Archive for April 2014

New way to diagnose asthma

I came across this article a couple weeks ago about researchers at University of Wisconsin’s Madison campus finding a new way to test for asthma.  One of the difficulties of being diagnosed or treated, is actually being able to replicate your problem in the doctor’s office.  My symptoms are always worse at night time, but when I see my doctor it’s usually between 9am and 3pm.

The Key To Asthma Diagnosis Is In The Blood

I don’t fully understand what the process is, but according to the article they do a blood test to check the levels of neutrophils, a type of white blood cell, in your body.  In the past the process to do this type of test required a large amount of blood and special equipment.

Traditionally, a clinical study of neutrophils required so much blood work, specialized equipment and processing that it was impractical to use in diagnostics. However, UW-Madison students developed the kit-on-a-lid-assay (KOALA) microfluidic technology, which allows them to detect neutrophils using just a single drop of blood.

This is very cool and I kind of wonder how long until I’ll be doing a blood test to check in on the status of my asthma management.  I don’t know if the groups of researchers are working together, but I do know one of the SARP sites is at UW Madison.  This is the quality and type of development being done through the Severe Asthma Research Program and I’m proud to be a part of it.

Beard oil

I’ve been growing beards since I was 18, but now that I’m in my 30s I’m more interested in easy management tools so I’m not finding myself in the situation where I’m sick and tired of something I could have fixed weeks ago, but now just want to cut it off.  I really dislike shaving and am one of those guys who can have a nice looking full-beard in 3 weeks.  If I’m too lazy I soon have something I have to deal with for better or worse.

Towards the end of the calendar winter, cause we all know winter has just been lasting and lasting, I had a solid, four-inch beard all around.  Mine ends up being curly so combing it out makes it seem actually longer, and I also have one spot that grows a little faster than everything else.  My problem is trying to manage the sideburns so I don’t look like Bozo the clown.  Every once in a while I try to trim down the sides but usually end up messing it up and having to cut the whole thing off.

Earlier this month I got myself a new beard trimmer, my old and crappy one had surpassed 10 years, and some beard combs by Kent.  I also started looking around on the internets for tips and advice on what to do which led me to Beardbrand and The Beard Baron.  They both sell similar products, have decent marketing and web presence, and both create great videos for information and tutorial purposes.  The Beard Baron just happened to have a video specifically for managing your sideburns.

So I’ve been combing out my beard every day for a while now and it’s been making a huge difference for me.  In the past I’ve noticed when trimming down my beard there can be an odd abundance of oil on my face.  That was basically coming from the cut hairs.  Combing my beard out helps to evenly disperse some of that, it gets rid of tangles, and has been helping the cowlick in my beard to really chill out.  I basically have hair growing in two directions which meet in one part of my face creating an inverted part or mini-fauxhawk.

This week I started using some beard oil I purchased from Beardbrand.  I went with the unscented stuff because I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about my face smelling minty, spicy, or like a forest.  There can also be issues with allergies and some of my respiratory stuff breathing in certain scents.  The stuff is really easy to use and there is a stopper/restricting piece in the top of the bottle so the oil cannot pour out.  I dab a couple drops on my fingers, run them through my beard, and comb it in.  Afterwards I can’t even tell oil had been on my hands.

My first observation was the color of my beard really popped the other morning.  I have an almost tri-colored beard depending on the day, sunlight, and length.  Throughout the day the color became less vibrant, but I think part of that is because this is oil, not water, so it oxidized.  The texture of my beard seems softer and more manageable.  It’s hard to really have a good opinion after only a few days, but I’d say I’m enjoying this easy way to hep manage my face hair.

Beard combs

I’m one of those lucky, but sometimes unfortunate, guys who can grow facial hair.  I have horrible allergies and have a hard time breathing most days, but the beard thing is not a struggle.  I’m a low maintenance kind of person, and don’t like having to do things like mess with my hair in the morning, so in the past I’ve rarely done anything to ensure my beard looks good.  I’ve decided to turn over a new leaf.

Last week I got myself some decent combs to help with my beard.  The standard, cheap combs can actually mess up your hair and often generate a lot of static for me.  I went with Kent and so far have been loving them.

The first is one of their smaller combs labeled as a “beard comb.”  I didn’t realize how small it was until I actually got it.  I’d call it a mustache comb because unless your beard stays around 1/4″ or so, I’m not sure how this works for your beard.

 

Their medium-size, pocket comb is pretty solid.  It’s about 4.5″ long with half of it for fine hair and the other half for coarse hair.

Like most people I have a weird spot in my beard that is kind of like a cowlick on my face.  The direction of my beard goes in opposite directions and this is where it comes together, kind of like an inverted part.  If I just trim it down, I have an obvious short spot when it gets longer.  If I leave it as-is, there’s this weird, long section.  For now I’m coming it every day to get the tangles out and to try and encourage my weird spot to chill out.  We’ll see how that goes.  I’ve also ordered some beard oil to give a try.

A weekend with the kid

Last weekend Chuck, my daughter, and I had the whole house to ourselves as the other half of the family was out gallivanting at a conference and rubbing elbows with famous people.  We had an important agenda to accomplish:

Thursday

  • Go to art class
  • Eat at Arby’s
  • Watch a movie

Friday

  • Watch three movies
  • Eat grilled cheese
  • Clean kitchen

Saturday

  • Watch four movies
  • Take a walk outside
  • Shoot guns
  • Acquire Pizza Hut
  • Clean kitchen and living room
  • Eat more grilled cheese

Sunday

  • Watch three movies
  • Make popcorn
  • Clean guinea pig cage

CPAP as a possible asthma treatment?

I came across this article tonight where continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines are being used to treat asthma

CPAP for asthma – http://www.news4jax.com/news/cpap-for-asthma/25308408

This is interesting to me for several reasons, and it reminds me of one of my ER visits last year where the respiratory techs, there were two working together that night, asked if I used a CPAP and if it ever helps when my asthma is acting up.

CPAP machines are generally prescribed to those suffering from sleep apnea.  They force air into your respiratory tract through a mask that covers some or all of your face.  The air forces your airways to stay open helping the patient to breathe better, sleep better, stay asleep, and keep their oxygen levels from dropping.  Another treatment option for some suffering from sleep apnea is surgery to cut away extra tissue and open up the airways.  While this may work for some, it’s not a guaranteed treatment and has the risk of complications.  This is why using a CPAP machine while sleeping is a relative easy and effective solution.

Many asthmatics take one if not many medications to help control their condition.  Those with asthma often have secondary conditions (such as GERD, obstructive sleep apnea, allergies, high blood pressure, hay fever, sinusitis, rhinitis, vocal chord dysfunction, and anxiety or mood disorders) that work together to complicate everything.  These medications have side effects that can sometimes make one feel just as bad as not taking the medication.  An easy treatment such as a CPAP could be a great solution for some.

I’m not sure on all the details of this study, but being an asthmatic who also has obstructive sleep apnea, I wonder if any of those being studied have both conditions.  The good news is the American Lung Association (ALA) is involved and it sounds like they are looking for people to participate in the study.

ALA Research protocols currently recruiting – http://www.lung.org/finding-cures/our-research/acrc/protocols-recruiting.html

2014 is supposed to be another bad one

Remember last year when they said it would be a bad year for allergies in 2013?  Well apparently it’s going to be bad again this year.  Part of me wants to worry and part of me wants to be all laissez faire about it.  The good news is I’ve had some time to recover from last Spring, Summer, and Fall.  I have by no means rebounded back to normal, but my symptoms are relatively under control, I haven’t been to the hospital in over five months, and I’m not needing eight nebulizer treatments a day.  The real question is what can we (the royal) do about it?  Here’s my plan of action:

  • Continue rinsing my sinuses on a daily basis.  One of my lung docs has told me to do it twice today.  This is an easy way to clear your sinuses without taking meds if that’s important to you.
  • Exercise as much as possible.  I’m back to doing something almost every day.  That can be riding my bike, taking a walk, lifting some weights, etc.  Even if walking to the mailbox is all I can do, at least I wasn’t lying down all day.  As soon as you stop being active, it takes a lot of work to re-activate yourself.
  • Stay on top of things.  Historically I have a penchant for just waiting to see what happens.  I can’t just hope I’ll get better or wait just one more day anymore.  Unless I want to start visiting the hospital again on a semi-regular basis, I have to more actively respond to and plan for what’s happening with my health.

No more GoDaddy

Tonight marks the day I’m not longer paying GoDaddy.com for their services.  I first bought a domain name through them back in 2004 or 2005 and when they came out in favor of SOPA/PIPA, that was the last straw for me.  I already wasn’t a big fan of their misogynistic commercials that seemed to be in constant competition with Hardees/Carl’s Junior.  Their backing the end of a free internet was the end of it for me.

no-godaddySince I’m a cheapskate and I don’t have money to go tossing around, I did wait until all of my contracts had ran out.  Tonight my last domain was about to expire and i got it out of there.  I feel like celebrating.