September 1st, 2008

_Bonk_, by Mary Roach

Subtitled: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex

I read _Stiff_, which I borrowed from a friend and reread it again for book group recently (didn't quite finish it the second time). I read _Spook_, which I bought, for book group, altho I forgot to _go_ to that book group meeting, which was sad.

It was inevitable I would buy and read _Bonk_, altho this is the first time I've bought Roach new in hardcover.

Roach's books are all pretty similar: she gets really into her topic (dead bodies, the afterlife and, now, sex). She travels all over and interviews people. She inserts herself (ahem) into the storyline by telling you not just what her interviewee said, but some of where he or she said it: over lunch, and what the reactions of the servers were. This is often uproariously funny because, after all, these are kind of paralyzingly taboo topics to get into in public.

When I read _Stiff_, I knew a little about the topic (primarily from _Dead Men Do Tell Tales_). I knew very, very little about what was covered in _Spook_. But _Bonk_, let's just say I was a little embarrassed how much of the subject area I was familiar with. Which is not to say I didn't learn a ton; merely to note that I'm pretty sure _some_ of my readers know even more about the subject area than I do (and not by a little, either) -- they might learn considerably less.

I think the chapter I was most impressed with, by the sensitivity of the handling (oh boy), and because it was completely new to me, was the chapter about the doctor who treats and studies people with spinal cord injuries and other CNS damage. I also really liked the section with Kim Wallen and primatology, the silly detour on pheromones and so forth.

Should you read it? Oh yeah. You should read everything by Mary Roach. Of course, most of my book group strenuously disagrees with me -- they don't much care for her two previous books and I don't see this one changing their minds. I do sort of wonder where she's going to go next. Religion seems like a reasonable next choice.

Toddler Fun: musical beds Part 3

Where were we? Oh, yes.

Well, at 3ish, he climbed into bed with me and we had a long and disjointed disagreement about whether there would be any booby. IIRC, I won (no booby) and snuggled and went back to sleep.

Tonight, R. got out the box with his brother's gift to T. (maybe last Christmas?), which is a stuffed animal, a turtle with a hard plastic shell that lights up and projects stars on the ceiling. Or wherever. T. thought this was pretty cool, but it definitely dragged out the going to sleep process. Eventually, I left and T. fell asleep with R.

T. is in the queen sized bed this time, so I am optimistic about making it through the night uninterrupted.

fish oil

There were a couple of really big, randomized studies published in Lancet recently. One showed that Lovaza (think: fish oil, only seriously cranked up) reduced overall death rates in men with cardiac disease. The other showed that Crestor did not. And, might I add, why exactly would you be taking Crestor if the goal wasn't reduced overall death rate, but hey, why go there. Maybe you work for the Alabama state government and are trying to save $25/month on health insurance (altho then I'd have to ask what your copay was looking like).

What's so special about Lovaza? Well, each capsule is kinda like 1-3+ teaspoons of cod liver oil. Assuming you bought reputable cod liver (or fish) oil, you aren't too concerned about mercury and other heavy metals anyway because they were removed. It would _appear_ to be the case that Lovaza has left the vitamin A in place (but don't hold me to that; I haven't been able to figure that out yet), and I do have to wonder about whether that's part of what they're worried about when they say you need to have your liver function monitored while on Lovaza.

Digging around a bit, I was trying to understand the whole anticoagulant issue. It seems that Lovaza really amps your platelets up, which is going to have an impact on the efficacy of aspirin/coumadin/warfarin/etc. as an anti-clotting agent. Which you might care about if you're taking that to prevent a stroke, DVT, whatever. (ETA: I think I have exactly misunderstood the concern. Apparently some fish oil preparations amp the blood thinning. I am now very confused.)

ETA2: Someone went digging for any actual evidence of clinically interesting bleeding associated with supplementing omega 3s and/or fish oil. What he found? Meh.,0,w

Still, I don't see why there was an accompanying editorial telling people not to take just any fish oil supplement, after all, this one is Special and FDA-approved and etc. Asking them to inform their health care practitioner makes sense (after all, a bunch of those same issues would seem to apply to any fish oil supplementation).

I am kinda wondering if this is why my midwife was surprised at how good my platelet count was looking in the third trimester blood draw (after all, it's pretty normal through dilution to be somewhat anemic at this point, among other things). I did _tell_ them I was supplementing fish oil. I'm not sure any of us realized it might have this effect. Then again, Odent keeps going on and on about sea-food and fish oil and fatty acids while in the same breath (or at least the next paragraph) talking about how it is physiologically normal/correct/good to have lower hematocrit/platelet count/anemia/wtf late in pregnancy. *shrug*

ETA4: Oh, never mind. No connection that I can determine.

At this point, between the magnesium revelations and the fatty acids, I'm just about ready to roll off the couch laughing. Hoocoodanode? Cod liver oil and milk of magnesia. What next from the medicine cabinet of the late 19th/early 20th century? Calamine lotion? Kaolin?

As long as we can avoid all the purgatives, I'm willing to entertain just about anything at this point.