Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Paralytic Spasms

 The short video above best illustrates what I have to contend with each night when my paralytic spasms begin.  The jerking leg movements you see in the video are spontaneous and I have little control over them.  They 'trigger' every six seconds to every twelve to fifteen seconds and usually last one or two hours although the longest episode I experienced was eight hours.
My leg is jumping on its own - I am not assisting the movement!

Paralytic Spasms -they are almost as devastating as the paralysis itself. (but then there is also the nerugenic burning pain, sciatic pain and the stiffness too!)  How do you wish to be tortured?  Which agony will come to the forefront today?

I am on the maximum oral dose of Baclofen, however, I find it does acts more on tightness does little to reduce the spontaneous repeated contraction of muscles.  'Drip, drip, drip of neurotransmitter?  Does the injury prevent some signal which would allow the neurotransmitter to dissipate and therefor not accumulate until the 'neurotransmitter bucket' is full and now overflowing? Drip, spasm, drip, spasm, drip, spasm...

Devastating as they are, I don't wish to have some doctor insert a tube into my spine connected to a liquid Baclofen pump to shoot this drug directly into my spinal column. My opinion on the doctors I've encountered can be found elsewhere in this blog.

While I can get spasms any time of the day, they usually do not last long in the daytime.  It is only at night when they come on in full force with the leg becoming increasingly "creepy feeling" and then the contractions begin.

I don't believe it is because at night I'm reclined in bed with my feet up.  I may lay down during the day to read a book or such with no spasms at all.  Night time seems to be the common denominator in this puzzling formula.  Does one's physiology change so much at night and if so, what physiological product produce (or is lacking) triggers these unbearable contractions?  What is the exact mechanism by which Baclofen is supposed to work?  (another blog post?)

So you can see how devastating they can be.  I can show you the jerking motion but I can't give you a real sense of the 'creepy inflated burning tingling' sensation that ramps up when the spasms are about to start and last until they peter out.

Just as a moderate example:  If my leg jumps, say, once every 10 seconds, over three hours it would have jumped 1080 times.  Just try to sleep with some demon grabbing your leg and yanking on it all night long!  The above video shows the motion while I'm on my back.  On my stomach, the motion lifts my heel to the ceiling.

On rare occasions, putting pressure on the foot by placing it on a flat surface and pressing down on it may help.  Most times it just has to run its course -and hope you remain somewhat sane at the end!

I had previously wondered why my pain and spasms were so bad when my injury (infection around the T5 - T7 location) did not seem so severe.  While I still cannot walk unsupported, I have proprioception, sensation and can slightly wiggle some toes on either foot.  Then it occurred to me.  Perhaps my pain and spasms are so bad because my injury was not so severe.  If someone has a partial severing (crushing, intrusion, etc) of the spinal column, those fibers no longer connect and cannot transmit. Perhaps my spinal column is intact but due to the bacterial toxins and enzymes, the pathway is modified but the signals can get through.  I only know my own level of pain and sensation and no one else so how can anyone realistically judge another person's severity of sensation?  Perhaps what I feel as severe, someone else thinks is moderate or vice versa.  Curious...

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Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Accessible & Affordable Healthcare –A few thoughts on Ours and Theirs

As a Canadian, I have been watching with fascination the Trump administration’s ongoing attempts to repeal and replace the ‘Affordable Care Act’, or as Trump prefers to call it “that disastrous Obamacare.”

It is my personal belief that healthcare is a human right and not a frivolous luxury.  It is non-negotiable.   I also believe most Canadian citizens feel blessed to have universal healthcare coverage.   I have heard it described by some as healthcare “free” for our citizens.  It is not free – we pay for it dearly and hold it just as dear.  Others call it “Socialized Medicine”, then recoil, shudder and brush the term off themselves as if they had walked through a dense spider’s web.

We’re a democracy!  We don’t need any of that red socialism!  We’re proud capitalists!  You keep that pinko socialism in your own country!

But where does that term ‘socialism’ come from?  It is derived from the word ‘social’ (Society).  The dictionary defines the word ‘Social’ in several ways –here are a few.

  • of or relating to human society, the interaction of the individual and the group, or the welfare of human beings as members of society.
  • tending to form cooperative and interdependent relationships with others.
  • living in more or less organized communities.

America already had social institutions.   Nationally or Federally the American Military is a social institution.  All citizens pay for this service through their taxes and in return the country as a whole is protected by its military.  On the State level, State Militias may exist paid for by its citizen’s tax dollars

While private schools are commonplace for those who wish to opt out of local residential schools paid by one and all through their local taxes

Your local fire department is another social service.  Can you imagine the chaos if it were not?  Imagine if your neighbour’s house catches on fire and he’s not home to call his fire department.  Yes, I said “his” fire department.  If your town did not wish to have a social service of a common fire department, each homeowner would be free to sign up with one of the competing fire extinguishing services available in town.  You better have the number of your neighbour’s fire department as your own will only extinguish you house if on fire.

Socialism is simply working together for a common good – a common necessity.

I wish I had noted the name of the Republican spokesperson that stood before an interviewer and said “no American wants to have socialized medicine.”  I have to wonder if the parents of a gravely sick child would accept socialized medicine to save their child or would rather let their child die a fiercely proud red, white and blue American without that “pinko” taint on him/her.

Don’t get me wrong.  I too feel there is too much government involvement in my life.  The big wheels of bureaucracy burn far too much fuel and need way more grease for the meagre work accomplished.  However, the collection and administration of healthcare funds is not one of them if done proficiently.  Federal taxes collected could then be distributed to States according to population, age, specific needs.  Feds act as a ‘not-for-profit’  insurance agency however individual States know best how to distribute the funds as needed.

Why is the American Affordable Care Act faltering?  Why do costs rise so drastically?  Because it is administered by the Insurance companies.  While the government is responsible to the American citizens, the insurance companies are responsible only to their stockholders.  Capitalism at its bestIf people use the service (ACA) then there is a greater pay-out and less profit for the stockholders!  It is always about the money.

I fail to see any resolution of this issue if the Insurance Companies are left in control of the administration.  Liberal Democrats wish to see better and more extensive coverage.  It seems that Conservative Republicans wish for total independence; pay for it yourself or suffer.  And that same polarization – that divide is also seen within the Republican Party itself.  Moderate versus those staunchly conservative.  Eight years in opposition yet they have no well thought out replacement plan to offer.

It puzzles me.  So many Republicans appear to represent the “evangelicals” – from the “Bible belt”.  “Help thy neighbour, etc, etc.”

Take the U.S. Marine’s slogan of “No man left behind”.  Every warrior is my brother and all will be done to save you or recover your remains.  But the same sentiment does not seem to apply for the average American citizen.  Can’t pay for your healthcare, predisposing medical issue, etc?  -You're left behind -second class citizen…

The whole idea behind socialized medicine is that we all look out for each other.  We all pay into the system whether sick or healthy and by doing so we all look after our ‘brothers and sisters’.  So I don’t need it now, but I will age and will no doubt need it as the future nears.  And who among us can predict when an accident will occur.  I will gladly pay so that my neighbour or their child doesn't have to suffer.

Is our Canadian system perfect?  Not by a long shot but nobody wishes it repealed and replaced.  It needs to be tweaked when necessary.  It will always remain a work in progress.  I remain forever grateful it was there for me when I acquired an infection and became a paraplegic.  Six month stay in the hospital and I received no bill for their extensive services.  My fellow Canadians looked out for me and after I recovered I returned to work.  The taxes from my paycheck will look out for someone else.

America has a socialized military, elementary education, fire departments, police departments, utilities and so forth.  I find it surprising that Americans draw the line at socialized healthcare.  It simply astounds me...

Money for expanding the military and building walls, but not so much for looking after ailing citizens.  Go figure!

Although I have healthcare, don't shoot me for my opinion.  Just my point of view.
I do wish the best for my American neighbours whatever system of healthcare that may be.

By the way, I’m married to an American citizen.  

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