Worth Giving a Try…

I’ve gone on a few times about some of the struggles with which I’ve contended around hearing. I’ll summarize the summaries:

Sound is a problem.

Too summarized?

Okay: sounds are familiar, but something’s not “right”.

I’ve recently started to wonder if part of the challenge is actually something of a hypersensitivity to sound. Apart from going through a period of deafness, so to speak, I wonder if that deafness was something of a neurological attenuation of sounds trying to bring them to appropriate levels for comprehension. Perhaps the initial concern that I’d made — that sounds felt effectively overdriven — may have been an accurate interpretation.

Now I find myself wondering if some mild-grade earplugs with a low NRR could be somewhat beneficial. I don’t need (nor want) a 32 dB NRR solution, which would be ideal for motorcycling or shooting sports. But it’s certainly worth giving something mild a go to see how it will impact my perception.

Permanent? I can also see that it would be as long-lived as my need for a cane has been. I found it inconvenient.

Thoughts on the Neuro-Psychology Exam

[Alternate title, “Ritalin: It’s not what you think.”]

It’s now been about a year or so since I did the post-TBI Neurology/Psychology battery of tests — the Neuro/Psych exam. I think I’d said before that these things were often performed prior to returning to work, but because I’m so determined (and somewhat narrow-minded) and was chomping at the bit to get back to the people I knew, I just resumed work as best I could then worried about the Neuro/Psych tests later.

Last March, I’d shared, very vaguely, the way Neuro/Psych exams are performed. I’d also used the abbreviation “PSE” and I frankly have no idea how or why I’d used that, so… meh. Jump back there for a review of the very generalized review of how the Neuro/Psych exam works.

The intention was, of course, to baseline the patient and compare his performance to — a big question mark. There is, of course, nothing to compare the patient’s current mental state to his pre-TBI mental state, so it’s instead very much working in averages based upon the statistics and trends of other people in the same age- and education-range.

I’d made it rather clear at the off that I have limitations and they’re almost entirely mental focus-related. Sure, there were other issues — gross neurological-related.

Ultimately, the report from the psychologist said…

…nothing that I didn’t already know.

I’d never read it, and it was relayed to me by the neurologist. He suggested, “I think we should try Ritalin.”

Ritalin? Well, Methylphenidate, actually — Ritalin is, of course, a trade-name.

So, sure. It doesn’t hurt to give it a go. A couple of concerns with it, but they have nothing at all to do with the social, dosage, or cost.

We’ll take those in reverse order:

Cost: trivial. In fact, I’d wager that somebody could shuffle around in the couch cushions to find enough to cover a three-month supply. I think it was US$3 or $4.

Dosage: it’s actually the smallest possible dosage. 5 mg. We’ll do it once per day and see if there is any impact.

Social: ADHD. This isn’t. I suppose that Ritalin is often thought to be a sedative to calm down hyperactive children. It doesn’t do what you think, nor is it anywhere near the dosage level that people would assume. It’s actually a stimulant, not a sedative.

“You’re giving stimulants to hyperactive children?!? What kind of monster are you!?!”

hammy the squirrel

“The last thing you need is caffeine.”

As much as you’d think caffeine will make a hyperactive child more hyperactive (mega-active?), it actually won’t. What you consider to be “hyper-activity” is actually the result of boredom coupled with rapid, unfocused task-switching.

Also, as long as I’ve been on it, I’ve not had any psychological awareness of stimulation (or addictiveness) — but it does help improve task focus.

So, where’s the problem?

It’s inconvenient.

You’ll need

  1. an actual printed prescription, and
  2. only a 90-day supply, and
  3. there are no refills.

That’s somewhat inconvenient. Methylphenidate is on the Schedule II controlled-substance list and laws. Other things like Hydrocodone, Opium, and Morphine (among others) are on the list! No wonder there are such strong social beliefs about being in a culture that drugs children. And, yet, Methylphnidate is nowhere nearly as physiologically (or socially) impactful as those substances are.

So, every three months, I’ll need to get a printed prescription from the doctor who is 110 miles away. I suppose I should investigate having a local doctor here in Moses Lake do the needful rather than a neurologist or physiologist in Spokane.

Are there alternatives? Well, caffeine, at an appropriate level, will help provide the additional mental focus, but it has several other rather unwelcome side effects: tremors, elevated blood pressure and heart-rate, digestive issues, insomnia.

Ritalin is far more agreeable. Inconvenient, yes. But far more agreeable by not incurring any of those other side effects.

Right, so where are we one-year on?

I’d say that now there’s something more realistic to compare last year’s exam to. Rather than compare to the global averages of people at the rough age and education level, it’s going to be more meaningful to compare my current state to the previous state.

Complete…enough.

Nothing is ever truly complete. But, this is complete enough for now:

DSC00163

Had to power it on and work through an alignment procedure and make sure it works.

DSC00164

This does explain that 50Ω dummy load a bit as well.

It’s complete enough: It works, so I’d call that successful. If I get really obsessive (I’m not), I could rework a few components and install it in a suitable enclosure and fabricate a suitable battery to keep it portable enough for lightweight QRP work. Maybe I’ll attach the already-mentioned GPS receiver and convert it into a WSPR node when I’m not using it.

Maybe I’ll build another for a 40 or 80-meter band.

All of that, of course, will need to wait. I’ve a few simple projects that I’ll be taking on, and, quite importantly, improving my morse-code comprehension and speed.

For now, I’d like to thank QRP Labs and designers of the kit that was originally intended for Britain’s RSGB Youths On the Air Summer Camp of 2017. This was great fun and was hugely beneficial for me, not only for learning, but also to improve some manual dexterity and mental focus during this extended TBI recovery.

Full Speed Ahead!

I haven’t had the mental or physical capability since this whole ordeal began a full year ago to go for a run. I used to run twice a week.

I’m just now back from one.

I was only out for about 20 minutes and, yes, it was a bit of a run/walk. It consisted of more running than walking.

Provided I don’t encounter any other significant/life-threatening injuries or setbacks, then I’ll also see about planning and preparing for an actual, organized 5K race as well.

Walking, jogging, running. I don’t care which.

But I will do one.