is a necessary and healthy part of life.

So, what is it with banning the "PDA" (public display of affection)? And what school principle would be so cold-hearted to interpreted such a school policy so literally? Have we forgotten our common sense?

I'll admit, I'm not a "huggy" kind of guy. I find it slightly uncomfortable when my fellow man throws his arm around me to show me he appreciates me. Yet, frankly, I wouldn't want it to end. Because the only way I'll stop being uncomfortable with it is when I see how important it is as a normal part of life. A normal part of relationships.

There is a guy at church who a touchy-feely kind of guy. If he is within a few feet of you having a conversation, he'll undoubtedly pat you on the back, hug you, shake your hand, or even, dare I say it, place his hand on your shoulder! And despite my own discomfort in displaying similar PDAs, I find it truly pleasurable to be around this man. He makes you feel loved. He makes you feel like he really cares about you, and that you matter.

I wish the same could be said about me and my more hands-off approach.

So, I say, go ahead. Hug a friend. And if it leads to a detention, so be it. Because we all need a little hug now and again. And no school policy should tell us otherwise.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I'm Right! (Aren't I Always?)

There's some saying about a man who toots his own horn being bad thing. I forget how it goes, precisely. But, I'm going to take my chances here and say...I was right!

Of course, what I'm right about really should be nothing spectacular. It involves cereal and a healthy heart. According to this article, men who eat a bowl of high-fiber cereal each day are at significantly less risk for heart disease than those who don't.

It seems common sensical to me. So much so that I've been preaching the "eat foods high in fiber" message for a long time. My wife, frankly, is sick of it, and I have to sneak a peak at the nutrition labels now when she isn't looking. My personal goal is that when I'm eating any food that would be considered a "grain" or "bread" item, to aim for at least 2 grams of fiber per serving.

My kids, of course, would love if it I had been wrong. Because me buying "kid's cereal" is a rare treat. Sure, it comes "fortified" with vitamins. But fortifying really doesn't make it healthy. It just makes it seem healthier. No, I insist that they eat high-fiber cereal, eating it like a man. Of course, there are plenty of healthy yet tasty high-fiber cereals. Raisin Bran, Frosted Mini Wheats, Kashi Go-Lean Crunch, Mueslix and similar multi-grain cereals, just to name a few.

Sorry, kids. But this only proves I'm right and justifies the lack of Cocoa Crisp and Lucky Charms cereals.

See, thing is, when my cholesterol levels started to creep up a while back, it was during a time that I had reduced my high-fiber cereal intake. When I returned to due diligence, my cholesterol levels dropped, no medication necessary!

So branch out, folks. Browse a little longer in that cereal aisle. Check the labels. If you see less than 4 grams of fiber, put it back on the shelf. Yep, that means skipping some cereals that otherwise seem healthy, such as Special K. And if you are new to the game, I don't suggest jumping right in with a 9-gram per serving cereal. Ease into the waters of healthy cereals. Your heart will thank you for it. (If, that is, your heart could talk.)

Incidentally, diabetics, who are most prone to heart disease, are most likely to benefit from this change. Just bolus accordingly!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Shedding Light on His Dark Materials

I received a new book in the mail this weekend, co-authored by none other than my own brother, Kurt Bruner. Kurt has a bunch of books to his credit, including several co-authored with Jim Ware (Finding God in the Lord of the Rings being the most popular.)

My brother writes Christian non-fiction, so perhaps that's not your cup of tea. If it is, however, then his new book might be right up your ally. It focuses on Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials fantasy trilogy.

At this point, I can't tell you, first hand, much about the book. For one, I've never read the His Dark Materials trilogy. And two, I've not yet read Kurt's book about His Dark Materials. But, since it just came out, and there is an upcoming movie based on the first book in the series, I thought I'd bring it to your attention.

What this means for me, of course, is that I'll have to go read Philip Pullman's books and then read Kurt's book. So, give me about four months to get back to you. Or just go buy Kurt's book without waiting for me. Either works.

The book is titled Shedding Light on His Dark Materials, by Kurt Bruner and Jim Ware.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

When Vacation is Over

Vacation is over. Our twelve days of bliss ended last night at roughly 9:00 pm when our car, fully loaded (including the car-top carrier), pulled into the driveway. Four of those days were spent in the car, making our way from Michigan down to Florida...and back.

You know, back when I was a kid, my family would take 2-week vacations in the car, and I remember my mother yelling at us to get our noses out of that book and look at how beautiful the scenery was. We'd pop our heads up, see that instead of there just being trees, there were now trees on hills. Uh, yeah. Back to our books.

I found myself on the opposite side of the fence this time around. We have a gorgeous country. The foothills and mountains in Tennessee are beautiful. Yet, there my kids were, noses buried in their portable TV screens playing video tames (okay, so times have changed a little bit), reluctantly glancing up when we'd gasp and proclaim how they need to take this in now, because they'll rarely see this kind of beauty at home!

Our destination was, as I mentioned, Florida. More specifically, Walt Disney World. Four parks, six days, legs-so-tired-we-could-barely-walk...but it was a blast. I managed to terrify my two oldest boys by taking them on the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, and I swear my second son was about to have a heart attack riding Expedition Everest. (He quite literally "screamed like a little girl.") Of course, when he got off, he decided to ride it two more times.

And now we're back. Back to work, back to keeping up with the house, back to cooking healthy meals (since I think I managed to gain about 10 pounds).

It is always interesting, though, to see what has changed in the time you are gone on vacation. In 12 days, for example, the daily temperature dropped from around 80 when we left, to 69 today. The price of a bottle of Diet Mt. Dew in the vending machine at work went up from an unbelievable $1.35 to a disturbing $1.45. And there is now a pile of lumber sitting across the street from our new house. (Well, new basement. It isn't exactly a house yet. Just a hole in the ground lined with concrete.)

Mostly, though, things are pretty much the same. Rather comforting, I'd say.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

A Harry Potter Analysis, part two

Note: As with my previous post, this post contains spoilers for those who haven't read the complete Harry Potter series. Proceed with caution.

The Messiah figure is quite common in literature...and particularly in the genre of science-fiction and fantasy. One reason for that is, in the world of science fiction and fantasy, unlike other more "realistic" genres, coming up with a way to have a character die and come back to life is easier. It simply takes a bit of magic or whatever.

But not all Messiah figures are created equal. Take The Matrix. Neo is, undeniably, a Messiah figure. He was "prophesied" as being "the one" (and even his name is a anagram of this). And, at a key moment in the movie, he dies. Only after his death and subsequent resurrection does he have the power to defeat the agents that led to his death.

And despite later symbolism, such as Neo's "ascension into heaven" at the very end of the movie, and his ability to raise Trinity from the dead in the second movie, Neo, as a true Messiah figure, kind of falls flat. Nothing leading up to his death and resurrection really can make him like Jesus Christ.

In Lord of the Rings, we have Gandalf, and his death and eventually resurrection as well, after dueling the "demon". But, again, his role as "Messiah figure" is limited. He, ultimately, isn't the salvation of all...but merely salvation of some of his friends. Of course, Tolkien didn't set out to write allegorically.

Harry Potter is different. While he, too, was prophesied as the one who would save the wizarding and muggle worlds, and while he eventually dies and comes back to life (in a sense), he is a stronger representation of the true Messiah, Jesus Christ. Why?

First, the true Messiah was a model of perfection. He lived a perfect life. This was key, because in order for him to be the final sacrifice for all, he had to be the "spotless lamb" that God had required of the Jews for generations. And while Harry wasn't exactly perfect, what is clear is that he, unlike even Dumbledore before him, approached his role as "savior" with a pure heart. He was never seeking anything for himself. He was seeking truth. Repeatedly, Dumbledore admired Harry for his pure heart, his ability to love, and the love that was shown to him through his parents. He was able to secure the Deathly Hallows because he wasn't, as was the case of Dumbledore, seeking to raise himself up as powerful. He wasn't proud.

And it was this very quality that made it possible for Harry to defeat death, and ultimately, Voldemort.

Harry also had his "disciples" prior to his death, including friends Ron and Hermione, as well as others. But he also had his "pharisees". The kids (and grown-ups) who despised who he was. The Malfoys, for example.

As the Messiah figure, Harry ultimately defeated death, "Satan" (in the form of Voldemort) and brought about a "heavenly kingdom"...that is, a wizarding world that no longer had to live in fear.

Now, the figure I find more complex in is Dumbledore, so I'll attack that another time.

Friday, August 03, 2007

A Harry Potter Analysis

I'd like to warn anyone who hasn't read through the final Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, to stop reading now. This entry contains spoilers. You have been warned.

Back in college, I took a science fiction literature class. Despite my love of sci-fi, it was probably the hardest class I had ever taken in my four years at U of M. See, I never was one who took much stock in finding symbolism in books and movies. Mostly, that's because I didn't see. But in order to pass this class, I had to learn to see it. It wasn't until several weeks in that I noticed a strong pattern of Christian imagery showing up in science fiction. The Messiah figure, for example. So, it hit me. I know about Christianity, being a Christian myself. Christian imagery was something I could do. So, I skated by (barely) through the rest of the class finding Christian imagery in everything we had to read (even if it wasn't there).

So, you might not be surprised for me to note the strong Christian imagery found in the Harry Potter series. How much was intentional on J.K. Rowling's part, I don't know.

It starts before the beginning, with He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, and a prophecy. Throughout the series, Voldemort is portrayed as being snake-like, speaking in the language of snakes, and even having a "pet" snake, Nagini. You can't help but compare this to the Genesis account of the serpent, representing Satan, in the Garden of Eden.

In Genesis, the serpent is cursed after leading Eve astray: "And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heal."

Voldemort attacked Harry's mother, killing her. But her love protected him, and ultimately Voldemort merely "struck Harry's heal", leaving the scar. But this scar wasn't enough, and ultimately, in the end, it would be Harry who would "crush Voldemort's head".

Like Satan, Voldemort sought absolute power. And like Satan, Voldemort managed to lead many astray (Death Eaters compared to the fallen angels or demons). Incidentally, I think Death Eaters, as a symbol, represents multiple things, this only being one of them.

Another comparison to the demons or fallen angels are Dementors, soul-sucking creatures who come to serve Voldemort. If viewed as spiritual beings, the only defense against Dementors are another "spiritual" being, the Patronus. Our word "patron" is derived from the Latin word patronus, which means protector. The Patronus, in Harry Potter's world, is represented by light, compared to the Dementor's darkness.

Once Harry has been "marked" by Voldemort, he became "the chosen one", the one expected to be the salvation of the magical (and muggle) world. As a side, I can't help but see the magical and muggle comparison similar to the Jews and Gentiles. Anyhow, as we finally learn in Deathly Hallows, Harry must die in order to defeat Voldemort. But death, alone, is not enough. And with the help of the Deathly Hallows, Harry ultimately overcomes death. While he spends time (3 days in the tomb?) in the King's Cross station, he ultimately "raises back to life". Harry was, with no attempts to hide it, the Messiah figure. And once Harry defeated death, Voldemort had no power over him.

The Hallows, themselves, seem to be a symbol of the trinity, at least in my view. It is only through this trinity that power over death comes. We have the Invisibility Cloak, which I would equate to the Holy Spirit. Then there is the Resurrection Stone, symbolizing Christ. Finally, there is the "Elder" wand. God the Father (ultimately elder). I don't know that the symbolism goes beyond that. For example, I'm not sure that the Elder Wand's actions/power is supposed to be compared to God the Father.

That's enough for today. I'll follow up with more in a later post!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

My Feet Are Enjoying It

When I was a boy, we would roam the neighborhood and neighboring woods quite frequently barefoot. Our dusty, dirty street...or road, as we preferred to call it, since a street would somehow imply the presence of pavement...was part of our playground, and despite the razor-sharp stones strewn about, we would run along without shoes or socks without issue.

That all changed for me when I was diagnosed with diabetes. Going barefoot became somewhat taboo, considering diabetics can have foot problems such as neuropathy. And diabetics have trouble healing (apparently, though, 25 years later, I've been healing just fine).

So, I was forced to wear socks. Okay, forced is a strong word. Frankly, I preferred wearing socks. I had dry skin, and slathering my feet with cream and putting on socks at night was the norm for me. But now, the option of going barefoot was stolen away...forced to wear socks.

It didn't take long for my feet to grow accustomed to being clothed 24/7. With rare exception, I actually preferred to wear socks as much as possible. To this day, the hair on my legs starting below the sock line has been worn away and just won't grow back. To this day, my feet, when bare feel worse than naked, cold, vulnerable, sensitive.

So, I wear socks. Always.

Which brings me to the issue of sandals. I've never been much of a sandal person, primarily due to said socks. Thing is, during the summer months, keeping stocking feet inside leather shoes is rather sweat-inducing. But to wear sandals without socks? Are you crazy? My feet hate it. The soles of my feet get sweaty and stick to the bottom of the sandal. When you walk, there is this sort of sucking feeling as the sandal peels away from your sweaty feet with each step.

Just, ick!

So, I wear socks with my sandals. And you know what? I think it looks just fine. Really, I do. I've seen others wear socks with sandals, and they look fine, too.

Now, my wife disagrees. But I've reached an age where I, frankly, don't care about the fashion sense of sandals. I'm wearing socks with sandals because I like it that way. It feels good, and my feet don't sweat. So what if Stacy and Clinton from TLC's "What Not To Wear" might pounce on me any minute for it. It is something I'm not willing to budge on. Those fashion gurus are going to have to wait for style to catch up to me. Perhaps I'm a trend setter. Perhaps I'm a nerd.

Either way, my feet are enjoying it.

Monday, July 09, 2007

I Don't Need No Stinkin' Statins!

I had my latest endo visit last week.

For the last couple of visits, my endo has been concerned about my LDL levels (the "bad" cholesterol). It was at 111 last time, and he said it should be under 100. Anything over 100 and they start pushing statins. And so, he started pushing statins.

Statins are, it seems, the latest wonder drug in the arsenal against heart disease, and since diabetics are, in general, at high risk for heart disease, it only seems natural to push the drug. And while I'm not really against the use of drugs such as statins, I'm concerned when doctors start turning to drugs before really analyzing dietary and activity-related causes. Elevated LDL levels may simply be a result of genetics. But it can also be a symptom. Turning to statins so quickly really only treats the symptoms and ignores the cause.

I knew the cause, in my case. My diet had gone downhill. While a generally healthy guy, I had allowed too many slices of pizza and breakfast burritos to slip into my diet. This, in addition to my rather sedentary lifestyle led to a rather sudden rise in LDL levels. I'd never had problems with LDLs before.

Ultimately, I declined the statins. I couldn't see going on a drug for something when I knew the cause. And, many months later of going back to healthier eating (eliminating saturated and trans fats from my diet as much as possible, increasing my intake of fiber-rich foods), and an exercise regimen, I wanted to tackle the problem the old-fashioned way.

Results are in. My 111 has dropped to 66. My HDLs have risen. I felt a bit like gloating. I wanted to say to my endo, "I don't need no stinkin' statins!"

That isn't to say statins aren't necessary at times. If someone truly can't get LDL levels down by improving diet and exercise, then it makes sense. My concern is that there really is little attempt at educating a patient in what that proper diet and exercise entails. Adding a bowl of oatmeal a day isn't going to do a whole lot if you're still eating that daily slice of pizza for lunch, for example.

Fortunately, I'm a self-motivated kind of guy when it comes to my health, and so I saw the problem and took back the reigns. Others may simply take the statin, but continue eating an unhealthy diet.

I've got one life to live, and I don't need to live it tied for the rest of my life to yet another drug. Insulin is quite enough, thank you very much.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

When a Geek Laughs

I'm a geek. And in case you weren't aware, being a geek is "in". Part of pop culture, in fact, with shows like Beauty and the Geek. It wasn't always that way, I know. As a teen, being a geek was okay...but only to other geeks. My geek friends could safely call me a geek, but if a sports jock called me a geek, it was a serious insult.

At one time in my life, I was also a nerd. And in case you are wondering what differentiates the geek from the nerd, I define a nerd to be "a geek who looks the part". That's because there are plenty of geeks out there who you'd never peg as a geek by looks alone. (, maybe I am a nerd, by that definition.)

Anyhow, recently, I become aware of seeming common trait among geeks. Geeks seem to amuse themselves easily. Things that aren't even funny will make them laugh out loud. And even moreso for things that aren't funny but are their own sayings.

There is one guy at work, for example, who has a laugh you can hear across the room. It is this laugh that originates not because anyone else said anything funny, but because he said something cleverly unfunny but amusing to himself. Anyone without arms length is obliged to laugh along with him, all the while knowing it really wasn't all that funny.

The sad truth is that I suffer the same malady, much the chagrin of my wife. I'm constantly making jokes that, in hindsight, really aren't funny to anyone else but myself. But I think they're funny. So, I laugh. Usually by myself. With everyone else just staring at me blankly.

I have to believe that when a geek laughs, it is a self-preservation technique. Geeks are so analytical, so self-focused, that they tend to miss a lot of humor around them. Yet, we all need to laugh. So, finding humor within ourselves is the only solution.

I celebrate my geek-hood. I firmly believe that while women like the jock, or perhaps the "bad boy" when dating...the one they really want to settle down with for the rest of their lives is the geek. A geek brings security, and often a big source of income if they are truly geeky enough.

Unfortunately, they don't bring much in the way of a sense of humor.

But that's what having kids is for.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

When to Break the Rules

When living with diabetes, there are the "right" things to do regarding treatment. All the things the doctor tells you to do and not do, the techniques the pump companies insist you follow, for example.

Thing is, in real life, times come about when the "right" way isn't going to work, and you're left without a decent backup plan. It is times like these that a MacGyverism can become necessary. (If you're not familiar with a MacGyverism, well, you'd have to be a fan of the TV show MacGyver...but basically, it means thinking up a solution to some problem on the spot with the tools at hand.)

I ran into such a case just yesterday. Mostly because I'm an idiot...but, unfortunately, idiocy can overcome the best of us from time to time. Anyhow, yesterday, I happily headed off to work, ignoring the fact that my insulin pump reservoir said I had all of 4 units left. Of course, when it says I have 4 units, it really means I have 14 units. But 14 units wasn't going to be enough to cover the fact that I had just eaten 40 carbs, and need to last out the day. But, since I only work 20 minutes from my home, I figured I'd see if I could make it.

Well, at 2:30 pm, my BGLs were tending high, and I got the dreaded empty reservoir alarm. But I still had a couple hours of work left in me. I dreaded having to head home, fill my reservoir, and come back again.

So, I broke the rules. I did something that isn't recommended. First, I disconnected my infusion set and rewound the pump. (Always disconnect, because rewinding a pump could actually suck insulin and/or blood out of you if you remained connected.) Second, I removed the reservoir/infusion set line from the pump. Then, using a handy-dandy ink pen (capped, of course), I gently pushed the reservoir plunger down, utilizing the remaining and otherwise unusable ~10 units of insulin left to fill up the tubing. One completely filled, I reconnected and used the pen to inject several units of insulin...being VERY careful to watch when I had run out, and the tubing started filling with air instead of insulin.

Then, I disconnected the infusion set again and retested a bit later. BGL was dropping, and I had enough insulin in me to last me until I got home.

Sure, the whole thing is not recommended. You'll never find a doctor or Minimed representative suggesting this technique. And, in fact, I would never recommend the technique. It was plain silly of me to have forgotten to fill my reservoir before I headed off to work. But, sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures.

Thing is, diabetics have to do this kind of thing all the time. You are living your life daily with a disease that is unpredictable, being controlled by humans who are even more unpredictable.

Of course, my insurance company refuses to pay for enough insulin to allow me to keep a spare vial anywhere. They will only cover precisely the amount I need. I guess they fear I'm going to sell any extra on the black market or something. Sigh.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

It Ain't Easy

I've been dutifully exercising at the fitness center since mid-January, and for the past couple months, actually going five days a week. I've improved my strength tremendously, such as going from being able to leg press 130 lbs (10 reps) to leg pressing 230 lbs (10 reps). I can even do bicep curls of 25 lbs (10 reps), up from 10 lbs when I started.

I'd give myself a pat on the back, except that one of my main areas of weakness hasn't really improved much at all. Flexibility. I still can't touch my toes. (Well, I can...but only if I go really really fast, which, after the ripping sound it made in the back of my leg, I figured isn't such a good idea.) I also found that there comes a point where you plateau.

I should be proud of myself for reaching a plateau. I had read about the elusive concept in the past, but never really knew what it was like. But here I am...on a plateau. Because, try as I might...those strength numbers stopped improving about two months ago.

Worse yet, if I miss a couple days, or have a long weakend...err, I mean weekend...I find that I've actually gone backwards, and the following week is spent making up for what I lost.

I'm not at all sorry about this, however. I'm far more in shape now than 6 months ago. Even my wife can tell the difference. I like being able to move furniture and do various heavy-labor tasks that, before, wore me out. I like the fact that my pants, which in recent years had to be upgraded from a size 32 waist to a size 33, is actually a bit loose-fitting now. I can use the third hole instead of the second hole on my belt. I can even see my...uh, mini-me...when I look down, without having to suck in my stomach.

But despite the positives, what I'm realizing is that I'm not in my twenties any more. Okay, yeah. I knew that. But I didn't realize just how much those ten years can change you. You have to work at keeping in shape, where before, it seemed almost natural. They say that, once a man hits 30, his testosterone levels begin to drop. Testosterone helps build and maintain muscle mass. (Evidently, it also means greater risk for testicular cancer, so loss of testosterone isn't all bad.) So, now, to maintain, or even gain, muscle mass takes serious effort on my part.

When I started out, I had dreams of having arms the size of my thighs, and thighs the size of...well, something bigger than my thighs. I had dreams of seeing very distinct muscular lines covering my abs. But, I'm afraid, I'm no where near that. I still have a gut that sticks out (just not as far as before), and I still get winded climbing up the second flight of stairs at work.

I'm a diabetic. I have been for 25 years now. If there is one thing I'm constantly aware of, its that the disease is silently trying to damage me. I won't give in without a fight, however. Eating my oatmeal is no longer good enough. Gotta work at staying healthy, so that I can live well beyond 55 years old, which was the life expectancy of a Type 1 diabetic when I was diagnosed. I'll hit 80 if it kills me! (And, after a mile on the treadmill, it sometimes feels like it just might!)

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Guilt Over Something Silly

I read this article today, which reminded me of an event from my childhood that still triggers a tinge of guilt.

See, like so many kids before me, I had sent off balloons with notes hoping to gain a pen-pal in some far-off locale. Nothing ever came of them.

So, a friend of mine and I decided to up the ante. We wrote a note promising $500 to the person who found this note tied to a balloon and replied. We watched excitedly as the balloon rose higher and higher into the sky and eventually vanished out of sight...and after all of 15 minutes, out of mind.

But, flash forward several weeks later, and I had received a letter in the mail from a man requesting his $500. From Vermont. (We sent off our balloon in Michigan.)

And so this is where the guilt comes in. Because honestly, we never imagined anyone would ever find the note, let alone take it seriously. But this man did, and expected payment. How horribly disappointing it must have been for him when we had to reply back telling him that we were just a couple of kids. In a vain attempt at humor, we included a $500 bill in Monopoly money, but I can't help but wonder how he must have felt, thinking he won some real money, only to find out later it was just a joke.

Funny how we can hold on to something like that and still feel guilty about it years later. I think it is because unlike real life where we may cause damage, but ultimately ask for forgiveness or know it is this case, there is no such opportunity. No way of knowing if the person was angry about it.

And how much is life like that? Asking for forgiveness is a powerful thing. Receiving it is even more powerful.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Obsession to Win

I'm not much of a sport fan. Okay. "Not much" really means not at all. But I haven't been able to help but follow some of the Tour de France doping scandal with Floyd Landis. The whole situation is just one sadness upon another. And in the end, I can't help but realize that it all comes down to an obsession to win.

I don't know if Landis is guilty or not. Probably only Landis knows that with any certainty. But if Landis is telling the truth, and there was no doping involved, you have to feel sorry for the amount of turmoil he has gone through to defend his name and championship.

If Landis is lying, it is amazing to see what lengths someone will go to in order to avoid ruining their reputation, even if that ruined reputation is the result of their own misbehavior.

If Landis is lying, though, I can't judge him. Neither can you. Because every one of us is guilty of something. In the words of Gregory House, from TV's House, M.D., "everyone lies." Perhaps that's true. But what is even more true is the fact that not a single one of us goes through life without making mistakes, without messing up, without committing sins against ourselves and those around us.

If Landis is lying, what right do I have to condemn him? For that matter, what right do I have to condemn anyone who has made mistakes and tried to cover them up?

Anyhow, there is an obsession to win. To be on top at all costs. And despite the platitude that winning isn't everything, when it comes down to professional sports...winning is everything. Athletes risk their careers to dope just so that they have a chance to make it to the top. Athletes who are on top are found having to defend that position for their rest of their lives. Lance Armstrong still faces allegations of doping, for example.

What it seems is the issue isn't so much about the doping itself, but the need to dope to begin with. Something has instilled this obsession to win to the point that doping seems a necessary evil, yet at the same time, kept under the covers.

Then I look, again, to myself. What do I have under the covers in my life? What is it that makes me feel the need to be on top of my game? Or, rather (and more importantly), to give the appearance I'm on top of my game? What makes it seem impossible for me to be honest and up front and say, "Wow, I messed up big time," or, "You know what? I'm not nearly as good as I thought I was." This is honesty--something far more admirable than winning in a person. Only, honesty doesn't win you medals, or higher pay, or fame and fortune. At least, not directly. But at the end of the day, do I want to look like a winner, and then spend the rest of my life defending that title? Or do I want to live a life of honesty, where the need to defend myself is moot?

There is only one standard of perfection. I'm not it.

Monday, May 14, 2007

The Way They Used To Be

Ah, the good old days. Do you remember them? When you would load a web page, and it was a mish-mash of text and images, and that's it. Okay, maybe a cute little animated icon every once in a while. But the web was safe and comfortable back then. Leisurely.

As of late, I'm becoming more and more disgruntled with websites, no thanks to Podcasts and YouTube and Flash-based sites.

See, what was so great about the web is that you could click on a link and browse a site at your own pace. You could skim articles if you were in a hurry, or take your time and read over the course of a few visits. You were in control, and that was what set it apart from television. Sure, you have been able to record shows off the television for years, but ultimately, the pace was dictated by the format. The web offered freedom!

But today, that is becoming less and less the case. Take the Podcast. Somebody had this great idea of making an audio recording of something that you could download and play on your PC or iPod or whatever. Great. Except that in the time that it takes to download and listen to the file, I could have easily read through the article in text format twice. It turns what is simply my ability to read at my own pace to forcing me to listen at their pace...and ultimately listen by way of speakers or headphones, limiting the times and places I can take advantage of the information.

There is a particularly interesting sounding Podcast on a website that I'm really interested it. But the format has kept me from listening to a single episode, and they don't bother ever posting a transcript, which is all I really care about.

On-line videos are another annoyance of mine, for similar reasons. I just don't have the patience (or time) to sit and watch something to learn something I could get in another format. Okay, I don't have a problem with downloadable video in general...just not when I have no option for information another way. YouTube is primarily about entertainment. I get that. But why must I only be allowed to view certain news items on news sites such as MSNBC if I'm willing to watch a video? Kind of defeats the whole advantage of the web.

And don't even get me started on Flash-based sites. Those annoying websites with cleverly-laid-out graphics and animations that ultimately keep me from getting to the information I want at the pace I want it. Instead, I have to hold my mouse over a little picture, have it whirl around, doing acrobatics on my screen, eventually landing me to another graphic with limited information that forces me to repeat the process.

There is a tendency to use technology for the sake of using it, rather than using it because it is ultimately the best way to accomplish something. The web is ripe with sites that abuse that. Just because we are able to download videos now at blazingly-fast speeds doesn't mean we want to. Maybe we just want to be able to read the news. The 21st century version of the newspaper...a format that has worked for a couple centuries, actually.

I preferred the good old days of web surfing. I think I'm becoming an old-fogy. But more and more, I like things the way they used to be.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Peanut Butter, Parenting, and Pumping Up

Well, my three-day weekend with the kids went really well, and I even managed to have a good time and keep the house in decent shape. Admittedly, by Sunday afternoon, I was exhausted. I'm not used to doing so many activities. Let's see. We went to the playground on Friday. A huge wooden play structure where I had to stand up on this tower perch to see all my kids easily. I just couldn't keep up! We also ran a bunch of errands that I figured would take the whole weekend...but didn't.

Saturday, we went to a different playground...this one smaller, where I could actually follow them around. Later, we took a bike ride, with me toting my youngest two in the bike trailer. At the end of the day we tried to do some kite flying, but the wind had died down too much.

Sunday, after church, we headed to the park to fly the kite. Did that for about an hour.

All in all, though, an enjoyable weekend with my kids.

On to other things...two of my kids are allergic to peanuts. From the time my oldest boy was one, we've pretty much been a peanut-butter free household. That is sad for me, because I lived on peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches. So, yesterday, I did something new. I bought myself some peanut butter, jelly, and bread and brought it in to work with me. Wow! Have I missed PB&J! (And for the record, it has to be Simply Jif. Not regular Jif, not off-brand, not Peter Pan brand. Simply Jif is simply the best!)

An exercise update. Since I started in January, I have to say I haven't really had much problem with exercise affecting my Blood Glucose Levels. In fact, in the past four months, I think I've only had two exercise-induced lows. And in the meantime, my strength has improved dramatically. I've even started doing some Cardio about 4 days a week. I kind of look forward to the exercise now. (No, no. Really, I do. I'm not just saying that.)

And in final news, over the weekend my blog just crossed over to 20,000 views since I started it. Pretty cool.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

A Few Days in Recovery?

Tomorrow, I start a lesson in wife appreciation. Not that I don't appreciate my wife now. She's great. But it isn't until I "walk a mile in her shoes" will I fully grasp her contribution to our family.

See, tomorrow, my wife is leaving me. Okay...she's leaving me for only three days...spending a much-needed vacation with a good friend away from home. She deserves it. This is something she's done for the past few years.

And while I'm all in favor of her going, I'm also scared. Because it means for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, I'm both father and mother to my kids. I mean, I love my kids...but spending 72 straight with them is something I'm just not accustomed to.

I already know how it will go. Day one will be a breeze. I settle in, enjoy spending some alone time with them, maybe take them on an outing or something. No problem.

Day two, things will start to change. I'll start to see the house falling apart, and I'll realize that I have no idea where my daughter is, only to find her playing with something she isn't supposed to be. My patience will be tested as my youngest son taunts my daughter, and my daughter screams in return, and I yell and send them both to their rooms, and eventually rummage through the kitchen looking for comfort food.

But I'll keep it together.

Day three...well, we're entering unknown territory now, because this is the first year my wife will be gone for three days instead of just two. When she comes home, she might just find me drooling, staring at the ceiling, speaking incoherently. I'll probably have lost feeling in my brain.

In the end...after a few days spent in recovery...I'll have a renewed appreciation for all my wife does as a stay-at-home mom. And not even so, because I won't be taking on several responsibilities that she does in addition to keeping my kids from killing themselves...or me killing them! It will be worth it, though. My wife will be refreshed, experiencing freedom she gets only a couple days a year.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

A Picture's Worth a Thousand Bruises

Bruises are a way of life in a family with four kids. My wife and I are constantly amazed at the sudden appearance of new bruises, scrapes, and "bleeds" (as my daughter likes to call them) that seem to just materialize on their bodies overnight.

Normally, it is just an aspect of childhood we accept. Yet, for the past few weeks, we've had to be particularly cautious with our kids because our church is putting together a new directory. Which means pictures.

With our date set, we simply have to keep any wayward injuries from appearing anywhere on the body that might show up on camera.

Easier said than done.

Four days before our photoshoot, my daughter trips, using her eye as a means of catching herself. On the coffee table. She was okay, under the circumstances. Except for the scab on her forehead, and the, uh, black eye!

Fortunately, she heals quickly...and even more fortuitous was the fact our photographer had to cancel the appointment and reschedule. She is all healed up now, and we're ready for our pictures again.

But yesterday, in a seemingly harmless game of "let's see who can jump the farthest" between my two oldest boys and myself (which, by the way, only confirmed my superiority in the standing long jump!), the final leap across the driveway ended in a collision between my oldest boy and my five-year-old. Wham!

He burst into tears, and started screaming. All I could think about was, "Oh, no! facial injuries!"

A quick look-over, and I could see the only injury was a scrape to the elbow. Whew! I got him all cleaned up and suitably bandaged, and decided to take our adventures indoors.

When my oldest boy was, I believe, two years old we went to have our family portrait for a previous incarnation of the church directory. On the way into the building, he trips, landing face-first on the parking lot, the skin of his nose left behind in memoriam. Despite a little make-up to try to cover up the injury, his face couldn't hide the fact he had just been traumatized.

We still have a week before our new photo date. And in that time, I'm tempted to keep our kids in straight jackets. Wearing catcher's masks. Locked in a padded room.

Friday, April 20, 2007

A Better Life

It is every parent's desire that their children will have a better life than they did. (Mostly, this is to ensure they will be able to support us when we retire.)

But when that desire becomes reality, well...I'm not as convinced.

My oldest boy concerns me. I taught him to play chess, and already he is proving to be quite a contender. He hasn't beat me yet...but he's only eight, and I'm not sure how much longer I can hold him off.

Then, there are the video games. I have trouble remembering that the A button means jump, and the S button means shoot or throw or punch. They play games where you have umpteen different key combinations without any trouble. When my boys and I would sit down to play video games together, at first I was the one paving the way, revealing new moves, new levels. They would be excited for me. Now?

"Look, Dad! We're on level nine on Spider-Man!"

Nine? I barely made it to level two.

I've had no choice but to stop playing video games with them.

And now...and now...

I gave him A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book the Second two days ago. He started reading at 9:00 pm. He finished it at 11:30 pm that same night. Next day, he did the same with another book.

Me? Well, I started reading a new book a week ago. I'm to page 60.

Yeah. Well. I can drive, and he can't. (For now.) And I'm taller. (For now.)

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Too Soon For a Cure

Have you heard the news? There is a cure for diabetes!

Well, sort of.


I fear this news will create a bit of false hope in diabetics, for several reasons.

First, because this didn't technically cure diabetes. Instead, it killed off the auto-immune response that triggers Type 1 diabetes. If your insulin-producing beta cells are already gone (such as mine have been for about 24 years now), you're out of luck. Instead, this treatment is more like preventing Type 1 diabetes by early intervention, and not quite a vaccine.

Second, the long term effects of the treatment are, at this point unknown. It is possible that the body will, once again, trigger its autoimmune response at some point in the future. It is too soon to know. It reminds me of the recent problems with the varicella (chicken pox) vaccine. The drug companies and government kind of rushed the vaccination out, and now, just a few years later, kids who were vaccinated, are developing chicken pox. Not only so, but the vaccination is delaying the onset of chicken pox enough that it could actually become more dangerous. Might this experimental diabetes treatment be the same? Might these kids live lives free from Type 1 diabetes, only to have more significant health problems later in life? We seem to forget that Type 1 diabetes is entirely treatable.

Third, the treatment itself is dangerous, and might not even work. Of the 15 kids who had the treatment, it only worked for 13 of them. So, for those two that it didn't work, they underwent significant health risks. Actually, those health risks applied to the other thirteen as well. It is a small sampling. But if this treatment were done on a larger scale, might we see serious harm or even death?

It seems to me that this is kind of like using a machete to slice up your strawberries. It is overkill (quite literally). Instead of targeting the cause of the disease itself, it is a "shoot anything that moves" mentality, figuring that, sure, you may kill a bunch of innocents, but, by golly, you got the fugitive in the process!

I'm skeptical. Can you tell? In the meantime, other treatments will still be necessary for the millions of other Type 1 diabetics who have already been diagnosed. It is too soon for a cure, folks. One more false hope.

Friday, March 30, 2007

The Book Wife

Sometimes we are inspired at the oddest moments. Sometimes we realize how incredible someone is at the most inopportune times.

For me, such a moment came yesterday while my wife was out with a friend and I was sitting, of all places, on the toilet doing, well, toilet-related things.

Around me were books. Actually, pretty much anywhere you are in my house you will find books. But what struck me about these particular books was that I had never read any of them. My wife, however, had.

Ordinarily that would come as no particular shock. My wife is a reader. She has an insatiable thirst for books, and has probably read 100 times as many books already than I will ever read in my lifetime.

But my wife isn't just a reader of fiction. And this is where the realization was so powerful. My wife reads for entertainment, true. But she also reads to improve herself. Books about becoming a Godly wife, or about techniques in homeschooling, or about how to leave a family legacy with our kids, or any other topic you can imagine. My book wife is constantly trying to improve herself, and as a result, improve us, her family.

She isn't happy just being who she was yesterday, or who she is today...and she's not happy being satisfied with where our kids are now, or who I am as her husband and their father.

Just a couple days ago, the two of us sat down and had a conversation about things I won't bore you with now. But at one point, I told my wife how she reminds me of the character Yentl. Have you see the movie? Starring Barbra Streisand? Phenomenal movie, by the way. Sadly, it hasn't yet been released to DVD.

Anyhow, in the movie, Yentl is a actually a Jewish woman who is out of place because she wants to learn. She isn't happy being like the other woman, who happily do women's work. She wants to know what the men know, and more. So, when her own father dies, she cuts off her hair, puts on men's clothing, and becomes a boy.

Well, see the movie to learn what happens. And while my wife isn't about to cut off her hair and turn into a cross-dresser, she has that same desire to broaden herself, and in the process, those who know her.

And all of this came to me on the toilet last night. I become suddenly in awe of how incredible she really is. I mean, I knew she was incredible before. But even more incredible. And, in a way, somewhat intimidating, because I also realized how my own efforts seem to pale in comparison. In her efforts to improve herself, she is trying to, ultimately, improve her family. Can I say the same? Are my own pursuits, ultimately, for the benefit of everyone else? Or myself?

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

My Problem With Pop Machines

First, my apologies to the rest of the nation who uses another word. Pop is what we call it here, and so that is what I'm calling it in this blog. Substitute soda, coke, or whatever else you prefer.

I'm getting really annoyed with pop machines lately. Okay, so prices are outrageous. Why is it that I can buy a two-liter bottle of Diet Coke for less than the price of a 20-oz. bottle from the pop machine? But, whatever. It is my own fault for being the dope who pays the $1.35.

But I have other issues. More important issues. Like, who has decided that people who drink diet pop get only one choice, or two at most, while those who drink regular pop get like six or seven choices? Don't they realize that diet is being increasingly popular?

Yet, even when a pop machine offers you a "choice" of diet, it is between Diet Coke or Diet Pepsi...or, between Diet Coke and Coke Zero...or between Diet Pepsi and Pepsi One.

Excuse me, but what if I don't want cola? Next choice? Diet Sprite.

Apparently they seem to think that's all people who drink diet like. Cola or Lemon-Lime.

At my workplace, I was happy, because the pop machine offered me Diet Mountain Dew. Okay, I'll admit I would prefer if it were Diet Code Red Mountain Dew...but I'll live. But what did they do, arbitrarily? They recently replaced the Diet Mountain Dew button with a second regular Mountain Dew button. So, my choice of diet is Diet Pepsi, Diet Pepsi (yes, it is there twice), or Diet Coke.


At church, the pop machine offers a grand total of one diet pop choice. Twice, I left a note on the machine please requesting that they add a second diet pop offering. There are a lot of diet pop drinkers at my church, and the Diet Pepsi is always the first to be sold out.

Okay. So, that's annoying, to be sure. There are so many other, better, diet pops out. Coke Zero Cherry, or Black Cherry Vanilla Diet Coke, or Diet Code Red Mountain Dew, or Diet Pepsi Jazz (of either variety), or Diet Dr. Pepper, or Diet Ruby Red Squirt, etc. None of which are offered.

Well, a couple days ago, I started experiencing a new issue. Pop machines that randomly decide my quarters aren't good enough. I'm not talking about machines that are telling me "exact change". I'm talking about plunking in four separate quarters, and the machine arbitrarily decides it won't take any of them. It tried about twenty times. At first I thought it was just a fluke. Yet, a day later, a different pop machine, it, too, decided my quarters were no good.

And here's the kicker: yesterday, I used two crisp one dollar bills to buy myself a pop (the dope I am...yes, I know). It happily gave me my Diet Pepsi, and my $.65 change. Only, it decided to give me a quarter that isn't from these United States...which means I can't even use the quarter it gave me in another pop machine!

Maybe it's all for the best. Maybe I need to go back to just drinking water from the water fountain.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Chocolate Milk and Common Sense

Today I did something very odd. Well, odd for me. At lunch time, I bought myself a chocolate milk. Honestly, I rarely ever drink chocolate milk. In fact, I rarely drink milk at work, even though it is my beverage of choice at home.

Anyhow, drinking chocolate milk hardly seems blog-worthy material...except in this case. Because, as any good diabetic, I always read the label and check the carb content before consuming. And, as any good diabetic knows, knowing the carb value isn't good enough. You have to also know how many servings are in that package. A little math, and voila! You have your total carbs.

Or do you?

See, had I done that blindly, I would have given myself a bolus for 232 carbs. No, that's not a typo. But there was a typo on the bottle. 29 carbs per serving, but the bottle said there were 8 servings, when in reality, there were only 2.

Of course, I am more than just a good diabetic, and I immediately realized the error. But what if I hadn't? What if I am like a good percentage of Americans, and just took the nutritional information (whatever it all means) at face value. It could have been a serious issue.

It shows the perils of blindly accepting things. Even when being diligent, we have to use common sense. There is no way that bottle of chocolate milk should contain 232 carbs!

Which brings me to another, less obvious example of misleading labels.

Are you aware that the carb content listed on an item is, in reality, the minimum carb content, and not actual?

See, it goes back to a day when manufacturers weren't being held accountable for their labels, and they might say that a package had 2 oz, but really only contained 1.7 oz as a means to save a little money. Someone sued (or at least, I think they did), which led to a tightening of laws. If a package says 2 ounces, then I had better be getting at least 2 ounces.

At least.

And that's where the problem is...because, in reality, while a manufacturer may try to get as close to that 2 ounces as possible, for fear of falling under, which would be illegal, they will err on the side of caution and the package will contain slightly more than the label says. In fact, it could contain twice as much as the package says. And while the carb content is listed for a 2 ounce serving size, and the package says there is 1 serving, in actuality, it could be 1.5 servings., meaning your carbs are way off.

Calculating carbs is in inexact science. Even if you weigh each and every byte you put in your mouth, some foods have various parts with varying carb densities. Take the Frosted Pop-Tart as an example. If the package says it weights so much, but in reality it weighs slightly more, is that "slightly more" from too much frosting, too much filling, or too much pastry? It matters, because if it is all from too much frosting, that will be significantly more carbs than from too much pastry.

So, good luck on getting your carb calculations perfect. It isn't possible, so don't fret about it. That's what the correction bolus was invented for!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Bookstores Are Bad For Your Health

On Saturday, while my two oldest boys were at a four-hour long choir rehearsal, I decided to get some writing done. Made some good progress, too, but four-hours straight is too much for me, so at the 1 1/2 hour mark, I decided to make a trek to the nearby bookstore.

These days, I don't go into a bookstore all that often. If I don't get my books from the library, I get them from Amazon or something.

And I was reminded of something...that being in a bookstore can be a bad idea for wanna-be writers, such as myself. Bad, because each and every time I walk into a bookstore lately, instead of the joy of finding some new book I want to read, it is a panic-inducing mess of paperbacks and hardcovers. A mess that I'm just crazy enough to want my own book to not be a part of, because I want my book to be noticed and bought, rather than sit on the shelves.

There are books everywhere in a bookstore. I'm sure that's news to most of you. And I think to myself, "Why do I think my book is gonna make it among all this?"

So, I figure I needed to focus. Lemme see. Where might I find Jon Clinch's new book, Finn? Because he is getting grand reviews, it must be easy to find, right?

Well, sort of. I didn't bother checking the new release tables or anything, because I think there are more new release tables than actual bookshelves. So, I headed over to the "Fiction and Literature" section. (Not entirely sure why it is called "Fiction and Literature", as if those are mutually exclusive things they arbitrarily decided to shelve together.)

I found Finn. Two copies, spine out, among hundreds of other spine-out books. And guess what? It didn't really stand out at all. I mean, if I hadn't been looking for it, would I bother to pick it up?

Then I went to the teen section, looking for Ally Carter's book, I'd Tell You I Love You But Then I'd Have To Kill You. Not there. (But, she said the paperback is coming April 1, so I'll check then.)

Then, I fled from the store, blocking the entire experience from my head (rather unsuccessfully, as this account attests).

The only solace I found in the entire experience was that there were literally hundreds of people in the store. So, there are people buying books.

I can only hope one of them, eventually, will be my own.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

A New Meter Review

Well, I did it. I not only flirted with a meter other than my One Touch Ultra by Lifescan, I'm having a full-fledged affair. I bought myself a box of 100 strips and a meter from my local Kroger. The meter itself was only $10, and a box of 100 strips cost $44, which is the same price I pay for 50 strips for the One Touch.

I'll start out by saying I really love this new meter. There are a few differences, but mostly, I prefer it to the One Touch.

I suppose you'll want to know why. Okay, okay. I'll tell you.

  1. The Kroger meter strips are cheaper. But you already knew that one.
  2. The Kroger meter is smaller. Not a great deal smaller, but definitely smaller. Not only that, but when I have all the strips, the meter, extra lancets, and the "poker" in the case it comes with, it is still smaller.
  3. The carrying case is just plain cooler than the one that came with my One Touch Ultra.
  4. The poker that came with the meter is far more comfortable. In fact, with the exception of one time thus far, after I poke my finger, I wondered if it had done anything at all. I honestly didn't feel a thing. But, I managed to milk blood from my finger just fine, so apparently it worked. There are five adjustable settings for depth, and I used the middle one, same as the one that came with my One Touch Ultra.
  5. There is a built-in backlight.
  6. While both the One Touch and Kroger meters have a 5-second test, the Kroger meter will not start counting down until you have enough blood. The One Touch Ultra starts to count down almost immediately, and occasionally you don't have enough blood in time, resulting in the waste of a perfectly good test strip. Not an issue on the Kroger meter.
  7. The Kroger meter has similar features as the One Touch Ultra, including auto-on by sticking in the test strip, displaying averages for 7 days and 14 days, etc. But one thing the Kroger does that the One Touch doesn't is it has an audible feedback feature (which can be turned off). Basically, it beeps when it turns on, when there is enough blood, and when the test is finished.
  8. As I mentioned, the Kroger meter is smaller.
So, all in all, a very nice meter. And at $10, I can actually buy several and keep one at work, one in my car, one at home, etc, if I want.

Now, despite all the positives, there are a few things that I either don't like or I'm just not used to yet:
  1. The strips come individually packages in foil wrappers rather than a vial. In a way, this isn't a problem. In fact, I can fit a lot more strips in my case in less space as a result. But it means not only tearing open the foil wrapper, but having the extra garbage to deal with. Not a huge issue, but different. The wrappers are actually extremely easy to open, so it isn't a big deal.
  2. The test strip goes in the bottom of the meter rather than the top. My One Touch Ultra, the strip goes in the top. Being on the bottom makes it slightly more awkward to apply the blood sample if I'm using the bottom side of my finger. Having the strip on top makes it easier, no matter where on my finger I poke. Again, this is more of an adjustment on my part than anything.
  3. The blood sample size on the Kroger meter is very slightly larger than on the One Touch. Truly, it isn't enough to make a difference to me, but I mention it because some people might have trouble getting that extra .1 microliter of blood (or whatever it is). For me, it is no worse, and actually the difference is moot since the meter won't start counting down until I have enough blood anyhow, so I have more time to squeeze out more blood.
  4. Calibrating the meter isn't a matter of just scrolling through some numbers. Instead, they have this calibration stick. You place it in the meter when you open a new box of strips, and it codes the meter for you. In a way, this is easier. However, it means you have to keep the calibration stick around. Even that isn't so much of an issue, however, since they provide a little place to keep it in the carrying case.
And there you have it. Honestly, I'm not sorry to make the switch. I almost wish I would have done it a long time ago. I'm not sure how the Kroger version compares to other generic versions, such as Meijer's or Wal-Mart's, etc. But I'm here to say, if you are paying for strips yourself, or with a significant copay...or if you just want to save the insurance company money (which is worthwhile, since it ultimately helps lower health-care costs for everyone), then I highly recommend the Kroger brand BGL meter.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Confessions of a Guy Going High

Anyone had a Shamrock Shake lately? I never remember to get one when they are out, although I used to love them. So, my wife and I got one a couple days ago while we were out. First of all, I gotta say...I was a bit disappointed. I really think they used to be better. I'm not sure why, but it just didn't taste nearly as good as I remember.

But this point isn't really about Shamrock shakes. Well, not exactly. See, this point is about how even the best of us can be naughty and choose to eat (or drink) something when we know we shouldn't.

It all started several hours before my wife and I went out. I tested, and I was high. Not just a bit high, but significantly high. No problem, though. I bolused, and I'd be back to normal in no time.

Except then we went to Taco Bell and I got the Grilled Stuft Burrito. Ever had one? Delicious! But not only does it taste great, but it is a type-1 diabetics worst nightmare. Carbohydrates galore, with the rice and beans and flour tortilla. Yum. Of course, I added to that a taco. I figured I bolused enough to cover most of those carbs. I guess. Didn't have my meter with me to check.

Then came the Shamrock shake. I got a small. That was sort of kind of being good. Right?

Bolused more insulin. Got home and tested. Well, you know how most meters have a maximum that they will read? Anything above that maximum and it will just say, "Hi"?

At first I thought my meter was just being friendly. But no. There isn't enough screen space for a "g" and an "h", so I was left with astronomical BGL levels.

I wasn't worried about ketones or ketoacidosis. I had insulin in my system. But still, I should have known better, but at the moment, I didn't care. I wanted that Shamrock shake.

It took most of the night before I was finally back into reasonable numbers, peeing every hour, waking up to test. 453, then 375, then 323, then 220, and finally 150.

Today I was a good boy. But every once in a great while, I go high. Really high. And then I have to pay the price and do the hard work of getting it back down again without going low. In the end, was it worth it?

No. It wasn't. Because, as I said from the beginning of this post, the Shamrock shake wasn't all that great.

I confess. I should have had a Boston Cream doughnut instead.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Meter, Meter, On The Wall, Who's The Fairest...

You know, sometimes a person can be stupid without even realizing it.

So, there I was standing at the Kroger Pharmacy asking the pharmacist for a box of One Touch Ultra test strips. $43 for 50 strips. Craziness.

But then I noted that sitting there on the counter was Kroger's own BGL meter and strip. The meter, just like the One Touch Ultra, uses a tiny amount of blood and tests in 5 seconds. It is about the same size as the Ultra. But most importantly, the strips only cost $24 for a box of

Hmm. Do a little math, and you can see that there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of advantage to sticking to the name-brand meter these days. Oh, sure, once upon a time One Touch had the lead on meters, with one of the smallest drop sizes and fastest testing times. But that's no longer the case. And frankly, One Touch's latest meters don't offer me anything additional that I really need. They have graphing, or slightly smaller sizes, but nothing I haven't gotten along without for 24 years. They could, I suppose, reduce the test time to one second or something...but honestly, that isn't enough. It takes me longer to get the strip out of the container, stick it in, cock the lancet device and squeeze the finger. Four fewer seconds means little. (And for the record, they don't offer a meter with a one-second test.)

So why is it that I haven't made the switch? Save myself and my insurance company some money, and guy generic?

I have no good answer, except that I've been with One Touch for so long now, it almost feels like cheating to flirt with another brand.

But you know what? I'm flirting now.

So, my fellow diabetics...this is where you come in. Have you "made the switch"? Have you asked the mirror on the wall which is the fairest meter of them all? If so, were you pleased with the switch to generic?

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Goodbye, Captain America

It is a sad day in Superhero land. According to this article, Captain America is dead.

Now, honestly, I never read a single comic book with Captain America, yet he holds a special place in my heart. Why? Because back in the 70s, there were two TV movies made about the character (or, rather, the son of the character, who shares the name Captain America). And being a kid obsessed with superheroes at the time, I, of course, watched both of these movies. There were rumors of a TV series spin-off. In fact, my faulty memory has convinced me that there was, in fact, a TV series when apparently there wasn't.

Anyhow, superheroes have been on my mind a lot lately. (Based on the last couple posts, you wouldn't have guessed, eh?) Not only am I writing about superheroes (kind of, sort of), but I'm watching them on the show Heroes, as well as anticipating Spider-Man 3 and The Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. (Okay, so the FF movie, not as much. The first movie was kind of pathetic...but I'll watch the new one.)

On top of these, we also have the release of Melanie Lynne Hauser's second book: Super Mom Saves the World. Kind of a cross between superheroes and women's fiction. Funny, witty, beautifully written. Well...the first was. The second I'll get my hands on soon enough.

Superheroes abound. But, sadly, no more Captain America.

On the bright side, the article mentions that Captain America is being made into a movie!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Everyday Superhero

Okay, so last week's post concerning books about superheroes didn't turn up much. I'll take that as a sign that either you, my readers, have very little taste in books...or else I'm just a geek.

So, I figured I'd talk about another kind of superhero, which Sarah mentioned. The everyday superhero. The persons in your life who keep you from harm, or inspire you, or rescue you when you're in trouble. They can lift you up when you're down, or draw out a smile from a frown.

The most obvious people who fit this description are your parents. And for those who are parents, themselves, it means that you, too, can be a superhero. Siblings and friends fall under this banner, as do some strangers.

Like, the time my oldest son was admitted to the hospital due to imminent asthma-related respiratory failure. We encountered several superheroes that day, starting with his doctor, who sent him over to the hospital to begin with. My son had to be transferred to a pediatric ICU in another hospital, where he spend the next few days. Anyone with children will tell you how hard it is to leave your child there in the hospital. We had other children who needed us, and so my wife and I tag-teamed. But there was this nurse who stepped in at one point, allowing us a break. She was amazing, and my son fell in love with did we. She rose above the call of duty during that time, and became not only a superhero to our son, but to us, his parents.

Superheroes are everywhere, sometimes doing such seemingly insignificant things, but meaning the world to the other person.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Where Are All the Superheroes?

Superheroes seem to be big business these days. Movie blockbusters, such as the recently released Ghostrider, or X-Men, Spiderman, and Superman Returns, bring in huge amounts of money. We have the NBC show Heroes as well.

I'll admit I've always been a fan of all-things super. From the time I was six years-old, I've been living in the fantasy world of superheroes. There is something appealing with the idea of being able to do something that no one else can, to experience flying or creating fireballs out of thin air or any other myriad of powers superheroes have these days.

But one thing I never got into was the comic book. Superheroism was either something within my own imagination, or fulfilled on the big screen. To this day, I'm not much into comic books. And so I was thinking recently about how there seem to be so few books out that involve superheroes. I mean real books (oh, don't bug me about comic books being "real" know what I mean...books that aren't graphic in nature, but rely exclusively on the written word).

My book, Mindburst, would certainly fall under that category. I'd certainly define it as being part of the superhero genre. Except that there are no pictures. Same with my recently published story, The Dreammaker, and another story I'm shopping around at the moment.

But I wonder why that is. I want to read about superheroes, not just write about them. I've stumbled across a few. The Charlie Bone series is somewhat superheroish in nature. And Midnighters, by Scott Westerfeld. (Granted, I haven't yet had the pleasure to read that one, but I've read other Westerfeld books and loved them, so look forward to experiencing Midnighters.)

I don't want to read a superhero novelization of a movie. I want to read original superhero books. So, tell me. Do you know of any? I'd really like to know. But if reading the story involves pictures, don't bother.

Note: I have absolutely nothing against the graphic novel or comic book. Nothing whatsoever. I have great respect for the graphic artists and authors who conceive of these kinds of stories. Marvel and DC Comics have both offered me plenty of pleasing stories ultimately made into movies. But I'm just not a comic-book-reading kind of guy, is all!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Super Mom Returns

So, have you heard of this Melanie Lynne Hauser person?

See, she claims to know a thing or two about Super Mom, the maternal superhero that starred in her first novel a while back called Confessions of Super Mom. I read the book, fell in love with the book, and have waited patiently for the sequel. (I even blogged about it. Just check the archives. I'm sure it's still there somewhere.)

But anyhow, back to Melanie. See, she has this blog, and sometimes she refers to herself as Super Mom. But I'm here to tell you that it just isn't so. It can't be, because I'm absolutely certain that I live with and sleep with Super Mom. My wife. No other explanation for all she accomplishes in a day.

Well, I guess I'll cut Melanie some slack, because coming very very soon to a bookstore near you is the long-awaited sequel, Super Mom Saves the World!

Now, don't delay here. If you haven't read the first book, you have just about enough time to get your hands on a copy and read it before the sequel comes out. And if you really need more convincing, go visit author Melanie's website, where you can read an excerpt.

Well, go on. What are you waiting for? Reading my blog? No, no. There is nothing to see here interesting. Really. Super Mom is where it's at!

Friday, February 09, 2007

A Practical Wish List For Diabetics

You know, living with diabetes can, I suppose, be a pain at times. Literally. Every one of us with the disease would love to wake some morning, open the morning paper (okay, well, I'm dating myself on the morning news website) and find the headline that reads:


So far, it hasn't happened.

But I was thinking about all the little things that could make life easier for the diabetic. Things that are seemingly incidental. They aren't major advancements in diabetic care. So here are just a few things I wish were improved.

1. Infusion sets

I'm a pumper, using the QuickSets from Minimed. A couple years ago, Minimed tried to improve upon the QuickSet. I actually liked the improvements...but there were tape issues, and ultimately Minimed went back to the old standby. But one thing that is rather irritating is that you have to change the things so frequently.

So, I'd like to see an infusion set that could safely be worn for, say, seven days or more before the need to change it. Not a huge deal. Just a few more days before I have to jab myself again. (Inserting that infusion set still hurts about 50% of the time for me.) Of course, a side-benefit to the fewer changes is lower costs. Changing out the infusion today means about a box of ten every month. That same box could last 2 1/2 months otherwise.

2. Cheaper blood testing strips

Nevermind about the real-time BGL monitoring. I would be willing to bet that people test infrequently more due to the cost of strips than out of fear of another poke to the finger. Instead of improving those meters, giving us features we really don't care about any longer now that we have the 5-second test, figure out a way to lower the cost of the strips. Most recently, I paid about $42 for a box of 50. That's close to a dollar per strip.

I know why they are expensive. But honestly, if that same box of 50 cost $10, I would test about 4x as much. Last I checked, four times $10 is $ we're stilling close to the same amount. Plus, for those who are struggling financially, it would mean far more affordable care.

3. Insulin that doesn't go bad in the heat

Now that we have insulin analogs that work in 10-15 minutes, lets start focusing on more practical improvements. Like, how about the ability to keep a spare bottle of insulin in the car or in my drawer at work without fear of it going bad? That would be a real advancement in my book. (Actually, this same desire applies to medications in general, even non-diabetic related ones such as the Epi-pen. Do you know how many of my son's Epi-pens we have ruined by leaving them out in the hot or freezing car?)

4. The meter-built-into-a-watch

I'm not talking about anything like that Gluco-Watch thingy from a few years ago. I'm talking about shrinking down that One Touch Ultra meter into the size of a wristwatch. Include in the band a place to keep around enough strips to last the day, and maybe even a tiny built-in poker. I can still place the strip in the slot and poke and apply the sample and all. Just give me a package I can have with me at all times easily without needing to carry around a purse (which looks very strange on a man's shoulder, as you can imagine).

Your turn. What are some of the simpler, smaller things you'd like to see. Not things that would take a huge advancement. Just some practical ingenuity.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Nobody's Perfect, Diabetically Speaking

I'm not perfect.

No, really. I'm not.

I have, in fact, proclaimed my ability to fairly accurately predict the general range of my blood glucose levels as a diabetic, often within about 50 mg/dL. Scott has even gone so far to call this ability my "Spidey-sense". Very flattering, though undeserved.

Why am I coming out, now, with my lack of perfection in this area? Well, because just as I try to be helpful in teaching others how to hone their own Spidey-sense, the truth is no one will ever be perfect at it. In fact, there will be times you are widely off.

Take last night as a fine example. I came home from the store with some cookie dough all ready to eat several delicious chocolate chip cookies. So, after sticking the cookies in the oven, I figured I'd better test. I mean, I knew I wasn't high. Maybe 150, though.


302! D'oh! So, I bolused and waited for my BGL to drop...and then ate my delicious chocolate chip cookies. (Turns out I over-estimated carbs, and ended up low enough to eat an extra chocolate chip cookie about an hour later.)

So, see there? Even Spidey can be wrong.

But this whole experience got me to thinking about something only slightly related. As I was testing, I was thinking about how much each strip costs, and how expensive that can be for those without insurance. I'm sure plenty of folks forego testing as often as they should in order to save money.

So, let me give you a tip that I sometimes do if I don't have the ability to test, but suspect I might be high. Let's presume I had been perfect yesterday, and I had known I was around 300...but couldn't tell for sure. Let's also presume I was out of strips (which happens from time to time). What to do?

Well, I could give a correction for that 300. But if I'm wrong, I risk a serious low. I could do nothing, but that wouldn't be healthy if I was right. The answer is to compromise.

In such a scenario, I will bolus enough to bring down a high slightly, but not enough that should I dip into low territory, it would be dangerous. Start with a unit or two in my case. Then I wait. I wait maybe two hours...enough time for that bolus to do most of its job. (Sure, there is residual insulin, but very little with a two-unit bolus.) If I didn't go low, then I'll give myself an additional bolus of a unit or so. Then wait again.

Rinse and repeat.

Then, once you start to feel yourself going low, you stop bolusing and eat a snack enough to counteract any additional insulin you bolused.

I'll add a caveat that this is only a good idea for those who are sensitive to their lows. Not a good idea for those who experience hypo-unawareness.

Anyhow, that's my technique for today. Sure, not a medical-doctor approved method, but we live in a real world with real medical costs and real situations where you might not have test strips available. It works for me, and that's all I'm saying!

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Attention, Logbook DM Users

Some of you know me back from my Logbook DM days. (Uh, Scott!) If you're not familiar with Logbook DM, here's the brief story.

Many years ago, before the PDA even existed, I had this idea that software could help a person calculate their insulin dosages pretty easily given the rise of carb-counting. I played around with formulas, and used my trusty HP calculator to store some of them for my own use. I even discussed my idea, at the time, with my endocrinologist, who was quite intrigued with the idea. But, alas, the technology needed to make it practical was still a few years away.

Some time later, I bought my very own PDA. A Sony Clie running the PalmOS. And, of course, I realized that this was the perfect platform to realize my dream. But before I started working on that dream, I figured I would see if anyone else was doing the same thing.

Answer was yes and no. There were applications for diabetics out there, but none of them really worked the way that I wanted them to. They were designed and laid out like a programmer would want them to be, not like a user. They seemed to ignore the connection between current BGL, food intake, and the insulin bolus. So, I wrote Logbook DM to address this.

I had a lot of ideas for Logbook DM...some of which were probably ahead of their time, and ultimately never realized. This included fuzzy-logic used to analyze your trends and give recommendations as to what might be causing highs in the evenings or lows after lunch, etc. I just didn't have the time to spend on it.

But, Logbook DM was apparently useful to a great many users and is still available to this day, albeit at a lower price. That lower price is because I no longer actively develop Logbook DM.
I even considered making it available for free, but then realized that would actually be unfair to those developers who are still developing their software. They would have no incentive to improve their software if I'm giving away a decent application for free. And, frankly, I'd rather see my software superseded by something even better.

The unfortunately thing is that while Logbook DM is still a decent application, technology has moved on, and new devices have come out. New devices that have presented some compatibility problems. The Treo line of devices, in particular, have proven themselves troublesome. Not sure why, exactly, but certain features of Logbook DM don't play nice on the Treo, even though the same feature works fine on others.

So, to those who use Logbook DM and have faced issues with it resetting, I have this one general bit of advice that has helped a great many. Apparently, the PalmOS has this feature where you can selectively disable hi-res support for any given application. If Logbook DM has caused problems for you, then I suggest going into your PalmOS preferences (not Logbook DM preferences) and turn off hi-res support for Logbook DM. This seems to clear up a majority of the problems.

Sadly, I just don't have the time nor resources to develop Logbook DM beyond where it is today. I wish I did. I have a list of features I still would have liked to see...including having a version that runs on the PocketPC/Windows Mobile platform. I'm sorry to say, it isn't going to happen. And if some enterprising individual wants to take over the Logbook DM application, contact me and I'd be willing to hand over the source code (as ugly as it is) to be further developed.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Still Numb, and Wishing For a Tricorder

You'd never guess that my blog is world-famous for it's discussion of "numb fingertips". Really. Just check my blog stats, and you'd find that, on average, 20-30% of people who Google their way to my blog use the terms "numb fingertips".

Nevermind, I've discussed the topic all of twice.

But, to satisfy the masses, I'm providing entry number three. Why? Because, quite simply, I have numb fingertips. On my right hand. My ring and pinkie fingers.

The last time I had numb fingertips, it was because of a weird sleeping position. Problem went away in a few days. But several months back, I started experiencing on-going numbness in my two fingers. I spent time looking up the issue, including Googling "numb fingertips" and running across this blog entry by one Ryan Bruner.

Okay, so I ignored that one. But I did discover some possible causes. I tried to take the recommended remedies, but nothing really helped. So, I finally consulted an Orthopedic doctor a few weeks ago and had an EMG on Friday.

The next time a doctor recommends I need some kind of test, I think I'm to decline. First, there was the MRI. You can read about that in my blog. But EMG sounds harmless. Something electrical, so I figured they just tape some sensors to my hand and record the results.

Not quite the case. Sure, the doctor taped some sensors. He also drew little lines all over my hand, wrist, and arm, measured distances, and then repeatedly zapped me with electricity. Basically, it feels like you're being electrocuted. Probably because you're being electrocuted.

Not fun. It was mostly annoying, but at times it really hurt, and my screaming just resulted in the doctor saying, "Sorry about that, but I didn't get a measurement. Gotta do it again."

Apparently, the test measures how long it takes for various nerves to transmit the electrical impulse.

After the shocking part was over, there was part two. It involved placing needles into various places and taking some electrical measurements. I wasn't too worried. After all, I've give myself shots since I was 9. I could handle it.

Except insulin shots don't actually go into the muscle. These needles do. And so, once again, I was yelping in pain.

The positive from all this was that the doc did determine that I had a slowing of nerve impulses across my Ulnar nerve...which is exactly what the Ortho doc figured was the case. I go back for my revisit in a few days, and will likely be fitted with something to keep my elbow straight and protected while I sleep at night in an attempt to relieve pressure on the nerve.

But after the MRI experience and now an EMG, I'm really thinking it is time for someone to invent the Tricorder, a la Star Trek.