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Archive for June, 2013

How Does it Feel?

Sunday, June 30th, 2013

To be On Your Own

Well, my latest kidney stone just BLEW OUT. WHOO HOOOOOOO.

I’m so happy, I can’t stand it. I was thinking about things like lithotripsy and claw machines that go up the you-know-what, and now I can forget about all that crap.

I was reading about the lemon-juice-and-olive-oil cure, and I saw something interesting. Some guy said he peed REALLY HARD, and his stone popped out. That got me thinking.

Also, a Facebook friend told me his doctor prescribed beer for kidney stones, and I looked it up, and it turned out he was right. Not only does beer make you pee; it opens up the tubes so the stone has more room to move.

I put these bits of info together, and today I hogged down a couple of Sierra Nevada Pale Ales plus a sizeable quantity of weak limeade, and I went into the can and, well, let’s just say I EXERTED MYSELF. Think industrial waterjet.

I don’t want to go into more disgusting detail than I already have, but I will say that I actually heard a “clank” when it landed in the bottom of the ridiculous cup I have to pee in.

Had to. Pee in.

What a relief. I’m not going to have to pay some quack to shove earth-moving equipment up my urinary tract.

I learned a few things, which I’ll “pass” on. For other people who have calcium stones.

1. You should take potassium citrate every day, regardless of whether you currently have a stone. I ran out, and like three weeks later, I was making masonry in my ureters. This is what I get for being too lazy to buy more.

2. You should drink a glass of lemonade or some lemon juice every day. Citrate.

3. If you get a stone, make your doctor give you a prescription for Flomax. Like beer, it opens up the tubes and makes the stones move.

4. Try chanca piedra. It’s an herb that supposedly prevents stones from forming and helps new ones break up and pass. It has no side effects, so what the hell. Try it.

5. Drink a lot of water. Not Coral Gables water, which is packed with limestone dust (calcium). Normal water.

6. Do NOT drink green tea. I can’t believe I fell for those articles saying green tea prevents stones. I read one more closely, and it doesn’t really say the tea prevents stones. It says the type of oxalate found in green tea makes WEAKER stones. COME ON. How is “weaker” better than “none”? Doctors are so stupid. I’m sorry. They really are.

Man, I have to pee. Be right back.

Whew.

7. There are a lot of people out there who swear by the “cure.” Mix one ounce of lemon juice and one ounce of olive oil, and drink it. Twice a day. I doubt the olive oil does anything, but again, what the hell.

8. Some guy on the web claims antibiotics help him pass stones in a hurry. He thinks they reduce inflammation, which makes the tubes open up. He has had lots of stones, so he may be right.

I’m going back on the potassium citrate, and I’m giving up green tea. This is just too much aggravation. I don’t care if it cures cancer. It’s not worth it.

Before I got all religioius, I had the alcohol tolerance of a brontosaurus. Those days are gone. I’ve had two beers, and I’m practically hallucinating. Hey. I’ll deal with it. The stone is gone, so I can live with the trivial sacrifices I’ve been required to make.

At church today, at the leaders’ prayer, my friends hit this thing pretty hard, and God clearly listened. The glory is his.

Hope this info is helpful to other people whose bodies insist on turning iced tea into cobblestones.

Stoned

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

Tea is Poison

I am writing because I’m bored.

I’m bored because I don’t feel like doing anything. I managed to give myself another kidney stone, and I’m waiting for the remnants of it to make a graceful exit.

I woke up Sunday night with what seemed like stomach cramps. I had eaten a dubious Granny Smith apple, and I figured I was in for a case of the trots. Would that it were so. Eventually the pain became recognizable for what it was.

Thank God I had some painkillers in the house. I don’t care if Homeland Security reads this and they use it to put me in a penitentiary. I scrounge painkillers and hoard them. Kidney stones ALWAYS strike on a weekend, when your regular doctor is busy playing golf, so it can be tough getting relief in a timely manner, and if you don’t have a Percocet or something similar on hand, you are in for a world of pain.

I have heard some people say kidney stone pain has hit them suddenly. That has never happened to me. It has always built gradually, giving me just about enough time to choke down a Vicodin and get some relief. But if I had to go to an emergency room, I’d be waiting for hours. And that would be bad.

Everyone should hoard painkillers. There are lots of things that can happen, which cause severe pain in a hurry. Doctors do not care about this, and even if they did, our restrictive drug laws make it hard for them to help quickly. No one is going to put you in jail if you bring your kid to the hospital with a broken arm and he has already had a Tylenol 3. So if you get a prescription which you don’t use up, stick the pills in the fridge. You never know.

My dentist says it’s hard for anyone to get painkillers now, because of our useless drug laws. There’s a shortage. I am conservative, anti-drug, and religious, but I think it’s time to quit regulating mind-altering drugs. I know exactly what addicts are like, and I can tell you, they do not do without drugs simply because they’re illegal. Every addict you know is getting drugs for fun, but people like me have a hard time finding them, because a) we are not criminals, and b) we have not spent our lives perfecting drug-acquisition strategies. It’s like gun control. The idiots will always have whatever they want, and the rest of us will suffer. There are plenty of countries where you can walk into a store and buy codeine, and somehow, they don’t plunge into anarchy.

Generally, I don’t go to the doctor for kidney stones. It costs a lot of money, and they don’t really do anything. If the stones are small, you pee them out without help. If not, you will figure it out, and then you can get professional treatment. This time, though, I was low on drugs, and for that reason, I tried to make an appointment. My urologist could not see me until Tuesday, so off I went to my “PCP.” I just learned that that means “Primary Care Physician.” I have a guy who will treat just about anything if you let him, and he accepts patients without appointments.

I got myself a few painkillers, plus a prescription for an antibiotic, and then I went home to pee as much as possible. Naturally, whatever pain I had experienced disappeared as soon as I got to the doctor’s office, and of course, when I gave them a sample, the only pieces of stone that came out missed the cup and went into the toilet.

Yesterday they did a sonogram, and I still have some masonry to expel. I’m drinking lots of lemonade and waiting around. Sometimes I get irritation from little bits of stone that break loose, but I’m not getting the renal colic which really sends people through the ceiling.

One annoying part of kidney stone attacks is that they affect your mood. If you’re about to have renal colic (at least if you’re me), you will feel agitated long before you feel pain. You may be very anxious. You may have trouble thinking. There is something about irritation in the urinary tract that screws up your brain.

I figured this out on my own, but today I found proof on a kidney website:

Occasionally, stones take days or weeks to pass. During this time, a patient may not be able to sleep and may suffer from mood swings, lack of concentration, difficulties learning, inability to make decisions and paranoia.

How about that? So basically, I have PMS.

This is very interesting to me. I know I caused the problem myself, by drinking green tea with breakfast. And I’m sure it didn’t happen overnight. There must have been a certain amount of irritation going on for months, without urinary symptoms. So I’m thinking I may have sabotaged my own sleep, memory, and concentration by drinking tea.

Every time I get a stone, it’s because I’ve been drinking tea. I used to drink it because I liked it. Lately I’ve been drinking green tea because I thought it was good for me. And I was taking potassium citrate, which supposedly prevents stones. I ran out of potassium citrate and put off buying more, and now here I am, peeing through a strainer.

I think I’m going to have to live by a solid rule: tea no more than once a week. And I’m wondering if my concentration will improve, once the pee stalactites have been expelled.

I hope they don’t have to use lithotripsy or any other unpleasant stone-smashing methods. I will be really good from now on, if I can get this thing out.

I will continue praying. My last two stones were healed by prayer, at my old church.

Things like this make me wonder how much of mental illness is caused by simple mechanical problems in the body. If subliminal irritation from a kidney stone can screw up your concentration and make you paranoid, what else is possible?

I am still bored. I should try to write some music.

Achievements of Note

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

Progress!

I’ve hit a new stage in my music studies.

For several months, I’ve used Musition software to improve my timing. It throws up rhythm patterns, and I have to tap them out on a keyboard. It’s fantastic. I got to the point where I did a good job of reading syncopated rhythms and everything from 3/4 to 12/8.

I used a a piece of Android software called Interval Recognition, to train my ear. It works very fast. I can now identify any interval between unison and an octave by ear. I do 60 intervals a day, and it’s very unusual for me to get one wrong, unless I’m distracted.

I also used an old program called Note Play to improve my ability to sight-read pitches. It puts up notes, and you play them within an allotted time. If you succeed, you move to the next level, and it gives you scores.

These things were great helps, but they had limitations.

Note Play has a big (huge) jump in difficulty between some of the levels. It gives you individual notes. Then you get one-hand intervals. Then you get a left-hand chord plus right-hand notes. Then it goes to counterpoint, which means individual notes for each hand. That’s a tough jump. And the time allowed is very short, so you end up failing over and over and having to restart the game, which is annoying.

I found a program called Alfred Interactive Musician. It has an activity similar to Note Play, but it doesn’t shut me down over and over, and the increases in difficulty are more gradual. That’s very helpful.

Interval Recognition was great for ascending and descending intervals, but it’s not so great for harmonic intervals, where you hear two notes played simultaneously. The poor sound quality of my phone and tablet, even with high-end earbuds, tends to make notes indistinct. It also seems to turn major sounds into minor sounds. Don’t ask me why, but cheap electronic tones always seem to have a little bit of a minor quality. If you go into a casino, you’ll hear rows of machines playing the notes E, G, and C in various combinations, because major chords are supposed to sound cheerful. You’ll also notice that there’s a funny edge to the sound which is not cheerful. I don’t know why this happens, but it seems to be a real phenomenon.

I’m still using Interval Recognition for ascending and descending intervals, but for the others, I’m using my digital piano. The sounds are better, and I believe I get better results.

Musition has several major limitations. It does not produce ties, and you can’t read rhythms unless you master ties. It also uses a metronome sound, which keeps you under pressure. Unfortunately, it also prevents you from keeping your own time, and it causes your ear to remember the metronome instead of the sounds you’re making. On top of that, it doesn’t produce extended tones. It’s just “tap, tap, tap,” so a whole note sounds like a 32nd note.

My answer to that is to print out JPGs of Musition exercises and read them without the PC. I can sound out the notes so they sound the way they should, and I have to keep my own time. This improves my ability to hear the rhythm patterns in my mind before I utter them. I don’t really need the perfection of metronome-driven timing. No real musician grades himself on how accurate he is. That’s stupid and counterproductive. I needed the metronome at first, to get me started, but now it’s a hindrance.

I am trying to get into sight-singing, but I’ve had some technical issues to overcome. I’ll figure it out eventually. I also found a program to teach me how various chords sound, but it’s an Android program, so the tones are not very realistic. I don’t really want to sing from a printed page. That’s not the point. The point is to get the printed music to make sounds in my head, and this is a way to do it. People who comment here have suggested it.

If you don’t understand music, and you’re too lazy to master an instrument, you can improve your musical comprehension by doing the things I’m doing. You don’t need an instrument at all. It may be that after you get this stuff into your head, an instrument won’t intimidate you any more. Every kid should learn this stuff. There is no excuse not to. It’s not a lifetime commitment. A one-hour course that lasts one school year would do it.

As I’ve written before, Arthur Rubinstein used to “practice” piano works by reading the scores away from the piano. You shouldn’t underestimate the power and importance of ear training and studying written music. This stuff is more useful than playing. A monkey can be trained to repeat the same movements over and over, but he won’t understand it. That’s what happens when you play without study. You can’t write music well. You can’t read it. You won’t understand it. That’s not where you want to be.

Jesus is a Conservative

Saturday, June 1st, 2013

Invest; Don’t Steal and Destroy

The ability to receive blessings is infinitely better than the blessings themselves.

If you receive something good, it helps you in the short term, but what you really need is a perpetual INCOME of blessings, and many people CANNOT BE BLESSED. Everything you give them will be turned into excrement and poison. Look at all the famous athletes and entertainers who make tens of millions of dollars and end up bankrupt. There are bums who take in enough money to live well, but year after year, they’re standing in front of stores in stinking rags, asking for more.

People can’t be blessed because they deny God, they lack faith, they refuse to forgive, they refuse to confess their sins and iniquities, or they are full of self-condemnation, which blocks the blessings God sends.

Jesus said the word of God would bring a thirtyfold, sixtyfold, or hundredfold return in people who held onto it and made use of it. I am seeing this happen in my life. I don’t have to worry about the future, because God has enabled me to receive blessings, so I know good things will keep coming. Pray in tongues daily and water the seed the sower gives you.

If all you care about is being blessed right now, you’re a destroyer and a vandal, like the Occupy Wall Street people and the socialists who back our carnal president. They make wealth disappear. They contribute nothing. If you work on developing the ability to receive blessings, you are an investor and a builder. You will leave an inheritance of wealth, knowledge, wisdom, and faith to your children’s children.

If you can receive blessings from God instead of stealing, hoarding, or usurping them, they will be Proverbs 10:22 blessings. They will not come with sorrow or regret attached.