Category Archives: Health matters

Even more normal… or not?

Despite the problems I still have, I’m getting my life even more back to normal than last time — indeed, better than ever, because I’ve reinstated some aspects I’d lost… mainly centred around food, one of the most important reasons we’re alive, and one of the most important reasons to be alive.

For a long time, I stopped making my own sandwiches (or rolls) for lunch, due to having so much trouble getting up in the mornings (and not wanting to take time to do it the night before), thanks to “drummer-trucker” ruining my sleeping patterns.  Now that he’s out of my life forever (and his replacement’s nice and quiet), I’m right back to making sarnies before work, assuming I’ve got the bread and it hasn’t gone off!

Even though I’m earning more, it’s still sensible to bring your own lunch to work rather than buy from an expensive place like Pret A Manger (where I work is too posh to have something as base as a Subway nearby), and moreover, you can decide what you have.  On that basis, although sometimes I have cheese rolls into which I can spread (plug alert) Marmite at my desk, I’m actually buying rocket salad and making more interesting sarnies, involving fake meat slices and mayo — or, if I’ve got time to fry fake bacon (“facon”), the vegetarian equivalent of a BLT!

(Okay, “facon” plus rocket plus tomato, shall we call it… FaRT?  No?  Oh, please yourselves!)

Tomatoes are a big restoration for me, as (judging from my budgeting spreadsheet) I hadn’t bought them since 2015, not long after I started my current job!  Not even to go in the vegetarian burgers I’ve still been making (especially after personal training), as they were just too much trouble in terms of slicing them (not to mention my fingers!) and disposing of the end pieces — I’ve got a nice jagged knife that makes the slicing easier, and I’m disciplined enough to use them up before they go off.  I used to slice chillies and put them in my double-decker quasi-Big Macs, but there’s no reason I can’t have both, is there?

And speaking of chillies, I’ve managed to get back to “proper” cooking again, instead of a combination of eating out and heating stuff up in the oven: not only spag-bol (made with fake mincemeat) and Chinese noodles with sliced pepper and garlic cloves (and fake meat pieces), but a recipe I got out of a cook book given to me ten years ago by “other female best friend”, involving a single red chilli, two diced red peppers and 100g of cashews, fried and mixed with a thickener made from corn flour and soy sauce, salted and served with rice.  I hadn’t done that since February, and it’s good to be cooking properly again, instead of doing what’s convenient!  And cooking like this also frequently gives me the opportunity to season with yeast flakes, recommended a long time ago by my personal trainer as an aid to weight loss.

One aspect of my life I’m trying to stop from reverting to normal is sleep: I’m aiming to get my head down tonight by 11pm, well before midnight, rather than staying up late to watch Family Guy.  This is in the hope that it’ll stop something else, the “brain fuzz” I’ve been getting since last December, from becoming a normal feature of my days; it seems to be a side effect of headaches, which are almost certainly being caused by stress, which is exacerbated by not sleeping properly.  Now that I’m finally over my jet lag (which, alas, I wasn’t last time I said so — that very night I woke up after an hour and couldn’t get back to sleep!), I’m getting up to seven hours a night, which while not exactly the recommended eight, is way better than the five-hours-something I was getting most nights before.

(Source: Fitbit, which isn’t exactly renouned for its accuracy!)

And similarly, I think I’m finally doing away with one thing I’d sadly been getting used to at work: feeling anxious about my job.  I feel like I’m doing well, keeping things running and being relied upon so much that people often send their helpdesk tickets with my name on them (!); my boss, $DEITY bless ‘er, even gives me pointers for improvement instead of telling me off (or worse, taking me aside).  I do seem to be making a habit of remoting onto my work PC from home in order to finish off tasks (such as updates on other people’s PCs) that I wasn’t able to do during the working day, and perhaps that ain’t healthy in terms of work/life balance, but screw it, it’s my jerrrb!

Unfortunately, one thing that’s been perfectly normal for me, and indeed healthy, has become impossible lately: running up and down the stairs at work to visit people on adjacent floors, due to a long-overdue repainting of the stairwell.  No way in hell am I going to try it when the painters have covers on the stairs themselves (I may not have the same phobia of slipping as my mother, but after what happened to me last year, I’m taking no chances), and so I’ve had to do the most unhealthy thing in the universe… take the lift, even for just one floor!

(P.S. Thanks to you guys, I’m up past eleven anyway… hope you appreciate my suffering!)

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…?

Same old problems

As you’re probably aware, there was another terrorist attack in this country last week, and once again people are saying that Muslims as a whole aren’t to be trusted, because any of them could be “radicalised” and blow innocent people up (whereas when a white non-Muslim does it, they’re just a lone psycho and not somehow indicative of a wider network… y’know, because the IRA were freedom fighters, right?).

Even aside from the resurgent racists, I fear for this country’s future — especially since the media as a whole are trying to do down Jeremy Corbyn, regardless of his actual faults, as though they’re desperate to appear on the side of the Tories, ready for when they inevitably win another 4-5 years in charge of this country.  I myself don’t want to see them win, unless it’s with a vastly reduced majority, or even a hung parliament (a bloody nose to show them they aren’t making life better for the real people of this country, only for the rich elite), because even if I’m financially sound for now, they want to spy on us all the time, and what happens if they declare me a terrorist for holding the wrong opinion, or even at random to boost their statistics?  Which is worse, being killed by a terrorist’s bomb, or being shot dead by a cop who mistakes you for a terrorist (at least, that’s the official story)?

I really don’t need more stress in my life, as I’ve been having a relapse in two aspects, though they’re almost certainly related: “brain fuzz”, which returned after a long break, and “drummer-trucker” being a total see-you-next-Tuesday to me when drunk.  It began two weeks ago, as I helped at my workplace to ensure we’d be resistant to that crypto-malware that crippled (cryppled?) part of the NHS, and faced a lot of stress; this seemed to cause one individual bout on the Wednesday, but they started in earnest at the weekend, after my dreadful housemate had been away overnight and returned, and I felt compelled to avoid him to the point that I delayed going and getting a drink of water from the kitchen, even though the weather had turned hot…

He’s been getting up at 5 every morning during the working week, ruining my sleep patterns (since he’s in the room next to mine and earplugs don’t help), and coming home around the same time as me, drinking lots of beer in the garden or lounge, making me feel like I have to creep around the house.  One night, when I decided to stop avoiding him and “live dangerously”, he was particularly unpleasant to me for no reason, even complaining about me trying to fix the Internet connection when he’s usually the one to complain about it.  I guess I know now that simply getting on with my life and trying not to rise to his bait doesn’t work — he actually had a go at me for suffering from anxiety, surely a  textbook example of victim-blaming… I responded in reasonable terms when he interrogated me, and yet he acted like I was the one being weird (and that he was the one who had suffered during the five years we’ve lived together in this house) — and fretting over this made it hard for me to sleep that night.

I’m feeling better now (after a relaxing Bank Holiday weekend), but the day after that incident, my dizziness got so bad that I seemed to be having bouts of “brain fuzz” every 15-20 minutes, whereas previously the worst had been once an hour!  It still seems to involve half-coherent memories of music and lyrics, and I’m compiling a list of songs that may or may not be triggering bouts (or at least represent what I’m half-remembering) — but in all probability, it’s just a sense of déjà vu that causes anything I happen to be hearing at the time to seem familiar in a more fundamental way than simply knowing intellectually that I’ve heard it before.  The root cause is almost certainly lack of sleep combined with stress (manifesting as pains in the neck and shoulders, which in turn cause the cerebral weirdness), and that’s what I need to combat.

Fortunately, when that bozo’s sober he just coldly refuses to talk to me entirely, and leaves me alone (a more tolerable variety of rudeness than when he’s drunk) — and his plan to move out has been brought forward to early July, on a date before I return from my holiday in Michigan.  I have to hope he doesn’t take some bizarre revenge on me while I’m out of the country (e.g. putting all my stuff out by the kerb) — and “best mate” reckons he won’t, and that he’s just getting drunk as a celebration of moving out.  The best news is that I won’t have to say goodbye to him, or pretend that I’ll miss him… as far as I’m concerned, he moved out ages ago and was replaced by a drunken douchebag.

It’s sad, but I’ve actually found myself thinking that “bad housemate” at Caledonian Road wasn’t anywhere near as horrible to live with as this guy, even though his presence made me so upset that I considered moving back to Worthing!  But never mind, once “drummer-trucker” has gone, hopefully my stress levels will go right back down, as I’ll no longer be awoken every morning and then feel threatened in my own home by an oblivious bully who thinks he’s the reasonable one.

But oh, what if the Tories win — and become the biggest bullies in the country, trying to make out that they’re doing everything right, and that poor or disabled people who starve somehow brought it on themselves…?

Pain in the neck

“Huh huh, I’m not gonna help you — Otis Urungus would want it that way!”

No, it’s not another post about my former-drummer housemate (though the stress he caused me recently may have been a contributing factor), but rather, what I think to be the cause of my recent bouts of “brain fuzz”: good old-fashioned pain, specifically in my neck and shoulders, either restricting blood flow to the brain or flooding my system with adrenaline (or both).

Stress can certainly lead to me hunching my shoulders, but the cold can also contribute to this, and it’s not exactly impossible that I’ve been sitting with bad posture lately.  I’ve noticed that I get these bursts of dizziness when moving my head around, especially suddenly; it might take an hour or two for the necessary “build-up”, but there’s no other obvious trigger, seeing as they’ve happened under completely disparate circumstances (noisy, quiet, energetic, sedate, crowded, alone, sitting in front of a computer or exercising at the Castle).

While caffeine may exacerbate the situation, I was getting them even when avoiding espresso entirely for days at a time — and having decided to “live dangerously” and drink loads of caffeine this week, I’ve not noticed any worsening of the situation.  Indeed, after getting a different chair at work (with better back support), and regularly rolling my head around on my neck as an exercise, I’ve actually found that the dizzy spells are less severe, with no real strength to overpower my thoughts with quasi-memories, and no helpless feelings of unreality.  I need to do more, such as replacing the ancient mattresses in my room (they’re blatantly over eight years old — hey, I’ve been here five, and they weren’t exactly new when I arrived!) to ensure I sleep well and don’t get a bad back, but it’s a good start.

So there you go: it’s not deliriousness brought on by an illness, or petits mals caused by incipient epilepsy, or a brain tumour, or cancer caused by wireless signals, or a concussion sustained from a cupboard door… or telepathic attacks, glitches in the Matrix, repressed memories of Jimmy Saville, future predictions warning me of my grisly death while listening to Gwar, signs that I’m turning into a Deep One… they’re also not an indication of dehydration (if anything, I drink too much water these days), and while I probably don’t get enough sleep, I get more than I did when I used to stay up until 1am, and I’m being sensible and turning this contraption off well before midnight these days!

I just need to un-hunch my shoulders (which will be easier when the weather warms up), sit up straight, exercise my neck more, and calm down — because despite what I said last time, I do still find my day-to-day life stressful, especially travelling on the London Underground (and if I get a seat, I’m hunched over my phone or a book).  Caffeine probably doesn’t help, but hey, I drank plenty over Christmas, when I had no bouts of weirdness (aside from Christmas Day, when I was recovering from a headache caused by a cold wind) — so I’ll cut down to sensible levels, but not quit entirely.  After all, a sign of alcoholism is giving up booze entirely, just to prove you can do it…

— — —

What’s that?  You want to see the Beavis and Butt-head music video review from which I obtained the above screengrab?  You are never satisfied, are you?  Oh, go on then:

Nothing to fear

Don’t worry, folks, I was entirely unaffected by the ostensible terror attack here in London today (even my commute home was untroubled).  While it’s sad that innocent people died, it was clearly a futile endeavour compared to 7/7 or 9/11 (or the recent attacks in Europe), and I’m not afraid of terror.

However, that might be the case anyway, as I’m less anxious now than I’ve been in years.  Much like Cartman thought had happened to his sense of humour in that South Park episode, I think I may have “blown an anxiety fuse” recently — and, like Cartman, perhaps that’s a ludicrous explanation and I’m actually just getting more mature.

(Yeah, right, and monkeys might fly outta my butt…)

I first noticed this phenomenon during the horrors of November 2014, when I was doing that shift-based job I hated from the start: the second (and last, as it happened) day shift, on a Friday, saw me mysteriously perk up after lunch, almost as though a switch had been thrown in my head… or the part of my brain dealing with anxiety had simply worn out and shut down.  As I thought at the time, it may have been purely because it resembled a normal working weekday, for the first time since I’d finished at Camden (those six weeks of 90-minute commutes to and from Greenford didn’t count), but it certainly felt like some kind of biochemical change in my noggin.

And now, today, in 2017, I don’t really feel afraid or intimidated any more.  Okay, I still can’t stand noisy, crowded places, but that’s because I’m a human being from the planet Earth, and nothing to do with anxiety — I find such environments unpleasant, as any sane person would, but I don’t find myself freezing up, trying to stifle a scream or curling into a foetal position, just wanting to get the hell out there as soon as possible.  Similarly, a couple of weeks ago I was so afraid of arguing with my former-drummer housemate that I installed a voice recorder app on my phone, in case I needed evidence that he was threatening me… now, I find I don’t really care what he does, because it’s not like he interferes with my food or anything like that — it’s all just tedious “jokes” and annoyance.

Moreover, now that I’ve settled into my job as IT helpdesk “face” and put the terrors of January 2016 behind me, I find that I don’t panic when my boss criticises me, or cajoles me into doing some work — I know she’s just doing her job, and I’ve been reliably informed (by my workplace senpai) that she’s a lot nicer and more reasonable than many IT bosses… and hey, she may be right, it’s not impossible for someone of management grade to be correct about something!  Plus, of course, she swung me a pay rise, which has turned into another pay rise thanks to a new payscale being introduced, so I owe her a great deal, and can stop feeling afraid she’s going to ditch me on a whim, or that she’s setting me up to fail.

Having more money, of course, also helps me feel confident about my place in the world — I’m no longer living hand-to-mouth, and can finally do things I’ve only dreamed of (like going back to the USA for the first time in three years, Trump notwithstanding).  You may think it’s wrong for me to feel happy having money when our government seem to be ensuring as many people as possible end up in poverty (zero-hour contracts, unemployed and disabled being cut off from benefits, the economy tanking due to Brexit while the rich get tax breaks), but sometimes you’ve got to worry about yourself first, before you can help others.  Much as I dismiss the Bible, I see the wisdom in the bit about beams and splinters, and know I’ve got to keep myself safe and well if I’m ever going to help my folks (the most important people to me).

Something definitely seems to have changed in me.  I remember how I’d get massively depressed and/or anxious during 2015, in the aftermath of that horrible period of unemployment, even with pitifully small cause — clamming up and withdrawing from the office because people were being noisy, or worrying that I’d offended a girl I fancied, and spending whole days sinking deeper into sadness even as I tried to throw myself into my work (to the point that a work friend recommended I take St. John’s wort).  I’m beginning to wonder whether the part of my brain that caused those bouts of misery (and began doing so in late 2011) is malfunctioning now, perhaps dying at last, and that this is why I keep getting “brain fuzz” these days: it’s a case of crossed wires (or a leaking pipe), and instead of depression/anxiety being triggered by this thing, I’m getting random bursts of memory at those times.

As far as this particular brain issue goes, I’ve seen the quack (again) and arranged a blood test for next Friday, just in case it’s down to hypothyroidism.  I know I apparently didn’t have that back in 2015, according to a blood test I received at that time; I was concerned then that I was feeling the cold a little too much, but it later emerged (after I spoke to an actual doctor in person, rather than a bored receptionist on the phone) that I was borderline low iron, which would explain a lot.

(Oddly, I also don’t feel the cold anywhere near as much nowadays… though that could be due to rebuilding a layer of fat, alas!)

In the meantime, my bouts of brain weirdness seem to have stopped entirely, even though I’m back drinking caffeine, eating chocolate, listening to my diverse music collection, and working hard.  I still feel brief weirdness now and then, often when thinking things out — like a single word, rather than a group of memories, is sounding in my brain — but something similar happens to me when I’m dozing off in bed at night (while reading, wash your minds out!), so it’s no big deal… probably.  I wonder if this apparent recovery is due to having discussed the issue with my mother at the weekend — it certainly felt like something “turned over” in my brain at that moment — and perhaps it’s like so many people’s experiences with the IT helpdesk: when you try to demonstrate the problem, it immediately disappears and you look foolish!

I know I should feel more worry about the state of the world at the moment, with the deplorable rise in right-wing sentiment, and my government’s plans to spy on us wholesale and punish whistleblowers, allegedly in the name of combatting terrorism — and, of course, Trump (no complete sentence needed there).  As I’ve noted before, my life improvements seem to send the rest of the world along the highway to Hell… but what good would it do for me to feel bad, to give up the good things in my life just because I feel like I don’t deserve them?  If anything, now that I’ve got my life on track, I might be in a better position to help others… and maybe help prop up the economy by spending?

Too much, too soon?

A lot of stuff is going on in my life all at once, and I wonder if the reason I keep getting “brain fuzz”, even after cutting down on caffeine, is that my brain’s shutting down whenever it’s overstimulated.  I’ve had quite a few bouts recently, and while I seldom get more than one a day like I did in December (when it was really bad), it’s still troubling — so I’m going to see the quack again tomorrow, in the hope that whoever’s filling in for my actual GP can give me better advice than “keep an eye on it”.

This occurs just as I’ve taken a half-day to visit the dentist tooth-quack, in order to restore an external filling over a tooth root.  There’s been a groove at the top of that tooth for years now (apparently due to the gum receding), and while the operation went well in the end, I’d had a nightmare last night in which my lower right canine was coming out, and I was desperately trying to force it back into the socket!  It’s not the first time I’ve had that exact dream (a previous dentist said it was due to tooth-grinding in sleep), and I have to wonder if it’s stress, and thus a sleepless night (despite retiring early), that’s given me my mental problems today.

If I hadn’t been seeing the dentist this morning, I’d have been staying in anyway, as the landlady told us she was having a mortgage surveyor (or “survivor”, as autocorrect put it) come over to look at our house.  She’d made a mistake, and he’s actually coming tomorrow, but I’ll be having the entire day off to let him in… and also see the quack, and hopefully rest my head a bit, in case it’s stress that leads to my bouts of “brain fuzz”.  But how can I reduce stress if it’s possible that the landlady’s thinking of selling this place, and we all have to move out?

Can I really go through the stress of January 2012 all over again, even if the weather’s a bit less cold and miserable at this time of year?  I know I complain about this house in winter, but I’ve got a good thing going here, with rent being lower than it should be for Finchley; it’s also a good spot on the Northern Line, as I can always get a seat on trains that come down from Mill Hill East (strikes and “good service” notwithstanding) — and I wonder if I could find the same in a cheaper location.

($DEITY help me if I have to live on the cursed Piccadilly Line again… and $EVIL_DEITY help me if I have to live on Caledonian Road again!)

There’s also the question of anywhere here in London, on a tolerable public transport route, actually being cheaper anyway; I don’t want my recent pay rise to be wiped out by either higher rent or higher transport costs (or both).  To complicate matters, I am in fact due a second pay rise next month, owing to a new payscale being implemented at my workplace, but I’m concerned that this might set me just above the monthly gross wage limit that would disallow me from deferring repaying my student loans for another year.  I may be all right (it’ll be close, that’s for sure), but if I do have to start paying back, will the payments wipe out my wage increase?

I certainly can’t give up on London and move back to Worthing, for a reason more immediate than the usual loathing of the town where I endured my teenage years.  My grandmother needs to sleep in my old room, as it’s close to the bathroom, only using the tiny room at the back of the flat when I come to visit at the weekend; when she’s had her knee operation in April, she’ll need it even more certainly, to the point that I won’t be able to visit at all for a few weeks while she convalseces!  This means that I’ll definitely have to find a new place to rent here in London if the landlady sells, no matter what — but the timescale matters, as how quickly would she want us out?

So you see, there’s a lot going on in my life right now, and perhaps it’s not so surprising that my brain keeps doing strange things (especially if I have my shoulders hunched through stress, and can’t sleep properly no matter how early I get my head down).  Perhaps it’s like when the people at work have computer problems, and I tell them to “turn it off and on again” (which works a lot more often than it should) — I really need to rest and relax, and not stare at computer screens all day, every day, for pleasure as well as work.

What I really need is a holiday… and how convenient, my old Michigan roomie’s brother has invited me over to watch him take part in a bodybuilding show; if I can get the right tickets (and if it doesn’t overlap with possibly having to find a new place to live), this could mean I stay for Independence Day as well, a holiday I’ve never experienced in the US of A… and maybe it’ll actually be sunny enough for me to go outside, despite it being Michigan.

But oh, what about the Trump administration planning to force tourists to hand over their passwords and bank details, just to make sure we’re not terrorists (or to plant evidence if they want to pretend we are)?  Argh, stress, stress, streeeessss!

(On the plus side, my former-drummer housemate and I seem to be back down to Defcom 4…)

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?)