Monthly Archives: April 2012

Medical Sleep Deprivation and Oxy Worries

I had my EEG this morning, which was less interesting than I had hoped. It was a sleep deprived EEG to investigate my central apnea (where my brain ceases to notice CO2 buildup and thus stops sending the signal to breathe) and other neurological problems stemming from either my genetic disorder or the treatment thereof. I had to stay up for twenty-four hours beforehand, which I managed to do in part by following Caitlin’s advice of setting hourly alarms just in case I dozed off (which I admit may have saved twenty minutes of sleep from turning into five hours of sleep). For those wondering about my heart, the test was only thirty minutes long with all of it directed (ie. do this, don’t do that), and didn’t involve an ECG hookup, so there was no opportunity for the experiment anyway.

Ignoring the apnea in which my breathing can stop for up to five minutes at a time, my normal breathing rate is three or four breaths per minute, which I have read is actually a very healthy rate and allows your body to survive about eight minute pauses in breathing without major issues (not that you ever want an eight minute pause in breathing!!!). The old woman administering the test at one point asked me to breath normally and indicated her idea of “normal” by loudly breathing and expecting me to synchronize with that. I don’t know if she was unhealthy or something, but she was deeply breathing a solid twenty times a minute! She kept saying “breathe faster! breathe faster!” and I was like, “I’m going to get light headed, you’re making me hyperventilate here!”… That’s why when I got home I did some reading on normal rates, as she got me worried that I was starving myself of oxygen or something, but it seems to me that my rate of breathing is perfectly fine for a resting person. Luckily she is not the doctor interpreting the EEG. I guess I will know the results within a month or so.

Speaking of medical stuff, I am extremely upset at Ontario’s decision to take Oxycodone/Oxycontin off the shelves!!! I am not on that particular pain medication, but I have been in the past, and it was a literal lifesaver, and was the best tool that my doctor had to keep me from choosing to off myself from the pain (and I am not exaggerating in any way, and I have read similar statements in pain forums online). The fact that the medical system is more concerned with the criminal abuse of misdirected medication than with getting medication into the hands of patients that desperately need it is backwards and cruel to say nothing of ineffective.

The reality is that in many markets heroin is cheaper and more readily available than Oxys. Because I spent a year dramatically underprescribed before my diagnosis set in stone the fact that I was in tremendous physical pain, I am well aquainted with self-medication and the black market for opiates. This is no secret to my doctors, so I am not afraid or ashamed to write it publicly — I consider it a shortcoming in the medical system, not in myself. In any case, when it comes to recreational users and addicts, if you reduce the supply of oxycontin, all you do is shift these people over to heroin. So you have just as many drug addicts, but you connect them more deeply to the international drug world. In addition, you shift people from a pharmaceutically manufactured drug where they know the exact quantity to a street drug of unpredictable safety, quality, and strength, thereby increasing overdoses and other health complications. Also, Oxycodone has been carefully engineered to be highly effective orally. There is limited improvement from injecting it or even snorting it (it’s mostly a habit or psychosomatic difference). Heroin on the other hand is not particularly effective orally and should be smoked or injected. So you’re also changing users from pill-poppers into injection drug users, with all the problems that come with that, from the simple damage of repeated injections and potential infections on up to shared needle risks such as hepatitis and AIDS. Finally, for those that choose to stick with oxy (and you can bet that there will be increased importation, which also strengthens the criminal world), costs will rise, which increases the financial damage to the users which harms their lives and causes them to commit crimes such as theft at an increased rate. So when you look at the effect oxycontin supply limitation will have on the criminal aspect, it’s a deeply negative one.

But let’s look at who is really hurt — genuine patients. Oxycontin is popular because it works. For most people it is the most effective medication for pain relief in pill form on the market. Barring overdose (which will not happen if used responsibly), it is extremely safe with far less side-effects than most other pain medications. I definitely concede that abuse can lead to addition — that’s a genuine problem — but the fact is that it’s very effective, inexpensive, and safe. Taking this away from people who need it is profoundly cruel. People who are in the amount of pain that necessitates this medication are in living hell. Often this is the only thing that keeps them alive. I’ve read that people on this medication are either being taken off it completely or being moved to buprenorphine formulations, which is a drug used to ween people off opiates that also has some pain relief side-effects. It is however far, far, far less effective, and perhaps more importantly, it is also much more expensive — potentially changing a bill from a hundreds of dollars a month to thousands of dollars a month. This makes me wonder what role the pharmaceutical lobby has played in this decision. And of course the drug can be abused as well, although with greater risk. If I was still on oxy and it was my only effective option (I’m on a different course of treatment), and this happened to me, I think I would strongly consider going to the College of Physicians or whoever made this decision and burning myself to death with gasoline on their doorstep in protest. I have heard similar musings in pain forums online. That’s how much this matters to patients — it is a life-or-death issue, and it seems to me that this ill-conceived decision has no good effect on either the criminal element or on legitimate pain patients. It’s cruel, ineffective, and harmful, with the emphasis being on cruel.

And all this is to say nothing of the fact that both smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol are statistically far, far, far more devastating to our society than the abuse of prescription opiates.

I have to wonder who the uncaring moralistic monster is that made this happen is and what short-sighted reasoning made it happen. It’s heart-breaking that there are so few people out there advocating for pain patients, who are often not in a position to be able to do so themselves as they struggle to just get out of bed.

Sales and Emergency Fighters

First — getting tattooed all day today and then headed off to the airport to pick up Nefarious, so I probably won’t have time to post much over the next week. To celebrate my great week I’m going to run a sale on my Etsy shop but please understand that I won’t be shipping until the 17th (I’m at the hospital on the 16th getting my EEG done). The code is “EASTERBREAK” and it gets you one third off everything in the shop (ie. 33%). I’ll run it until 15th or 16th. I’ve put some old stuff back in stock as well such as some of the old zombie ring designs that I’d let expire.


You know, you never want a war to go on a day longer than it has to, but I have to admit that I have a real weakness for the “Luftwaffe 1946″ crowd. In 1944 when it was clear that Germany was in dire shape and running out of resources, they instituted various “Emergency Fighter” programs, to say nothing of the Amerika Bomber projects (various planes capable of bombing New York and industrial targets in North America) or the Nazi and Japanese nuclear bomb projects for which there is some proof that they detonated test bombs long before the Americans. There’s good evidence that the biggest reason that Hitler never got his hands on a nuke was that the German scientists in charge of developing it simply didn’t feel ethically comfortable with the project and willfully stalled it — and of course the Americans only managed to detonate Trinity with the help of German nuclear data smuggled out as part of Project Paperclip. Who knows what would have happened — on so many fronts, not just this one — if Project Valkyrie or one of many attempts to kill Hitler had succeeded. After all, it would not have ended the war, killing Hitler… it would only have succeeded in putting a more competent and less deranged leader in place. Things might have gone very differently. Of course we can always play those “what if” games — might make more sense to play them with Stalin, who with his murdering of anyone that he thought threatened him with the competence crippled the Soviet Union. If they actually had a reasonable leader, where would communism be today?

Anyway, Emergency Fighters though is where I began. An Emergency Fighter is a plane developed late in the war effort when resources are tight. They are designed to be fast to built using available inexpensive supplies, and if possible, fuel. Also, they need to be competitive, and if possible an improvement. One of my favorites is the totally bizarre looking Lippisch P.13a. Here’s a picture:

They also had a second larger version, the P.13b, which was a little prettier or at least less bizarre, although only marginally (this is a picture of a model kit):

Both of these planes were being prototyped right as the war ended. The first one (the triangular one) we know flew glider tests, but we have no evidence to suggest that the prototype itself was tested, although it was shipped to the US where the military tested it extensively, and showed that it worked and was aerodynamically stable at supersonic speeds. The second larger plane has a blurrier history, with no physical plane that I know of well documented, but plenty of written records as to its test history being successful. So I don’t know if that means it turned into a black project for the US, or if it disappeared into Russia. You can read a little more on Lippish’s work on this German page, translated by Google.

Anyway, the planes are interesting as Emergency Fighters because they were not just incredible aircraft capable of speeds as high as MACH SIX in various forms, but also because of how they were powered. A normal jet engine works by using a series of compressor fans to compress air which then has fuel added to it and is detonated, causing it to shoot out of the back of the engine with even more force. If you understand how a car’s internal combustion engine works (detonate fuel and air under pressure to generate force), it’s pretty much the same concept. However, the problem with jet engines — hell, with just about any engine — is that there are lots of parts and they’re tricky and expensive to built and require skilled and educated workers. These planes however used a very different design — a ramjet. A ramjet is so much simpler because it is a jet engine with no moving parts. The only caveat is that a ramjet can only be turned on after you’ve reached a high enough airspeed. The design of the engine is such that air is forced into a the engine and the speed of the air moving in causes it to compress (rather than using a fan system). It’s then ignited under pressure, and the faster you go, the more power the engine can generate. NASA and DARPA’s current tests on Mach 10-20 superplanes use similar engines to what Lippisch had in the P.13 series.

The coolest thing though is the fuel. I’ve talked about in the past Germany was in a major fuel crisis, and there were a half million cars converted to run on woodgas. Hell, all of Europe had this problem and France even faced major deforestation due to their wood-burning vehicles. Anyway, because it was increasingly difficult to impossible to get enough gas to fuel up Germany’s fighters, Lippische had two other ideas. First was to power it off of coal, and second, to use lignite, which is as close to peat moss as it is to coal. They increased its endurance a bit by injecting paraffin, but it was the most garbage fuel you could possibly come up with. But the beautiful thing about the ramjet was that you could literally just take this coal or lignite, put it in a wire basket and hang it down into the airflow and ignite it and it worked! You could actually use this junk to fly these crazy cheap planes at the speed of a modern fighter jet, fifty years before the rest of the world would catch up!!! It’s quite inspiring.

There is an incredibly long list of developments like this, and not just in aerospace, that if they had just another year to develop them, the world would be a very different place. I don’t even mean because the war would have turned out differently — that’s a big debate — I mean because technology might have a different pace. Hard to say I suppose. Maybe we will find out when we discover what the immense magnetic anomaly is in Antarctica’s Lake Vostok… some say it is New Berlin. Ha! And on that note, off to add to my tattoo!

I guess now that I think about it I have always done my best thinking under stress, and I think that’s true of many people, that they perform their best under duress. Anyway, I have an exciting week ahead of me, so please excuse me for any potential silence.

Wednesday title needed, insert here

Seeing my monster of a brother (see the picture in the entry below) really makes me miss being in shape and wish I had some possibility of getting in shape again. Unfortunately, using my muscles accelerates my disease, so I am caught in the not-so-enviable position of having to either do too little and have my muscles atrophy (and my ass expand, haha) or do too much and have my muscles appear to stay the same size but in fact lose them to calcification (ie. the muscle doesn’t appear to atrophy to the eye, but when you look at it on a CT scan you can see that the muscle is gone and replaced with a calcium grid somewhat analogous to junk connective tissue). In fact, there’s a very good chance that I actually kicked my condition into high gear by spending so much time at the gym when I got back from Mexico. I never got “cut” or anything, but I was really happy with what I did achieve. Zoomable photo.

Quite a bit different from my current hobo-meets-Rasputin look, don’t you think?

Speaking of the body, I made another 2ga pocketing in my right ankle/leg, above the other one, using an identical procedure of making an incision, very quickly stretching it up over 36-48 hours using a combination of wooden and silicone jewelry, and then placing the final silicone jewelry when the final size is reached. But I think that I’m going to convert it into a piercing by cutting between the two subdermally. I made my first design of the jewelry, which you could argue is a third generation surface bar — large gauge posts, flat connecting bar, all cast out of silicone, and beads can be fitted over the ends via pressure-fit. Here’s a rough cast of it and the clay master that I used for making the mold. I’m just using food-grade silicone, which is essentially the same stuff as “implant grade”, but manufactured under different tolerances. And since my shop is so damn dirty, there wouldn’t be any point in spending the extra money anyway since I’m only making this stuff for myself, not the public, and I know what my body does and doesn’t respond to — and it doesn’t respond to this at all.

That’s just a rough test by the way, not suitable for the body yet! Also, the connecting bar is much thinner than it looks in the photo because of the angle/lighting. I also still need to build an insertion tool, which will probably be a combination of spatula (skin separator/elevator) and taper that I can use to lead the jewelry through the tissue… Procedure wise it will be analogous to some of the techniques that Brian Decker and others played with about ten years ago, inserting surface bars using dermal punches to do the holes and a small spatula to create the tunnel. It’s just complicated in this case by the fact that the jewelry is so soft and flexible.

Other than that, I finally finished off my Robocop stash pendants. You can click the picture to jump to it on my Etsy store if you want. I made three, one is spoken for, so there are two available. I don’t plan on making any more because the mold was made before I had my vacuum chamber and I am not happy with the quality (lots of little imperfections — you can see them in the pictures which are on the product page at much higher resolution) so that’s all there is.

I’m waffling right now on largely phasing out my Etsy store just because it’s getting so hard to make the stuff with my hands failing. I would rather stop making jewelry than push myself and lose the ability to type sooner than I would otherwise… It’s going to be very hard for me when that happens. If I do phase out the store I’ll have a killer sale first, so if you want something, but aren’t too stressed if it sells and you lose your opportunity, it might be worth waiting to see if this happens.

Speaking of typing, I have to admit that I have been talking and writing more (on Facebook for example) about body modification and I sure do miss it in a way. At this point (well, in a month or so technically speaking if I remember right) I no longer have legal restrictions on me banning me from running a body modification site, so I am free to do what I want, but as much as I miss it I think I would have very mixed feelings about competing with BME, largely because attacking my daughter’s mother is a real scummy thing to do. So I don’t know. But if I’ve been chatting with you about the subject — even if we’ve argued — you’ve brightened my day a little. And of course it was a real pleasure having the suspension party here a few weeks ago. I thought for a while that I’d said everything I wanted and needed to say on the subject, but having mostly stayed out of it for four years, I’m feeling like maybe I still have some things I need to communicate, and feel like my voice and ideas could be a positive force.

Anyway. In a couple days I get another session of tattooing on my leg sleeve, and more importantly, I grab Nefarious at the airport (that same evening — what a great day!) and we have her here for a week-plus because it’s her spring/Easter break at her Virginia school. It should be another great visit. To be morbid, a year ago I never thought I was going to make it to this spring (I was quite certain that I’d be dead by Christmas), and I think I can say with certainty that a big part of the reason I am still here is from desire to be with and support from Caitlin and Nefarious, and obviously my father as well.

Demorestville’s Strange History (and more)

Yesterday I was messing around on Wikimapia, adding stuff in the area I grew up in, and to my great surprise the small village of Demorestville, the closest collection of people beyond farms that existed in my childhood, does not exist in Wikipedia. Demorestville may only be a small village of less than two hundred people these days, but if you rewind a hundred and fifty years, it was a thriving metropolis bigger than Toronto (which at the time was just Muddy York), a sin-city known as “Sodom” due to the plethora of brothels and taverns servicing both smugglers and loggers. Here’s part of what I added (and I even did my best to cite it):

In 1973 1783 explorer Guillaume Demorest crossed the Bay of Quinte where he followed a stream flowing from an inland lake. Finding it full of fish, he gave it the name “Fish Lake”, the name it has retained since. Heading back downstream he built his home near the site of a small waterfall, which became the first building in what would become Demorestville. This home also served as the town’s first church under Wesleyan Methodist minister Thomas Madden, who also preached in the mill founded by Demorest. The town grew quickly, adding a grist mill, a sawmill, an ashery, a plow shop, a tannery, a carding and fulling mill, six general stores, three blacksmiths, furniture factories, clothing and show manufacturers, blacksmiths, and even a carriage shop building buggies. It also boasted the County’s first grammar school, a newspaper, The Criticizer, and the first canning factory in Ontario to process tomatoes (founded by magnate Willington Boulter). This canning factory is now the location of Sophiasburgh Central School. In the early part of the century Demorestville was considered the most prominent city west of Kingston and was at the time larger than both York (now Toronto) and Meyer’s Creek (now Belleville).[2] In 1898 a phone line was built between the Grant Sprague’s farm on neighboring Big Island three kilometers away which drew people “wanting to see this modern marvel”.[3]

However, in addition to three churches, the town had a less “Christian” side as well[4]. In the 19th Century, Demorestville became known as “Sodom” or as the twin towns of “Sodom and Gommorah”, a name still retained by Gommorah Road which circles the north west border of the village. This name was earned due to its reputation as a sin city of ill-repute[5] with many taverns, brothels, and hotels servicing both the smugglers and the thriving lumber industry. Much like the Biblical story, “Sodom” was all but destroyed in a massive fire near the turn of the 20th century, and with the mills gone and local businesses decimated, few chose to remain and the town was never rebuilt. Since then it has overgrown with forest and only a tiny population remains in this tiny village that was once one of Canada’s largest metropolises.

It’s funny because you’d never know it by looking at the place now, other than little hints like streetnames saying “Gommorah Road”, and I’ll bet that other than for senior locals, this bit of Canadian history is all but forgotten.

Edit/Update: I just had to update this entry with this picture of my brother for the story below… snagged this picture from my sister-in-law’s Facebook page since I don’t have a good recent photo of my own… There are all sorts of different kinds of body modification in this family, aren’t there?

Speaking of where I grew up, I got to see my monster of a brother yesterday (about 6’6″ and 260 pounds of solid muscle — we’re talking about putting Conan to shame!) at this year’s “Mike Gould Classic”, an arm wrestling tournament that draws the best in the area. He didn’t think he’d be able to make it to the area (it was here in Toronto) so he didn’t even train for it and was a little unsure about his chances, but I shouldn’t be surprised that he destroyed his competition, including an aging but still inhuman looking 360 pound Incredible Hulk freak of pharmaceutical nature ball of muscle, and went home with the championship in the unlimited class (243 pounds and up I think) in both arms. My muscles keep getting weaker and his keep getting stronger, and maybe I should think that is terribly unfair, but I am incredibly proud of him and his achievements… and it was very nice for Caitlin and I both to see him and his wife again as it’s been a while.

We’ll actually probably see them again this upcoming weekend — Easter — since Nefarious is going to be meeting up with her cousins for an Easter Egg hunt. While I’m there I have some exploring I want to do. While adding stuff to Wikimapia, I noticed something strange:

In the middle of some scrubby forest in a nice beach that I like (Point Petre), there is a perfectly round circle of road or path about 150 feet across where the trees/bushes have been cleared. I don’t think it’s a UFO landing site or anything (although… there is a strangle HAARP style Department of Defense communications facility across the street) but I am curious as to what exactly it is. Any excuse to go to the beach, right?