It's been a while since I've done a "Bits and Pieces" post, so I think it's high time for another one. Just to review, this series of posts are a collection of various news items and other bright and/or shiny objects that have caught my attention in the recent past. Most have something to do with MS, but I reserve the right to include whatever random objects show up on my radar screen.
Please note, I do not actually have a radar screen, although, now that I think about it, I would definitely like to have one. I'm not sure what I would actually do with my very own radar screen, but it seems like having one would be good for at least a few minutes of amusement every day. Kind of like having a fish tank, which I also don't have, or a 50-year-old plaster statue of Louis Armstrong, which I do.
When I was single, back in the 90s, I had my very own pinball machine in my very own bachelor pad, and on many days my pinball machine was good for several hours of amusement. It was an old machine from the early 1970s, and it featured a picture of a woman who looked a lot like Angela Davis ( click here ). I also had my very own 3 1/2 foot tall inflatable Emperor Penguin named Emerson. It was quite the swinging bachelor pad, and was like a Venus Fly Trap for female aficionados of pinball and Emperor Penguins. In other words, I wound up playing a lot of pinball. By myself.
Anyway, on to Bits and Pieces:
This article from the Wall Street Journal ( click here ) talks about the roots of the soon to be available oral MS drug Gilenya. I'd been hearing for years that the drug was derived from an ancient Chinese herbal remedy, a fungus called Cordyceps that grows on the back of caterpillars. But, according to this article, while Gilenya does have its roots in ancient Chinese herbal medicine, it's actually derived from a fungus that grows on cicada bugs, eventually killing them and then using the bug carcass as nourishment while the fungus grows. In the flowery prose of the Wall Street Journal (now, there's a phrase that's not used very often), it's described this way: “By summertime, the insect is dead and its corpse has been transformed into a vessel for the blooming fungus." Poetic, isn't it? Turns out that this fungus has strong immunosuppressive properties and a refined version of it was first tried as an antirejection drug for transplant patients. When that didn't work, they turned the drug's crosshairs on MS patients, and found the compound to be quite effective at suppressing relapses and reducing enhancing lesions. It may even have neuroprotective properties, and is currently undergoing trials on PPMS patients, one of the few drugs ever trialed on that particularly hard to treat patient population. I have serious reservations about this drug, which I'll discuss in an upcoming post, but it is interesting that an ancient Chinese herbal remedy has indeed been found to have powerful medicinal properties. The Chinese have been using many of these remedies for over 5000 years, and common sense should tell us that they wouldn't still be in use if there wasn't something to them.
Here is a brilliant piece of scientific investigation entitled "Fatigue, Sleepiness, and Physical Activity in Patients with Multiple Sclerosis" ( click here ). This study somehow separates fatigue from sleepiness, measuring them independently, and then comes the startling conclusion that the amount of physical activity undertaken by an MS patient decreases with the severity of the disease. Gadzooks! Stop the presses! Meticulous scientific study has shown that the more crippled somebody gets, the less physically active they are. Guess I'd better cancel my plans to summit Mount Everest. And I was so looking forward to my scheduled meet and greet with the Yeti ( click here ). This brief abstract doesn't quite tell us the precise difference between fatigue and sleepiness, although apparently they can be measured on different scales. Personally, I don't think I've ever been fatigued without being sleepy, or sleepy without being fatigued. Maybe I'm just too tired to understand the difference between the two, or too sleepy, or too fatigued. Either way, trying to figure this out has made me exhausted, and I think I need a nap…
Speaking of naps, I discovered a cool little app for the iPhone or iPod Touch called Pzizz Energizer, courtesy Julie Stachowiak's weekly MS column on about.com ( click here ). Pzizz is kind of a guided meditation thingie that mixes sound effects, gentle music, and a soothing voice to lull you into a highly relaxing nap of anywhere between 10 and 90 minutes (the length of the nap is user selectable). I'm usually pretty suspicious of such things, but I really respect Julie's writing and perspective on MS, and was confident she wouldn't recommend anything that was complete bullshit. So, I ponied up the dough and bought the app for my iPod Touch, and promptly gave it a whirl. Sure enough, the hypnotic sounds generated by the app put me into a very relaxed state, and when my 25 minutes were up, I did find myself a bit more energized. In all honesty, the effect wasn't much different from some guided meditation CDs that I have, but Pzizz promises that the program will be different every time you use it, so you won't pass out simply from the sheer boredom of listening to the same program over and over again. I can't tell whether it works better on sleepiness or fatigue. Perhaps I'll apply for a research grant to study this mystery, but that will have to wait until I get back from Mount Everest.
The total scumbags who conducted this study ( click here ) concluded that MS patients exhibit twice as much withheld anger than the general population. Fucktards! What the hell do they know, with their fancy PhD's and symposiums and crap. These pieces of animated horse shit further conclude that the suppressed anger in MS patients was "caused by nervous system damage, rather than an emotional reaction to the stress of the disease." As if. Did it ever occur to these mental Lilliputians that the suppressed anger of MS patients may have something to do with the fact that money is being spent on asinine studies like this one, rather than on finding a cure for this fucking disease? If one of these scientists were standing in front of me, I'd kick him squarely in the nuts. I'm assuming the researchers were men, because no woman would be stupid enough to conduct such a mind numbing bucket of moose piss. But wait! Rats! I can't actually kick anything, because I have goddamned MS. Those bastards! Holy crap, now I have even more repressed anger! Aaargh!
Okay, so much for repressed anger. Sorry about that, don't know what came over me. Must've been my nervous system damage causing repressed anger. Well, maybe not that repressed. Anyway, my friend Michelle, who was Montel's Facebook Friend of the Week a few weeks ago ( click here ) sent me this link ( click here ) which made me laugh harder than I've laughed in a long time. It helps if you're a dog lover, but even if you're not, this is just plain funny. For those of you with urinary urgency issues, you might want to read this in or near a bathroom, because I almost wet myself about halfway through the read.
Okay, that's it for this edition of Bits and Pieces. I think this post has run the full gamut of emotions, and now I've got to go check on getting my very own radar screen. EBay, here I come…