Finally, a Translator!

Okay, maybe not so much a translator as a glossary. As I mentioned a few days (weeks? months?) ago, my brain has gotten more rigorous at coming up with new words for words I’m trying to access. The most recent was the name of the medical device that doctors install to regulate a patient’s heartbeat. You know – the tachometer.

I recently got my first Apple Watch in an attempt to offload some brain functions that might occasionally be… lacking. Most specifically note taking and an abundance of reminders. After years of fighting against it, I’ve now given in to having short conversations with Siri. Anyway, I got myself an Ultra (this is back in the Series 8 days, future travelers) due to its durability and gigantic size. The durability’s an obvious plus, since I have a tendency to not pay attention to how my arms are flapping about. The gigantic size is great to make it easier to use with my sausage fingers and to make the watch look more of a normal size with my big paws. The only issue is the included band (the velcro trail whatever band) doesn’t open enough to let the aforementioned big paw slip easily through.

So off to reddit I go to wander r/applewatch for a few hours. In addition to some watch band ideas, I walked away filled with amazement at how much people expect from a watch. One in particular was upset at how the watch was reading his HRV (Heart Rate Variability, something to do with your heart rate fluctuating and a low number is worse than a high number). It had been reading in low numbers (again, bad), but when he checked the HRV being given by the pacemaker installed in his body, his HRV was really a higher healthy number. That’s right, he’s comparing heart readings from a watch on his wrist to heart readings from a device inside his heart.

I had been discussing my new watch with the IT consultant/former boss who had come onsite that day, so I tracked him down to tell this tale. It was going well until I got to the word “pacemaker.” The best I could come up with was “tachometer.” He didn’t pick up on it because he was probably only halfway paying attention to me, but I pondered the proper terminology over the next couple of hours while I did other things. I couldn’t come up with anything better than “tachometer.”

I wasn’t too worried about it since I was doing other things, but did start panic breathing a little as I neared the end of the second hour. So I stopped everything and laser-focused on the problem at hand. Yes, I was sitting in front of a computer that would tell me the answer in seconds, but I was On A Mission. So I sat there staring at my desk for FIVE MINUTES before I finally thought of “pacemaker.” Interestingly, the recovered word was brittle for a little while. I’d think about how I would recount the ordeal to my wife and I’d remember the word started with a P, then have to gather myself to come up with the rest of the word.

While it has been suggested that I might have had “tachycardia” lodged in my brain, I’m pretty sure it was an even simpler comparison. Tachometers measure rpm, so why not bpm?

All of this to say that I now have a way on the site for us (the royal us) to keep track of these new words as well as any other things I come up with. Take a look at The New Moondoggie Dictionary, readily available in the header of the site. If I find a way to link to a specific word, I might use that in the future. I just spent two hours trying to put a copyright notice in my footer without destroying the site, so I’ve had it for programming today.

And then, he died…

Okay, so I’m still alive, but it’s just like me to drop a “hey guys, I might have early-onset Alzheimer’s” and then disappear for almost a month and a half. I was actually a little worried about my brainmeat there, because I saw my last post was August 28th and thought “I posted seven days ago? I thought it was a lot longer than that!”

My brainmeat has been a little iffy the more I pay attention to it. Kind of like when you notice something hurts a little, so you hyperfocus on the pain until it feels like you need surgery. Or a splint. Or something. My most recent word replacement was that holiday in March known throughout the world as Leprechaun Day. Granted, that’s not quite the same stretch as “fish museum,” but I’m rolling with it.

I’ve realized a few times lately at work that there are things I’ve done project-wise that I just have no memory of. We had an issue with on of the alarm zones and the keypads still had old maps next to them, not new maps representing our new alarm people. The shop guy comes to me about it and I’m trying to figure out why he’s bugging me. Oh, right. Because I was the one creating the new maps back in February. After some random searching along the lines of “If I were me, where would I put the file?” I found my last edit of the map which was a little lacking in information. It was enough to be left alone for a bit, so I used the time to start digging through my desk drawers to see if I had any sort of notes. I found a few printouts with modest amounts of info and figured this was what I was given.

A few minutes later, the head boss comes upstairs with his manila folder. “Here’s all of the things you sent me last time” he says, as he shows me the same printouts I was holding in my hand. Ah. So apparently I made these documents. Wondrous.

Similar thing occurred when I was reminded that I needed to set up the safety meeting for this quarter, since I’m the new head of the Safety Committee. The previous guy ran the last one, so this one is up to me. Previous guy wanted to sit with me to discuss what I had come up with as a topic for the meeting. Ummm… I was thinking the topic would be… safety?

I vaguely felt like I might have taken notes last time, so I looked around for those in the five or six half-used spirals I have around my desk. Here it is: “Have meetings on Wednesday. Next one: October,” Thank you, Past Brian. Now I totally know how to run this meeting.

Part of me was a little worried about these gaps in my memory. They kind of vaguely came into focus as I researched them, but they weren’t there before I did. Then I realized that a lot of that could just be not really caring about the job. I hear people talking about some of the things we do and rattling off product numbers and stuff, and I’m just amazed that anyone could have enough interest to learn any of it. So I think I’ve basically given my brain a free pass to delete whatever it wants in regards to the job. Lovely.

In the meantime, I’ve decided to try bowling. It turns out, I’m quite bad at it. Like get-a-strike-and-follow-with-four-gutter-balls bad. Little flashes where it seems like I know what I’m doing, followed by long stretches of “you know the object is to knock the pins down, right?” But today I played games 18, 19, & 20 with scores of 114, 81, and 79 respectively. In a way, I’m happy to just see a trend there. My average right now over those 20 game is a whopping 85. And that’s with three games over the 110 mark. Oof.

I’m being good-humored and patient about it, though. The only other time I ever bowled was in ’93 or ’94, and even then I only played a few games with friends. So I’m saying these 20 are my very first 20 at this point. One day I’ll learn how to be at least slightly consistent.

Then it’s all over for you bitches.

A Trip to the Fish Museum

Okay, let’s talk about the new and spectacular health issues I’m dealing with. Namely, my brain.

Alzheimer’s disease is something that primarily affects people over the age of 65. They’re still trying to figure out what causes it and what can stop it, but there are a few risk factors, including a history of head injuries, clinical depression, and high blood pressure. Well, at least my blood pressure is normal. While there’s a genetic marker (APOE) that points toward a risk factor, it seems to be more of a “greater likelihood than normal” marker rather than a “you have it and you’re screwed” marker.

It’s estimated that 5-10% of Alzheimer’s cases are of the Early Onset variety, with about 60% of those actually inherited genetically, and those cases are known as Early Onset Familial Alzheimer’s disease. The accepted age limit for Early Onset is “before 65,” though most are in their 50s or early 60s while some have been diagnosed as early as in their 30s. I know about this not only from Wikipedia, but also because my father was diagnosed at the age of 57. My father’s father was also diagnosed with it, though I don’t know how old he was at the time.

While there was always a worry in the back of my brain, I recently turned 51 and that worry has evolved into a frantic screaming voice in my head. You know how sometimes you’ll misplace your keys and you’ll think “Oops, must not have been paying attention?” My brain says “THIS IS IT! IT’S STARTING NOW! FUCKFUCKFUCKFUCKFUCK!”

It’s a slightly stressful way to live.

When my dad was diagnosed, there weren’t any ways to test for EOFAD or any type of Alzheimer’s, other than conversations with doctors and memory testing. You’d think that would help, but here’s the problem with that: how do you convince a doctor that having a memory function that’s better than the average population is still worse memory function than you used to have? My dad was very smart and had a sharp and thorough memory. He could tell something was going wrong, we could tell something was going wrong, the doctors could tell he was getting older. Because that’s what happens when you get older – you forget things. Too bad patients, that’s just how life works. It took us a few years before a doctor would finally diagnose him with Early Onset. Again, he was 57 at diagnosis after a few years of symptoms. I’m 51.

Fuck.

Recently, I was reading an article about genetic testing and the various flavors of Alzheimer’s. It stated that for regular Alzheimer’s, they still just had the one gene that would suggest a propensity for something like Alzheimer’s happening. Basically, about as helpful as asking a rando on the street about your future. For EOFAD though, they’ve identified three genes where if you have them, you will get EOFAD. Full stop. When I read that, I burst into tears. Right there, sitting at my desk at work, bursting into tears. Awkwaaaard.

My wife had to get some genetic testing done for a familial thing, so she recommended her doctor. I reached out to him, found out I needed a referral, reached out to my doc, got the referral, called the genetics lab, got asked infuriating questions that showed they had no idea what I wanted or why, waited for a call back, called them back and was asked all the same questions that showed whoever I talked to previously didn’t write anything down, then finally got an appointment: the first of December. Better than the “we’re scheduling into next summer” I was originally told, but still. It’s a long wait for a telehealth appointment to talk about my issues, then who knows what will happen from that point. I’ve seen in a couple of places that two of those three genetic markers are only tested for by people who are doing clinical trials. We’ll see what we get in December, I guess.

In the meantime, I’ve been noticing other things. I’ve been trying to avoid looking at all of those “early signs” articles, because like a lot of things, everyone has at least some of the things on the list. The difference is the degree to which those things interfere in your life. It’s like the people who say they’re OCD because sometimes they keep their desk tidy. You know the type. “I’m SO OCD! Every time I take a drink from a bottle, I just HAVE to take the lid off! SO OCD!” But true OCD gets in the way of just about everything you’re trying to do. That’s what makes it a disorder. I hear that with ADHD too. “Last night I just kept switching through the channels. I’m SO ADHD!” No, you’re not. You’re just bored. While there are good and sometimes great things granted to me with my ADHD, it gets in the way of my life a lot. A lot a lot.

Anyway, I know one of the things is issues with words and language. Sometimes not being able to come up with the word, which I think I’ve mentioned here before. You know the word is there, you can describe the word, feel the word, taste it in your mouth, but it just won’t come. Sometimes it’s coming up with different words that are anywhere from partially to completely nonsensical. I’ve noticed it in my writing (well, typing) in the past, but usually I don’t consciously see it happen and usually it’s a nonsense kind of substitution that someone will ask me about when they read it.

Last week, I had a different kind. We were watching “Moving Art” on Netflix. Well, semi-watching. It’s great background sounds. I had tuned in to what was on the screen, because the episode was in Tahiti and there were underwater segments with all kinds of bright. colorful fish. At one point, I thought about how I’d like to go stare at some of these in person for awhile. Not snorkel or scuba-dive. Hell no. Just watch them from the other side of a big glass wall. My specific thoughts: “I know there’s the place in Mystic, but that’s pretty far away. I wonder if there are any closer fish museums.”

The thought ended there, because it didn’t feel quite right. Not like you’re eating something and you bite down on a cilantro stem or piece of bone, but like you’ve been eating something that’s soft and you find a non-soft bit.

I rolled “fish museums” around in my head for a bit, knowing it wasn’t quite right but not why. Finally “aquarium” popped into my head and while I was relieved that I had puzzled out the proper word, I was also a little sad that the proper word was so boring. I guess I should take some solace in the realization that possibly the creative portion of my brain will be the last to go, or will at least put up a hell of a fight.

So here I am, back to typing on the internet again, just waiting to see if I start typing gibberish. If you see something odd, feel free to let me know. Well, not just yet, because I’m still in “hating web programming mode” and haven’t bothered to look at bringing the commenting system back online. But again, at this point I figure you know me, so you probably know other ways to reach me. How convenient. I’m trying to keep these short (and look how well I’m doing!), so I’ll talk about the actual forgetting stuff in the next post.

Astro’s Back… Tell a Friend

Okay, I’m back. I’ve been letting the blog percolate in my mind for awhile, trying to decide what direction to take it now.

  • I could go the daily life route, but I don’t really have a lot of different things going on in my life and that would get old quick.
  • Thanks to good ol’ depression, I’ve stopped almost all of my hobbies, so that cuts down on content quite a bit. Everyone out here seems to have some degree of depression, so there wouldn’t be much light I could shed on that.
  • According to my Middle-Aged CIS White Guy ID card, I’m apparently supposed to spend a large amount of time telling people how to live their lives, but I’ll save that for screaming at the neighborhood children from my porch. Just kidding – we don’t have a porch.
  • I could fill the space with helpful how-tos about things I know how to do, but I usually give people too much credit to think that anyone needs to hear me explain how to do something. Oh shit, they’re going to revoke my Middle-Aged CIS White Guy ID card, aren’t they?
  • I could somehow encapsulate all of those ideas into letting you follow along with a Great Life Journey.

I’ve decided to go with option… fuck, I used bullet points instead of numbers. That last one – I’m going with the last one.

Yeah, it seems like a cop-out of sorts, giving myself the freedom to write about anything, but I’m thinking more about the focus than anything. The old days of Moondoggie were mostly me talking to imaginary internet people about absolutely random shit. Once I was diagnosed with cancer, it all evolved into Cancer is My Bitch, where my cancer journey was the guiding focus. I toyed with other sites later, Lethological to track the difficulties I was having with chemobrain and From Couch to Coach to track my journey to becoming a CrossFit coach, but neither really hooked me enough to solidify what I was doing there. The ADD doesn’t help much either, since it’s easy to get distracted by the new shiny and forget about something for a few days. Or weeks. Okay, fine. Years.

I took everything offline for awhile during a recent job hunt, and now it’s two years later and I’ve realized I’ve missed writing. My return to my neglected sites coincides with the next big steps in a medical journey, so what better time to shift gears?

For the couple of people were CiMB readers or have somehow been old school Moondoggie followers in one form or another, it’s not a cancer thing. At least all of my doctors tell me that all of these symptoms I’ve been having lately aren’t cancer things, even though the only time I’ve had them in the past was the last time doctors were telling me I didn’t have cancer. Right up until, you know, I did.

While I do have new and spectacular health issues to concern myself with, this isn’t that post. Not yet. It’s still brewing. Part of me is waiting for it to be Official and part of me is just wanting the Big Dramatic Reveal like the fucking drama queen that part of me is. You know how I feel about those types of people, so you can imagine how much I dislike that little part of me.

Says the guy writing all of his problems on the internet to a group of strangers and acquaintances.

But that’s the trick to this blog. I’ve scrolled back through some of my old posts and it’s like I’m reading someone else’s writing. And while this author sometimes just won’t get to the fucking POINT, I still like the things he has to say and he still makes me laugh. Or smile. Or tear up.

We really need a new word for that, by the way. Just when writing, so you know if there are tears or if there are tears. And if you immediately read those as two different words, you’re mind kind of people. Have a seat.

Anyway, I’ve decided my primary audience is Future Me. I was going to say “from this point forward,” but let’s be honest, it always has been. I can’t get myself to sit down with a diary and write things out, but I have noooo problem with typing it on the Internet for everyone to see. Well, not everything, but you know. Present Me likes the way Past Me writes, even if Past Me is the asshole who keeps pushing all of his work and worries on to me. By the way, sorry about that, Future Me.

I need a new word for “anyway” too, because I was about to start this paragraph with it and realized that’s how I started the last paragraph and I heard my former English teachers screaming from their… homes? Graves? Hospital beds? I mean, I’m kind of old now, so who knows where they are.

Anyway, (hah) I finally got back to directing my browser at the ol’ site and felt I needed to do something to celebrate. I uploaded the new header graphic (if this is being read Years in the Future, it’s the one I made from my new Moondoggie logo) and if I’m on the site anyway, I might as well start typing a bunch of semi-random words that have been percolating in my head for the last few years. In about ten minutes, Pro Motocross kicks off in Budd’s Creek Maryland, so I’m going to wrap this up for now and who knows, maybe I’ll be back here four hours from then.

Or maybe four years. I’m kooky like that.

Post-posting edit. I just made the mistake of looking at the site on an iPhone and discovered my graphic does NOT scale one little bit. And the race is starting right now, so I’ll have this in the back of my mind for the next four hours. Fuuuuuuuckfuckfuckfuckfuck.

I’m not doing it anymore

That is, not doing the thing I was referencing in the last post, FIVE MONTHS AGO. Almost SIX. Oy vey.

The good news (sorta) is, I’m putting together a daily schedule for myself to try to get my life in order and under control and being electronically social is one of the things that’s going to have its own daily block of time. Who knows? Maybe I’ll start answering emails now!

I’m Doing It Again.

Now granted, I’ve had a hectic almost-two-weeks since getting back from the Georgian Business Trip and I’m currently sicker than a dog (since Phoebe is healthy, other than moping around because Mom & Dad are sick). However, I’m falling into the same old pattern. “I can’t do a post about this thing ’cause I haven’t done a post about that thing yet. And I haven’t gotten the site all together yet. And I haven’t beefed up the ukulele section yet. Or even TOLD people I’m playing it yet! OMG! OMG! OMG! Peeeeeeeee.”

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Another crazy morning. Literally. As in “insane.” Seriously.

This is the Tune Tech TT500 Backlit Clip Style Tuner which keeps my ukulele sounding so gloriously in tune:

Tune Tech TT500 Backlit Clip Style Tuner
Tune Tech TT500 Backlit Clip Style Tuner

It’s a relatively small device, no more than a couple of inches at its longest dimension. However, this small device has the full potential to destroy your morning.

This is our last day at the Home Office in Smyrna, GA. I woke up before my roommate and spent the time between then and when he finished his shower getting everything packed. I was all packed (except for my shower stuff) by the time he was done, so I had a leisurely morning ahead. I took my shower, got dressed, packed all of my toiletries and thought to myself “Oh yeah, last night I was going to make sure my tuner was packed with my electronics rather than with my ukulele (so there would be no reason to search the uke case at security).”

I checked the case – no tuner. Perfect. For once I did something when I thought about it, rather than waiting until the morning of, and I was proud of myself. Until…

It occurred to me that just that morning I had repacked my electronics bag to make everything fit right, and I couldn’t remember putting my tuner in there. You probably know where this is going.

I checked the electronics bag. The pocket that was in. The other backpack pockets. The pockets of all the pants I wore (since I couldn’t remember what I wore yesterday). I checked the electronics bag again. I checked the microwave. The refrigerator. The bathroom. All the drawers. I stripped the sheets off the bed. I found a way to pull the bed away from the wall. I took the pillowcases off the pillows. I completely emptied my backpack and all sub-bags inside it (including the electronics bag for the fourth or fifth time). At that point, I was 30 minutes behind schedule and I knew my ride and roommate had both been waiting downstairs for me that whole time. I resigned myself to the fact that either the tuner was lost, or it was in the one bag I didn’t check because I couldn’t imagine how I would have put it in there.

That’s right. I checked the microwave, but didn’t check one of my bags because it “didn’t seem likely.” I was so worked up and sweaty by that point, I had to bring that bag into work, since it’s where I put my few remaining clean clothes. As we’re walking down the hall, I suddenly picture the tuner. How last night I decided to put it in a brown plastic bag along with my fretboard stamp because “since it’s with my other ukulele stuff, I’ll know where it is.” I pictured me putting that bag in the small bag this morning as I thought “This brown bag only has my fretboard stamp, so I’ll put it in the checked luggage.”

I get to the conference room, pull out the top two layers of clothes (including a new shirt), and there’s the brown bag. With my fretboard stamp. And my ink pad. And my frickin’ tuner.

Son of a bitch.