Daily Archives: December 19, 2015

I, Too, Have Lost My Voice

In a seemingly ironic twist of fate, not only is my mother without words, without speech due to her stroke, but now I have fallen prey to an upper respiratory infection (cold or what have you) and cannot speak – well at least doing so hurts my throat.

So, I lay in bed bored wishing I felt well enough to do Christmas shopping which I have put off. I’m a terrible holiday shopper. I started to shop online. While that works for much stuff, I know that I can find cheaper clothes for my son and other family members at the local Target, Walmart or TJ Maxx. So, I hope that I feel better in the next day or two to do my shopping before Christmas sneaks up on us.

Meanwhile, I feel guilty that my mother is psychiatrically hospitalized. I have not visited, for two reasons. The last time I visited her at stroke rehab she became quite agitated and refused to get out of my car. Even if seeing me didn’t upset her, I am sick and her immune system has been compromised not just by age but by three decades of fighting lymphoma. An upper respiratory infection could literally kill her.

I should nap, but find it difficult to do so. Worry that I won’t be able to fall asleep at night if I nap. But I am sick (and tired), so I should rest.

Filed under: Bipolar Disorder, Dementia, Family, Health Tagged: cancer, lymphoma, self care, stroke

not tonight clozapine

Fortunately lamotrigine trained me in advanced acid reflux, so clozapine’s little onslaught hasn’t been too terrible, except for the night it made me puke a couple of times. See, usually those are the sort of details I blog, for my own record of it all and the very welcome fact of your sympathy and empathy … Continue reading not tonight clozapine

Tooth Surgery

I didn’t’ get to post yesterday because I was taking care of my middle one after she had her wisdom teeth extracted. She only took thirty minutes for the surgery, but the recovery has been pretty intense..  She’s on Norco for pain and it’s knocking her out pretty good.   She can’t hardly walk around by herself for twenty-four hours, so maybe she will be better at that when she wakes up since that deadline has passed.  Tomorrow is supposed to be the worst day of her recovery with a lot of soreness and swelling.  But she should be better by Monday if everything else goes according to plan.

Anyway. I’ve not felt all that good today, mostly because of anxiety over all of this.  I’m hoping to calm down as she gets better.  I tried to take a nap but didn’t sleep so well.  Hopefully I will perk up enough to make cookies.  I just wish there was more I could do for the child.


Ill fitting Me

I don’t know if it’s PMS (random oompa loompa ovary squeezes and teariness hint it’s on its way) or my chemicals are FUBAR or it’s my shitty personality or helliday stress…

But I cannot escape this overwhelming feeling that I DO NOT FIT.


Now, this is not some “woe is me” post to garner attention. It’s just become so prevalent in my  mind that I don’t belong, I’ve stopped posting as much, stopped reading as much, stopped commenting as much. Because the interaction only serves to remind me that I don’t fit. Even within my own much loved tribe I am on the outside looking in and much of it is due to my crippling social anxiety as far as texting/phones go. I mean,I can’t really bitch if I rail about phones being a trigger then no one wants to call to talk to me or text or whatever if they’re doing it out of respect for my triggers. At the same time, it’s also this neon flashing sign screaming YOU ARE THAT BORING AND PERSONALITY MINUS.

Perhaps this is the going on 8 year aftermath of a friendship that started on line then became a roommate situation which was an epic fail because she wanted me to be this vivacious outgoing social butterfly and I opted to spend most of my time alone. Not like I didn’t tell her that’s who I am from the start. She wasn’t really a good person, anyway, not sure why it left such a mark on me…

Except it  is in keeping with how others always find me inept. Some meet me when I am manic so of course, the depressive paranoid anxiety ridden me that is baseline is a huge bummer. Again, they were warned, but hey, how could someone so FUN and FUNNY ever be depressed like that? I MUST be dramatizing, right?

Fact is, even tribe members with the same issues I have are more high functioning than I am so my inability to brave crowds for public outings would be a bone of contention even there. I apparently am the only person on earth fairly content to sit home every single night watching tv shows.

I. Just. Don’t. Fit.

And what’s even worse….for every ten seconds I spend wishing I did fit in…I spend ten minutes being grateful that I don’t. Because I seek company when it suits me, when my mood is solid and my nerves aren’t screaming and rioting. Which means, no often enough to hone my poor social skills or make me interesting.

This has always been a huge problem for me. I’ve never really wanted to “fit in” so to speak. I just always wanted my only little corner with one or two excellent friends who could just accept me as is and I could return the favor. I’m not a social butterfly, don’t want to be one. I refuse to become one of those people who is constantly on their phone, talking, texting, googling, youtubing, doing everything but LIVING life.

The world’s idea of social media is, to me, quite anti social. Because if you’re in a room with seven other people and six of them are all stabbing away at their phones…How much socializing is being done there? Why would I want to go face my triggers when I could just stay home if I wanted to listen to background noise and have no conversation?

My mom and dad say I’m awkward, and my use of big words makes me come off as snobby, like I think I am better than other people. Well, ya know, in this town, if the use of the word “superfluous” crosses you as being a big complex word…Maybe it’s not that I’m a snob or have a superiority complex (though I will own awkward). Perhaps I’ve just spent much of my life reading the dictionary and thesaurus for my writing purposes and the big words stuck. Of course, that be giving me the benefit of the doubt, and I can’t get that from my own family, let alone strangers.

I’m not dumbing myself down just so I don’t come across “snotty.” I mean, if you have to dumb yourself down…you’re selling yourself out.

I fear I am passing the big word stigma on to my child. She said something the other day was “bleeping infantile.” Which is from that song X-mas, “Colored lights are fucking infantile”. (Yes, she said bleeping, not the f word, I’ve instilled that much in her.) But will she too one day be accused of snobbery simply for having a decent vocabulary? It’s beyond asinine.

I know my inferiority complex is generally dormant until others are involved and point out how I’m such a loner, and “are you still hung up on the donor, you haven’t found anyone after four years.” Um…I was over the donor a month after he left. I’m just not a relationship person. And as my kid is my priority and in this town, men thrive on abandoning their own kids, let alone taking on one that isn’t theirs…Nope. Call me anti social, a lesbian, an old maid…

Which brings me to the point…Why is everyone so interested in forcing their standards on  others? “Okay, you had a date six seconds after your deceased spouse’s coffin was lowered in the ground…I’m not you.” 

Obviously, my brain is not coated in Teflon because as much as this shit doesn’t make me budge an inch on my beliefs…It does stick to my surface and it keeps sticking.  Making me ponder if I am so inept, so undeserving of friendship and love. Things I rarely think about until someone decides I need their input.

I am gonna chalk it up to PMS hormones. I did burst into tears yesterday and started feeling all “my kid hates me, I should just die and let her go live with anyone else”. Most likely that is the culprit, combined with this force feeding of togetherness for the Hallmarkidays…Holidays, I mean. Just, geeze. Right when my brain seemed to be sorting a bit, bam, three weeks pass and it’s time for the hormonal coaster again. If nothing else, the Lithium would cure that shit. I may end up dropping to my knees in his office and groveling at his feet for some Lithium just so I don’t lose my shit once a month. I won’t be able to feel much of anything but numb apathy but…

It’s truly fucked up to be neurotic and insecure over an issue that to you, isn’t an issue at all, and only became one because PEOPLE CAN’T SHUT THEIR FUCKING MOUTHS AND MIND THEIR OWN BUSINESS.

That is all. No pity. Just venting. Plus, I’ve sharpened my spork and with the hormones, ya might wanna take a few steps back. Stabby is my default. With PMS, stabbing becomes the default.

Just saw “Three Days”, a movie with Kristin Davis and Reed Diamond

 Andrew and Beth have been married for 10 years. He is a high powered literary agent, so busy with his work that he often ignores Beth. Also, after 10 years of marriage, he has had some temptations, but hasn’t acted on them. A few days before Christmas, Beth is struck by a car and killed as she tries to save her neighbor’s dog. Then Andrew realizes how much he had loved her. And makes an anguished wish to get her back again. An angel answers his wish and says Beth will come back to him for three days. But she must die the same way or the balance of heaven and earth will be changed. Andrew is thrilled to have Beth back, he tries to show her how much he loves her, showering her with adoration, and gifts and his time. He finds out she is pregnant and asks the angel how he can save her, but the angel says he can not. Again the night of her death, Beth goes out to save the little dog. And she is about to be struck by the car when Andrew pushes her aside and the car hits him. Now he’s in the ICU and Beth is crying when the doctor tells her there isn’t much time left. She is by him as his heart stops. But, miraculously, in a few seconds, his heart starts beating again and he survives. He has given her the gift of his life, so both of them are saved!

Why did it take Beth’s dying for Andrew to realize how special she was to him and how much he loved her? Why do we take each other so for granted? What would we do if we knew this was the last day we would have with each other? Why can’t we show our love, even when we’ve been married for ten years, for twenty years? Why can’t we make each other feel like the special, one of a kind,  worthy of being loved and adored, valuable people that we are? We waste so much time fighting, arguing, hiding, being afraid. This time will never come back. And like in the movie, which is a fantasy, we will not be able to relive days once our beloved ones are gone. And they will not be able to relive any days with us once our life is over.  How sad then that we waste so much time instead of cherishing each other and doing everything we can to make our lives, with whoever we’re with, special.

And I think this goes not only for our significant others but all friends and family!

Some Antidepressants, Bipolar Disorder Linked?

 What I’ve been saying this whole year. SSRI’s can push you into mania, as well as cause people with bipolar d/o to be more unstable, having more mixed phases.

My bipolar d/o was unmasked as a result of being put on antidepressants. What if I had not been out on antidepressants, what I’d been put on lithium? Would I still have bipolar disorder today? Once the genie is out if the bottle,  it can’t be put back in. But what if the bottle had never been opened with an antidepressant key? I would have been normal. What a realization. No point in obsessing about it. But, obviously the thought does occur to me. Anyway, happy holidays all.

TUESDAY, Dec. 15, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Some commonly used antidepressants may increase certain patients’ risk of developing mania or bipolar disorder, a large study suggests.

The strongest link was for depressed patients prescribed Effexor (venlafaxine) or antidepressants called serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), the British study found. SSRIs include citalopram (Celexa), escitalopram (Lexapro), fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil) and sertraline (Zoloft).
However, many patients who developed mania or bipolar symptoms likely had underlying bipolar disorder or a predisposition because of family history or other factors, the researchers believe.
Also, the study was observational, and “we did not demonstrate a causal association between antidepressants and mania and bipolar disorder,” said lead researcher Dr. Rashmi Patel, of the department of psychosis studies at King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience.

Still, the findings highlight the need to consider risk factors for bipolar disorder in people treated for major depression, Patel said.
These include a family history of bipolar disorder, a prior depressive episode with psychotic symptoms, depression at a young age, or depression that doesn’t respond to treatment, he said.
“If you are taking antidepressants and are concerned that you might be experiencing adverse effects, it is important to seek medical advice to review your medication and to not stop your treatment suddenly, as this may result in withdrawal symptoms,” Patel said.
Major depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States, According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one in 10 Americans aged 12 years and over takes antidepressant medication.
For the study, Patel and colleagues studied the medical records of more than 21,000 adults treated for major depression in London between 2006 and 2013.
SSRIs were the most commonly prescribed antidepressants (35.5 percent), the researchers said.

Effexor, a dual-acting drug used to treat both depression and anxiety, was taken by less than 6 percent of patients. Fewer than 10 percent took mirtazapine (Remeron) and fewer than 5 percent used tricyclics (Elavil).
Nearly 1,000 patients were diagnosed with bipolar disorder or mania during the follow-up period of roughly four years.
“We found that antidepressants were widely prescribed and associated with a small increased risk in developing mania and bipolar disorder,” said Patel.
This association was particularly strong for SSRIs and Effexor. These drugs seemed to increase the risk 34 percent to 35 percent, the researchers said.
The peak age for manic or bipolar episodes among depression patients taking antidepressants was 26 to 35, the researchers reported.
According to the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health, bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels and the ability to carry out everyday tasks.
The study authors noted that people with undiagnosed bipolar disorder may be more likely to seek treatment when in the depressive stage of the illness, which could help explain the link between antidepressants and later bipolar behavior.
Dr. Ami Baxi, interim director of inpatient and emergency psychiatry at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said, “As the prevalence of depression increases, more and more antidepressants are being prescribed and patients often ask about the risks associated with these drugs.”
In this case, however, it is difficult to say that these medications cause bipolar disorder, since several risk factors related to underlying bipolar disorder were not assessed in this study, said Baxi, who was not involved with the study.
This research indicates a correlation of antidepressant treatment and manic episodes without reviewing preexisting risk factors of developing bipolar disorder, she explained.
“For patients who are concerned about this risk of conversion to bipolar disorder, the results of this study should encourage a discussion with your doctor regarding the benefits of the antidepressant and your risk factors for developing bipolar disorder before making any changes in medications,” she said.
Patel agreed and said better ways of identifying depression patients who may be at risk of developing bipolar disorder need to be developed.

And Science’s Breakthrough of the Year is …

So incredibly cool! Gene editing techniques, a lymphatic system in the brain, heretofore unknown, and an Ebola vaccine, among the amazing discoveries of 2015!



Every December, the staff of Science singles out a significant development or achievement as the Breakthrough of the Year. This year, visitors to Science’s website could pick their own favorite from the short list of candidates. Below are descriptions of Science’s Breakthrough—the powerful genome-editing technique known as CRISPR—along with nine Runners-up and the results of the “People’s Choice” poll. Rounding out the package are a few “Areas to Watch” likely to make news in the 2016; a retrospective Scorecard of last year’s prognostications; and a look back at Breakdowns that set back or tarnished the scientific enterprise in 2015.—By Robert Coontz, deputy news editor

Breakthrough of the Year: CRISPR makes the cut

CRISPR genome-editing technology shows its power (PDF version)

By John Travis

It was conceived after a yogurt company in 2007 identified an unexpected defense mechanism that its bacteria use to fight off viruses. A birth announcement came in 2012, followed by crucial first steps in 2013 and a massive growth spurt last year. Now, it has matured into a molecular marvel, and much of the world—not just biologists—is taking notice of the genome-editing method CRISPR, Science’s 2015 Breakthrough of the Year.

CRISPR has appeared in Breakthrough sections twice before, in 2012 and 2013, each time as a runner-up in combination with other genome-editing techniques. But this is the year it broke away from the pack, revealing its true power in a series of spectacular achievements. Two striking examples—the creation of a long-sought “gene drive” that could eliminate pests or the diseases they carry, and the first deliberate editing of the DNA of human embryos—debuted to headlines and concern. Each announcement roiled the science policy world. The embryo work (done in China with nonviable embryos from a fertility clinic) even prompted an international summit this month to discuss human gene editing. The summit confronted a fraught—and newly plausible—prospect: altering human sperm, eggs, or early embryos to correct disease genes or offer “enhancements.” As a genetic counselor quipped during the discussion: “When we couldn’t do it, it was easy to say we shouldn’t.”

What sets CRISPR apart? Its competitors—designer proteins called zinc finger nucleases and TALENs—also precisely alter chosen DNA sequences, and several companies are already exploiting them for therapeutic purposes in clinical trials. But CRISPR has proven so easy and inexpensive that Dana Carroll of the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, who spearheaded the development of zinc finger nucleases, says it has brought about the “democratization of gene targeting.” Quoted in a recent issue of The New Yorker, bioethicist Hank Greely of Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, compares CRISPR to the Model T Ford: far from the first automobile, but the one whose simplicity of production, dependability, and affordability transformed society. “Any molecular biology lab that wants to do CRISPR can,” says Harvard University’s George Church, whose lab was one of the first to show that it efficiently edits human and other eukaryotic cells.

Already, the nonprofit group Addgene has distributed about 50,000 plasmids—circlets of DNA—containing genetic code for the two basic components of CRISPR, the “guide RNA” used to target a specific DNA sequence and the DNA-cutting enzyme, or nuclease, usually one called Cas9. “It’s going to be like PCR, a tool in the toolbox,” says Jennifer Doudna of the University of California, Berkeley, whose group, in collaboration with one led by Emmanuelle Charpentier, now at the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Berlin, published the first report that CRISPR could cut specific DNA targets.


CRISPR’s ability to edit DNA has helped scientists create a menagerie of genetically new organisms.

Their work grew out of a surprising observation that bacteria could remember viruses. Looking for a mechanism, researchers found remnants of genes from past infections, sandwiched between odd, repeated bacterial DNA sequences—the “clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats” that give CRISPR its name. The viral scraps serve as an infection memory bank: From them, bacteria create guide RNAs that can seek out the DNA of returning viruses before chopping up the viral genes with a nuclease. Once this mechanism was understood, Doudna and Charpentier, among others, raced to adapt it to editing DNA in higher organisms.

A torrent of applications followed. One of them—the CRISPR-powered gene drive—is a case study in the power, and potential risks, of genome-editing technology. In 2003, Austin Burt, an evolutionary biologist at Imperial College London, envisioned attaching a gene for a desired trait to “selfish” DNA elements that could copy themselves from one chromosome spot to another. That would bias the offspring of a parent carrying the trait to inherit it, quickly spreading it throughout a population. Earlier this year, a U.S. team adapted CRISPR to just that purpose, succeeding well beyond the original vision.

In a method ominously dubbed “mutagenic chain reaction,” the researchers drove a pigmentation trait in lab-grown fruit flies to the next generation with 97% efficiency. They then teamed up with another research group to create a gene drive that, unleashed in a lab population of mosquitoes, spread genes that prevent the insects from harboring malaria parasites. Weeks later, working with another malaria-carrying mosquito, Burt and colleagues reported the same thing with genes that rendered the females infertile and could quickly wipe out a population. Debates are now erupting over the benefits and ecological risks of releasing such insects into the wild—and whether gene drives could also thwart invasive species such as Asian carp and cane toads, or combat other animal-borne pathogens such as the one causing Lyme disease.

In other labs, researchers harnessed the technique to create a growing menagerie of genetically engineered animals and plants: extramuscular beagles, pigs resistant to several viruses, and wheat that can fend off a widespread fungus. Longer-lasting tomatoes, allergen-free peanuts, and biofuel-friendly poplars are all on the drawing board. Depending on how it’s wielded, CRISPR can do its work without leaving any foreign DNA behind, unlike earlier techniques for genetically modifying organisms, which poses a challenge for regulations based on the presence of foreign DNA.

There is much, much more. By making “dead” versions of Cas9, scientists eliminated CRISPR’s DNA-cutting ability but preserved its talent for finding sequences. Tack molecules onto Cas9 and CRISPR suddenly becomes a versatile, precise delivery vehicle. Several groups, for example, have outfitted dead Cas9s with various regulatory factors, enabling them to turn almost any gene on or off or subtly adjust its level of activity. In one experiment this year, a team led by another CRISPR pioneer, Feng Zhang of the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, targeted the 20,000 or so known human genes, turning them on one by one in groups of cells to identify those involved in resistance to a melanoma drug.

The biomedical applications of CRISPR are just starting to emerge. Clinical researchers are already applying it to create tissue-based treatments for cancer and other diseases. CRISPR may also revive the moribund concept of transplanting animal organs into people. Many people feared that retroviruses lurking in animal genomes could harm transplant recipients, but this year a team eliminated, in one fell swoop, 62 copies of a retrovirus’s DNA littering the pig genome. And the international summit saw many discussions of CRISPR’s promise for repairing genetic defects in human embryos, if society dares to cross what many regard as an ethical threshold and alter the human germline.

In short, it’s only slightly hyperbolic to say that if scientists can dream of a genetic manipulation, CRISPR can now make it happen. At one point during the human gene-editing summit, Charpentier described its capabilities as “mind-blowing.” It’s the simple truth. For better or worse, we all now live in CRISPR’s world.

Podcast: Listen as Science editors discuss this year’s breakthrough, breakdowns, and top news stories

People’s choice

Visitors to Science‘s website voted on our 10 Breakthrough finalists. Their top picks:

  • Pluto—35%
  • CRISPR—20%
  • Lymphatic system in the central nervous system—15%
  • Ebola vaccine—10%
  • (Tie) Psychology replication/quantum entanglement—6%

For the second year in a row, the public weighed in through the Internet, voting for its top discovery while the Breakthrough team was hammering out its choices. High on the list, the results mirrored Science staffers’ own deliberations. CRISPR surged to an early lead, as high-profile meetings and magazine articles focused public attention on the genome-editing technique. Pluto, a media darling in July when the New Horizons probe swooped past it en route to points beyond, was a distant second.

But the dwarf planet rallied, as New Horizons scientists blitzed Twitter with get-out-the-vote tweets. When the final returns were in, Pluto finished comfortably ahead of CRISPR in the popular vote.

Further down the list, it was a bad year for old bones. Homo naledi (a new human species!) finished in seventh place, and Kennewick Man, the ancient Native American whose DNA was recently sequenced, was dead last. Better luck next time, O my people.