Saturday, January 22, 2011

Side Effects

Over my life, I've been on a number of medications - primarily for my epilepsy. I've also been on medications for arthritis, migraines, depression and high blood pressure. Each has its upsides and down sides.

The arthritis medications tend to jack with my blood pressure. It was this side-effect that made it so I had to go on high blood pressure medications earlier than genetics might have otherwise required. Towards the end, the arthritis medications were combining with my epilepsy meds to fuck with my liver. Fortunately, dietary changes seems to have removed the need for a daily regimen of arthritis medications.

I've only really been on a couple blood pressure medications. I had to try three or four to find ones that were both effective and didn't render me chronically sleepy. Found that medication at least five years ago and have been on it since then. Other than controlling my blood pressure, it doesn't seem to have any side effects (obviously, if it does, I'm not noticing them or they'll be something that slowly contributes to my ultimate demise).

Fortunately, the migraine medications I've been on have been allocated "as-needed". That is, I only need to take them when I feel a migraine coming on or am in the undeniable midst of a migraine. I generally only seem to have medication-requiring migraines a couple times a year. So, while they may have side effects, the brevity of application means that I don't really notice them compared to the relief I get from the migraine pain.

I've had a life-long problem with depression. For the most part, it's manageable. However, there've been times where it genuinely interfered with my life. Most frequently, it's made me very withdrawn. Sometimes, it's gotten to the point of simply wanting to be "done" with everything. It's made it both so that I've either slept all the time or slept not at all. Once, in the latter-half of my mid-20s, I tried tackling the problem with medication. I tried a number of different medications. Most of them, their side-effects outweighed any curative or even palliative value. The only one that seemed to have more positive effects, for me, than negative effects was Paxil. It ended up making me feel pretty good: got me out of my hole and got me back to wanting to be involved with people and life.

Unfortunately, getting out of the hole and back into life is that sex is part of a normal life. And, while Paxil didn't curb desire or ability to act on desire, it did make it so that sexual engagement was ultimately an exercise in frustration. Nothing like being interest and able to perform but not being able to "achieve satisfaction". Ultimately, it was this lack of "satisfaction" that caused me to quit the medication. Fortunately, it seemed to have reset my body's chemistry such that I could get along without it and its interfering effects.

Epilepsy has been my biggest problem. Unlike the anti-depression meds, where I could simply discontinue use when they became problematic, my only choice with epilepsy medications has been "try another." Without the epilepsy meds, my seizures come back (and, with some of them, they still do, any way).

Over the years, I've been on: Dilantin, Depakote, Topamax, Lamictal and Keppra.

  • From age 13 - when I had my first seizure and was diagnosed - to age twenty, I was on Dilantin. Over the time I was on the medication, my body became more and more sensitive to it and it became less and less effective at controlling my seizures. While I've never had a good body self-image, the Dilantin really skewed it: the Dilantin caused me to become skeletally thin, but I still saw myself as being rather overweight. At the same time, toxic episodes with it caused me to display other, severely distorted thinking patterns that bordered on psychosis. During high school, my parents got called in by teachers who were concerned that I was having a drug-abuse problem. It was only after a final cluster of seizures that we sought out a better agent for control.
  • From age 20 to age thirty-seven, I was on Depakote. My neurologist, at the time, chose it because, in addition to being an anti-epileptic, it was known to help patients with depression disorders and migraines - both problems I've had, lifelong. Overall, it worked rather well at controlling my seizures, reduced the frequency (though not the severity) of migraines and reduced most of my depression episodes. Pluse, it didn't seem to have overtly-negative mental effects. Yeah, I gained sixty pounds in my first five years, but my seizures were under control and I wasn't psycho like I was on Dilantin. In retrospect, however, I realized that it had turned me into a zombie. Much of my reckless behavior of my twenties was likely attempts at feeling something from life. Eventually, I gave up much of that reckless behavior, mostly due to it not having any real emotive reward.
  • Starting the summer of my 37th year, I switched to Topamax. The Depakote had started to show severe effects on my liver. While I was no longer gaining weight on the Depakote, I wasn't losing any, either. So, my neurologist decided to try me on Topamax since a common side-effect was weight loss. This drug lasted around a year. In that year, I dropped fifty pounds. Ultimately, I ended up in the hospital, twice, with pancreatitis caused by the Topamax. It had also turned me into a nervous, anxiety-ridden wreck. But, at least I was at something approaching a healthy weight.
  • Starting in early fall of my 38th year, my neurologist tried switching me to Lamictal. This medicine lasted me a little less than a year before it became clear that it wasn't the medication for me. Most of my Depakote weight returned and, after nine months on it, I had my first seizure in nearly 20 years.
  • Now, I'm on Keppra. It's been an interesting ride. It seems to control my seizures. Unfortunately, if I don't boost my intake of vitabmin B6, I suffer from "kepprage". My depression symptoms are more frequent and deeper than they've been since I'd initially switched to Depakote. I'm also a bit disconnected from my life - though I don't know if that's the medication or the lack of depression-control. Still, it's better than the chronic anxiety attacks of Topamax or psychosis of Dilantin. The other "fun" thing about it is the chronic paresthesia. This symptom varies from being barely noticeable to feeling as though I'm wearing a full-body rubber-suit.The morning tooth-brushing ritual often feels like I'm brushing someone else's teeth. Sex feels like I'm using someone else's dick to fuck with. This latter part is manageable if I'm not having to wear condoms, but the deadening effects of condoms on top of the paresthesia makes condom-requiring sex-acts pretty much pointless. Increasing my vitamin E intake seems to help the paresthesia, but only if I'm taking high doses (1000 IU or higher daily supplements). Even at high doses, it only makes it so that I only notice it when having sex.
I'm now 40 years old (and turn 41, tomorrow). I need to decide whether the chronic lack of sexual satisfaction is something I want to continue living with or not. I mean, at forty, should I really care that sex, pretty much, sucks? I don't even know that changing to another medication is going to improve things. I mean, even if the paresthesia went away, the new medication might cause some other side effect that would make sex either a non-starter or pointless/joyless to engage in. Maybe I should just figure "I'm too old for sex" and move on?

Kinect: One Man's (First) Experience

A long-time friend of mine gave me a Kinect controller for my Xbox as a late Christmas/early birthday present. I didn't get a chance to start playing with it the first day. I guess I have to turn my geek-card in, since I didn't drop my "life" to start messing with it. Then again, having a "life" probably made me forfeit my geek-card long ago.

At any rate, it didn't languish too long - only about thirty-six hours. I couldn't get to it yesterday, when I got home from work, because I was beat and we were going out for the evening, later. I only got chance enough to take it out of its shipping box and place the whole Kinect package/box in my television case before I staggered upstairs for a several-hour nap. After the nap, we got ready to go out, then were gone until around 03:00. I had a Flyers game in Philly that I needed to head out of town for, first thing in the morning, so, I went up to our iceox bedroom and sacked out. After my alarm went off, I staggered downstairs and looked at the still sealed carton. It glared at me as I readied myself for the day's travel and mocked me as I headed out the door. It was still looming in its box when I returned.

Finally, around 22:00, after playing with the pups upon returning home, I set about getting the device set up. I gotta admit, it's a bit nifty. Being able to control my system with my voice and waves of my hands gives kind of a Jedi feeling.That said, it's still very much a new product. It shows signs of being rather cool, but still lacks a lot.

It comes with a video chat functionality. Unfortunately, since it doesn't (yet?) link to services like Skype, you can only video chat with other Kinect owners. There aren't a lot of them right now - at least, not in my circle of friends. So, this isn't likely to be a useful feature any time soon.

While the device is pretty good at figuring out that there's more than one person in the room, it seems to be confused by pets. In fairness, pets are confused by interactions with the Kinect. My cats seem convinced that my waving about is an invitation to them to come be petted. Cats suddenly appearing in what the Kinect sees as control points (my hands) causes the Kinect to sort of lose track of things.

The Kinect also offers voice-control of Xbox functions. Unfortunately, that control isn't well-integrated into the Xbox modules I like to use. Probably doesn't help that the initial Kinect code release doesn't seem to support much more than the most rudimentary of commands. Right now, it's kind of like the dumbest pet you've ever owned or encountered, only dumber. If it were a pet, you'd have to put a hockey helmet on it.Hopefully, as the product matures and code updates come out, it will receive a larger repertoire of spoken commands. For now, the appeal of the voice commands wears off quickly.

At any rate, I ran it through its setup paces and even played some of the games that the device came with. The games are reminiscent of the Wii Fit stuff, without the worry that you'll destroy a controller-board. The Kinect wants a fair amount of motion-space. My living room is barely big enough. I had to move our ottoman out of the way to complete the setup (otherwise, it would eclipse the Kinect's view of my lower legs, causing the Kinect to render my body-position as kneeling in mid-air). While our living room isn't huge, it isn't as small or furniture-restricted as that of many of my friends. So, bear your gaming area's geometry in mind when considering the purchase.

After playing with it a bit, it started to creep me out, a bit. The Kinect has glowing red and green LEDs on the front. When it's active, it puts a little thumbnail of what it "sees" in a little window on your screen. Combine the cold, dead look of the LEDs and the realization that you're being watched, heard and recognized, and you get kind of a 1984/2001 feeling. I gotta think that, as/if these things proliferate, advertisers and hackers alike will want to make use of the Kinects' capabilities. Yeah, you get a nifty gaming interface, but, you realize that you're starting to sell yet another part of your life to "the machine". While the Wii only has a motion sensor bar, the Kinect has eyes and ears and, for the sake of entertainment, you're potentially making yourself observable, each and every time you turn it on.

Oh well...

At any rate, if they ever fully realize the gaming potential and mature the gesture and voice interfaces, it should be pretty cool (imagine in-game fights if you're playing NHL 2K games over Xbox Live!). If Microsoft gets smart and partners with Skype (and/or others), it will be a nifty communication device to keep in touch with far-flung friends and family. For now, it's going to be a "yay, I have one" affair, but will probably only be used, briefly, each time there's a new code update (i.e., to see "what can it do, now?"). Guess I'll also have to test it with each new game I get to see what it's useful for. I'm guessing for most legacy games, it will simply remove the need to have my headset when I want to trash-talk during online gaming (and, I'll have to figure out how to mute that in unobvious ways).


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Wonder-Inducing Team

One wonders what the Flyers' record might be like if they had a competent power play.

One wonders what the Flyers' record might be like if they could actually hold onto a 2+ goal lead.

One wonders what the Flyers' record might be like if they consistently played an entire sixty, contiguous minutes of hockey.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Just Shoot Me

I know I'm not the only person to ever think or utter the words, "just shoot me." I mean, there even used to be a crappy sitcom by that name.

The past couple weeks, I've been working on a project at work that has been an exercise in nearly endless frustration. Today, when it finally looked like things might be turning a corner, what was around the corner turned out to be a yawning, spike-filled chasm.

For better or worse, where I work comes with very formidably-armed guards. Thus, if I ever really wanted to seek permanent relief from my frustrations, I could probably figure out a way to get myself fatally lit-up. I'd just need to figure out who the most trigger-happy guard was and work on him/her.

Hmm... Probably an exclusion in my various insurance policies for that, somehow.


The problem with wisdom and perspective is that they are too often gained well after it's too late to apply them to yourself. Worse, those who you'd try to impart that knowledge to are never in a place where they will want to learn from it.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Old Man of the Net

Ok, I realize that there's plenty of people out there who've been on the Internet longer than me. I mean, I really only started using it in 1989.

I'd hit an article through StumleUpon about the 100 oldest domains on the Internet. The first .com domains were registered in 1985. I've had my domain,, for quite a while, but couldn't remember exactly when I'd registered it. So, I hit up `whois`, right quick:
Domain Name: XANTHIA.COM
Updated Date: 11-sep-2009
Creation Date: 27-sep-1995
Expiration Date: 26-sep-2014
I set up my current, primary email address, back when I registered my domain. So, I've had the same primary email address since 1995 (over 15 years, now!) and just ten years less than the oldest .com domain names have existed.

As a side note, having an email address, that long, means that your address is in just about every spam-bot/address-harvester's email list. All I can say is, "thank god for anti-spam software".

Smell vs. Taste

Yesterday's pork vindaloo was awesome. Unfortunately, thirty hours later and the house still kinda smells like rancid swack. Oh well. The price you pay for good food.

Where'd They Go

Either Donna didn't make enough eclairs or she gave too many away. Dammit, those were good.


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Relative Measures

So, I posted to my FaceBook friends list, "which is bigger: a shitload or a fuckload? A regular fuckload or a metric fuckload?" I mean, FaceBook's the place where you post questions of earth-shattering importance right? Wait, that's Yahoo Questions... Oh well. I got the following responses:

    • McG
        Does a fuckton figure in any of that?
      Yesterday at 12:54am · 

    • PPC

      a fuckload is larger than a shitload. A shitload is simply a large amount a fuckload is an extremely large amount. In sequence it is:
      A squirt
      a Piss full = 8 squirts
      A crapload = 4 piss fulls
      A Shitoad = 2 craploads
      A fuckload = 4 shitloads

      A metric fuckload is a misnomer the proper term is Metric fuckton which is a measure of weight not volume

      Yesterday at 1:02am ·  ·  1 person

    • DGP
       Typically, my shitloads are larger than my fuckloads.
      Yesterday at 6:15am · 

  • Which, really, is far more informative of a response than I'd expected.

    Wasted Weekend Redeemed?

    Ok, so, this weekend has been an utter waste. I mean, two days into a three day weekend and all I've accomplished is sawing a lotta wood (figurative). At least Donna was able to do something constructive in the form of tonight's dinner: a pan-seared pork tenderloin that was then liberally sprinkled with Penzies Bavarian seasoning and then slow-roasted and served with a nice pan-sauce of white wine, shallots, chicken broth and dijon mustard. On the side, she served-up a nice mix of roasted julienned carrots, parsnips and sweet potatoes tossed with olive oil, italian seasoning, bosari salt, and garlic/pepper mix.

    Right now, she's in the process of making pastry to house the moca/dark-chocolate custard she made, earlier. Gonna be eclairs for for desert and breakfast.


    I would not shed a single tear if I were to witness Sean Avery take a devastating, career-ending injury during a game.

    I Hate Long Weekends

    To be honest, I hate long "holiday" weekends. I particularly hate the ones that aren't purpose-specific (such as Thanksgiving weekends are). That yawning expanse of unstructured time feels like something must be done with it. However, absent an organizing-theme, I invariably end up just sitting around doing nothing.

    When I was younger, a "wasted weekend" was one where I spent the weekend wasted. Now, a "wasted weekend" is one that I simply fritter away the extended break doing nothing.


    One of the things that bugged me about Star Wars clone-troopers is, what was the basis for specialization or ranking-up?