Yes, I do have a brain.
I took the day off yesterday to travel to Boston University to participate in a Gulf War Illness research study.
The study is looking to identify biomarkers that might indicate Gulf War Illness. It cost me a day off of work and paying for my travel expenses but I was able to add my information to the pool of data so that it might help other Gulf War veterans.
Part of yesterday’s tests included a structural MRI, after which I was sent home with a copy of my imaging data. Being a data nerd, this thrilled me and I couldn’t wait to check out what was on my CD. While the typical image tools available for Linux like GIMP were able to view the images, it wasn’t until I installed the MRIcron application that I was able to view my imagery in three dimensions. MRIcon converts the DICOM files that the MRI generated into an open format that can then be manipulated by MRIcron.
Pretty cool, although a bit disconcerting to realize I’m looking at tiny slices of my own head. There’s a strong part of me that keeps thinking “man, you’re not dead yet! You should not be seeing your brain!” Coupled with my image data, MRIcon is a really captivating tool for exploring the structure my brain (and my head as well).
Looking closely at the third image you can clearly see that my eyeballs are shaped completely differently. This probably accounts for my unusual combination of nearsightedness and farsightedness. Good times.
I had my first drink in six weeks yesterday, in honor of achieving a goal I had set before Memorial Day to give up drinking until the Fourth of July. My dry spell wasn’t brought on by anything in particular. My VA doctor had before suggested that I cut back on alcohol, though I averaged less than a single drink a day so my drinking wasn’t excessive. Mostly the challenge was just to see how easily I could do it and if it benefited my health in any way.
My results? It was far easier than I anticipated and, well, I do think my health is somewhat improved but the results aren’t all that dramatic (probably because I didn’t drink much to begin with).
Sonic attacks on American diplomats continue, this time in China.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that an incident involving a US government employee stationed in China who reported “abnormal sensations of sound and pressure” suggesting a mild brain injury has medical indications that are “very similar” and “entirely consistent” to those experienced by American diplomats posted in Havana.
US officials have issued a health alert in China following the incident. Additionally, the US State Department is looking into whether the incident is similar to what happened in Cuba in 2016 and 2017, a US diplomatic official told CNN, which the US government characterized as a “sonic attack.” That incident led to a reduction in staffing at the US Embassy in Havana.
Source: Pompeo says China incident is ‘entirely consistent’ with Cuba ‘sonic attacks’ – CNN
Pharmaceutical companies are evil, part 45,326.
Did you catch 60 Minutes last night? If you did, you may have learned about a drug called Acthar that went from $40 in 2001 to over $40,000 today. It’s a perfect illustration of just how poorly regulated the US pharmaceutical industry continues to be and how there’s absolutely no good reason for the extreme prices Americans pay for medicine.
Acthar has been on the market since 1952 and is primarily used to treat infantile spasms, a rare condition. Why does Acthar cost $40,000 today, an increase of 100,000 percent from the cost in 2001? Pure greed.
Source: The Price of This Drug Went Up 100,000 Percent Since 2001 for No Good Reason
When I first confronted my GERD stomach issues a few decades ago I had a choice: I could simply take an antacid pill each day for life or I could get surgery to fix it. The pill would’ve been easy, painless, and relatively inexpensive but I chose the surgery simply because I didn’t want to be dependent on Big Pharma.
This Golden Sachs analyst’s remarkable candor shows, in a nutshell, what’s wrong with a capitalistic health care system. What’s good for the patient is not always good for the investor. In fact, pretty frequently it’s not.
If you had any illusions about the true motivation of the medical industry you should now know the truth.
Wall Street greed is often why we can’t have nice things.
Goldman Sachs analysts attempted to address a touchy subject for biotech companies, especially those involved in the pioneering “gene therapy” treatment: cures could be bad for business in the long run.
“Is curing patients a sustainable business model?” analysts ask in an April 10 report entitled “The Genome Revolution.”
“The potential to deliver ‘one shot cures’ is one of the most attractive aspects of gene therapy, genetically-engineered cell therapy and gene editing. However, such treatments offer a very different outlook with regard to recurring revenue versus chronic therapies,” analyst Salveen Richter wrote in the note to clients Tuesday. “While this proposition carries tremendous value for patients and society, it could represent a challenge for genome medicine developers looking for sustained cash flow.”
Source: Goldman asks: ‘Is curing patients a sustainable business model?’
It seems that Americans bend over all wrong. Learn how to hip-hinge, a more natural way to bend. Fascinating!
To see if you’re bending correctly, try a simple experiment.
“Stand up and put your hands on your waist,” says Jean Couch, who has been helping people get out of back pain for 25 years at her studio in Palo Alto, Calif.
“Now imagine I’ve dropped a feather in front of your feet and asked to pick it up,” Couch says. “Usually everybody immediately moves their heads and looks down.”
That little look down bends your spine and triggers your stomach to do a little crunch. “You’ve already started to bend incorrectly — at your waist,” Couch says. “Almost everyone in the U.S. bends at the stomach.”
In the process, our backs curve into the letter “C” — or, as Couch says, “We all look like really folded cashews.”
In other words, when we bend over in the U.S., most of us look like nuts!But in many parts of the world, people don’t look like cashews when they bend over. Instead, you see something very different.
Source: Back Pain May Be The Result Of Bending Over At The Waist Instead Of The Hips : Shots – Health News : NPR
I’m a little skeptical that a standing desk could be worse for you than sitting on your ass all day. I’m certainly not going to take as gospel a study with a mere 20 participants in it. As for the Canadian study, I have my doubts, too, but need to delve further into the science.
Often I think these studies are driven by the disdain that Sitters often show towards Standers. Desk discrimination is what it is.
There’s always that one person in the office—you know the one. The one with the standing desk. Whenever you happen to pass their cube you think, wow, there’s a person being proactive about their health. There’s someone fighting the good fight against modern society’s unavoidably sedentary lifestyle. Good on them, bad on me.
But is that really true? A growing body of evidence suggests that yes, sitting for long periods of time can have a detrimental effect on your health. But unfortunately, standing for large spans of the day isn’t that great either. And a recent study adds to this pile. This month in the journal Ergonomics, researchers report that when they had 20 participants stand for two hours at a time, subjects showed an apparent increase in lower limb swelling and decreased mental state.
Source: There’s a better way to use a standing desk | Popular Science
Monsieur Marchand is my new hero.
At the age of 105, the French amateur cyclist and world-record holder Robert Marchand is more aerobically fit than most 50-year-olds — and appears to be getting even fitter as he ages, according to a revelatory new study of his physiology.
The study, which appeared in December in The Journal of Applied Physiology, may help to rewrite scientific expectations of how our bodies age and what is possible for any of us athletically, no matter how old we are.Many people first heard of Mr. Marchand last month, when he set a world record in one-hour cycling, an event in which someone rides as many miles as possible on an indoor track in 60 minutes.
Mr. Marchand pedaled more than 14 miles, setting a global benchmark for cyclists age 105 and older. That classification had to be created specifically to accommodate him. No one his age previously had attempted the record.
Mr. Marchand, who was born in 1911, already owned the one-hour record for riders age 100 and older, which he had set in 2012.
It was as he prepared for that ride that he came to the attention of Veronique Billat, a professor of exercise science at the University of Evry-Val d’Essonne in France. At her lab, Dr. Billat and her colleagues study and train many professional and recreational athletes.
This is appalling. People are dying because they can’t afford insulin.
The U.S. health care is broken. Only single-payer will fix it and I will support any politician who supports it. No one should die over profits!
On May 20, 2017, Smith turned 26, aging out of his parents’ insurance. Because he was a single man with a decent job, Smith didn’t qualify for subsidies under the Affordable Care Act. The most inexpensive plan Smith and his mother could find on the Minnesota exchange was around $450 per month with a $7600 deductible. Smith could have afforded the monthly premiums, but the deductible made the plan too expensive. Although the family had been researching plans for Smith since February, he had to go off of health insurance entirely.
When Smith went to the pharmacy to pick up his insulin in early June, the bill was over $1300 without insurance. He couldn’t afford the medicine that day, and decided to ration his remaining insulin until he was paid. Smith did not tell his family that he was adjusting his carbohydrate intake so he could lower his dosage.
“He knew the signs of being in trouble with his diabetes,” Smith-Holt told the HPR. “But when your body starts shutting down like that, you’re not making very clear, rational decisions.”
On June 25, Smith went to dinner with his girlfriend, where he complained about stomach pains. It was the last time anyone saw him alive. He called in sick to work the next day. On June 27, Smith was found dead in his apartment.
Source: How Insulin Became Unaffordable | Harvard Political Review
Somebody needs to go to jail. Several somebodies, in fact.
Over the past decade, out-of-state drug companies shipped 20.8 million prescription painkillers to two pharmacies four blocks apart in a Southern West Virginia town with 2,900 people, according to a congressional committee investigating the opioid crisis.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee cited the massive shipments of hydrocodone and oxycodone — two powerful painkillers — to the town of Williamson, in Mingo County, amid the panel’s inquiry into the role of drug distributors in the opioid epidemic.
“These numbers are outrageous, and we will get to the bottom of how this destruction was able to be unleashed across West Virginia,” said committee Chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore., and ranking member Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., in a joint statement.
Source: Drug firms shipped 20.8M pain pills to WV town with 2,900 people | Health | wvgazettemail.com