Author: littlewicksy

I am a software developer, nerd, geek, gamer, reader, cook, serial project starter. Kind of average, really.

The Drugs Don’t Work

OK, I’m not talking hard core drugs here.

So, in my previous post, I vented about my migraines. Well, as part of that treatment, I was prescribed beta blockers (which did work to some extent, until I suffered the migraine mentioned in the previous post). After that, I was prescribed a higher dosage, which is when I started to join the dots on a few things.

Those who have read back further will know that I was doing the Insanity workout program. Prior to that, I had been doing the 30 Day Shred on a daily basis, with some 3 mile jogs mixed in.

I should have been losing weight. As you can probably imagine from this post, that wasn’t happening.

I was working out harder than I ever have in my life, and I wasn’t only gaining weight – I was gaining inches as well. I know my own body – and this wasn’t normal.

So, I checked my heart rate monitor (I’m now using a Garmin Connect, after my Mircosoft Band died its final death).

My heart rate was not getting into the fat burning zone at all. In fact, my heart rate stats whilst exercising looked like those of an incredibly fit person. Except I’m not. The beta blockers capped out my heart rate. While working out really hard, the highest I could get my heart rate was 115bpm. It wasn’t through lack of effort on my part.

God knows how much I would have ballooned if I hadn’t been exercising really hard. In the 3 months I was working out, but on the beta blockers, I gained half a stone in weight and an inch around my belly.

In addition, I could feel the beginnings of what I know from prior experience to be depression.

So, I am now off the beta blockers (following doctors advice, before anyone worries about me just going cold turkey!), and I’ll be starting the Insanity workout from scratch next week. The reason I decided to restart it after a break was to get the beta blocker heart rate cappage out of my system, and to also be able to get more scientifically fair results. I like having pretty graphs of data to look at with these things. Being able to measure my progress when I’m not being hindered by another factor is also more rewarding.

So, there you have it. Although I did initially read the side effects of the beta blockers, I missed the heart rate zone issue. I suspect that a result of that is a lower metabolism, so following the meal plan for Insanity was a double whammy on my poor belly.

Always read the label, folks.

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Happy Shiny Migraines

I’m not after any medical advice here (seriously, if one more person tells me ‘just drink more water’, no matter how well meaning, I am going to scratch their eyes out). I’m just having a bit of a vent.

I’ve suffered migraines since about the age of 13. Sometimes they have been more frequent than not. In addition to what I’d deem a ‘classic’ migraine, I’ve also suffered even more frequently from what I’ve always termed ‘sick headaches’ – where I wake up feverish, with an awful throbbing in my left temple, aching all over and unable to keep any food down. The doctors have recently told me that these are in fact ‘mini migraines’. At this point, I’m more convinced that these are what my more ‘classic’ migraines turn in to when I’m unable to beat them at the pass due to missing all the signs (sunspots, etc) due to being asleep.

Typically, when I get one of these, I’m out of action for at least a day – it’s approximately 12 hours until I’m able to keep any food or drink down, and about all I can do is sleep in a dark room and try to keep sips of water down. The next day I generally feel like I’ve been hit by a truck.

Anyways, I’ve been getting these ‘mini migraines’ (and classic migraine symptoms) more often in recent months. The doctor prescribed me some beta blockers, which helped a bit – but I’ve just spent the last 2 days out of action, as the vomiting did not stop.

On the doctors orders, I’ve been keeping detailed food diaries, sleep diaries, headache diaries. I’ve even added exercise diaries to this (as I figured I’d try to spin a positive on all this, and see if living a healthier lifestyle could help at all). Over the course of years, I’ve had blood tests, various tablets prescribed, cut down/cut out the more obvious things to no effect.

I’m at the end of my rope. I woke up this morning, on day 3 of having kept nothing down and feeling genuinely concerned that I was going to have to get myself to A&E for assistance in rehydrating. Fear not – I popped to the chemist, and a mix of anti-nausea and dioralyte seems to have fixed the vomiting issue for now. What’s really gotten me is how todays trip to the doctors went. My beta blocker dosage has been upped, some dissolve in the mouth pain killer tablets have been prescribed, and all my carefully maintained diaries have been completely ignored. Oh, but I have left the surgery with *more* print outs on the common causes of and treatment of migraines. Because I haven’t spent years looking at these kind of things, as I obviously love losing days of my life. Thanks.

I hate to admit it, but I burst into tears in the doctors surgery. This blog post is coming from a place of rage and pain, even while I acknowledge that migraines are bloody difficult to diagnose the cause of. But I can’t help but feel I’m being fobbed off, and after 2 days of sitting in a dark house, unable to keep food and water down, I’m feeling incredibly fed up and just done. 2 days off work, another day having to tell the bloke not to come around because I’m not up to cooking/eating/socialising. The doctor has told me that migraines are a chronic condition, and sometimes there is just no diagnosable underlying cause. Which could well be true, since I guess I haven’t keeled over and died from this yet.

I’m trying not to be too down. I’ve been back to google, and saw a recommendation to download Migraine Buddy, which I’ve done. It asks for similar information that I’ve already been logging, and seems to have the ability to correlate patterns, which could help me to self-diagnose my triggers. It looks like it could be really useful.

My main issue with it can be summed up in the below screenshot:

Screenshot_2017-06-14-11-35-20
Congratulating me on starting a migraine diary hits the wrong note, I fear. I now feel stabby.

This is far too happy and fluffy. Migraines are not to be congratulated. This shit is taking days of my life from me. STOP BEING SO HAPPY AND SHINY IN THE FACE OF MY PAIN, YOU STUPID PHONE. *

* I may not be in the best frame of mind today. I apologise. No phones were harmed in the making of this post.

The Politics Post

Today is General Election day in the UK. I’ve already been out and voted. In fact, I was eager enough to do so that I was a couple of minutes early, and had to actually be socialable and chat to the folks in the polling station until they were allowed to give me my ballot paper.

“I’m not normally one to discuss politics, but …” is something that is all too familiar on my social network feeds today. This is usually followed up with a proclamation that the poster has voted, then a statement about how everybody else needs to go and vote, to finish up with a sly (or in some cases, outright blatant) comment that is designed to shame anyone who voted in a way that they didn’t.

I’m not going to do that. I am proud to be able to say that I have friends across the entire political spectrum; many who are very vocal in their support. I’m comfortable enough in my own political beliefs that I see no need to deride them for theirs – even when I strongly disagree. More to the point – the idea of only listening to people who share my own politics is very uncomfortable to me. To put it bluntly – if I exist in an echo chamber, I don’t see how I can form an informed opinion. If I never challenge my convictions by listening with an open mind, then can I really have any faith in my convictions?

More importantly – if the strongest power I have as a voter is the ability to change my mind, how can that ever happen if I don’t listen to all sides of the argument?

Enough of that, though. I am straying from the point I’m wanting to make in this post.

Those of us in the UK live in a democracy. We are lucky to do so. That did not come for free. It may seem like an old cliche, but people have fought and died to give us a vote – the ability to stand up and have our say. There are countries out there were people like you and I do not have the chance to vote.

I don’t care how you vote. I only care that you do. So, if you are eligible to vote in the UK today, I really hope that you are going to pop out today and do so. You have until 10pm.

The fact it is raining is not an excuse. There was once a woman who deliberately got trampled by a horse in her fight for the right to vote. Google Emily Davison if you’re curious. Get an umbrella, get down to the polling station, and be counted.

Find all the candidates uninspiring? Better to spoil your ballot paper than to not vote at all. If enough people did that instead of not even showing, well … I can imagine it would be a better form of protest than not even bothering.

For those of you who have read this to the end – thanks for reading. I do hope you’re voting, or have already done so. If you’re not voting but are eligible to do so, please have a word with yourself. The cost of our democracy has been high. Just because that cost has not been paid in your lifetime, it does not mean that the cost was not real. Don’t waste the price that was paid for this.

Still Alive!

Howdy, readers!

It’s been a while. My apologies!

It’s not that I’ve disappeared – or even that I haven’t had stuff going on. I tend to write about stuff that interests me, and in recent months, the main thing that has held my interest is politics – both UK and world wide. Given how contentious these subjects can be, particularly online, I just didn’t feel compelled to write about it here. There are many political blogs out there, and I have no intention of this becoming another one of those! Love it or hate it, I’m pretty sure that these are the most interesting times politically that I will see in my life time.

That said, I have been up to rather boring adult shenanigans – I’ve started decorating my new house, and I’ve decided to start my adventure into being fit once again.

I’ve started doing the Insanity workout. I’m on day 2, and I hurt. I suspect that this is going to prompt a series of blog posts which will generally query why I thought putting myself through this kind of torture is necessary. After one bout of a fitness test and the plyometric cardio circuit, I think I hurt in my everything. With any luck, when I get to the end of the 60 days, I may actually be brave enough to post before and after pictures. With further luck, the after picture will actually look better than the before picture.

Confessions!

So, I didn’t meet last weeks goal of going running 3 times and doing my exercise DVDs twice. I did get part way there though, so its not a complete wipe out. I ran just over 3 miles twice, and I did one DVD.

Go me, I guess? The next goal is to build up on that next week. I’m not going to beat myself up on this week too much, since I feel that I got to over half way to the original goal. To celebrate, I am making cake.

Ok, that’s a lie. I’m not going to make cake to celebrate failing to meet my goal for last week. I’m making cake mainly because I want to make cake, and I don’t have any real reason to be making it beyond ‘I like cake’.

Adulting is hard because cake is delicious.

Last FM and Spotify blues

Once upon a time, I was a subscriber to Last FM. They had an awesome feature that would scan your current music library, and play recommended songs and artists that you haven’t listened to based upon what what music was in your library. You could tailor this by ‘liking’ or ‘disliking’ a song. The great thing about this is that you could listen to this all day long with few repeats, and it was very instrumental in many of my music purchases.

As someone who sits at work all day with my head phones on, this was an awesome way to find music I love that I hadn’t heard before. It was a golden time.

Then, due to reasons (not exactly sure what they are myself), Last FM moved away from a direct streaming of this service to picking up these songs from YouTube. Which just didn’t work due to the sheer number of people of varying degrees of talent covering otherwise awesome tunes, and the fact that the YouTube adverts would occasionally make the service crash. Due to the drop in quality, I rather sadly cancelled my subscription, and subscribed to Spotify instead. While Spotify is a great service, it is sadly lacking in the department of recommending awesomeness to me based upon what I like to listen to. The closest I’ve found is the ‘Discover Weekly’ play list, which is a playlist of 30 songs that are built around music you have listened previously to on Spotify. Sadly, this can be usually be blown through in about 2 hours of listening.

So, while I do like the service Spotify provides, I do find it lacking in terms of how I like to listen to music. I now instead grab any songs I really like from the weekly playlist and bung it into my ‘Kick Arse Music’ playlist – which is the playlist I listen to in shuffle mode throughout the week. This playlist at time of typing this contains 247 songs, and is over 16 hours long.

Any way, the reason I’m writing this post is that this week, the Spotify Discover Weekly play list has actually delivered for the first time in a very long time, and I’ve spent all of the last 2 days listening to a band I’d never heard of before – The Vincent Black Shadow. My current favourite song is Don’t Make Me So Mad, and I’d recommend it to anyone who is a fan of something hard rocky that sounds similar to Gwen Stefani.

Also, I miss the old Last FM service still. It would be awesome if Spotify could just continually stream stuff I may like all day with few repeats like the old Last FM did. But for now, I’ll just keep playing my Kick Arse Music playlist, and cursing the shuffle feature that seems to stick with the same 30 songs every time until I add enough new songs that the music algorithm gets messed up.

Mobile Phone Sadness

Last year, I accidentally nuked my trusty windows phone. Along with my electronic cigarette.

I managed this feat of ineptitude by first plugging in my phone to a newer micro USB cable and mains plug. Finding it odd that my phone immediately rebooted itself after this, in my infinite wisdom I plugged in my electronic cigarette.

Yup, I am occasionally incredibly dumb.

A flash of blue light later, I soon after realised that what I had managed to do was fry the micro USB port on both my phone and my e cig. Meaning that I had lost the ability to charge the battery in both the phone and my e cig.

Oops.

So, long story short – I was forced to get a new phone. Having endured years of sneers along the lines of ‘Oh, a windows phone?’, and ‘You should get a *proper* phone, like an Android one’, I but the bullet and got myself a Galaxy J3.

About all I have gained from this is a cheaper monthly bill (as I switched tariffs), and access to a greater selection of mobile applications. Everything else? Sorry, I find it lacking in comparison to my old Nokia Lumia.

I found the Windows UI easier to manage – though this is a small hurdle, and I very quickly picked up how to effectively use my new phone.

Other niggles – occasionally, my new phone just refuses to connect to a wireless network it already knows. Or to any. I have to reboot it to fix this.

The Microsoft Health app is constantly pinging my Microsoft Band now – resulting in the battery life of the band being half of what it used to be. I have gone from having to charge it once a day to twice.

I have had to install an application that cleans up all the junk left behind by normal phone usage. I never had this issue on my old Windows Phone.

The major issue I have is how the Android system manages its storage. Granted, a bit of research here would have had me buying a phone with more space on it.

Android has the concept of internal and external storage (so, phone and card). This would be fine. Except the Android OS is actually quite clunky. It insists on having applications on it that I have no use for – yet I’m not allowed to uninstall them. Like Microsoft Office mobile apps.

I am at a computer all day, every day. If I need to use any Office application, I will use my computer. Not my phone. I use dropbox, not one drive. Yet these applications are sitting there, taking up precious internal storage space, not being used, and not allowing me to uninstall them. I have 8GB of internal storage.

What would be nice is if I could move these to my 64GB SD card, along with any app I install. But no. I’m not allowed to do this either.

Even though I have jumped through various hoops to try and make all new down loads go to my rather under-utilised 64GB available storage, Android insists on downloading new content to the internal storage. Of which there is very little left. Only certain applications will allow themselves to be moved to the external storage.

To add insult to injury – any time an app that I have managed to get stored on my SD card updates, it gets moved back over to my internal storage without letting me know. I am now in the habit of checking my SD apps after every update to move them back to my external storage. And even better – I can only move one at a time. And even the small apps take an age to move over.

From reading around this, I need to do 3 things – have my phone running in developer mode, root the phone (and invalidate the warranty), and do a mixture of hacking it myself and installing an internal to external application just to have some control over where my applications will be stored.

This is ridiculous. I never had this problem with my Windows Phone (which also had very limited internal storage). It had ‘Storage Sense’ – which let you pick and choose what got stored where. Such a simple concept.

This level of not having control over my own device is also the text book reason for why I do not use Apple products.

So, to all the snobs out there who mocked my usage of my Windows phone, and that Android is a ‘proper’ phone in comparison. Just no. I’ve used both, from a point of no prejudice, and while the Windows phone apps are lacking in comparison – at least the Windows phone let me have a choice in what is installed on it, and where it is actually installed. Android – I am really unimpressed, and will likely be back to using a windows phone once the contract on this one has run out.

The bottom line is this – I haven’t been able to play Pokemon Go because I apparently lack the storage space due to needing/wanting the apps I have installed. Sad times 😦