Okay, so this is just another in a series of "Bits and Pieces" posts, in which I provide a list of various shiny objects that have caught my attention at some point in the recent past. I just hate the conformity of having a long series of posts entitled "Bits and Pieces", so I hope you'll put up with my attempts to come up with variations on the theme. As a matter of fact, if any of you have any ideas for better titles for these kinds of posts, please feel free to leave them in the comments section.
I sure hope I don't get sued by the Kibbles ‘n Bits pet food company, as it is a copyrighted name. But just let the bastards try it, it will be a good chance to play the MS card ("Gee, I'm sorry Mr. Judge, but I have this brain disease, see, and…"). Incidentally, if you do have a dog, and you love the pooch, please don't feed it crap such as Kibbles ‘n Bits. Most commercial dog food is made of things you'd rather not know about and is largely responsible for the rise in cancer seen in household pets, which is epidemic these days. Instead, go with all-natural products, also sometimes called "human grade", such as those made by Wellness (click here) or Old Mother Hubbard (click here). When my dearly departed Stella (that’s her in the picture) was still with us (click here), we switched her from commercial dog food to the all-natural stuff on the advice of our veterinarian, and the difference in her overall health and demeanor was almost instantaneous, night and day. The food may cost a little bit more, but you'll save money on veterinarian bills in the long run…
Okay, now that I've veered completely off course, on with the show…
- A big thank you to everyone who listened to my interview with Karen Gordon this past Tuesday night. If you missed it, Karen has posted an excerpt on her blog (click here). The interview lasted about one hour and 45 min., well over the originally planned one hour (mostly because there were lots of good questions, and also because I'm a blowhard). I'm happy to report that the interview received lots of very positive feedback, but when I listened to the excerpt all I heard was some guy saying "um" and "you know" an awful lot. Because, um, I guess , you know, I'm unaccustomed to public speaking and stuff.
- "Musings of a Distractible Mind" is a fascinating blog written by a real-life doctor. His post "A Letter to Patients With Chronic Disease" (click here) is an incredibly honest piece of writing, and one that I think is a must read for all patients dealing with chronic illness. In the piece, Dr. Rob explains that many doctors are literally scared of the chronically ill, and goes on to tell us why. Overall, "Musings" is a captivating and valuable blog, giving patients a rare peek at what it's like to be on the other side of the stethoscope.
- Here's a small way all of my Canadian friends can do a little something to help further the CCSVI cause. This pro-CCSVI online petition (click here) is directed at Canadian Minister of Health Leona Aglukkaq, who recently announced the Canadian federal government's decision to not fund treatment studies of the liberation procedure. It should take about 10 seconds to fill out the petition, so if you are Canadian, please click the above link to let the powers that be know that you don't approve of their recent actions, or, more correctly, their inactions…
One thing that is sure to make some of the staunchest CCSVI advocates' heads explode is the suggestion that some of the benefits described by patients after undergoing the Liberation Procedure may be due to the placebo effect. The truth is that the placebo effect is a very strong and poorly understood phenomenon, and one which can't be easily dismissed in any legitimate medical investigation. This article (click here) describes a trial involving Parkinson's patients, during which all of the patients involved in the trial received brain surgery. Some of the patients, though, received a sham procedure, in which they underwent the exact same extremely invasive surgery as the other test subjects, only the medication being tested was not injected into their brains. Incredibly, many of the patients who received the sham procedure experienced tremendous improvement in their symptoms, so much so that the medication being trialed was deemed ineffective, because those receiving it experienced just about the same level of benefit as those not receiving it.
Researchers are now learning that the placebo effect is not simply the function of a patient's imagination. The effect is more pronounced in procedures in which the stakes are high, and actually appears to cause the brain to release chemicals directly involved in the disease process. In other words, the placebo effect may actually have some verifiable and beneficial medical significance. Truly fascinating stuff. The article also discusses the morality involved in the use of sham procedures, and also includes some patient perspective. In the recently announced Liberation Procedure treatment trials to be conducted in Albany, New York, (click here) sham procedures will be used to test the effectiveness of the treatment.
Edited to add: based on some of the comments left by readers, it appears that some are taking this post to mean that I'm suggesting the placebo effect is responsible for all the benefits seen in patients who have undergone the Liberation Procedure. I am absolutely NOT saying this. I believe that many patients who undergo CCSVI treatment experience very real and very long lasting benefit. The placebo effect, though, must be factored in when trying to view the picture as a whole, as is evidenced by the above linked article.
- Many readers have e-mailed me asking for recommendations on good books about Multiple Sclerosis. In all honesty, I really haven't read many books on the subject, instead heavily depending on the Internet to do my MS research and learning. My friend Mitch, who writes the terrific blog "Enjoying the Ride", has read quite an assortment of MS and disability related books, which he reviews in this very valuable post (click here). While you're over at "Enjoying the Ride", be sure to poke around and check out some of his other posts, as Mitch's blog is chock full of extremely interesting and well-written material.
Well, that's it for now. Oh, one more thing. I took a tumble the other night (cane slipped, wobbly legs failed me, and I fell down and went boom), and thankfully Karen was home to help me struggle back into my wheelchair. If she wasn't home, I'd have been stuck on the floor ad infinitum. So, please, if you have trouble walking, be sure to always carry a cell phone with you, just in case you find yourself kissing the hardwood (or carpet, or tile, whatever the case may be). And don't worry, I'm no worse for the wear, just some bumps and bruises.
Have I ever mentioned that MS sucks?