Cold snap

got_wic

Bit late, mate, winter’s already been here a while

The weather lately has been absolutely hideously cold… okay, maybe not by Norwegian or Canadian standards, but at least when I was in Michigan during the 1998-9 academic year, it was warm indoors!

It’s still hard to keep my room warm, but I manage — however, this week I’ve been finding it intolerably cold outside as well, and I think it’s brought back a few issues I hoped I was over already.

The good news is that I can now get over a cold virus in a few days: I started coming down with one on Friday, had a tap-like nose during the weekend and Monday, and felt better by Tuesday, to the point that I wasn’t using Lemsip (or its shop’s-own-brand equivalent) by Wednesday at all, and am now essentially over it completely.  It may have been a weak virus in the first place (my grandmother got over one around the same time with remarkable swiftness, considering her age and condition), but I’d rather be upbeat about my condition, okay?

However, on Monday (a year after similar circumstances, and with a similar cause, almost cost me my probation), I was warned by my workplace senpai that people were finding me a bit “snappy” that morning (bad for the “face” of the team); fortunately I didn’t receive an official reprimand, especially not from “boss lady”.  I think my attitude on that occasion was only partly down to a lady from one team contradicting something they’d told me on Friday about a new starter, and making me rush around to make up for my “mistake”; no, it was mainly down to my lousy head cold, which made me less amiable (due to feeling lousy), and more prone to speaking curtly (because speaking at all was unpleasant and so I wanted to do as little of it as possible).

I would hope the staff at work — my “flock” as I call them (when I’m not using the word “peasantry”) — would be familiar enough with me by now not to expect me to behave like a machine, programmed to be polite 100% of the time, but rather that they’d appreciate I’m a human being as well, who has “bad days” just like them… but considering their IT issues, maybe I shouldn’t assume too much common sense on their part?

I’m over that cold now, but although I’m physically healthy in most ways, one problem has made an unwelcome return.  I hope my mother won’t worry (she’s one of the few people who reads this blog), but a couple of weekends ago, when I was visiting my folks down in Worthing, I started having more bouts of the dreaded “brain fuzz”, where every so often, with no apparent trigger, a series of what seem like memories but are garbled and incoherent flow through my conscious mind.  It’s not a cause of headaches, but often a result (or possibly a harbinger), and causes no pain in and of itself, just dizziness, often a brief sense of unreality, and most of all, worry on my part that I’ve got brain damage.

Don’t panic!  I’m almost certain that a primary cause is simple dehydration, as on that occasion the bouts started after I’d eaten my grandmother’s cooking and washed it down with cider, not drinking anywhere near enough water at the time.  Additionally, I was lying in the bath with the back of my head against the porcelain (possibly restricting blood flow) when the first bout arrived.  It’s worth mentioning that I have a habit of hunching in front of my various computer screens (especially at work), which I know I shouldn’t, and I’m trying not to — shoulders back!

There’s also stress to consider: I’d spent the previous two weekdays battling extreme cold and even snow outside (not to mention lousy public transport, which I also endured on strike Monday) to visit an optician in North Finchley after work, obtaining or modifying new glasses.  Furthermore, my eyes were at this point still adjusting to the new glasses, a slightly different shape, prescription and angle than before — in fact, I found them harder to get used to than any previous pair I can recall (except possibly the first in 1997).

(Ironically, I’d bought these glasses after an eye test in December to see if the original cause of my “brain fuzz” was eyesight-related!)

I’m convinced the current cold weather is particularly responsible: partly because cold but dry is naturally dehydrating weather (more so than a hot summer, and about the same as our computer-filled office), and partly because being cold itself gives me headaches, which sometimes lead to the weirdness.  I know this because on Christmas Day last year (and the previous Christmas Day, under almost identical circumstances), I went for a walk along the seafront with my mother but without head protection, receiving the full force of a wintry onshore breeze.  I came home in pain, took headache medication, and then had a bout of “brain fuzz” while lying down and recovering, though both times only the one, fortunately (which makes me hopeful that it’s actually a symptom of “brain repair” — it’s almost like a blockage being cleared — rather than brain damage).

Going between warmth and extreme cold is a known health issue, and indeed back in December 2012, long before this particular health issue started, I had something else weird happen: on my way to the Castle (to climb with “best mate”, who I’d just met at the time), I experienced a strange flickering blur over one eye, which slowly expanded into a ring during the course of my journey, before eventually passing out of view.  I’d also had that happen to me years previously as a teenager (though I don’t remember what the weather was like that day!), and both cases seem to have been isolated — but “cold headaches” certainly seem to be a problem for me.

This week I’ve been especially exposed to the cold, having spent more time outside than I really should have — and here’s something else that’ll cause my mother to curse the heavens: I’ve begun playing Pokémon GO, now that I have a smartphone capable of it.  I’m not training or battling the little blighters, or interacting with other players in any way; I’m just finding and catching the monsters around London, as well as visiting landmarks (“Pokéstops” containing supplies). Indeed, I find myself often walking “the long way” just to cover more ground, so at least it’s getting my steps up.  However, since I need to have one hand ungloved in order to touch my screen… well, eczema is another health condition I have to fight!

(Not to mention having to charge my phone up at least once a day…)

My head was, of course, also cold at these times, although my ears weren’t, thanks to the big headphones my folks got me for Christmas, which act like earmuffs (I listen to music everywhere I walk, even if I’m also searching for Japanese CGI monsters on my phone).  However, in recent years I’ve stopped wearing head covering outside in winter thanks to similar big earphones; this, rather than fashion concerns, is why I don’t use my “Canadian moose hunter” hat any more — which might be why I had a couple of small bouts on Wednesday, before and after yoga, having spent ages walking around window-shopping (and catching Pokémon) after a Nando’s dinner which I washed down with not enough water.

I can drink more water, no problem there, but should I start wearing my trusty earflap hat again, and thus stop listening to music (as I won’t go back to wired earbuds for anything)?  Making my daily walks around London in boring silence… hmm, would the cure be worse than the disease?

(P.S. Maybe it won’t matter, as it’s supposed to get a lot less cold this weekend… am I getting old, obsessing over the weather?  Another source of stress?)

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