Category Archives: Health matters

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?)

My brain hurts!

tr_arnie

“Get to ze choppah!” — oh, wait, wrong film

As though it’s bad enough that getting my life on track coincides with the entire world going to Hell in a handbasket (exhibit A: Trump), now I’m worried I might have a serious health issue… or at the very least, be worrying about nothing, and thus causing myself a serious health issue, a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy!

It started on Wednesday, the day after my last post (hey, it’s nearly Christmas, I’m writing more than once every few weeks as my gift to you!), as I was walking into work with music filling my ears.  I recently put all my music on rotation, instead of limiting myself to Gwar and Iron Maiden, though it was the former’s “Endless Apocalypse” that was on just as I came near to my workplace, and I had a bout of what I call “mind static”…

Actually, let’s start further back in time — the end of May 2015 — and the Saturday morning I was calmly watching Star Trek while sucking on throat lozenges during one of my many colds, when I suddenly had a rush of what I can only describe as quasi-memories flooding my brain, with no apparent cause (other than that I’d watched the episode many times before, including back in my university days), and with no clear memory of what I’d remembered afterwards!  It was a bit like the headrushes I’d had after doing the deadlift with my personal trainer a week or so before, but this time happened while at rest, rather than following physical exertion, and involved no visual artefacts.

I’ve had similar bouts of “mind static” since then, each time making me think I’ve suddenly remembered, perhaps, a song of some kind, but after the “rush” is over, I can never recall a single clear detail about what happened, and everything around me seems strangely unreal for up to a minute afterwards.  However, except one morning when I was lying in bed ready to go home to Worthing, each time has been isolated — until this week, when it happened several times a day, and coincided with an ongoing headache that’s only gradually gotten better, and never responded to painkillers!

I’ve been trying to keep a log of the weirdness this week; fortunately nothing’s happened today (Saturday), but it happened several times at work on Wednesday (as well as at Tesco and sitting in front of my computer afterwards), a few times on Thursday when I was at home (and also while personal training and at Winter Wonderland with “best mate”), and a couple of times on Friday (once or twice at work, once in Debenhams buying my grandmother’s Christmas present, and once when I’d just finished making dinner at home).

They seemed to happen no less than an hour apart each time, rather than one after another, but in completely random circumstances: I could be at home, at work or in an unfamiliar place; alone or talking to someone familiar or strange; sitting down, walking around, resting during exercise, or even lying down while listening to music, with my glasses off!  They haven’t occurred while I’ve been sleeping (or trying to sleep), though I do tend to wake up in the middle of the night.  If I’m with someone, their voice will sound different for a short time, and I’ll find it hard to understand them, almost as though they’re speaking a foreign language that I can only understand if I concentrate — and weird things may start happening (like my personal trainer playing keepy-uppy with a half-deflated balloon!).

It’s felt like each bout of “mind static” this week has involved the same, or similar, quasi-memories coursing through my brain, starting with spoken lyrics (possibly rap?  Is Eminem doing this to me?), moving through something that may be song, and finishing with some kind of story or narration — but like I said, trying to keep hold of anything but the vaguest sensations is like trying to keep hold of the soap in the bath!

I thought it might be memories of songs I’ve heard recently, including those being played on Radio 2 in the mornings by Chris Evans as well as those in my music collection, but listening again to “I’ve Been Thinking About You” by Londonbeat, “Rainbow Valley” by Love Affair, “Bowtie” by OutKast, “Who Am I (What’s My Name)” by Snoop Dogg and “You Can Make It If You Try” by Sly and the Family Stone haven’t sparked any recognition in me, even if some of the specific aspects seem to resemble what I’ve been quasi-remembering (including the high-pitched “All together now!” from the latter song).  Thinking about the song I was listening to at the start of it, “Endless Apocalypse”, seemed to trigger a bout on Friday evening, but it hasn’t again (so it’s not the Scumdogs messing with my head, or no more than usual).

beavis_crappucinoThe most likely explanation seems to be malnutrition, as I’ve had a lot of caffeine lately (partly thanks to working at the weekend), and this combined with stress, not eating right and a lack of sleep could mean I’m having the equivalent of “waking dreams” every so often.  Having not had tea with breakfast this morning, after an early night and during the stress-free weekend, I think I’m over the worst — I’ve felt a little dizzy, and felt like a bout of “mind static” might be imminent, but so far I’ve not been at the mercy of my memory.

Also, since the headache could be caused by eyestrain, I’m going to get an eye test done on Sunday (one of the health benefits my work pays for — I do love my job!), and see if I need new glasses.  In the past I’ve had patterns of lights in front of my eyes for a split second, which opticians have said is a normal symptom of stress, so maybe this is just another manifestation (and another warning that I really need to chill out).

However, there are other possibilities — and just as I solved the Word crashes at work, and the wmiprvse.exe crashes on my own PC, I’m damned well gonna figure out why my own brain, the best computer I own, keeps BSoD-ing.  Here are my alternate explanations, in no particular order:

  • Not enough blood getting to the back of my cranium, thanks to sleeping wrong on my pillow and/or tying my scarf too tightly (it’s not exactly autoerotic asphyxiation, is it?), perhaps combined with how awkwardly I sit when I’m at home, limiting my blood flow.  It’s worth noting I had a bout one morning during the summer, when I was watching South Park on the Tube while the Sun shone on the back of my neck;
  • A virus that my American friend accidentally sent me in that package I mentioned last time.  I’ve not got any other significant symptoms, apart from the headache, but if this is the case, I just need to recover from the fever;
  • Some effect of those liquorice-flavoured throat sweets (which I mentioned before in the context of joint pain), either messing with my electrolytes, or giving me hallucinations when I have too many of them;
  • A brain tumour, which has been developing since at least 2015, and is “pushing” on part of my brain, occasionally causing certain synapses to fire, hence the current bouts all seeming similar in nature but having no intrinsic meaning.  Obviously this is a scary prospect, as even if it were operable, I’d be in for a world of hurt;
  • CJD prions slowly destroying my brain from within, thanks to “mad cow disease”.  This would of course be incurable (despite Jack Bauer surviving season 7 of 24), so I’m really hoping this isn’t the case;
  • Someone, alive or dead, trying to contact me telepathically, but I can’t understand them.  Much as I’d love for the paranormal to be true, this seems the least likely explanation, even if it would indicate why I get impressions rather than coherent thoughts;
  • My memory reaching its limit, and dumping old memories to make room for the stuff I’m trying to take in: not surprising, seeing as how I’m reading tech support “war stories” at work, a book about the paranormal at home, and the works of Stephen King on the Tube, as well as watching Futurama and The Twilight Zone, and learning new things all the time;
  • Repressed memories trying to “come back”, but too fast for me to understand them.  This seems unlikely, as none of the apparent triggers are in any way “new” to me, and they didn’t trigger something when I heard them before;
  • Lingering madness after replaying the classic game Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth recently.  Well, they warn you about the possibility in the game’s opening screen!

(And hey, what if the Yithians from 250 million years ago are trying to mind-swap with me, hence the language issues… or already did previously, and that’s what I’m subconsciously trying to remember?  Or could the headaches mean I’m turning into a Deep One?  And so on… if H.P. Lovecraft is reading, I can only apologise!)

Of course, if I’ve sorted myself out by relaxing this weekend (just been to see Rogue One with “best mate” before he went back to Ireland), sleeping properly, eating reasonably well and — perhaps most importantly — drinking enough water, then this’ll just be another case of me worrying about nothing, and another excuse for a blog entry.  I’ll have an early night again tonight (how galling, Saturday night is normally when I stay up late watching horror movies!), and see how I feel tomorrow morning — but for now, I’m optimistic, as nothing strange happened today.

I have to hope it’s nothing serious, and especially not life-threatening — I have too much to live for at the moment (aside from having a good job and believing I’ll meet someone eventually, there’s a new Call of Cthulhu game coming out next year), and I don’t want something pitiful like a brain tumour to bring me down when I’m in my prime.  Suffice it to say:

Dave-ros is determined to go on living!

Injury time

ts_cfHow I wish my latest reason for actually writing something in this blog wasn’t so painfully personal.  I’d much rather be slagging off Donald Trump, or raving about a new Gwar album, or chronicling my successes and failures with women… but no, instead I must report an injury that, at least for a short time, might make it hard for me to do the things that I enjoy.

I didn’t report it here, and indeed I’m not sure of the exact date, but back in January 2013 I managed to stumble while running down the stairs at Mornington Crescent station after work, and rolled on my left ankle; although it ached for a long time afterwards (especially while sitting down in that crowded minibus during my American odyssey — many times I staggered out at a rest stop!), it didn’t stop me going climbing, I was able to take up personal training a couple of months later, and above all I didn’t need to take any time off work.

Compare and contrast with yesterday, when a stupid misstep coming down the stairs at work (somehow I forgot the mezzanine bit of the staircase has steps as well) meant I came down heavily on my right ankle, although it only really began to hurt after I’d returned home — and then to the point that I couldn’t even walk across my room, and instead had to either hop or crawl.  I was in pain, without any painkillers to hand, and I could barely flex my toes or move my foot around… yet somehow I still had to put my washing out!

Fortunately, after a good adequate barely tolerable night’s sleep (no, not the pain so much as the heat combined with nearby emergency roadworks), my ankle’s been feeling somewhat better; I was thus able to hobble up the street to the doctor’s and get it examined by a professional.  She reckoned it’s a torn ligament, which should heal on its own as long as I don’t overburden it, but she sent me for an X-ray just in case I fractured a bone as well.  My old enemy from last year, ibuprofen, has helped me so far as well (I’ve not felt that same level of depression as before, which is a relief).  I should be able to go to work tomorrow, and maybe even see my personal trainer on Friday (as long as he focuses on my arms)… but I had to miss out on climbing tonight, and it’s weeks since I last went to the Castle to climb.

It really struck me that if I have to hobble everywhere, or even stay off my feet completely in the short or long term, I won’t be able to do a lot of things I enjoy — not just climbing and personal training, but running up and down the stairs enthusiastically at work as I rush around trying to fix everyone’s computers.  Hell, even my daily walks to and from work (currently accompanied by a medley of Gwar and Iron Maiden songs) make me happy, rain notwithstanding — and the only way to shorten my walk would be to travel to Oxford Circus, which would mean squeezing onto the ever-crowded Victoria Line, and this would hardly be any better for my ankle (and definitely worse for my sanity).

When I hurt my left ankle in 2013, I probably should have stayed off it a bit longer, as many times I’d feel serious pain (almost like an electric shock) coming down too hard on it while climbing; memories of that experience convince me to be extra-careful with this one now, and not put it through too much too soon, as I can’t bounce back as well as I could when I was 35 (ahem).  As it happens, I need to take a holiday from work anyway, in order to use up some annual leave (and hey, my backlog of video games won’t play themselves!), so this might be an opportunity to rest and recuperate.

My mother had to do just that two years ago after twisting her ankle (much worse than I did) in an endurance race, and she hated it; I may not be as active as her, and sitting down playing games and watching TV certainly appeal to me, but it’s not the only stuff I want to do with my life, at least not any more. However, one extra step and I might have been in a cast, or worse, a wheelchair, so I’d better take care of my ankles, otherwise I won’t have a leg to stand on…

(Ha ha ha… no?  Oh, please yourselves!)