Category Archives: Health matters

Not rocket science

I really wish this Simpsons image hadn’t proven to be so prophetic…

I won’t beat about the bush: it turns out my last diagnosis for the cause of my repeated bouts of “mind static” was way too optimistic, as today I found out I do in fact have an actual tumour nestling within my grey matter, rather than just a cyst on the outside that could be removed with minimal fuss.  I’ll need more analysis, including a detailed “super-MRI” scan, but unless I’m (ahem) lucky enough that I could spend my life on anti-epilepsy drugs as a way of controlling symptoms with no consequences, it looks like I’m going to have to endure full-on brain surgery, to remove the troublesome “space invader” — which, rather than some kind of parasitical growth, seems to be actually part of my brain that’s gone wrong.

Hopefully, cuts to the NHS notwithstanding, I’m in no danger of dying on the operating table (which sadly happened to my grandfather just before the millennium) — but my personal trainer went through similar earlier in his life, and said that it led to changes in his personality (albeit perhaps partly due to the wrong operation being done first), such as being quicker to anger, losing his mathematical knowledge, and needing to rekindle his interest in sport over a long time (which is perhaps why he was a chef in a previous role).  He’s a great guy today, but he’s still somehow a different person to the one who went under the knife.

If I do go through with this operation (and at this stage, it’s strictly hypothetical), I wonder if I’d lose something?  As I keep saying, I’d love to remove anxiety from my mind, since it serves no purpose whatsoever (and is self-reinforcing at times) — and wouldn’t it be convenient if the only reason I’ve been so anxious the past few years is indeed down to that exact lump interfering with my noggin, and so saving my life would go hand-in-hand with finally growing a pair?  The same goes with my quickness to anger, something I’d love to be rid of entirely — if I can squeeze it into that blob, I can bid it goodbye — and there’s also my tendency to rehearse conversations internally, even if I’m never actually going to have them, and overthinking in general.

On the other hand, would surgery be what finally causes me to “put away childish things”, like video games (which would be frustrating when I’ve spent so much time and money building this ubercomputer for games), science fiction, and Japanese anime?  Indeed, since it’s the left temporal lobe, concerned with language and comprehension, would I forget how to speak and understand Japanese… or, indeed, English?

I’ve resolved not to worry about this, and to carry on living (much as I did before — boy, I keep retreating the same ground in this blog, don’t I?), as if all goes well, I get my life back, and all I need to do for now is cut down on intense exercise, or anything where someone else’s life is in my hands, like belaying others while climbing.  It’s not impossible that I’ll never climb again — it got me out of depression in 2012, but maybe it’s served its purpose, and I don’t need to do it any more unless I truly want to.

It should be noted that my personal trainer’s being helpful in this aspect, not making me do “heavy lifting” for the time being, but encouraging me to keep healthy and positive, rather than laze about at home and get into bad habits, and for that I’m grateful.  My “boss lady” at work is also happy for me to take off whatever time I need to get this resolved, while senpai, despite worrying excessively (and urging me to get a “second opinion”), is on my side, and will help take care of me at work if anything goes wrong and I suffer from any symptoms.

I should also be very clear that I’m eternally grateful for my mother’s support in this — I’m planning a blog post about how awesome she is, even if I disagree with her politically (at times it feels like the right-wing consider the left-wing a bunch of babies who need to “grow up”), to make up for all the times I’ve been mean about her and her well-meaning advice (including last time).  I do worry about people worrying about me, and my main reason for wanting to recover from this medical issue is so they don’t need to, as their worry is increasing my worry, in a… worry spiral?

One reason I’m going to be optimistic is that it feels like history repeating itself: a crisis of some kind seems to happen to me every three years, and I’ve always overcome it (I’m sure my yoga teacher would have something mystical to say — and he’s back in town, so I’ll try to see him on Monday instead of dancing).  It’s like this: something goes wrong at the end of one year (leading to a Christmas that I somehow don’t quite enjoy), but is resolved by the following February (when it’s no longer so depressingly dark in the mornings), or at least matters set in place for a longer-term resolution.  Here’s a list:

  • Late 2008: my HR job at Camden was threatened due to yet another council restructuring, but I was sick of it anyway, and in early 2009 I got redeployed to children’s social services, which meant I could continue working and living in London (and learning Japanese).
  • Late 2011: as you know (if you’ve been reading this long enough), I sank into deep depression due to “good housemate” getting his own place, while my own life was going nowhere; by the end of January, I had a new place to move into (and am still here), and even got offered an acting-up allowance on my salary, to help cover at work (later leading to my playboy lifestyle, including mass socialising).
  • Late 2014: after losing that horrible shift-based job, and wondering if I’d ever get into IT, or even work again, in February my agency found me a temporary but sanity-restoring job, and I was able to go back to paying my bills with something other than government handouts; this led on to my current job, in which (despite the occasional setback) I’m now truly happy.

“And this smudge here, that looks like my thumbprint? No, that’s trauma!”

I know my bouts of “mind static” started with a vengeance over a year ago, but it was only in late 2017 that I finally got the quacks to take it seriously and actually give me some kind of examination beyond simply confirming I can feel my fingertips and move my eyes around.  This has now led me towards the truth of the situation (assuming it’s not all a huge photographic cock-up — it took them a long time to process the pictures on the 3rd!), and I’ve got “the big decision” coming up on 8th February.  This date is, perhaps not coincidentally, close to the dates I earned my redeployment position in 2009, moved into my new home in 2012, and started my new temp job in 2015!

And even if I had some bad times in those years following those events (some of which have been chronicled here), my life always bounced back, and I regained the ability to be happy again — so this time around, even if the depression of 2011 and the anxiety of 2014 both threaten a concerted attack (both would be entirely understandable given the circumstances), I’m going to stay cheerful, control symptoms with medication (even if one of the pills means I, ahem, gain weight), and do the things I enjoy.

It’d be just my luck to have a major issue just as I’m finally sorting my life out (aside from girly action, but I remain hopeful) — but somehow, even if it takes every ounce of strength and determination…

DAVE-ROS WILL LIVE THROUGH THIS!

— — —

P.S. I note that a number of people with Outlook.com addresses have signed up to my blog since my last post; if any of you are doctors, especially brain surgeons, I’m very sorry for using “quack” as humorous shorthand for your career… don’t take offence, I call dentists “tooth-quacks” as well!  Maybe brain surgery will stop me trying to be funny in such a 1950s American nightclub standup way…?

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Belligerent socialising

Maybe it’s the anti-epilepsy medication I’m on, but I’ve found myself to be rather more talkative at work than before — chatty, humorous (without being offensive), and supportive to my “flock”.  However, today I’ve had an experience that makes me feel like I need to tone it down, as I really didn’t enjoy the presence of an extrovert at a social event… though doubtless it’s all my fault somehow, as it usually is.

(Ah, there’s the mood swing my medication warned me about — at least it took over a week!)

My Polish friend (who, considering we haven’t kissed beyond polite cheek pecks, probably isn’t my girlfriend and is more like a “friend who is a girl”) invited me today to an event, at a famous vegetarian/vegan restaurant in the Regent Street area, for a meetup group concerning animal welfare.  I was feeling exhausted after yesterday (my first personal training session in over a month), not to mention lethargic from a combination of the aforementioned medication and January being the most dismal month of the year, but still wanted to go and keep her company (since she was the one who asked), and so set off for the city centre to meet her.  So far, so good.

However, it seems I still don’t like forced socialising, as although I can talk to unfamiliar people in a small group, gradually getting to know them, I still can’t stand it when someone — almost always a bloke with a loud voice — barges into the group, acting like he’s doing us a favour, and droning on and on and on in a manner that suggests he thinks he’s a skilled orator… I felt a little shame for loathing the presence of this guy, but felt like I was trapped: my female friend was staying put (and even joining in the conversation), and I didn’t think I could just walk away from her, and I also worried that simply leaving to talk to someone else would be considered rude.

(I’d already lost my opportunity to go talk to a cute Far Eastern girl with pink hair, who was talking to some other bloke, and is probably engaged by now… yes, that’s the mood swing again!)

Things like this have happened before, including at Japanese meetup events (which is why I can’t bring myself to go to them any more, despite still being interested in the language and the people — plus I hate loud, crowded places).  One time in 2012, I was sitting alone when I suddenly found myself surrounded by white English blokes, with Japanese girlfriends, who were all acting friendly in the sense that there was no possible way I could be uncomfortable with them intruding like that.  I didn’t enjoy their company one bit, and excused myself to buy a drink.  I nearly walked out entirely, but with a cider in hand, I managed to get together with a group of Japanese girls for conversation.  Not with the intention of pulling one of them (well, not the sole intention), but because they were (a) actually Japanese (the whole point of the event), and (b) female (whose company I find much less intimidating than male)!

I suppose I haven’t changed much over the past few years: if anything, I enjoy socialising even less than I did when I worked in that dead-end admin job up to 2014, when at least meetup events (and especially Meetup.com events) meant a change from my dull working environment.  Now, after spending my entire week helping familiar people, and trying to be funny, I find I want nothing more than to relax at home afterwards, even at the weekend.  In fact, I’d love it if I never had to socialise again — but there’s no other way I’m ever likely to find the girl of my dreams, so I feel obliged to keep going to social events, no matter how uncomfortable I am.

Indeed, socialising is considered an obligation for human beings, and even my own mother has told me off for not wanting to enthusiastically shake hands with strangers in social settings, or to let random blokes strike up conversations with me when I’m at singles events.  That’s the thing: I still don’t want to make new male friends just for the sake of it, and new male friends happen more by chance than anything (“best mate”, my personal trainer, my yoga teacher etc.).  It’s simple: although a few blokes turn out, astonishingly, to be worthy of my friendship, most men in the world hold zero interest for me, because I’ve never wanted to be “one of the lads” or have “drinking buddies”, or watch sportsball with other blokes.

To balance, though, there are times guys have approached me and we’ve got talking (like an occasion back in 2013 you may remember, though I never really saw that group again) — it all depends on the energy.  I’m happy to make new acquaintances, for example, when I go climbing at the Castle, and I say hi to blokes I’m familiar with when I see them at the Session (one looks like my old school friend in the 1990s, another resembles the actor Kevin Eldon).  It’s when I’m at a social event and someone with a large, overbearing personality forces me to interact with them that I get up-tight and withdrawn.  Maybe they’re an introvert like me, trying to make a new friend but misjudging their approach, and if they see they’re intimidating and dial it back a bit, fair enough — that’s something I can empathise with.  But it’s the extroverts I want to avoid, because they don’t even have a dial to turn back: they’re incessantly, belligerently sociable, and act like the only reason you’re not fawning over them is that they haven’t been loud and cheerful enough yet.

(Hence the problem I had with a certain work colleague many years ago…)

It’s not just me who has social interaction issues, though: I remember a time a couple of years ago when I was attending a dating guidance event led by (just to name her for once) Hayley Quinn; I was watching other people’s interactions, keeping myself to myself and woolgathering, when suddenly the bloke sitting next to me — who I wasn’t even looking at, and who could only see the back of my head — suddenly all but shouted a “sociable” question, almost right in my ear!  That’s right, he didn’t even tap me on the shoulder (or otherwise attract my attention) and introduce himself, he just blurted it out, and boy, that really ground my gears, making me want to interact with him as little as possible.

Today: everyone in the entire human race!

Back to the incident at today’s event: although she was happy to leave with me when she saw I was uncomfortable, my Polish friend seemed to think I was in the wrong, and that if I didn’t like the loudmouth, I should have just walked away from the group and spoken to someone else — but like I said above, I felt like I had a Hobson’s choice, and would be in the wrong simply for not liking the guy from the get-go (since he wasn’t rude or violent), whether I clammed up, walked away or told him to turn it down.  As though you should like anyone who is polite, no matter how much they grate on your nerves!

However, the fact that I’m talking so much at work at the moment — being political, making smart-alec comments like I’m performing to a crowd and so on — makes me wonder if I need to dial things back as well, and resist becoming an “extroverted introvert”.  I especially worry that the nice female team member who sits opposite me at work (who’s a lot quieter and more demure than the blokes, and thus far more pleasant for me to interact with) is getting fed up with my constant quasi-standup comedy routines, and references to old TV shows, songs etc. that were big before she was even born.

Maybe I need to settle down and be more sensible — or at least more willing to ask people questions (and actually listen to the answers) than drone on about my experiences and opinions like some kind of rambling old-timer.  Despite my introvercy (or maybe because of it?), it’s easy for me to talk a great deal when I’m around familiar people, but I don’t want to annoy them the way extroverts annoy me at social events, as nobody likes a hypocrite.  I may even need to rant my heart out in a blog post here, just to get it out of my system, so I don’t go on and on at people I actually like.

Of course, this could all just be part of the aforementioned mood swing, bordering on outright depression (I’ve certainly felt like having a damn good cry this evening), caused by one of the medications I’ve been prescribed for my medical condition — I’ve certainly felt better after coming home and having dinner (and talking to my housemates).  That’s not the only reason I wish the quacks would let me come off clobazam, though: amongst other things, it makes it harder to… shall we say… shed excess mass?  It’s not just Easter eggs in the shops that are causing me to gain weight…

— — —

P.S. My Polish friend texted me while I was writing this, and she still wants to hang out with me and have me over for vegan pizza (even if she uses “Netflix and chill” in a more literal context than sex maniacs do), so at least I haven’t blown our friendship entirely by being antisocial to strangers…

Getting my head examined

Unfortunately, mine’s unlikely to die of starvation and drop off

Although weirdness had been happening occasionally for a couple of years, it was December 2016 when I first experienced a great deal of… well, what I can only describe as bursts of quasi-memories and feelings of deja vu, which at their worst would prevent me understanding other people’s speech, and make me very uncertain about speaking in case I get tongue-tied, for up to a minute at a time.

Well, of all the theories I’ve had, it would seem I was half-right when I suggested a tumour pushing on my brain: I’ve finally had a full MRI analysis by the NHS last week (the process itself was fine, it was the waiting before and after which threatened my sanity!), and after looking at the photos of my noggin, they reckon there’s a “cyst” on my left temporal lobe, leading to pressure against my skull, which (consistent with my symptoms) has been causing what they describe as minor epileptic seizures.

(So it’s not something Lovecraftian after all… if anything, it’s more like “Mr. Gray” from Stephen King’s Dreamcatcher, which naturally I’m reading at this exact time!)

Confirmation is yet to come — they’re analysing an EEG they also performed (and a chest X-ray, which was odd), and this week it’s likely they’ll call me in for a further assessment — but if it’s true, it’s clarified my situation: rather than any number of things, like posture or food additives or eye strain or caffeine overdoses (or the onset of diabetes!), it’s just a plain old lump that needs removing.  Judging from how long it took to develop since my first definite attack in May 2015, they reckon it isn’t aggressive or malignant, just annoying; indeed, I remember occasionally having milder bursts of deja vu (and memories I couldn’t keep hold of) even earlier, back when I still worked at Camden council — perhaps as long ago as 2009 or 2010…

For now, to mitigate the symptoms, I’ve been prescribed two different types of epilepsy medication, and so far they seem to be working: no more bursts of “mind static” seemingly triggered by song lyrics, words in books, people talking around me, or neck strain.  It means I’m back to feeling confident doing all my usual things again, like listening to Gwar, drinking caffeine (though I’m still steering clear of those mochas at work), exercising and cooking in my kitchen (one of the situations I’d get the attacks most frequently), as well as thinking, reading, having hypothetical conversations in my brain, and planning things to write.  I’m also sleeping better than I was before, even during Christmas when I was in Worthing (chocolate overdoses notwithstanding!).

No, I won’t stop ripping off Matt Groening cartoons for amusing images in this blog!

I’d be willing to continue this situation indefinitely, to avoid having the quacks open my skull and tinker with my grey matter, if I was worried that brain surgery might kill me (or leave me a dribbling vegetable).  However, I know I’ve got to let them offer me a long-term resolution, and the doctors I’ve spoken to are not worried for my sake (due to this thing apparently not being cancerous) — it’d be a routine operation, not a lobotomy, and they’d put the chunk of skull back in after, rather than a metal plate.

That’s if an operation is even needed, of course: I wonder if the “space invader” (as I call it, due to it being inside my head) is actually receding a bit, knowing it’d be better off keeping its damn mouth shut and letting me get on with my life.  I find myself wondering if it was the cause of my depression in 2011-12, or my anxiety in 2014-15… though if anything, it’d be more likely that those situations created it (since in both cases my emotions were responses to external events, rather than spontaneous and inexplicable).

If it is indeed some kind of visceral manifestation of the parts of my psychology that I hate and want to be rid of forever, that’d be best of all: I’ve said in the past that I want to rid myself of anxiety entirely, rip it out of my mind and grind it beneath my heel… so I’ll see if the surgeons keep it for me in a jar afterwards.  Or maybe I’ll put it on the mantelpiece and jeer at it.

Of course, there’s one final scary possibility: what if $DEITY heard me say I’d never again contemplate suicide unless I became terminally ill, and wants to test my resolve…?

Clinging on

Maybe that’s why I feel so strange
Got it all, but I still won’t change
Maybe that’s why I can’t leave Detroit!
It’s the motivation that keeps me goin’!
This is the inspiration I need
I can never turn my back on the city that made me, and—
(Life’s been good to me, so far…)
—Eminem, “So Far…” (The Marshall Mathers LP 2, 2013)

Despite the concerns I expressed last time, I’m hopeful I won’t get fired, suspended, or reduced in pay grade as long as I keep my nose clean and stop myself from snapping at anyone — and this is essential, because without my current job, I can’t imagine remaining in London, something I definitely want to do.

I know I don’t get everything right, but enough people seem to like me at work that there would be serious repercussions if I were punished by “boss lady”.  That’s why, in my darkest moments, I’ve contemplated offering to hand in my resignation on the grounds that I allegedly have to return to Worthing, to take care of my folks, as a compromise to her firing me — the benefit to her being that I’d be seen to leave of my own accord, and so she wouldn’t get blamed for firing me by all the staff members who are so fond of me that they open their helpdesk tickets with “Dear David”.

However, I’d much rather not have to go through with that at all, and stay in my job for as long as possible, paying my rent right here and not having to worry, controlling my emotions and making it clear to the users that I like each and every one of them, and am doing my best to help them.

(A better solution might be to promote me to Level 2 tech, where I’d have much less interaction with staff than Level 1, seeing as (a) I’m likely to be somewhere on the autistic spectrum, and (b) human contact is what’s been stressing me out!)

As I’ve doubtless said many times since starting this blog, I’m getting better all the time — and I feel I owe it to this damned city, hence why I want to remain in London for as long as possible.  It’s partly for social reasons (who’d I hang out with in Worthing?!), partly to keep my family at a respectful distance (who’d date me if I lived with my mother?!), and partly because this is my life now: one reason I was hesitant for my American “second family” to work on getting me a green card was that I’ve made a go of things at last, right here, where I used to feel such despair — a good wage, a good career, and even a half-decent commute!

I’ve also grown tougher and more responsible, believe it or not: I’ve offered to take on the responsibility of managing our household bills, such as rent (since “drummer-trucker” moved out), using an old bank account to gather the money together, instead of letting someone else worry about it.  Somehow I doubt this would have happened if I was living in Worthing with my folks, probably getting lazier and less ambitious by the day.

This is what happens when you take acupuncture too far… what, too obvious?

I thus need to overcome my stress-related aches and pains, so I can focus on my day-to-day life and make the most of living here, instead of getting into a self-reinforcing stress spiral, stressing about the aches and pains both increased by and increasing my stress levels, rather than giving up, returning to Worthing and “not caring” any more.

I made a start by seeing my old yoga teacher, on one of his rare visits to London, for a bit of acupuncture.  This actually helped me feel rather better, at least for one night, and while it’s clear I still need some kind of proper massage to get over my neck-and-shoulder aches and pains, I can recommend getting pins stuck in you by an expert (as long as it’s someone you trust) — even if it’s quackery, it’s the thought that counts.

He also gave me advice on reducing my stimulation level… no, wash your minds out, he’s just concerned that I spend my entire waking time listening to music, reading books, playing video games and watching TV, none of which are actually “restful” activities, even if I’m sitting still for the duration!  My brain needs a proper rest, and it won’t get that unless I slow things down and do less intense stuff.

(On that basis, I wish I’d taken the time to sit out in the sunshine during the Bank Holiday weekend, thinking of nothing in particular!)

Having said that, I’ve bought some softer pillows than the ones I got earlier this year (and also 1/12th the price of those damn things!), as well as massaging my own neck (the most probably source of the dizziness) as a stopgap solution, and these seem to be helping: although I still feel weird now and then (always as a prelude to a dull headache), I seldom have all-out bursts of memory-related static going off in my brain, and can thus maintain adequate face-to-face contact with my fellow human beings.

On the other hand, the hot weather over the weekend seems to have disturbed my sleep pattern all over again: as in July, sometimes I find myself waking about four hours after I fell asleep, unable to get off again and getting agitated as a result.  Despite the advice I’ve received, this can happen even when I’ve had dinner earlier than usual (and no caffeine), with a banana for dessert instead of chocolate (indeed, having chocolate ice cream during the Bank Holiday weekend seemed to help me get a good night’s sleep!), and gone to bed a full eight hours before my morning alarm time.

Of course, it’s partly because I’ve been using Fitbit for ages now: the device I bought earlier this year gives a rather detailed estimation of my sleeping patterns, which just gets me worried.  This kind of thing never seemed to bother me back when I used to stay up until 1am watching Family Guy, and then wake up with enough energy the following morning to make lunch before setting off for work…

Ah, to be in my, er, mid-thirties again!

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…?