Fighting Infections

One of the biggest issues I’ve had throughout my life has been infections. As a child I was prone to ear infections, had my share of eye infections and the standard chicken pox. These issues mostly went away when I was teen, only reappearing when the fibro became strong six years ago. At first I was only experiencing chaffing issues that started during my morning power walks. Luckily the issues stay minor until late last spring when I had a minor infection that cleared up quickly with a prescription, followed by summer when I picked up an intense infection that wouldn’t clear up easily.

Last summer’s infection grew and became itchy and painful, spreading across my left arm, but I was able to treat it and clear it up within a couple of weeks. The doctors believed I picked it when I stopped at a bench on a public park. I had a wound that hadn’t closed up yet and the doctors believe it got into the infection when I was sitting on the bench. That infection made it feel like my body was falling apart. At least it and every other infection I had seemed to clear up with treatment. The problem is, the infections kept on reappearing, which according to my doctors “they are most likely due to the fibro”.

The minor infection would sometimes reappear, but it was that bad arm infection that showed back up again. They showed up after experiencing chemical burns from a chemical that I’m highly allergic to. At first the chemical burns were puffy and itchy, but at first were healing. Soon them became infected, most recently they started breaking out with the same infection as last summer. This time I have cream on hand to treat the infection, but this means the infection was never fully cleared up. None of them ever cleared up

Based on what my doctors have told me and the research I’ve done, the issue is with the immune system. A side effect of the fibro is a weakened/compromised immune system. It’s why I’m almost guaranteed to get sick if I’m around another sick person, and why I’m prone to getting food poisoning from food that doesn’t make others sick. Because it’s an immune system issue, I may never be able to fully rid myself of the infections. The prescriptions are enough to make the infections dormant, but it only takes one trigger to reactive them.

I have hopes that an improved diet with probiotics will help. I used to take probiotics regularly, but stopped when I my IBS started to improve and become easier to manage. Probiotics help the stomach regulate its healthy bacteria, which over time can help improve one’s immune response. My diet has also been very mixed, sometimes very healthy other times pizza delivery. I’m not sure if these changes will actually help, but it won’t hurt to try and should at least help my digestion.

Hacking my Childhood Panasonic RC-6064 Clock-Radio

The Panasonic RC-6064 is an AM/FM clock-radio produced in the late 80s and early 90s. This one I received as a Christmas gift in 1989 and has served me well over the past 28 years. A few years ago I tried to replace it with a newer clock-radio that had an iPod dock. The blue lights from the new clock-radio keep me up at night, so it was time to switch back. Two things my childhood clock-radio always needed was aux-in and an external FM antenna. Thanks to the chipset diagrams available online I was able to figure where I could mod the circuit to add these.

Aux-In

The clock-radio uses a Sony CXA1019P IC (IC2 on the board), an AM/FM IC with built in power amp. By tapping into the AF in pin (pin 24) for the power amplifier, I was able to wire a 3.5 mm (1/8th) headphone jack directly in.

Sony CXA1019 IC Diagram

R and L aux-in soldered to the AF In pin and the ground wire soldered to ground on the IC.

External Antenna

The external antenna took a little bit more work to figure out. I had to figure out where in the circuit I could tap an antenna into. Using circuit diagrams I found in a google search I was able to discern that the antenna circuit should come off of the FM RF in pin (pin 12). From there I used a test lead on a weak station to identify the ideal spot on the circuit board to solder the antenna lead to. I ended up following the traces and found an unused hole immediately in front of the radio/alarm on/off switch. I was able to wire the lead to there and ran it out through the back of the case.

The external antenna starts off as the small black wire in front of the left slider switch

The wire is soldered to the antenna circuit which happens to have a trace running along the top of the board in this photo

Final Results

It is all working. The aux-in works great with my various audio players and cell phones, the external FM antenna helps me to better pull in the public radio station I enjoy listening to.

 

 

Fibro in the Winter

When I was a child the transition of seasons from summer through fall into winter brought with it a slew of sinus issues and a nasty cough. As I aged, fall and winter became worse for me. After high school I ended up in Florida for my undergraduate studies at a tech university. I and my body were happy to be away from the cold of New England. I had no clue why I sick less often and why my allergies and sinuses bothered me less now that I was in Florida, back then I did not care.

Seven or eight years ago I noticed the Florida falls and winters were getting harder on. By late fall I would suffer sinus infections that I blamed on working at a University or roommates. The reality is that my body was becoming weak, combinations of vitamin D deficiency and B12 anemia were making the fibro worse (or maybe the fibro was progressing making the deficiencies and anemia worse). Part of my diet was a B complex supplement that ended up masking the anemia from my blood tests.

Four years ago I would find myself shaking with a chill in a 71f room. I was still undiagnosed and the doctors were passing me from one specialist to another. I needed a space heater in my office due to the AC keeping the room 75f, which would trigger chills. I remember driving home from work on many occasions, heat on full blast at the highest setting, even when it was 80f outside.

Two and one half years ago I was diagnosed with a vitamin D deficiency and started treatment, I had hoped that would solve my temperature sensitivity. The worst of my pain lessened but I still had regular chills and of course the fatigue attacks.

Less than one year ago I was diagnosed with Vitamin B12 anemia and started treatment. Suddenly I was warmer than I had been in years. I no longer needed to set my AC at 78f-81f, but could keep it at 76f. I stopped getting chills at work and the fatigue attacks lessened. Along with cardio and stretches I felt like I was getting stronger for the first time in years, maybe winter would be easier to handle.

This is my first winter with all my deficiencies treated, I even traveled to New England in December. Winter is still hard on me, especially the cold weather. When the weather drops below 50f the fibro is prone to flaring. I feel stiffness in my joints, my muscles are sluggish and heavy, the chronic pain increases by a factor or two, and my sinuses act up. When I was up in New England I was miserable. The fibro was much worse up there, it made me slow and I felt sickly like when I was younger. While the New England trip reminded me of my health limitations, I was happy I made it there and was able to enjoy some of the trip.

These issues slow me down, but they are not nearly as intense as they were a few years ago. I am happy that I can sit in a 70f room and not suffer a chill. I am happy I don’t have to bundle up to go outside in 60f weather. I look forward to the weather warming back up, it is hard to exercise with muscles sluggish like this, and my hand pain always worsens, making work pain. I am not happy that the fibro flares in the cold, but as long as it only slows me down I will survive.

IBS and Vasovagal Syncope Nightmare

After months with only minor digestive issues, I had one of my nightmare IBS attacks last night. These attacks became common when my fibro first became bad, but have been under control for over a year. Last night’s attack was extremely intense and painful, triggering a vasovagal syncope. Even though that was nearly 12 hours ago, I’m still recovering from a residual migraine and widespread weakness.

My digestive system has been acting up since the new year. Until last night most of it was relatively minor, occasional minor IBS attacks and other minor tummy troubles. This pattern of last night’s attack was nothing new; digestion would appear to slow or stop, I would become bloated, start to feel weak and fatigued, eventual malaise, and then comes rumbling and cramps, you can feel the intestines contorting.

I took yesterday afternoon off from work to rest. I blamed it on having trouble getting reliable suppliers for some of my supplements and medicines since the move. I’ve recently had to switch to online for most, plus one of my vitamin supplements is no longer being produced. As I was winding down for bed I noticed that things didn’t seem to be digesting, I felt ill and extremely thirsty. I didn’t need to drink much water before I could feel it sloshing inside of me. That started the rumbling and stomach cramps. The first round felt like I was extremely constipated, my muscles grew weak and my head become light. I had trouble keeping myself upright and the pain was increasing tenfold.

After the found round of cramps subsided I started to feel very warm, but also very tired, I wanted to lay down and sleep. There were more rounds of cramps and bowel half movements. After another round had subsided I tried to grab my phone from the bedroom, incase something bad happened. The pain was intense and I was extremely dizzy, it seemed like the world was swirling around my head. I had to hold onto the walls and furniture to keep myself from collapsing on the ground. I managed to grab my phone right as the next wave of cramps began. This was almost too much for me, I stumbled back to the bathroom as darkness started to encompass me. I was no longer warm, now covered in sweat, I had started to experience the vasovagal syncope.

The last time I recall experiencing a vasovagal syncope was spring 2016, it wasn’t this intense. As I stumbled back to the toilet my sight was mostly blocked by darkness closing in on me. I managed to swing my arm around and drop my phone onto the windowsill. Thoughts swirled in my head as did what little I could see. I wanted to scream from the pain, but my mouth was too dry. Sweat poured down my skin, soaking the floor as I finally lost consciousness.

I don’t believe I was blacked out for long, most likely only for a few seconds. The constipation was gone and my body was now emptying itself. My entire digestive system felt empty and I needed water. I was still soaked from the sweat, head spinning, but recovering. I returned to my bedroom and tried taking a few sips of water, sending me straight back to the bathroom. I was exhausted, I needed sleep, but I needed to be able retain water first. I would repeat this trip back and forth a few more times.

The digestive system didn’t fully recover before bed, but I was able to sip enough water to not feel completely dehydrated. I didn’t sleep well as my stomach ached and I had to use the bathroom multiple times throughout the night. Eventually morning arrived, bringing a less upset stomach, a splitting headache, and minor weakness. Unless I flare up again, it’ll be another day or two before I completely recover.

There was a time where I was having attacks like these regularly, mostly in 2012-2015 when the fibro was at its worst, but I’ve had them as far back as middle school. I’ve never been able to identify triggers and only identified a couple of patterns that may trigger an attack. I started taking betaine hcl and digestive enzyme supplements in 2015, dropping the frequency and intensity of IBS attacks dropped from multiple a month to none most months. That’s why this attack and its severity caught me off guard. I’m sure my body isn’t happy about having to readjust to the new supplements, but I’m pretty certain this latest attack was old leftovers that didn’t agree with me. I need to be more careful when reheating leftovers, I can only assume it was some bad rice.

Change of Pace – Moving Nightmare and Going Remote

Back in June I made a decision that it was time to solve my financial issues. I needed to stop paying rent and a mortgage, that would free up enough money to pay off my debts and get myself back in the black. The best way to do this was to move from South Florida back to my home on the Space Coast. I gained approval from work to go full time telecommute from my house and asked the renters to move out by the end of three months. Three months later they were still living in the house and I went through a nightmare that has absorbed all my time and energy. Starting telecommute was not the easiest thing, but it was mostly due to the condition of the house. Things are only now beginning to settle down and can I enjoy the quiet of working remote.

Three years ago I rented my home out to a family with a clean history and recommendations. Not long after then moved in, they started having financial issues and the wife serious medical issues. I was fairly sick at the time, so I let them stay in the home at a reduced rental rate as long as they handled the majority of the maintenance. I had a close friend sharing the house with them and everything seemed like it was going okay.

Before the year is up the family is all that remained at the house, occasionally reporting to me that something minor went wrong and that they took care of it. I was fighting the fibromyalgia and severe fatigue issues, which made trips to the Space Coast difficult and rare. In addition I couldn’t go in the house as they had pets that I was highly allergic to.

Two months before the family needed to be out, the wife contacted me asking for more time. She was open with me that she had a drug problem and was trying to get clean, but also that they were broke and couldn’t afford to move. She also mentioned that she was having trouble with some people she had sublet to. I could not afford to help her, they had taken advantage of me, and at this point my finances were struggling much worse than I thought. I haven’t been able to maintain a budget since the fibromyalgia became strong, most of my money was going to medical costs or paying the minimums on credit cards leaving little room for anything besides housing and food. I could no longer afford rent in South Florida and a mortgage for a house I couldn’t use. She agreed to be out, then started telling me a huge list of things that went wrong with the house and had not been fixed.

A month before the family needed to be out the house water pump seized up. I have had three months of consistent exercise without a major flareup, I could easily fix the well system myself and give the house a once over to start making lists. I was only scared of having a fatigue attack on the drive up, so I tried to find someone to go with me. I ended up going up their on my own, suffering a mild fatigue attack on the drive up, requiring me to pull off and rest for a while. Once the fatigue attack was over I completed the three hour drive, meeting up with a friend at the house. Meanwhile the wife checked herself into the ER due to what was discovered to be multiple infections, which had entered her heart. The outside of the house itself didn’t look too bad, but it looked abandoned. The yard was severely overgrown, vines were growing up to the roof, and the side fence couldn’t be seen behind the severe overgrowth. Going inside the house was such a bad experience that I was in disbelief.

The center air died a number of years ago, being replaced with window and standalone units. Not ideal, but I was denied financing needed to replace the system. It was one of the reasons I was renting the home inexpensively. Opening the door to the house we were greeted with a very stale, musky, odor, and no air conditioners in the windows. It was dusty, cluttered, clothes strewn everywhere, and a messed up kitchen. The counters were heavily water damaged, most of the lights didn’t work, some cabinets damaged, and the new (just over one year old) fridge abused and broken. I discovered that they had not been maintaining the well system, it was trying to pump dirt from a dirty aeration tank. Those tanks take years to build up that level of dirt. Easy fix at least and off I went, the house was so dirty my allergies were going to go insane.

The wife contacted me from the hospital, begging to stay. Eventually we came to an agreement where her and her family would remain as temporary roommates, as long as they took care of a number of items. I was planning to be up at the end of the month to start cleanup and repairs, to prep the house for me and my boyfriend to move in. At the end of the month my boyfriend and I show up, nothing had changed, everything worsened, and the reality of how bad everything is started to set in. The wife checked herself out of the hospital to ‘help’ clean. The house was in rough shape with evidence of domestic abuse. With help we start to clean up the yard, installed a couple of window units to dry and cool the main part of the house, and start ripping out the destroyed carpeting. Meanwhile the husband starts yelling at his wife, this was a bad situation. We complete what work we are able to and head back to South Florida. Not long after the wife ended up back in the hospital due to her infections.

The day we planned to move a hurricane hits Florida. A friend stopped and made sure that the house survived and was dry. The husband and son were still living there, but according to the wife, still in the hospital, they should be out the middle of the month. Now that the hurricane was past, we proceed with the move. When we get to the house we have to immediately start bagging and throwing stuff away. I am unable to breath in the house, forcing me to wear a mask the entire time I’m inside. We continued to rip up carpet and searched the moving van for air filters and purifiers.

At this point most of what we were bagging were clothes strewn throughout the house. Maybe they were once clean, but at this point they were covered in cat hair and smelled of piss. There was a cat box that had not been emptied in weeks, the pile of dishes had grown and and there was a strong rotten odor. There was so much to do to make the home sanitary, but my fibro was slowing me down, forcing me to prioritize. The first night in the house was horrifying and my allergies were out of control. The second night we came down with severe food poisoning, it was a non-stop nightmare. It took weeks to get the house cleaned up to the point where I was no longer dry heaving, and weeks longer for my allergies to improve.

The family ‘moved’ out within a week of us showing up. The husband took their child, a few important things, leaving his sick wife in the hospital, and telling us that he didn’t care what happened to the rest of their stuff. He was going to be back for his broken car and toolbox. Within a week the wife’s brother comes by to get some family things, we give him what we could find, he is in shock over how bad everything is, “it’s all turned to shit” and something about laziness. He was right, everything went to shit. They wouldn’t replace light bulbs when they burned out, they didn’t even try the reset switch on the garbage disposal when it stopped working. In my first week I fixed almost everything on the list of broken things, most of it was standard maintenance.

I went to try and fix the laundry machine, opening the door to it made me vomit. It wasn’t draining, old clothes sat in water in there for at least a month, decomposing. Luckily it was a well built washer that once I cleared the drain and sanitized it, is working great and doesn’t smell as nasty. The refrigerator took me a hour one morning patching the freezer door back together to fix. The water softener needed a new part that cost me $25 and 5 minutes to replace. I started fixing the stove, but it was so greasy and nasty that I junked it. The dish washer was barely working, it was starting to rust out and the last couple of years of hard water left it with severe mineral deposits. Both were old, both needed to be replaced, I was lucky to get the financing necessary to replace those.

Once the house was livable and no longer required my boyfriend and I to spend every waking minute cleaning, I resumed work remotely.  Over the weeks I have hacked together a decent little office space in my back room. I have really started to enjoy working remote. I probably put in more hours working remote than I did at the office. I can start work earlier in the morning, my lunches rarely last more than an hour, some as short as 15 minutes, and I don’t have panic attacks worrying about traffic. I miss some of the office interaction and my coworkers, but I don’t miss the open office floor plan. I do not miss being distracted by every little movement or unexpected sound. The best part is that it’s easier to manage my fibro flareups.

My stress levels have fallen a lot over the past month. Each day I manage to clean or fix at least one thing with the house, slowly unboxing what we moved up here with. My main car, my 2006 Audi A3, broke down, had to order new vacuum system parts and ignition coils for it. Fixed the Audi a couple of weeks ago and was able to drive to the main office for a day visit. I only have to drive anywhere a few times a week now. Meanwhile I tried to put my ’62 Impala back on the road after a three year sleep, I got the car running and driving well enough to move her into the garage until more important tasks are complete, such as the dumpster.

I have been working remote for about two months now. I wake up most days, take care of a quick project for the house, get ready for work, then sit down in my office and start coding. If I’m in the zone, I can heat up a quick lunch and eat it without destroying my focus. If I’m feeling a bit burned out, I can sit back in the living room and enjoy a relaxing lunch with some good music. Other days I’ll eat a quick lunch, do chores around the house, then return to work. I’ve set up a mini-fridge in my office area, stocked it with various beverages of varying caffeine levels and nutrition shakes. Working remote has allowed me to tweak my office space to work with my ADHD, fibro flares, and occasional brain fog, something that I could never get right working in an open office environment.

Gemtune PA1502A APPJ Headphone Tube Amp Mod

Having recently completed the mods to my Bravo v2 hybrid tube amp, I felt the itch to mod the headphone amp I use at home, my Gemtune APPJ PA1502A. This amp provides full tube amplification instead of a hybrid design. I picked this amp from Massdrop at a very reasonable price. Unlike the Bravo, this promised to be an amp that did not need mods, only a good set of tubes to bring it to life. Stock the sound was crystal clear, but too flat in the lower ends for me, expanding the bass would be a priority. Upgrading to better tubes made a world of difference. Once I had broken in the new set of tubes I decide to perform a small mod and upgrade the inter-stage coupling caps, this sound deepen the bass even further.

Stock APPJ PA1502A

Stock Gemtune APPJ PA1502A with the original tubes

Rolling New Tubes

This is the easiest mod that one can perform, replacing the tubes with better ones. Replace the 6N4 with a 12AX7 or 5751 type tube. I’m currently running a Sovtek 5751. Next the two 6P6Ps should be replaced with a pair of good quality 6V6s or 6L6s. I have a set of Tung-Sol 6V6GTs and a set of JJ Electronics 6L6GCs that I have tried in the amp. Both sound great, but I am a fan of the 6L6s. The 6L6 is both physically larger and a more electronically demanding tube, but one that the circuit specs state it can handle.  They will put out more heat, so if that’s a concern, stick with the 6V6.

The 6L6GC is a much larger tube than the 6P6P

The 6L6GC is a much larger tube than the 6P6P

I have also added tube risers. The stock tube connectors are only secured through solder and I had some fear of damaging them when swapping tubes. I added tube risers that take the brunt of the force when swapping tubes around.

Tube risers

Tube risers

Once the tubes were swapped and broken in I was very happy. Break in time seems to be very important for amps such as this. When I first got the amp I had to run it for at least a few hours before it started to sound right. Once I swapped the tubes and let it warm up for another few hours the sound was richer, bass was deeper, and still crystal clear. I’ve read that these amps and any new tubes need to be burned in for at least 48 hours, so expect slight improvements until burn in is complete.

Replacing the Inter-Stage Coupling Capacitors

This is a very simple mod, one that should increase the deepness of the bass, making the amp a bit more lively. I debated performing this mod as I was already very happy with the amp and the 6L6 mod fixed the flatness from the lower end. The inter-stage coupling circuit for this amp uses two 0.1uF 400V ceramic capacitors, these can be replaced with 0.47uF 400V capacitors.

First we need to remove the four screws holding the top of the amp. This top also contains the transformers, which can easily be detached from the main circuit board through four plugs

Top

Remove the four top screws to expose the top of the board. The plugs for the transformed will unplug easily.

Next we need to remove the four feet and the six outer screws holding the bottom plate on. On my amp there is a seventh screw, but it is screw to a post that is screw into nothing.

Bottom

The four feet and six outer screws need to be removed to access the bottom

Bottom of the APPJ PA1502A

The bottom of the amp, exposing the two ceramic capacitors to swap

Next I de-soldered the two ceramic capacitors. The below images show the solder points that I hit with my de-soldering iron .

IMG_8091 IMG_8094 IMG_8090 IMG_8088

Finally the new capacitors were soldered onto the board and the board reassembled and tested.

Inter-stage capacitor upgrade complete

Inter-stage capacitor upgrade complete. White ceramic 0.1uF 400V caps replaced with orange  0.47uF 400V caps.

Next I powered it up and verified that I didn’t short anything out before reassembling.

IMG_8097 IMG_8096

No fire, no sparks, the audio is clear, and my headphones sound great, time to reassemble and put back where it belongs.

Gemtune APPJ PA1502A in use

Gemtune APPJ PA1502A in use back where it belongs

Afterthoughts

I spoil myself with this amp, the clarity of the audio is almost startling. I have the amp paired up with a pair of Beyerdynamic DT990 600 ohm headphones. Not a combination that is bass heavy without the mods, but one that will provide some serious HD audio. I let my boyfriend listen to the amp while it was burning it, his eyes told me all I needed to know. Afterwards he described the experience as disturbingly HD, kinda like the first time watching a HD or 48fps movie, almost too lifelike. Goal achieved ^__^

Dental Surgery Recovery

I used to have a bad tooth, it was finally removed a few months ago. Yesterday I went in for followup surgery to install the implant for a permanent replacement, at the time they also removed a wisdom tooth that would’ve blocked the implant. Back when they removed the bad tooth not only was I recovering from the infection caused by it, but I was still having non-diagnosed anemia issues. It kinda wrecked me for a while. This time feels different.

After surgery I had to be wheeled out of the hospital, could barely stand on my own. Some of that was due to fasting, the rest due to the anesthetic they had to sedate me with. They said 24-48 hours for it to work out of my system. By hour four I was feel semi-normal, sore jaw, but semi-normal. By bedtime I was surprised at how not horrible I felt.

When I woke up this morning I was sluggish, from the medications, but I still went and did light exercises and all my stretches. As the morning went on I performed admin work on my Odroid NAS and prepped to mod my APPJ tube amp. Successfully finished this all by 11am.

I have to wonder why I’ve bounced back so much easier this time. Maybe it’s the B12 for my anemia, my change over to healthier nutrition (plus protein) shakes, or is it the Diflunisal the doctor prescribed.

  • B12 has to be the reason I’m no longer fatigued. I don’t crash like I used to and I don’t fatigue while exercising. When I last had major dental surgery done I still suffered from crashes.
  • Nutritional shakes are a recent additional due to their daily cost. Prior to the nutritional shakes I would either eat a Clif bar or have a hemp protein shake. They weren’t unhealthy, but I was not getting all of my nutrients. I started buying the Vega One Nutritional Shakes and they are great. They provide me with most of my needed nutrition, protein, and fiber.
  • Diflunisal is an NSAID used as a very potent anti-inflammatory. The doctor prescribed it for before and after the surgery to help with any potential fibro issues. It seems to be helping as I have no inflammation I can identify. I only have a few days worth, so we’ll see how I’m feeling once I run out.

Whatever the reason, I am very happy that I’m not stuck in bed miserable. I will keep up with the doctor prescribed medications and antibiotics, continue to supplement them with probiotics and proper nutrition, and continue to exercise as my recovery allows.

Bravo Audio V2 Hybrid Tube Amp Mods

In March I picked up one of these little Bravo Audio V2 class A hybrid tube amps on sale. This neat little headphone amp uses a 12AU7 vacuum tube to provide that ‘warmth’. There are plenty of articles, reviews, and forum posts that go into the details of what this little amp is capable of, plus it’s moddable. I bought it because I love tube audio and I could have some fun and tweak it.

 Bravo v2 Original

First Impressions

This amp looks like it was designed to be modded, but the reality is that the PCB is rather fragile. Traces are prone to falling off, especially if you use a soldering iron that is too hot. The first thing I had to do to mine was retin it with fresh high quality solder. It looked like it had been soldered with J-B Weld, plus it cleared up the audio. Once that was done I started swapping different 12AU7 tubes from my collection, eventually decided on an Electro-Harmonix for daily use. The stock tube didn’t sound bad, but the new EH 12AU7A seemed to handle the highs and lows better. I tested a vintage clear-top RCA, but the low ends sounded muddled, it is possible that the tube is failing. I proceeded to use the amp in this configuration at my job.

 Bravo v2 Original

Time To Perform the Mods – Easy First

The most common mods are component upgrades. Replace the electrolytic capacitors with higher quality 35V caps. Interestingly enough, when I was replacing the caps, I saw that the circuit board states that these should be 35V. This is an easy mod, there are only three caps, 1 – 6800uF, 2 – 1000uF.

New power cap

Final result with new power cap

Upgrade the MOSFETs – Hard Next

Replacing the IRF630Ns with almost any of the IRF510-530 series will improve the soundstage and roll-off. I opted to replace mine with the IRF530N, an improved version of the IRF510. This mod is not as easy as the heat sinks for the MOSFETs should be replaced with larger ones to handle the increased power consumption and thus heat generation. On my board I had to drill out the old heatsink mounts, and some of these mounts do go near traces. I do not have precision tools.

Work in progress on the amp

Work in progress on the amp

In progress fitting of the heatsinks

In progress fitting of the heatsinks

New IRL530N MOSFETs

New IRL530N MOSFETs

The Final Results

I have been using the amp daily for the past week. It sounds so much better now, a noticeable improvement. I consider the amp and the mods a worthwhile improvement.

The final result

The final result

Flareup

Every time a doctor finds something wrong that could explain the fibro, I get excited that this might be the final piece that gets me back to 100%. When I started the B12 treatment I was very excited because of how much better I felt, how much harder I was able to push myself. I may have pushed myself a little too much. Today I woke up in a flareup, the pain is intense at times.

Yesterday was a hard day for me, physically and mentally. I woke up with digestive issues, most likely triggered by an ingredient in a packaged food I ate the night before. I stopped buying and eating that brand of packaged food before of the digestive issues it would cause, but I was out at friends’ the night before and thought “I will only have a small amount, I will be fine.”, I wasn’t. By late yesterday morning I had mild nausea and dizziness issues, this eventually turned into a stomach ache that nothing would cure. Bad digestive issues like that never come alone, they always bring anxiety. This was anxiety that could almost be ignored, until something unexpected happened. Even something as small as someone bumping into me in the hall without apologies, or a car running a stop sign, is enough to trigger a full panic attack.

I eventually made it home, anxiety untriggered. The stomach ache eventually became extreme and I had a minor IBS episode. This left me drained, but I was able to eat some dinner. Even though I did pass out immediately after dinner, I ended up going to bed by 9pm. I was hopeful that as long as I got some decent sleep I would wake up okay, after all, I may have been tired, but I wasn’t fatigued like I was before the B12 treatment.

When I woke this morning the first thought that came to my mind was “wow, I still feel like butt”. Today unlike yesterday, I ache; the joints ache, the muscles ache, the hands and fingers ache. It is too early in the day to know if I will have continued digestive issues, but I am definitely in a full fibro flareup. I am hoping that this will not be a long flareup and that the B12 will help give me the energy I need to exercise through it.

Fatigue Diagnosis – Recovery from Anemia

Even though I have been exercising regularly, the fatigue attacks continued to occur. At seemingly random intervals I would suddenly become extremely fatigued and chilled.  Naps would occasionally help, sometimes letting me warm up. For the longest time I assumed this was because of fibro and it would either improve or never change. Then I had bloodwork done and received the results.

Initial glance at the results and everything looks fairly healthy. Started to look at the results over the past six years and at the values that are at the upper and lower end of ‘healthy’, and I started to see a pattern. Based on my current results my red blood cells were not forming correctly, a slight megaloblastic anemia. This was confirmed this with my doctors.

Many people with fibromyalgia have a B12 deficiency, usually managed with supplements or injections. When I was last tested for B12 I was taking vitamins and a B Complex supplement, which kept my levels high enough to be healthy.

I eventually stopped taking those vitamins and supplements, letting my body detox of everything. At the time my digestive issues were bad, supplements such as B complex would upset my stomach. I had been on so many prescription pills and supplements that I wanted to start fresh, give my liver a chance to recover, stop taking pills that upset my stomach.

Over time I added basic supplements such as Vitamin D, turmeric, quercetin, and magnesium back into my diet. Last fall I added supplements suggested by one of my Doctors. Since I was doing better than I had been in years, I never considered that I was missing a key vitamin. I started looking over my supplements and dietary intake. B12 was missing from all my current supplements and my diet was not high in it. There were days where I would get sufficient amounts of B12, but most days I barely took in more than half what I needed, some days almost none. My body would deplete its store of B12 I would have anemic episodes.

The day I started taking a B12 supplement my body stopped crashing. I’m feeling better, but being anemic damages the body, I’m not sure how long it will take to fully recover. Since I wasn’t completely deficient, hopefully only weeks, but even if it takes months, I’m getting stronger.