Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Dell, Dermatitis, & Magnesium

Hell hath no fury...

like a woman with dermatitis, computer problems, and head pain. Not to mention *issues* with magnesium.

Dell Hell: My computer's been on the fritz for a few weeks, shutting itself off at will, freezing up, other antics. Nothing's more disconcerting than a computer that suddenly shuts itself off. So I gave in and called Dell.

Last time I phoned, I was pleased with the experience. I got a bright tech in Texas who breezed me through a rapid-fire troubleshooting which solved my problems in 30 minutes flat. In that brief time, we checked every nook and cranny of the computer, fixed 100 different things, downloaded a few new *.dll files, and practically did everything but take out a screwdriver and dismantle the thing.

This time I was on hold for at least 20 minutes. Then I was connected with (where else?) India, Land of Divine Food & Call Centers.

My rep barely spoke English, but I conceded, it was better than my Hindi.

After asking me 500 questions (they only took my "service code" in Texas), he eventually asked what was wrong. Or rather, I interrupted the questionnaire with "can I tell you the problem now?" I explained and asked if he understood. I felt no reassurance over this, so I tried speaking more plainly. Eventually I resorted to "it turns itself off" instead of trying to convey the vague subtleties of my electronic problem.

He was unresponsive and I kept asking "do you understand?" to which I received dead air. The phone kept going dead as he put me on mute over and over again. I alternately heard the hubbub of the call center, and the sound of silence. I guess he was searching for answers on the internet. Eventually after me asking "hello? hello? are you there?" he would come back on the line and apologize profusely.

He took me through a series of common troubleshooting steps that took a full hour as he kept exiting the line for minutes on end, returning with "ok, now we will try something", then disappearing for a while longer. At one point, after deleting a few temporary internet files and re-setting some Explorer options, he asked me "may I ask if you are happy with your service from Dell?" to which I replied, "happy? we haven't done anything yet!"

Basically, after an hour, I ended up deleting a few temporary files, re-set my BIOS to the factory defaults, re-set my Internet Explorer to factory defaults, and unplugged my modem. I could have done this in grade 5.

I was frustrated. A basic command of English and some computer skills should be required for these jobs. Apparently not. I would have had better luck ordering pizza. Or maybe aloo gobi.

The only thing that perked up my rep was when he gave me my Case Number so I could call back if I had Any More Problems. I was given the case number a total of 5 times during the call, each time after I asked a Particularly Daunting Question.

Even on Dell's website, it appears they're keen to sell you stuff, but less keen to provide technical support. And they'd much prefer you read their 5000-page FAQ instead of calling and bothering them with your tedious troubles.

I'm fed up with businesses taking my money and not providing service in return. You're Dell's best friend when you give them your $5000, but you need to talk to a pizza guy in India when you want service. The same seems to hold when buying a car: you have many good chums at a care dealership when your wallet is full. A lack of care in service isn't acceptable, but it seems to be the norm in this post industrial world.

I've concluded that modern technology is meant to be disposable, unless you want to talk to India for the rest of your life.

Dermatitis Hell: Besides headaches, I've developed seborrheic dermatitis on my face since moving to Calgary. That's dandruff...On Your Face. My skin now gets shiny red, flaky and itchy; it then heals itself by forming rough, dry, scar-like tissue. A few days later, it clears up. Then for no apparent reason other than I have something important to do, it flares up and I go through 3 days with a red, raw, flaking face.

Now at least, my exterior matches my interior hell.

To make things worse, my ancient dermatologist (the one I asked to see since I didn't want a Botox-pusher) prescribed a steroid/anti-fungal cream to use for flare-ups. I was concerned about the steroid use on my face: having had eczema as a child, and eczema on my hands as an adult, I know that steroid creams thin and damage the skin. But he laughed and assured me I would have to "slather it on for years" to see a problem.

Now I have rosacea. I've used the cream he prescribed over the past 2 years to control the flare-ups, but recently I've developed rosacea on my face, with regular redness appearing around my nose and forehead. It flares up, then goes away.

A few weeks ago, I visited my allergist (yet another of my inner sanctum of specialists) and asked him about my dermatitis/rosacea. He said "you don't have seborrhea, you have eczema on your face. Seborrhea doesn't itch". Now this guy is no dermatologist, but he does specialize in auto-immune conditions like allergies, so i suspect he knows a thing or two about a thing or two.

I mentioned the rosacea, and he said "you likely have steroid rosacea, from overuse of steroid cream." Then he gave me a prescription for a much milder steroid (apparently the one I was given was about 50 times too strong) and referred me for skin patch testing in late April to determine the cause of my demonic skin.

Eczema is complex, but it's just a fancy name for dermatitis (which means "irritated skin"). Eczema can be "atopic", which I understand to mean as a somewhat genetic, built-in predispostion to irritation, or it can be "contact" meaning there's an enviromental trigger. The skin patch tests will determine if I'm allergic to my shampoo, moisturizer, sunscreen, laundry soap, or what.

Since starting the milder cream, my face has looked pretty good. But I'm apprehensive about using it with the rosacea issue. After switching creams, the rosacea did subside for a few weeks but flared up today. At 4pm, I went into the bathroom at work and my nose was bright red and shiny and my face was all red. I had a scorching headache and now looked as bad as I felt.

Then I came home and called Dell.

Magnesium Hell: My neurologist agreed that I could try Mg supplements after I cited an article to him regarding its use in treating headache. He was well aware of the claims, but said the results are "equivocal", meaning "we don't know". He advised me to try Magnesium Citrate, as it's more easily absorbed than the oxide version, and to use 600mg. I started it a few weeks ago.
Let's just say, Magnesium causes diarrhea. Big time. I cut back to 150mg a day since I couldn't tolerate the 600mg and decided I better work up to it. But I'm afraid I may die of dehydration before I can see if it cures my headaches.

I'll write more about Mg later, once I raise my dose, and see if I can tolerate it. I read an abstract on PubMed that suggested it might be helpful for dermatitis, and I mean to go to the U of C medical library and get the whole article. Apparently it worked in rats.

Now that my computer is fixed (or whatever), maybe my skin and head will improve with the Mg. And maybe I will have a normal bowel movement for a change.

But I doubt it.


  1. lol, lets just say I had the same Mg *problems*. Although for a little while I didn't know what was causing it. Then I read an article that said magnesium can cause diaherra, and well I stopped taking those pills (they didn't really help with the headache anyway), and my *problems* cleared up.

    Hope it helps you, minus the trips to the bathroom!

  2. I think AOL could give Dell a run for its money where "customer service" is concerned!

    My son has eczema, it's a tough thing to get under control.

  3. try magnesium orotate and magnesium glycinate. add fiber supplement between meals for diaherra. get a hair test online for $99 bucks to see if you have mag deficiency. it is very common and was the cause of my seborrheic derm around my nose. I believe candida also played a role. I paid a nutritionist $12000 to discover this out. you get it for free. my gift to you. good luck.

  4. you should try Cal-Mag Fizz for Magnesium... I get the diarrhea easy too... and this stuff won't give you it... especially if you are eating yogurt and green tea, which both promote healthy bacteria in the body... which will prevent the diarrhea and balance that back to normal... you should google up the benefits of Magnesium!! They are MUCH more than headache relief!

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