Sunday, December 12, 2010

Bits and Pieces: The Return

Adults with chicks

Image via Wikipedia

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 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 as the severity of the disease increases. 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 (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 is "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 these scientists were standing in front of me, I'd kick them 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…

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  1. LOL

    Thanks for the humor!

  2. As usual, a wonderful post that leaves me in the dust.

    I love you anyway. :)

  3. OK, I take back what I just said in my email. That was Hilarious! Thanks Marc.


  4. OMG! LOL the whole time, especially about the study on MS anger. This study must have been one of the "pork barrel" fundings from our illustrious, caring US Congress. Now, to find out which congress person so that you can get up close and personal with your remarks.

    Great post and I look forward to all the new ones just like a kid waiting for Christmas.

  5. Love the post! Is it homage that it starts out w/Chinese herbs when Bits and Pieces is soup from your neighborhood Chinese take-out! It should be a trend in all your Bits and Pieces posts.

    I am honored that I've been part of your most recent blogs. I hope I've got some more fodder for you soon.

  6. from Daphne
    Is it crows or bluejays that are also attracted to "shiny bits"? Oh well, either way--highly intelligent, quite communicative beings--yep--it fits, Marc!

    I read this on the plane and was already laughing pretty hard by the time I got to the dog piece from your friend.

    At that point I began actual guffawing, laughing uncontrollably, tears covering my face. My hiccoughs and spasms and outbursts attracted attention from 4 rows around me. I couldn't catch my breath before another wave would hit. Best plane ride I ever had!

  7. it looks like a blog for people with disabilities. Let's help to improve the life of handicapped people from India and all over the world.

  8. why you do not actually have a radar screen

  9. You've outdone yourself this time, and undone me in the process. Hysterical, courtesy no doubt, of the disease.

    xoxoxoxo, flies

  10. Yes, anger comes to me when reading the report abot anger. Is it surprising that a person gets pissed off not being able to walk, have legs jumping, cold feet, lousy balance, hysterical bladder and bowel, vision loss and more. And who the hell sponsored such nonsense.

  11. My hilarity peaked during the suppressed anger observation. Made my day (maybe my whole holiday season). Thanks!

  12. Thanks for the laugh, I needed that. I'm not sure now if I'm sleepy or if fatigue has set in, I'll read the study. Might help me fall asleep!!

  13. Thanks, I enjoyed this post! The bit on anger brought about so much laughter it caused a complete release of my withheld anger.

  14. Fun post - bet you had fun writing it! Now, to be a total buzz kill - I actually have quite a bit of fatigue without sleepiness. It's like being paralyzed while you are very wide awake. Sucks.

  15. Ha ha!
    It's good to see you back in top form :-)
    You must be feeling better!

  16. I love the repressed anger study rant! So much for that theory...

  17. OK, I know I have cognitive issues (in addition to all the repressed anger), but I don't actually understand this. It seems rather paradoxical...

    "...while patients experienced almost twice the normal level of withheld anger and exerted low levels of control on their anger..."

    How the frig can you have twice the withheld anger, and low control simultaneously? That sounds like my overactive/retentive bladder for chrissakes.

  18. Your suppressed anger rant was brilliant :D!
    And the link to the dogs and moving was hilarious; thanks for the laughs, Marc!

  19. I think its astonishing that someone who can like the NY Giants can write so well! MAybe the MS Society can get us pissants a discount on anger management classes?

    Detroit Lions Management

  20. Glad people got a chuckle out of this post. See, MS can be fun! Maybe that could be the theme of an upcoming MS walk, "I have MS, but MS is fun!" Then perhaps more people will want MS, and they can have some of mine…

    Just to answer a few of the questions posed here:

    anonymous-I believe the things attracted to shiny bits are desperate guys cruising for hookers, because I've never seen any other woman wear a pair of gold lamé hotpants. Actually, I think Mariah Carey may have worn such hotpants, and you can make of that what you will…

    Michelle-bring on the fodder. While you're at it, bring on the mudder too…

    Wheelchair-I do not have my own radar screen because it's a very cruel world, and you can't always get what you want…

    lennart-I don't know who sponsored the "anger" study, but I'm sure donations from MS patients must've played some part in it…

    Sue-well, that sucks. Fatigue without sleepiness is like peanut butter without jelly. I'm sorry that you have to deal with such a situation. Others have e-mailed me echoing your sentiments. It seems there should be some better scientific word for sleepiness, though. Any word derived from the name of one of the seven dwarves has no place in a scientific journal. Not to poke fun at your situation, though. It sounds horrible…

    Carolyn-very good point. You'd be amazed at some of the studies that actually get done…

    Detroit Lions-thanks for your contribution, but I think you should be looking for some cornerbacks rather than reading my blog…

  21. OMG my husband and I laughed so hard at your suppressed anger rant.

    Kudos to Michelle for the Blog link. My absolute favorite (pointed out to me by another online friend) was "Boyfriend Doesn't Have Ebola. Probably." I printed it off and took it to my pain specialist today and he intends to show it at rounds. What a great find.

    Your blog's OK too Marc ;)

  22. Marc I am still cracking up....this was great...YOU MADE MY DAY!!!!