Friday, July 31, 2009

CAW-lling All Crow Lovers

If you didn't catch the NPR report on crows earlier this week, I recommend you listen to it now. Fascinating stuff. When you go to the NPR page, consider watching the video feature near the top that summarizes a crow's interesting ability to recognize human faces or listen to the full radio broadcast (just a mere 7 minutes and 49 seconds near the bottom of the post). Or, you can see if you can recognize a crow's face with the quiz in the middle. (I did pretty well at my first and second try and then started failing miserably.)

This is very much so that others (like Joshua Klein) have picked up on crows' abilities and have begun to think about the possibilities in training them.

If you have never been to home site of where Joshua Klein's presentation is posted, spend some time there. You can learn and learn and learn. Listen and watch, spit out what you don't like, and really chew on the rest.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Give Me A Brake!

Today, I woke up with excitement. I went to bed early (for me) last night. I had really good dreams. I woke up without an alarm. I felt refreshed. I felt rested. I was ready to go go go. I finished my loads of laundry last night so I didn't have to do the last minute scramble to move items from the washer to the dryer in hopes they won't be too damp by the time I need to leave for work. So, all in all, I knew it was going to be a good day.

However, as soon as I got less than a mile away from my house and on my way to work, I realized that my dash was a little brighter than usual. That's because there are no fewer than 6 lights lit up there today... including the traction light, service engine soon (not uncommon/long story), service auto soon, antilock brake light and the tire light. (The sixth light is escaping my mind right now.)

I took my sweet time getting to work... but HAD to get to work before going to the shop. So, now it is lunchtime, and I'm heading to the garage. I'm putting money on the fact that I'm going to have to have some brakes replaced today. It won't explain all of the lights... but it will explain some of them. It'll be a good start and the first step. Here we go. I'm already holding on to my wallet. I feel my debit card heating up by the moment. I'm taking a couple of books with me, because I have a feeling I might have to wait this one out. I'll provide an update on the damage when I return.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Plan & Looking Ahead

I am getting ready to go to the pharmacy - with prescriptions in hand - to receive some medicine. These are three important medicines, in fact, which I hope will greatly change how I've been feeling. I have been waiting for this day... a day which I hope will be a marking point for moving forward. A day which will divide 'before' and 'after' in my mind and my life. A day of difference.

Many of you know that I haven't felt well for a few years. Things haven't been right for actually many years. And, with my doctor's help, I've been able to piece together the timeline of some of the symptoms exhibiting themselves. Some of the worst started showing up 10 and 8 years ago - which were two extremely stressful times for me. And, I've been fighting through the aches and pains and oddities ever since.

I don't know how many doctors I've seen now. Some were kind. Some were dismissive. Some didn't believe me. Some became frustrated when the tests didn't show what they expected. One moved away right as we were making progress. Some didn't work well with others. Many I never saw again after visiting for the first time. When I didn't need anything else bogging me down, dealing with a doctor was often yet another unbearable obstacle. (And, I don't have the patience to begin describing the interactions with the billing departments.) Finding a doctor I trust has been difficult, but I think I've FINALLY found a good few. And, with the help of an administrator at a local hospital, I think these are going to work well together.

I don't feel like myself. And, I feel like I don't look like myself. I definitely don't act physically like I feel on the inside (if that makes sense). It has seemed like everything has been put on hold while dealing with this situation. The aches and pains have been strong this past week. But, I pray everything starts lining up, and I'm able to move forward like I've been hoping for so long.

I'll be making updates here on the blog to include some of the progress. Some of it may not be pretty, but it will be the truth. And, it will be great to look back a few months and years down the road to see all of the progress that has been made.

The plan for the near future is as follows:
1) I'll start taking two of the medicines right away and ease one in gradually in the upcoming weeks. Two of the three I have taken before, and two of the three will likely make me sick to my stomach from the start. But, that should go away in a week or two, and I'm at the point where I'm willing to try about anything.
2) I have received booklets from one doctor which shows me the food that is best for me. For the last week, I have followed it to the T, and some of the symptoms have subsided. Thankfully, this is not something I will always have to follow - especially after some of the medicine kicks in. But, the food plan should greatly help me over the next month.
3) I have a few more blood tests to take over the coming week. FUN FUN! Hopefully my arm will recuperate from last week's tests.
4) I am doing everything I can to attack bad health and encourage good health. So, I am trying everything - even if I tried it six weeks ago or six months ago and it didn't work. One of the doctors said that I have to remain on track with my plan even if my aches, weight, fatigue, joint pain, headaches, etc. seem to increase... even if they continue for weeks at a time. I imagine that's going to be the hardest part of the whole plan - to remain encouraged and focused if that occurs. But, I'll do it if it is necessary. The doctors are convinced - with their help - there will be turnarounds even after seemingly long periods of setbacks. So, I went to my gym, signed up for sessions with a trainer to whom I have talked on several occasions, and we're setting a plan Tuesday night.
5) I'm logging everything. Types of food, amounts of food, exercise, types of exercise, liquid intake, symptoms, sleep... That last one probably caught the attention of a few of you. I'll be doing my best to stick to a 24 hour schedule and get enough sleep, but I can't make any promises about my dreams.
6) I'll be seeking out two more doctors to deal with a few of the things found by my uncle (who is a nutritionist and ran a test on me) and that appeared through my tests with the endocrinologist. It is likely that those new specialists will run more tests, but I'd like to have as much done as possible right away (to get to the bottom of the issues and to have all of my large medical bills be billed within this year. The insurance will kick in to pay everything else within a calendar year once I hit my deductible.) In addition, the doctors will be trying to get to the bottom of why my feet (when I wear tennis shoes) and arms keep going numb. These matters point to nerve issues, but nothing has been determined yet.
7) I have been doing my best to keep up appearances in my schedule for so long that the effort has often caused bigger setbacks for myself. That is because I didn't take time to rest or deal with everything that was happening. My doctor had a stern talk with me about many examples of this. So, in the coming months, I am going to have to make some tough decisions. This will be especially hard for me - just as difficult as step #4 - as I feel like I am already doing so little and barely keeping up with the basics. But, I am going to try because I know this will create a way for me to do more in the future. I have to keep reminding myself that no matter how important some things may seem and no matter how badly I want to do them, there are very few things more important than this plan at this time.
8) I'll follow up with the endocrinologist in 6 weeks to log any changes (hopefully many!) and go from there.

So, that's the plan. And, I have a lot to do. Hope you'll be thinking of me during these next six weeks. I'll give you an update then (if not before), and I am hoping for progress.

Friday, July 24, 2009

All A-Twitter

Four of my young cousins have been asking me about Twitter again. I don't know if I have good answers to their questions regarding the purpose, the point, and the pay-off of having an account. What I do know is that over half of my friends that created a profile in the last 6 months no longer make regular posts (known as tweets). They have either deleted their account or they just follow their favorite celebrities' tweets. When groups of friends join and interact together, it seems like it can be a ton of fun. So cousins, if you're up for it, join and follow me. And, I'll follow you right back. (But, if you don't understand the point of status updates in Facebook, you probably won't like Twitter.)

Even if you don't create a profile and tweet all day long, you may have noticed that Twitter references are creeping into conversations and vocabulary. Late night talkshow hosts have been speaking to celebrities about their Twitter habits. And, there have been important news events which have been reported first through tweets.

There are several articles written about Twitter from which to learn more. Here is "All A-Twitter" from the Boston Globe from earlier this spring which explains how a businessman shared one of the first accounts of US Airways Flight 1549 landing in the Hudson River.