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Sleep .. or drugs? Apr. 18th, 2012 @ 07:27 pm

One for some of my friends in the medical profession.

From what I’ve read in the past, lack of sleep can lower the seizure threshold.  To date, I’ve been pretty poor at getting to bed at a decent time, and often go to bed very late, and spend my days feeling tired.

So, my question is this.  Given that I’ve had just two seizures, if I start making more of an effort to have a proper ‘bedtime’ and go to bed on time – could I then consider avoiding the drugs I’ve been prescribed for the time-being?

I know it’s probably just more ‘sensible’ to take my medicine but, taking these drugs could cause side effects, have issues with long term use, and it precludes me from drinking alcohol, and complicates things on the driving front (ie, if I change dose, drug type or come off the drugs, my 12 month ‘prohibition’ from driving starts all over again).

In one respect, having drugs to take is potentially a good thing from a preventative perspective, but on the other hand there are undesirable aspects, and I’m wondering if I could simply avoid it by just getting a good night’s sleep!  Something I probably should have started doing after the first seizure!

Any advice would be appreciated.

Brain Fart II Apr. 18th, 2012 @ 03:51 pm

Well, after six months of nothing, and indeed hoping that I was therefore ‘half way’ through my carless period following my initial seizure … I had another one.

Bear wasn’t with me this time (mid-week), but I ‘woke up’ early – about 6.30 feeling awful.  At first I just though I was generally ill, felt a little sick (something I didn’t experience last time), and had the same pounding headache as last time.  As I became more lucid, I questioned whether I’d had another seizure … and checked the bed.  Wet – I’d wet the bed, a sure-fire indication that I’d had another seizure.  That, coupled with a painful sensation in my tongue that indicated I’d bitten down on it again.

I’ve been to the doctors, and have been prescribed controlled release sodium valproate to help prevent further seizures.  I’ve got a two month supply, and clearance for five repeat prescriptions.

The drugs aren’t without possible side-effects, the more serious of which can include depression and liver problems.  For the later the doctor has done blood tests to check liver functions, and this will be repeated in six months to compare the results.

Oh – and I can’t drink alcohol as it would interfere with the effects of the drug, so that’s two things I can’t do!  Driving will now have to wait a further 12 months, and that time-span could be reset if they at any stage change my medication.  This could well mean that my driving career might be on-hold for some considerable time now Sad smile

No further tests are being carried out – they’ve already done all the tests they can, and there’s little additional benefit to be gained in repeating them, although I will likely have a follow-up appointment with the neurologist.

Fingers crossed this medication does the job .. time will tell I suppose.

I’ve already had a number of well-wishes on Twitter.  Many thanks to you all!

Of Money & Men Mar. 22nd, 2012 @ 10:33 am

My first post in aaaaages, and it’s about politics.  Sorry!  I promise I’ll try to post something furry soon Smile with tongue out

Basically, I’m posting here because 140 characters is not enough, and it’s certainly not enough to give people you’re talking too about a serious topic™ a true impression of your opinions.

With yesterday being budget day, a number of people were lining up on twitter to either congratulate the government, or attack them. I made plain my objection to the justifications given by the government (or at least the idea of accepting those justifications at face value).  Does that mean I’m therefore on ‘the other side’ and a labour supporter?  No.  Does that mean that I fundamentally disagree with what the government are doing … maybe, but it’s not a resounding ‘yes’ either.

When budgets happen (from any flavour of chancellor), you can be pretty damn sure that while they’ll be talking up the things they’re giving you, they’ll also be a few things that they’ll be taking from you.  Indeed, whilst the government have been happy to talk about how many people will be better off, the OBR describe the budget as neutral. To me that means that they’re gaining as much as they’re giving away

So, is the extra cash many of us will be getting as a result of the income tax changes as good as it sounds?  The BBC budget calculator tells me that I’ll be better off to the tune of £170 in the next tax year.  That figure drops down to £129 if I specify that I have a car, and enter my typical (former) weekly spend on fuel.

Now, some might say that this extra cash has to be put into perspective.  VAT was previously bumped up to 20%, inflation has been nudging prices up, (and whilst inflation may be coming down, that only means prices are rising less quickly, it doesn’t mean they’re falling). We’ve also got a 3p rise in fuel duty coming this year, which the chancellor hasn’t retracted.  Even if you don’t drive, that’ll get you in the form of higher prices too – goods will cost more to transport.

Of course, there are all sorts of other ‘wins’ and ‘loses’ in the budget, and it’s probably not helpful to describe the budget in that way. Do I fully understand it all?  No, I’m not an economist, or a financial expert, but then, neither are many of the people on twitter, with their attacking or their congratulating.

Now, some might say they have all the justification they need to congratulate the government, after all, they have reports and figures and bits of rubber stamped paper they can waive around that prove they’re right.  Well yes, of course they do, don’t they always?

Some might say the government are wrong because it’s not common sense, but we can all sit on the side-lines and claim to understand the best way to move the economy forward.  If we really had such a good understanding, I’m sure we’d have a rather different career opportunity in front of us!

Furthermore, some people will of course be adopting a position of agreement or disagreement based on their political leanings (left or right), and bubbling just under the surface is a rather more frustrating tendency by some, to judge you as a person as either more or less worthy of their time based on how they perceive your political leanings (in some cases, people don’t realise they’re doing this, but it’s still apparent).

What it basically boils down to is this: I don’t take the government at face value. I don’t take the opposition at face value either. I don’t care how many reports or bits of ‘evidence’ either side want to point to, I’m staying firmly in the sceptic camp. I think that’s a fairly good camp to be in when observing politicians of any colour.

So, when I see someone rapidly jumping to congratulate the government, or indeed attack them, in a manner that appears to be rather reminiscent of a ‘party line’ – then I’ll challenge that.  Doesn’t mean I disagree with you, it just means I’ll need a little more convincing than some form of ‘report’, or indeed, left or right wing concepts that you happen to believe are perhaps more respectable, intelligent, or just plain ‘better’.

As for the budget. I don’t think it’s excellent, or terrible. Reality is probably somewhere in-between.  I will say this however.This budget is apparently ‘neutral’ (and that’s Neutral according to the OBR, over five years) – so, where does that leave the deficit?  Where does that leave the national debt?  Very little comment on that yesterday.

I’ll finish by saying I’m not trying to skirt may way round naming names, I’m not talking to anyone in particular here, but I hope that goes to set my stall out a little better. If I don’t agree with the Conservatives, it’s not because I’m Labour – or the other way around. I’m just being sceptical, and hopefully, not to a degree that could be judged paranoid.

Result Oct. 2nd, 2011 @ 10:09 pm
Over the last few weeks, since the seizure I had at the start of September, I've been worrying about the more serious causes that might have been behind it.  The doctors sent me for two scans; one an EEG, and the other a CT scan of the head.  The CT scan was to look for some of the scarier possibilities.

Whilst thankfully very rare, brain tumours are one possible cause of seizures, and the time waiting for the scan was time spent pondering whether or not I might have had something very seriously wrong with me.  To cut a long story short, my scan came back fine, so - nothing to worry about there.

The long version involved having to chase up the results myself.  Friday morning involved a trip to my doctor, where they didn't know anything.  I then went back to the Cross Sectional Imaging (CSI!) suite at the hospital, who revealed that the results had been sent back to a consultant at the A&E department - so, I headed there.  The initial inquiry I made with one of the receptionists resulted in the answer (after a bit of waiting) that it could be six weeks before I get an appointment to discuss my results!  Needless to say I was not happy waiting for that!

After explaining that I was not really wanting to spend six weeks wondering about the results of my CT scan given some of the things it was looking for, the receptionist passed me on to the A&E nurse in charge that morning, who in turn looked up my notes to see if the consultant had yet reviewed my CT scan and reached any conclusions.

Hearing the words "Your CT Scan was normal" was a little like being told 'You're going to live'.

Sidebar: Why on earth is my case still assigned to an A&E consultant?  I've been discharged - surely the case would be handed over either directly to the neurologist for them to manage, or handed off to my GP.  Clearly most departments at the hospital are geared up towards referring results back to a GP given how quickly they spit out the words 'see your GP', when you press them on who you should chase if you hear nothing back.  Furthermore, given how stressful and time-consuming it must be working in an A&E department, why would you burden the doctors and consultants there still further by expecting them to manage-to-conclusion the cases of patients even long after they've been discharged?

Even more frustrating is the amount of chasing I've had to do myself, and how little transparency I've had on the whole process - or even had much information on what the process is supposed to be!  Admin appears to be a joke ... and yet if the politicians are to be believed, there are too many layers of bureaucracy in the NHS?  Either the bureaucrats are bad ones, or we actually don't have enough of them!  Anyhew - just a thought ... maybe I'll go all Daily-Mail and write someone a strongly worded letter.... back to the story......

There's more to come - the 'six week' figure that cropped up is actually the waiting time from the first incidence of seizure to the time when I should typically expect to get an appointment with the 'first fit' (sounds like a gym!) seizure clinic at the hospital - in other words, I should only have a couple more weeks to wait before I get to see a neurologist, and get the results of my EEG - but that I'm happy to wait for.

This also has no effect on the driving front.  I still can't drive.  If the EEG is clear too - then no cause will have been found, and the DVLA will likely 'default' to a precautionary 12 month exclusion.  If the EEG does show something and I have some form of epilepsy, well then it would be a 12 month exclusion anyway, with the possibility of the clock resetting if they decide to start me on any drugs.

I've already had my first major 'public transport is shit' moment - a chunk of train line between Oxford and Banbury was closed over the weekend for engineering works, meaning I would have found it extremely difficult to get home had I visited Bear (instead he came to me).  Suddenly I really appreciate the freedom of being able to just jump in a car and go somewhere whenever I wanted, and with a dense road network where there's always a way to get from A to B without a massive diversion via Z if one route happens to be blocked.
I am very much hoping that I never have another seizure, but I've been told that once a seizure happens, the likelihood of it ever happening again is never zero - I can only hope that for me it's as close to zero as makes no difference.  I want my car back.

When I know more - I'll let you all know.  Once again - for the kind wishes I received, I am grateful.

Brain-Misfire Sep. 5th, 2011 @ 10:24 am
So, this was supposed to be a fun alround weekend, with my Bear coming to visit me, and us all heading over to Stafford for a day to help celebrate with Stevil before his has to dissapear off for six months.  The celebration happened, but on Sunday, something totally unexpected .. I had a seizure.

Bear was awoken to me thrashing my arms around, biting down hard on my tongue, making rasping noises as I struggled to breathe, with my eyes open and nobody home.  I of course, have no memory of this.  When it stopped he got up to grab clothes, and turned around to find me sat up , rubbing my eyes thinking I'd just woken up from sleep....

Upon hearing that I had had a seizure, I tried to orient myself .. and at first couldn't remember the events of the previous day.  We made a sound decision to head to A&E, as this is the first time I have ever experienced anything like this.

Many hours in A&E and CDU departments then ensued, with some blood tests, but other than that .. just observation.  Eventually they discharged me, and informed me there would be follow-up tests including a CT Scan, and EEG to follow.

One thing they were very insistent upon was driving .. assuming this doesn't happen again, I can't drive for a year.  This is hugely frustrating, and whilst I'll be able to get around on public transport, NOT being able to just jump in a car whenever you want is like having a limb chopped off.  The letter I received says I have to check with my doctor for more advice on informing the DVLA, but it seems my driving career is on hold for now.

With that in mind, it's something I never want to happen again!  It's deeply worrying for me, and it must have been very scary for Bear.  He was super though, getting me to the hospital, and staying with me an extra night to make sure I was OK .. I'm so lucky to have him in my life ^.^

Apparently it's rare for someone to just suddenly develop epilepsy at this time in their life, and so I live in hope that this is just a one-off.

On Twitter, I received a multitude of good-wishes from people, and for that I am very thankful - I feel very lucky to have such great friends, and I certainly won't be letting the lack of a car get in the way of continuing to live my life and see people!! *hugs*
Other entries
» Eurofurence
Yes, we'll be there! :)
» ConFuzzled's New Star.....
....making it  four star ... as in the four star venue announced today as the new home for ConFuzzled!

I think the website and preview video can do the talking with relation to how fantastic the new venue is, but I just wanted to say that this really takes ConFuzzled another leap forward.  There can be little doubt that this is the flagship furry event in the UK furry calendar - not just NorthernFurs, or MidFurs or LondonFurs or any other region .. but an event where the entire UK furry community can come together!

The venue liaison did a great job hunting down a new venue for us after taking onboard all the feedback from the last CF - you won't be disappointed when you see this place - it's going to be a great place to be next year - can't wait!!
» LiveJournal /IN/ Google+ /OUT/
IN oder AUS?

Well from the dizzying high of everyone flocking to Google+ last week, this week everyone appears to have been booted out for daring to use nicknames, triggering a LiveJournal revival of sorts!

I never even got into Google+ in the first place - not because I didn't want to, but because my Google Apps account can't be connected to Google+ ... lots of people complained about this in the forums also!

I hear that Google+ offered a few things LiveJournal doesn't however - LJ has generally not changed much over the years, but of course there are still plenty of other services out there that can already do much of what Google+ did.  We can already post messages here on LiveJournal and via Twitter.  Flickr and YouTube are great for photos and video respectively, and services like TinyChat allow for multi-video chat, which I gather would be much akin to 'Hangouts'

So, we pretty much already have everything we need - Google aren't really bringing anything new to the table, but they're doing it with 'big company' mentality in play - it's not a more friendly, moral or more ethical company compared to the other giants out there.  They want your data, and they want a name to go with it.

Anyhew, I'm Rallicat on TinyChat,  Rallicat on Twitter, Badgaguy on YouTube and Badgaguy on Flickr
» No Alternative

Aaaaand back to politics

Well, given how much I banged on (and on and on) about the Alternative Vote, I thought I’d write up a little about my views now the decision has been made.

That decision was a resounding No, with around 70% voting against a change to the Alternative Vote.
That result was worse than expected.  Throughout the course of the campaign, opinion polls had shown increasing support for the No vote – but nothing like the scale of that seen in the actual referendum itself.

I put the failure down to a number of factors.
Firstly, the campaign itself, being rather vicious at times, was handled rather better by the No campaign than the Yes campaign.
The ‘No’  approach just seemed more flexible and adaptive, whilst the Yes group stuck to the same message, and did little to defend themselves against the mud being thrown at them.

There was a link to the Lib Dems too – they’re hardly popular right now, and despite them trying to keep a low profile, many saw this as a Lib Dem idea, and therefore this was another opportunity to punish the Lib Dems, and Nick Clegg.  This was also an approach supported by the No campaign.

Finally, the overall fear of change was probably another factor too.  The Yes campaign didn’t do a great job of explaining to people what AV actually is , and instead tried to talk about what it would do although I suspect that doing one without the other left people wondering how it would achieve change.

For my part, I supported this because I investigated the issues for myself.  I wasn’t convinced by the Yes campaign – I was convinced by the simple facts of how the electoral systems worked, and I still believe AV is a better, fairer system than FPTP.

I also supported changing the voting system because I see it as an enabler of further change.  I simply cannot agree with the concept that AV isn’t good enough and we should wait for something better.  I absolutely accept that there are other voting systems that are even better than AV; but I believe the rejection of AV will hinder –not help- efforts to bring about electoral reform in this country.

I also have to say at this stage that my faith in the Government –and in particular the Conservatives- is now considerably lower than it was a year ago.

That isn’t because I’m ideologically opposed to the Conservatives (before anyone starts trying to politically pigeon-hole me), but because in my opinion some of the things David Cameron and other Tories spouted during the campaign were nothing short of full-on, bare-faced lies.  I no longer trust them.  If they are prepared to lie like that, what else are they prepared to deceive people about? How can I take them at their word on the economy, or the NHS, or other issues?

Getting back to the main point – I personally feel it is a disappointment that AV was rejected, and is a major blow to electoral reform that could set us back for decades –there is simply no appetite in either the Labour, or Conservative party to give up FPTP, given it’s flaws benefit them the most.

I’m proud to have supported the change, and have no regrets about doing so.  I can only hope I’m proved wrong and this issue comes up again sooner rather than later.

Thank you to everyone who voted Yes.

» ConFuzzled 2011

Well, the first post in my LiveJournal for a while that isn’t about politics!

A few weeks ago I was at ConFuzzled, for it’s fourth year (I’ve not missed one so far).  This time was rather different however, as it was my first year as an official staff member, as deputy commerce person!  This meant I spent a lot of time working in the dealers den, and occasionally lending a hand in the art show.  If you attended the Live Auction, you’ll have also seen me as one of the people showing work to the audience.

In light of my responsibilities, I had less chance to ‘take in’ the convention as a whole – but from what I experienced, and what most (if not all) people seem to be saying, the convention was yet again a HUGE success!

The convention has firmly established itself on the furry scene in the UK – and whilst there are still some people in the UK who don’t attend, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that we’ve managed to break the ‘North/South divide’ (with people coming from across the UK), have international appeal, and the convention has it’s own momentum; most people now just expect that they’ll be going each year.

It’s fantastic how the convention has grown, and how it has proved the critics wrong (the convention has flourished and is now well established)!  Now, that’s not to say there are no problems.  Several people had criticisms about some of the events, and almost everyone has had something to say about the hotel.

When it comes to the venue – well, it’s always tough for find the right venue.  Getting the right venue, in the right place, for the right price is a big issue – and it’s one the core team work on every year.  Rest assured they’ll be working hard on this issue for 2012.  Whatever the outcome of their decision though, I think we can all be pretty sure that ConFuzzled 2012 will be as worthwhile attending as it has always been.  The venue is a big part of the convention – but it doesn’t ‘make’ the con all by itself – you do, by turning up and enjoying yourselves!

I think it’s fair to say the future of ConFuzzled is a strong one, and whilst the UK Furry scene is now well served with various events, parties and meets throughout the year, ConFuzzled is the jewel in the crown, and is the big event to get to – indeed, international readers take note too – you should totally look into ConFuzzled next year!

Despite my commitment to work at the convention I managed to find some time to enjoy myself – met up with plenty of people, and had a great time at the convention – working in the Dealers den was also very satisfying (if stressful at times!).  I’m glad to have the opportunity to make a contribution, and I intend to continue doing so :)

Here’s to 2012!

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