31 July 2008


A couple of weeks ago, I read this article in the New Yorker by Atul Gawande (an associated podcast can be found here). The primary case he discusses in the article is that of a woman with chronic & severe itching, but the main thrust is about how much we don't yet understand about how the brain functions and what happens when its sensory mechanisms go haywire.

This is basically what is happening to people such as myself who deal with fibromyalgia pain and restless legs syndrome. The off switches for certain sensory pathways stop working properly, so we feel pain (or a crawling sensation in our legs) when there is no physical reason for that sensation. Sometimes, as in my particular situation, we even have abnormal motor activity, also - meaning that my limbs move involuntarily, thankfully only when I'm asleep. And nobody really knows why that occurs or how to go about repairing that faulty wiring, which is frustrating as all hell.

Fortunately, despite our lack of insight into the mechanisms, there have been some advances made over the last several years in terms of treatment. Unfortunately, the treatments carry their own set of problems. For over a year now, I have been on ropinirole for the restless legs and periodic limb movement (the twitching in my sleep thing). The problem is that eventually the brain gets accustomed to the dose and the problems start recurring, requiring higher doses.

The other problem is that this particular drug attaches to dopamine receptors, which is one of the pathways stimulated (via a slightly different mechanism) by amphetamines. So as the dose gets higher, you run a greater likelihood that the drug, rather than helping, will actually start to ramp up the problem by causing excessive stimulation. Oh, and did I mention the nausea? Yeah, really.

Fortunately for me, I've been on a really low dose, so my recent need to increase the dose isn't likely to run me into too much trouble. Even though the higher dose seems to be managing the restless legs part of the equation, though, I've still not been getting very restful sleep lately, likely because of the fibromyalgia pain. My irregular schedule doesn't really help, either, but for the moment I'm focusing on the things I can change easily, and that's not one of them.

To that end, I sat down with one of the physician's assistants at my local family practice today to get a prescription for gabapentin. This drug has been around for a while now as an anti-epileptic. It's newer cousin, Lyrica, is labeled for treating fibro pain.

Gabapentin won't be labeled for this, since it went generic a few years ago and there's no financial incentive to do the research, but the National Institute of Arthritis, Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) published a study last year that found it to be effective for this purpose. It's also been shown to help with restless legs. Since, as a generic, I can get it for a much lower copay than the Lyrica, this is a good thing.

The downside - because of course there had to be one - is that it can cause problems with concentration and it causes physical dependency. Those are probably the top two reasons I've avoided trying it before, but I finally decided that putting up with the pain and the lack of sleep was probably the worse option of the two. Of course, on the label it says that I should be wearing a medical ID bracelet saying I'm taking it, which is not particularly reassuring, strangely enough. I shall, however, soldier on and hope that it does some good.

Oh, and I also somehow managed to bugger up my bad knee while mowing the lawn the other day. Good times, I tell ya.

28 July 2008

Somnolent Fiber Humor: An Allegory of Sorts

So I woke up this morning from one of my characteristically bizarre dreams. In this one, I was sort of an observer in the middle of a sitcom. As a teenager, I had a recurring dream where I was an observer in the Brady Bunch household, so there is a precedent.

Anyway, one of the characters was this really ditzy but beautiful woman with long, silky, lustrous black hair. At one point, one of the other characters called her by name; she was named Rayon. Initially it struck me as a really odd name choice, but then I thought, "Oh, I get it. She has no memory."

And then I woke up.

22 July 2008

Happy Dog!

Three posts in one day! Guess I'm trying to catch up.

Tuck has recently discovered the joys of rolling around in the grass.

Peas & Carrots!



The carrots are itty bitty baby ones from some thinning I did today. I was less than impressed with the germination rate of my shell peas. Perhaps I should have added inoculant to the soil, but you'd think there'd be plenty of naturally occurring microbes in a pile of composted 'paca poo. My pole beans have been really slow growers, too, and are only now starting to send up some tendrils.

On the other hand, my shell beans are producing like gangbusters and should provide us with some good soup beans for the fall. Speaking of which, I think the two above items are destined to go in a soup of some sort for dinner tonight.

Cake Wrecks

Stolen from Cake Wrecks

After a very fitful night of far too little sleep, I have been laughing my ass off at Cake Wrecks, thanks to Joe.My.God. That all of these cakes were made by paid professionals makes it all the more hilarious. And, of course, painful.

15 July 2008

Blast from the Past

Geez, has it been a week already? My apologies for neglecting you all. It's not as though I haven't had blog ideas, but it's been my 60 hour week at work, so that and getting enough sleep have taken precedence. I have, at least, managed to get photos from the honeymoon uploaded to Flickr.

Anyway, now that we're both here, do you remember this?


I wouldn't blame you if you didn't, because I first posted about it way back here. You'll notice that I have made a little progress since that time. It now has a heel and, after setting it aside for a few months to concentrate on wedding knitting, I've finally started the ribbing. Of course, there's still another sock to knit up after this one, but I hope to have a finished pair in under a year.

I think they'll look particularly smart worn with my new(ish) work shoes:


These were actually delivered just before the wedding, but since they were designated for the workplace (because the FiveFingerses are not a good idea when you need people to be paying attention to you rather than the shoes), they got set aside for three weeks before seeing any action. So far I've been very pleased.

7 Things

Another thing that got set aside was this meme, which Andy tagged me for the day before the wedding. I've been meaning to get around to it, really, but we haven't even gotten caught up on the housecleaning since the wedding, so it's kind of had to languish. Anyway, here goes, and since everyone's likely seen this one by now, I'm dispensing with the rules.

1) What was I doing 10 years ago?

Ten years ago, I was living in North Carolina, working at a few different clinics. I had just taken a leave of absence from grad school because my first advisor had me on the verge of going postal. I was a bit over a year away from buying my first house and a couple blissful years shy of meeting S. It was a good time. Mostly.

2) What are 5 things on my to-do list for today?
a. finish my shift at work
b. walk/run around the Back Cove
c. shower
d. sleep
e. have dinner with the Landladies to go over the purchase contract for the house (which means I have to miss CWS yet again *sigh*)

3) Snacks I enjoy:
- Most of them, especially if cheese and/or salt are involved. Or fruit. Or all of the above.

4) Things I would do if I were a billionaire:
- Take our house off the grid, open up the floor plan and basically renovate it from the cellar up.
- Build a nice heated garage with a well-lit studio space for David above it.
- Buy my grandmother's childhood home from my great-aunt and restore it.
- Fund spay/neuter & vaccine clinics in India, where tens of thousands of children die of rabies from dog bites every year.
- Build my parents a home for their retirement.
- Fund my sister's education and set up college trusts for all of my nieces and nephew.
- Fund my own return to grad school and get my PhD.
- Set aside enough so that David & I would never have to worry about our own needs.
- Fund more projects like those linked over in the sidebar.

5) Places I have lived:
- Cayce, SC
- Newberry, SC
- Kinards (Bush River Community), SC
- Charleston, SC
- Johnson City, TN
- Fountain Inn, SC
- Winslow, ME
- Granada, Spain
- St. Paul, MN
- Portland, ME
- Raleigh, NC
- Durham, NC
- Pittsburgh, PA
- Auburn, ME
- Kittery Point, ME

6) Jobs I have had:
- Dishwasher in a seafood restaurant
- Farmhand
- Veterinarian

7) Friends I want to know more about:
You've likely realized by now that I don't pass these things on. Besides, I think most folks that would do this one have already done so. If not and you're in need of blog fodder, then go for it.

08 July 2008

Finished Object


Pattern: Baby Jacket from EZ's Knitter's Almanac
Yarn: Debbie Bliss Prima, 80% bamboo/20% superwash wool

I made this little jacket for former neighbors of mine from Pittsburgh who are now in California and proud parents of their fist child. I cast on for this project the day after the wedding and worked on it while we were honeymooning in Nova Scotia. It's intended recipient was born the day before we came home, so I should be able to get it to her before she outgrows it.

It's the first time I've worked with Prima, but I picked it thinking that it wouldn't be overly warm for NoCal (The openwork should help in that regard, too). The hand is nice and it's a good supersoft yarn for baby clothing. As a cabled yarn, though, it does have a tendency to be a little splitty, though this wasn't a huge issue.

More frustrating were the knots. I think I got one in every ball of yarn. Between that and the color changes, it made for a lot of ends to weave in. I got through them all, though, and found the little vintage buttons at an area yarn shop. I washed it to make sure there wasn't any bleeding, and now it's drying so that I can package it up and get it sent off.

Now I need to figure out a possible project for a cousin in Florida who just had baby boy number three. I'm thinking booties might be a better idea for that climate.

07 July 2008

Jumping in with Both Feet

I started back at work Friday night, the 4th of July. So much for easing myself back in. It was busy, which wasn't particularly surprising, but it could have been much worse. As it was, though, I didn't get all of my paperwork done until nearly 1PM on Saturday, making it a 20 hour shift. I took a fitful two hour nap before heading home and getting another too-brief nap. I have until Tuesday to recover, so let's hope I manage to rest up well in the next 36 hours.

I suppose this is all a very roundabout way of explaining why I've been making slow progress at going through the wedding & honeymoon photos. I do now have a Flickr set from the wedding. though not all of the photos have captions yet. Pics from Nova Scotia yet to follow.

Speaking of the wedding, though, let's talk about...



Juno recently sent out a call for cake recipes and my hospital manager has been bugging me for the recipe for the wedding cake, so
I suppose I have to share. The recipe is actually just a minor variation on cold oven pound cake, which is an old family favorite. You can follow the recipe at the link with the following notes and modifications:

  • Use cake flour, if possible, as it will give the cake a somewhat finer crumb. Make sure to sift before measuring.

  • Sift two teaspoons of baking powder together with the flour.

  • Preheat the oven to 375°.

  • Grease two 9" cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment or wax paper and flour the sides.

  • Bake for about 40 minutes, or until center is done. Cool for about ten minutes before turning the layers out onto wire racks to finish cooling.

  • Ice as desired. If you go by the original recipe and bake it in a bundt pan, a simple lemon juice & confectioner's sugar glaze is really tasty.

  • Try not to think about what this does to your cholesterol levels.


01 July 2008

Required Listening

You know that bumper sticker that reads, "If you're not mad, you're not paying attention"? Well, pay attention to this Fresh Air interview with Seymour Hersh. I have yet to read the New Yorker article, as I've barely sorted my mail yet, but that's going on the required reading list, as well.

A Start

My legs are giving me fits and I need to try to get to sleep, but I've gotten the first few of my favorite photos from the past couple weeks uploaded to my Flickr photostream. David's attendants, Mike & Sue have also uploaded their photos from the wedding to Flickr, so you can mosey on over here to have a look as well. Mike got what I think is the best shot of the kilt hose, which you can see here.

I promise, there shall be more forthcoming.