Archive for Life

Tuesdays with Chuck

Every Tuesday I try to spend some quality time with my kid.  She looks like her mother, but received a lot of my personality.  Tuesdays are one day every week that we watch a movie together and eat popcorn, and today was no exception.  Today’s flick was The Polar Express.  Chuck gets to pick the movies, which actually aren’t too bad.  She’s not into most of the awful kid programming I hear some parents complain about and her favorite movie is Fantastic Mr Fox.  With all the problems going on in the world today, I figure the least I can do is try to ensure my child has a good appreciation for film and knows I care about her.  Some day we’ll watch the Alien Anthology, Star Wars or all six seasons of Oz.  For now we’ll stick with more G-rated stuff though and continue to make popcorn together on the stove.

GlaxoSmithKline and Theravance create new lung drugs

I just found an article talking about the FDA’s review of a new drug developed by GlaxoSmithKline and Theravance.  It’s called Breo and is targeted towards COPD patients.  If you’ve always heard “COPD” but don’t know what it is, the acronym stands for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and includes chronic bronchitis, emphysema or both.  It’s a scary thing.  Now if you don’t have COPD, but do suffer from asthma or related lung condition, this drug could still be for you.

Breo is a combination drug containing both fluticasone furoate (corticosteroid) and vilanterol (long-acting beta-agonist).  Other drugs similar to this on the market include:

  • Advair (fluticasone propionate and salmeterol)
  • Symbicort (budesonide and formoterol fumarate dihydrate)
  • Dulera (mometasone furoate and formoterol fumarate dihydrate).

Lots of big words in there, but these are all comprised of a steroid and a long-acting bronchodilator or beta-agonist.  I tend to always be prescribed the latest and greatest, so I’m wondering if I’ll be switching to this some time in the future.  One change Breo brings to the game is one dose a day.  Many patients using combo drug inhalers are needing to take them both morning and night.

Also mentioned in the article is Anoro which could be competing with Spiriva.  Anoro contains both vilanterol and umeclidinium.  Vilanterol, a LABA, is one-half of Breo and umedlidinium is a long-acting muscarinic receptor antagonist.  Supposedly this is the first LABA-LAMA combination drug.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/04/15/us-glaxosmithkline-breo-idUSBRE93E0J120130415

DIY pest control

My worst cockroach experience would have to be in Mexico while on working trips.  There’s just something unsettling about waking up in the middle of the night with cockroaches covering the floors, walls and ceilings of the room.  I don’t think they crawled onto the bunkbeds where I was sleeping, but I’ll probably never know.

 

 

The house we’re living in is pretty clean, but we do live “in the country.”  So it has its own set of quirks and considerations like woodland creatures, field mice and well water.  The other day we noticed what I think was a German roach and winged ants.  Obviously we don’t want either of these pests in the house.  My special lady friend really hates roaches and I really hate ants so we’re equally invested in trying to eradicate them.  The first thing we tried was a little Raid, but knew that wasn’t a real solution to the problem.  We waited until the next day to really tackle the problem.

German Roaches

Next Day:
So while our bundle of joy, who hates all kinds of insects, was pre-occupied elsewhere, we pulled out both the fridge and oven/stove to clean everything behind and lace these common insect hideouts with a mixture of Borax and sugar.  While Borax is toxic enough you don’t want to eat it, I’d rather put that behind an appliance than spray insecticides all over.  It’s not the same compound as Boric Acid, but they’re both derived from Boron and the Borax doubles as a laundry detergent if you don’t use it all for pests.

I mixed some up outside and placed it inside some coffee filters to place behind the appliances.  Fortunately we didn’t find any real signs of insects.  We’re pretty sure everything was coming from the attached garage.  We’re also glad to have cleaned behind everything because it obviously hadn’t happened in years.

My special lady friend insisted I wear some kind of mask over my face to prevent me from breathing in any borax, ancient dust or insect/rodent junk.  That worked for a while, but I had to walk outside a few times to get some fresh air anyway.  The good news is we haven’t seen any more insects yet.  We’ll probably check behind the fridge and oven again to see if anything is dead behind there.

Pari Trek S Portable Aerosol System

In 2010 I was finally fed up with trying to lug my giant nebulizer compressor from home to work and anywhere else I needed it.  After a lot of research and internet searching, I came across the Trek S offered by Pari Respiratory Equipment.

 

 

 

Some of the first things that stuck out to me:

  • I could power this with a standard electrical outlet (AC), car adapter (DC) or a battery pack (DC)
  • Weighs 0.8lbs by itself or 1.2lbs with the battery
  • Comes with a carrying case
  • Comes with two Pari LC Sprint Reusable nebulizers and two sets of tubing
  • Produces decent air flow (14.5psi standard and 35psi max)
  • Has great reviews on Amazon

I ended up purchasing it for an upcoming trip and LOVED it.  Since then I’ve pretty much carried it with me everywhere I go.  The small size and compact carrying case allows me to carry it or drop it into any backpack, messenger back, etc that I’m also traveling with at the moment.  The compressor comes with a three year warranty and the battery pack has a six month warranty.  I’m going on three years of use and haven’t had any hiccups with either the battery or the compressor.

This unit ships with two Pari LC Sprint nebuilzers that are good for six months.  Pari also provides a sticker indicator that will let you know when six months is up.  To make it easy on myself I replace mine in January and July every year.  I have two in use at a time so I always have one at home and one wherever else I happen to be.

If you or a family member has serious asthma like myself and you’re getting tired (pun intended) of dragging that giant compressor around I highly recommend getting something more portable.  General complaints I’ve heard and read about other hand-held models are noise levels and lack of air pressure creating a longer wait to complete a treatment.  I’ve had neither issues with the Trek S.  I’ve used this many times on airplanes where variations in the cabin pressure make it difficult for me to breathe, in cars, outdoors, indoors and anywhere else I happen to find myself.

Amazon used to have several vendors selling this, but they happen to only have one for sale at the moment.  If you’re interested in getting the deluxe package with the car adapter and the battery pack, I’d suggest trying JustNebulizers.com.  This is where I purchase all of my Pari LC Sprint nebulizers, filters, tubing, etc.  There was one time I had a slight glitch in my order and they fixed it for me immediately.  They also email coupons and sales periodically so you can get a good deal on whatever you’re buying.

The Ides of March

When I was in high school there was an English teacher who was really into Julius Ceasar by Shakespeare.  She did this whole “beware the ides of March” thing trying to prank other teachers.  I think it was my senior year that a biology teacher left a dissection tray with eyeballs on it and a note saying, “BEWARE THE EYES OF MARCH.”

ides of march

I kind of forgot about the whole mid-March thing until a few years ago when I started getting sick every March.  This is the also the time of year allergy seasons start because winter is usually slipping away and trees are starting to pollinate.  The first time I wasn’t feeling so great and coughing a fair amount.  Out of no where I coughed up some blood.  My wife has this rule that if I cough up blood I HAVE to go to the hospital.  I ended up missing a work trip and staying home a few days recovering.

Last year I came home early from a workout at the gym because I was having some weird chest pains when exerting myself.  Not too long after I started coughing profusely and was coughing up mouthfuls of blood for the next 30 minutes or so.  Another trip to the hospital and another few days spend at home trying to recover.

This year I “almost” came down with bronchitis.  I spent the better part of a week hanging out at home watching my oxygen saturation levels dip below 90% and trying to decide how I’d get to the hospital if I needed to.  Maybe there is something to this whole Ides of March thing because this always happens to me between the 14th and 16th of March.  That old soothsayer wasn’t so crazy after all and if nothing else, I can say I have something in common with Doc Holiday.

doc_holliday-huckleberry

I’m back

I think I first started blogging in 2004.  I quickly started following all the major hitters in the vlog world and started three blogs of my own.  I was excited and ambitious to share my thoughts with the world, but I think most of it was due to me living on my own and not having many people to talk to.  I eventually slowed down to two blogs where I rambled on about personal stuff and wrote movie reviews.  Over the years it seems like I can only have so many simultaneous, creative projects on the side so the blogging has come and gone.  The past year I haven’t done much at all due to some health problems, but things are looking up and I’d like to get back into writing.

CMS50L Pulse Oximeter – Review

Back in May I decided I wanted a pulse oximeter handy just to check my oxygen saturation. Often times I would feel absolutely awful and this is one way I could track symptoms. This was before I had been diagnosed with severe obstructive apnea, and was something that could help me tell my doctors my oxygen levels drop when lying down a certain way.

So where to start….I decided to go to Amazon and look to see what they had. If you’ve ever had your oxygen tested in the hospital or at a doctor’s office, there’s a good chance a handheld device was used. These cost about $400-$500 and aren’t something most people buy to use at home. You can get the smaller devices that just clip onto your fingertip for much less. They start around $20 and range up to $200 or more.

I looked around, found one between $20-$30 and saw that it had decent reviews on Amazon. By decent I mean it had a 4 out of 5 stars. Usually this isn’t too bad. I read some of the bad/poor reviews and saw some were pissed off with the device. I’m used to purchasing computer parts and other electronics and you always see these reviews. I didn’t think much of it and purchased the CMS50L Pulse Oximeter. Even though it wasn’t the best thing out there, I thought for $20 I couldn’t go wrong.

The device arrived in the mail and seemed to work great.  It takes two AAA batteries, and would be easy to replace.  Whenever Liz tried the device out, it showed her at 98 or 99%.  When I tried it out I would be anywhere from 90 to 97%.  This made complete sense because of how I was doing at the time.  I did notice it always started out at 97%, and often eventually got there, but I didn’t think much of it at the time.

Fast forward a month or so and that is when the oximeter fell off my nightstand onto the ground.  Shouldn’t be a big deal since there was carpet and the fall was all of 36″, but that’s when the thing started acting weird all the time.  It started “freaking out,” not taking readings, would reset randomly, and occasionally gave really odd readings. I often had to hold the device shut on my finger just for it to work.  The device always start at 97% and if I wore it long enough, would often get back up to 97%.  As time has passed, the pulse oximeter has become more and more sketchy and I figured it was time to get something different.  I went back to Amazon and took a closer look at those reviews.

For starters the company who fulfilled my order was Clinical Guard.  They had a customer satisfaction rate between 95% which I thought this was pretty good at the time.  It’s currently down at 91% which actually isn’t very good at all.  This made me start wondering why people aren’t happy with their purchases.

I then looked back at some of the user reviews for the device, especially the bad ones.  I started noticing all my complaints were listed in those bad reviews.  It seemed as if  some of those good reviews were written too soon or maybe the users never compared the readings to a calibrated device with a medical professional.  Another common thread was all problems starting about a month after use.  Since my oxygen levels have been documented by medical professionals in the 70s, I’d like to have a device that gives me accurate results.  Sometimes this is how I determine whether to go to the hospital or stay home.

Apparently the Nonin models are the cadillacs of oximeters.  The low end model is around $100 and the mid-range recommended model is about $200.  I’d really like to avoid spending $100 right now, so I found another one made by Concord for $40.  Even though this is another relatively cheap product, there are some big differences between it and what I currently have.  The reviews are almost all positive and it is sold by it’s manufacturer Concord Health Supply.  I check their customer satisfaction rating and they’re at 100%.  The only negative reviews of the item are by medical professionals saying it’s not as perfect as their high-end, expensive devices at work.  I can live with that.  So I ordered one last night.  I have high hopes it’ll work out better and will let you know how it compares.

Beards

I read an article on beards today titled What Your Beard Says About You.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/28/fashion/what-your-beard-says-about-you-the-mirror.html?_r=1

It’s an excellent topic of discussion when you really think about it.  Some people see facial hair as a sign of manliness.  You can always spot a young teen letting the peach fuzz grow out.  For me, I never attempted to grow anything until after I was out of high school.  I played football and our coaches had a policy of no facial hair.  I never really thought about the why, but they also made us wear dress shirts and ties for away games.  They were trying to instill a little respect and dignity in us.  I also know how to tie a tie very well.  There’s a life skill some people could use some help with.

So what does your beard say about you?  For me it definitely made me look more badass in my younger days.  I’m not very tall, but I have gigantic shoulders.  Combine that with a shaved head, awesome beardage, and a black duster (yes, I wore one of those for about 8 years) and people were afraid of me.  Most of the time I found it hilarious, but sometimes it was just a nuisance.   I would often find myself getting profiled late at night when stopping to fill up at gas stations.   A couple times clerks pulled out weapons and didn’t want me to get close to the counter.  It wasn’t until after I had gotten them to take my $20 bill and left that I realized why they had acted so weird.

Some of my friends try their very hardest to grow a goatee, sideburns, or what have you and it just looks pitiful.  I really do feel sorry for them.  For me, it’s just a hobby really.  I can have a perfectly respectable beard in a week so I often cut it off and start over when I feel like doing something different.  I wouldn’t say it was every about rebellion for me, more of a frugal/laziness thing.  You see, by the time I started high school I was already noticeably going bald (it runs in the family), and when I got to college I didn’t want to pay for hair cuts.  That’s when I started cutting my own hair, and what’s easier than cutting it all off?  I quickly switched up to a razor and have never gone back.  I also hate shaving my face so having a beard was just another path of least resistance for me.  At times I’d even let it get long enough to shove pencils into or even braid.  Ok, so the braiding thing only happened once, but I used to put my goatee in pig tails from time to time.

There are definitely a few iconic beards out there.  If you need some help deciding what to grow, here are two resources you might want to look up.

Ol General Burnsides is one iconic bearded dude along with ZZ Top, The Dude, Sam Elliott, Zach Galifianakis and Chuck Norris.  Some people prefer just the mustache, but I’m kind of afraid of it.  Still too many connotations with child molesters for me.

So what about you?  Can you grow a beard?  Any kind of beard?  Are you stuck with one style due to how it looks?  Do you think a beard really says something about you?

Candy for big kids

Remember way back in the day when you’d go to the doctor and get a sticker, sucker or what have you?  Well about about us big kids?  What do we get?  Tonight I found out what it takes to earn a Taco Bell Beefy Melt Burrito $5 Box.

  • 10 or so puffs on a rescue inhaler
  • 7 nebulizer treatments
  • 1 Z-pack
  • 85mg prednisone
  • a couple muscle relaxers
  • anti-anxiety medicine
  • codeine cough syrup
  • a 4hr coughing fit
  • continually turning purple
  • and my 3rd trip to the ER this year

Is it worth it?