Disconnected from the Internet

The last time I wrote many blog posts in a row was on a plane, in a time that seems far away where you could shake people’s hands. It seems there’s a certain something about being disconnected from the internet, from the distractions of the world that helps focus.

It’s fitting in a sense given that I’ve come to learn / realize that I have some((okay, many)) ADD traits. At first I really didn’t want to believe it. People had made comments in the past and I’d always brushed it off.
Many of the manifestations of ADD can also be attributed to depression or anxiety. A telling sign that one of the characteristics is allegedly people who have both depression and anxiety.

I think there’s a few reasons why I didn’t want to accept it.
Firstly I didn’t feel like I met the “classical” criteria, especially in childhood. The logic then goes that if I didn’t have it growing up then why would I have it now? Of course, the fact that I developed allergies and migraines later on in life pretty effectively puts that way of thinking in doubt.

Secondly, I thought that this was actually just in response with the notification economy and how we’re always attached to our phones and get pings all the time. The fact that it happens often when outside without a phone does cast doubt on that. I realize it’s still possible that it’s a learned societal behaviour that just bleeds over to things like gardening but, I can remember a time before smart phones and I don’t think it was much different.((Memory being so trustworthy and all))

The third is a knee jerk reaction to over-medicalization. The fear that we “perceive” and attribute all kinds of medical things to “normal” human behaviour. I think there is some truth to it, but only in the sometimes overly pharmaceutical approach to the solutions, the problem is not in the diagnosis themselves. We didn’t know people died of cancer 200 years ago, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. People were diabetic, asthmatic, depressed, on the spectrum, etc. We just didn’t have words for it except general “they aren’t well” / Aren’t normal.

Lastly is my identity, my sense of self. “I” am “not someone” who has ADD. ((picture those quotes as air quotes)) I had this same reaction when I was first told I had anxiety. I rejected it. I didn’t have anxiety, I was just smarter and more aware of all the terrible things happening in the world. I just had a knack for understanding the true meaning of things. If people were as aware as me, they too would be bloody concerned about everything.

The thing is, in retrospect, this has been going on for a long time. I’ve had many times in my life where I wasn’t able to “motivate” myself to do things. That I wasn’t able to just “get it done”. When I do projects outdoors, I rarely finish the project I started and intended on completing, jumping from project to project, randomly getting distracted by another task along the way. The same with trying to accomplish tasks on my personal todo list.

I developed many coping mechanisms for this. Focusing on lists and sets of tasks that I can cut into bite size pieces. Partnering with someone else on a project to get that accountability. Even one of my meds that I’ve felt has really helped my depression is one who’s off label usage is for ADD. Heck I even tried (and failed) to read and implement the book indistractable earlier this year. And promptly got distracted.

After a bit of time, awareness and knowledge of family history I’ve come to the conclusion I have many of those tendencies. I’m reading a book right now (Driven to Distraction) that I’ve heard from many people with adult ADD that has helped them get a better understanding of themselves.

I guess we’ll see how it goes. If you have ADD/ADHD feel free to reach out. I’d love to know what helped you.

How Much is a Headache / Migraine Worth to You?

I get migraines, regularly. I have one right now since mid-morning and I’m just now feeling better enough to use a screen((as in it’s now more like a headache than a migraine. Still painful but I can read stuff)) Recently the Botox has been working pretty well at keeping them more in the “headache” range in terms of pain and greatly reducing the frequency as well, often down to less than one a week((From 3-4 a week)).

COVID has thrown many things up in the air and has made getting Botox from my Neurologist more challenging to schedule. I’m currently about 6 weeks past due for my most recent treatment and the last 2 weeks have been painful. I thankfully have an appointment in 9 days, but I suspect the next 14 days will be challenging.

Apart from Botox I also have meds for my migraines. After a lot of trial and error and many many rebound headaches(( A shitty side-effect of many 5-HT meds (triptans) is that it’ll cure your headache, but cause another in ~24h)) I use Frova. I only get about a 50% success rate when using Frova, but it’s the only one of the Triptans that didn’t consistently create rebound headaches.

Frovatriptan((the generic name of Frova)) costs just under 20CAD a pill in Canada, in the US, a quick google seems to indicate that it should cost about $30USD without insurance.

So on average, it costs $40 to stop a migraine. Thankfully my insurance covers 80% of this((As much as people say the benefits at the government are good, the health plan isn’t that great, my previous plan covered 100%)), but that means it’s still $8 per migraine.

As I’m sure you can guess, Botox ain’t cheap either. It’s basically $900CAD for the medication itself, and then another $150CAD injection fee. 80% of the 900 is covered, but no part of the injection fee is covered.((Now there’s some fun stuff that happens here where sometimes you can qualify for a rebate from the manufacturer of the name brand, where they pay part of your portion. I’m not sure how they position this, but basically they get the insurance to pay more than the generic would cost but re-imburse part of it to the patient. All that to say, it’s usually around $100 that I pay instead of the $180 that would be the 20%)) So basically it’s 250$((see calculations in previous footnotes for why it’s not $330) every 3 months.

Again, this is with insurance. I also take 2 other medications for the migraines as daily preventative, but those cost less((“Only” about $60 a month)).

For some reason we still don’t have a national pharmacare plan.

I don’t know how much is should cost to fix a migraine, but it probably shouldn’t be close to $8 000 a year. There should never be a $8 000 barrier stopping you from being able to participate in society.

Canada is the only country in the world with a universal health care system that excludes prescription drugs. It’s time to fix that.

On gaining weight

So I’ve been eating like shit since December. Now this is not super surprising in itself, I usually gain ~10lbs in the winter and then get back down. But right now I’m up 30Lbs from my last few years average. That’s basically going back more than half of what I’ve lost since 2014.

It’s in a sense embarrassing since I felt like I had this weight stuff under control. Now clearly there are extenuating circumstances, we have a pandemic, work is a shit show and my “love life” is a shit show((Before anyone panics, me and Nicole are very much happily married))

And it’s not like I don’t know why I’ve been gaining weight, it’s not like I’m eating well and exercising regularly and just can’t figure out where it’s coming from. I’ve gone back to eating carbs as a way of escaping dealing with shit and just this morning ate 3 bowls of Honey Nut Cherrios so you know, it’s pretty clear.

It’s also not one of those, I’ve gained weight but I’m still healthy, nope, doing a lot less exercise and I feel a bunch of things I haven’t felt in a while, some knee pain and back pain for example. Funny how dragging around an extra 30lbs 24 hours a day will do that to you.

I’ve made a bet with my father, that we’ll both lose 25lbs by December and whoever doesn’t achieve it does a substantial donation to the local food bank. In retrospect it’s a bit backwards in that I’m trying to not give money to the food bank, but I do think we’ll probably end up making the donation regardless but now at least there’s a bit of accountability.

Oddly enough, during this same time I’ve helped my brother lose 40lbs, clearly I just stole 30 of those for myself….

The Wellbeing economy

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the future of work. I’m sure you know I’m a big advocate of a basic income and thinking thru the changes it can have to society is very interesting. The recent pandemic stuff I think will just increase societal change at an even greater pace.

One thing that has been constant and will increase is automation. Many of the jobs right now where people are being put at risk are retail jobs. Self checkout is probably going to increase exponentially as people want to distance themselves as much as possible. But I think those predictions are a bit banal at this point. Everyone knows that’s going to happen and the world will be changed. And while we do need a basic income for the transition, I’m not pessimistic about the future.

And the reason for that is that I think society / the “economy” will change once again. We went from agriculture, to factories, to services. The next step I think is the “Wellbeing Economy”.

It’ll be a great resurgence of soft skills. Everyone will have a counsellor / therapist, we’ll have more physiotherapists, nutritionists, massage therapists, “life coaches”, etc.

Basically, we’ll move from provide services to providing wellbeing. If that’s what comes next, I’d be okay with that.

Basically, we’ll move from provide services to providing wellbeing. If that’s what comes next, I’d be okay with that.

We Need A National Pharmacare plan

I started a new job and was reminded of the costs of my medication. My medication costs about $750 a month. Without my medication I’m pretty much useless to society. If I worked minimum wage, $750 a month would be 30% of my gross pay (before any taxes etc).

I’ve only been able to have great jobs because I had family members who helped pay for my meds when I was going thru tough times financially. Without that, I’d probably be living on the street.

I think we also have a moral imperative to help others. While not just health related I think most people can agree that if we have the means, we shouldn’t let anyone die because they don’t have enough money at that time. This is something that’s fully achievable and actually very affordable (for a country such as Canada).

If you want you can read the full report presented to the House of Commons here. The short version is that people would pay between $2 and $5 per medication with a yearly cap of $100. This would cost approximately 3.5 Billion in the first year phasing up to 15.3 Billion. That being said, after 5 years Canadian as a whole would be saving ~7 billion a year with Pharmacare as opposed to without. Meaning that we would have every Canadian covered for a total of 46 billion instead of spending 51 billion (across public, private and out of pocket).

Even if you don’t care about others and are fully selfish, you probably would rather save 7 billion as a whole, especially if that means having someone be healthy which means they pay taxes that help improve all the services government provides instead of living on the street and being a “nuisance”

Either way, we need a National Pharmacare plan and urge you to support it as well.

Mindful eating

5 years ago I started what’s basically the slow carb diet. Not really a diet, but a lifestyle change since it’s not just a temporary restriction of certain foods, but rather removing most / all processed foods, cutting out sugar as much as possible and if eating carbs, focus on things like legumes or whole grains.

It’s worked great, I’ve lost ~45Lbs since starting it and have been able to stay there.

While that really helped me get to a healthy weight, I still have a few problematic eating habits. Mostly around eating for no reason. By that I mean, overly snacking on food when I’m not really hungry. I was able to shift my snacking from eating large amounts of nuts or fruit to eating large amounts of vegetables (peas, pickles, salsa, etc). Now that’s much healthier but didn’t really deal with the deeper issue.

That’s fine as I’m a big fan of incrementalism and think it’s unrealistic to try to break all your bad habits at once. Now that I’m at a better place I’ve joined Nerd Fitness and my current focus is on mindful eating.

The idea is that now instead of just going for the fridge when bored, I ask myself, “Am I actually hungry? Or is it just that I’m not so full I could stuff more things in my stomach?”. I then also don’t multi task when eating. No listening to a podcast, no watching a youtube video, no working or reading emails, all I do is focus on eating.

It’s interesting and I still have lots of progress to make. I just ate a bunch of pickles and I’m pretty sure I wasn’t hungry, just looking to procrastinate.

I think I’ve set some good systems in place to help me (and a reward if I stick to this for 3 months). Hopefully in a few months time I’ll be able to understand my hunger better and react better to it.

If you’re interesting in nutrition, particularly the psychology of it, I’d strongly recommend reading Xi Zhang’s blog on the matter: https://ithinkthereforeiovereat.blogspot.com/ she actually has qualifications to talk about this, as opposed to me who just rambles about things that have worked for me.