Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Fish Oil, Not Snake Oil

I have been taking Omega 3 in the form of Fish Oil for some time now. While checking out for anything MS related, I came across this interesting video posted by a medical student. His exuberance over something not created by a pharmaceutical company is refreshing.

He's quite a good writer as well. His blog can be found at:

Hopefully he can retain his fascination, inspiration, and determination once he becomes a doctor. The world needs more like him.

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Monday, February 25, 2008

The Halfway Mark

Last Thursday was the halfway mark in my clinical trial and for some reason I've been so melancholy about it that I didn't even want to blog it. I just don't want it to end and there's always the "what if" about whether it will get approval or not. I can't imagine that it won't but I fear if I don't hold my breath and cross my fingers, knock on wood and any other superstitious thing I can think of doing, I might jinx it or something.

Anyhow... the checkup went smoothly. My sister drove me again because of having to have my eyes dilated for the eye exam and OCT. My first appointment was at 9 am for the Pulmonary Function Test, and the last appointment of the day was going to be the OCT at 1 pm. I don't know why I expected it to all go smoothly and as scheduled. It never does.

I'm still getting over this head cold that decided to make a home in my chest. It only bothers me at night and first thing in the morning with a gagging cough that threatens to push my lungs out my mouth. I have started sleeping in my lazy boy all night just so I'm somewhat inclined. If I lay flat I cough nonstop. I was worried that my breathing test would be skewed because of this, so I made sure I told the guy doing the test.

He's the same guy who always does the test and after he did the first part of it (where I'm sitting in the plexiglas box) he said "you actually did better this time than last time since you had a cold last time."

Geeze! I'd forgotten that! Anyhow, he said that my lungs were normal just like they were last time.

Then it was off to go back across 4 lanes of traffic to get from the hospital to the Towers. For the last 7 visits I have walked there, risking life and limb. On this occasion however, the tester guy asks if we knew about the Orange Shuttle. Huh?? All this time there's been a shuttle I didn't know about?

He walks us out the back entrance to the hospital to an area with an orange sign that says "Orange Shuttle Stop". He leaves us there with the warning "Don't take the blue one because it goes all over town. The orange one goes from here to the Pavilion, to the towers."

A few minutes later, here comes a big white bus (he neglected to mention WHITE) and we just stood there as it stopped. No other people were at the stop but my sister and me. We tried to wave the lady driving the bus on, but she just pulled up farther and opened the door. "What are you waiting for?" she asks. "The Orange shuttle, we reply in unison."

"This IS the Orange Shuttle, get on."

We say "no it's not, it's white." (Like because she's inside, we are compelled to describe the outside to her so she has a clue). She rolls her eyes and tells us she keeps telling them she needs something orange to stick in the window so people aren't so confused. Turns out they have 4 orange shuttles and 3 of them are white. Go figure. We get on.

Next stop is the research department to see my trial nurse for the blood work, urine test, MSFC, EKG, and exam with Dr. Kantor.

The MSFC, I'd forgotten all about. It's the test with the dreaded Numbers Guy. See this post for the horrors of the first MSFC exam. The numbers guy stumped me again and I was left sitting and listening to him rattle off numbers for 3 in a row somewhere in the middle. It was those 7's and 9's again. You have to add 2 numbers and say the result and wait for him to say the next number. You add that to the last number he said while trying to forget the previous total which you just said out loud. Sound confusing? Try playing the game. Just as last time, the practice test went perfectly. I waited for the real thing to screw up.

Then, when that was over, I did the peg test and it seemed a little harder this time. My hands just don't want to behave themselves. Either that or the pegs shrunk since the first time. I actually had one peg stick to my sweaty fingers as I went to drop it in the bowl. It release when I had my hand, mid-swing, over the table. I lost precious seconds scrambling for it and nearly knocking it on the floor. If this is a test of how clumsy one can be, does that mean I passed?

Speed walking came next. I was so excited that, between last time I was tested and this time, I have actually retaught myself to run, I just had to ask...

"Is it okay if I run instead of walk?"


"no really."

(more laughter, then a pause)

"you're serious?"


"No, honey, it's a walking test. Just walk as fast as you possibly can."

So I walked the way the kids at school walk when they know they aren't allowed to run but can't help pushing the rule a bit by speed gliding. I'm sure I did way better this time than last.

Next, the blood draw. Two little vials rested next to the rubber tourniquet, alcohol wipe and pokey stick. I tried to go to my Zen place and not think about it. I have small veins that wiggle and roll and hide when someone tries to prick them. Last time it took the one lady six tries before she went and got Geri (a name I can remember, yes!) who is the Master Sticker. She got in right on the first try and told me which vein and the angle it lies at in the left elbow area for future reference.

This time I say "well, if all else fails, you can go get Geri."

"Um, Geri got another job."

"Crap! But no, that's fine, you'll do just fine, I'm sure! No offense or anything. By the way, the vein's right here, running at this angle."

Thank God she left me with that tidbit of info before moving on to bigger and better opportunities. My nurse stuck me good the first time. But, right before she did, she said "Oh, I forgot to get the Kit out." She brings out this box and opens it to expose another several dozen vials (actually only 4 more, but once you've reached 6 vials they might as well get the last couple of drops you have left in you while they're at it). I nearly fainted, but I stayed strong.

I still needed to get my EKG, see the doctor, and fill out the PRIMUS paperwork. (That's a questionnaire about how MS affects your life). But there was no time. I was running late for my eye exam. She said "go to your appointment then come back for the rest of this stuff." So I did.

The eye exam went great. No changes to my vision and I left there all blurry eyed, gripping my sister's arm and feeling like Mr. Magoo. We went to the truck and had the lunch we packed while waiting for time to go have the OCT.

I love going for the OCT after seeing the eye doc because my eyes are already dilated and they bump me to the head of the line while the other poor saps are waiting for their drops to start working.

The OCT went well. I kind of enjoy watching the spirograph-like designs and the challenge of not blinking. I never have the urge to blink until someone tells me not to. Kind of like "Don't swallow." when you are having a C-spine MRI. All you can think about is to wonder if anyone every drowned in their own saliva.

We ended up the visit back at Research where I got the EKG and they scheduled a future appointment with the doc because he wasn't going to be able to squeeze me in that day.

The EKG went well. I heard the nurse and one of the doctors looking over my printout.

"Look at this."


(my ears perk up and my heart starts pounding and palms sweating in anticipation of bad news.)

"Have you ever seen such a perfect EKG?!"

"Can't say as I have. That's a beauty. Just look at that spike."


That was my excitement for the day and lucky I wasn't still strapped to the machine or they might have changed their tune.

I was loaded down with my 3 boxes of new shots and my 3 bottles of pills and sent on my merry way.

Everything's looking good so far. Keeping my fingers crossed that the second half of this study is as successful as the first. I'd love to say I could barely remember my last MS attack -- and not have it be from cognitive dysfunction. :-)

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