Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Gravity Suit, The WonderSuit, and Compression Hose

G-suit Pictures from the Orthostatic Intolerance resource page* The Gravity Suit at this link is donned not by a Space Traveler or Fighter Pilot, but by a Dysautonomia patient who got tired of being tired all day from low blood pressure. The goal is to keep blood in your upper body, increasing the amount of time a dysautonomic patient can stay up or stand. Such aids can help minimize fainting, dizziness, light-headedness, exhaustion, confusion, and other low blood pressure symptoms. I was prescribed compression hose to help with this problem. I think you have to roll the hose on before getting up in the morning, while laying down. Not sure yet.

But I am fascinated by this G-suit and wonder how it would feel to wear it. My concern is how hot it would get - keeping in mind that high body temp and hot weather lowers blood pressure. I fantasize about a G-Suit that regulates blood pressure, ventilates air, and looks radical. They would be woven with a friction-activated nano structure that expands and locks to provide pressure and ventilation. Maybe we could design a suit for POTSies and for Mars colonists. We can prepare ourselves for the future, and for everyday combat here on earth.

The surface would employ multiple layers of refractive material – just like fish – to camouflage the wearer if needed. Or the surface could display information about the wearer’s activities or vitals – among colleagues working together in a group for example. How could this visual information displayed on the suits be deciphered only by those with proper security clearance?

Our vision will be filtered through the ever present Lens through which we view the Martian landscape. We may never see the Martian landscape with naked eyes. Individuals in the group would have software to run filters on their Lens corresponding to the color/pattern camouflaging – so that the succession of filters were coordinated with the changing pattern encodings. kind of like how signal-hopping is used to throw off the interception of radio communication signals (Hedy Lamar the actress came up with this idea). But perhaps the unfiltered display content has to also make sense on its own – to those without the decoder algorithms. Perhaps the public sees a picture on those WonderSuits instead of sensitive data.

Similarly our normal hearing must be supplanted, as any pressurized barrier would affect sound, not to mention the effect of extremely high wind on ear function. I imagine distributed piezo mics and filtered directional mics could contribute to an audio augmentation and spatialization system which would process ambient sounds from all directions. One could listen remotely to another’s sound environment by switching into someone else’s electric channel, and focus in on certain sounds.

It would even be possible to take any (or all) of these sensorial data, reprocess them, and feed them back to the User in a new form. Remote ambient sounds could become visuals in a hiker’s Visual Display Lens, in an environment where high wind renders sound otherwise incomprehensible to human ears, or for a deaf user. But are there detrimental effects from too many such switches? Do the signals become a synaesthesiatic cacophony?

* How the G-suit helped one individual with Dysautonomia, see Before and After the G-suit at the Orthostatic Intolerance Resource

Friday, October 26, 2012

“Breakfast with Neandertals” Part 6

The Neandertal was there when I arrived late in the day. He looked pleased to see me climbing up the cliff wall toward the cavern. His shadow swallowed me.

I put my hands on my big belly. I asked him if he knew it was his. He nodded, and started picking his teeth. I asked him how he knew.

You and your husband have been together for a long time, he signed.

I made a gesture concerning my husband’s little dick. He laughed. I asked him why he and his wife had no kids.

He signed: There were two; they died.

We sat quietly for a long time in the mist smoking and drinking, half inside, half outisde. His wife was asleep inside. I could smell her. I asked the Neandertal which things were hers. I told him not to give her the Ottoman with the dogtooth fringe. I had noticed it when I was there before.

When she came into the front room I told her she had to leave. She glared. “Man-eater!” she spat. I asked her how she dare speak my language. I asked who taught her. My lover made the motion of “Before” with his hands. She must have learnt before they met. His hands hit his dick as he signed. He tried to cover it up by crossing his legs. I laughed.

I told her I was here now. I pulled out my machéte and told her I’d kill her if she didn’t leave. She took the things her husband packed for her into the early morning light. I had one leg up on the Ottoman. The one I liked.

My head itched fiercely. I resisted the urge to scratch viciously as I looked after her. The Neandertal was silent.

“Don’t worry.” I said. The dogs will look after her. So will the Spirits.”

How do you know?

“I took care of it.”

from the short story project “Dysautonomia”

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

“Breakfast with Neandertals” Part 5

I thought I couldn’t get pregnant. My husband said women couldn’t get pregnant from Neandertals because they were animals, and people couldn’t have babies with animals. I asked my husband how many times he’d tried. He snorted.

I first attributed my growing belly to the horse balls the Neandertal fed me. He had patiently boiled the giant treats, fried them in animal fat, then seasoned them with herbs. I ate two of them one morning. Then I put one inside, where it broke apart. Soonafter I dreamt a foal’s head and feet emerged from my vulva.

Then husband confronted me: Was I sure it was his baby I carried? I told him he must have made me pregnant when he was passed out. He said he was limp when he was out. I told him he didn’t know that. He said he knew from his last wife. I said I’m not his last wife. He said at least his last wife didn’t fuck Lowlifes. He called me a sodomite.

Then I got my shit and left. Fucking faggot. I walked in the direction of the caverns, toward the Neandertal.

from the short story project DYSAUTONOMIA. Comments and discussion welcome on blog entries. Follow me on twitter for updates to this serial story and future stories from this ongoing project

Saturday, October 13, 2012

An Old Friend

My vertigo came back, like an old friend – momentarily. Took me by both hands, firmly. Swung me in a wide arc, perfectly – like it knew me. Set me back on my feet, lightly. My awful friend – you look bad! and I hoped you’d stopped coming around. My stomach drops when you knock. Despite our recent separation, despite the restraining order, you siddle inside, next to deep thoughts, until you change them.

The worst thing about vertigo is the constant fear. The knowledge that you can be grabbed and shaken at any time. Sometimes it feels like (the aftermath of) being slammed against a wall – like a shock, like a bad deed. This fear turns everything an ugly color.

I decided not to get the brain MRIs done for now. I made an appointment instead with Dr. Ahern, a Cardiologist who is familiar with POTS / Dysautonomia. Lately more and more problems with low blood pressure, low blood sugar, tachybradycardia, symptoms upon standing. I am so happy to be going to see this doctor. I wish I didn’t have to wait until the 22nd. For the time being I stopped my Nortriptyline prescription and stopped going to weekly acupuncture, as I want the doctor to be able to measure my symptoms without them being subdued. So the symptoms are pretty bad right now.

On Tuesday something new, something strange: A hypo-manic episode coincided with a “silent migraine” attack. In other words a simultaneous neurologic and psychologic episode. Disturbing because it was distressful physically and mentally, and because I have to wonder what the significance of this convergence is. Things are shifting and mutating.

When I made a list of symptoms to bring to the Cardiologist I ended up with a list of 93 distinct symptoms (or distinct manifestations of symptoms) experienced since age 4 – ever since I can remember. These ongoing lists and journals can hold the key to understanding “invisible” medical problems. Hopefully soon we can use a DNA test instead, saving paper as well as decades of undiagnosed symptoms. Saving friendships and marriages, perhaps. And maybe even altering the genetic outcome of children (by manipulating specific genes for example).

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Solidarity with Mother Earth

Once I asked my neurologist if it was a coincidence that my vertigo made me spin in the same direction as the earth? The earth spins counter-clockwise around its own axis and around the sun. And my rotational vertigo continually spun me along just such a path. My doctor laughed and shook his head at my question. He said some patients spin one way and some spin the other.

That week I keep thinking about my body as a conduit for the rotational movement of the earth, as if I were a sensitive soul connected to her, at one with her impulses. Maybe it comforted me to imagine my illness had a significance outside of myself.

I had to give up that idea, but another symptomatic connection intrigued me: similarities between neurologic disorders and space sickness: Nausea, vertigo, stuffiness, confusion, weakness, dizziness, exhaustion. Maybe we already know what it feels like to travel and live in Outer Space. We just need to change the scenery.

I finally got a referral from my Otoneurologist for a set of Brain MRIs, though he emphasized there may be nothing meaningful in the results. He is treating me for Silent Migraines, which don’t show up on medical imaging scans, but I want to look inside nevertheless. Tangled nerves? Blocked arteries? Inner ear deformity? Strokes? Remnants of a long-lost twin wreaking havoc inside my brain? If only the culprit could be made visible. If only it could be snipped out forever, crushed, annihilated. But most likely these tests would be negative. What to do?

My neurologist told me my ongoing unsteadiness is the result of damage from years of vertigo, and it may straighten itself out over time. Lately my feet will suddenly cross one over the other, as if I were on a boat tipped by waves. I am stepping on eggshells, afraid the demon will grab me and throw me again into its utterly senseless orbit.

“Breakfast with Neandertals” Part 4

The grove where the Neanderthal and I met at the upper meadow looked out toward the Matterhorn. One afternoon we submerged ourselves under the cool cover of pine trees. Between the shafts of sunlight piercing the musty grove we got busy grinding and sweating.

Afterwards the Neandertal was spent. I looked his chest. Giant blotches had appeared on his skin. I was alarmed.

Don’t worry. It’s the heat, he gestured. You might have a rash too.

“I would know if I had a rash”, I replied.

How? he signed. He stroked my smooth black skin. He was surprised I had goose-bumps.

I shivered in the cool air, drenched with his sweat. I told him I would be able to feel it with my fingers. I touched his chest with my eyes closed to see if it was true. His heartbeat quickened, then slowed until it was faint. He fell asleep. The air whooshed through his windpipe as if through a canyon. I curled up across the warm red carpet of his chest, my hips and shoulders rising with each breath from the giant. While we slept I soared across the Universe.

When I awoke I was alone on an animal skin inside the Neandertal’s cavern next to the warm oven. The sun was just breaking. I gripped something tightly in my hand. It was a gnarled rock embedded with deep fingerprints. My fingers fit its pockmarks perfectly. It left a burnt dust in my palm.

from the short story project DYSAUTONOMIA. Comments and discussion welcome on blog entries. Follow me on twitter for updates to this serial story and future stories from this ongoing project