Archive for October, 2008


Tuesday Round-up for Friends

2008 October 28

This week (in the UK) the government begins changing over to the new Employment Support Allowance (ESA) system. This will gradually replace Incapacity Benefit (IB) and Income Support (IS) for those incapable of work. Because I’m an existing IB claimant, I’m not moved over straight away. But if your a new claimant for “incapacity benefits” you will be going on ESA.

Can I suggest any reader going on or thinking about going on ESA first joins the Benefits and Work website? At the time of writing, it’s annual charge for membership is £18.95. But you will have access to a lot of stuff obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. Click this link to visit to assess it for yourself:

At any event, you would probably do well to go to an advice centre before claiming. Something like Citizens Advice. My own experience and that relayed by others generally when it comes to benefits is that you should not rely on or trust the JobCentre Plus or Benefits Delivery Centre services. Doing so may cost you lost benefits.


I’m taking a two week break – extended

2008 October 24

I’ve extended my break to three weeks, following a surprise but welcome visit from my sister. But I’ll continue my Tuesday Round-ups during that break.

I’ll return on Saturday 15th November.


Tuesday Round-up for Friends

2008 October 21

Having a small “financials” week: Going through my spending to see what I can save. (I do the big one, which usually involves looking at switching energy supplier, in November.) My main aim was to juggle finances so I could spend £5 extra a month to upgrade from 5Gb to unlimited bandwidth on broadband. Only. The Post Office say they don’t allow customers to upgrade until their one year contract comes up for renewal. So, although I want to pay them about £60 a year more, they don’t want my money until May next year.

Never mind, I’ll put the £25 or so I saved into my ISA. But what a strange way to run a business. I could understand them not wanting to allow someone to downgrade an account, but upgrade? Ah well.

On an unrelated note, I was meant to go to my first mindfulness afternoon at my local Buddhist sangha group on Sunday. Sadly, the inevitable happened and I had a migraine. In any event, when I went for a short walk in the afternoon to clear my head, my back went again. So I probably wouldn’t have even made my local rail station anyway. It’s frustrating how my health is preventing me doing what I want, never mind what I should do.

I only hope when I get my physiotherapy appointment through, it’s in my local hospital.


Persistent Migraine Aura & Visual Snow FAQs Page Added

2008 October 18

I have added a new tab or page called “PMA & Visual Snow FAQs” as promised. You can find it at any time from the tabs near the top of this web page. Or you can click here from this post: PMA & Visual Snow FAQs.

This means that I have no post prepared for today in the Saturday Series.


Blog Action Day 2008 – Poverty

2008 October 15

Although today’s Wednesday, this is Thursday’s post. (Is it Thursday yet anywhere in the world?) That’s because today is Blog Action Day 2008. This year’s common blogging subject is poverty. For those of you who don’t know about Blog Action Day, you can learn more here:

The link also offers 88 suggestions from bloggers on how to do something right now about poverty. I’ve added the list on the “continue reading” link at the end of my own post.

What is poverty? Let’s define poverty as the lack of wealth. So let’s define wealth. Wealth is assets minus liabilities. Assets are things like cash, cash deposits, money investments, property, land, and so on that can be used to pay off liabilities. Liabilities are debts, money owed; and obligation to pay which may have to be paid by assets. This is the money cycle. Poverty is often taken as relative as well as absolute. So the money cycle can be an upward or a downward spiral. If it’s downward for you, you get poorer. If it’s upward for me, I get richer.

One man’s wealth means another man’s poverty. Does it have to be this way? Well, were that it were that simple. In fact the distribution of wealth has been said to follow something called a Pareto distribution. The picture below, from the Wikipedia, shows the shape of this kind of distribution.


Image showing Pareto distributions. Source: Wikipedia.

If you remember your high school graphs, the X-axis goes left to right. The Y-axis goes bottom to top. Imagine decreasing wealth going left to right on the X-axis. Now imagine a decreasing number of people going top to bottom on the Y-axis. Then what you see is that few people have most of the wealth. And most people have least of the wealth – more people live in poverty than in wealth.

So a few men’s wealth means many men’s poverty. (Including women and children in “men”, here.) But is “poverty” just about money and assets?

To finish off, here’s a thought. If a few men’s wealth means many men’s poverty (and women and children), which is the more true for you:-

a) The many poor are undeserving, or
b) Those of the few more wealthy that think the poor are undeserving are themselves undeserving, or
c) Neither, or
d) I don’t care?

Which are you: one of the few more wealthy or the many more poor?

“…All life is interrelated. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality; tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. As long as there is poverty in this world, no man can be totally rich even if he has a billion dollars.”
Martin Luther King.

“Wealth elements have poverty elements.”
Thich Nhat Hanh.

Read the rest of this entry ?


Tuesday Round-up for Friends

2008 October 14

No Tuesday round-up this week, as my Thursday Series post is a day earlier. I’m working on that post instead.

Tomorrow is Blog Action Day 2008. This year’s theme is poverty. Find out more by clicking this link:

Or click on the link below:-


Persistent Migraine Aura & Visual Snow (Part Three) (Last Edited: 2009 Nov 19)

2008 October 11

Go back to Part 2

This is the final part of a three part series. You can go back to part two from the links at the top and bottom of this page. Or you can jump to any part from the PMA & Visual Snow FAQs page link.

To finish this short series, I’ll relate my own experience. This list of symptoms may be of interest generally and to anyone with persistent aura or visual snow.

I’ve always or long had a few symptoms which I thought everyone had:

  • Swirling pink-purple and green patterns in the dark. These repeat with change. I don’t always get them and they don’t usually last long.
  • Spontaneous afterimages. These are rather like anyone would get if someone flashed a bright torch in their eyes at a distance. Except they pop up without any light source. They also take a while to disappear. The brightest and largest ones can last half an hour or more.
  • A rushing, whistling, whining sound in my ears. This is called tinnitus. In my case I get several distinct but faint sounds all across my stereo field.

Because these hadn’t caused any problems I hadn’t bothered with them. Then just under three months ago I suddenly got a lot more symptoms. My GP diagnosed persistent aura, including visual snow. My specialist has confirmed the diagnosis:

  • Something called Scheerer’s Phenomenon. This is where you see short-lived and fast-moving squiggles. These are normally seen against bright uniform fields like white walls or blue sky. You can see these normally without any pathology. Though not everyone does. They are how the brain interprets ‘gaps’ in the blood supply to the eyes caused by white blood cells. In my case it is constant in the right conditions.
  • Visual snow itself. At first I confused this with Scheerer’s Phenomenon. Visual snow is like the static you get on an analogue TV in a poor reception area. It’s been described as like “seeing the air” and is also called aeropsia. In my case I see it in dim or dark conditions and it is pronounced most times. It is constant in the right conditions in my case. Though it did go away for a few minutes one night recently.
  • Something I call sparklers. These are like exploding fireworks. In my case they take place at the centre of my vision. They usually happen when I go from looking at a bright scene to a darker one. Sometimes I see them while still in a bright scene. I get these most days. They last a second or two each time. They are usually green or orange in my case.
  • Fasciculation(?) Localised involuntary twitching or nerves or muscles. These vary from day to day in frequency. Each event can last a second or two or for several minutes. The actual frequency of twitching can be a twitch every second or two to many times a second.
  • Pinpoint flashes. These are hard to spot so I’m not sure how often I get them. They may be short lived spontaneous afterimages. The name I have given them describes them perfectly.
  • A kind of scintillating scotoma I call “aurora”. These look a bit like the Northern or Southern Lights. But they are colourless. I get my aurora in my right field (side) of vision in darkness. It happens most times I go from lit to dark conditions. It lasts a few minutes before fading away. It is dimmer than the scintillating scotoma I get before a hemiplegic migraine attack. It is reactivated by light, even with my eyes closed.
  • Another visual symptom I see in my centre of vision is something I call a “capillary”. This is because it resembles in many ways videos of red blood cells pumping through a capillary. Except that the ‘cells’ are white ringlets. They even pulse. I usually only see them in brightly lit conditions against a white field. Very rarely they end with a spontaneous afterimage. Worried about this, I asked my optometrist about them. After examining my eyes she said I had no damage. So it wasn’t a blood vessel bursting! Also there are no blood vessels in the centre of vision. These seem to happen more in my right eye.
  • I also get a single stationary ringlet in the centre of my vision. Recently this has lasted several days. I see it when I blink. I now realise it is in my right eye and is a spontaneous afterimage that won’t go away. Though it has faded again. Usually I see this rarely.

Some rare visual symptoms I get are:

  • Starbursts or rays. These look like short but very bright rays with patternation within them. They emerge from very bright usually point light sources such as the sun reflecting of a metal tap (faucet). They give the appearance of something like one of those floating seeds like from cotton. Except they shine. Very pretty!
  • Halos. A misty veil of light surrounding a bright light source in dark conditions. Though the scene itself is not misted.

Any of these symptoms can increase when I get a hemiplegic migraine attack.

I can also spontaneously get the other symptoms of such an attack without the usually scintillating scotoma or headache. These usually last just a minute or two and are much milder. Most common are a short, mild burning sensation in one or other hand. This is usually associated with paresthesia (numbness or pins and needles) in a proper attack. Or I can get tingling in my top teeth. Sometimes I also get mild photophobia or hyperacusis: intolerance to light or sound. Finally I sometimes get short lived strobing or pulsating headaches. These usually last only a few seconds and can sometimes be severe.

Each person’s symptoms may vary. I have come across a support forum for people who have or think they have visual snow and are worried by it. Before writing a permanent page here, this is the link to that forum:

Go back to Part 2