Monthly Archives: June 2018

The longer road to recovery

Okay, I won’t need to wait as long as Mr. Shady did between releasing albums!

I’m back in London, back at my supercomputer, and definitely showing signs of recovering from my surgery: some nights, I’m only waking for a short time in the middle of the night, instead of a few hours!  I’m also going for walks in the delightful summer weather, and sometimes even having the chance to pet dogs that are as friendly as the majority of canines in the Worthing area!

I’m grateful for my mother and grandmother taking care of me down in Worthing, but I needed and wanted to come back here; “best mate” was very helpful, driving all the way down from north London, eating my grandmother’s cooking (mac’n’cheese, which she still does well), and driving me back here without any issues (other than traffic, especially around Heathrow).

It was partly because I had a medical appointment on Monday, but I was also hoping to be back at work soon after, in early July; I popped into my workplace after the appointment, saying hi to my team and speaking to HR about the Occupational Health assessment I’ll need to undergo first.  Unfortunately, it turned out they can’t arrange it earlier than the end of July, which means (barring a cancellation and my appointment being brought forward) I can’t resume my job and work my IT mojo until August at the earliest!  And that’s assuming I pass first time, of course…

It’s very frustrating, having to stay home every day, and feeling like some kind of benefit scrounger — but I’m getting paid sick leave, at least for the first couple of months (and hopefully won’t need any more than that), and in the meantime spending very little on travel costs, which is saving me a lot of money… and not having to commute every day saves on stress.

(Even though the exact times I’ve needed the Northern Line — after visiting work on Monday, or helping the homeless last Wednesday — it’s gone spectacularly wrong!)

It’s a good job I’m saving money, because I’m now obliged to start paying back my student loans from the 1990s, due to earning just slightly over the maximum monthly gross amount that would have allowed me to defer for what may be the 19th year running.  Fortunately, both companies who bought my debts from Student Loans have been reasonable and helpful over the phone (even if the one with my 1998 debt doesn’t seem to send stuff through the post any more — fortunately I figured that out in time!), and the total, less than £180/month, shouldn’t break the bank… plus, the limit gets revised in September, so you never know, I might be able to defer again!

There’s also the great possibility that my mother will finally, after all these years, get a new dog (a quiet lapdog is intended), and having July off means I’d be free to go back down to Worthing for a week or so, and help get the doggy used to its new home, and learning a few tricks (not least “sit!”).  Saving money also means I can contribute financially to the upbringing of that mangy flea-bitten cur… oh, sorry!

Being off work also means I can also guide my mother and grandmother through London next week, when they pass through on their way from Sussex to Essex, for the funeral of my grandmother’s sister, my great-aunt (whose husband died nearly a decade ago, ten years after my grandfather), and then back again the next day, without having to take annual leave.

Moreover, I have time for medical appointments appointments — not just the dentist (I certainly need some help there!), but also the local quack, or whoever’s filling in for him (or her) next time… and this is for the reasons I stated in my last post: my mother’s been very unhappy with my treatment at the hands of Charing Cross hospital, not least their apparent inability at our meeting on 24th May to say how much of my brain tumour they actually removed (and imply I’d need radiology), despite their letter (which arrived here a month later) implying I was almost fully cured, and would only need occasional checkups.  She’s urging me to seek a second opinion from a dedicated neurology/neurosurgery hospital, where the staff don’t contradict each other and know what words mean, and I’ll need the quack to help me with that — and to confirm whether CC even sent them the histology/pathology report they said they would, but hadn’t previously because they normally don’t send it to the GP at all!

They’ve got a temp to fill in for me, but hopefully he’s not the new “Faceman”!

The sad thing is, having to stay home and not work during this period reminds me of the summer of 2014, when I’d left Camden on voluntary redundancy, but had to wait for my agency to set up even an unpaid internship in IT, let alone getting income again!  That led into the worst part of my life, when even the internship seemed like heaven compared to that horrible shift-based job, and even that gave a better income than relying on benefits, but I have high hopes that I just need to patiently work on my recovery, as I’m not unemployed or surplus to requirements.


(Indeed, senpai called me up to urge me back to work, as he still thinks one of the other team members is incompetent!)

I’m also, naturally, reminded of 2012 and 2015, the years I recovered (slowly) from the depression I felt in late 2011 (when I felt like I had nothing to live for) and the anxiety I felt in late 2014 (when I also not working, but it was much colder).  And then there’s 2016, when I went to Worthing to help my mother recover from surgery, something I’d forgotten all about until I read my own 2016 diary recently (all I could remember off the top of my head was assembling a shoe rack)!  I guess worrying that my improved life was being paid for, karmically, by her suffering was premature if I too was to need surgery this year (and my grandmother in 2017 to boot, though I barely mentioned it here) — perhaps I’m enduring this to restore balance, and “pay” for a good life.

I know I once said I’d stop looking back in time so much (in the blog category “then and now”), so I won’t look up which blog entry I said that in and link it here, because that’d lend credence to such a foolish notion — it seems life really does go in cycles… and I have hopes that the events of 20 years ago might just repeat.  In the summer of 1998, I’d finished my second year of university but was waiting to find out if my alma mater was competent enough to finalise my student exchange with an American university — if not, I’d already suspended my student grant for a year, and would effectively have to take a year out.

Fortunately, in August my grandfather stepped in and made a hell of a lot of phonecalls, and almost single-handedly got the process running properly, for which I thank him — as not only did I befriend an American family and thus have an excuse to revisit the USA (present president notwithstanding), but, as I’m sure you’re tired of me recalling, I actually got a girlfriend for literally the first time in my life, after nothing but failure here in Britain.  So maybe, just maybe, after I’m back at work and appreciated, in September I’ll meet someone?  I’ve had a certain feeling that this recovery process is my final hurdle before my life can be complete…

Having said that, don’t think my previous list is of any relevance in this: the first three I haven’t seen in ages (two because I currently don’t go to salsa or climbing, the third because I’ve simply lost touch after three dates), and the fourth, my Polish friend, has become more like a sister to me — she’s been supportive and considerate during my recovery process (even coming to visit me in Finchley, despite living way out west on the Metropolitan Line!), and I’ve responded by, finally, accompanying her to the “helping the homeless” group she was too shy to attend on her own (after being too busy with her veterinary shift work, or too far away in Poland, to attend with me on previous occasions).

In fact, I regard her as my newest “female best friend” (the original two having their own lives and families now, and living far away) — and you never know, she might just fix me up!  The most interesting fact: I was first contacted by her in November 2017, almost exactly five years after I met “best mate” in 2012 — will she be my (overworked) housemate some day?

— — —

P.S. With so much free time, I have the chance to not only play video games, but to listen to new CDs — including works by Gorillaz, who I still enjoy after surgery as I did before… want to see the (strangely Pythonesque) video of a song I got in G Sides?  Oh, here you go…

Gradual recovery

For the third time, I’ve used a screenshot from “Full Metal Jacket” — this time, because I got my head shaved but still wear glasses!

It’s frustrating that I have to go through this process — instead of working at the job I enjoy, socialising in London and working out, I have to stay down here in Worthing with my mother and grandmother, to make sure I’m slowly recovering my health after that operation.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for my folks taking care of me, cooking my dinner and cleaning my clothes — I just wish I didn’t have so much to recover from, and even if I’m no longer having severe “mind static” attacks, I can’t help but wonder if it’s waiting in the wings…

It’s certainly true that I’ve regained the ability to walk and get about — I didn’t need to use my grandmother’s stairlift to get up the stairs when I came back here — and I’m able hear clearly again: my right ear, which was interpreting sounds rather strangely (missing frequencies?), seems to be picking up everything normally now, while a large amount of wax has come out of my left ear since my scars healed and discarded their stitches enough for me to feasibly dunk my head in the bath.

(A good time to start listening to Gwar again, don’t you think?)

I can go for walks again and build up my steps, but my mother keeps me company when we go down to the seafront, just in case — and since I find myself petting friendly dogs a great deal, it’s a good job she’s staying with me, as I still feel dizzy when I stand up after kneeling down!  Just in the sense of weakness and instability (rather than quasi-memories flooding my head), but it’s worrying, and makes it clear I won’t be fit to return to work for a while longer, though apparently they’ll need me to have an Occupational Health exam before letting me back into the fold anyway.

Worse, I can’t seem to sleep at nights — something that was going on a great deal this time last year, despite that being long before my operation; it may be a combination of the temperature, sleeping in a relatively unfamiliar bed, noise outside (particularly seagulls and drivers), and just simply being anxious all over again (despite my best efforts to deny it).  “Sleep aid” pills certainly help me fall asleep, but they don’t stop me waking up in the middle of the night.  In any case, since I’m taking a lot of medication already (levetiracetam and lamotrigine), I’m a little reluctant to take anything else on top.

However, my mother’s convinced me to try CBD oil (which mercifully comes in vegetarian capsules), so we’ll have to see if that helps with my insomnia and obsessive behaviour, but I’ll need to consult the brain-doctor in London later this month (when I have an appointment), to see if it’s wise to continue.  There’s also talk of taking anti-histamines (which I was previously advised could act against my anti-epilepsy medication), and resuming taking multivitamins (which someone at work, whose father had a tumour, reckons only makes your urine expensive), but we’ll have to see.

Aside from the blood pressure issue, being able to pet friendly dogs here almost every day (something which happens much more rarely in London) has helped me emotionally, though if anything I feel melancholic!  My folks’ hairdresser also sometimes brings her energetic terrier over to visit, and I play with her and take her for walks, but there’s plans for us to get a new, permanent family dog — one who likes sitting in our laps, and won’t trip my grandmother over or bite visitors to the household.  It’s 19 years since we had to have Scraps put down due to her declining health, but my grandmother’s finally agreed to have a new dog around the house… and I’ll be able to walk it when I come to visit in future!

Still, I find this isn’t a good time in my life: despite playing old games like StarCraft and Unreal on my Worthing PC (and Pokémon GO on my phone — we’re right next to a Pokémon gym!), I’ve suffered a bit from depression, apparently a normal symptom of recovering from surgery but being mostly housebound, and probably not helped by medication or the consumption of a great deal of protein (as happened in 2013, when I wasn’t recovering from surgery).  I’ve not been suicidal or anything quite that bad, but I wish I could move things on, and not have to linger here in this town…

Worst of all, though, is that I’ve got calls and arrangements to make, because (a) it seems that Charing Cross, the hospital that operated on me, is being extremely cagey about the nature of my tumour, or indeed how much of it they actually took out; and (b) as of April, I’m finally earning enough that I can’t defer repaying my 1990s student loans (which predate the Blair administration) to the private businesses that now own my debts instead of the taxpayer.

In the former case, I may have to go to UCLH in Russell Square after all (as was being planned when Charing Cross was taking ages to actually arrange my operation in the first instance), to see if they can do a new analysis of my brain condition; in the latter case, at least I’m receiving sick pay for now, and not having to use the London Underground to commute, and it’ll be a while before I start paying my personal trainer again — so for a while at least, and maybe until I’ve paid them off, I shouldn’t make a loss overall each month.

I also feel the need to wear a hat, to conceal my shaven head

Anyway, maybe now I should try to sleep again — going to bed around 9pm hasn’t helped this week, and neither has having a bath beforehand to relax me, but I’ve drunk cider this evening, and I’ve got a nasal strip to put on, so my nose doesn’t partially close up during the night; I also took a CBD tablet during the day.  Here’s hoping I have a good night’s sleep, and thus Friday is a better day, and the beginning of a better period of my life, when I finally recover in earnest…

But only at 10pm — I’m not going to bed early like some old codger, dammit!  Why, I used to be able to stay up until 1am playing video games and watching Family Guy, before getting up at 7am to make lunch for my full-time working day…