Deirdre Saoirse Moen

Sounds Like Weird

Archive of posts with tag 'health'

: Vaccination: Just Do It

vintage poster encouraging polio vaccination for children
I’m going to talk about vaccinations from the point of view of a person who’s older than most of the current vaccines, and what the changes have been like in my life.

My Age, In Practical Terms

If you read up on all of those, a handful of vaccination shots mean we miss the opportunity to suffer a whole lot of misery, and a bunch of truly smart and amazing people have been working hard ensuring that you, me, and that other person over there have the best chances at health possible.
I still remember spending a week absolutely miserable with chicken pox. A few years ago, I had a reoccurrence in the form of shingles. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.

One of My Earliest Childhood Memories

I remember going to CalTech’s park areas where I got my Salk vaccination for polio around about 1963. I was three or four years old.
You don’t see a lot of people with polio any more, for two good reasons: 1) thanks to Salk, it was eradicated in 1968, 2) the people who did have visible polio symptoms are less numerous as a percentage of the population.
Polio’s a horrific disease that not only killed and crippled people in droves, it has the unfortunate habit of cropping up again decades later. It was not uncommon to see people limping with canes or crutches due to polio back when I was a kid. (Granted, it was also not uncommon to see people limping with canes or crutches due to injuries in WW2, the Korean War, or Vietnam. Or even WW1.)

I Hated Shots As a Child

Despite being a child of scientists, I absolutely hated getting shots. They terrified me.
I remember hiding under my doctor’s desk in his office, and there were many tears associated with getting shots. But you know what? My parents had not only my best interests at heart, but those of the rest of society, too. Apart from fear, there was no good reason not to get my vaccinations.
When I was in early adulthood, it changed. I was okay getting shots if I saw the shot. Now I can look or not look, it doesn’t bother me either way, because I know the purpose of a shot is to kick the ass of something.
I’ve generally stayed on top of my boosters since then.

Have There Been Problems?

There is in fact a rather horrifying article about the Salk vaccine and SV40 over on SFGate.
Some of the early attempts at vaccines were like trying to tune a car engine with a plastic fork. There wasn’t any real way to ensure non-contamination until we got modern tools for sequencing, replicating, and analyzing DNA.

Penn and Teller on Vaccinations

Short but to the point, this is an awesome pro-vaccination video that neatly addresses the “vaccines cause autism” hype.

Vaccination Schedules

Here is a list of vaccination schedules by country.
Note that there are vaccines other than the flu vaccine that you should get, or get a booster of, as an adult.
If it’s helpful, the CDC has some tips on keeping (and locating) adult vaccination records.

: Myofascial Pain: What Trigger Points Are Like

Posting this because that occasional random pains you may have may respond to this technique. Myofascial pain is chronic inflammation where a nerve enters a muscle, but you can have acute pain from temporary inflammation. If you have a random sore muscle, it probably wouldn’t hurt to look up the trigger point and see if rubbing there would help.
Tuesday, I had an appointment with the pain doc. One of the things I have to do is a pain check, recording all my pain. I happened to gently grab my upper arm—and yelped.
Most of my upper arm, on a line roughly tip-of-shoulder-blade to outer-point-of-elbow, was incredibly sore, and along that line. Not, you know, where I’d normally touch my arm.
Myofascial pain is experienced in a different location from where the source of the pain actually is. The source is, as a general rule, closer to the spine and often closer to the head. I visited and found the page that showed where I was experiencing my pain.
The pain maps to the A on that page, which shows several trigger points on the scalene muscles. I feel with my fingers for the inflamed lump of muscle I’ve learned that corresponds to a trigger point, and pain starts shooting down my arm in the area where I felt the pain earlier. Bingo!
Note that this is one of those places you have to be really careful about: you can use a lot of pressure in some places, but not this one. There’s an artery right there, so you can safely use only gentle finger pressure.
Then, because I have fibro and the shooting pains irritated one of my fibro tender points, later I get another reoccurrence of the shooting pain, which kept me awake Tuesday night. 🙁
I woke up with incredibly, unbelievably sore shoulders after sleeping 9 hours, so it must have been good. It’s like relieving a bit of tension in that one spot happened to cause all other nearby muscles to have to renegotiate their place in the world.

: Hilo Tuesday

First, a bit left over from Monday: I went out to Hilo Bay Cafe, which is a more high-falutin’ place than the name suggests, and had an awesome beef short rib dinner. Now, I’m not normally a beef person (except for hamburgers) and I generally don’t like short ribs at all because they are too tough. This was grass-fed beef and super-tender. I’d been there on my previous trip and they were really great to work with to find food I could eat, plus they specialize in local and organic. Considering that (and the price of food generally on the island), it was quite reasonable.
This morning, I went first to Volcano winery. As the name indicates, it’s up by the entrance to Volcanoes National Park, and it’s literally at the end of the road past the golf course. I tasted several of their wines, but I’m not a wine drinker. I’d heard their wines were sweet, but they didn’t seem particularly sweet compared to other wines I’ve tried. So I picked one for Thanksgiving. They do have a macadamia nut honey wine that is very delicate — it reminds me a lot of an elderflower cordial that I’ve tried in the past.
After that, I went to Hilo Coffee Mill, which has coffee from several regions around the big island, and even coffee from other Hawaiian islands. They do roasting for a number of growers, and they gave me a little tour. I had to dodge a few chickens (they’ve got about 200, so if you’re ever in Hilo looking for super-fresh eggs, you might want to try there first).
I tried several of their coffees. As they put it, they get so much rainfall that their coffee is milder than on the Kona side, which is far drier — for the simple reason that soil chemicals tend to get washed away. They do supplement the soil, and they’re not an organic farm as a result, but that’s the nature of working with what you’ve got sometimes.
There are coffee plants on the east side of the island that are 100 to 150 years old; it’s a longer-established coffee-growing region than Kona.
What surprised me most, though, was their pineapple coffee. It doesn’t scream “bad coffee hidden by horrific fruit flavoring” — no, it’s good coffee with a delicate lilt of pineapple, and it seemed to me to work very well. So I got some.
At that point it was around noon. I decided to head south past Pahoa (a town I keep going through) and see how far south one could actually drive. About a mile out of Kalapana, the road forks, and I kept going on highway 130, which ended abruptly. There’d been signs earlier that visiting hours for the lava flow were 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. Now that I knew where the entrance was, I had about an hour to kill, so I went and got lunch, then headed back.
At the end of the road, there were scary signs that said, “Restricted Access – Authorized Personnel Only.” So I parked just before that and started walking, but a woman pulled over in a car and said I could drive in anyway. So I did, wondering if I were negating my rental agreement in doing so. I drove about a mile in (over two sections of relatively recent lava flows and regular old road between them) and parked where the security people told me to. The woman said, “Oh, because it’s between 2 and 10, you’re authorized.” Nice to know.
Then I set out to walk to the end of where they let you walk, which is about 4/10 of a mile down the road, crossing several flows that seem at most a few years old, houses (still inhabited) dotting either side of the road. Of course, yards are problematic.
It was brutally hot. The wind was behind me, so I didn’t feel it on my face, and it was full sun, I had SPF 85 on, and a liter of water, my camera bag, and my purse. I felt like a camel. I managed to get up onto the end of the road where the lava flow was and look out; I didn’t see any actual lava activity, but they said it was about six miles from where I stood. Then one of the women who worked there said the flow I was standing on dated from January.
I was thinking as I walked it that it seemed that this spot of land was in fact the very land I was photographing last year from the water’s edge. Some of the details seemed familiar, though of course the perspective was radically different. Another staffer said they’d lost a mile and a half of road in the last year — just eaten up by lava.
So, yes, I was basically standing near the hot melty stuff I photographed last year.
New lava flows are shiny and glassy. I tried to capture that in photos, but didn’t capture it last year and not sure I did this year, either. It turns out that silicon is part of the flow, and it rises to the surface as the lava is cooling (being less dense than some of the other minerals), so it gives the freshest lava a very cool sheen. I’d seen that on the black sand beach last year but hadn’t known the reason. I took some photos; we’ll see how they turn out.
Because silicon isn’t super-hard, though, that layer wears off fairly quickly (over 2-5 years), and then lava takes on the more familiar matte appearance.
On the walk back, I had the breeze in my face, but it was still pretty brutal. At the end, I was hot, I was tired, and I kind of collapsed into the car, turned on the air conditioning, and drank some extra water until I felt unshaky enough to drive.
After that, not much. I missed Namaste’s feeding again, darn it, so I’ll just have to go tomorrow. I’m reserving tomorrow for Hilo town stuff: the zoo, the planetarium, the farmer’s market, and a store I wanted to visit.

: Hilo Monday

I slept in late (really, I slept 8 hours, I just got to sleep late) and got up and had the same old thing at Ken’s Pancakes. For breakfast, I’m a creature of habit.
I’d planned to go to Akaka falls and the Hawaiian Tropical Botanical Garden on Tuesday, but the high bright overcast this morning meant rain wasn’t likely. After the last couple of days, that made for welcome weather prospects, so I headed north to the HTBG, went in and bought my admission and water (knowing there weren’t such facilities at Akaka), then headed to Akaka first.
Last year, I simply couldn’t manage the pathway. It’s 56 steps down, some nasty paths (which are paved at least), and about 2/10 of a mile to the falls proper via the shorter route. The longer route also visits another, smaller fall, but it seemed to have more stairs, so I chickened out on that one.
I managed it without difficulty. Further, last year, if I had done it, I couldn’t have done any other major walking immediately afterward like I did this year, when I walked all two miles of the paths (save for about 100′ where the handrailing for the stairs was underneath significant amounts of overgrown plants). Last year, I walked about 2/3 of the paths and it took me five hours because I was so tired and in so much pain. I wasn’t striving for time (since the point of going was enjoying the scenery, sitting in front of the falls, taking photos of cool plants, etc.), but it took me just under 2-1/2 hours this time. HTBG’s literature says that an average complete visit is around two hours. So I’m not exceptionally slow any more, which is great.
As a photographer, one of the problems of my lack of stamina has caused is that my hands shake when I’m that exhausted, and obviously that means I blow more photos. Much less of that this year.
However, the real point of going to HTBG is the same as last year: Isle of Pearls is set in an alternate Polynesia, and this is the closest thing I have to walking through some real rain forest. It’s not all native plants, granted, but the variety (not to mention size) is stunning. I noticed details that I hadn’t noticed before: how the cliffs are pummeled away at the water line, the difference between the water sounds and the wind sounds, etc.
From last year’s trip, I used a lot of details in other work I’ve done since, but IoP still needs a full re-write and I now feel ready to tackle it.
Now I just need to figure out what to do with the rest of my day; it’s only six in the evening. Hilo being Hilo, that basically means the tourist stuff is over for the day, but there’s still other kinds of adventures like dinner.