Illustration: 2 small ones

After two weeks of yearning I found one hour this afternoon to draw. Initially I wanted to pencil and ink a drawing of the cat of my friend Lieneke. She has a Turkish Van, Mimi. Beautiful! And so funny.

But that didn’t work out.
Instead I inked two drawings I did earlier.

20131128-163218.jpg

20131128-163236.jpg

It’s so weird all the things that have to be right for me to start illustrating. Which is one of the nicest things I know how to do.
But there has to be peace. And time. No to-do list. No cats or husband distracting me. Some other things. Weird…

The last time I drew was a couple of weeks back, i did not have the cleaning media with me. The ink got stuck in the “collar” of the brush. That’s a sure way to ruin your brush fast.

20131128-163518.jpg

After this I cleaned it, with the ink soap. I hope it’s all right.
I used the sable-synthetic blend. I like it best. Next time I’ll buy some 100% sable and see how that works for me. The Kolinsky seems to be too much for me.

Well, I hope to brush some more soon. I see having pencilled sketches ready works well for me so I’ll try and make some in an unclaimed minute.

(I don’t have much of those. It’s still pretty much every day living like a vegetable aside from twice one hour uptime. That’s for dressing, showering, cooking, the lot. I really hate my life at the moment.)
(of course this is pms-week…)

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Red, cast iron, small, mechanical = squee!

This is a bottle jack, to jack up our car. It can take up to 2 tonnes (200.000 kilo).

It is fire truck red. All mechanical. Cast iron. Small. Costs about 25 euro. I LOVE IT.

I never saw one before. I cannot believe there’s an industry making these small, functional, robust things. It’s perfect for women!

 

I want one in every colour.

Dutch promote ketogenic diet with language for ages

For centuries now the word for “sandwich” or “slice of bread” in Dutch is “boterham”.

“boter” = butter
“ham” = ham

It doesn’t need butter nor ham to be called “boterhammen”:

These “boterhammen” have no butter, no ham and no trace of our word for bread, “brood”.

Nobody knows where the word “boterham” originates from. And why there are two distinctive foods in there but no wheaty product.

There are a few theories.
Everybody pretty much agrees the “boter” must be the butter.
But “ham”, well that must be something else, it just can’t be pig’s behind, can it. Maybe “homp” meaning lump? Or from “inham” meaning bay-possibly-quite-sharply-cut-Norwegian-fjord-sort-of-bay?
“Inham” is also what you call the spaces occurring in a receding hairline… A “boterham” coming from these origins would indicate a coarse cut piece of bread perhaps? With few hairs on it.

Kind of a stretch, of you ask me. Why not go with the obvious “ham” = ham.

I like to think that the Dutch were keto-smart from an early age: bread is nothing but an edible plate to transfer your butter and your ham to your mouth!
Pretty soon people started to eat their plate. Got to fancy it up. But they couldn’t be bothered to think up an original name for it unlike the Spanish did with their tapas.

Fancy cro(o)ckery:

Don’t you get fooled by the fluffy gluten!
Nor your biological predisposition to carb addiction, eating is all about the ham and the butter!

I’d love to find out how long the word “ham” has been used for pig’s meat. I cannot find it easily though. I do know we have various dialects across the country, some calling “ham” quite different (“hesp”, “sjink”).

PS. EMPTY BOTERHAM
Guess how we call a slice of bread without anything on it?
“Een boterham met tevredenheid”
A slice of bread with contentment…
baaaaaa!

PS.2. HAMBURGER
The ham in “boterham” precedes the meaty interpretation of ham in “hamburger”. The ham in hamburger came about when Germans brought their Hamburger beefsteak over to America at the end of the 19th century which then got changed into “hamburger”, “burgers”, “cheeseburger” and -back to Dutch- into “kaasburger.”
pic by Andrea Mukka

PS.3. HAMBURG
Might the ham in Hamburg – the German city- give any clues?
“Burg” means fortification, akin to the word borrough (going into the word neighbourhood, neighbours. Which has the Danish word “bo” in it, living. The Joneses are your “nearby living-ers”. And of course, “burger” means citizen. It’s all so logical!)(Receding hairlines in bread are not logical.)

Anyway, a city with “burg” in its name is usually named for something in the vicinity or something of importance. Perhaps a sows market for Hamburg?

“The name Hamburg comes from the first permanent building on the site, a castle which the Emperor Charlemagne ordered constructed in AD 808. It rose on rocky terrain in a marsh between the River Alster and the River Elbe as a defence against Slavic incursion, and acquired the name Hammaburg, burg meaning castle or fort. The origin of the Hamma term remains uncertain,[11] as does the exact location of the castle.[12]”

Nah… the ham remains illusive in the beautiful city of:

other pictures by Tinpalace and Chidsey and Wikipedia.

Designing: modern Woodland Art Deco Fair Isle Cardigan

I’m sharpening my teeth on an interesting design problem. It has to do with knitting but don’t fear, non-knitter, it has more to do with shapes and Art Deco patterns. I think you’ll like this post, even if I use knitwear to illustrate my design progress.

FAIR ISLE
Fair Isle is the traditional knitwear from the Fair Isles off the coast of Scotland. It consists of stranded colourwork where in each row two colours are alternated every few stitches. Between rows the colours you use can change but not ín the row you are working on.

This is the typical traditional Fair Isle look:

picture from fairisle.org.uk, the site with all things about the island.

Modern interpretations play with colour and motives. Still clearly wit the stacking of horizontal bands and the use of two colours in any row.

Yfsnow’s Ivy League Vest by Eunny Jang and PoofyBirdy’s wonderful vegetable interpretation of the same design.

The geometric repetition in horizontal bands is part of the tradition. I’ll probably wander away from this a bit and technically I shouldn’t call it Fair Isle anymore. “Stranded knitting” would be better.
There’s also a rich tradition of stranded knitting in the north of Europe.

DESIGN CONSTRAINTS
Having done with the introduction, let me now present you with the interesting design problem I am trying to solve. These are the constraints:

  1. each row has to have two colours at most. (otherwise: yarn spaghetti + not enough index fingers to keep them apart)
  2. one colour needs to be knit no more than 4 or 5 stitches at a time. (otherwise the other colour forms a long strand at the back of the work and you easily snag on it when you put on the garment. Also tension troubles.)

There. You’re now an expert on Fair Isle Theory. Now help me design a cardigan. Here are the goals:

  1. woodland themed
  2. no traditional Fair Isle motives, they are just too fiddly to my taste. And I don’t like geometrics much anyway.
  3. timeless design
  4. interesting colour contrasts, flattering to my mid-to-high contrast face

WOODLAND THEME
This is the yarn I have. Lovely 100% wool from a small spinning factory in Estonia. They’ve been in business for nearly a 100 years. That European region has rich knitting and yarn traditions. It’s lovely to support them.

Some of it is high contrast, some of it low. And I shouldn’t wear orange near my face.

I want squirrels. And owls. Hedgehogs. Oak leaves.
But I don’t want a childish cardigan. It has to be mature, adult and stylish. No ’80s teddy bear sweater. Or the famous x-mas sweaters:

NO MORE THAN 5 ST. IN ONE COLOUR
Usually a Fair Isle pattern chooses one pattern and keeps repeating it all around the sweater. But you don’t have to. You can change the pattern depending on where you are in the sweater:

Saint Olav and His Men Cardigan (ravelry pattern page) by Cynthia Wasner. Not particular my style… but you get the idea.

You can use large overall patterns:

Rauma baby 054-5 by Rauma Designs
(this would look unflattering on a grown woman who has curves and who moves during the day)

Or you can use small shapes and scatter them around freestyle:

I like this, this is a fun way of knitting. (But this will mix the colours visually, dampening them both. Imagine a sweater full of these crawlies…it would be both tiresome and colourwise boring to look at.)

Another idea is to use some overall pattern and put different content in each slot.
squirrel_baby
pattern Squirrel Sweater for Baby (model 11) by Tone Takle and Lise Kolstad. This red knitting and the photo are by PhairIsle
(A whole sweater full of this is a childish but as an idea it works)

I like this design for overall structure:

Kyllene by Kirsten M. Jensen
It has some of that timeless style feel to it. I could easily fill some of the slots with a stylized squirrel instead of a stylized tree.
But a body full of diamond shapes…. I’m not convinced yet.

DATED DESIGNS
By now you’ve noticed I don’t want my cardigan to look very dated in a decade or two. No Bill Cosby sweater for me please. (hilarious site, with all the designs)

So I reckoned I’d look at the Art Deco era for inspiration, to find that overall structure. It provides stylistic interpretations of the highly recognizable (and thus dated) patterns of the Jugendstil/ Art Nouveau era. More on that later.

BOLD SHAPES
So I want a modern interpretation of the colour shapes you can make with this knitting technique. I love bolder shapes but the no-more-than-5-stitches-in-1-colour demands some serious designing inventiveness to make that happen. Like was done with that small cats pattern.
This is where my love for blockprinting comes in handy. Designing with only two colours and suggesting shapes and silhouettes using contrasts, without actually drawing lines, that’s all printing fun, baby!

Knitters join into this fun too:

Autumn Fire Mittens by Jouni Riihelä and Leena Riihelä. I have this very kit!

These are modern Finnish mitten designs by Riihivilla, a small one woman company, which sells yarn and mitten kits with yarn and pattern. All yarn is Finnsheep. All colours come from plants and fungi and Leena shares her knowledge and experience freely. These colours have much more depth then factory dyes. Visit her shop here: Riihivilla.

I love how the dark and the light colours are changed in horizontal bands while the overall design flows on, vertically. You see the trees even though the stem internally changes from the darkest to the lightest colour. There’s some cunning use of contrast going on here! Worth studying.

Another inspiration is this design by Angela McHardy from etsyshop Clovaknits:
clovaknits

She alternates the colours in broad bands and uses the background colours in smart ways. The coloured zigzags lie on top of the white background. But in the coloured bands it’s the black that lies on top.
I particularly like how the black ventures out a bit into the first white band that borders it, at the owl’s “toes”. This could be used more, letting the lines of the animal get into the second main colour. (My main colours are white and dark red brown. The other colours will be the accents.)
This is really intelligent stranded knitting design, I am wildly inspired by it! By the designing methods that is, the design of the cushion itself runs the risk of being dated in a couple of years I think.

ART DECO
When you google images for “art deco patterns” lots of horizontal organizes pattern pop up. Be it wall paper, decals or fabric. Waves, fans, circles, swirls. Enough that will hold a stylized squirrel in.

But I don’t want a stamp repeated all over the body of this cardigan. I think it doesn’t look good.What I want is an overall pattern with some variation in it.

I have found two nice examples of what I mean:

ist2_2198539_art_deco_pattern
I think this one is by Adolphe Mouron Cassandre, a famous designer from the very era. He designed the YSL logo. I got the picture from c20thgraphicdesign

The other one I found is this one:
Accent_Tile_B-447
This is a bronze tile by Arizona Hot Dots

Both have a vertical alinement. With horizontal accents, placed randomly. These accents could be substituted for woodland creatures. Using the design habits from the owl cushion with the colours bands from Clovaknits. Alternating colours, mindfull of their contrast working, like the Autumn Fire Mittens from Riihivilla.

I’m thinking… and I haven’t even designed my version of a squirrel yet!

Thinking myself to sleep. Research notes.

I have a specific sleep pattern that is of no good. I sleep for 5 hours straight and then I wake up. I am wide awake. This lasts for about an hour, maybe two. Then I get back to a light sleep for another hour or two. I have had this all my life. Every night.

This is a specific pattern of insomnia. It is not cured by sleep hygiene. It wrecks havoc on the body. My current fascination is to get to the bottom of it and FIX it.

Here now follow my research notes. I need a place to keep track of my thoughts. I’m not sure this of interest to any of you… I apologize.

SLEEP is IMPORTANT.
dr. Gominak, a neurologists, found that all her patients improve when their sleep is restored. No matter what their neurological symptoms are. She thinks this has to do with specific healing that takes place in Deep Sleep and in REM sleep. For this healing Human Growth Hormone (HGH) is released and the body needs to be in perfect partial paralysis. Too much paralysis and you get sleep apneu (and rise from your deep sleep, preventing healing). Not enough paralysis and you sleep talk or get up to pee. Both patterns are not good because they prevent right paralysis and healing by HGH.

I get those first five hours of sleep. I typically wake up at 3 ‘o clock and lie awake till 5. I do get some Deep Sleep. This means I will not die from this insomnia. I know this because I have not died before. I have slept like this all my life, even as a child. But my adrenals have given out on this pattern.

MY THEORY: IT’S A CORTISOL PEAK
When I wake after five hours I experience a specific status. My mind is clear and wide awake (if not racing). My body is hot, too hot. I feel this is a cortisol peak. Cortisol has a half time of 1 hour or two. The time it takes me to settle down, cool down and get back into a slumber.

The problem is I needed this cortisol to get me out of bed in the morning, for the Awakening Response. For years my adrenals have gone the extra mile and given me a nightly cortisol peak and a secondary in the morning. Until they gave out. First partially in 2008. Now totally in 2013.
This is what makes this sleeping pattern so dangerously. Apart from the not proper healing in your sleep bit.

CLUES ABOUT THIS PARTICULAR SLEEPING PATTERN

  • My mother has this pattern too, albeit more mild. She wakes up with a soar throat. An ionisator has helped her. This machine makes dust particles in the air settle down.
  • My brother has it, as severe as I have. His adrenals seem to cope, he is nearly 40 and healthy. As long as he doesn’t hold a job that requires getting up before 8 ‘o clock.
  • I’ve found a few others on RisingPhoenix.me who have the same pattern. These people have fatigue. They knock themselves out with anti-histamines and they sleep (somewhat).
  • a few years ago I started to sleep through the night once and again. Co-factors are: destressing, clean bed sheets, valerian, anti-dustmite, earplugs, no cat shananigans in the night, no drinking after 7 o clock in the evening, enough progesterone, no insuline or cortisol peak during the day, no gluten, no cheese, woolen bed and blankets, keeping throat warm, feeling safe. But these give no guarantees whatsoever, it’s a tombola every night.
  • things that didn’t work were: eating before bed, camomille tea, dark room, whale sounds, different bed times, segmented sleep, no tv/screen, use room for only sleep, melatonine, age, location

THEORY: SOMETHING UPSETS THE SYSTEM AFTER FIVE HOURS OF SLEEP. ENOUGH TO MAKE IT PRODUCE CORTISOL, THE ANTI-STRESSHORMONE.

What causes the system to freak out? Can I prevent it?

ALLERGY
Since anti-histamines and dustmites came up I’m wrapping my brain around this first. Here now follows the research I already did. It’s my thought process, it may not be very interesting for anyone else… In cursive are quotes from Wikipedia. In bold thoughts I want to park and get back to at a later time.

ANTIHISTAMINE
A histamine antagonist (commonly called an antihistamine) is a pharmaceutical drug that inhibits the action of histamine by either blocking its attachment to histamine receptors, or inhibiting the enzymatic activity of histidine decarboxylase; catalyzing the transformation of histidine into histamine (atypical antihistaminics). It is commonly used for the relief of allergies caused by intolerance of proteins.

Antihistamine mainly blocks the mucus reaction that cells give, which reaction leads to the annoying allergy symptoms of sneezing and loosing water from all sides of the head.
This is a symptom-approach. I’m more interested in the cause of the allergic reaction and dampening that response.

What now if you don’t produce mucus and sneezing but do reach the stage right before that, where you do get the freaking but not the sneezing? That would make a body make cortisol, I’d think. So: how does the arousal of the allergy initiate?

Key: intolerance of certain proteins. (intolerance to other things too? Dustparticles? )

There are four kinds of Histamine-receptors, see Wiki. They have various functions some of which are interesting to someone looking for sleep.
H1 for example also modulates circadian rythm (!)
And H2 is a system-activator, just like cortisol.

Btw H1 couples via its G mechanism to Vassopressin, het gotta-pee-repressing hormone.

HOW DO RECEPTORS WORK ANYWAY?
A receptor sits in the cel membrane. With its head outside and its feet dangling on the inside of the cel. A primary messenger bonks into the head, this usually is a hormone. This makes the lights go on in a parking garage called G protein that’s located at the feet of the receptor molecule, on the inside of the cell. One of the cars gets a tank full GTP, the alfa no less! This car leaves the parking garage and drives along the inside of the membrane until it bonks into the soft belly of a protein, the primary effector.
It’s this protein that starts to produce molecules that will influence the cells functioning: the secondary messengers.

This system is called the Second Messenger System and it shows exactly where the various G proteins are that various anti-histamine medicines target.

Secondary messengers can influence the cell insides directly or first activate a secondary effector in the cell membrane.
The alfa-car, a little enzyme in itself, has used up its petrol. All GTP is decreased into GDP. It drifts back to a parking garage at the feet of a receptor cell.

Sometimes this system doesn’t work. The head, the feet, the Parking garage, the car, all and any can malfunction.

pic by Erik Hutters

MALFUNCTION OF THE RECEPTOR/G-protein CELL
“Malfunction of GPCR [G Protein-Coupled Receptor] signaling pathways are involved in many diseases, such as diabetes, blindness, allergies, depression, cardiovascular defects, and certain forms of cancer. It is estimated that about 30% of the modern drugs’ cellular targets are GPCRs.”

The human genome encodes roughly 800 G protein-coupled receptors, which detect photons (light), hormones, growth factors, drugs, and other endogenous ligands. Approximately 150 of the GPCRs found in the human genome have unknown functions.

There are about 800 kind of receptors. They use all kinds of things to bonk themselves with in the head (neurotransmitters, hormones, food additives, cocaine, GABA, Calcium ions). Things going wrong leads to all kinds of system wide illnesses such as diabetes, allergies, depression, cancer.

HORMONES ARE NEUROTRANSMITTERS
The hormone ACTH is the neurotransmitter that floods the whole body and is picked up specifically by the receptors in the adrenal cells. Through the Second Messenger System mentioned above, it activates these cells to produce cortisol. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CAMP-dependent_pathway
Another hormone, Glucagon, is picked up by receptors in the liver and activates glycogen breakdown
Another hormone, ADH vassopressin, makes blood vessels contract, ignoring your pee pressure. (Supposed to be high during the night. If you wake up to pee it isn’t)(perhaps it’s high all day in me?)

So Hormone Replace Therapy (HRT) is basically neurotransmitter therapy. Bonking around the heads of 800 kind of receptors in your body. Better be careful what kind of neurotransmitters you put in there.

This includes vitD3 which is a hormone and not a vitamin. All hormones are made from cholesterol so does supplementing leave you with high cholesterol?

LAYING AWAKE BECAUSE OF CORTISOL
ACTH is produced, adrenal cells make cortisol, I wake up. Because the system downstream gives the right results I can assume the adrenal cels work properly (the receptor receives ACTH, the alfa car drives, the cortisol is made). Looking in that place for a cause of my cortisol peak seems not logical right now.
The production of cortisol by a cell could be inhibited my crippling the G protein with a particular anti histamine however. Effective. But not solving the cause.

LOOKING AT ACTH PRODUCTION.
It’s the anterior pituitary gland in my head that produces the hormone ACTH. I can therefor conclude I have not primaire Addison’s. The gland functions.
The pituitary gland does so in response to the hormone corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) released by the hypothalamus, another piece of brain.
Gaat pituitary gland op eigen houtje aan de acth produktie of is het i o v de hypothalamus?

There’s a lot involved in regulating the levels of ACTH. There are feedback loops coming from the adrenals themselves, for instance. These feedback come in fast loops and in slow loops.

In order to regulate the secretion of ACTH, many substances secreted within this axis exhibit slow/intermediate and fast feedback-loop activity. Glucocorticoids secreted from the adrenal cortex work to inhibit CRH secretion by the hypothalamus, which in turn decreases anterior pituitary secretion of ACTH. Glucocorticoids may also inhibit the rates of POMC gene transcription and peptide synthesis. The latter is an example of a slow feedback loop, which works on the order of hours to days, whereas the former works on the order of minutes.
(The half-life of ACTH in human blood is about ten minutes.)

“Hours to days”!?
Might these slow loop feedbacks be connected in any way to the circadian rythme or sleep cycles? Can there be something awry in the slow loop feed back making me release cortisol in the middle of the night?

There are ACTH receptors outside of the adrenal glands. They are in the bone producing cells.
Also: ACTH is a cleavage product of the pro-hormone, proopiomelanocortin, which also produces other hormones including melatonin.

Can inappropiately timed ACTH rob the body of the pro-hormone needed to make the sleep hormone melatonin?

Of course, a real elevated production of ACTH is the illness Cushing. I don’t have that. But the knowledge about Cushing disease might shed a light on these nightly cortisol peaks.
Also, the ACTH producing enzyme in the pituitary may be of the same sort as my busted MRT: a brake that slips. The gene to check for mutations might be POMC.

pic by andre leme

HYPOTHALAMUS AND ITS CRH
Pituitary gland takes its cue from the Hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is the grand concert director in your head. It oversees all kinds of information coming in, both from the inside and the outside of the body. It sends out all kinds of signals to make various body parts do things.

Because of the hypothalamus people can influence and calm their adrenals by practizing mental zen and active destressing and behavourial therapy and (re)training the Central Nervous System.
But the hypothalamus also reacts to:
– Neurally transmitted information arising in particular from the heart, the stomach, and the reproductive tract
– Autonomic inputs
– Blood-borne stimuli, including leptin, ghrelin, angiotensin, insulin, pituitary hormones, cytokines, plasma concentrations of glucose and osmolarity etc.

Is it one of these that triggers my system after 5 hours of sleep?

Well, this concludes the thinking I’ve done when lying awake last night and two hours of reading this morning. I will look into the bold sections.

The main question still is: WHAT CAUSES THE SYSTEM TO FREAK OUT AFTER FIVE HOURS OF SLEEP?
Other questions to ask about this are:
What happens to the body in those 5 hours? Do the glucose reserves in the liver get depleted? Have all the toxins build up during sleep healing and not find a way out (due to genetic mutations)? Has our food digested by that time and is energy not properly stored away, causing blood sugar to spike? Has all the progesterone gone, crippling basis processes?

 pic by John Evans

My Health: explaining my low homocysteine

With my specific DNA mutations in the methylation cycle a high homocysteine level is to be expected. Making me deficient for SAM-e and flooding my cells with sulfur.

pic by J. Gabriel

But much to my surprise the other day my blood test resulted in LOW levels of homocysteine. Too low, according to the lab. (“below six! Alert! should be 5-15”)

Now, having looked at my mutations, it is entirely possible my levels were substantially lowered in these few months that I started to supplement with methyl-B12.

I have two busted genes, one called MTR and one called MTRR.

Having MTR busted up properly, meaning a homozygous mutation, rendering the DNA useless to make its enzyme, is a rare mutation. Less than 1% of people have it.

Well, ain’t I the pretty spesiul snowflake!

 pic by J. Gabriel

Genic Genie -that wonderful program that will interpret your DNA results for you when it comes to Methylation and Detoxing- tells me this:

“Mutations in MTR have been identified as the underlying cause of methylcobalamin deficiency. Megaloblastic anemia can occur as a consequence of reduce methionine synthase activity.

A homozygous mutation of MTR A2756G is relatively rare (<1%). ”

Methylcobalamin is vit B12 once it enters your cells, y’all. Even though regular old B12 looks good in my blood levels there’s not enough of it in my cells. I have a vitB12 deficiency that doesn’t show up in blood tests.

Now, what is this MTR supposed to do anyway?

pic by Jefta

MTR grabs any a homocysteine particle and tries to glue a folate to it. With this new building block all kinds of wonderful things are done. Especially clearing the cells of all kinds of debris and heavy metals. So: important!

This glueing action by MTR requires homocysteine, folate, glue, scissors and a piece of mB12. Its friendly enzyme buddy MTRR makes this mB12.

MTRR is a special kind of enzyme, though, its like a brake. It does its thing in a slow, regulated way. Because hey, there’s other enzymes wanting a bit of mB12 too!

Here you can read a difficult piece of how it all works together. I don’t understand it myself. Yet. But the stuff has to do with proper DNA repair. And dopamine. And ATP and cortisol and moon phases. And they all long for mB12.

But my MTRR is broken…. no mB12 for any of you! This results in high homocysteine and all kinds of nastiness. And a sad little MTR who’s got nothing to glue.

But as soon as I started to supplement mB12 my MTR got going, grabbing homocysteine and folates left and right. Because my MTRR is broken too, there’s nothing to keep it in pace. My MTR floored it!

pic by Myles Davidson

As soon as I provided the mB12 my MTRR doesn’t make, MTR put the pedal to the metal. Quickly clearing my whole system of homocysteine. Resulting in the low levels that showed up in my blood work.

It may not be a bad thing per se. Wonderful stuffs are made from homocysteine-with-a-folate-glued-to-it. Stuffs such as SAM-e and Methionine (which I have not studied yet but they sound wonderful)

Homocysteine itself is a powerful yet dangerous thing I hear. Dr.Yasko compares it to a prison chain gang such as known in the US of A. A group that can do good and helpful things for the community. But they need to be monitored and supervised carefully.

Anyway, I do feel better on mB12. I take about 1mg per day (B12 felt not ok, neither did folate acid. Folinic acid doesn’t seem to do much either way, indicating that my heteryzugous MTHFR C677T is probably not expressed, meaning it functions alright and ignores the faulty half of the DNAladder.)
Next time I’ll get my methionine checked.

I wonder how the other enzymes are faring, the ones who’d like a bit of mB12 for themselves. Do they get any? How can I find out? How can I aid them?

to remind myself, this is what Heartfixer says about MTR/MTRR:
“The MTR A2756G defect is an up regulation. The enzyme is always on, grabbing every homocysteine and 5-methyl folate molecule that it can get its hands on, processing them to methionine and THF. Methyl-B12 is required for normal function of MTR, and with each spin of the MTR enzyme, one molecule of methyl-B12 is degraded.

MTRR (Methionine Synthase Reductase) serves the needs of MTR, regenerating methyl-B12 from available methyl donors and B12. Without methyl-B12, MTR cannot convert homocysteine in to methionine. Needed downstream methyl donors such as SAMe will not be generated. Methylation fails, so does your biochemistry, and there goes your health. ”

pic by Joel Kingsbury

My health: strategy for my low cortisol

written a week ago:

CORTISOL LEVELS WERE MEASURED REALLY LOW
I had a good think about that ridiculously low cortisol level that was measured the other day: 0,3 in the morning where a value between 25 and 60 is normal.

This tells me that on that particular morning my adrenals were not functioning at a sufficient level. However, I did manage to get out of bed, drive myself to the hospital, walk through the cold and get myself to the right department and seen to. So some cortisol was clearly still there, I was not in danger of adrenal shock. I don’t think I functioned on adrenaline or willpower alone, I certainly wasn’t pushing things or in a fighting mood.

However, there were a few problems that morning indicating insufficient cortisol. I did drive at 85% of my usual alertness (but as I am a perfectionist who usually operates at 115% and also have my motor bike license -which makes you a better spotter in traffic- I feel I was not a danger on the road). I was bothered by the cold very much, a known body stressor. I had trouble operating the machine where you present your hospital ID (hello brain fog) and my hands trembled when I spoke to the nurse (a sign my body was nervous and lacked the hormones to battle that).

So I’m not sure how to interpret the level totally correct.

The measured level however indicates my adrenals have now shut down completely. There’s a good case to be made for that theory:

WORKING THEORY
My adrenals have shut down (almost) completely, since end of August.

Looking back I’d say this happened at the end of August. And stress was the cause, not the low supplementation of hydrocortisone.
My stressors were:

  1. the death of my grandmother in the Spring
  2. supplementing Zinc and inducing Copper dumps during the Summer
  3. a non-relaxed holiday to Ireland at the end of August. Bad sleep and digestion shut down.
  4. a blow to the kidneys in mid September: too much weird food + dehydration
  5. ongoing kidney- and liver pain ever since, nausea (organ malnutrition as a result)
  6. worries about a trip to Morocco we were to take last week

nr 3, the holiday to Ireland was just too much. Afterwards I couldn’t get my digestion working well enough, I couldn’t refind my tranquility. In short: recuperation took too long and was too costly. Then nr.4 happened and my belly hasn’t been functioning properly for months now. Pains and pangs, uncomfortable feeling and nausea all the time. Looking back these are symptoms of too low cortisol levels, especially now that the ultrasound and the bloodwork do not show other causes. No cortisol means no stomach acid, no bile, no motility.

Lack of cortisol also explains why on occasion I’d fall into a deep, peaceful sleep whenever I took my regular dose of  hydrocortisone. Normally this hormone would activate a body. But with shut down adrenals it would just quell a screeching lack, thus providing peace. Peace enough to sleep. I was so surprised as it was the same sleepiness you get with progesterone overdosing. You cannot fight it, you just want to sleeeeep. But with progesterone you awake groggy. With this cortisol sleep I awoke fine. Rested (just unwilling to leave the bed).

Like I said, I think stressors caused the shut down, not the cortisol I’ve been supplementing regularly for over a year now. As I supplement only 12,5 mg of hydrocortisone per day I don’t think the hormone therapy caused the shut down. The amount quoted in literature is at least 20 mg. I’ve been supplementing this lower amount since August 2012 and from that date on I was notably getting healthier and more active by the month. It is why I started to drive my car. It is why I felt confident enough to detox with the Zinc and the genome results.

A normal dose for someone with shut down adrenals is 20 mg or more. Or the other way around: doctors report people’s adrenals shutting down when doses of 20 mg or more are administered.

Shut down adrenals do explain why I needed absurd high amounts of progesterone the last two months. My body was scrambling for any and all progesterone to convert into cortisol. Indicating some level of function in the adrenals, btw.

THINGS THAT DON’T FIT NEATLY IN THIS THEORY:

  1. When that low level was measured I still functioned at an acceptable level
  2. at night I still often wake up with a cortisol peak, 8 hours after my last hydrocortisone dose which has been totally gone from my system by then.
  3. Four weeks ago I got a cold. The first one since I fell ill in 2008. A cold indicates that my immune system was too weak to keep it at bay. Usually immune systems get suppressed by cortisol which is why stressed people (with healthy adrenals) get every virus during flu season. How could I get a cold when my immune system is running wild and unchecked for years now?
  4. I am sensitive to low doses of anything. It may well be that 12,5 mg is enough for my adrenals to shut down.

We can think of reasons that make these things fit the theory anyway.

  1. I got to the hospital fine? I must be able to function at lower levels than other people. I sure do so with other hormones and medications. Or adrenaline makes the system go without causing its usual jumpy state.
  2. I wake up? My adrenals work sometimes, especially at night when blood sugar drops or I get too cold or dust allergy kicks in or insulin surge from the previous day catches up with me.
  3. I get a cold? My number was up, this was probably a particular persistent virus. I finally met a peron carrying a virus, haven’t met one for years which is the real reason I haven’t had a cold or the flu/ Or an alternative: the trip to Morocco had me so stressed out that I did make more cortisol and with that suppressed my immune system enough to contract the cold. I sure was worrying about it and determined to get it done. Got my fighting modus on. The funny thing was that once I conceded that I was not to go on the trip I took to bed and fell asleep, I developed a high fever and broke the cold in the next 18 hours. After that I had to lay a week in bed to recover. And another two weeks to recover properly. I am now back in the cabin and just today and yesterday I’ve felt alive again. Active. But this can also come from not being in the city. I am more charged in the city. And in need of more cortisol there.

 

CONCLUSIONS

At the moment my adrenals are not functioning. Supplementation is needed. More than 12,5 mg. At least enough to get my intestines working again properly. Aim for 17,5 mg. Digestion is a measuring stick. Getting hungry indicates I took too much.

Higher supplementation will shut down the adrenals for sure. Or keep them shut down. This brings risk, life threatening risks. I am aware of this.

Shut down adrenals an sich is not a problem. There’s a school of thought in medicine that thinks that a short amount of time will give the adrenals a chance to heal.

This will be my working theory. It can be amended when results contradict.

 

STRATEGY

Have shut down adrenals for the next few months. Aid them with enough hydrocortisone to keep my body out of stress and to have digestion functioning again.

Enjoy the peace. Rest up. Relax. Enjoy life. Don’t worry, don’t fret. Take plenty progesterone.

Be aware of the life threatening dangers. Inform loved ones. Always carry hydrocortisone on your body.

In February/March slowly wean off of the hydrocortisone. See if the adrenals kick in again.

If they do so: YAY!

If they don’t: visit the Adrenal Specialists in Radboud to become an official Addison’s patient and explore with them if it’s the adrenals or one of the brain glands that’s kapot.

 

ANOTHER PUZZLING BLOOD RESULT

Homocysteine was below 6. This is lower than you would expect under my working theory that my DNA mutations cause too high homocysteine. Has my supplemention of mB12 and Florinic Acid corrected my levels in only 3 months? Or is this a heterozygote mutation and did the incorrect gene never express?

things to think about next.

I build my Faraday’s cage!

Faraday cage yshield silver tulle
I have build myself a Faraday’s cage!
It will shield my body from all the High Frequency Radiation that’s going on, especially when I’m in the city, from sources such as mobile phone networks and wifi’s. We get up to 14 wifi networks in our house in the city!

These high frequency waves may very well mess with the body cells, with functions that perhaps use the same frequencies? It could be Sodium Potassium pump (the Na Ka process, the Natrium Kalium pump to non-US folk) or with synapses firing in the brain. I do not sleep well in the city, with all the networks going on, and have had a suspicion these fields were bothering me for a long time now. No better way to try out a theory than put it to the test!

The fabric is Silver Tulle from the company Yshield.com. It is a knitted nylon, coated with a little bit of silver. Silver is a good conductor. This fabric is one of the best shielding fabrics there is. It shields up to 50 dB at 1 GigaHerz and as these scales are logarithmic (the result doubles with every step) this provides way better shielding than say a fabric or fleece or gauge that shields 40 dB.

Sewing jersey is a pain. With shielding material it is important that there are no holes in the construction and especially the seams need to be folded over. As any knitted fabric has a tendency to roll at the sides, I put the two pieces right sight to wrong side, so they wanted to roll together, and sewed the seam.
Indeed it rolled and this seam is now part of a perfectly closed cage of Faraday:
Faraday cage yshield silver tulle

The frame consists of the flexible tubes I got from a childrens playhouse:
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I put it on its side, removed the cloth (which made the tubes SPROIING! into round hoops).
I keep them in a longer, flatter shape with some woven bands.
Faraday cage yshield silver tulle
I specifically chose my most favourite woven band, long ago purchased to use on clothing. As I’ll be spending many an hour in this tent I like something nice to look at. It is also why I have them with the nice side facing inwards.
I attached snaps at the ends. This way I can amend the shape and the measurements of the tent.

Tubes with fabric draped over it:
Faraday cage yshield silver tulle

Entrance through the side:
Faraday cage yshield silver tulleOnce inside I fold the fabric under so the fabric overlaps all around.

It works!
Faraday cage yshield silver tulle

Next week I’ll take it to the city and take my daily rests in it. I wonder what the outcome will be! But first I’ll add a felted underlayer. That way the cat can join me. She really wants to but the fabric is too vulnerable for her love stamping feet clawing.

Another thing to consider is that silver has a tendency to discolour. That is why I can expect discolouration from oxidation and from the oils in my hands. Not to worry. A true testing engineer doesn’t mind ;)

I want to add a big thank you to Yshield.com in Germany. It’s with them that I bought this fabric. Their customer service is excellent. They are very friendly and personally oriented. And they know their technical stuff!
I called them early one morning to ask a question I had mentioned only the previous evening by email and the lady answering didn’t need any introduction, as soon as she heard my name she switched to English and knew what I was talking about. A really good company I gladly recommend.

Delivery was fast, free and well secured:
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I am not paid for this endorsement.

Playing with the brushes

I played some more, just now. I had 20 minutes or one cup of tea. And no worries.

I tried out the different small sizes on my drawings for Little Red Riding Hood ideas.
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There were a few I don’t like. Their tip doesn’t stop and start very well, they give ugly and unpredictable blotches on the paper. Or the hairs are too floppy, making it impossible to get a line varying in thickness. The 301 Golden Synthetic and the 313 Synthetic are not for me. The 33 Pure Kolinsky was acceptable. I forgot to try out the 22 Kolinsky Designer because I was smitten with the 401 Red Sable Synthetic blend and drew all my pencilsketches with that:

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I really like this Rosemary & Co 401 #2. It’s a sable/synthetic blend. The point behaves really well, I can do some of my Sumi-é strokes with it. I can get character when just doing a frivolous line. I like it.
It is playful but also a good technical tool, just what I need.

first drawing: The Big Bad Wool!

Meet…… The Big Bad Wool!


GRRRRRRRrrrrrruess who??

A design for a knitted hat, with wolf ears and side burns. Accompagnied by a clever disguise moustache.

I painted this over breakfast, in that illusive non-designated time. Carefree. Goalfree. Just having fun. Just like it needs to be for me.

I already got a lovely complement from a fellow knitter for this style :)

This was painted with the Rosemary&co sable synthethic blend 401 thickness 2 and simple drawing ink and some childrens’ colouring pencils we have laying about here. In my green owly notebook.