Category Archives: Health matters

Dave-ros lives… again!

Yes, I’m alive, and with all my faculties intact (well, no less than before I went under the knife), with my mother coming to visit me in hospital, and friends sending me good wishes separately, including over Facebook.  Unfortunately only “best mate” was actually able to come and visit: my personal trainer was too busy, and although my work senpai was going to come over on Sunday, he was diverted to restore the servers at work!

(I guess the place is already falling apart with me on sick leave?)

I’ve not lost any memories (or at least, I can’t remember losing them… ha ha, no?), and still feel mostly the same way that I did before, but the side effects for now include tiredness and a certain instablility walking, pain in the left side of the head (and need to take painkillers), an occasional “bubbling” that’s presumably in the area of the brain they operated, tightness of the jaw (as they had to impair one of the tendons), and, worst of all, a certain weirdness in hearing: some sounds, especially human speech, sound like they’re coming through a faulty speaker, or over a wonky TV/radio signal!  I first noticed this when my Polish female friend came to visit and her voice sounded strange, and my radio and TV are coming into my head in similar ways, with high pitches especially grating.

On the plus side, the lasting dizzy spells seem to have stopped for now, though the “trigger” still frequently goes off — like a momentary dizziness, or apparent memory, but not leading to a flood.  It’s as though the cause is persisting, but to no avail, as I don’t seem to suffer from “mind static” (touch wood), and everything else should subside over time.  All the issues should (should!) subside over time, as my brain readjusts to my current hearing ability (or I extract the wax that’s interfering), the anaesthetic wears off, and I relax enough to restore my strength.

I only stayed in hospital over the weekend due to the quacks needing to speak to me again on Monday (but not at the weekend, naturally), and since then I’ve come back to Finchley for a few days (with my mother staying in the area to look after me), simply because I’ve got to go back to the hospital again on Thursday for one final meeting before I can stay with my folks and my recovery can begin in earnest.  The quacks have been very cagey about what they took out of me (perhaps partly due to it taking a week to perform biopsy on the sample), only saying that the operation “went well” and advising me to continue taking the anti-epilepsy medication for another few weeks, but hopefully on Thursday they’ll make everything clear…

After that, I’ll be taken down to Worthing so my mother and grandmother can look after me for a few weeks; this will involve cutting my hair short (so it all regrows evenly, and I can wash it again once the scar’s healed), taking me for walks gradually to restore my stability, and feeding me lots of protein and other healthy food, removing my need to move around too much or worry about cooking.  Unfortunately my grandmother herself is not doing so well lately, so I’ll try to support her as well, though I doubt I’ll be able to do very much other than me polite and nice to her; it might be better to get control of myself, so my mother can take care of her mother without needing to focus on me too much.

Most importantly, of course: my computer in Worthing is half-decent, so I can play games as much as I want (I’m working my way through StarCraft at the moment) — and maybe post here as well, since I haven’t forgotten my passwords, or how to write in English!

(Unless I’ve been writing this post in bad Japanese, and not realised…?  Baka, eigo de kaku n da!)

Meanwhile, “best mate” will take care of our billing in London for June, which I’ve helped clarify for him (and paid him my shares of rent and council tax), though good luck to him getting the washing machine fixed or replaced — our landlady’s more focused on us finding a replacement for one of our housemates, who’s moving out at the end of May!

That’s all for now — next time, maybe I’ll have something interesting to say… but hopefully not of a negative aspect (e.g. “it turned out to be a Stage 5 tumour, and my head’s more likely to explode now than it was before the surgery”!).  My final hurdle is to endure rush-hour commuting to Hammersmith tomorrow morning for my meeting (with my mother by my side) for the meeting, because after that it’s a quiet taxi trip, and then I’ll be able to take a nice hot bath…

— — —

P.S. Good news, the landlady’s ordered us a new washing machine; bad news, she needs one of us in the house next Wednesday to receive it, and it definitely won’t be me!  And senpai has phoned me to check up, and says I should be fine staying off work until July…

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Prelude to departure… for surgery

In 24 hours I’ll be trying to sleep in a hospital room in Hammersmith, wishing this terrifying situation wasn’t necessary, but trying to stay positive and convince myself that (a) the operation on Wednesday morning will go fine, and (b) I’ll recover quickly enough to let everyone know I’m all right.

My friends at work are hoping for me, along with everyone close to me who I’ve told about what I’m facing, but I wish I shared their optimism: even if my life is in no danger (thanks largely to my personal trainer and my long-term vegetarianism putting me in good physical health), it’s still likely I’ll need to take a loooooong time to get well again afterwards, and my mother and grandmother will have to take care of me, when I ought to be taking care of them!

Even the best prospect — that there are no complications and I’m completely cured, without even having to face chemotherapy in future — involves me recovering slowly, perhaps not being able to use a computer for a while (to let everyone know I came through it all fine), and not being able to return to work, or exercise in any significant way, for weeks or even months.  When will I be able to read books again?  I don’t want to spend ages staring at the walls, not even allowed to doze because it’d mess up my sleep pattern!

The only other time in my life I’ve been in hospital for an operation was in December 1993: some adult teeth were defying the system, and needed removal from inside the roof of my mouth before they messed up my existing upper set.  Although it was boring and I slept through it (I thank you), the operation went well, preventing my English teeth from becoming as bad as Americans think they are.

(My dating coach chuckled when I told her, in reference to a Simpsons joke, that a potential Chernobyl had been turned into a mere Three-Mile Island!)

It’s a long time ago, and I don’t remember that much of it, but since I was a strapping lad of 16, and since it wasn’t exactly brain surgery, I was able to recover and say hello to my folks when they visited, probably the same day as the operation took place — tired and feeling lousy (not to mention puking up blood I’d swallowed), but conscious and sane (well, as much as ever).

However, in spite of my youthful resilience, I felt lousy after while recuperating at home during the Christmas holidays, at one point hyperventilating (due to chest pains), and needing to be taken to casualty!  And for several days, while my mouth healed, the only thing I could eat was soft cheese, rinsing my mouth out with boiling salty water… but at least I could play video games and watch TV.

All these years later, I’m naturally older (well, not as older as the dates would imply, ahem) — and this time they’re taking something out of my actual brain instead of my upper jaw… would it have been more sensible for me to decline surgery, and commit to taking anti-epilepsy drugs for the rest of my life… even considering it could get worse and progress to full seizures, instead of the disconcerting but mild dizzy spells I’ve been having for over a year?

Don’t worry, I’m going through with it despite my fears — hopefully I won’t die (if I do, I hereby curse Jeremy CHunt MP to eternal hellfire, for the way he’s ruining the NHS), and maybe I’ll be coherent enough on Thursday to text “best mate” and senpai at work, so they can pass on the good news to my other housemates and work colleagues… and perhaps I’ll also be able to post on Facebook, so all my other friends can feel a sense of relief (and maybe come to see me during visiting hours).

Most importantly, my mother will be there for me, as she’s been so many times before (thanks for correcting me on that Jamiroquai track in my last post, Mumsy!) — and if anything goes wrong, she’ll kick botty on my behalf… it’s largely for her sake that I want to get through this and make a full recovery, though if I’m honest, it’s also for my own sake, as I’m not ready to stop living any decade soon.

(Aside from everything else, I’m determined to see Halley’s Comet when it comes around again, as I missed it in 1986!)

I want to live through this experience — because, in direct contrast to that day in 2011 (yes, I know, it’s the reference that keeps on giving!), and as I said five years after that day, I have every reason to go on living now, and suicide is the farthest thing from my mind.  Even if I were terminally ill (which, technically, everyone is anyway), I’d want to put my affairs in order and live out my remaining days making the most of life, rather than jump the gun (as it were) and end my life prematurely.

Assuming all goes well, I’ll write something here once I’ve got enough of my marbles back to log onto a computer and write coherent sentences; it probably won’t be the longest gap between the times I’ve posted here, will it?  With luck, I’ll say something before the end of May (even if it’s just two words: “I’m alive”), and get back to my old self in June, as a birthday present for my mother.

In the meantime, I shall bring this blog post to an end with one obvious (obligatory?) reference to the blog’s title, as I’ve done so many times before:

DAVE-ROS HOPES TO LIVE AGAIN!

Mixed blessings

Last week was pivotal in my life, as two revelations that will potentially change my life forever have come through — but it remains to be seen whether good or bad will come from it…

Firstly, my pay at work has gone up just enough to set me over the monthly gross limit that means Student Loans will probably deny me the chance to defer my repayments for another year.  They may accept the Jan-Mar payslips I’ve already sent them (I only found out my April pay at the end of the month), but if not, I’ll have no alternative but to start paying pack my debts, after so very many years of interest.  If so, it means my pay rise will be more than wiped out!

However, a Lannister always pays his debts, and if I’m on a very high pay rate now, it’s surely about time I started, instead of lingering on lower pay packets like I’m somehow gaming the system and am smarter for getting away with it.  So, if necessary, I will indeed start paying it back — but for my sake, not for that of the debt holders, who are private businesses now, rather than the taxpayer.  I’ll feel better getting the debt off my shoulders once and for all, and since my pay will still increase over the years, it’ll get easier.

(Besides, I don’t want to get in trouble for what they may perceive as attempted fraud, and have to pay back all three loans in one go, or else end up in gaol!)

The other mixed blessing recently has been the inexorable time it’s taken Charing Cross hospital to arrange brain surgery for me — something that was supposed to be set up, with a two-month waiting period, back in February.  Indeed, it’s taken so long that I was encouraged to ask for a whole new referral to a different hospital!  While I continue to worry about my brain condition, and wish I could stop taking medication (which doesn’t always prevent me from getting bursts of “mind static” at odd times, though nowhere near as bad as in December 2016), the delay has given me the chance to keep on living, and relax back into my normal routine.  Hey, I even bought new things — a printer (much faster than the one I got in 2012), and a Freesat digibox that I can use to record things!

However, this mixed blessing has now been entirely reversed: on Friday I finally received a phone call from the team my mother and I have been chasing up for months, and it turns out my surgery has been arranged for mid-May, with a pre-op assessment at the start of the month.  Everyone tells me I’ll live through it fine, and that it’s better to get it over with sooner rather than later, but still, I feel a great deal of trepidation — it’s so sudden, and I worry that my life will be on hold for weeks afterwards, as I slowly recover my strength.  And that’s assuming there are no complications, and I don’t need any significant post-op treatment (like chaemotherapy)!

Still, getting it done soon will at least reduce the time before I can start climbing again (if all goes well), and perhaps more importantly, start donating blood again some day in the next decade.  I was called by the blood donor organisation last week, having not been for a while, and the bloke on the phone confirmed that, as I’d suspected, the anti-epilepsy medication I’m taking does indeed disqualify me — worse, for three years after I stop taking it!  So, if all goes well with the operation and I can stop popping pills, it’ll be mid-2021 when I can finally resume making deposits at the blood bank, and thus appease Dracula help people who need transfusions of my rare blood type.

And finally, while this is a serious and intense period of my life, it’s made me realise just how many people I’ve got who care about me (even “boss lady” is being comforting and patient), and want me to get through it alive and with all my faculties intact.  It’s also a mixed blessing, as it means a lot of people would be sad if I died on the operating table, but I have no intention of doing so — I want to come back from this stronger than ever… and I’ll gladly agree to start paying my student loans back if it helps my karma!

Dave-ros sniffs!

How nostalgic — or should I say, snot-stalgic: I’ve got a cold, for the first time since last January!  And this one’s lingering a lot more than that one did, which has me wondering…

Has the mental condition I’m enduring at the moment in some way been stopping me from experiencing cold symptoms (doing so in earnest from December 2016), hence I come down with a cough just as I start taking medication to lessen the condition?

Or is it simply a coincidence that I’ve somehow avoided catching any diseases for a year (even when visiting America last June) — much as I didn’t seem to get a cold for about a year starting in late 2004 (even though I wasn’t taking vitamin pills), having been sick almost constantly during my first year in London?

Or is it even worse: a negative form of karma, punishment for my sins, as tomorrow morning I’ve got to submit to a deep MRI scan, and will find it rather difficult to keep still enough if I’m coughing constantly…?

I do know that I’m still getting minor attacks of dizziness these days, even though I did what the brain-quack suggested and increased the levetiracetam dosage to 750mg twice-daily; she recommended cutting back on the clobazam at the same time, but to resume taking that twice-daily if my attacks returned — but even now I’ve done so, I still get dizzy sometimes, and while it’s nowhere near as bad as it was before Christmas 2016 when it started in earnest, it doesn’t seem to be getting any better now in 2018, however much I hike up the dosage — indeed, taking 250mg twice-daily seemed the best time!

It’s perhaps most likely that the cold I’m suffering from is exacerbating the condition — and indeed, that mentholated cold remedies (like Halls and Jakemans) are also responsible.  I certainly remember I was on cold remedies at the end of May 2015, when I had my first definite, unequivocal attack; and before that, in late 2014, I can remember Covonia bringing on anxiety, even though menthol is supposed to have the opposite effect, and actually help humans calm down.

(Then again, back in my university days, the first time I tried drinking Red Bull, I fell asleep between classes — I’d never felt so sleepy!)

I’m trying to avoid actual decongestant remedies entirely, and using instead pungently-fragrant chest rubs like Vicks, and nasal strips to stop me from snoring — as that might be the real reason for my current illness: a sore throat infection, effectively resulting from the medication having enabled me to sleep peacefully for the first time in years!  Nasal strips also helped me sleep a bit better in late 2014 when I was anxious every night, but I’m lucky to have found the same good brand at Superdrug today that I used back then, as the variety I bought at the weekend from my local chemist are awful, and wake me up in the middle of the night peeling off — thus negating their very use!

Even before this cold came on, I’ve found myself to be bunged up for a long time — certainly the whole of 2017 — and at times unable to breathe through my nose if I lie on my side, so I wonder if my cranial condition is in some way related to respiratory mucus, or comes from an infection that’s somehow reached my temporal lobe from my sinuses.  But hey, tomorrow they’ll hopefully get enough evidence to guide my big decision next Thursday… and maybe they can recommend a cough remedy that doesn’t interfere with anti-epilepsy medication!

I’ve booked the whole of Thursday off, so I can return home after my MRI and hopefully recover enough from my cold that I can face personal training in the evening — because even if I have to give up climbing for the time being (hopefully not forever, but certainly for now), and even if I’m avoiding chocolate during the week (because of the mucus it generates), I still need to keep fit, and I don’t want a trifling thing like a cold to get in the way!

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…?

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…?