Friday, March 30, 2012



Sleep...I get so little that when the chance comes around, I try to take it...

It started out as a bad day. Doug woke me up after I had only slept for two hours. I verbally assaulted him, although I don't remember half of what I said because I wasn't fully awake. My head was pounding, my body was throbbing, everything ached, and my eyes felt like they were burning in my sockets...I yelled, I screamed, I cried, and if I were awake enough, I might have thrown things. I'm not proud of myself, and I'm glad that Doug is very forgiving. I was exhausted, fatigued, and very stroppy.

We visited Doug's father at the hospital ICU, then had breakfast...I was so tired and upset that I had a nosebleed. I don't know if I was that upset, or if my blood pressure skyrocketed in my anger. Whatever the case, my body and my mind were just as mess!

Doug took me home. I changed into my pajamas, got into bed, but I was too tired to sleep. So I sent out a text asking for prayer for healing and rest. And I got what I asked for...


It was beautiful!

I turned the air conditioner on freeze out mode, turned up the fan, stretched out in bed, covered myself up in my snuggie, then topped that off with my sheet and comforter. I wrapped myself into a cocoon, even pulled the covers up over my face so that I saw nothing but dark...


The light pouring through the window didn't matter. The sound of the television started to fade, even the sound of the fan seemed farther away, somewhere in the distance where people were awake. Everything slowed and quieted for this moment. Peace enveloped me, as I slept safe in my cocoon, forming into a newer, stronger, happier me.


I had bits and pieces of dreams...nothing scary, because I was somewhere safe. I felt like the above picture, that I was laying in a hammock, the sun warming me, the sound of the water moving softly, suspended only by a tiny piece of mesh cloth, but I knew I wasn't going to fall.


Then, I felt like I was laying in the midst of a tree, surrounded by grass, dandelion fluff swirling around me in the wind. Again, there was a body of water beside me. Everything was green and beautiful. What a glorious place to be! I somehow knew it was a dream, but I didn't care.


As I woke up, I fully expected to be on a float in the body of water I kept seeing, not even caring how I got there. I wondered how I was going to get back to shore, but I decided that it didn't matter. I turned around...


...and woke up in my own bed. I looked at the clock on my mobile phone, my eyes no longer burning in their sockets, I made out a blurry, 4:00 p.m. underneath the date. It took me a while to become conscious. I slipped in and out again into the place by the water, too warm to remove the covers, suddenly feeling like someone had wrapped their arms around me, and was gently holding me in sleep.

Then, the fan became louder, and I heard the sound of people talking. I opened my eyes, and it was over.

I got sleep, and it was the best feeling in the world. Nothing can compare to it, the feeling of warmth and safety, and rejuvenation.

Medically speaking, your brain and body go through a period of repairing, restoring, and recharging. This is why after a neurological event such as a migraine or a seizure, or even a head injury, the body demands sleep. It powers itself down in order to recharge.

I feel like I've been running on empty for a while, fatigued, and exhausted.

I need to get more sleep...

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Under the Table and Dreaming...

Yes, I'm already dreaming about Fall...

Before I begin, I must apologize to Dave Matthews for using a song title as my blog title, but it describes exactly how I feel.

Anyway, I feel horrible, physically, mentally, emotionally.

Physically, everything hurts. Everything. Especially my head. It hurts so bad that by the time I got in the car to leave the hospital, (I'll get to that in a moment), my entire body was shaking and I was nauseated. Migraine or sinus headache? Perhaps both. Whatever the case may be, I am sick from the pain.

Mentally, I haven't written today, which means in fact that I haven't breathed today. I know that may sound ridiculous, but I'm serious when I say I eat, sleep, and breathe writing. I do. It's the first thing I think about when I wake up, and the last thing I think about when I go to bed. I sometimes even dream in words. I see them spell out before me. I feel what my characters are feeling, which should honestly be the other way around, but I get into this. I haven't breathed today, I haven't bled today. I write when I'm happy, sad, angry, ambivalent, when I feel bad about myself, when I feel good about myself, I write when I'm ugly, pretty, feeling fat, have eaten too much, have not eaten enough, when I'm sick, when I'm in pain, and when I'm hurting. Sometimes, I write about the things going on in my life. I put in 80+ hours per week writing! No joke.

Emotionally, I'm sad. I'm freaking sad and I'm not sure anyone sees it. I'm just freaking sad! "Shellye, are you sad?" "No. What gave you that idea?" But seriously, I AM SAD! There are lots of reasons why I'm sad, but the topic of the day is my father-in-law. I'm sad over what's going on with him, but not just him, the elderly in general.

My father-in-law has Lewy Body Dementia, and I've discussed this in great detail. And he had to go through another surgery, which I will get to later. I've seen him being shuffled around from room to room. I've seen him taken care of, but not really cared for. The fact of the matter is that he's a GOMER (Get Out of My Emergency Room). And the first thing ER doctors want to do is get rid of GOMERS. In their defense, 90% of the time, there is nothing they can do for the elderly. They treat their symptoms and send them back to their nursing homes, skilled rehabilitation facilities, assisted living facilities, or home with their son or daughter who is their sole caregiver. Once they return to these facilities, they are put back in their rooms. Nurse's Aids have, oh let's say about 50 patients, and one hour in which to check on each patient, and they've got to be quick about it. Lifting assistance is not taken into account. General assistance (washing, bathing, helping them comb their hair, feeding them, helping them dress) is not taken into account. Having to turn bed fast patients over is not taken into account. ONE Nurse's Aid has less than four minutes per patient, one. Read it. And do you know what happens as a result of this? The patients get a lesser quality of care. My mom described a nurse's aid feeding a patient as, "squirting pureed food into an old person's mouth," which is due to their high patient load and low amount of time the nurse's aid is able to spend with the patient. Does that sound enjoyable to you? Is this what America does with its elderly? My heart is broken. I AM SAD, just freaking flat out depressed over the thought of this. What the heck happened to compassion? What happened to nurse's aids having the time to sit and spoon feed a patient and interact with them? The nurse's aids at my maternal grandmother's facility were great! I saw them going into rooms, interacting with the patient and his or her family, feeding them, talking to them, even if they couldn't talk back! Now I hear horror stories of nurse's aids and nurses being openly prejudice to their elderly patients who lived a homosexual lifestyle, or being negligent because they either don't care or have no time. Listen, there is no room in medicine for prejudice. Medicine is not black, white, gay, straight, young, or old. When you go into the medical field, you take an oath to do no harm. It doesn't matter if the bully who picked on you in high school walks in that door with a gunshot wound, MEDICINE KNOWS NO PREJUDICE! Healing is not just for a select group. When Jesus healed the sick, he didn't say, "Sorry, can't heal you because you're a homosexual," he said, "BE MADE WHOLE!" (This was usually followed by, "Go and sin no more," but that's not the point I'm trying to make right now, but I wanted it to be said.) Back to medicine, there is an oath involved to do no harm. DO NO HARM. That means DO NOT HARM!!! I think negligence or lack of quality in care is just as harmful as blatant abuse of a patient. It's the same thing. You can't tell me there's a difference. I want to be a doctor with all of my heart, and even if I don't make it, I'm going to be able to say I tried. Even if my OCD stops me, I will do everything I can from a non medical standpoint. I will speak out against this. I will do something to change it. This is where my heart is. Someone needs to stand up and fight for those who can't fight for themselves, like my father-in-law.

My father-in-law had surgery today. He had another bowel blockage, which may have caused kidney failure, (they say "near kidney failure" because his kidney function is dangerously low). Let me back up a bit. Last week, my father-in-law was taken to the hospital via ambulance due to abdominal pain. They admitted him for observation. He started regurgitating without explanation. They put in an NG tube, said his bowels and kidneys weren't working, and waited several days before deciding to do surgery. His belly bloated. The IV fluids weren't helping because they were all going to his stomach, but not exiting the body. My father-in-law somehow keeps getting his NG tube messed up, coiled, or out because he hates it. I know he does. I swear that the man is pulling it out on his own! And now that his hands are restrained, he is using his stomach muscles and his throat muscles to move the thing around and will it out of his body! They've had to replace it three or four times! The good news is that they do keep checking it to see what he's done with it this time. *lol* I feel bad for him, but it's funny how he's been able to get it out while his hands have been restrained! We were told they would probably have to place another one. Poor guy. He hates those things.

My father-in-law is in the ICU on a ventilator with his hands restrained so he doesn't pull it out. He was calm. He opened his eyes. He kept trying to talk to us. Doug and my mother-in-law (mnl) warned me about going back there. Fortunately, I was able to remain vertical instead of ending up horizontal. They let all three of us back there, which the sign said two only. So my mnl came back a few minutes later. I was fine until I saw this chart that the patient points to in order to communicate. My father-in-law has Lewy Body Dementia. He barely knows us. His speech was unintelligible the last time we visited. I don't understand how he's going to be able to speak for himself. When he looks at that chart, he could see anything but what's on that chart. He may tell them the chart is written in a foreign language he can't understand. How's he going to speak for himself? How is he going to tell them what he needs? How? Because I don't get it! And as I looked at that chart, I started crying. I made some excuse for Doug and I to leave the room because I didn't want to cry in front of my mnl. She often mirrors my mood, and I'm supposed to be strong for her. If she saw me fall apart, she may have fallen apart. So Doug and I went out into the lobby and I cried. I just couldn't help myself. This whole situation just sucks! It totally freaking sucks!!! And my hands are tied. I can't do a thing to help him. None of us can even stay in the room the whole time because of the odd hours at the ICU. It's a half hour to visit your loved one every three hours. I'm worried that he is going to freak out once the vent and the restraints are taken away, and none of us can stay there with him.

Why am I under the table and dreaming?
Because my dreams are big, and somewhat intimidating.
Because I need to escape from reality every once in a while.
Because my life really sucks right now and I can't deal with it.

Because all of the above...

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Spring Has Sprung

Pinned Image
(There's no "I" in spring...oh wait...)

This post will be more than likely shorter than the norm because inspiration is calling me to return to my book!

Spring has sprung! Can you believe it? And they say the groundhog saw his shadow. My question is how do they even know "he" saw it? Sure, we can look at it, but the groundhog cannot tell us if he indeed saw his shadow, can he? Am I right? Why do they even remove the poor guy from his den while he's trying to sleep in after a rough night? What if he has to get up for work the next morning? Do they care about that? No, they do not. I feel sorry for him...but I digress.

The weather is 75 degrees and will be in that particular range for the remainder of the week, getting up to an entire 78 degrees on Sunday. I'm okay with it, and the good news is that not all of the trees are budding simultaneously, which means hay fever has not been a problem just yet. The inevitable will happen, but I'm glad I'm able to enjoy it for now.

Pinned Image

We have daffodils growing in our yard, and while they're lovely, the tulip is my favorite. I wish we had some tulips growing in our yard. I don't care what color. Did I mention how lovely they are? *LOL* I think I've gone mad due to this warm weather. I usually abhor spring. I have often referred to spring as a cruel and heartless witch that lures you in with her beauty, then throws pollen or snow at you at random times. But not this year. This year, I'm daydreaming of planting a fruit and vegetable garden in the backyard of our cottage, flowers in the flower box along the side of the front porch, grilling out every single day, dancing in the sun, laying on the swing with a good book and a cold glass of lemonade, and I HATE lemonade! Like I said, I think I've gone mad!

Anyway, I've talked way too much about spring! Let's get on with the updates.

(This picture made me laugh until I cried!)

Remember my minor surgery that I vaguely described in a previous blog? They did a biopsy on what was removed during the procedure, and everything looks fine! I was so relieved! So now, it's on to the next two issues...the mass on my back and the mass under my eye. *sighs* One down, two to go...

But anyway, I'll give you a quick update on my book...

(That's a quote and a half!)

This week is the last week I am doing any new writing. I will be transferring work from my computer to this computer and start compiling it into the first book of the series. The question is do I start at the very beginning, or do I start right after the beginning and then use the very beginning as an excuse to release a prequel that was supposed to come first to begin with? Guys, I've got my work cut out for me...


My nephew, Pauly, turned one today (now yesterday since I got it posted late). Please say a prayer for Pauly and his mom and dad. Today is also my cousin, Heather's birthday! And Pi Day. Pi pi pi pi. Happy Birthday to you both, and Happy Pi day. 3.14

And by the way, after driving around in 75 degree weather with no air conditioning and experiencing heat exhaustion, I've come to my senses and realized how much I hate spring. Fall never seems to come soon enough...

(I miss the leaves crunching under my feet...)

Here's a thought, perhaps I'm just "out of season" so to speak. I should have been born in October.

Anyway, back to my book. Today is the last day I work on any new writing, so I'm going to enjoy it immensely! I will leave you with some funny quotes about writers!




(Sorry to break it to you, but no, it's not about you!)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

When It Rains, It Pours...

Pinned Image
I do love this picture...

The last two days have been...interesting. For starters, our electric got shut off on Wednesday, which shocked us both because we had it switched over in February. We owed a past due amount, and our request was denied, but we weren't told it was denied, so the shut off came as a shock. Thankfully, we were able to make the payment yesterday and get it turned back on today.

If that isn't bad enough, the gas was shut off yesterday morning. We couldn't get the gas switched over but that was the gas company's fault. They have implemented stricter rules about getting service switched over. They informed us that we had to send in a notarized statement from our landlady stating that we are new tenants and not the former tenants. When Doug asked why, the gas company representative informed us that the previous tenant never paid their gas bill. It amazes me that we're the ones getting punished for it, and our landlady has to be dragged into it, but still, we made plans to get this accomplished today.

So the gas got turned off. The man who came to turn it off yelled at Doug for not paying the gas bill. Doug tried to explain to the man that it wasn't even our gas bill, that he gets paid tomorrow and was going to do what the company instructed and have it switched over then, but the man was a real jerk and continued to yell about how we're keeping his family from eating, then he turned it off and left. I don't really care about the gas because we have an electric stove, and we can heat up water to shower/bathe if we have to. That's no big deal. We've been there and done that before. What upset me was how the man acted. They kept insisting we were the ones who didn't pay our gas bill, and acted like Doug was lying. As the man could plainly see, Doug is NOT the same name as the name on the gas bill, not even the same last name, and secondly, Doug is not a female, but I guess we were lying anyway. *lol* I still don't get how we were keeping his family from eating while he yelled at us before we could get a word in edgewise. We weren't telling him he couldn't turn it off, it wasn't even our gas service! *shrugs*

Doug called the gas company today to see how much the deposit would be to get it switched over, and if the notarized letter was still required. Everything seemed like it was a go, but then they tried to tell us we had a past due bill of $1000.00! First of all, we've had the gas shut off before, and they don't wait for you to rack up bills that high. They shut us off at $200.00 last year because they couldn't wait two days until Doug got paid. Secondly, they said it was a bill from 2009 for an old address, a place we only lived at for one month during 2009, so now we have to prove that we didn't live there past January of 2009. And thirdly, even if we did not pay the gas bill in January of 2009, the bill could not have reached $1000.00. My fourth and final point, they let us switch it over to the apartment we just moved from to here. So, if we incurred a bill that high, why didn't they make us aware of any past due amount at that time? Case in point, an investigation is going to be conducted because there's no possible way that we owe $1000.00 to the gas company. We've lived without gas service before, and while it was inconvenient, we can get through it again until we figure out what can be done to prove that it's not our past due bill. *sighs* Craziness.

I lost two days worth of work on my book. I eat, sleep, and breathe writing. I felt like my life was over because I couldn't write!

Pinned Image

When I don't have any electric, I can't write. When I can't write, I think, and when I think, I worry, and when I worry, it's a vicious cycle because I have OCD, which is why I can spend countless hours of research for my book perfecting every letter, every word, every sentence. And when I can't manage my OCD, I panic. Don't get OCD. Go to DirecTV. Sorry, I couldn't resist. I also have ADD if you can't tell. *sighs*

Pinned Image
How I feel about my book series!

I was experiencing some intense nausea on Wednesday afternoon, after having a late lunch. I went to church that evening, and despite feeling lousy, I enjoyed the service. Then, I picked Doug up from school. Since we had no electric, we hit the McDonald's across from ITT so I could get online. I felt horrible, but I knew I had to eat something, so I grabbed a coke and a couple of apple pies. I took one drink of the coke and my stomach started rolling. I wasn't sure if I was going to be okay, but I took a bite of the apple pie, and suddenly, I was okay. It was really strange. I posted something about it on Facebook yesterday, and got some funny responses. One of my friends asked, "Do you think it's made with real apples?" Doug jokingly said that the secret ingredient must be Pepto Bismol, and he kept calling it "Pepto Pie". *LOL* I don't care what was in it, all I cared about was that it worked!!! *lol* I HATE being nauseated! So when I felt nauseated yesterday afternoon, the first thing I did was go to McDonald's and get an apple pie, and I was fine once I ate it. Whatever was going on is better today. I don't know. Just glad I'm feeling better.

Not much going on at this point at the cozy cottage. Despite the mess we've been through the past few days, I love it here! It's so peaceful and happy, and inspiring! I'm stretched out on the bed with my boy kitty laying beside me, and my girl kitty sleeping around my feet. I'm about to bust a mad slizzice in my book. So glad to be able to get some work done! I can't live without writing. (Of course, I can't write without living, but that's another story for another time.)

And my book series... *LOL* True story!

This quote made me giggle!

I wish I owned a typewriter...although I would end up typing, "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy," repeatedly while giggling.

I guess even fiction writers bleed a little of their lives through their characters. All of my characters reflect some of my attributes, and possess attributes that I wish I had.

Anyway, hope everyone is having a good day day, and if I don't post anything this weekend, you know where I'll be and what I'll be doing!


Let's hope it doesn't rain as much as it has in the last two days!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Goodbye February, Hello March!


I was so glad to see February go. It was the worst month of 2012, for me anyway. I hope everyone else had a better February than I did! For those who are just in, let's recap February. We moved from our spacious, modern apartment to a cottage. Doug and I both got really sick. We celebrated our eleventh wedding anniversary. Doug finally got better, but I spent the entire month sick. But wait, there's more...

Let's back up a bit. There are a few other health issues going on in my life right now that I had not planned on posting. (I never post anything until I tell my mother, *lol* so she won't read it and be like, "OMG, why didn't you tell me?") In January, right before we moved, I found a mass in my back, on the lower left side. At first, I was upset, but we were in the middle of packing and moving, so I didn't really say or do much about it. Once the move was over, I called and made an appointment. I thought it was a hormone secreting tumor because there were other issues that happened to coincide with this mass.

I have also been having a lot of eye problems. Right after we moved, I was drying my hair and noticed that I have a mass under my left eye. It was about the size of a pellet from a BB gun, but now, it has increased in size. It hasn't affected my vision any, which is good, I think. I haven't gotten in with anyone yet, but I plan on taking care of it as soon as possible.

So February was pretty lousy. We were both sick on our eleventh anniversary, but we went out to lunch anyway. Doug didn't want the day to go by without us doing anything. We did have a nice lunch. Then, we spent the rest of the evening sleeping on the couch while attempting to watch television. Like I said, the eleventh anniversary is illness. Anyway, Doug is completely recovered. Unfortunately for me, I was sick the entire month of February, and I can't seem to shake this illness, although today I felt better than I have since before we moved. I hope I'm finally on the mend now.

If being sick isn't bad enough, I ended up having to undergo a minor procedure. But before I continue...

The following blog has not been rated and contains humorous content, and a vague description of a minor surgery. Viewer discretion is advised.
Pinned Image

On February 23rd, I went to my appointment to get the mass in my back checked out, and the doctor wanted to look at some other things too. The appointment was at 2:30 p.m., and I get there fifteen minutes early. I thought I was bad because I was ahead of schedule, but I didn't count on the fact that doctors have their own time zone. At three o'clock, they give me a whole bunch of papers to fill out, which is what I thought they would do when I got there fifteen minutes early, but that's not how it worked out. I was sick, tired, hungry, and rather impatient at that point, but I filled the paperwork out and took it back to the desk. As soon as I went to the loo to blow my nose, they called me back. Figures. Should have done that sooner! *lol* I get back into the room at 3:30, but the doctor doesn't see me until four. He wanted to do some other tests after I explained my symptoms, which was fine. That's what I was there for. Little did I know, I was going to have a minor procedure. Now before I begin my story, I am not going to explain the minor procedure in great detail. If you would like to know what happened, you can email me here.

I was in a room, sort of like this one.

But, the room I was in was stark white, and more brightly lit, and when they laid me down for the procedure, the sun was in my eyes. Of course, at that time, the blinding sun didn't matter.

The doctor did some tests and discovered this:


Well, not exactly...but the picture made me giggle! The doctor actually discovered another thing that had appeared out of nowhere and was wreaking havoc on my body.

So they discover this issue, and instead of sending Doug out of the room, the doctor said, "Go stand over there with her and hold her hand." I was glad he let Doug stay, but it also scared me when he told him to go hold my hand. The first thing that ran through my mind was that this must have be serious.

Pinned Image
(I LOVE this picture!)

Then, the doctor said, "I need a clamp." I asked, "What is going on?" Then, the doctor explained to me that he found what he suspected, and then he had the audacity to tell me not to worry. When you go to the doctor, and they tell you they're going to remove something from your body and send it off to a lab to be tested, and they tell you not to worry, well, that's a superfluous request because you're going to worry! I'm laying on the table, holding back tears. Then, the nurse brings in the clamp. As soon as I saw it, I said, "Please, I need a minute, I'm going to faint." And the doctor, who I dearly love, I mean, he's great, no joke, said, "That's okay, because you're already laying down." Everyone thought that was funny but me. (It's funny now, but it wasn't at the time.) I laughed nervously, but that didn't keep me from crying.

Pinned Image

The doctor assured me that I wasn't going to feel any pain, just pressure, but what I failed to mention to him was that I am like the princess in the story of The Princess and the Pea. I am so sensitive to anything having to do with my body. I can't take prescription medicine because I have a hyperchemical sensitivity to everything, which means that I have had an allergic reaction to almost every medication I have taken. I can barely take a Tylenol without having a reaction to it! My list of drug allergies could fill a book, not to mention that I have had allergic reactions to foods and lotions. Last Sunday, I put some Jergen's Ultra Healing lotion on my hands, and within seconds, my hands broke out in hives! I've also had certain foods that have caused my lips to swell up, but I can't pinpoint what those foods are, except for one. If I eat seeds from any pepper, even a bell pepper, my lips swell up. I can eat the pepper itself all day, but one seed, and my lips are like Angelina Jolie's for a little while. I won a lottery that I didn't know I was even playing. So even though the doctor promised me it wouldn't hurt, IT HURT!

Pinned Image

The procedure was over in fifteen minutes, but I had to lay down for an hour and a half before I could get up to leave. My favorite nurse brought me some cold cloths and a glass of water, and they didn't try to hurry me out of there. I had to regain composure before I could talk with the doctor though. It was weird because I could feel myself slipping away, kind of like I was going to faint, so I kept talking to Doug to keep myself from slipping into unconsciousness. He stood there and kept holding my hand.

Pinned Image

Doug adjusted the table for me so I could sit up for a little bit and drink the water. I tried to stand up about ten minutes later, and was successful, but I needed that extra time to be certain I wouldn't faint or get sick on the way to the car. The nurse brought the doctor back in to check on me. I asked him some questions, but I was still in an altered state of consciousness, so I forgot to ask him two really important questions. I did inquire about what to expect post procedure, which was the usual stuff, bleeding, nausea, vomiting, and pain. Thankfully I never experienced nausea or vomiting, just pain mostly.

Unfortunately, my minor procedure made Doug late for work. We tried contacting a few people to see if someone could stay with me, but everyone had plans, and Doug didn't feel comfortable with the thought of leaving me to begin with, so he called in, and a half hour later, I decided I was ready to go home. I thanked my favorite nurse who took such good care of me, then Doug took me out to the car, and we headed toward home. Doug was hungry, so we stopped by Arby's, then Wendy's because I wanted a salad. I was really hungry, which was surprising. I ended up eating an entire container of loaded potato bites on the way home. I had Doug put my salad away, and I ate several onion rings that he had purchased at Arby's, and went to bed. I slept off and on until almost ten o'clock that night, and I was still hungry when I woke up! *lol* So I ate my salad and watched television. I ended up sleeping on the couch until Doug took me to bed when he was ready to go for the night.

I essentially spent the remainder of February in bed, but the good news is that in the last two weeks, I accomplished a massive amount of writing. I also found out this past Saturday that my friend, who also happens to be my editor, is ready for me to start sending pieces. My goal is to have the first book published by October 2013. Now it's full speed ahead. I'm ready and excited, but I also understand that I'm facing a very large amount of time consuming work because now, it's all about perfecting the first book of the series; editing, cutting content, adding content, changing things, and embracing the changes that need to be made. I have my work cut out for me...but I'm up for the challenge. The problem is that I'm such a perfectionist and I will second guess the heck out of the content I decide to publish. *sighs* I have faith in my friend/editor.

Despite the fact that February was a bad month, Doug and I made it to eleven years, and despite illness, I got some writing accomplished. (For me, a day without writing is like a day without breathing.) March is still in the making, so here's to hoping for an awesome month of the birth of colorful tulips, wearing floppies, and soaking up the warmth of the sun!


Hope everyone has a great month!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Top Ten Bizarre Illnesses

Before starting on the list, I should point out – these are all authentic medical ailments.

Does this make you feel sick?

1. Art Attack (Stendhal Syndrome): Dr Graziella Magherini, author of The Stendhal Syndrome, has studied more than 100 tourists in Florence, Italy, who became ill in the presence of great works of art. The symptoms include heart palpitations, dizziness, and stomach pains. The typical sufferer is between the ages of 26 and 40 who rarely leaves home..Dr Magherini believes the syndrome is a result of jet lag, travel stress, and the shock of an overwhelming sense of the past. She says: “Very often there’s the anguish of death.’ The disorder is named after a nineteenth-century French novelist who was overwhelmed by the frescoes in Florence’s Santa Croce Church. Particularly upsetting works of art are: Michaelangelo’s statue of David, Caravaggio’s painting of Bacchus, and the concentric circles of the Duomo cupola. You can read a much more indepth article on Stendhal Syndrome here.

Exercise Caution...

2. Hula-hoop Intestine: On February 26, 1992, Beijing worker Xu Denghai was hospitalised with a twisted intestine after playing excessively with a hula-hoop. His was the third case in the several weeks since a hula-hoop craze had swept China. The Beijing evening news advised people to warm up before playing, and to avoid hula-hooping straight after eating. [I cannot verify this story]

Not just for bunnies...

3. Carrot Addiction: In 1992, the British Journal of Addiction described three unusual cases of carrot dependence. One 40 year old man had replaced cigarettes with carrots. He ate as many as five bunches a day and thought about them obsessively. According to two Czech psychiatrists, when carrots were withdrawn, he and the other patients lapsed into heightened irritability. American Government site relating a case of carrot addiction and its treatment.


4. Cutlery Craving: The desire to eat metal objects is comparatively common. Occasionally there is an extreme case, such as that of 47 year old Englishman Allison Johnson. An alcoholic burglar with a compulsion to eat silverware, Johnson has had 30 operations to remove strange things from his stomach. In 1992, he had eight forks and the metal sections of a mop head lodged in his body. He has been repeatedly jailed and then released, each time going immediately to a restaurant and ordering lavishly. Unable to pay, he would then tell the owner to call the police, and eat cutlery until they arrived. Johnson’s lawyer said of his client, ‘He finds it hard to eat and obviously has difficulty going to the lavatory.” BBC article with photographs illustrating the mental disorder that leads people to eat metal.

Help, my hand is out to get me!

5. Dr Strangelove Syndrome: Officially known as Alien Hand Syndrome, this bizarre neurological illness affects thousands of people. It is caused by damage to certain parts of the brain, and causes one of a person’s hands to act independently of the other and of its owner’s wishes. For example, the misbehaving hand may do the opposite of what the normal one is doing: if a person is trying to button a shirt with one hand, the other will follow along and undo the buttons. If one hand pulls up trousers, the other will pull them down. Sometimes the hand may become aggressive – pinching, slapping, or punching the patient. In at least one case, it tried to strangle its owner. Says neurologist Rachelle Doody, ‘Often a patient will sit on the hand, but eventually it gets loose and starts doing everything again.” Wikipedia article on this mental disorder.

This is the only pic you're getting!

6. Mud Wrestlers Rash (Palastaie Limosae): Twenty-four men and women wrestled in calf-deep mud at the University of Washington. Within 36 hours, 7 wrestlers were covered with patches of pus-filled red bumps similar to pimples, and the rest succumbed later. Bumps were on areas of the skin not covered by bathing-suits – one unlucky wrestler had wrestled in the nude. The dermatitis palastaie limosae, or “muddy wrestling rash”, may have been caused by manure-tainted mud. The Journal of the American Medical Association article on a study and results about this disease.

Don't get too close...

7. Electric People: According to British paranormalist Hilary Evans, some people are ‘upright human [electric] eels, capable of generating charges strong enough to knock out streetlights and electronic equipment.” Cases of electric people date back to 1786, the most famous of which is that of 14 year old Angelique Cottin, whose presence caused compass needles to gyrate wildly. To further investigate this phenomenon, Evans founded SLIDE, the Street Lamp Interference Data Exchange. Wikipedia article on this unusual phenomenon.

Is her voice really that annoying?

8. Mary Hart Epilepsy: The case of Dianne Neale, 49, appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine. In the much-publicised 1991 event, Neale apparently suffered epileptic seizures at hearing the voice of Entertainment Tonight co-host Mary Hart. Neale experienced an upset stomach, a sense of pressure in her head, and confusion. Laboratory tests confirmed the abnormal electrical discharges in her brain, and Neale had a press conference to insist that she was not crazy. She said she bore no hard feelings toward Hart, who apologised on the air for the situation. Report on the case as well as a similar case involving Pokemon. Neil suffered a temporal lobe seizure.

I'm sorry, what were you saying?

9. Foreign Accent Syndrome: There are about 50 recorded cases of Foreign Accent Syndrome, in which people who have suffered strokes or other injuries adopt a new accent. For example, Tiffany Roberts of Florida suffered a stroke and then began speaking with an English accent. She even adopted such Anglicisms as ‘bloody’ and ‘loo’. Ms Roberts had never been to Great Britain, and was not a fan of British television shows.Perhaps the oddest case concerned a Norwegian woman who had fallen into a coma after being hit by shrapnel during an air raid in 1941. When she woke up, she spoke with a thick German accent. She was then ostracised by her neighbours. Wikipedia article on Foreign Accent Syndrome.

That's just weird...

10. Uncombable Hair Syndrome: Also known as hair-felting, this condition causes hair to form a tangled mass. In a case reported in 1993, a 39 year old woman’s hair fell out and was replaced by dry, coarse, curly hair which was so tangled that it was impossible to comb. It lacked knots, kinks, or twists that would explain the tangling. The hairs themselves were strangely shaped: the cross-sections were triangular, grooved, or shaped like kidneys instead of circular.The unusual solution to the condition is to cut off the solidified mass of hair. In one case, a woman from Indiana wanted to keep her hair, having spent 24 years growing it. After two and a half months of lubricating her hair with olive oil and separating the strands with knitting needles, her hair returned to normal. US government medical site on this disorder and the DermAtlas photos.

Source: The Book of Lists

(I added the photos and captions!)

Top Ten Myths About the Brain.

Top Ten Myths About the Brain

When it comes to this complex, mysterious, fascinating organ, what do—and don’t—we know?

By Laura Helmuth

1. We use only 10 percent of our brains.
This one sounds so compelling—a precise number, repeated in pop culture for a century, implying that we have huge reserves of untapped mental powers. But the supposedly unused 90 percent of the brain is not some vestigial appendix. Brains are expensive—it takes a lot of energy to build brains during fetal and childhood development and maintain them in adults. Evolutionarily, it would make no sense to carry around surplus brain tissue. Experiments using PET or fMRI scans show that much of the brain is engaged even during simple tasks, and injury to even a small bit of brain can have profound consequences for language, sensory perception, movement or emotion.

2. “Flashbulb memories” are precise, detailed and persistent.
We all have memories that feel as vivid and accurate as a snapshot, usually of some shocking, dramatic event—the assassination of President Kennedy, the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger, the attacks of September 11, 2001. People remember exactly where they were, what they were doing, who they were with, what they saw or heard. But several clever experiments have tested people’s memory immediately after a tragedy and again several months or years later.

3. It’s all downhill after 40 (or 50 or 60 or 70).
It’s true, some cognitive skills do decline as you get older. Children are better at learning new languages than adults—and never play a game of concentration against a 10-year-old unless you’re prepared to be humiliated. Young adults are faster than older adults to judge whether two objects are the same or different; they can more easily memorize a list of random words, and they are faster to count backward by sevens.

But plenty of mental skills improve with age. Vocabulary, for instance—older people know more words and understand subtle linguistic distinctions. Given a biographical sketch of a stranger, they’re better judges of character. They score higher on tests of social wisdom, such as how to settle a conflict. And people get better and better over time at regulating their own emotions and finding meaning in their lives.

4. We have five senses.
Sure, sight, smell, hearing, taste and touch are the big ones. But we have many other ways of sensing the world and our place in it. Proprioception is a sense of how our bodies are positioned. Nociception is a sense of pain. We also have a sense of balance—the inner ear is to this sense as the eye is to vision—as well as a sense of body temperature, acceleration and the passage of time.

5. Brains are like computers.
We speak of the brain’s processing speed, its storage capacity, its parallel circuits, inputs and outputs. The metaphor fails at pretty much every level: the brain doesn’t have a set memory capacity that is waiting to be filled up; it doesn’t perform computations in the way a computer does; and even basic visual perception isn’t a passive receiving of inputs because we actively interpret, anticipate and pay attention to different elements of the visual world.

6. The brain is hard-wired.
This is one of the most enduring legacies of the old “brains are electrical circuits” metaphor.

But one of the biggest discoveries in neuroscience in the past few decades is that the brain is remarkably plastic. In blind people, parts of the brain that normally process sight are instead devoted to hearing. Someone practicing a new skill, like learning to play the violin, “rewires” parts of the brain that are responsible for fine motor control. People with brain injuries can recruit other parts of the brain to compensate for the lost tissue.

7. A conk on the head can cause amnesia.
Next to babies switched at birth, this is a favorite trope of soap operas: Someone is in a tragic accident and wakes up in the hospital unable to recognize loved ones or remember his or her own name or history. (The only cure for this form of amnesia, of course, is another conk on the head.)

8. We know what will make us happy.
In some cases we haven’t a clue. We routinely overestimate how happy something will make us, whether it’s a birthday, free pizza, a new car, a victory for our favorite sports team or political candidate, winning the lottery or raising children. Money does make people happier, but only to a point—poor people are less happy than the middle class, but the middle class are just as happy as the rich. We overestimate the pleasures of solitude and leisure and underestimate how much happiness we get from social relationships.

9. We see the world as it is.
We are not passive recipients of external information that enters our brain through our sensory organs. Instead, we actively search for patterns (like a Dalmatian dog that suddenly appears in a field of black and white dots), turn ambiguous scenes into ones that fit our expectations (it’s a vase; it’s a face) and completely miss details we aren’t expecting. In one famous psychology experiment, about half of all viewers told to count the number of times a group of people pass a basketball do not notice that a guy in a gorilla suit is hulking around among the ball-throwers.

10. Men are from Mars, women are from Venus.
Some of the sloppiest, shoddiest, most biased, least reproducible, worst designed and most overinterpreted research in the history of sciencepurports to provide biological explanations for differences between men and women. Eminent neuroscientists once claimed that head size, spinal ganglia or brain stem structures were responsible for women’s inability to think creatively, vote logically or practice medicine. Today the theories are a bit more sophisticated: men supposedly have more specialized brain hemispheres, women more elaborate emotion circuits. Though there are some differences (minor and uncorrelated with any particular ability) between male and female brains, the main problem with looking for correlations with behavior is that sex differences in cognition are massively exaggerated.