Tuesday, 12 May 2015

For Further Credit (FFC) / For Benefit Of (FBO) – Adsense

You need to leave BLANK the field marked For Further Credit (FFC) / For Benefit Of (FBO), when setting up Wire Transfer for AdSense.

Recently I was setting up wire instructions for my adsense account (HDFC Bank, New Delhi, India). I had a really difficult time getting a conclusive “yes” or “no” for; what do I put in the field “For further credit details (optional)”. There was no answer online, at adsense support or with The Branch Manager of HDFC Bank. Finally I left it blank and Read more...

Blogging With John Chow

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

How I stopped using Valium

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Readers of my blog would already know that I am a patient of Chronic Fatigue (CFS) and Anorexia. Over and above that I have recently been diagnosed as having a condition known as orthostatic hypotension. Orthostatic hypotension is a condition in which blood pressure is higher when lying down and decreases on sitting or standing up. Chronic Fatigue is difficult to manage as it is and one really doesn’t need more complications. CFS is a condition with an “unknown origin” and there is no treatment for it. One has to learn to live with it and design life around it. There is no explanation for the fatigue you feel all the time. Patients of CFS are mostly dismissed as lazy and un-ambitious or diagnosed as suffering from depression. All patients of CFS are able to function for a few hours a day but remain fatigued otherwise. I remain physically fatigued till about 3 pm. The pattern of energy and fatigue is unique to every individual who is dealing with the condition. Some may feel better in the mornings and others may have more energy in the evenings. However, one thing is for certain; all patients of CFS want to do more than they can and invariably overestimate their physical ability. Till we learn not to over exert ourselves we burn ourselves out and go under for days, weeks or even months. We are without fail and wrongly advised by health professionals to exercise and be physically more active. This only makes matters worse for us. Exercise however is important but CFS patients need to find the right level and type of exercise for them. To make matters worse for me I also have an inability to take in sufficient calories. So imagine this firstly you are fatigued and then you are unable to eat a proper meal and to top it off your blood pressure rises and you have palpitations if you try to lie down and rest. 

To help with anxiety and palpitations I was put on Valium by a well wishing doctor. If used for more than a couple of weeks at a stretch one will get dependent on it. Valium is more addictive than Heroine with horrifying withdrawal symptoms. As a side effect however valium helps boost appetite. This sort of got me hooked on it. But using it to combat anorexia is a disaster. The body develops resistance to the drug and soon you are in a situation where functioning without it becomes impossible and you need to increase the dose. When taken for long term it further fatigues you. 

The highest dose I ever took was 40mg. In the January of 2014 I decided that I wanted to stop using valium. The withdrawal symptoms I had were extreme dryness of the mouth, tense knotted feeling in the abdomen, back pain, increased fatigue, blurred vision, muscle weakness, irritability and difficulty in concentration. My blood pressure would occasionally go out of control; my palpitations and extreme anxiety were back.  For a few years before January 2014 I had inadvertently started reducing the dose, not liking the idea of being dependent on a chemical of any kind. I was trying to reduce or give up every type of pharmaceutical and wanted to use proper diet, exercise, ayurveda and homeopathy to manage my health issues. I have managed to achieve this at the time of writing this post. I was not on a very high dose by January 2014. I was taking 10mg, which is equivalent to 0.5mg of Clonazepam or Alprazolam. A Benzodiazepines equivalent table is available here. Since I was on long term use of valium (diazepam) it took me over 10 months to withdraw completely from the 10mg level. I did not know how to withdraw systematically and the doctors I approached had no idea how to manage valium withdrawal. Luckily I found a manual “BENZODIAZEPINES: HOW THEY WORK AND HOW TO WITHDRAW” written by Professor C Heather Ashton Institute of Neuroscience, Newcastle University which is available here.  This manual is an excellent resource for anyone struggling with a benzodiazepine addiction, like I was. Professor Ashton’s manual not only helped me with the withdrawal but also helped me understand what valium was doing to me and what to expect during the withdrawal. Withdrawal symptoms of valium can last for years after you have taken the last dose. 

As I have said before I had already reduced my dose from a high of 40mg to 10mg in a few years before 2014. I really cannot recall what symptoms related to this withdrawal period. During this time I had no idea how serious valium withdrawal can be. It is luck that I did not try stopping cold turkey. Doing so can result in stroke or even death. The only thing I knew was that I wanted to stop using this drug. If I recall correctly the way my withdrawal went from 40mg to 10mg was that I tried to take as little as possible, to take care of palpitations and anxiety. The only thing I had prepared myself for was my struggle with not being able to eat properly and the situation getting worse. I also used a higher dose whenever I was unable to even force myself to eat. I think coming down from 40mg to 10mg was less of a struggle than what I went through from 10mg to zero. According to Professor Ashton’s manual the reduction from 10mg to 1mg should take between 10 to 20 weeks. The manual suggests that you reduce your dose by 1mg every 1 or 2 weeks till you hit 1mg and then stop altogether. Some other resources I referred to suggest reducing the dose by 25% and staying there till you feel somewhat normal before reducing further. I guess different approaches would work for different people. The bottom line is to keep reducing the dose steadily till you are home free. 

I was in a sort of hurry by January 2014 and wanted to stop using valium as soon as I could. I hadn't yet discovered Professor Ashton’s manual. I successfully dropped the dose from 10mg to 5mg by the end of January 2014. I will not recommend this to anyone. This is when terrible withdrawal symptoms started showing up. I could not sleep for days, saliva completely dried up, I had constant backache, couldn't eat and my weight was dropping. I had no energy and could not get out of bed for days. I was extremely anxious and became afraid of company. The slightest sound would startle me. I was a complete nervous wreck. I did not want anyone to see me in the condition I was in. It is really tough to describe the mental and physical state in words. I was however still searching for solutions for everything that valium was taking care of for me till then. I discovered Amitriptyline to help me sleep and Propranolol for anxiety. I studied them as thoroughly as I could. Once I was convinced that they were both non addictive and could be stopped easily I started using both in 10mg doses which is a very small dose for both these chemicals. Amitriptyline is used for treating depression in larger doses and Propranolol for lowering blood pressure. 

In February of 2014 I tried stopping valium use completely from the 5mg level I was at. This was a mistake. Within 10 days I started getting very restless, had palpitations, extreme anxiety, extreme fatigue total loss of appetite and a sort of indescribable fear. I had prepared myself for such symptoms to occur but it was getting too difficult. So I had to go back on valium. However, instead of going back to 5mg and then dropping 1mg every 1 or 2 weeks, I reduced my dose to 2.5mg per day cutting the dose by 50%. This made things a little more manageable. I had to continue this for 20 days and on March 1, 2014 further dropped the dose to 1.5mg. This I continued for the next over 60 days and on May 1, 2014 cut the dose by 0.5mg to 1mg. I continued at this level for the next over 130 days and on September 10, 2014 dropped the dose to 0.5mg. After about 80 days on December 1, 2014 I completely stopped using valium. 

At the time of writing this it has been nearly 4 months since I stopped using valium but am still dealing with many withdrawal symptoms. I still need to use Amitriptyline to help me sleep and Propranolol for anxiety. Let me add here that Propranolol adds to my fatigue as a side effect. During sleep my mouth gets extremely dry, the vision is blurred, anxiety is there but is getting more manageable every day and getting a proper night’s sleep is still a problem. But I am restricting myself to 10mg of both Amitriptyline and Propranolol.

I’d like to add here that addiction experts believe that it is nearly impossible for addicts to give up their choice of drug and even more difficult to stay off once they have given it up. Usually some stress event will drive us back to using whatever it is we are dependent on. I am extremely pleased to say that I have been able to take the passing away of my father during this period rather well though with a heavy heart. I am also managing to look after my bedridden mother. I have gotten back to smoking but am sure I will be able to give it up. Otherwise I am now completely drug and alcohol free. 

I recently discovered this website and I strongly recommend Dr. C. E. Gant Alternative Health Membership Program for anyone wanting to improve health and who wants to or has given up an addiction. It is a A Science Based Alternative/natural Approach To Treating ADHD, Drug Addictions, And Other Health Conditions. Dr. C E Gant Has Over 30 Years Experience In Alternative And Integrative Medicine. Get Real Solutions For Healing Without Drugs. for more information follow this link >

My struggle was with valium but many people are struggling with different kinds of addiction including pharmaceutical or non-pharma substances. You could be searching for a solution online or with real healthcare professionals. The fact is that the net is not a very reliable place for solutions and rarely any healthcare professional has any experience with detox. Even psychiatrists who often prescribe dangerous and addicting substances do not really know how these chemicals work or how to get you off of them. Many people are stuck with addictions to Benzodiazepines, Anti-psychotics, antidepressants, Painkillers, opiates, methadone, heroin, Stimulants, cocaine, methamphetamine, Alcohol and Marijuana. All of these substances have very similar withdrawal symptoms. It is really expensive to go through a detox as an in-patient at a hospital and most have no idea what they are doing anyway. If you are looking to DETOX at home checkout this link. The plan offered here at under $50 it is worth a try. I wish I had come across this when I was detoxing. Even if you do not intend to subscribe to this program, I suggest you do take a look at the video presentation. However if you do buy this plan I would recommend working with a healthcare professional and using this plan as a sort of guide. Everyone is different and I don’t think any one plan can answer all the questions or foresee all issues that may come up. Addictions are a serious issue and detox is even more serious. Not doing it right may create long term problems and even serious permanent damage. So prepare yourself well and take a healthcare professional in confidence before you start with any detox. Best of luck. 

PS: This is something I missed out in my post above. After over 4 months of complete and successful withdrawal I am still going through digestion problems including constipation and repeated allergy and flu attacks. I still do not feel completely well have low energy and feel “depressed” or I should say “blue”. I feel nervous and anxious all the time. I still have un-refreshing sleep. Mentally I make mistakes doing calculations, which never happened to me before and I have difficulty concentrating. Some people face headaches and pains but I never faced these issues. 

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Great hair without a Shampoo

I have tried all types of shampoos and come to the conclusion that they damage the quality of hair in the long term. One shampoo from a well known multinational even induced hair fall some years ago. When that happened I started using the so called “natural shampoos”, but did not find them any better. I have finally come to the conclusion that it is best to use stuff that makes hair good from the inside providing chemical free nourishment. This strategy is the best but a little difficult to implement.

This is what I use now. I massage my head and oil the hair with edible grade coconut oil once a week. After applying the oil leave it in for half an hour then wash with a regular soap. The daily routine I follow is I wet my hair with milk and cover the hair with a cloth for 10 minutes and then wash it with a regular soap. This makes my hair soft. After washing out the milk I apply juice of one lime and a little glycerin mixed in some water. Leave it in for a minute and then rinse without soap or shampoo. This makes the hair shine. I haven’t used a shampoo for many years and my hair is easy to manage, soft and shiny.

There is lots of other stuff you can use for great hair. We can replace coconut oil massage with other oils. But I will recommend only non-cosmetic edible grade oils. I have tried sesame seed oil and mustard oil but have found best results with coconut oil. Plain Yogurt is also great for hair. Flat beer gives a great sheen to hair. For scalp health one can use neem leaves. Take a handful of neem leaves and boil them in water. Strain the water and massage it into the scalp when cool. This is great for boils and fungal growths on the scalp. Fungal growths can induce baldness. Fresh neem leaves are easy to find in India. They are available in dried form but I have never tried using them in dried form.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

How air “bubble” mattresses work

How air “bubble” mattresses work
There are essentially 2 types of air mattresses available with 2 variants in each type. The first type of mattress has a bubble cell design and the second type has a ridge design. Within these two types of mattresses the variation can be that one variant may lose air through the surface of the material enabling better ventilation and the other many not. The loss of air from the surface through vents or a pours material allows heat and moisture to dissipate from under the patient providing better ventilation and reducing chances of bacterial buildup. These air mattresses come with a pump to inflate and maintain pressure. The technology is fairly simple and does not require high-tech manufacturing techniques. 

Air bubble cell mattress with porous material
The mattress I am using to treat and manage bedsores of my bedridden mother is manufactured by Kosmochem. The pump comes with a pressure adjusting knob. It has 5 bubbles along the width and 26 rows along the length. So it has 130 bubble cells. The rows of cells are interconnected with tubes so when air is pumped into the first cell using the pump, all connected cells inflate. The cells are divided into 2 sets of 65 cells each. Counting from top to the bottom the odd number rows make one interconnected set and the even number rows form the second set. Each “network” of cells has a separate inlet for connecting to the pump. The pump has 2 outlets and air is pumped through one vent at a time alternating every 10 minutes. 

The pump is a low energy consuming device with a 5 watt motor. It has two outlets which can be connected via tubes to the mattress. The vents pump low pressure airflow working one at a time. When the first vent works it pumps air into half the bubbles of the mattress the other set remains depressed. After 10 minutes the airflow in this set stops and the other set of bubbles are slowly inflated while the first set deflates losing air through the surface of the mattress. Pressure is relieved from the skin of the patient directly above the deflated bubbles and weight is transferred to the inflated bubbles. This allows space to form between the deflated bubbles and the skin allowing moisture and heat buildup to dissipate. The loss of air from the surface of the mattress creates a mild air current allowing stale air to be removed from under the patient and allowing the skin to remain dry.  The mattress is available at Amazon and but is cheaper on Snapdeals. Both links are given below with a product image.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Chronic Fatigue (My Personal Log)

 This is a personal log I have started to keep track of my progress with trying to sort issues that trouble me from time to time as a patient of Chronic Fatigue and anorexia. My condition is further complicated by Orthostatic Hypotension and an allergy to air pollution. I am constantly fatigued and repeatedly go through acute episodes of throat and chest infections and stomach flu. These episodes usually last for months further compromising my ability to get proper nourishment and fresh air. During these periods I lose strength and it becomes extremely difficult for me to leave the confines of home. My intent in this post is to keep a record of my progress for myself while sharing my experience with others. I’d love to hear from the readers of this blog. Please leave a comment if you have a suggestion or anything you want to share. I will update this post from time to time.

Taking an objective view of my condition this is where I stand. Chronic Fatigue is a syndrome with no treatment. I am stuck in a town where air pollution is high. I don’t know if Orthostatic Hypotension is treatable. Doctors don’t take it seriously. Throat and chest infections and stomach flu need to be treated as and when they occur. Deviations in health due to malnutrition need to be handled on an ongoing basis.

Here is some more background of my case. I remain tired between 8am and 2pm. This pattern of feeling tired and not being able to function for a part of the day is typical of CFS patients. Sometimes it is so bad that I cannot do little things like shower or eat. Fatigue is common to many illnesses including depression. The difference is that a patient with depression will always feel better after exercise but a Chronic Fatigue patient will feel worse after exercise, like in my case. A CFS patient truly has low energy levels whereas a depressive does not want to do anything but has the strength because there are no physiological issues. Therefore if a depressive pushes herself hard enough she can function normally. A CFS patient will usually want to push herself and most times over estimates her physical ability. Due to these subtle but extremely important differences most CFS patients are diagnosed as depressives and are mistreated further complicating their lives. We need to understand that diagnosis of depression is simply the opinion of the psychiatrist and the opinion does not have any scientific basis. Because a lot of skill is needed to distinguish between depression and chronic fatigue, CFS patients are inevitably put on psychiatric medication for long periods of times without any progress. The symptoms of Chronic Fatigue, Hypothyroidism (including sub-clinical Hypothyroidism) and Depression are very similar and are often misdiagnosed by most health professionals. The psychiatrist also has a vested interest in treating the patient and I haven’t come across one who has ever said that “you are not depressed but have another condition so I am referring you to xyz. Send a perfectly healthy individual to a psychiatrist and he will be put on powerful addictive medication for life or at least till he develops a condition as a side effect.

No health professional ever want to make the effort to understand the subtle differences between Chronic Fatigue and Depression. It probably does not make economic sense for them. The return on investment is not there. If you go to a doctor with this condition every one of them will point you towards a psychiatrist who will happily give your condition a label and give you a hand full of brain altering medicines. The only gainers in this are the large pharmaceutical companies and the psychiatrist.  In addition to not understanding CFS, there are a lot of lab results doctors cannot interpret or at least do not understand their significance. There is no treatment for CFS which is my underlying condition. But other conditions arising out of this underlying issue can be treated. Lives of CFS patients are complicated by improper sleep, improper diet patterns and not getting enough fresh air and sunlight simply because we are often too tired to do anything.

Coming back to the task at hand, I am currently trying to get the following out-of-range test results evaluated. Low MCHC can mean a hypochromic anemia, a problem absorbing iron, gastrointestinal tract tumors, internal bleeding or another specific condition. High RDW can mean impaired heart or lung function red blood cell production increases to compensate for impaired heart or lung function. I my case High RDW and orthostatic hypotension may be worth evaluating.

Low Mean Corpuscular Hemoglobin Concentration (MCHC)  
                                                                         31.1    lab range> 33.4 – 37
High Red Cell Distribution Width –SD (RDW-SD)  
                                                                         53    lab range> 39 – 46
High Red Cell Distribution Width –CV (RDW-CV)  
                                                                         14.9   lab range> 11.5 – 14.5

In patients of CFS and anorexia anemia is common because of improper diet patterns, low immunity and repeated infections. These results may have less significance for a person who has normal energy levels and is functioning normally. But for someone like me who has CFS further complicated by anorexia the proper interpretation can mean a lot. I have decided to meet all the doctors I can till I find someone who understands the significance or is willing to at least spend the time to interpret the results.

I also have a condition in which my supine or lying down blood pressure is 30 points higher than when I am upright. This condition is known as “Orthostatic Hypotension”. This condition can affect your ability to function and can make you feel tired. The only solution I got from the cardiologist who diagnosed this was that I raise my bed on the head side by about 8 inches. I haven’t really researched this condition much and am not sure at this point how serious the condition is.

Matters are further complicated with high serum Amylase which can mean “leaky gut”. I haven’t found any endocrinologist who understands what this means and if it can be treated. Most endocrinologists only seem to work with thyroid and diabetes patients.

In addition to this my basal temperature remains low and ranges between 95 and 96 degrees Fahrenheit. This is one more thing Health care professional do not understand. Low basal body temperature can mean a hypothyroid condition. In my case this is ruled out. I have tried T3 supplementation treatment but the temperature remains low. Low basal temperature means that there is something wrong. This can however not be conclusive and requires other tests. What it indicates for sure is that metabolism is not functioning at an optimum level and energy production is low, further adding to a fatigued feeling. Because doctors do not understand this they are unable to help.

It is highly probable that all these conditions if occurring separately in a patient may not mean much but when they affect one person they become a problem for the patient. But the issue here is that a cardiologist will only look at heart issues. An endocrinologist will look at thyroid and related issues. An internist does not have enough experience with such issues. To top it no health professional is inclined to keeping himself up-to-date with new developments or studying what he did not learn in school. Most doctors I have met can only seem to be able to treat you if you have a “popular” for lack of a better word, disease or condition.

1. Doctor Chandran, Katwaria Sarai on March 21, 2015
With this in mind I visited my first doctor today. His answer was “these results mean nothing. They are used to evaluate cancers and diseases like that”. My tests show high amylase also so I asked him to look at that test result. He was unable to give me a reasonable response to that. He then asked me “Have you seen a psychiatrist”. This sort of answered my question so I thanked him and politely left his office. However during the discussion I asked him if he could give me something for anemia on clinical basis. He agreed and prescribed Fersolate, an iron supplement. For my CFS his answer was that I look too energetic to be suffering from Chronic Fatigue. He also suggested that I should find another doctor and get admitted to hospital for a few days to be evaluated for Chronic Fatigue. However this is already an established condition.

March 25, 2015
I have responded positively to Fersolate. My clinical symptoms and a positive response to the iron supplement seem to be clearly pointing towards anemia. Not knowing what to do and who to go to next, I have decided to at least get an anemia profile blood lab test done. This test will include 28 tests of 6 part Hemogram, 7 tests of lipid profile, 3 electrolytes, 3 Iron deficiency tests, Folic acid, Thyroid Stimulation Hormone, Diabetic Profile 2 tests, Vitamin B-12, Vitamin D and Ferritin.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Air Mattresses for Bed Sores

My mother is bed ridden for over 2 years and has developed bed sores due to lying in bed without being able to turn over on her own. The back has developed abscesses and wounds. She has been put on antibiotic treatment. The hospital, on her last visit, told me to arrange for an air mattress for her. I did not have much information on these mattresses. To start with I thought that the bubble structure of these mattresses helps such patients because there are air channels between the bubbles and some portion of the skin does not come in contact with the mattress. However while searching for the right product I found that there are many excellent products available. In fact some products will not only prevent bedsores but can help patients heal.

The first is a mattress which comes with a pump. The pump needs to remain on while the patient is on bed an in this case 24 by 7. The bubbles on the mattress inflate and deflate sequentially while the patient is on it. This allows the contact between the body and the mattress to break and air can circulate when the contact is not there. How it works is that half the bubbles on the mattress deflate while the others half support the body. When the first set inflates the other set deflates. The product is available at amazon for INR 2400 (USD 40). A picture and link are shown below.

The Second type of mattress I discovered is even better for someone who has large bedsores already formed, like my mother. This mattress has the sequentially inflating and deflating bubbles as the first one. In addition the mattress has micro holes which can, via air loss, allow air to pass through and ventilate the patient's back. This would be a god sent for someone like my mother and hopefully her bed sores will heal. As I am writing this I have placed an order for the “KosmoCare Bubble Air Mattress MM2” which looks like a good value for money product. The product is available at amazon for INR 4,200 (USD 70). A picture and link are shown below.

I found some other products which are more expensive and one that was cheaper. The cheaper product had ridges instead of bubbles and the expensive products did not really offer anything more.

I am hoping that her wounds and sores will heal soon. I will update this post with the progress. 

Friday, 20 March 2015

Erectile Dysfunction - We worry too much

The trick to beating ED is to educate yourself and find the remedy that works for you. Working on your health and not just sexual health will solve the problem. The right diet and exercise can rid you of erectile dysfunction. This is the safest option but requires you to be patient and to give it a little time to work. You need to balance macro and micro nutrients. For healthy sexual function out body needs a balanced amount of protein, fat and carbohydrates as well as vitamins, electrolytes and other micro nutrients. Most men when faced with ED develop the wrong mental attitude which makes matters worse and it becomes a long term problem. When this happens you get stuck with performance anxiety which worsens an already bad situation. Had you not obsessed about it so much, ED would have probably cured itself. You need to consider however, that if your issue is related to an underlying disease process you need to take care of the disease. This will in most cases rid you of ED.  There are some effective exercises in Qigong and Yoga that really help. This blog has a lot of information on this so check other posts. Look for Kapal bhati and sexual Qigong. Acupressure and Acupuncture can help so give it a try.

If you are reading this you are probably concerned about your erections. ED can have psychological origins or it can be a physiological condition arising out of an underlying disease. It can sometimes be precursor to a disease that has not taken root and may be undetectable in a clinical exam or lab tests. I have done a lot of research online and offline on ED. Good quality information is a little hard to find online. One has to sift through too much to find sensible facts. The net may not be a good place for someone looking for a real solution. I recently discovered an eBook titled “ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION”. This eBook is an excellent resource of facts and critical information on ED. I have provided a link here. At under $10 it is a real steal. 

Diet and exercise play an important role in proper sexual function. For proper guidance on appropriate diet for improving sexual function "THE MAN DIET" seems like a safe and low cost option. I would try "THE MAN DIET" any day as against ingesting dangerous chemicals like Viagra with life threatening side effects. What I like about this product is that it is a guide for implementing a well researched diet plan for improving sexual health and performance. The author of the plan is talking a lot of sense and claims to have used the prescriptions on himself and many clients. He is recommending a safe option of a balanced diet plan to boost the enzymes and amino-acids needed for good sexual health and to boost T levels. It looks like a safe option. I have not used the product but if I had to I would give it a try before popping a pill or injecting synthetic testosterone in my body. It is a cost effective option at a discounted price of under $20 for the program. From what I know about "THE MAN DIET" it may be used for curing ED or for boosting sexual performance in healthy males. More product details are here.

The price indicated in this article are as in May 2015.