Remains of the day

Greek find called earliest

Wow. How bad reporting is that, eh? This is the sort of thing that makes scientists look like morons. The “chunk of skull” becomes a “fossil” and then it just gets worse. Business Insider SA and others call it “a 210,000 year-old skull” when it’s just a piece of one. It’s only when you get into the posts from actual scientists that you see the appropriate caution being used:

“As with any challenging new find, the appropriate initial reaction should be healthy scepticism, even when my own name is on the paper.” – Chris Stringer

What’s missing is corroborating evidence, such as more pieces of bone of the same era. Also there is no accounting for other possible explanations for its presence, such as having been moved to the location at a later date. We had this same problem when a ‘black’ skeleton (a few remains of one) was located further North than it should have been; so many people started declaring it factual that Africans had been in Europe much longer than anyone knew and it was absolute proof of the migration.

Really? Since when does science base its conclusions on a sample size of one?

It’s bad enough we keep getting ‘health reports’ that draw absolute conclusions based on some obviously flawed meta-analysis (the most recent one blamed sugar for cancer), misleading people into changing their life without any actual explanation of why they should (and yet they still ignore making changes that have been proved), but here we corrupt science and history – all because ‘journalists’ can not understand what they’re reporting on. Or maybe they don’t care: “news” these days tends to be sensationalist rubbish designed to grab attention rather than inform. The frequent disassociation between headlines and article content is proof enough of that.

Then when someone points out the mistakes and flaws (such as ridiculously small sample size) they get attacked. After all, it was “in the paper” so it must be true. Well ha, ha. That one has never been true ever since someone invented newspapers. Digital media is simply a faster way to spread lies. (And we can all laugh at the fact the biggest complainer about this is himself the biggest abuser.)

Instead we have people claiming vaccines aren’t safe because of falsified studies and rare instances, ignoring the huge body of positive results. We have people drawing cause-effect conclusions based on coincidence with no proven interactive mechanism. We have people reveling not in ignorance, which is a lack of knowledge, but in stupidity – which is the rejection of knowledge. All exacerbated by media reports constructed by those just as foolish and only marginally better-skilled in writing.

How does the world end? Not with a bang but with a whimper.

Doctor My Eyes …

We can call it “good news”; my eyes aren’t any worse off than they might be. Near and far focus off a bit more of course, and a very slight indication of cataract in the left. But no indication of retinal problems, and he tested for muscle weakness – which wasn’t present at the time. We did discuss the ocular spasm as well. As with the other symptoms, there’s nothing can be done about it. Hang on – and wait for things to get worse.

Well, they did.

My wife is in England trying to straighten out matters with her Alzheimer’s afflicted sister and not having much luck. So much so that she’s having to extend her stay to August. This means she won’t be here when I go to the Big City for my MRI on July 25th. That means I have to arrange dog kenneling again, as well as a motel stay (because the appointment is at night). Never mind the pre-exam blood test which has me drinking plain water all the time trying to get creatinine levels in line (BORING!)

So I haven’t got the assistance of Friend Wife for more weeks, and it’s annoying because it limits my ability to do even simple things on account of not being able to leave the dogs on their own for any long time. As in not even two hours, never mind four hours or overnight for a city trip. Certainly not to spend a day at the cabin working on it.

Ah, yes. The cabin. Dead loss again this year. It needs massive amounts more work and I’m not up to doing it. In fact we’ve lost two months’ work time already, and a third is going to be lost as well. The poor contractor suffered the loss of his wife so he won’t be coming back soon to straighten out the little problems from his work last year. Never mind no one is going to dig the dirt out and put the plumbing in and do all the other things that need doing. Good heavens there’s an entire stove to be installed (no easy task).

The kids would like to come up and stay for a couple of weeks as usual, but unless they bring tents or an RV it isn’t going to happen. At this point even if all was well (and it is far from) there would not be enough time to complete the tasks necessary to make it livable, never mind adding any improvements.

Also, it’s pouring rain. In fact it has been raining quite a lot this Summer. It’s good for keeping wildfires down, but it interferes with work.

And it interferes with play. I have much more I want to do in the photography department, but not with water cascading from the clouds. I haven’t even been able to do some minor outdoor projects lately because of the increased precipitation. I barely managed to mow down the worst of the tall grass here before things got wet. Ironically replacement tires for the ‘good’ mower were dropped off last night (after I’d gone to bed – very weird delivery time if you ask me).

It’s been a bad weekend for pain. The damp seems to make things worse. I’ve had to fire the furnace just to take the edge off, as burning wood isn’t practical: the supply of split is low and I can’t split any more in the rain. Besides which even bringing some in is hard work.

Oddly enough I’ve been reading about the dog food scare where certain types are thought to be connected with canine dilate cardiomyopathy. One of the types is what we feed our now nine-year-old dogs (that’s like 63 for humans). They show none of the symptoms. I, on the other hand, do. But hey four cardiologists have said there’s nothing wrong with me.

So I sit and wait and watch movies and putter around the house and see to the daily needs of the menagerie. And myself. So much to arrange next week too. Thinking of cancelling the MRI because it’s such a hassle and isn’t likely to lead to anything positive no matter what the results are.

I think I need … a lot less happening in my life.


Post Script: after publication I get word my wife will be stuck in England even longer, due to lawyer screw-up and general bureaucratic foot-dragging. The Summer is lost, and nothing is getting better.

Maudlin Monday

I’ve been through the penultimate test, and it was negative. More precisely I’ve had a fluoroscopy of my diaphragm and the report amounted to a single line stating there was no indication of paralysis. Whoopie. I would have liked to ask the doctor who evaluated the results about a couple things I saw during the test (they let you see the screen: it’s fascinating) but … There it ends.

If you understand Latin you know from the first sentence in this post that there is only one more test to go. Literally (sorry; couldn’t refrain from that). The doctors agree there’s a problem, and agree they don’t know what it is. How nice. Maybe they’ll name a new disease after me if the final test turns up negative as well. More likely they slough it off as one of the undefined conditions that plague people with similar symptoms, all of which are diagnosed by eliminating other possibilities. No matter.

What does matter is trying to deal with something when you don’t know what it is, or what to expect from it. The difficulty of this has been heightened in the past week as I’ve been coping on my own (with two dogs and three cats) whilst my wife is away coping with her ailing sister (and an equal number of uncooperative professionals). Maybe it’s the weather (cool and damp), maybe the problem has done another downward lunge, but the usual buoying effect of adrenaline isn’t there this time; I’m foundering.

This has led to some tension between us as I the pessimist clash with she the optimist. Somehow she believes there is a way to continue as before. She’s not living in this body is why. There is no way to get anyone to understand what it’s like to go from Superman to living cadaver. Possibly because most people aren’t capable of expending the sort of effort I always have done. Possibly because for too long I’ve made it look easy. Possibly because people read books where the hero who has been through enough to kill him keeps plunging onward (impossible narrative has a lot to answer for, in my opinion).

So I’m stuck. I can see what needs to be done to make life easier (read: viable) and it is diametric to my other half’s desires. This is what causes depression, people. And speaking of which the doctor’s best offer has been lots of water and loopy pills, which I declined. I have enough trouble getting through the day with a reluctant physique; I do not need to be out of my head at the same time. If I didn’t need to function I wouldn’t need anything to help me function. Catch 22 and all that.

On Wednesday I go to spend more money and have my eyes examined, followed by some very expensive new glasses. They won’t help much either, as there is a limit to how much vision can be corrected under any circumstances. Especially metaphorically.

What day is it?

Well things are getting sadistically real here. Friday started with so much pain in the feet I thought I’d been running all night. Went to town in the pouring rain and came back to light the fire to fight off the cold. Next thing I know I’ve got so much joint pain I’d prefer to be dead.

Did that shock you? It’s a frequent feeling.

It goes along with wanting to smash the phone with a hammer because it rings – same idiots calling over and over and hearing the message wife is not here but if they call enough she will be? I want to punch people. They deserve it. Really, I’m under no obligation to put up with morons.

I have no obligation to put up with anything. Not even the law.

Oh they all get away with it for the simple reason that when I’m at my most violent I am also at my most debilitated. Frustration leads to depression leads to violence.

So I turned the damn ring off. Screw ’em.

The pain and fatigue wear on my mind in other ways; I don’t know how coherent this post will be (I start out with an advantage I admit) and frankly I have to keep figuring out what day it is by analysis.

Days like this I stare the horror in its face: I’ve seen the future and it is murder, just as Mr. Cohen said. Whose murder is all that remains undecided. I know that I need to get rid of the aggravations external because their internal cousins are more than anyone can stand. That is not so simple as it sounds. It means a horrific alteration that there is no pleasant way to do. Oh, just give up all you love and tell me how easy it is. Tell me how understanding those around you would be when you tell them you can’t associate anymore. Go one; you first. Tell me how that works out.

So no more cabin, dogs, cats, and subsequently wife. Wow. All that will do is buy me time, too. I just don’t know anymore. This is the worst day I’ve had for a long time. If I take enough pills to counteract the effects I will be unconscious.

*Insert long profound swearing here.*

Oh expletive, the chest pain is back now. I wish it was heart failure and not just pain for its own sake.

I’ve read several entries from fellow sufferers today, as I seek encouragement from those managing to cope. Beats me how they do it. They are younger and stronger to start with; perhaps that gives them incentive to continue. I’m old, and I’m done with living. There wouldn’t be much to look forward to even without any illness, but it should be all peace and ease not increasing pain without relief.

More Monday

Last Monday was a hurried trip to take dogs to kennel, wife to airport, and me to motel to await Testing Tuesday. Today I have a doctor’s appointment. But wait, there’s more!

The test done last week was a Fluoroscopy (which spell-check doesn’t recognize as a word). It was interesting, especially as I got to see it on screen as it happened. I’ve always been interested in medical imaging, probably as an offshoot of my interest in photography and science in general. This is a procedure which has been around almost as long as still x-rays; the difference being the radiation hitting a fluorescent screen or these days imaging sensor. You can watch things move in real time.

In this case they were looking at my diaphragm, but the heart with its oversized right side was visibly beating away. I didn’t notice anything too unusual except a couple of sizable dense spots on the left side of the diaphragm. Could be just an anomaly. Normally I’d have the results in on my e-health notice already, but it hasn’t happened. I doubt the local doctor will have it yet either.

But what I did get was notice of appointment for the MRI! At last I will be able to either get a result or eliminate yet another possibility. Most likely the latter. As Dr. Russian Car said, there clearly isn’t anything that can be done no matter what the problem actually is.

So I put in a fine few days of coughing and functioning on my own, poking about with the new camera, and waiting for today’s appointment which I know will be meaningless. Next month Friend Wife will return and then there will be yet another visit to the big city to get her followed by another to get the MRI. That one will include another overnight stay as the test is scheduled for 7:30 PM (once they fire up those machines they keep them running as long as possible, thus they end up doing imaging at some odd hours). Oh boy, more travel and expense.

With what I did last week it was looking pretty bad for continuing any sort of major activities. Cutting down weeds with the trimmer, for instance, left my hands weak and tingling for a couple of hours. Fixing a single board on the ramp took too long and made me sweat like a marathon runner in August. It’s really discouraging when the simplest of tasks require a major effort. I’ve got to run on adrenaline until July 11, then two weeks of ‘normal’ until I have to ramp up again.

It’s strenuous and if I didn’t have my renewed photography interest for distraction I’d be a basket case.