I have noticed that my health is somewhat connected to the weather and other cycles. I am wondering if I struggle here more than I would somewhere else. Because of the patterns I noticed with my own mood and how it seems to vary along with others' I started paying attention to moon cycles and more recently barometry. When the barometer falls, I can get migraines, and I saw in one place where it was linked to blood pressure. I am not the only person noticing these things; researchers have also noticed circadian variations in migraine sufferers, and effects on the ability to recognize facial emotion (Baksa, et al. 2022). People like to think they are independent, but the way I have seen these factors affect my own health and state of consciousness, and the unique awareness I have of it makes me wonder how much independence we really have. It turns out there is a pretty tight range of barometry on terrestrial Earth and it mostly overlaps with what is okay for most of us physiologically. I am wondering if some of the biochemical pathways involved in osmotic balance may make some people more likely to experience cognitive issues when the barometer falls, and if this plays a larger role in our behavior as a species as a whole. I think it would be interesting to study domestic and school disturbances, as well as consumer behavior and the stock market as they relate to barometric pressure. (Note that a goldfish in a tank does a better job at picking stocks than the volatile approach used by Wall Street Bets, and that there is predictable periodicity in both, but it is significantly amplified in the humans). The barometric pressure falls before precipitation, and I often experience migraine as I said, but I also experience tension in other parts of my body. These bodily experiences are suddenly significantly resolved when precipitation starts, which is so fascinating to me. I am not sure I would be aware of this pattern if my life was more busy.
Several years ago I knew another family with a child who had episodic problems with pain and anxiety. At one point, because the symptoms his mother reported to me sounded so much like mine, I thought maybe he was a male/female chimera. I notice that it does affect males around me as well, now. Anyway, if I had a kid with episodic issues like that, I would take care to avoid situations which would put the brain under barometric stress in ways that might excessively challenge the brain's cellular osmotic balance. Most folks won't encounter situations where this is an issue; however, more wealthy people are more likely to do things like fly planes, sky dive, get a diving verification, or take a submarine voyage. Actually, hmm, as I am writing this I realize a friend dropped out of nuclear sub school after college, and he had a brain abnormality.
|Tell me what you would do if you were in my shoes... an installment from The Death Chamber.|
The suicide rate is rather high where I live, and I have been wondering why this is so. We also have poor air quality; but that is true of many places nowadays. When I was in touch with more people who were at home, it became clear to me that a lot of families who chose to homeschool had kids or mothers who suffered from moderate chronic health issues, especially fibromyalgia and migraine. Very few people got help from these issues through seeing a healthcare provider. It wasn’t until I suffered more obvious migraine symptoms in the last few years that I really began to understand the connection between migraine and mental health. I am not a person who suffers actual headaches very often, so I didn’t report migraines to my physicians, even though I was diagnosed with them back in 2006 when I was suffering bouts of aphasia that looked a lot like stroke symptoms. I believed that I had relief from those symptoms due to moving out of the small apartment we were living in at the time which was freshly painted, recarpeted, and did not have the dryer properly vented to the outside. But now I realize that it is possible I just wasn’t that self aware to be able to recognize when I was having symptoms. I had a CT at the time and no abnormalities were found, so my physician diagnosed me with visual migraines. My head never hurt during these times, I would just become confused and see an aura. It was sort of nice to be able to wave it off as “just a migraine” but at the same time, I was also aware that being a sufferer of visual migraine put me at much greater odds of eventual stroke (my memory, which is fallible, is telling me that it was something like 7- to 9-times higher risk), which is something that runs in the women in my family.
I had an appointment with a hematologist this week to follow up on my confirmatory genetic testing for erythropoetic protoporphyria, and also ask about how carrying von Willebrand and being coumadin sensitive might contribute to my symptoms, and affect how I respond to care in a clinical setting, since I have had near death experiences from pharmaceutical treatments in clinical settings. Most hematologists also study oncology, I guess, and this hematologist also happened to be an oncologist. So there were certain questions I had about my own health experiences related to my blood that he couldn’t answer - specifically the ones I wanted answers to. The doctor was very pleasant and honest and communicated well, nonetheless. He offered to refer me to a colleague who does not practice oncology; perhaps that person will have more ideas for me, but I do understand that I am trying to unravel something that is sort of at the center of why women are underserved by our current understanding of medicine, and that the science might be ahead of where doctors are in clinical practice.
|Tired of being tired.|
My daughter and I both had instances where our blood was brown during phlebotomy, which is an indicator of methemoglobinemia. I have already written about what happened with my daughter, as I fed her tap water while she was still exclusively breastfeeding, from a source that may have been higher due to environmental release of nitrate from a medical prosthetic company that was near the water treatment plant which served our home. A friend who lived on the other side of that facility from me had a daughter shortly before I did who was a toddler at the time who developed leukemia. She was also breastfed for longer than average for the time (which affects the gut milieu and its ability to deal with nitrates), and they also lived in a newly constructed home. Until I did the research for this writing, the only thing I knew that causes methemoglobinemia is nitrate, which is also in hot dogs, which around the time my friend’s daughter got leukemia, was linked to consumption of hot dogs in young children. Trust me, my friend was not feeding her daughter hot dogs every day. In my daughter’s instance, the color of her blood was reported to the pediatrician upon my urging, but rather than recognize the methemoglobinemia, the doctor said that she was anemic due to breastfeeding. I still find it odd that this was not recognized by the phlebotomist or clinician as methemoglobinemia.
My own experience with brown blood happened when I was struggling with fatigue, depression and hair loss in 2010 after being on a low carb diet for maybe around a year, and also I had taken up running and was at an all time low weight. The phlebotomist did not report my thick brown blood to my physician at all. I see in most places discussing the discovery of brown blood and cyanosis, it is underscored that a test should be run for methemoglobinemia, but having seen how lightly phlebotomists take it, I wonder how often it goes critically undiagnosed, especially in women and children with chronic health issues, especially considering the numerous environmental risks. There were also many times when I was not feeling well that my period blood would be brown for the first few days, and I see this is categorized as "normal" but I am wondering if this advice has ever been rigorously evaluated by the medical establishment, especially for women with menstrually-associated mood irregularities or exhaustion. This is something a person could easily determine at home with a finger prick (is the blood also brown from the finger?). I don’t think most primary care physicians see outpatient blood samples, so how would they know if there was an association.
For the first few weeks of my first child's life, I kept finding him cyanotic while asleep. A few hours after birth, while sleeping next to me in the recovery room which was set up as a family bed, our postpartum care nurse also discovered him cyanotic, but blamed it on the fact he was not laying propped up while I tried to learn the football position for breastfeeding. The hospital where I delivered was at least forward thinking in that regard, even if they did induce my labor with the off-label use of a GI drug known to be associated with uterine rupture, and harass me about my inability to produce more than 3/4 tsp of colostrum by pumping when I couldn't get him to latch for breastfeeding, and abuse me about my decision to breastfeed (sometimes there is no accounting for taste with postpartum nurses, I guess - depending on hospital policy, they can still have their own borked ideas about what constitutes "help"). Because of what that second nurse did, I was afraid to nurse him laying down, which meant that night nursing required a lot more awareness because I had to do it sitting up and awake. At 8 days of age, even though I was sitting up nursing him, he became cyanotic during feeding, and I noticed he was having apnea, so he was admitted to the hospital for tests and observation. In the end, his apnea was diagnosed as mild, but after that experience, I was constantly afraid that I would find him not breathing. On his first birthday, I had a bit of a breakdown after his party because I realized for that whole year I wasn't sure he would make it to that birthday. Whenever he had his vaccinations, he was very difficult to wake for feedings for about a day afterward that first year.
At the time I was active in internet forums, and read somewhere that when estrogen is high it can cause this kind of hematological change. I supposed I need to learn more about nitrogen metabolism to understand why this might be. As far as I know I wasn’t experiencing aphasia at the time, but now that I can recognize it and the special quality it has, I wouldn’t be surprised if I did have some episodes. I suppose I have always been a little bit of a space cadet, off in my own world, and so I didn’t recognize how that is something that happens when my brain is overwhelmed, or how often it happens. Yes, Bueller, Bueller… that would be me.
I am sure this was frustrating for my healthcare providers. I really do need what they say to be written, so I am thankful that it has become standard practice. In my recent appointment, I didn’t know what part of my cycle it was when I sat down with the doctor over video conferencing. I assumed I had not ovulated yet, but it was likely the day I ovulated. I had spent a good amount of time trying to fill out the online questionnaire the hematology department (I assume it was them) put together, so that it reflected my experiences in a way the doctor was used to taking in information. I did not write out a script or anything, which I probably should have. I did not expect him to ask me why we were there when I had already taken the time to triage my three questions. So, I don’t really remember what I said to him, but I know it was a giant word mass including things like “premenstrual,” and “tired” and “chemicals.” LOL. I hope it wasn’t a waste of his time. I hope the web portal is as helpful for doctors as it has been for me.
I’m sorry - am I supposed to have time to respond to videos on YouTube? I feel like even though I am functioning okay, I am still digging out of my own hole. I had a whole bunch of other things I wanted to write about what I learned while researching the science behind nitrates, von Willebrand, migraine and stroke, and while trying to parse all that in my head while eating breakfast, there was a big gas leak at a house just south of us and because our windows were open, it came into our house. While that was going on, my daughter shared the above referenced YouTube video about a goldfish outperforming others in the stock market (which doesn’t surprise me), and my husband and mother became obsessed with what happened at the Oscars (I don't usually indulge celebrity gossip). So now I’m tossing around all these other thoughts about the goldfish video, like “Is this what happens when intelligent people are marginalized by employers? They call themselves @pussynugget and take it upon themselves to demystify our inculcated cultural beliefs about what success is? Am I this person, too, on some level?” Truth be told, I am frustrated with the art market and how it aided and abetted capitalism, even in my own little town, encouraging people to gather before the WHO, CDC, and the US Government had the ability to understand the nature of COVID and give us decent recommendations. I understand that it is art that keeps people up, and that a world without art is hell, but we could have used a little more time. They say sad songs and waltzes aren't selling this year 😜, so it hasn't been great for my family. I mean, I don’t think the people who were necessarily driving social gatherings around the arts necessarily needed them to happen in order to make a living, but that these were driven out of an inability to let go of control, even for a little while. I mean, not long after we knew that it was coming, a person in my town who coordinates art fundraisers for cystic fibrosis still held an in-person fundraising. It has since been found that people with CF are not any more likely to die or be hospitalized of COVID, but I was particularly struck by the inability to consider the possible outcomes of having gatherings to raise money for studying a disease which is known to be worse when people with it are in proximity of each other. Perhaps the people who enjoy this particular fundraiser annually are not carriers themselves, and don’t really understand what it is like to be afraid of viral illnesses (but I’m pretty sure the person who does this is a carrier).
In any case, much to your dismay, I am capable of remembering things now, even when I get a thousand interruptions, so HA. Take that, Mr. Smith.
|Birth, School, Work, Death.|
So that interruption lasted quite a while… haha. But I did get a chance to do some reconnaissance on methemoglobinemia and von Willebrand, and I found quite a bit (stuff that frustrated me, because it is old research, and I would expect a primary care physician to know it, not just a hematologist). It turns out that in young female migraine sufferers, there are several biological markers that tend to be increased, and those include von Willebrand Factor, nitrate/nitrite, c-Reactive protein, and also tissue-type plasminogen activator antigen (Tietjen, et al. 2022). These factors were higher in patients who suffer migraine with aura, as opposed to without. I was trying to figure out if there was some sort of interplay between nitrate and von Willebrand Factor, but the only thing I found is something saying that von Willebrand Factor can act as an endothelial cell activator. As it turns out, the vascular endothelium produces nitric oxide compounds when stimulated by von Willebrand Factor. Nitric oxide is important in increasing blood pressure, and can cause methemoglobinemia.
|Needles and Haystacks. |
Furthermore, the other interesting tidbit I found is that methemoglobinemia has been found in COVID patients. In the earlier part of this writing, I said that I was only aware of nitrate producing methemoglobinemia, but in the course of researching the subject, I learned that it turns out there are a number of compounds including something in benzocaine and lidocaine spray and gel preparations which can cause methemoglobinemia, and there is an advisory for this reason against using them with children, because there have been fatal incidents. FWIW, this was our go-to treatment besides hydrogen peroxide for cuts, scrapes and sometimes sunburn when I was growing up. Also, compounds that disrupt the glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase pathway, NADH, or cytochrome b5 reductase, may cause methemoglobinemia, and there is at least one article from Africa linking it to the consumption of a locally-produced MAHIA wine, indicating that G6PD's involvement in methemoglobinemia may be precipitated by alcohol consumption. I react to volatilized alcohols in cleaning and self-care products, and I wonder if the ubiquitous nature of them might account for the reactions I tend to have in industrial spaces like stores, schools and doctor’s offices, and if their presence might be related to “white coat syndrome.” Additionally, methemoglobinemia can be precipitated by foods other than hotdogs, including vegetables in young children. I know celery in particular can be extremely high in natural nitrate, especially in places with a lot of agricultural nitrate runoff in the spring, so that doesn't surprise me that much. So anyway, I am kind of mortified that the hematologist didn’t know much about methemoglobinemia. Research on methemoglobinemia goes back many decades, after all, and recommendations constantly state that if a person is found with brown coagulated blood, they need to be evaluated for methemoglobinemia. I wonder if this plays into the chronic fatigue and migraine that many of the other stay at home moms I knew had.
I happened to be reading about the health effects of natural gas, and then, hmm, what a coincidence (I say that tongue in cheek because of how strangely coincidence, I mean synchronicity, factors into my life), there was a broken gas line close enough to my home that I could smell it near an open window, and it was very strong outside. The reason natural gas, which is mostly odorless methane, smells the way it does is because of a compound called mercaptan, which is a term describing a number of thiol (sulfur-containing) compounds with a distinctive odor. The specific mercaptan I read about which is widely used currently has a safety limit of 10 ppm set by OSHA. However, I found evidence on the NIOSH website that in 1989 they emphatically stated in court that 10 ppm was way too high to be safe, and the limit had been .5 ppm. Other places I looked online said it is detectable by the nose at 1.6 ppb (that is approximately 10,000 times less than the current safety limit). Still other places mentioned that it is commonly added to a level of anywhere between 1 and 10 ppm by gas companies. It is a compound that is removed from natural gas during the refining process after fracking, but is added back when it is closer to the home. So I don’t know how much of the methane we can detect from satellites is mercaptan. Methanethiol is the specific mercaptan I chose to read about, and it is a very strong potentiator of methemoglobinemia.
So, it seems conceivable, especially since methane emissions can be seen from outer space and have reached an all time high, that many of the people I have known with migraine issues and chronic fatigue may have been suffering from methemoglobinemia, and I think this should be tested in women and people suffering from migraine routinely. I sort of wonder if it is a missing piece in women’s medicine.
I did get a headache and diarrhea from the exposure, and I also experienced some mild aphasia (saying one word when I meant another, in this case, which isn’t as bad as being totally locked up on words and having difficulties with understanding language like I have in the past). I took an oral dose of methylene blue and that helped for a time. Fortunately, since I had just been reading about methemoglobinemia in the clinical setting, I knew to also try taking a little bit of dextrose and vitamin C, and later, charcoal. These are the treatments for methemoglobinemia which are given in the hospital, although they use intravenous administration for methylene blue and vitamin C. I do not think that routine treatment of the population with these things is the way to solve our problems, however; I think we need to remove the threat. There is mounting evidence that natural gas in homes is deadly. Methemoglobinemia can be found concurrently in infants with diarrhea with no other known exposures, and I am wondering if the diarrhea is just another sign of methanethiol, formaldehyde or nitrate poisoning from natural gas appliances in homes, since GI sequelae can be a result of such poisonings. Most people know about the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning, which creates carboxyhemoglobin, but that is not the only threat natural gas poses to the brain and body. I learned the hard way that there are serious dangers long before a carbon monoxide detector goes off in one's home.
I am a little bit frustrated with my old physician blowing off my visual migraine back in 2010 when my CT came back normally. I know I am not the only woman this has happened to. Not only is visual migraine strongly associated with stroke, but there is research showing that chronic migraine causes microvascular changes in the brain. Microvascular changes have a lot to do with endothelial activation. So I am wondering if a fair amount of mental and neurological problems that women experience, especially during menopause, have to do with exposure to excess exposure to nitrogen compound pollution, mercaptan from the natural gas industry and also widespread use of diesel fuel. Furthermore, my physician’s recommendations were to exercise more, and one of the major symptoms I had was exercise intolerance, which is also a symptom of methemoglobinemia. In fact, I was working with a personal trainer and would have bouts of exhaustion before even getting started on the workouts, despite having an adequate amount of food before my appointments with her. My fatigue often included pain in the long bones of my legs, and my arms would feel very heavy. As these episodes progressed from 2018 when I was working with the trainer, they eventually were accompanied by tachycardia in 2020, which I was able to link to my water heater backdrafting.
|The best Easter Eggs are Treasure Maps.|
I am going to try to share this with some researchers because women have been underserved for so long, and I am not the only one to link my health problems to the environment around me. Many of the women I knew over the years had chemical sensitivities. Furthermore, many of them had children who struggled with attention issues. I was a support person in the homeschooling community, and specifically my job was to receive new members who were coming from the educational system into our secular network, and even though I didn’t ask, they almost always shared the story of why they were leaving and their struggles, so this is a puzzle I have been trying to put together for probably 15 years. Something that is common among parents who stay at home and children, is that they spend more time at home than others. I have learned that the air quality in residential spaces is not regulated as well as it is in commercial spaces. That being said, I did see in the EPA’s physician guidance on environmental illness that in 1984 about a quarter of working people surveyed felt that the air quality in their workplaces contributed to health problems. I don’t think many physicians know about that publication, but I also think it needs to be updated.
I did use methylene blue in my treatment of COVID, but because it can be dangerous for people with monoamine oxidase pathway abnormalities and at the wrong dose can produce unwanted effects (probably not orally by the drop, but I haven’t done the calculations yet), I wanted to concentrate on more broadly safe interventions in my COVID treatment plan which I outlined briefly on my blog and include choline, taurine and wild yam, which seem to protect the kidney, brain and heart, and reversed many of the long haul symptoms I was having. I think they may protect against excessive diuresis and loss of minerals. There are certain patterns that are showing up in the bloodwork of hospitalized COVID patients, and they include decreased LDL and choline in lipid profiles, and specifically hypokalemia, but loss of sodium, calcium and magnesium as well, which would precipitate the cardiac and neurological symptoms specifically.
|Persephone's Malediction, NFT, $22k USD, $20k of revenue goes to the Larimer County Food Bank in Loveland, CO|