Archive for June 2013

Dollar Shave Club

A while back I came across a video about some guy selling razor blades.  I got a good laugh and forgot about it until last Monday when I saw an ad on Facebook.

Pretty awesome, right?  I’m almost as good at tennis as he is.  Of course I had to check things out.  I started clicking through everything on their site to see exactly what their deal is.  Afterward I checked Google to see what everyone else was saying about it.  Here’s the short and skinny.

Razorblades come in three varieties:

  • Humble twin – this 2 blade razor is your most basic option for $1/month + shipping and handling.  Some people just like to torture themselves and I haven’t even used a 2 blade razor since last century.  You receive 5 of these blade cartridges per order with a basic handle on first shipment.
  • The 4x – I decided to try out this option at $6/month (shipping and handling included).  I’ve been using the Schick Quattro with titanium blades for years now.  It’s not bad, but there’s always room for improvement.  You receive four of these blade cartridges per order with an upgraded metal handle.
  • The Executive – here’s the cream of the crop with six blades for $9/month (shipping and handling included).  There are extra bells and whistles on this such as a trimmer and slightly nicer handle.  You receive four of these blade cartridges per order with a premium handle.

Shipping:

You will receive one shipment per month unless you opt to receive shipments every other month.  There is also no lock-in or contract so you can cancel at any time.  After receiving your first shipment, your next shipment will go out one, or two, months later.

My first shipment

My first shipment

Other products:

Shave Butter is their premium shaving cream that’s not a cream.  I added one to my first order and am so far pleased with it.  The shave butter comes out looking sort of like vaseline meaning it’s translucent and you can actually see what you’re shaving.  I can’t count how many times I’ve been trying to shape my current beard configuration and have messed up because I can’t see what I’m doing.  Shave Butter can be added to your order for $8, but will not automatically ship every month.

One Wipe Charlies.  Yes, they have fancy, flushable butt wipes for men.  I don’t see myself trying this one anytime soon, but I’m sure one of you reading this can’t wait to get your package of 40 durable 5″ x 7″ sheets.  One Wipe Charlies can be added to your order for $4, but will not automatically ship every month.

Extra Razor Handles – You receive your first handle free and can order a second handle but will have to pay for it.  If you upgrade or downgrade, a new handle will be sent to you.

Reviews:

While googling and googling this service I came across many reviews and recommendations lauding the awesomeness of the Dollar Shave Club with negative reviews sprinkled here and there.  It was nice to see the diversification because any product worth considering should have a good population of people willing to share their thoughts/experiences as well as people who love it and hate it.  We all know everyone will never be happy so if you have an entire population loving or hating something, you better check into it more.

  • Some reviewers just hated the $1 razor and handle, and I’m not surprised.  I can’t shave my head with a disposable razor so why would I purchase a $1 safety razor to do the same job?
  • Some reviewers have pointed out you can buy these razors directly from the manufacturer for less money, however, the manufacturer charges you shipping and handling which pretty much negates the savings.  You would also miss out on the awesome advertising, packaging and not having to remember to re-order on a regular basis.
  • Some reviewers say the razors clog too easily, don’t offer a “good shave” or irritate their skin.  These are all great observations, but there’s very also subjective and hard to measure.  I have no idea how they’re shaving, what their skin type is, how much stubble they’re attempting to remove, how old the razor is, etc, etc, etc.  You basically have to try this stuff for yourself and see what happens.

My Experience:

I received my first shipment Friday and shaved my head Saturday, this morning.  I applied a thin layer of Shave Butter onto my scalp and gave it a whirl.  I was a little worried about a “dry-shave” feeling since my standard operating procedure is to apply a hefty amount of Gillette Sensitive Skin Shaving Cream.  It actually felt great and the razor didn’t clog at all.  My last head-shave had been three days prior which is about the perfect time for a touch-up.  A few days later and the hair is almost too long to easily shave.  I often use my Quattro razors much longer than I should because I can’t afford to buy them as often as I’d like which results in less than awesome shaves.  I’m hoping to shave my head every 2-3 days with The 4X.

Shave butter, The 4X razor handle and four cartridges

Shave butter, The 4X razor handle and four cartridges

The one thing that was awkward was getting used to the angle of the razor cartridge on the handle.  It’s more like a Gillette Mach 3 which is a different angle than the Schick Quattro.  That was easy enough to get over though.  I’m very interested to see how long the blades continue working for me.  I always have some sort of facial hair going on and am rocking a full beard at the moment.  My face is pretty hardy and isn’t really phased by a “bad shave.”  My scalp on the other hand is an entirely different matter.  I was able to shave my head in several minutes with no irritation and when getting directly into a hot shower, I had no “stinging patches” on my head which often happens with other razors.  I’m going to continue to see how DollarShaveClub works out and will update later on how things are going.

I placed my Schick Quattro next to The 4X

I placed my Schick Quattro next to The 4X

How do I order?

So this link here will take you straight to the DollarShaveClub’s site where you can check things out and think about giving it a try.  I’m going to just fess up and say it’s a referral link.  If you use my link and sign up, I’ll get a few bucks credit on the site and you’ll be empowering me to continue having an awesome shaved head.  If you’ve tried this service, are using it or think you’ll start – I’d love to hear your comments.

Name dropping Neville Kiser

I always knew I’d some day have famous friends.  It’s just how things work out.  And today I get to brag that I know Neville Kiser.  He’s on IMDB.  Check it out.

neville_kiserhttp://www.imdb.com/name/nm5684567/

Farfalle with kale

Yesterday I decided to use up some of our fresh produce from the farm stand and settled on a pasta dish.

Ingredients:

  • 1 box farfalle white wheat (extra fiber) pasta
  • About 3lbs of fresh kale
  • 2 large broccoli stalks
  • 1 cup fresh peas
  • 1 large onion diced
  • About 10 cloves garlic (use your judgement here)
  • About 3-4T olive oil
  • Two jars of sauce
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Oregano
  • Basil

Directions:

  1. In my large, wok-like frying pan I put the olive oil, onion and garlic into the pan with some salt, pepper, oregano and basil on medium heat.  While that started cooking, I roughly chopped my kale and added that to the wok, covered and started sweating down those leaves.  I then started prepping the broccoli, added that to the wok, and shelled my peas, occasionally stirring up my vegetables.
  2. After the kale had reduced down to something manageable I dropped the heat to low, added two jars of sauce, some more oregano and basil to taste, the peas and covered.  I started my pasta water boiling at this point and let the sauce-veggie mixture warm together as I cooked the pasta.
  3. Once the pasta had cooked about 11 min, according to the box instructions, I drained and immediately mixed in with pasta.  I served this on plates with some grated parmesan and whole wheat garlic bread on the side.

Coen Brothers Collection on sale

If you aren’t a fan of the Coen Brothers already, obviously you’re not a golfer.  That’s OK, because this week Amazon is running a great deal on the Coen Brothers Collection.  Check it out.  This set includes:

  • Blood Simple
  • Raising Arizona
  • Miller’s Crossing
  • Fargo

It’s hard to pass a deal like this up when it’s only 20 dollars, bones, clams or what have you.  Be sure to take advantage before the end of the week!

James Gandolfini dead at 51

Wow, I’m kind of reeling from thisJames Gandolfini recently passed due to a heart attack while in Italy.  In just the past couple of months I marathoned my way through The Sopranos (1999-2007) so I feel like I’ve been seeing a lot of Gandolfini on my screen lately.

I think I first became aware of him when The Mexican (2001) came out, mostly because everyone was talking about his break-out role in The Sopranos.  I also enjoyed his subsequent roles in:

I’ve been looking forward to seeing Violet & Daisy (2011) and Killing Them Softly (2012).  After becoming aware of Gandolfini’s acting chops, I soon remembered him in other roles such as Crimson Tide (1995)True Romance (1993) and Get Shorty (1995).  He’s definitely going to be missed.  While he obviously had the “mob character” down, James Gandolfini showed a knack from branching out and not being type-cast.  I’m going to have to start re-watching his films.

Mr Gandolfini left behind a wife and young daughter as well as a son from a previous marriage.  The flag is flying half-mast here at One Bad Lung.

james-gandolfini_sopranos

Here’s a great article from Yahoo talking about the role of Tony Soprano and why it was so significant.

Holsten’s Ice Cream Shop in New Jersey, location for the last episode of The Sopranos, pays tribute to James Gandolfini.

Another ER visit

This summer is truly turning into record breaking asthma for me.  As of today:

  • I have 22 days of prednisone under my belt with another 27 on the way
  • Two courses of anti-biotics
  • Two ER visits
  • Four PCP visits
  • Three Pulmonology visits
  • One Allergist visit
  • About 120 nebulizer treatments

Wednesday was brutal outside.  The temperature hit at least 90F with humidity to add to the heat index.  I know the heat index isn’t “real” but it sure does affect people like myself with pulmonary conditions.  I’ve been trying to figure out a better parking solution at work because the closest lot with my level of parking access is 880 walking yards away.  When I’m feeling ok, that mile of walking every day is great, but I’m not ok right now.  Ironically my doctor wrote a letter asking for a parking accommodation and later that day I ended up in the ER due to an exacerbation from walking around campus.

Trips to the emergency room or emergency department are never enjoyed or wanted.  I fancy myself as “tough,” never think I’m that bad and in the moment usually suffer from “asthma brain” fueled by a lack of oxygen.  It’s good to have someone around to make the decision for you or easily identifiable metrics defined to know when to go.  Walking around outside that day was causing my lungs to ache with every breathe which eventually led to dull, then sharp pain.  Around 6:30pm I’d rank my inhalation pain around 7/10, was shaking uncontrollably and had tears streaming down my face.  And that’s ok cause strong men also cry…right?

Whenever I recount stories like this, they sound ridiculous and of course I would try to force someone else to seek medical attention if they were in my situation.  What I had going through my head that night were things like:

  • There’s no way it can last that much longer
  • I’ve been worse before (it’s true)
  • I’d rather wait to incur more medical costs until after 7/1 when I have more FSA funds to pay for it
  • I’ll be ok

My wife started threatening to call an ambulance, and while I do respect all my paramedic friends, I hate taking ambulance rides.  Eventually I agreed to go if she would drive me, and she did.  I had already done four nebulizer treatments at home that day and by the time I finally went to the ER, my pain had dropped from 7/10 to about 4/10.  With the heat, humidity and thunderstorms, the ER was packed, however, since I’m a bit of a frequent flyer they recognized me when we walked in the door and let me cut in line.  As they were wheeling me to a room I began to notice all the people standing/sitting in the hallways being treated so I was grateful for a bed.  They got started on me right away with the standard tests.  The “asthma” wasn’t bad, I just wanted to punch a wall every time I breathed.

The respiratory tech was a good one that night.  Instead of answering a bunch of questions, I handed over my notebook which is when they start taking me seriously.  I’m basically on high doses of every type of maintenance and rescue medication in addition to the anti-biotics and prednisone I’ve been taking.  The attending physician ordered blood work, a chest xray and the dreaded ABG.  This was the first time a respiratory tech performed a blood gas test on me, usually they bring in a phlebotomist and it goes horribly.  This dude got it right away and I can actually move my wrist – major bonus.

Unsurprisingly they didn’t find anything out of the ordinary, well that is from what’s already known, they got me patched up and sent me home.  They did pump me full of morphine though which really made it easier to breathe.  I’m sure Rick James would tell us it’s one hell of a drug, but that’s a bit rhetorical.  At this point my body is just too tired, stressed and worn out from 6 weeks of asthma and not sleeping.  I need to start seriously looking out for myself the rest of the summer to avoid any more complications.  I sometimes joke about people dying from asthma, but it’s true.  I’m fortunate enough to have a special lady friend looking out for me, a good team of doctors and a boss who is accommodating.  I don’t know how I became so lucky some days.

Turns out trees really are important

I have a love/hate relationship with trees.  On one hand they filter huge amounts of pollution from the air, but on the other hand they produce pollen which makes my eyes swell and air sacs hurt.

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/2013/06/can-lack-of-trees-kill-you-faster.html

In the past ten years or so 100 million trees have died due to a beetle in the MidWest and Eastern sections of the US.  A rise in cardiovascular and pulmonary disease has been directly linked to the loss of these free “HEPA filters” nature has provided.

I recently read an article labeling Louisville, KY as America’s fastest warming city.  The main contributing factor to this rise in temperature is a lack of tree cover.  Who would have thought shade was that big of a deal?  We’ve in the process of taking down some dead trees where we live.  I want to make sure we plant some new ones to replace the air filters.

Final phase out of CFC inhalers

In an effort to save the planet, regulations have been enacted by the EPA to restrict certain materials and products that hard the environment.  Obviously these laws were created to target big manufacturers, chemical companies and industries pumping out the pollution, right?  Well an easier target was inhalers containing CFCs or chloroflurocarbons.

In 2008 albuterol inhalers began the phase-out process.  New versions of both rescue and maintenance inhalers started having HFC attached to the end which stands for hydrofluorocarbons.  This new propellent is safer for the environment, sends the life-saving medicine out much less forcefully and no one seems to like them.  The actuators also clog much more easily with HFCs than CFCs, but many asthmatics don’t know they need to clean their medicine delivery system.  This results in less medicine being delivered over time further exacerbating the the whole “not breathing” problem.  Did I mention the cost of HFA inhalers can be three times more?

I’m not your average asthmatic and therefore I’m not on average drugs.  Way back in the day we found out Maxair, pirbuterol acetate, worked much more effectively for me than the standard albuterol sulfate inhalers.  There are currently two CFC inhalers still on the market that will no longer be available after December 31, 2013 and one of those is Maxair.  I’m really not looking forward to switching and am glad I’ve had a few extra years to wait.  There have been some improvements to inhaler technology in general such as more powder-based inhaled medications on the market.  Examples of these would be pulmicort, advair, seravent, spirivia and azmacort.  There have also been some strides taken with miniature nebulizers which are much easier to transport than the heavy duty models.

For now I’m just going to continue to try purchasing my Maxair.  I need to put in an order through the mail-order pharmacy before December hits.  I’ve asked my doctors several times about what I need to switch to and they act like it’s no big deal.  I really hope it isn’t.hfc-vs-cfc_inhalers

 

Are you at risk for an asthma attack?

A recent study in the UK surveyed more than 50,000 asthmatics asking them about risk factors and if they thought they were at risk for an attack.  As usual with many self-selecting surveys, 52% of the respondents thought they were at risk when 93% of them actually were.

Obviously these results apply to the US where I live as well, and I know at one point in time I was one of those pretending their asthma was under control.  While many of you don’t need to carry an inhaler, allergy medication, nebulizer and peak flow meter with them everywhere they go, it never hurts to have a current inhaler on hand.  I’ve actually had a few attacks in my life where I thought I could actually die, and no one likes getting ABG tests.  Stay safe guys.  Take your maintenance meds and carry an inhaler, please.

Write stuff down

About three years ago I was living in New Hampshire and having a hell of a time getting doctors to recognize my severe, uncontrolled asthma.  I’m not your average patient, but is anyone really average?  My symptoms aren’t the normal ones, I’ve historically performed much better on tests than the average pulmonary patient, and I don’t complain loud enough.  I have years of data and records to back things up, but how many doctors really take the time to study and comprehend all that paperwork?

The solution came from my wife, an English professor, who told me to write stuff down.  The answer was quite simple because when a doctor asked, “How have you been,” I could barely remember all the details from last week, let alone how they compared to last month.  It started with an excel spreadsheet where I would enter peakflow numbers.  I performed three readings before and after taking rescue meds, averaged the three numbers in a series and charted the high, low and average lines.  The first doctor I showed this data to laughed at me and made something up as to why the empirical data was irrelevant.  There’s a long story about how I fired this doctor, but this really isn’t the time or place.  The point I do want to make is every single doctor who has seen my record keeping since then has been blown away.

Today I keep a pocket-calendar/notebook where I write down all non-maintenance medications I take every day, record intentional exercise or physical activity and any events that may have contributed to an attack or flare.  I have written all known medical conditions, keep an updated list of medications and physicians, and I separately track any major events and the course of action taken.  This can be a large amount of information to record so I have devised a system of letter abbreviations to save space.  In the case I do need more room, I just have to flip a page or two where each day has a much larger and dedicated portion of the page.

notebook_may2013

There’s an example of my notebook from last month so when I follow up with a doctor and they want to know how I’ve been, there’s something to which I can refer.  The best part is I can flip to any previous month, and if I have last year’s notebook with me – that can be compared as well.

This is what got my complaints noticed.  This is what gave doctors a more clear picture of just how bad I’ve been feeling.  This is what finally got me treated and better.  At times it feels like a job, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this act of writing saves my life some day.