Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Been puny

I've had some bad bug for about a week and am just recovering. Please pardon my poor posting.

If you are interested in some information on National Preparedness Month, please hop on over to my other blog, which is a little more up to date. 

I owe you a few and will get to it soon!

Monday, September 17, 2012

So simple but a long road to get there

If you have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, or know anyone who has, read on! 

I was diagnosed with whatever this is almost 11 years ago. Mostly it's about hurting all over all the time, or at least most of it. Other symptoms include physical and mental fatigue at increasingly high levels. There are a host of other symptoms that may or may not be present, and they may or may not be present today but are back tomorrow.  If I weren't suffering from it I might not believe someone describing my set of symptoms either.

I try to minimize the prescription meds because there are side effects and unintended consequences to all of it. There are also several theories about what caused the suite of symptoms. Most MD's  just treat symptoms and don't try to go after root causes. I have been prescribed and tried a lot of meds -- some that worked for a while, others one dose was enough to know it was not for me.  I kept a list with the name, dose and why I found it unsatisfactory.  The list is a couple pages long but allows me to analyze and prevent revisiting failed meds. Of the many meds I've tried and stopped using due to the side effects, I noticed that low doses of brain-affecting meds that monkey with norepinepherine levels gave me the most relief without narcotics (HATE those). Unfortunately most had other undesirable side effects.

A recent article on natural anti-depressive compounds gave me an idea.  The article provided several vitamins and amino acids that are precursors to serotonin. None were mentioned for norepinepherine, so I went to my pal, Google.  Turns out L-tyrosine is the precursor amino acid and that the most bioavailbale form is N-acetyl L-tyrosine (NALT).  I found it at the health food store for under $8, so bought a bottle of 30 X 300 mg tablets and started to play around with it. That was a few weeks ago.

Half a tablet was too much. I was UP! All night! like the old MTV show.  I skipped a couple of days, during which I felt pretty good and was increasingly more able to sleep. Whew.  Next I tried a quarter of a tablet, about 75 mg. Well, it really helps.

Taking a quarter of a tablet each morning has done some amazing things for me. I am no longer taking celebrex ($125/month). I am no longer taking nuvigil ($90/month). Decided not to try to titrate Strattera for the same purpose (would have been $100 per month). Haven't needed a percocet in two weeks -- happy to be without that too. Occasionally I notice a build-up with trouble sleeping so I skip a day.  MANY fewer side effects than the drugs replaced. No meaningful risk of bleeding ulcer, no racing heart beat and wired-feelings from the nuvigil, etc.

I'm not a doctor and this is not medical advice, but my self-experiment seems to be working well.  Looks like the cost of the NALT will be less than $3 a month to replace $215 for less effective meds and prevent another $100 a month experiment. Not a bad deal.

It's been amost 3 weeks. I'l let you know if it's still working a month from now.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Cool New Toy

OK, not really a toy.  For years I've been looking for a small one-piece washer-dryer laundry unit for our vacation place. There are several European  and US manufacturer models available, but they are almost all unvented, which means longer dry times and higher potential for internal mold and mildew growing between visits.

We finally found a VENTED unit, small enough for our intended space and with good user reviews -- most of the unvented unit reviews were filled with regret and sadness. Turns out the unit was designed for cabin cruisers, yachts and luxury RVs -- not quite our niche!

Well this little item, the Splendide 2100 XC, works. It is counter depth (23.5" wide and deep, 33.13" high), uses 110 current, and vents the dryer heat and moisture out of the unit rather than condensing it to use on the next load of wash.  I bought it from Camping World and picked it up from their nearest location.  Shipping costs were not bad, but I was going to town anyway, so saved myself a few $$.  Timing was great.  They are having a Labor Day sale so it was $299 off, but I did have to spend $20 on a Good Sam Club membership to get the discount. $20 to get a sure $299 off, I'll take those odds. That's better than a true daily double, Alex.

There is one website with a lower price.  The shipping charge was about the same, BUT you had to inspect upon delivery or you couldn't return it if it was damaged. That meant an additional trip to the vacation place to sit and wait. No savings in that option for us.

We passed on the installation service because it didn't include the drive time to the vacation spot -- no chance it would be a reasonable fee.  It was fairly easy to install.  The hardest part was removing the shipping block that kept the drum from crashing around during transit. The remainder was pretty easy --hook uo the hot and cold water, stick the drain hose in the drain pipe in the wall and connect tothe vent. 

For now, it is venting into the house. We held back on finishing the utility room until we had a unit, so we'll now design the remaining space. Until we have a firm design and cabinets installed, we'll keep venting into the house. With winter coming on and the perpetual low humidity, it could be a two-fer every time it runs. May even rig up a method for summer venting to the outside and winter venting inside the house to recycle that heat when we can use it!

We cranked it up and did a few loads. The little nipper has a lot of options and choices for how you do your laundry -- just like the big ones! First challenge was getting accustomed to load size.  It will wash about 15 lbs, but if you dry it all at once, things come out very wrinkled --like wadded in a tight ball that can only be relaxed by washing again. Setting the initial dry to about 20 minutes allows opening it and pulling out some of the items that can hang well, like shorts, tops or sheets. That leaves the drying capacity for the important stuff like soft towels! I also dried one load in two phases, which worked well.

Having this little luxury reduced the laundry that we need to bring home, wash and take back by about 70%. Once I realign sheets, towels and work clothes at the other end, the percentage may be higher. I like the idea of not having piles of dirty, and storage tubs of clean, laundry kicking around home for weeks at a time. This may even let us take a more fuel efficient vehicle on vacation because we are hauling less. Hey, lots of connections to real life from this little toy.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Rules for LEGAL Immigrants

I have a friend I'll call Vera from a solvent European country with a name that starts with an 'S.'
Vera has fallen in love with the US desert southwest.  She is a retired civil servant of that 'S' country, and has investments, property and a pension. She is also fluent in English and probably knows more about this country than most Americans. She decided she wanted to have property in the US almost a decade ago. She bought a few acres, which increased the tax rate on those acres from 'agricultural' to 'residential' which is good for the local government. She has also improved the property with a small cabin (about 250 square feet) and hired someone to drill a well.  I guess you could say she is helping people stay employed.

Last time we spoke, she talked about wanting to build her permanent home on the property. She wants to be here for the full construction, but it's a problem. You see, she is from a country that takes laws very seriously so she respects and abides by US law as well.  Under the current US Visa rules, she can only spend as much time in the US every year as she spends outside of the US. If I understood her correctly, she can get a visa for 90 days and then must leave and be out of the US for 90 days before she returns.  It will take close to 6 months to build her house. She can't find anyone willing to work on the house for 90 days, take a 90 day break, and then finish it. It might be easier if she were building it in a big city, but she likes the area because it isn't a big city, like the one she lives in back in Europe.

The only ways she can legally stay longer include: win a visa in her country's official lottery (less than 10 per year are allocated for most European countries); marry a citizen; go to school but leave as soon as her studies are completed (nearest college is about a 90 minute drive each way); enter on a work visa to do a job that her employer hasn't been able to find an American to do (nearest employment is about a 90 minute drive each way), or open a business that employs more than 10 people.  If she had family here, they could sponsor her, but she doesn't.

While MILLIONS of illegal immigrants are here using government benefits, many without contributing, a self-financing retiree is unable to spend her last 10 or 15 years in the place she most wants to live -- at her own expense and contributing to the local tax base.   A few million children of those illegal immigrants just got temporary and likely will get permanent amnesty, scholarships and other benefits while Vera must figure out a way to build her dream home 90 days at a time. Makes me a little crazy if I think about it too much. Go figure.