Saturday, September 23, 2017

I've Moved On

I've completed tapering off prednisone and I'm steadily seeing glimpses of my old self. There were a few difficult days last week where I had to force myself to get out of bed but I can tell that my adrenal gland has awoken from its prednisone induced slumber as the color slowly returns to my world. I'm still struggling to push hard on my rides but that will come. The headaches have been done for more than a month but I'm reluctant to send my oxygen bottles back for fear that another phase is just around the bend.

I've been absent here for more than a couple weeks. I tried to sit down several times to tap out an update but every time I did it felt like I was forcing it and I never like to approach this hobby of mine with that mindset. And where do I even begin with so much of what's happening in our world with Trump* behind the wheel; threatening to destroy North Korea and its population of 25,000,000 while his evangelical followers cheer him on; his continual comments about crowd size at his rallies—crowds that are becoming ever smaller despite his assurances otherwise; his continual blatant lies about anything and everything; his disparaging, juvenile Twitter rants and just about anything else he involves himself with. I'll go to my grave shaking my head in disbelief that this guy conned and continues to con as many people as he has.

But conservatives got a United States Supreme Court pick out of the deal in Neil Gorsuch and he's going to give them the firepower they need to finally put a stop to abortions in this country! Keep dreaming. The United States Supreme Court has been controlled by conservatives for nearly 50 years and it was a strong conservative majority that gave us Roe v Wade in the first place, legalizing abortions—a decision that saw 5 conservatives casting 7 of the votes which made abortion the law of the land. So there is that.

Historians will look back on this period and point to the stranglehold of conservative media upon so many unwitting followers of theirs who were duped into believing the bigoted, hate and fear-filled propaganda they were selling while they divided our country in ways I never imagined were possible. I've lost a sister to this madness.

As for me, I've moved on. I'm no longer the pro-birth (disguised as pro-life) guy I once was. I see how Democratic administrations foster an environment that reduces the need for abortions and I see how Democrats are the party much more likely to come alongside mothers in need, giving them the help they're lacking to raise their children which encourages them to keep, rather than abort their babies. That's what being pro-life should be about. It stands in stark contrast to those who are merely pro-birth like I used to be.

I've been occupying my time with biking and golfing. I've even managed a couple of indoor rides to check out the new updates to Zwift. They've added new routes to the London course and an overhead map view to show you where you're at on either of the 3 courses. I get such a good workout riding indoors.

And speaking of riding—Rachel and I rode the St Paul Classic a couple weeks ago. A fun time was had by all!

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Tapering, Midnight Oil and Seeking Refuge

I'm in a bit of a funk as I complete my taper from prednisone, a drug I use as a prophylactic to minimize the disruption of my life from cluster headaches that I recently wrote about here. Prednisone is both a godsend and a curse. I'd be lost without it for those weeks and months when I'm desperate for relief from severe headache pain but it comes at a price: irritableness, aggression, mood swings, shakiness, sleeplessness, and lethargy bordering on depression. Those are just some of the more obvious side effects for me. There are other, less noticeable but more adverse reactions that come with the prolonged use of the drug. But still, I readily take it for the relief it provides.

Prednisone suppresses the body's adrenal gland and its ability to manufacture natural corticosteroids (especially cortisol). It shuts it down completely. Weaning off the drug is important to allow time for the adrenal gland to once again begin its own cortisol production, and that takes time. I hope to be back to normal in a few weeks to a month provided I don't relapse into another phase of the headaches as has been my experience all too often over the past 10 years or more.

I got a call this morning from a representative for a drug trial company called Science 37. They would like me to participate in a trial for a drug called SOM230 which works to both abort a cluster headache and to prevent them. I told her I was interested. She would like me to contact her when I'm next in a cluster headache phase and they will fly me out to Los Angeles for 1 to 2 weeks to take part in the trial. It's always been my hunch that there's not enough research being done to understand and treat cluster headaches so I'm happy to do my part to help.

On a whim, I went to see Midnight Oil at First Avenue last week. A friend of mine, Ed, in Seattle highly recommended not passing them up so I took his advice. It was a nice whim! I got there an hour before the doors opened and found my place in line next to Phil, a friend from work. We passed the time catching up with one another.

Phil and I both found spots on the rail, stage left from which to watch the show. It was an excellent time even if it meant being on my feet for 5 hours to secure my place. I won't hesitate to go and see them again should they find their way back here.

For many in the States, their world is being rocked by hurricanes (Harvey and Irma) in the southeast and forest fires out west. I find myself somewhat amused by those on the political right who rail against democratic socialism until they need help, and then they've got their hands out. I'm left to wonder where their free-market spirit and pulling-themselves-up-by-their-bootstraps mentality escapes to in times like this. Sure, these are tragic events and we should all step up and help those who are suffering, but how is this any different than a family who is stricken with cancer or some other catastrophe? There is no difference.

And for a few, perhaps, as they abandon their homes to flee the fires and storms seeking refuge, this will give them the inkling they need to better understand just a little of what desperate families fleeing Syria and other war-torn countries are feeling as they too leave their lives behind seeking safety, looking to us for help while we slam the door in their faces. This travesty continues to haunt my thoughts. I'm not expecting many conservatives to make that connection because it's not a sentiment that would ever be expressed on right-wing media—the place that has so warped their minds and is the primary source for the divide we're experiencing here.

I'm frustrated.

I see a country that is becoming more and more unrecognizable with each passing day. Just 2 days ago, Trump* proposed deporting 800,000 young people, people who were brought here illegally as children but people that have only ever known this country and its language, and yet he's prepared to send them back to where they came from—many with no connection to their past. And these are good, decent people who are in school or working or both while contributing to the fabric of our country, serving in our military and giving everything they have for the betterment of us all. What purpose does it serve to threaten them in this way? What purpose does Trump* serve?

What a fucking dope!

On a happier note, Keith McKay was in town over the Labor Day weekend and we were able to get together and ride the river bottoms with some friends; always a nice time!