End of the Adderall

Well, insurance never did refill my 60-mg-a-day Adderall prescription. The doctor got a letter in the mail saying they had approved it, and I got a copy of the same letter. But apparently insurance didn’t actually tell their own billing department; Walgreen’s never was able to run it through the insurance billing system.

But I was taking it on a sort of provisional basis anyway; it wasn’t so much helping the things I wanted it to. I didn’t know it before I started on this whole escapade, but there are several different types of focus. I used to think there were two, but during the past day or two I’ve started to think there are at least three:

  • The ability to get absorbed in a task, and not easily pulled back out of it. Tends to make you forget about trivial things like food and sleep. The technical term is “hyperfocus”. It’s a bit counter-intuitive, but ADD people (the people who are supposed to have problems concentrating) are the same people who get hyperfocus.
  • The ability to concentrate on the details of what you’re doing, and keep them in your brain long enough to get something done. I call this “detail focus”. When I’m having a bad-detail day, my thoughts are slippery: I’ll start to do something, and suddenly realize that I have no idea what I was working on. I’ll write down the next thing I need to do (so I won’t forget it), and I will have forgotten it by the time I look up at the monitor. That makes it darned hard to program a computer, or even to carry on a conversation — someone will say something, and it will slide right in one ear and out the other, and I’ll blink stupidly and have to ask them to repeat themself.
  • The ability to stay on task, and not let your mind wander off into a daze. This one is insidious, because you don’t realize your mind is wandering until you’re already looking out the window at the birds. I’m not quite sure what to call this one yet; it’s only within the past day or two that I started to suspect it’s different from detail focus.

Odd list, eh? None of them seem to go together. Yet I can have #1 and #2 at the same time, and then moments later be having problems with #3, even though #1 and #3 seem to be diametric opposites. Some days one of these is worse than the others, some days not. It’s all rather bizarre, really.

The Adderall was giving me more hyperfocus, which is not altogether bad, but not altogether good (besides which, hyperfocus really isn’t something I’ve ever had too much trouble achieving); and it didn’t seem to be helping a great deal with the detail focus, or the mind-wandering. It also, on a few occasions (especially if I hadn’t been taking it for a few days), gave me the shakes and made my heart race (last time this happened I measured my resting pulse at 120). It didn’t do that too often, but it certainly wasn’t pleasant.

After some discussion, we decided to drop the Adderall, but stick with the stimulant-based drugs for a while longer, since it takes them hours to kick in, as opposed to months for non-stimulant drugs; much easier to tell if they’re working. There are a couple more he wants to try next: one is Focalin, which is chemically similar to Ritalin; and the other is dextroamphetamine, which is chemically similar to Adderall. He asked which I wanted to try. I asked if either one was available in a generic. So I’m on dextroamphetamine now.

The way he explained it, both Adderall and dextroamphetamine have the same active ingredients, consisting of several related molecules (he described them all as variants on one “mother molecule”). But dextroamphetamine has all of those compounds in equal weights, whereas Adderall has more of some than others, surely as the result of much research. But I wasn’t included in that research, so it’s possible that dextro may work better for me. (Too bad — it would’ve been fun to skew their results.)

I asked if we could just get each individual compound separately, so I can try my own relative weights. He laughed, and said that unfortunately, they don’t package it that way. Phooey.

He started me on a lowish dose, since he wasn’t sure whether it would affect my system differently than the Adderall did. I have the usual instructions to experiment with the dose. Alas, dextro isn’t available in a time-release, so I have to remember to take it every four hours through the day. (Remember? Hah! That’s what Outlook calendars are for.) But on the good side, insurance didn’t make a peep about my prescription for 180 tablets — just went ahead and filled it. After the grief filling 60 tablets of the Adderall, that’s a welcome change.

Delphi 2005 vs. Brian

I told Brian he needs a blog now, but in the interim, I’ll report…

Brian spent a while on Saturday compiling our packages in Delphi 2005. And then he tried to compile our app — and got the same compiler Access Violation that I got with the Diamondback beta. So apparently Borland didn’t find the bug yet to fix it.

But then he spent some more time researching the problem, tracked it down, reported the compiler bug (QC# 10193), and applied the workaround. So, our app now compiles under Delphi 2005!

There’s still a bit of work to be done on the packages and the IFDEFs, but… refactoring tools, here we come.

Any decent task-list apps out there?

Outlook has a task list, but it’s pitiful. I’ve looked around for freeware or shareware task-list apps, and the ones I’ve found are no better. They all have two fatal flaws that make them completely unusable in real life:

  1. They all give you a flat list. Pathetic. In real life, tasks have subtasks, which have sub-subtasks, etc. (Especially when you have attention-deficit disorder, and need to write down all the details if you hope to remember them long enough to actually do them.)
  2. They all give you a measly three priorities: high, low, and neither. Within a priority, everything is alphabetical. Yuck. In real life, you need to be able to reorder things arbitrarily, and three priorities won’t even come close.

Has anyone used any task-list programs that actually support hierarchies and arbitrary ordering? I’m thinking of writing one, but that’d be silly if there’s a usable one out there somewhere. (That won’t necessarily stop me, mind you; but I might as well see what’s out there before I write one of my own.)

One other feature that I would really like (but could probably live without, if there’s an otherwise-decent app that doesn’t have it) is the ability, at the start of the day, to say, “Here are the things I think I can get done today.” Then, at the end of the day, I could see whether I did get them done, and if not, I could try to figure out why, or why not. (At this point it would be helpful to see which things did get checked off that weren’t on my “Today” list.)

This “Today” feature might help on those days when I’m thinking to myself on the drive home, “Okay, now exactly what was it that I accomplished today?” And a history of all these “Today” lists would be extremely helpful when I’m trying to remember what I accomplished during the last review period.

Goobers for Dummies

I’ve decided to start a new series of nonfiction books. They’ll be similar to the “For Dummies” and “Complete Idiot’s Guide” books, but these will be “For The Complete Goober”. Each one will feature a picture of our youngest cat, Monkey, more affectionately (?) known as Goober.

If someone had invented an instant-replay for real life with still-frame-capture option, we would already have all the cover art we would ever need.

Personal Finance for the Complete Goober: Checkbook balancing, budgeting, document-gnawing, and sticking your stinky butt in people’s faces when they try to pay bills. Cover photo: picture of Monkey lying on top of the checkbook, gnawing on Jennie’s pen, with his tail knocking the stack of bills off the bed.

Bartending for the Complete Goober: Mixed drinks, shots, and bathroom faucets. Cover photo: picture of Monkey sitting on the edge of the bathtub, his paws wrapped around the water faucet, hanging half-upside-down from said faucet, trying to catch the drips, while the shower is running. Bonus back-cover photo: Monkey with a punk hairdo.

Cooking for the Complete Goober: Simple dishes, food-handling tips, and advice on when it’s better to jump on top of the stove vs. flopping around on the floor biting people’s ankles. Cover photo: picture of Jennie bent down to get a pizza out of the oven, with Monkey standing on her back.

Gardening for the Complete Goober: Perennials, biennials, and gnaw-ennials, featuring advice on exactly how much of the plant you can eat without getting locked in the bathroom. Cover photo: picture of Monkey, curled up inside a large pot, lying on top of a bag of potting soil.

Jogging for the Complete Goober: Tips for staying cool, how to hit your target heart rate, and how to obtain maximum complaining volume when Mom is carrying you the half-mile back home in a pillowcase. Cover photo: time-lapse photo of a monkey-colored blur crossing the street and tearing through the park, with a Jennie-colored blur (carrying a pillowcase) in hot pursuit.

Package Delivery for the Complete Goober: Overview of different carriers, insurance options, etc., along with instructions on how to escape from the house so you can steal the UPS truck. Cover photo: picture of Monkey sitting behind the steering wheel of the UPS truck, trying to find the ignition.

Homeland Security for the Complete Goober: How to keep your siblings in a constant state of fear, without getting kicked off the bed too often. Cover photo: picture of Monkey lying spread-eagled on top of Stefan, while Stefan cranes his neck backwards to wash Monkey’s ears.

I’m dreaming of a white driveway

So I got a call at work this evening, from Jennie. She asked me if she had been to the store today.

This is an odd kind of question, but I happened to know that the answer was yes. She had called me before she went to the store, to talk about what she needed to get; and she had called me after she got home from the store, to let me know she’d spent extra money to buy a snow shovel. (There’s a winter storm advisory tonight; last I heard they were predicting four to six inches of snow by morning.)

Well, it turned out she had then gone out to use the snow shovel, and had slipped on the ice and hit her head.

And she couldn’t remember large chunks of the afternoon. She remembered bits and pieces from being at the store, but she did not remember going to the store, nor coming back. Nor could she remember why she was out in the driveway, in the snow, with a shovel. That one wouldn’t have been too hard to puzzle out, but if you had a blank spot in your memory right there, it would have to be disorienting.

Not too surprisingly, right after I got off the phone with her, I came straight home.

Aside from those gaps in her memory from this afternoon, she’s doing fine so far. Bits and pieces continue to come back, but I won’t be surprised if some gaps remain; I still don’t remember what happened just before I got my concussion, and that was back in third grade. She’s not having any problems remembering other details like her name or her address; no dizziness, no spots in front of her eyes, no nausea, no unusual drowsiness. She’s been in touch with a friend who’s just finishing medical school, and we’ll keep a close eye on things (which is about all the hospital would do if we took her to the emergency room). So, for now, all seems reasonably well.

But she’s not allowed to shovel the driveway anymore.

And the Lord did speak unto them, saying, “And do not shovel thy driveways; and neither shovel thy walks. For it is blasphemy to take away that which the Lord God hath put there. What the Lord giveth, the Lord taketh away, in the fullness of time. Amen.”

Alas, I don’t think our personal liability policy is quite that religious. More’s the pity. So I spent a couple of hours shoveling this evening, just so it would be easier to shovel again in the morning. Blecch.

I got done and Jennie offered me some hot chocolate, and I said, “No, thanks. I’ll take Gatorade.”

We started a list, over the weekend, of stuff we need to do (clean the living room, set up the bookshelves) and stuff we need to buy (new shelves for the linen closet, a snowblower). The list is four pages so far, two columns per page. None of the items have priorities yet. But I think that some of those nonexistent priorities are slowly becoming higher than others.

Okay, time for bed. Set the alarm clock for three hours so I can ask Jennie stupid questions. And find the heating pad for my aching back. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

Christmas

Jennie and I journeyed to Cedar Rapids over the weekend, to visit my parents and brother and to have Christmas. (My brother was out of town for Christmas, so we all got together over New Years instead. It worked out well — we got to do our Christmas shopping at the after-Christmas sales.)

I took Thursday afternoon off work, and we made the drive, about four and a half hours. It was a good trip. The drive is a bit long, but it’s good to see these people I’m related to, eat a lot of good food, do a bit of reading in my dad’s copy of Gödel, Escher, Bach, exchange loot, eat a lot of good food, and meet my brother’s new cats. And did I mention the food?

It’s funny; I never had cats when I was growing up. All I saw of cats was when we visited my uncle’s farm and I went out to the barn. Now that we have our own cats (or rather, now that they have us), I practically go into withdrawal when I’m away from them over a three-day weekend. It was good to give some attention to Jon’s cats. Nemo actually sat in Jennie’s lap and purred; not his usual (aloof) style. Nada, on the other hand, as usual took all the attention he could get. Nil and Null were just orange blurs in the distance.

Jennie also got the chance to get together with her goddaughter Lisa. Jennie had told Lisa’s mom, and Lisa’s mom had sworn to tell Lisa, that we were going to be in town; so of course Lisa heard nothing about it. I happened to run into her at Wendy’s the night we arrived (so now we know where she works). It all worked out; we invited her along to a family lunch, and then she and Jennie spent the afternoon shopping (not Jennie’s favorite thing to do, but when you hang out with a teenager, I guess you have to make some sacrifices).

Our holiday gift-giving occasion (can you really call it Christmas when you celebrate it on New Year’s?) was good too; we actually scraped together enough cash to be able to give some gifts this year, and we got some good ones in return. Once I get around to doing some laundry, I’ll have to wear my new shirt to the office. Mom and Dad gave us a couple of Complete Home Fix-It manuals from Reader’s Digest — huge hardbound things, sturdy glossy paper and everything; Jennie and I are slowly reading our way through them, and then we’ll swap. Bunch of other good stuff. I haven’t even opened my new For Better Or For Worse book yet.

Good weekend. Cooler yet, everyone will be coming here next weekend, and we’ll be getting together with my cousin (who I haven’t seen in over a year) and aunt and uncle (who I haven’t seen in about seven years). Funny how you learn to look forward to family gatherings when you grow up.