Letter from camp...

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Posted by Bill McC ( on October 25, 1999 at 13:32:00:

Dear CHMB Family,

This last cycle seem to remain broken, save for a couple pair of break-throughs which were knocked down via Imitrex NS.

This past week was spent on a 6-day sailing trip. This trip was composed of three two day legs in which we ran short-handed round-the-clock watches, generally covering 150 to 200 miles a day. Needless to say, my usual sleep pattern went out the window. After the first couple of days, things seem to settle down and you get used to sleeping an hour here, two hours there, four hours is a luxury. My first four hour off-watch sleep period was interrupted by a CH alarm-clock 1.5 hours after I went to sleep. This was one of the only CH attacks I can remember I was glad to have. Seems the boat was on-course in the middle of the night but over-powered for the wind-shift which seems to always spring-up at 0300 in the Texas Gulf Coast. So there I was, harnessed up to the jacklines, level 7-8 attack, Force 3 sea state, too much sail, only two people on board, and having to do something.

Fortunately, the CH attack only affects the left side of my head, so its one lobe for the boat, one-half lobe for the attack, one-quarter lobe for basic life functions, one-quarter lost to youth and age. Fortunately the boat is rigged for single-handed sailing so having someone else onboard is a luxury. Sail was decreased, boat-speed increased, and I went below to finish up my off-watch sleep duty. We concluded that being off watch was not a luxury, but a requirement and responsibility, recharging one crew member while the other is being discharged.

We ended-up withdrawing from the race, but I've done this several times before and had nothing to prove to myself or anyone else.

As far as the debate over pain meds go, see my prior posts. In my experience, when the pain takes on a life of its own, separate from the CH itself, something needs to be done to break the pain cycle. I hold the really strong pain meds for that purpose, and prefer Stadol, with no more than 5 days allowed. I like Stadol way too much and left to my own devices would become hopelessly addicted to it. I think that it is a mistake to undershoot the mark in pain management. My strategy when it comes to pain management is to obliterate it, not just reduce it to a "managable" level. At some point, and I guess everyone is different, you have to separate the CH from the pain, from the depression and treat them all separately. It needs to be done in a coordinated fashion, but there are, or will be, at least 3 different problems running together: CH, pain, depression. Granted, it all starts for me with the CH-cycle. (Again, see my prior posts on this theory.)

PS -- My boat was at the finish before the start, so I had a two day sail to get to the start, two days for the race, and two days to bring it back to Houston.

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