Category Archives: Sickness

This sucks

lonely_shinjiI thought I’d have good news for you next time I wrote in this blog, and indeed that I’d be able to start bringing this blog to a close, as I’d have finally conquered depression once and for all, by the simple expedient of getting a long-term girlfriend, or at least some action, and thus proving to myself that failure isn’t the only option.

But no, my journey’s not over yet: although I had two lovely dates with a really sweet twentysomething, who actually described me at one point as “too good to be true”, and was even going to take me to the cinema tonight (hey, girl power, right?), it all went wrong when I kissed her passionately… because she’s realised she doesn’t feel “that way” about me and only wants to be friends, despite how enthusiastic she was before.

This is one of the worst quasi-breakups I’ve been through, because I didn’t feel at any stage that I was “settling” for her (like a similar situation in 2014 when I actually cheered upon receiving the breakup text), and actually genuinely liked her and found her attractive.  Okay, she wasn’t a slender, blonde American, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned during the course of my search, it’s that I like all manner of hair colours, body types and ethnicities/nationalities, and even girls with glasses!

(About the only thing I can’t stand is facial piercing… hmm, I should invest in stainless steel before saying that, I expect sales to go up!)

I’ve learned something else, and that’s that blokes still treat me like their kid brother: a married man at work, an amiable “Lahndanner” in my team, felt the need to advise me on the whole matter, about getting back on the horse and putting my face out there, etc. etc.  As you know, I tolerate this for the sake of the advice-giver, because he needs to feel like he’s making a difference — but I still think that we, as a society, need to stop trying to cajole people out of depression and either help them (with genuine comfort) or just step back and let them ride it out.

Yes, ride it out — I’ve been going through this stuff too much to truly believe I’ll always feel so desolate or make drastic plans (unlike in 2011), and while Monday night was almost sleepless and full of cursing, by now, Wednesday evening, I’m over her — albeit fed up and in no rush to try again (especially with women who don’t initiate any conversation and have to have everything dragged out of them).  I know I’m not bipolar, I just react to negative events with negative emotions; oh no, does that make me… normal?!

It’s been hard to draw something positive from this experience, as even the girl telling me she thought I was handsome (no-one younger than me has ever called me that before) has to be suspect if a kiss could cool her ardour towards me.  I don’t think she was consciously leading me on: I think she was lying to herself, trying to convince herself that she liked me “that way”, because she was impressed by my devotion to improving my health and career chances, and intellectually considered me the kind of “catch” she was supposed to want.  If so, better to end it sooner rather than later, as even I know romance can’t be based upon a lie.

(Unless it’s me lying about my age, of course…)

Being dumped after two dates by someone I actually liked certainly sucks, but it doesn’t help that three other things, all related to the word “cold” (making it worse than another early entry in this blog), are making my life suck even more at the moment, with no prospect of a quick resolution:

  • got_wicIt’s cold, winter is coomin’, yeah, we know — and no sign of an Indian summer;
  • British Gas (named and shamed) still haven’t fixed our hot water after five visits, and the heating doesn’t work at all (lucky I kept that electric oil heater);
  • I’m (wait for it) coming down with a cold, already in the runny nose stage, though fortunately I don’t have to let the blood donor people know, and the donation I made last week doesn’t have to go to waste.

These things in isolation would be annoying enough, but everything happening together is making me unhappy… but I don’t think turning 39 at the weekend will make anything worse, as after all, it’s just a number — and if I can still somehow get dates with twentysomethings (instead of having to settle for women older than I feel), I still have hope of finding someone a while longer.

Plus, I’ll be going to Worthing for my birthday: a chance to see my folks, pick up Doom, and relax in anticipation of another week off work (to be mainly spent playing Doom)…

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Cold days in summer

beavbuttsickSummer colds suck, and even though I’ve had a better run this year than most, I came down with something at the end of July after making it unscathed through May and June; it seems “best mate” brought me back a biological souvenir from his three-week holiday in Japan.  Hopefully I didn’t spread it to my mother or grandmother when I went to keep the latter company (yes, I actually had time off work!) while the former went abroad for her job; the main consolation is that it’s been a very weak cold, mostly consisting of a sore throat and mild cough, mutating into a runny nose and occasional bouts of sneezing (which could just as easily be hay fever), but not slowing me down or requiring endless drinks of Lemsip (or shop’s own-brand equivalent).

However, this combined with surprisingly unhot temperatures at the start of August gave me a strange, unearthly chill on Monday.  Normally I’d only feel this way in September, as another school year starts, and the autumnal slide to winter gets underway; yet here I am feeling it a whole month early!  I think only 2000 had a worse, more pointless non-summer than this year, but I have to hold out hope that we’ll have some decent weather for the rest of August, as I’m not ready to have cold feet yet, or wear a jumper indoors*, and I really, really don’t want to be the one to turn the heating back on.

(* Aside from in the office when the aircon’s too high, as is traditional in this country!)

While it’s great that this cold is barely affecting me at all, and hasn’t been preceded or followed by a bout of depression, I had an unfortunate scare last week: possibly due to sitting awkwardly in my room in Worthing (while playing classic game System Shock on the Frankencomputer, with my mouse on a TV dinner table), I developed a nasty cramp in my right thigh, which intermittently hurt like hell.  Simply walking could suddenly become painful (most of my aches and pains are like that these days), and although it didn’t stop me weight training (though it gave me a twinge when I was trying to lift 17.5kg dumbbells!), it made me worry that I’m… ugh… getting old, and that I’ll have to slow down my (ahem) crazy and exciting lifestyle.

ad_banana

“Cramp, huh? You need to get a banana in you!”

Fortunately, memories of that American Dad! episode where Stan recruits those strippers to run a dry-cleaner’s showed me the way: I clearly had low potassium levels (possibly due to eating so many liquorice-flavoured throat sweets), and eating a banana every day has healed me.  I guess I was a bit indulgent in processed food during those days I kept my grandmother company, and wasn’t eating anywhere near as much fresh fruit & veg (or even dried fruit in breakfast) as before; this may also have resulted in my weight rising again (I’ve been in danger of recrossing the 13-stone threshold!).  Thus, switching back to having bananas for dessert seems to have been the best decision I’ve made all summer.

(Hey, as long as don’t go back to having a Greek yoghurt with a big teaspoonful of Nutella, like I did in the early days of this blog!)

Do you know the funny thing?  I used to think I hated bananas, possibly because they’re yellow (a colour I for some reason hated as a child, and then grew to tolerate thanks to The Simpsons), and so never gave them a chance — right up until that camping holiday in America back in 2013, when I discovered the simple joy of the tropical fruit!  There you go, another positive change that trip effected in me, along with a desire to get out and have more adventures, and socialise more instead of sitting at home — three ways, you might say, that I became just a bit more normal.

On the subject of holidays, since this summer has been such a debacle, I find I desire another exciting holiday to rejuvenate my joie de vivre — but where can I go?  I can’t revisit Turkey (where I had a good time with my friends in 2008) with all the recent troubles, and no way can I afford another Trek America trip, so should I go back to my childhood in Lanzarote?  As long as it’s somewhere hotter than here in England, that’s the most important thing — but first, I’ve got to get over this tedious and unremarkable cold…

An unwelcome holiday

I thought about havin’ a go at an overdose
But I don’t think you can overdose on Beecham’s Flu Plus
—Goldie Lookin Chain, “Self Suicide” (Greatest Hits)

mb_hhI’m just finishing an effective four-day weekend, and I’m resentful of it and hopeful that I won’t have to extend it to five or even more days.  And why?  Because it seems I can still catch cold even now I’m a pillar of health, exercising regularly and eating (mostly) right, and indeed get it so bad that I can’t do the things I want to do in the evenings as a result!

Okay, so being off on Thursday and Friday meant I could spend a lot of time playing classic oldie Doom 3 (which I’d sold years ago and now bought in download form, hopefully for less than I sold it for!), but I’d rather have been at work, facing all the manic problems we face, than lying in bed sweating and/or shivering, or later coughing hard enough to see lights.  I actually enjoy my job now ($DEITY help me), and extra me-time isn’t a compensation for feeling horrible, or having to postpone my personal trainer or not go climbing.

(At the risk of making this sound like another “then and now” post, I remember how much I hated getting a cold in the autumn of 1994, when I actually liked attending school for the first time in ages… the previous time having been early 1992, when indeed the same thing happened; I also remember how being off school with a cold seemed almost tolerable in between those times, considering how miserable I was at school in my GCSE years!)

It’s good that I’m finally in a job where I get paid sick leave, as in my previous contractor roles, I’d have lost a couple of days’ pay as a result, which would have sucked.  I also get paid leave over Christmas, whereas I found bank holidays troublesome in my former role, regarding them as the only holidays I could take.  Still, I hope I’m well enough for work tomorrow, as otherwise I risk going straight into the Christmas holidays without a chance to do my job.

Why would that be a problem?  Well, partly because I’d feel like I was somehow “pulling a sickie” (and no, it wasn’t to see the new Star Wars, I saw that at the weekend anyway), and partly because I want to keep in the vibe of working and not just sit around at home (I had enough of that when I was unemployed)… but mainly because I dread to think how many unread e-mails I’ll have accumulated just from two days’ sick leave.  Naturally, I also want to be over this cold by the time I go back to Worthing on the 23rd, so I don’t infect my mother and grandmother.

Do you know what the worst part is, the bitterest pill (ahem) to swallow?  It’s likely “best mate” who gave this virus to me, having caught a nasty cough when he was working up in Scotland (don’t ask, it’s one of the reasons he keeps warning me to never work in construction), yet he hasn’t been anywhere near as sick as me!  Then again, he’d already suffered enough simply by having to go to Scotland in December, hadn’t he?

Anyway, here’s hoping I’m well enough to return to work tomorrow morning; if necessary I’ll use a cocktail of ibuprofen (a risky proposition considering what happened to me in July), Lemsip (other cold remedies are available, like the one namechecked in the opening quote above) and mentholated sore throat lozenges, and hope that I don’t have a bad trip… hey, it’s my last chance to go salsa dancing do Christmas shopping for my folks!

And if all else fails, I can draw solace from the fact that at least it’s a plain old cold (well, a nastier-than-usual one) that’s bringing me down, and not uncontrollable depression and/or anxiety over my life situation.  I can get over this easily, it’s just a matter of time, but I wish it wasn’t right before Christmas!

A change in the weather

got_wic

“Winter is coming” — yes, but you were lucky enough not to live to see it, Eddy boy

Ugh, it’s that time of year when summer gives up the ghost, and we begin the long slide to winter… and I’m already finding it cold, despite increasing my iron intake (thanks to kale)!  Maybe I’m just a southern pansy, but somehow anything less than 20°C somehow feels cold, especially if I’m at rest in my own room — and it’s early September, so it’s only going to get worse!

On the other hand, despite being the opposite of spring, this season has always been a time of year I associate with change and renewal — perhaps because it’s the start of the academic year, and even back when school sucked, it was still a time of interest and intrigue for me, due to new people, new opportunities, and some years a new educational venue entirely!  Although 1992 (starting school in Worthing) went horribly wrong, I had adventures going to new places in 1996 (undergrad), 1998 (exchange in Michigan) and 2003 (postgrad), and I’ve started new jobs in September before (including a temp job in Camden that turned into nearly nine years with the same employer!).

As it’s the start of the academic year, right now my best hope for a girlfriend is to find a naive college student who’s just arrived in London (preferably from the USA or Japan).  Thus more than ever I need to be going out to social events such as salsa dancing, and meeting new people… so naturally I’m coming down with a cold, as I always do this time of year.  Maybe it’s the equivalent of Fresher’s Flu, maybe it’s come from someone at my new workplace (plenty of people there coughing and hacking away), or maybe it resulted from my working on Saturday to help with an office move (and getting rained on) — but either way, once again it was preceded by relatively low feelings the night before.

Again, I’m left wondering whether depression is an early symptom of a cold, or an indirect cause in that it suppresses the immune system… and if the latter, was it caused itself by the change in the weather, as it starts getting cold and the nights draw in again?  Or, was I feeling glum at being nearly 38 and still single (as I did at nearly 37, nearly 36, nearly 35, etc. etc.), and did this thus make me susceptible to an illness which will severely impede my ability to do something about it (much as feeling nauseous in January 2012 over my housing situation made it much harder to go and see potential places to live)?

beavbuttsickOr, hear me out here, or, was the Law of Attraction responding to my feeling that I should, at least until my repeat Server 2008 exam in October, be taking it easy in the evenings and studying instead of going out every night to salsa, yoga, climbing or other social events?  Be careful what you wish for… I know that whenever I get sick like this, I wish for the initial sore throat to go away, and when that happens, my nose turns into a snot tap and gets sore from the amount I need to blow it.

Never mind: at least if I’m home in the evenings, I can continue watching the classic satirical puppet show Spitting Image (all of which has been put on YouTube, apparently by the copyright owner) — not unlike how I watched the works of Kenny Everett and Lee & Herring in 2012 (here I go with the three-year cycle again).  Anyway, it’s actually a little worrying how much of the early stuff I understand, despite being a mere child when it was first shown in 1984; I didn’t even know about this “politics” thing until the General Election in 1987, when I took a dislike to Labour’s Neil Kinnock (solely because my folks have always been Tory voters).

Oh, all right: here’s a brief clip so you can all remember when Maggie Thatcher had more cojones than the men in her Cabinet…

Still not immune

lonely_shinjiSometimes I wonder whether I’ve been making any progress at all over the past couple of years, and last week… well, let’s just say I have something to ponder.  However, it’s worth noting that it’s not so much a vicious cycle as a triangle…

Okay, here goes my latest bout of self-analysis which might just give someone out there in TV Land a way out of a similar cycle: it started the week before, when I felt a lot of hope on the Tuesday because I was convinced I was going to meet a girl at, or after, my usual yoga class.  When this failed to occur, however, I actually managed to get stupidly depressed on the Wednesday, brooding on my loneliness and isolating myself from my work colleagues, right up until I ate lunch, whereupon I felt remarkably better (and then faced off against that belligerent douchebag on the Northern Line that I mentioned before).  I had another, dating-focused yoga class on the Friday, and thought I’d met someone that night, but she never responded to my text message and so became another “girl to forget about” over the long weekend.

Ah yes, the bank holiday weekend: perhaps proof that throwing away old stuff won’t magically improve my life, as I finally took my old posters to the dump (I now have more interesting canvas art on my walls instead… and a lot of Post-It Notes to help with my Server 2008 studies!).  After all, on the Sunday night I noticed a Facebook update, which otherwise I might have missed, stating that my old Michigan roommate is now engaged.  Not unlike the situation I had in late 2012, I couldn’t avoid brooding on the fact that I’m not even getting dates regularly, and it’s still 1998 since I had anything significant happen on that (ahem) score.

Thus it was that Bank Holiday Monday was a miserable experience for me, even though “best mate” drove us to the Castle to climb.  However, it might be as simple as me not having had a proper breakfast before setting off.  My mother’s had me eating a combination of seeds, nuts, dried fruit and live yoghurt for breakfast for some time now, and it’s stood me in good stead; a single banana, however, didn’t stay my hunger, and I had a lousy time, despite doing my favourite activity with my best friend.  However, once again I felt more cheerful once I’d eaten, though malnutrition seemed to result in me being unable to concentrate on a vegetarian cook book, and so I went with something easy for dinner.

beavbuttsickI was still feeling off-colour on the Tuesday, and so didn’t go to yoga, but I wonder if this was the very first stages of… the cold I’ve now managed to come down with.  This came to pass on Wednesday, a day mirroring the previous Wednesday in that I felt more sad and broody after eating lunch, and ended with me crying alone in my room and wishing my life was completely different.  That helped me feel better, but the damage was done, and although I’ve managed to eat reasonably well and keep my spirits up since then, my respiratory health has gone in the other direction (though at least the sore throat part is over with).

It’s worth noting that something strangely similar happened when I was in America two years ago, as I had my share of girl troubles on that trip around the western states as well.  I’d been having a good time for the first couple of days, but it was when we camped on the Colorado River near Lake Havasu that I found out the girl I was interested in had a boyfriend back in Denmark (or so I was told by another girl from another European country, who I was also into); I ended up brooding, and also not eating enough for dinner (thanks to the vegetarian choice involving broccoli), and couldn’t even get to sleep because I foolishly tried to do so when everyone else wanted to stay up drinking and chatting!

Fortunately the next couple of days (including the Grand Canyon) were fine, but it all happened again when I tried, a second time, to score in Las Vegas, on the party bus; although everyone was pleased to see me come out of my shell and partially strip (hey, my personal trainer was having an effect even in those early months!), somehow I thought I’d blown any chance of happiness in my life and so went back to my motel room, alone, to brood; the next day I hardly had anything to eat, until the tour guide spoke to me and said no-one had complained about my behaviour, whereupon I found myself able to reintegrate myself with the group and feel happy again.

Alas, the damage was done: a couple of days later, when we’d been camping in Bishop, I started coming down with a cold, apparently due to getting a sore throat from snoring (or hanging a wet towel over my tent, as we’d been to hot springs the night before).  This made it hard to keep up with the others at Yosemite, and indeed stopped me going out at night in San Francisco…

(And when I finally managed to drag myself out on the last night to Hermosa Beach, well, I’m lucky I didn’t get arrested, or at least slapped… but let’s not talk about that!)

Thus, on two occasions two years apart, I’ve been left with the thought that malnutrition, depression/anxiety and physical illness are all inextricably linked.  But is it simply that not eating properly makes me depressed and also prone to catching cold, or is depression an early symptom of a virus (both in 2013 and now, I’ve felt better emotionally as I’ve felt worse physically), or does depression make me prone to illness and also suppress my appetite?  Remember my depressing post in 2013, when I noted that eating too much protein seemed to cause depression, but depression also stopped me eating properly… is there a simple answer?

All I know is, I’m going to make damn sure I eat properly, especially my morning meal — I remember how badly I felt for a long time living on Caledonian Road, when sometimes my breakfast would be a bottle of chocolate milk I’d bought while walking to work, and I’ve been nice and stable lately, so it’d be a shame to waste it.  This, of course, excludes the three-month period roughly corresponding to November 2014 to January 2015, in which I felt sick, anxious and helpless, and I think that started with me not eating or sleeping properly during my time at that horrible job.

It was the anxiety and feelings of helplessness that led to me getting myself fired, as I didn’t conceal my intention to move on well enough from my boss’s boss — and while getting fired from that job meant I was at least eligible for benefits (which wouldn’t have been the case if I’d quit of my own accord), I don’t want to go through that experience ever again.  And if simply making sure I eat right is all I need to ensure I don’t get miserable again, I’ll do my best.

It’s worth noting, however, that my spirit rose considerably on Wednesday evening, when, for the third time this year, I was asked out by someone who had seen my profile online… no, wash your minds out, I said my spirit rose!  I’ve probably jinxed it just by mentioning it here, but I have to continue feeling hope, otherwise I’m already dead.  Put it this way: if my date this week doesn’t work out, I’ll use the nuclear option next weekend: I’ll post here about what kind of woman I want to meet!

Unless I get arrested because the above construes a threat to commit an act terrorism, of course…

On the mend

His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy
There’s vomit on his sweater already, mom’s spaghetti
–Eminem, “Lose Yourself” (8 Mile soundtrack)

em_rec

Yes, I know this is a different Eminem album, please don’t point it out

Well, I’ve made it through a nasty feverish period, feeling alternately hot and cold, sweating and shivering, and above all weak, unsteady, nauseous and frankly p***ed off that I’ve managed to get sick yet again this year.  But I’m over the worst now, and forcing bland food down my gullet… and, most importantly, I’ve lost some weight but (hopefully) not any muscular definition!

(Suffice to say, Wii Fit Plus was worried that I’d lost weight too fast… but I’ll doubtless be rebouding over the next few days, and there’s no “I’ve been ill and I’m better now” option when it demands to know why your weight loss has gone into reverse!)

Despite my general improvement, I’ve had to take the day off work (well, yesterday, because I’m still writing this after midnight) to recover, simply because I can barely eat anything at the moment: on Sunday night I couldn’t even manage a whole bowl of soup, and only a couple of bites of two halves of a bread roll with non-dairy spread on them.  Today I’ve been a bit better, having a cup of tea and a Marmite roll without puking (not like when I was a child and used to barf after licking Marmite off the knife… and then go right back to the crackers I’d made and eat them anyway, possibly while listening to a He-Man story tape), as well as crisps and — amazingly — chocolate.  The Lucozade probably wasn’t wise, however, as what I gained in electrolytic fluid (and it wasn’t the isotonic variety anyway), I may have lost in general stomach upsetness.  Still, white rice for dinner, followed by fruit juice and dark chocolate, and I’m still alive…

Hell, I’ve even been able to clean the downstairs bathroom (which I would have done at the weekend if not for, y’know, chundering), and also give the upstairs one a scrub as well (since I probably messed it up at the weekend due to, y’know, ralphing), even though I should be taking things easy and not over-exerting myself!

Tomorrow (today?) I intend to return to work, though I’m in two minds about going to any events afterwards, such as a Japanese meetup or yoga; indeed, I wonder how much of the day I’ll be able to get through before being sent home due to still being green about the gills.  We’ll just have to see how I cope with (a) work, (b) food, and (c) the annoying woman… oh, did I mention the time in June 2010 she made me sit in a cold aircon draught when I’d come to work in a T-shirt (due to it being an extremely hot day), in spite of the cold I had at the time (and dwindling supply of snotrags), and I didn’t get to have lunch until around two hours after my usual time, because I was sooo indispensible to her presentation for a bunch of teenage oiks?

No, Dave, let it go… save your strength for Friday and another meeting with your personal trainer!

It’s all happening again!

Oh dear, another aspect of 2010 is repeating itself for me: there’s studying Windows 7, going on dates, playing Mass Effect 2… and puking up.  Back then it happened in early February, and involved me spending around 24 hours from Sunday dinner time (I hadn’t even had any dinner, which was perhaps fortunate) vomiting and… well, otherwise making use of the toilet, to the point where I stopped bothering to go to bed in between bouts, and “good housemate” asked me if I could keep the noise down.  I couldn’t even keep water down, and as a result dehydrated quite badly before I got on top of things.

I remained ill for much of the ensuing week, needing isotonic drinks to keep up my fluid levels, missing four days’ work and having to wait until Wednesday before I could eat anything significant.  That baked potato on Thursday was very welcome, however, and by Friday I felt able to return to work, though I still took the morning off to check with the quack, as recommended by “other female best friend”, who had been through a similar experience.  I was feeling weak as I went in, but I made it through an entire half-day’s work before coming back home again for the weekend to recover.

Fortunately today, almost exactly four years and three months later, it’s not been quite as bad: it’s after midnight and I feel like the worst is over.  Of course, whether I’ll be able to keep any water down tonight is another matter entirely, and I’m wondering if it’s even worth brushing my teeth a second time… but I wonder what caused it: I met an old friend to wander around the Science Museum, and he’d had a stomach bug, but then I also ate pizza, fizzy pop and chocolate for dinner this evening, after having perhaps not eaten particularly well beforehand, so perhaps this is a reaction to malnutrition rather than a virus or bacteria.

This year I’ve passed Windows 7, I’m going on dates and chatting up women, and I’m… well, probably doing just as well in Mass Effect 2 as I was back in 2010; my life now is much, much better than it was back then, and I’m hoping that my strength now will enable me to get through this far better than I did when I was weak and out-of-shape.  I lost a stone at that time, whereas I’m losing weight in a more healthy manner at the moment (though perhaps this will also help a bit, as long as I don’t lose any musculature).

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to curl up shivering in bed (losing internal fluids really does make you cold!) and hope I don’t need to get up again during the night… yeah, that’d be nice…