September 30, 2006

Fame and Fortune, CFS-Style

I was contacted a few days ago by the editor for the CFIDS Chronicle about my Presence of Mind post from over a year ago. I had contacted her around the time I wrote the article, but she was new to the job and just dug out our prior emails after all this time. My post is going to be published in the CFIDS Link that should be emailed to subscribers on Monday, so that's pretty neat.

I was also interviewed for an upcoming article (not written by me) on men with CFS that will appear in the Chronicle. I thought it might be informative to post the questions and my answers on the ole blog here.

  1. We know and hear much more about women with CFS. What do you think people should know about men with CFS? What should they understand about how the illness affects men’s lives?

    CFS takes away some of the essence of what it is to be a man. In order to cope with the illness, a man has to shelve things like competition, physicality in general, and the desire to provide for loved ones.

    1. Do you view your CFS experience as more similar to or distinct from that of women who have the illness?

      As with most things, some elements are similar while others are different. I don’t know any other men with CFS, so it is hard to say if my experience as a man is really typical or not. On the whole, I find there to be more similarities to talk about with the women I know with the condition than there are differences.

    2. What do you think are the greatest similarities?

      Many of the symptoms are similar, particularly those that pertain to energy level, orthostatic intolerance, or emotional condition.

    3. What do you think are the greatest differences?

      I believe men tend to tackle the “CFS problem” in a very different way than women. For instance, many women seem to have a harder time coping with the emotional stresses brought on by the illness, but are fantastic at researching and implementing treatment options for themselves. Men tend to focus more on the “regular life” type elements, such as finding ways to exercise, work, or make decisions, and can maintain more of an even keel emotionally even when the internal stresses are great, but leave the medical aspect in the hands of doctors for good or ill.

  2. I’ve heard from some men that they have trouble identifying with the information they find on CFS because it often speaks from a female perspective or is covered in predominantly women’s magazines. Have you experienced this dynamic? If so, could you share your experience/views?

    I have experienced this, particularly with support. My method of coping is quite different from most if not all support group members I have encountered, which places me on the outside of such circles in some ways.

  3. What are your toughest/sharpest symptoms of CFS? How do you deal with them?

    Brain fog and orthostatic intolerance are my two biggest. I have yet to find effective means of combating these issues.

  4. If you had just 1 minute to convey to the world what it’s like to be a man with CFS… any male-specific dynamics or insight… what would you say?

    Well, everyone probably has a different perspective, but I would say that CFS for a man is a constant exercise in living and dealing with frustration. This is probably true for women as well, but for a man you have to be flexible in ways that go very much against the grain for what a man typically thinks, wants and feels.

  5. From the recent blog postings I’ve seen, you seem to stay as active as you can. I imagine your life pre-CFS included many activities and independence that people traditionally associate with men. Could you please share a brief story (just a paragraph or so) illustrating how CFS has interfered with those activities?

    I’ve always loved tennis. I took lessons as a kid and played on my high school team until my health started taking a toll on my extracurricular activities. Despite that I have continued to play as much as I can, because I can somehow handle this type of activity better than many others, such as walking or running, and it also happens to be great therapy.

    So for a while I played somewhat competitively and that faded as I started losing dexterity and endurance. After that I served 100 or so balls by myself every day, and that started to get harder too because my muscles were getting tighter all the time. Now I am fortunate enough to have a tennis partner who will drive and play with me once a week, but we just hit in an extremely casual manner. I can’t serve at all anymore without hurting myself, and in any case my serve is weak and useless even when I try. I had a great serve before CFS.

    Don’t get me wrong, I value our court time greatly, but what I really want to be doing is testing my skill against an opponent of similar skill, serving and hitting as hard and as accurately as I can while keeping the strategy of the game in mind. I miss that competition. I miss being able to push myself to my “real” limits instead of having to find creative compromises in order to play at all.

  6. What approach to your illness/wellness do you feel has benefited you the most? What’s the crux of how you currently manage your life with CFS?

    I am deeply Christian, and my faith makes all the difference. I faced a battle with cancer earlier this year in addition to all of my CFS problems. During this time I connected even more deeply with my Christian faith. Instead of folding or just scraping by, I have managed to create three websites and form a design company for myself that hopefully will give me a chance at earning some actual income beyond an SSDI check. Faith was and continues to be the answer.

  7. Is there anything else you’d like to share on the subject?

    I have a question for the rest of you men with CFS out there. How do you handle dating and relationships with your illness? I think we men have a higher wall to climb on this issue on account of the cultural expectations generally placed on us. Have you been able to fight past those expectations successfully?

Posted by Andy at 11:43 PM to the Health category

September 29, 2006

29 on the 29th

Somehow or another I got a year older all in one day. I think I might have a touch of arthritis here. Hold on a second, I have to go outside and yell at some punk teenagers...

Posted by Andy at 09:00 PM to the General category | Comments (3)

September 26, 2006

Movie Intermission, OotS Style

For the record, OotS is short for Order of the Stick, which I posted about recently. I think this one can work for even my non-roleplaying readers. I wonder if I have any of those.

Anyway, here it is.

Posted by Andy at 09:53 PM to the Roleplaying category | Comments (3)

September 24, 2006

Clinton on Fox

I just watched a replay of the much talked about Clinton interview on Fox News. Liberals are crying, "set up," while conservatives rally around Clinton's loss of control.

What a bunch of bunk.

This interview was just a regular interview like any other. No set up, no out of control ex-President. Clinton got angry, yes, but answered the questions put to him well. All of the talk centers around the questions put to former President Clinton about his efforts to kill Bin Laden and dismantle Al Qaeda. For those who are not up to speed, Clinton was promised that half of the interview would be spent on his efforts to combat global warming. The Al Qaeda question skewed the amount of time devoted to that issue, but the fact of the matter is that Clinton was responsible for the time lost due to the length and passionate nature of his answer.

I don't have a problem with that. Clinton accused the interviewer and Fox News in general of setting him up, and I think that was an irresponsible thing to say. That didn't stop him from answering the question in detail.

Maybe Chris Wallace should have asked that question first, but he didn't ask it that far into the interview, nor did he require Clinton to first outline how Republicans did things wrong before answering how he handled his role in facing Al Qaeda during his Presidency. I would agree with the setup talk if he had asked it last, but that didn't happen. The question itself was in no way irresponsible. It's the same question Bush and his administration has been asked every day for the past 5 and a half years, only without the accusations of torture and stupidity.

All in all, the interview was informative and interesting. My advice to anyone reading is not to form a judgment unless you've seen it, and even then to be careful to look deeper than the surface.

Nothing to see here, folks.

Posted by Andy at 10:34 PM to the Politics category | Comments (4)

September 23, 2006

Class Reunion

My 10 year high school reunion was tonight. Interesting night I suppose. It was about what I expected, meaning that most of the people who I knew from classes or extracurricular activities were not there. A few were, and I talked briefly with a few others, but most of my night was spent sitting and staring into space more or less. Fortunately, I can do that without feeling self conscious.

The turn out was pretty good thanks to a lot of hard work by Lisa Williar and I suspect Erik Robey as well. Their hard work will not go unappreciated on this blog. They also worked to accomodate my need for a ride home, and John Jenkins stepped up to fill that void.

I am happy I made it through the evening without incident. I went into it in a state where I would normally cancel whatever I had planned, but I knew this was a one-shot with no repeats, so I went for it anyway. There is a reasonable degree of probability that I will pay for this one for a while, but then again, maybe the increased recovery rate I have enjoyed this summer will kick in and get me back up and running in no time.

Posted by Andy at 11:44 PM to the General category

September 20, 2006

House of Death

Another mouse is now rotting between the walls of my bedroom. I knew it was coming, but I can't stop these things on my own unfortunately. That makes around 12 or more mice that have died thus far. Kinda freaks one out when it comes to feeling safe in this house. Is something in our house, like an odorless gas, killing these animals because they're small? What do I even do about it?

The weather shifted around 5 days ago and I am being hit hard. Hopefully my summer bubble will not totally burst, because I've really accomplished a lot over the past few months, and I would hate to see that fall apart. Wish me luck. I'm not going to stop pushing forward unless forced.

Posted by Andy at 05:33 PM to the General category & Health category | Comments (5)

Anti-Americanism on Parade

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hugo Chavez spoke in front of the UN today. I would dare say that both made enough unbelievable comments to hurt their cases, not that they care.

I found Chavez's repeated, "Bush is the devil," comments to be particularly choice, and apparently some in the assembly thought so too, because he got a reasonable laugh from the "crowd" when he first made the comparison. Hugo isn't much of a comedian though, and he threw off his timing by repeating it throughout the rest of his speech. Can't beat that dead horse and continue to get laughs, you know.

I'd like to say that these two woke up some world leaders to the threats we all face today, but that is just wishful thinking.

Posted by Andy at 02:33 PM to the Politics category

September 19, 2006

Psalm 11

In the LORD put I my trust: how say ye to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain?
For, lo, the wicked bend their bow, they make ready their arrow upon the string, that they may privily shoot at the upright in heart.
If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?
The LORD is in his holy temple, the LORD's throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men.
The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth.
Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup.
For the righteous LORD loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright.

Psalm 11

In an uncertain and dangerous world, sometimes we need a message of strength.
Posted by Andy at 12:54 AM to the Faith category

September 17, 2006

Fantasy Squidball

A few weeks ago, Joe persuaded me to join a no-skill required fantasy football league with several other friends. We missed last week due to lack of readiness, but our teams should begin accumulating stats today. My QB Payton Manning put up 43 against the Texans, so that aint gonna hurt.

More importantly, I created a stylish custom team helmet, thinking I could upload it to our league site. It turns out this is not possible, so everyone will have to settle for seeing it here:

Fighting Cephalopods

Subtle but effective, no?

Go Fighting Cephalopods!

Posted by Andy at 06:39 PM to the Sports category

September 15, 2006

Episode IV: The Final Stench

... or at least I hope. You wouldn't believe what went down today. I have a photograph for those who want an eyeful - just let me know via comment. Suffice it to say, we had to handle some more rodent disposal operations. Hopefully the stench problems are behind us, unless that unaccounted for bat happens to kick off.

Posted by Andy at 08:33 PM to the General category

September 14, 2006

Order of the Stick

Order of the Stick has to be one of the funniest D&D related comics I've ever seen. Some of it is only funny if you know the D&D rules, but other parts work for anyone. Give it a look if you're looking for some geeky humor.

Posted by Andy at 10:39 PM to the Roleplaying category

Stench Overboard!

It turns out my bat theory was wrong. Well, I'm still pretty convinced we had/have a bat that is unaccounted for, but the stench from behind the wall took a far more disgusting form as it turned out. Facing the smell of decay on both sides of the computer area, mom snapped and "urged" dad to take out the offending section of wall.

It turns out this was a good move, because the decaying corpses of at least 6 mice lay within. I say "at least" because some of these mice were in such an advanced state of composition that it was impossible to tell what was what. We're talking tails, fur, and miscellaneous goo. The smell was unbelievable, but the corpses were removed and given a proper burial (i.e. the trashcan outside. Waaaay outside.)

The wall is being attached rather loosely in case we ever have to do this again. Hopefully the doorway won't collapse on my head when I go into my room. You never know around here.

Now only one stench remains. I am scared.

Posted by Andy at 10:31 PM to the General category | Comments (2)

Double the Stench! Aaaaugh!

I think I need to create a new "stench" category for my sidebar. If you're not briefed on the situation from the past few weeks, you can catch up here, here, and here.

That smell has still not left the premises, and now we have a new, "fresh" contender. A few days ago we had a bat down here. It seemed to be staking out a claim on the little supply closet area at the bottom of the stairs. Unfortunately it made a wrong turn and fell down inside the wall between my room and the door to that same stairwell. After struggling for a few days it died, and has now begun to provide the same pleasing aroma as the mouse that came before. Now I get to live with it about 23 hours a day, as I am assaulted by it on both sides at the computer, and will now have to contend with it when I am trying to sleep as well.

Where is that Medieval bird suit when you need it?!


Posted by Andy at 03:00 PM to the General category

September 13, 2006

Dosage Increase

I am doubling the amount of Lyrica I take now, which is probably going to do some nasty things to me for a little while. Keep me in mind in your thoughts if you don't mind.


It's later in the day now. I played tennis with my friend Amy as we try to do weekly, and man was it weird. Have you ever engaged in athletic activity and performed reasonably well (skill-wise and endurance-wise) while simultaneously having to concentrate to not nod off to sleep in the middle of it? That's Lyrica. Hopefully the sleep part of it will fade as it started doing when I was taking one pill for a while.
Posted by Andy at 03:11 PM to the Health category | Comments (3)

September 11, 2006

In Memory of Inna Basina

2996 9-11 tribute Inna Basina tribute

When I signed up for the 2,996 tribute (edit: Use this mirror site instead) and was assigned Inna Basina, I was unable to find much meaningful information about her. I figured I would have to resort to artwork alone to complete a meaningful tribute. Well, it turns out that I could not have drawn a person who more exemplifies what it is to be an American.

A Second Life of Freedom

In Russia, Judaism was Inna Basina's nationality. In New York City, it was her religion. "Here it was not a problem," said Inna's husband, Vladimir Basin.

Inna found her second life when her family settled in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, as refugees in 1994. "It was freedom for her, freedom for our son," he said.

Inna took a job as a translator for AT&T. It wasn't an ideal job, but it made ends meet. The couple made it a point never to be on welfare; they were in the United States for the opportunity, not handouts.

She worked nights while studying for a master's degree in accounting at Pace University. She was a sharp student, and a professor found her an accounting position at J. P. Morgan before she graduated. She moved to Cantor Fitzgerald in 1999.

Vladimir Basin would drop her off at the World Trade Center on his way to work. On the morning of Sept. 11, she was eager to buy a present for her son, Boris, whose 12th birthday was three days later. "Our son is the first thing in our lives," Mr. Basin said. "Everything for America was for family and son, not because she liked accounting."

Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on November 13, 2001.

Inna worked in the World Trade Center as staff accountant for Cantor Fitzgerald.

A memorial guestbook features comments from her friends. Some excerpts:

Knowing Inna and her family very closely for many years, I share with them the pain, tragic loss and memories about wondeful person, caring mother and devoted wife.

David Goldsheyder (New York, NY )

One year later I still can not believe that IT happened and that my childhood friend Inna Kogan is one of so many who is gone…The whole year she is in front of my eyes just the way she was when we were young girls: beautiful, with exquisite black hair and with the most gorgeous eyes to mach. Bright, sharp, always straight A-student, well read and well spoken…And then many years later, already here, in America, we would run into each other on the street, talk for a few minutes about our very busy, always on the run adult life, promise each other to call, to come to visit and then run again….She was very happy woman: loving and loved wife, adoring and adored mother, caring daughter….

Innochka, you will always be part of my memory. May your soul rest in peace…

Ella Langman (Brooklyn, NY )

Mrs. Basina, America was, is, and will continue to be a singularly great nation because of people like you. I am proud to have had the privilege of learning about you, and I will honor your memory by living the most decent, noble, and valuable life I can, and by helping others to do the same.

Rest in Peace, Inna.

Posted by Andy at 07:35 PM to the 911 Tribute category | Comments (7)

September 10, 2006

Prayers Needed for a Family Member

I ask for your prayers for some cousins of mine on my mom's side of my family. Randy and Diane's son John is near death after a motorcycle accident. A truck crossed the median and hit him and 2 other friends. One was killed outright and John has no brainfunction and is not expected to live.

John is my second cousin, but I do not believe I have met him. That does not mean I will not be praying for him and his parents today and in the days to come. Please join me if you would.


Posted by Andy at 06:24 PM to the General category | Comments (1)

September 07, 2006

Tiring but Good Day

I hung out with Amanda Bange all day yesterday. Fun stuff. I was pretty tired from my treatment the day before, so we passed on planned canoeing in favor of pier sitting. I also got an invite to eat at her folks' place, and was able to help her dad with some web design info. I told him to expect world peace by this afternoon, so hopefully that's working out for him. We rounded out the day with some Warcraft III team ladder games (we stink) and wound up at 1 and 3 on the night. We had to play people ranked way higher than us, so we expect to get some decent results eventually if we are able to try again.

So, long day, but totally worth it. I'm glad you came by, Amanda. Let's do it again soon.

Posted by Andy at 03:26 PM to the General category & Health category

September 04, 2006

Warcraft Blowout

Last night, Pat and Amanda came over and Mei joined us remotely for a full night of Warcraft playing. Broken up only by a timely ice cream run, the evening featured lots of killing and destruction as well as a healthy amount of confusion due to the fact that we're all now terrible at this game. The only thing missing, in my estimation, was taunting and trash talking. Perhaps I can help that process along for our next Warcraft night by calling all of my friends huge wusses.

Yeah, that's right, you!

Posted by Andy at 07:20 PM to the Games category | Comments (2)

September 03, 2006

Agassi Retires

Andre Agassi lost in the 3rd round of the US Open today to Benjamin Becker after a brilliant 21 year career. Agassi did more than just play tennis. Beginning his career as a rebellious kid and ending it as a confident, responsible role-model, he grew up on the court, and he invited us all to come along for the ride. I think that is what makes him so special.

Congratulations, Mr. Agassi, on a brilliant career. You will be missed.

Posted by Andy at 03:11 PM to the Sports category

September 02, 2006

Where is the Stench Coming From? I Can't See!

Man, talk about a rough couple of days! I already talked about the mouse part, and I might have continued with more details had not the power gone out. First it flashed on and off for random intervals 15 or so times, and then it finally died in the late afternoon yesterday.

That makes two days without my essential routine + feeling dirty nonstop + no US Open (which is the ultimate in tennis, one time a year) + horrid, unrelenting mouse stench!

After the hurricane of '03 that took out our power for a week, dad took some steps to hook up a generator to keep us in the clear. Unfortunately the generator is of poor quality and can only handle a few power issues at a time. We went without water of any sort in exchange for lighting that would wax and wane in intervals of a few seconds and interchangeable usage of the refrigerator/freezer and stove. Much like the mouse situation, this was all sort of hilarious in a morbid sort of way. At least we had a generator, right?

Now I have to hope that this whole circumstance won't significantly set me back. I'm going to progress as if it will not, and hope that I am not in error.

Posted by Andy at 06:26 PM to the General category & Health category | Comments (1)

September 01, 2006

The Stench Report

plague suit Dad and I attempted to locate the mouse, deceased roughly 1 week ago, around the area containing the most intense smell. No luck. Have you ever had one of those experiences where you want to laugh and cry at the same time?

We found the only scented candle in the house (they bug mom and I) and deployed it in the region. I think I would be better served by one of these suits. If it worked for Medieval doctors, it's good enough for me! Maybe that should be my new motto.

Posted by Andy at 03:53 PM to the General category

The Stench of Death

A mouse died down here in the drop ceiling of the basement. We're entering week two of the decay. I think an accurate way to describe it is that if it doesn't affect you, you're not really human. It made mom sick and she had to go upstairs for the rest of the night. I'm toughing it out, but I must admit my throat is scratchy. I gotta live somewhere, right?


Posted by Andy at 12:33 AM to the General category | Comments (2)