Getting Lost

I’m one of those people who always gets lost. I have no sense of direction. Can’t even read a map. And don’t ask me which way is north, south, east or west. I dunno. Is this because I’m a woman? Let’s ask Google, shall we?

These links describe the area of the brain that’s involved:

Many studies have found that, on average, men outpace women at spatial processing — organizing and reshaping visual information in the mind to solve problems. That ability appears to lead to slightly better navigation skills.

As a general rule, though, supposedly innate differences between men and women, especially those attributed to our brains, tend to turn out to be the result of faulty logic. A 2012 review of the subject found that scientists too often rely on the convenient narrative of natural selection to explain away the spatial gap…

Rather than our biology, one of the biggest reasons for our flailing navigational skills may be the maps we use. As external GPS units have become ubiquitous in our cars, smartphones, and even glasses, they’ve subsequently eased our reliance on the internal maps we carry around inside our heads. A 2010 study by McGill University researchers found that older adults who reported regularly using GPS to navigate had less activity and less grey matter in their hippocampus compared to those who didn’t; they also performed slightly worse on a cognition test. As a corollary, a 2008 study found the hippocampuses of London taxi drivers were on average larger than those of the general population…

Now, for the funny side of always getting lost:

9. You get confused when people go through mazes for fun because you’re like… this isn’t fun, this is my life.

14. You have 100%, most definitely driven the wrong way down a one-way street.

15. You are constantly in awe of people who know their way around, because it feels like a superpower to you.

I hate getting lost. I’ve never gotten used to it. It makes me all anxious and hyper. Like I’m a traffic accident waiting to happen. I try to laugh about it, but it’s really not funny to me. Did you know that if you laugh for 15 minutes a day, you can burn up to 40 calories? Call that an incentive to laugh at yourself. 🙂

#DearCDC: Is chronic/intractable pain a disease?

I had a recent conversation in a comment section about the definition of disease. The dude said that addiction and depression aren’t diseases. And I’m like, would it make you feel better if I called them medical conditions? No? So, when the brain is sick, that’s not a disease or medical condition?

How about when the nervous system is sick, like with chronic pain? Is chronic/intractable pain a disease? Let’s look at some definitions of disease:

(1) a disorder of structure or function in a human, animal, or plant, especially one that produces specific signs or symptoms or that affects a specific location and is not simply a direct result of physical injury.

(2) an illness that affects a person, animal, or plant; a condition that prevents the body or mind from working normally.

(3) a disordered or incorrectly functioning organ, part, structure, or system of the body resulting from the effect of genetic or developmental errors, infection, poisons, nutritional deficiency or imbalance, toxicity, or unfavorable environmental factors; illness; sickness; ailment.

I’d say that intractable pain fits these definitions. Let’s read further:

(2004) What is a disease?

At first sight, the answer to “What is a disease?” is straightforward. Most of us feel we have an intuitive grasp of the idea, reaching mentally to images or memories of colds, cancer or tuberculosis. But a look through any medical dictionary soon shows that articulating a satisfactory definition of disease is surprisingly difficult. And it is not much help defining disease as the opposite of health, given that definitions of health are equally tricky. The World Health Organization’s claim that health is “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” (WHO, 1946) has been praised for embracing a holistic viewpoint, and equally strongly condemned for being wildly utopian: the historian Robert Hughes remarked that it was “more realistic for a bovine than a human state of existence” …

What counts as a disease also changes over historical time, partly as a result of increasing expectations of health, partly due to changes in diagnostic ability, but mostly for a mixture of social and economic reasons. One example is osteoporosis, which after being officially recognized as a disease by the WHO in 1994 switched from being an unavoidable part of normal ageing to a pathology (WHO, 1994). This has consequences for sufferers’ sense of whether they are ‘normally old’ or ‘ill’, but more concretely for their ability to have treatment reimbursed by health service providers.

Another well-known example is homosexuality, which has travelled in the opposite direction to osteoporosis, through medical territory, and out the other side. After being redefined during the nineteenth century as a state rather than an act, in the first half of the twentieth century homosexuality was viewed as an endocrine disturbance requiring hormone treatment. Later its pathological identity changed as it was re-categorized as an organic mental disorder treatable by electroshock and sometimes neurosurgery; and finally in 1974 it was officially de-pathologized, when the American Psychiatric Association removed it from the listed disease states in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV…

Intractable pain should be classified as a disease. It fits the definitions. It could also fit the definition for cancer:

“the disease caused by an uncontrolled division of abnormal cells in a part of the body”

Chronic pain is caused by abnormal and uncontrolled activity in the body’s nervous system. Do pain patients have to die for this medical condition to be taken seriously? Cancer is no longer always terminal, and intractable pain is not immediately terminal. But this is about quality of life and how the disease of constant pain can remove all quality of life. What’s quantity without quality? It’s misery.

I posted this comment on CDC’s Facebook page entitled:  “Today is One Health Day! Diseases are shared between people, animals, and our environment.”

#DearCDC: Is chronic/intractable pain a disease? How about addiction and depression?