Why I’m probably voting (almost) against my beliefs

So, the UK election is around the corner, and all the parties are clamouring for our votes.  It’s extremely important to use your vote wisely, and vote for what you believe in.  Trouble is, without thinking clearly about the “bigger picture”, your (my) own personal wants and needs, might not necessarily be best for the nation as a whole.

Here’s the thing.  I’m a firm supporter of sustainability issues, and would probably vote for the Green Party given half a chance (and a decent local candidate).  However, I’m concerned that by voting for one of the minority parties which have no chance of actually getting into power on a national scale (at least in the short term), that I’m weakening the position of the major parties and subsequently opening the door to right-wing (lets face it, down right fascist) parties like UKIP.

So, should I stick to one of the major’s for this election?  If someone like UKIP manage to get into any semblance of power, I’ll no longer want to be associated with this country.  I’ll emigrate!

Perhaps for the short term, a strategic vote might keep the extremists at bay.  Maybe.

EDIT: Read what each manifesto says regarding Climate Change and Energy:

Well, I was going to blog today!

I had a whole list of posts that I wanted to get started on today; but instead, I’ve cleaned and tidied my home, and made a start at going through all of the boxes and junk that has been cluttering up my study for the past 4 years!

I have thrown away one bag of rubbish and two HUGE bags of recycling!  Also I’ve ear-marked several items to sell on ebay..  I just need to check if my original Game Boy and SNES still work!  Vintage, anyone?!

So, even though we lost an hour due to daylight savings today, I feel like I’ve worked that missing hour anyway!

Urgh.. and it’s work again tomorrow!  It just never ends, does it?

Keep flying…

Shoulders, Migraines, and Drugs (oh my)!

During the past few years, I have been working with my doctor and other specialists to treat my ongoing medical conditions better, particularly migraines and chronic shoulder pain, but also others.  Here I wanted to keep a record of what I/we have discovered, and I hope it may be of use to other people perhaps with similar perplexing symptoms; HOWEVER please remember that if you are experiencing any of these things for yourself – consult your doctor.

For the past 12-24 months, I was taking a prophylactic drug called Pizotifen to prevent the onset of migraine, and Migraleve (a combination of Paracetamol, Codeine and an anti-emetic drug) to relieve symptoms.  This combination had not successfully reduced the occurrence of migraine to any acceptable level.

Following further discussion with a new doctor at my GP surgery, and a referral to a pain clinic (see shoulder info below), the prophylactic has been changed to amitriptyline, and the reliever has been changed to sumitriptan (trade name: Imigran).  I am in the process of reducing the Pizotifen, with the intent to stop it completely.  I may also take Migraleve in addition to the sumitriptan during an attack, if the symptoms do not abate.

This new combination appears to be working much better than the previous, and I will continue to monitor this with my doctors.  We (my doctors and I) have also identified a potential link to my shoulder pain – see below.

Although I have still had a number of migraines in the past few weeks, both at home and at work, I have been able to treat them much more successfully; the severity has generally been less and the treatments have counteracted the symptoms faster.  In most cases I have been able to continue to function and deliver work both in the office and when working from home, even when suffering a migraine attack. Which is a great improvement!

For some very informative presentations regarding migraine, I’ve found this short series of video clips presented by an American MD Craig Blackwell:

1 – Experience; what you see and feel:

2 – Clinical; Aura, distinctions from other neurological conditions

3 – Mechanism; What’s going on in the brain

Chronic Shoulder Pain
Following the appointments and investigations that I have had in the past 5-6 years with my GP, the Orthopaedic surgeon, the neurology department, and most recently the Pain Clinic, we have made some conclusions which have begun to explain my chronic pain (which still does not have a full diagnosis, but the picture is becoming clearer).

Up until recently, the treatments for my shoulder consisted of Naproxen, an anti-inflammatory drug and analgesic for muscular pain (this replaced Diclofenac; which I was previously taking, but has been discontinued for long-term pain due to the increased risk of heart-attacks), and courses of physiotherapy. I was also prescribed Omeprazole, which is a stomach-protecting antacid type drug to alleviate side-effects of the Naproxen.

Following the various investigations by Orthopaedics, and Neurologists (also a nerve conduction study), I was referred to a Pain Clinic. Here the specialist doctor recognised that the pain I am feeling is neuropathic in nature, rather than skeleto-muscular, and has replaced the Naproxen with another drug called Gabapentin (trade name Neurontin), designed more specifically to treat neuropathic pain. I have been slowly building up the dose of this new drug to an effective dose.

For info, Gabapentin is NOT an opiate derivative, and does not therefore have the related risk of addiction, etc. I now very rarely take the Naproxen (unless I have period pain), and will shortly no longer require the Omeprazole for my stomach.

The specialist described how it is likely that my neurones either have an existing predisposition, or have been re-programmed over several years to activate and send pain signals, when they should be sending regular sensation signals to my brain. To help with both the pain itself, and to begin to re-train the neurones, I was issued with a battery-operated TENS machine to try (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation). This device I was advised to wear every day, all day if required, and run an electric current between the electrodes on my skin around the shoulder/neck/back area. This has helped greatly to manage particularly the referred pain that extended from my shoulder all the way down to my fingertips, and has helped to prevent much of these incorrect pain signals from going to my brain. I have found this to be a very helpful device, and have purchased my own TENS which I wear almost every day at work and at home.

Of course, now having used the TENS for a while, my skin has become irritated, so I’m having to reduce how much I use it..

Following on from this conclusion, that the pain in my shoulder was neuropathic, the specialist also linked some of the pain sensations in my arm to be extensions of my migraine symptoms. This phenomenon is also described in the migraine presentations, linked above, as the “sensory aura” – i.e. similar to the visual aura but instead of there being an electrical “storm” in the visual cortex of the brain, this occurs in either the sensory or motor cortices. (I have since confirmed this to be the case: I also occasionally experience inexplicable pain in my other “good” arm which lasts for several hours at a time, and as I already deal with a lot of pain on a daily basis, I hadn’t regarded this as a significant event. This happened a couple of weeks ago, after my pain clinic visits and as an experiment I took a sumitriptan migraine reliever pill. This pain then subsided during the following 30-60 minutes).
Therefore, the specialist also changed me from the Pizotifen (a gradual decrease before coming off completely) to the Amitriptyline as the prophylactic which not only is prescribed for migraine, but also for chronic pain conditions.
Overall, these changes to my medications will combine so that I am taking fewer total drugs in order to treat these multiple conditions.

Other notable conditions and events:
The long-term conditions above have contributed to a continual decrease in my general mood, over the past 10-20+ years. Only very recently had this fact come to the fore as I had hit a few particularly low points, and then spoken to my doctor. Idiosyncrasies in mood and behaviour tend to be quite common in the family history, and only a few months ago did I come to the conclusion that this is not the “norm”. I am now being treated for low-mood/depression, and have had a short course of CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy). This has helped to stabilise my mood, so that I am much more able to cope with day to day activities.

Also constant pain, and recurrent migraines, lower my mood further – by being under better control just helps to keep my whole life in better order.
Also I’m asthmatic… breathes deeply! *phew*!

A Cluttered Mind

So much to do!  And yet, even though I now have more time to devote to my passions of reading, drawing, creating, and chilling out on the sofa watching the good-ol’ telly, I’m not getting through my list fast enough!  I think, the main problem is that I have so many options now, that I don’t know what to pick first – and I procrastinate – and I swap projects every five minutes (or do three things at once) – but only ever finish things once in a blue moon.

See, I’m in the middle of reading a great book, but every time I pick up the book, I drop off to sleep!  Which is in no way a commentary on the content on the book – I’m just tired!

Granted I’m getting over a virus from last week, which has slowed me down.  I think I’m very very impatient when it comes to illnesses.  They drag on far too long; and because I’m often suffering with migraines at the same time, it’s quite frankly a pain in the arse! Brain no worky…

Something tells me that I will have to design a schedule for my “free-time”!  That way I might actually accomplish something..  So many books to finish, paintings to try out, blog posts about TV shows that I watched over Christmas – which will be old-news by the time I get round to them..

Anyhoo!  That’s enough procrastinating (again!).  Back to work..

Too tired to read, let’s revisit Twin Peaks instead…

well, I was going to sit and attempt to finish reading my book.  I’m a few chapters into “A Scandal In Bohemia” and I want to see how that story originally ended according to Arthur Conan Doyle.  Sadly, I’m pretty exhausted this evening and I think I’ll get only one page in before I’ll be snoozing!

Instead, I think I’ll begin a re-watch of Twin Peaks right from the beginning!  As there’s some indication that we might be getting some new mystery from this town in 2016, why not re-visit that familiar old and kooky place?  Now, what happened to Laura Palmer again?  And where can I get some of that damn fine coffee?

Agent Dale Cooper is as sweet as cherry pie.  I love him almost as much as our Sherlock Holmes..!

Today’s random thought

So, I’ve come to the conclusion that instead of trying to squeeze my long circuitous train of thought into an 140-character long “tweet” (or similar), that I should be able to express myself using as many words as possible and post it here!

Late to the party, or what!?

I’m also trying to get to grips with publishing through many different outlets using this as the base – still working out the detail on some of these.  Tumblr, for example, my posts are supposed to publish automatically there, but my last post didn’t make it for some reason..  I’ll figure it out eventually.

OK, lunchtime is over… back to work!

Shoulder Pain – Migraine?

I have been doing my research of late with regard to my migraines. At the same time, I’ve been looking into what may be causing my constant and intense shoulder pain (which doctors and surgeons have yet to diagnose or explain; after SIX YEARS).

This evening I was suffering an inexplicable pain in my good arm, not unlike that of bad days with my bad arm. It was really beginning to bother me, and then I also started to get a headache. Not wanting to write off my Friday night, I took a migraine drug just in case. My headache has eased off AND my arm has stopped hurting.

Now I was reading recently about the different ways a migraine aura can present itself. There is the often talked about visual disturbances and partial blindness; but I also found out about sensory aura.

A sensory aura presents itself as “phantom pain” often in the upper limbs and extremities. That sounds familiar. Could it be that my “shoulder condition” is in fact more closely related to my migraines? Could I have been suffering persistent migraine symptoms for six years straight? I’m beginning to wonder.

Good job I have a science background and can research these things for myself. So far the medical professionals haven’t come up with the best explanations as of yet. Although I give some credit to the representative of a pain management clinic I’ve spoken to, who has recently suggested treating my two conditions simultaneously and more appropriately.

Hopefully some progress will begin to be made.

To be continued…


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