Rememborizing*

I have whined a lot here in the past, and I mean a lot… no, really… a lot, about how screwy my brain has become ever since I caught the leukemia bug nearly a decade ago and was deluged with excessive amounts of chemo.

Not to mention I still take a daily dose of the stuff as a prophylactic so I don’t come down with that nasty little bug ever again.

Anyway, long story short — I have developed some pretty heavy duty vestibular issues and other funky brain-related stuff as a result, so for the past little while I’ve been working on various techniques and exercises to try to strengthen the ol’ noggin up a bit.

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Here’s to blood in the eye…

A few years ago I started getting migraines. I didn’t know they were migraines at the time because they weren’t painful, they just knocked me for a loop – dizziness, nausea, in need of sleep, lights too bright, ears ringing, the usual suspects.

The first one I ever had scared the bejesus out of me, hitting me so hard while I was out mowing the lawn that I almost fell to my knees. It even knocked loose vitreous from my left eye and to this day I have little black gnat-like floaters buzzing around in there and annoying the hell out of me.
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An Important FDA Safety Announcement for my Donor Stem Cell Transplant Brothers and Sisters

FDA warns about increased risk of cancer relapse with long-term use of azithromycin (Zithromax, Zmax) antibiotic after donor stem cell transplant

The French study which the FDA based a recent safety announcement on had to be discontinued after two years because the rate of the return of cancer and even death was too high in those patients with cancers of the blood or lymph nodes who undergo a donor stem cell transplant and were taking the antibiotic azithromycin (Zithromax, Zmax) long term to prevent a certain inflammatory lung condition [LUNG GVHD/BOS].

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Drugs, Death, and Rock & Roll

Wayne Static in 2005 [WIKIPEDIA]

 

Did not know Wayne Static had died in 2014.

What a frikkin’ bummer.

I’m a fan of Industrial Music — Rock, Metal, Electronic — with Nine Inch Nails being my typical band of choice whenever I’m jonesing for a deep, dark, dystopic fix.

But whenever I was in need for an adrenaline fix, Wayne Static — his stage name obviously — with his band Static-X would always get me to where I was fixin’ to go.

It’s been a while since I needed a high-tempo rush like that so I hadn’t heard nor thought of Static-X in many o’ moons; however, now that I’m to the point where I’m working out regularly, a Static-X classic popped up on my Apple Music Industrial Rock Workout Playlist that Apple nerds had kindly and conveniently curated for me.

Warning: If you’re not familiar with this genre of music, you may want to check, first, with your doctor to ensure your heart can handle it, and then, second, with your Priest/Spiritual Advisor to ensure your spirit can handle it, as well…
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Any Wim Hof fans out there?

If you’ve never heard of Hof before… prepare to have your mind blown.

This dude, known as The Iceman, can withstand the coldest colds and endure the hottest hots for practically as long as he wants all because he can control his mind and, through that, his core temperature, all through a radical breathing technique of his.

I’ve lost nearly half of my lung capacity due to a side effect called graft versus host disease after from my bone marrow transplant so, apart from the fact my survival rate chances were in the cellar, I never expected to be able to do much in the way of cardiovascular work ever again.

My son turned me onto Hof last year and, while I’m still in my initial stages of learning from this guy, you should see me going for it on the exercise bike and with the weights. I cannot imagine how much more I will be able to progress the more I progress with Hof’s techniques.

Reminder, as per clearly stated in my Terms & Disclaimers I am not a doctor so don’t go doing this stuff without consulting the experts first.

But if you want to experience a new reality of living… watch the fascinating Vice documentary about him below and then go check out this wild man’s youtube site.
 

 

The Purpose of Pain

When it comes to physical pain, it’s purpose is hardly in question: It focuses us to where our immediate attention and action is required.

We accidentally rest our hand on a hot stove top burner and, without our sense of pain, our hand, if it weren’t for our sense of smell, would become cooked well enough to serve up at the next meal.

We could laugh at this, but sadly and horrifically there are some who do not experience the sense of physical pain due to a rare condition known as congenital analgesia.

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COPING with #CANCER?

coping-quote

Hey! How about that?!

Our good friends over at COPING With Cancer magazine featured an excerpt from my little book HOW NOT TO DIE: In 13 Easy Steps in their recent edition.

Pretty cool, no?

Yes, indeed.

You can learn more about the magazine and all the good folks there doing God’s work here.

You can learn more about my book here.

You can check out the post the book was inspired by here.

And you can learn how I feel about pink as the color of cancer here.

#cancerisjustastateofmind
#peace

 
 

More Brain Drain Stuff

Meningitis Brain
Image courtesy of National Institute on Aging

 
So… based on your very kind, honest, and funny feedback to my last post, it appears that Cards Against Humanity, while being fun and completely aligned with my temperament, may not be the game best suited for building up my brain muscle.

I know there are several companies out there now that say they have games and apps that will improve one’s cognitive function and may hold diseases like Alzheimer’s at bay. However, those companies were pretty much debunked by a group of neuroscientists with this.

The good news is that there may actually be one game out there that does improve brain function.

From the LA Times:

If you’re intent on keeping dementia at bay, new research suggests you’ll need more than crossword puzzles, aerobic exercise and an active social life. In a study released Sunday, researchers found that older adults who did exercises to shore up the speed at which they processed visual information could cut by nearly half their likelihood of cognitive decline or dementia over a 10-year period…

The data that the LA Times is reporting from was presented at the Alzheimer’s Assn.’s International Conference.

The study the data was drawn from was conducted by the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Aging.

The game used in the study found to be effective is called Double Decision.

Of course you have to become a paid subscriber to play the game. If you pay monthly, it costs $14.00. If you pay annually, it costs $8.00.

A monthly membership to Golds Gym costs around $25.00 a month.

I am not yet sure if I am going to subscribe to play the game but I am sure, based upon your feedback and my research, that muscles, brains or otherwise, are expensive to build and maintain.

 
 

My Chemo Brain Counter-Offensive

So… yeah. I’ve been having some chemo brain issues for quite a while now and I’m in search of interesting ways to build up my brain muscle to counter these “cognitive disorder” side-effects, as my neurologist so neatly calls them.

I’ve never been a board game – or any game for that matter – kind of guy, but I’ve read and I’ve heard anecdotal evidence that board games do help with one’s focus and clarity issues.

With this anecdotal evidence as my impetus, of course I went to Amazon, the event horizon of the internet, and searched around for what the best board game for my particular interests would be.

And I found this:

Cards Against Humanity
 
As you can see, it tags itself as “A party game for horrible people.” And while I don’t feel that I’m all that horrible, after reading a few of the many thousands of reviews, it does seem like a game that would appeal to my interests.

Does that make me so horrible?

That was rhetorical.

Anyway…

Which brings me to the point of this pointy post…

Research, with you being my source information.

Have you played the game? And if so, what do you think of it? Is it fun? Challenging? Stoopid? Do you feel you have a stronger brain because of your playing it?

And don’t worry, just because you played the game doesn’t mean I will judge you as a horrible person.

Necessarily…

I will, however, admire your courage for admitting it.


If you’re not familiar with the game, you can learn more about it here.

 
 

The Power of About

I may be mistaken, but it is my belief that we’ve all been to that dark, lonely place at least once or twice in our lives where we, and the lives we have led, seem…

Insignificant.

Less than.

Pointless.

power-of-about

It’s a scary place and one which I suspect, and hope, the majority of us visit only infrequently and fleetingly because our lives are fulfilling and rewarding enough to steer us clear from the depression that can lead us there.

However, I also suspect that there is a significant minority of us who visit this dark, lonely place more often and for longer periods than most since, according to NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, nearly 19% of the United States’ adult population experience some degree of mental illness throughout the year [1]. And, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, major depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States [2].

I, myself, became a frequent visitor of this dark, lonely place not long after I began taking high doses of the steroid prednisone to combat a deadly disease that was destroying my lungs, and one which I was given little chance of surviving.

It was a hard enough to mentally process that my life may soon be ended by an aggressively fatal disease — pretty tough for anyone to process, I would imagine — but couple that bummer news with a steroid that induces psychosis-like side-effects and, yeah… double bummer.

Consequently, it wasn’t long before I found myself spending nearly as much time in that dark, lonely place as I was out of it.

It’s hard to explain what I and my mind were going through whenever I visited there. I’m not sure there is a way to describe it wholly in just a few words. It is both a tangible and intangible feeling. A cold feeling sometimes. A heavy feeling other times. But it was almost always a feeling of pointlessness. A feeling of… Why bother?

I was dying. My body had failed me and I had failed my family. The only thing I felt I was good for now were my less than adequate disability checks. Were I gone, my life insurance payout would have been much more rewarding and helpful for those whom my absence would release from the burdens my illness had placed upon them.

Yeah… I was down there in that indelible darkness of depression pretty deep.

Fortunately for me I had a saving grace — several of them, in fact.

One, the primary one, was a support network of family and friends who loved me, cared for me, and prayed for me.

Another, was that I like to write.

The Writing Hand
The Writing Hand

I began blogging shortly after my leukemia diagnosis. Nothing too deep or introspective — though scared, I was completely confident I was going survive — just updates to keep my friends and family informed of my health and happenings during my treatment.

But months later after learning my lungs were slowly dying away as a side-effect result from my bone marrow transplant, and having to begin a hefty prednisone regiment in an effort to slow the dying process down, my positive perspective on things changed significantly.

Though the drug-induced and drastic mood swings made it difficult to focus, I began to blog more often and about more personal matters. And while I regard my blogging experience during this difficult time as a very beneficial, therapeutic activity — an activity I presume many others regard beneficial as well, for a simple Google search of the term “writing therapy” resulted in around 259,000,000 results — it wasn’t helping me to shake the persistent feeling of irrelevance; of feeling that I others would better off if I were dead.

Fortunately for me, since I was spending more time thinking deeply about my life for my blog, I eventually began tinkering with my blog’s “About” page.

And this tinkering proved to be yet one more saving grace; for it led me on a path to try to discover things about myself that others might find interesting enough to inspire them to read more of my writing.

And once I began thinking in more of a self-promotional, third-person kind of way about my life, I began realizing and rediscovering things about myself that I found to be very special and unique.

For the next week or so, I stopped blogging altogether and, like a gold digger after finding his first valuable nugget, I worked passionately on mining through my past to dig up and write down all the meaningful nuggets I could find.

And when I was finally satisfied that my life was properly represented on the page, I began to craft the long, meaningful list of me into a voice that, when others read it, would be heard distinctly as mine.

When I was finished*, my “About” page was more than just being about me… it was me.

And even now when reading this long and winding written documentary of me, I am filled with a sense of gratitude and purpose so powerful that, even if I were to once again visit that dark, lonely place, I could never do so feeling as if my life were pointless and without meaning.



1. https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-By-the-Numbers
2. http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/prevalence/major-depression-among-adults.shtml


*As I live and grow, so too does my “About” page. It will never be finished completely… until I am.