Monthly Archives: July 2017

Back to normal…?

The good news is that I seem to be over my jet lag at long last, and am no longer lying hopelessly awake in the middle of the night (after having initially gone to sleep without issue).  Why, Fitbit thinks I’m getting nearly seven hours a night… and yes, I know a strap on my wrist trying to measure my pulse rate is somewhere between BMI and phrenology in terms of medical quackery, but still, it’s good to know.  Of course, the nights not being so sweltering has also helped…

The bad news is I still get dizzy spells, “brain fog” or whatever the buzzword is, and it still seems to be related to headaches, especially a dull ache at the back of the head and neck.  This is still going on even though I’ve been taking iron tablets (in August I’ll have a blood test to determine if this has been any use at all) and feeling less stressed at home, though it may also have been the after-effects of my jet lag, and the stress of travelling to and from America… not to mention the stress of travelling right here in London.  Could it be having loud rumbling pumped into my ears for long periods of time?

(And no, I haven’t had Gwar on shuffle for weeks, so leave them Scumdogs alone!)

Other aspects of my life seem to be returning to their previous situations: I’m happy at work (aside from when I’ve been taking ibuprofen to deal with pain — as in 2015, it seems to bring about depression), and while I’m still terminally single, at least I’m making connections and organising dates again.  Whether this will continue once my age in dating apps no longer starts with a 3 remains to be seen… but since “best mate” has a friend in his 40s who is seeing a girl in her 20s, maybe I just need to remain confident and not give up hope.

I’ve also restored one aspect of my life to pre-holiday levels, but you’ll think this is a really contrived talking point: my backpack.  The one I used to use, my mother handed down to me in 2009, and I’d used it happily since then (I think I even took it to America in 2013!), but it was getting old and worn, and so — as you will recall — I got a “better” one a few weeks ago… and almost lost my USB thumbdrive out of it.  I’ve been using it since then, but found it to be very tedious to take off and put on, not to mention having two drawstrings to keep the main part of it closed, and so now, with Mumsy’s assistance, I’ve bought a more normal “day” one, not unlike the original, which is more comfortable to wear, and less likely to bump into people on the Tube.

Another item I’ve had to replace was my TV set, because… well, let’s just say there was a collision, resulting not in fractured glass but messed-up pixels.  It seems I never really conquered my anger after all, but the replacement, while more expensive than I would have liked, is better in almost every way than the one it replaced: true 1080p, richer sound (and the volume doesn’t need to be turned down when I use my Wii), bigger screen size… but it doesn’t swivel on its base (and neither do any modern TVs, by the look of it), so I’ll need an alternative solution.  The important thing is, I can once again watch TV without seeing the outcome of my momentary fury!

One aspect of my life that I really wish wasn’t reverting is my weight: I’m back over 13 stone, despite having been below since 2013.  Admittedly it’s partly down to eating toast as an addition to breakfast, rather than a replacement (I was trying to use up some bread that “best mate” had left behind), but it was so much easier to lose weight when I was younger, even though I was eating Greek yoghurt with Nutella for dessert every night!  Still, on the plus side I’m well and truly back to my previous level when it comes to climbing… though fitting my gear into this new bag is already proving problematic — so, as with the TV, I’ll have to rack my (foggy) brain for a solution.

Which I won’t be able to do if you’re keeping me awake, so please do let me get some sleep — it’s getting on for midnight!

When you can’t help your friends

I’ve always wanted to be heroic, so it’s got me down that two of my closest friends are suffering at the moment, and I don’t know what, if anything, I can do to help them beyond maintaining the friendship and listening to their woes — and I’m not having such a great time at the moment either, despite recent improvements…

I don’t think I’ve mentioned it much here, but my friend in Michigan — the younger brother of my roommate when I was at UMich in 1998-9 — is mildly handicapped (cerebral palsey).  For years this has made him a “big kid”, which meant I got on with him as I was still into Transformers as well… but lately, he’s become problematic.  Weight training and taking part in bodybuilding shows has made him happy since 2003, but due to recent joint pain, he’s been unable to do either lately, and while I was visiting him in late June and early July (originally planned to coincide with one of his shows), it became clear that he’s becoming… childish and petulant.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with him collecting comics and watching Sesame Street clips on YouTube (hey, how could I when I do similar myself?), and I try not to get annoyed at his tendency to repeat the same conversations over and over again, as I know he can’t help it.  No, my concern is the way he interacts with his parents these days, disdaining the food they cook, treating them like a bank, and even still holding a grudge against his father for preventing him attending a karate event back in, er, the mid-1990s.  He genuinely seems to have a problem with them, even though they do their best to take care of him — but he denies being childish: that’d mean calling his mother a “great big poopy-head”, and he’s much more mature, calling her a “pointy-nosed bitch” instead!

His parents, who are glad that I consider them “America’s real first family”, have actually put forward a proposal: they want to sponsor me for a US green card, so I could come over and live there, as my friend’s housemate, thus enabling him finally to move out of the family home where he’s lived his entire life (aside from a year or so he was married to a similarly-handicapped girl, which ended badly).  A few years ago I’d have jumped at the mere suggestion, but now I’ve got a good life here in London, would I really want to leave it all behind — and would it help my friend, seeing as he doesn’t want to move out of that house (hence why he and his folks didn’t migrate to Washington state in 2014 as planned)?

There seemed to be nothing I could do during my two weeks to encourage him to change his attitude, but I suspect his parents know this, and just want me to carry on being his friend, at least for now.  Perhaps they’re already aware of how he feels about them, though they also seem to realise it’s variable, and some days he’s perfectly amiable.  At the very least, I might have finally convinced him to go see a doctor about his joint pains, in the hope that he can be helped, and thus be able to resume his visits to the gym, with a view to being in a bodybuilding show later in the year.

The other person I can’t help is, of course, “best mate”, who’s been my friend since late 2012 and my housemate since early 2015.  He’s still working for his brother in construction, and still being taken for granted, sent to far-flung parts of Britain at short notice because all his brother’s other workers have families (apparently being single means you have no right to a weekend, or even any time off at all?), and this can happen even when he’s organised a holiday and needs to catch a flight!  This was tried (unsuccessfully) last year when he was about to fly to Japan, and this year he was forced to give up his flight back to his native Ireland; $DEITY help us all in September, when he’s planning to visit Vietnam…

Again, there’s nothing I can do to change this guy’s life — I can’t employ him myself, and while he’s certainly willing to take a crash course in something and aim for a steadier job than construction (which by its very nature is always temporary), being motivated to actually do so is very difficult when he’s exhausted after spending the week in Somerset… and that’s nowhere near as bad as it’s been earlier this year, and back in 2016.  It’s also destroyed his social life, leaving him no longer going to raves — if he’d outgrown them, fine, but he misses partying, and is so desperate for human contact that he’s hinted at hiring an escort!

As with my American friend, I suppose all I can do is listen to his complaints about his life situation, without being judgmental, and support him with whatever decision he makes, even if it’s to go back to Ireland and give up on living in London entirely (since he’s paying rent but seldom actually sleeping here).  However, I’m still recovering from jet lag following my holiday, and much as in Michigan, and indeed before I left, I’m sleeping badly every night (sometimes I have to lie awake doing magazine puzzles), so what good am I to either friend until I remove the beam from my own eye?  I need to fix myself up so I’m no longer having those dizzy spells (which feel like my brain is trying to dream even though I’m awake at the time — is it insomnia?), otherwise I’m in as much need of help as they are.

On that topic, I’m going to sleep early on a Sunday night for once, in the hope that even if I wake up again during the night, I’ll still get enough sleep overall (or at least be told so by Fitbit) that I won’t be in a state tomorrow.  Of course, it’d help if it wasn’t so hot in my room… but hey, it’s better than the cold — and at least that troublesome housemate’s gone at last!

Recovering from a holiday

Well, belatedly I’m back on my blog, a few days after returning to Blighty, and it’s clear I’m not relaxed or destressed, or even well rested, to the point that I may need more time off work just to recover from the time off I’ve already had!

Indeed, I wonder if I’ll have time to marshal my thoughts tonight, as I really need to sleep and make up for barely sleeping at all last night — and that was after resting well over the weekend, having landed on Thursday morning.

To summarise, I’ve been sleeping erratically for the last few weeks, and that’s down to several factors:

  • Being awoken nearly every morning by my former housemate (“drummer-trucker”), and getting stressed at the necessity of trying to avoid him around the house;
  • The inevitable problem of trying to sleep on a plane, either westbound or eastbound, during my holiday — one way I had extra hours to live through, the other way was overnight, and thus it was a new day when I landed;
  • My American friend is going through a bad patch in his life, and getting antagonistic towards his parents, despite my efforts to help him behave more maturely (I’ll go into detail in a later post), leading to further stress and fretting on my part;
  • Sleeping is hard when it’s hot in the room (there’s been heatwaves in London and Michigan), and the available air conditioning (a machine in America, a fan and an open window here) is too noisy to use for any length of time;
  • I bought expensive new pillows earlier this year for my room, and am regretting it due to how hard they are on the back of my head, and how thin the soft pillows I put on top have become.

I’m still getting dizzy spells, due to a combination of sleep deprivation, stress and head/neck pain, and my quack’s been no real help beyond encouraging me to arrange another blood test, after having taken iron tablets for a couple of months (including while I was in America).  She wants me to see a neurologist, and hopefully that’ll be all I need, as I dread the prospect of it being something worse, the kind of thing that’d need an X-ray to uncover…

Fortunately, there are a few mitigating circumstances: “drummer-trucker” has moved out for good, and his replacement is perfectly nice and not someone I need to avoid; “best mate” has sorted out our flaky Internet connection, so I can work from home if necessary; and, while my computer was crashing repeatedly on my first day back (to the point that even rotating photos I’d taken on holiday led to a “blue screen of death”!), it’s decided to behave itself since then, perhaps due to the weather cooling slightly (and me turning off overclocking).

Also, while I was in Michigan, I at least managed to relax most days, sitting outside in the hot weather while reading A Game of Thrones (and building a Lego Millennium Falcon in my room), and getting through the security checks on the way in proved to have been a lot of worry about nothing, at least for now!  I took my own lousy phone with me just in case they were in a confiscationary mood, but now I’ve got my superior work phone back in hand again, and can thus hunt for Pokémon without waiting ten minutes for 3G to start working.  Being back at work was tiring, but didn’t require any special efforts from me, and I was glad to be back, even though I had to leave early due to fatigue.

I’d better go soon, and try to get a good night’s sleep once my hair dries after my shower; I’m still taking “sleep aid” tablets (as I was in Michigan, as well as before I went), in the hope that I won’t repeat last night’s events: dropping off nicely, only to reawaken after 1am for no apparent reason, unable to get back to sleep!  Perhaps my issues are down to adrenal overproduction…?