Category Archives: Sickness

The great burden

We choose to go to the Moon in this decade, and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills; because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win, and the others, too!
—John F. Kennedy, 1962

This is not me sitting next to the guy we lost, who wasn’t Japanese anyway

It’s partly reluctance, and partly overwork that’s stopped me writing over the past couple of weeks — much as I hate getting up early enough to make a roll for lunch, so I’d rather watch Family Guy and play the Assassin’s Creed games instead of opening this web-based editing suite to write stuff that I’ve probably already written, in multiple different ways, over the past seven years.

But I’m not quite repeating this post, although I’m certainly facing increase in one form of personal torture, and hopefully thus my endurance.  This time, it’s at work that I’m expending greater effort, in the hope that I’ll be regarded as indispensible…

It turns out that my first-line helpdesk colleague, who was absent on “career break” last year for reasons to which I was not officially privy, has now left our organisation entirely, after having begun working there in the early 21st century.  He’d been off quite a bit beforehand, but since he was in last Tuesday, and no “leave” was showing up for him in the team calendar, I’d politely assumed he was off sick (though of course I hoped it wasn’t a similar issue to the lead-up to my months-long sick leave in the summer of 2018).

“Boss lady” didn’t officially tell us until Monday, and the rest of the organisation a couple of days later, apparently due to “legal” arrangements needing to be made before the announcement.  She said he’s moved on to pastures new, but it seems he really was crying at his desk after a meeting earlier in the month, and had been told his days at our employer were numbered.  He never told me anything, but my workmates suspected all along…

And there’s always the risk that our team will be “outsourced”, whatever the hell that means (seeing as there are plans under IR35 to make IT contractors pay employee levels of tax without having employee rights to things like paid leave), so I’ve been told by a fellow Trekkie to stay on “yellow alert”, in case I’m next to face the axe.

(Needless to say, I don’t want a five-year cycle meaning I have to relive events around this time in 2014, December being a bad time for finding work!)

However, rather than preparing to jump into a lifeboat, I’m trying to bail out the ship for the time being — hence despite the physical pains I faced a few weeks ago, a bad cough coming on this week, public transport woes, and the fact that my colleague departed at the time of several major projects, I’ve continued going in to work every day, forcing myself to get on with things, and trying to hold back any kind of snapping at people (except maybe to ask them to talk a bit more quietly), not wanting to go on sick leave like I did as the new guy in late 2015.

I won’t go into detail about the major tasks, except to say they involve (a) security, (b) homeworking ability and (c) more desks in the downstairs office (and thus more network connections); since these occur at the same time as fixing the usual problems, I’ve been very overworked lately — and having a cough and sore throat this week made it hard to speak to people.  I’ve been in trouble for that before, and at times I’ve just not felt up to apologising to people for “feeling like Death warmed up”, or even making eye contact with people with whom I normally have a humorous exchange.

This Tuesday was the worst of all, because as I, amongst many other jobs, replaced keyboards and mice for an entire team (who fortunately were understanding), I worried with all my heart about our new dog Lola, who was undergoing a serious operation down in Worthing — because if she died, I’d certainly be upset, but my mother and grandmother would be devastated, this new addition to the family having made them truly happy.  Fortunately she was fine (indeed, the operation went “surprisingly well”), which has lighted my burden in that sense, as I won’t need to think about abandoning London so I can return home and comfort my folks.

And just so you know, “senpai” is actually a black dude with a London accent, with no Japanese blood!

The two geniuses in my team (senpai and the bloke who looks like an Asian Eddie Hitler) can give me guidance and expand my knowledge beyond 1st line, and indeed have taught me some important tasks (including the most important security-based ones of all, VPN and 2FA), but they’ve got so much to take care of, they can only give me limited support — and without our missing gentleman, I’ve thus go sooo much to do at work that my ticket queue seems to be growing exponentially…

(No, VPN doesn’t mean “visible panty nine”, and 2FA doesn’t mean “two, er, nothing”!)

And no, I can’t work evenings or weekends: aside from the important hours when people generally need help being 9-to-5, apparently only those two can claim overtime pay anyway, and “boss lady” knows when I’ve been remoting onto my work computer after hours, thus I am discouraged from working too hard.

Thus I need to slow down and not worry so much about how long it’s taking to take care of minor tasks (with people who aren’t even in the office at the time, or can’t answer a simple question about their problem), and be thankful that, as a member of an IT team, I can fix many problems simply by standing nearby!  Perhaps this is why “boss lady” has been refreshingly patient with me lately, as despite my problems, I’ve kept going.

And I feel I must be available to help out with important, urgent tasks when I’m needed — such as today, when the aforementioned Asian Eddie was off without explanation just as we finally replaced an old Win8 machine with a Win10 one that could run a version of our door security software that wasn’t written around the time our departed colleague began working for our employer, possibly for Win2000 or even Win98.  That was an onerous time (which made it hard to have even a late lunch), but “boss lady” agreed at how inexperienced the engineers seemed to be about their own software!

I guess I can cover for others when it’s life or death — something I must learn, so that I’ll either be kept on as an essential member of the team, or I’ll get a good reference for my next job.  Hey, at least the staff like me, and I don’t work for a bank helpdesk — that kind of staff would demand I fix their computer NOW, as every minute costs them money!

(One reason that the collective noun for bankers is “wunch”…)

— — —

P.S. I’ve got burdens at my London home too: not only handling billing (and thanks to E.ON for not writing off their billing mistake, and insisting we pay them what they undercharged us for before), but also living with “still new bad housemate”, who’s managed to be a lot more condescending than any other housemate I’ve ever had who moved in years after me!  I wonder if he’ll even agree to monthly energy payments, seeing as he didn’t think himself liable for any fraction of the household TV licence… thus I vow: if I need a new job, I’ll find a new home!

One year on…

One year ago today was my big operation, and I’ve come through the intervening time pretty well, all things considered.  The issue hasn’t been fully resolved, of course — some of the “space invader” lingers within, and one day will almost certainly require radiotherapy — but the dizzy spells are almost gone, and it’s only the side effects of one of the medications that’s causing me trouble, and decreasing its dosages while increasing the dosages of the other has massively improved things.

Why, I can even keep my attention on something long enough to actually write in this blog more than once a month… I’m actually thinking of future posts, such as reviewing my progress in my 2013 “exploring emotions” series, talking about how much I loathe heterosexual white guys at the moment (despite being one myself, or perhaps precisely because of it), or explaining my Captain Kirk-inspired views on what “left” and “right” mean in political terms (since both are hurled equally as insults in Facebook discussions… I know, serious business!), but for now I’ll just keep you informed of my condition, and how life’s been going since that day.

Well, things aren’t all rosy for me a year later: I’ve once again, again, come down with a cold, for the second or third time since Christmas!  I’m feeling dizzy (though not in a “mind static” kind of way) due to the numerous tinctures and philtres I’ve been taking, in a futile attempt to cure my sore throat and snotty nose.  It also doesn’t help that I’ve regained the weight I lost last summer, and not in muscular weight due to becoming buff and ripped; rather, due to medication combined with, er, Easter.

(Fortunately, last night I made a heinous mistake in buying a Polish variety of chocolate truffles which taste astonishingly bad, possibly from their alcohol content — is this enough to put me off chocolate entirely, for long enough to get me back below 13 stone?  Hah!)

At least those closest to me are doing better now: my mother’s been through that dental operation without lasting harm (though now her computer’s going wonky), and “best mate” is no longer threatening to return to Ireland forever (though he’s still got that incoming housemate’s stuff filling his room until the end of May).  It’d be nice to talk to “Polish female best friend” more often, but she’s going through a hellish week work-wise, and can’t meet up — so although we communicate through Facebook’s PM system to check on each other, it’s a long time since I heard her distinctive text message noise…

And yes, I’m still working on that subject as well — and thus, not only have I made my main ringtone Peter Griffin singing “Surfin’ Bird” (also with the possibility of a Pythonesque overly-long name, to complement the Four Peters that I’ve had for years), but I’ve taken a major step: no longer wanting my mother to text me sounding like an Amnesia monster, I’ve replaced her text message noise with Moose the Boxer from the ClearScore adverts!  She is of course mortally offended at being compared to a dog, which is part of the reason it makes me laugh.

Speaking of dogs, I am still petting them when I can (especially the gigantic Samoyed who lives locally, and runs up to me whenever I encounter him taking his owners for a walk), and as I’m sure you remember, it helped me during my recovery last year — apart from anything else, it got me out of the house and going walkies myself, with my mother for support during my convalescence in Worthing, and later by myself back here in Finchley.

Much as I am grateful for my folks bringing me up and taking care of me, I hope I don’t have to go back to living with them in that dump of a town, and can one day help them escape —  but even though it seems a short time since I finally began returning to work, things have been changing big time, including our taking on a whole new, highly-paid team of contractors… and there’s rumours of redundancies coming up to pay for this gamble!  Fortunately, one of my teammates is trying to edumacate me better (in complex matters such as setting up servers, though this is physical as well as mental), so I have a better chance of being kept on — or, worst come to worst, finding a new job before my savings run out and I get kicked out of rented accomodation for being on this country’s utterly unfit-for-purpose benefit system.

(And consider the fact that the Job Centre right here in Finchley Central closed a year or so ago — so if I had to claim Universal Credit, I’d need to go all the way to Hendon!)

“Hello, David; I want to play a game — is it safe?”

Sorry, politics… at least I’m not disabled (or at least not yet), but I’ve been urged to get myself innoculated against two childhood diseases I never had, measles and mumps — because I only had one or two injections as a child (I remember my mother mocking the way I said “injection” in reference to the sore spot on my arm), and my BCG at age 14 — and they may well be making a comeback thanks to the anti-vaxxer movement.  It’s difficult getting an appointment at my local quackery, but there may be a walk-in centre nearby, where I can get some advice on whether it’s necessary at my age, and whether it’d interfere with my medication.

And worst of all, I’m overdue for a dental checkup — somehow, lying in a hospital bed having my skull cut open this time last year seems less terrifying a prospect!  Hell, some of the deadly tests in the Saw films would be preferable to dentistry…

— — —

P.S. I’ve finally finished my latest medley of Gorillaz, Radiohead and Jamiroquai songs — worth mentioning that the last one was…

Bad medicine

Don’t worry, I’m just using it for the “ludicrous number of pills” imagery… at least for now

I’m still on the pills to stop me from getting any more of those “mind static” partial seizures, and while mostly it works, at times things can still get strange for me — and it doesn’t help that I made a major error last year regarding one of the two drugs I’m on, while the quacks think I should come off the other entirely, as that’s likely to be the source of my weird symptoms (rather than the “space invader” making a comeback so soon).

It doesn’t help that, much like over three years ago (and still with that GLC quote in mind), I’ve got a cold — no, not the one I had over Christmas, a different one now — and both things leave me with the prospect of offending someone at work by being too “abrupt”, and getting myself in trouble again… especially today, when I had to rush home in the vain hope that my local pharmacy would have my repeat prescription, when in fact they didn’t, and I had to go see my local surgery again, just before it shut for the day!

Just to summarise, the hideous concoctions I’ve needed to take since my diagnosis early last year (2018, if you’ve forgotten it’s 2019 already… go ahead, put up your new calendar, I’ll wait…) have been let— levit— levetin— levetiracel—… oh, fine, Keppra, let’s go with that, which I think holds back the worst of my quasi-epileptic symptoms; and lamotrigine, which I think negates some of the Keppra side effects and helps me manage my emotions (my personal trainer said his mother was taking this drug as well), though the latter I started after briefly being on clobazam at the start (which helped me feel a lot better, but which I could only take short-term).

The quacks I spoke to late last year (with my supportive mother present) think it might be the twice-daily 1,500mg doses of Keppra that are leading to my not-quite-the-same-as-before dizzy spells, where although I don’t lose the ability to understand English, I nonetheless hear things differently at first, and may then experience what I can only describe as metallic sensations in my head, possibly leading to tingling on my right side (controlled by the left side of my brain, of course); on that basis, they may recommend I come off it entirely, and switch to something else with different side effects — but hopefully only until I can come off drugs entirely, when the pesky intruder in my cranium has gotten out of town and gone back where it came from.

(If only I had Trump’s budget to build that wall, eh?  Eh?… oh, please yourselves!)

Different brands have affected me differently over time, and I think I’m better if I’m not taking actual Keppra but one of the other varieties of leve-wossname — but it’s the other drug, lamotrigine, which I was prescribed at 50mg twice a day, where I made a critical error.  Remember last August, when I said I’d been given “clearance” to reduce my dosage?  Big mistake to even try — and not just for immediate health reasons: getting my quackery to approve a repeat prescription for 25mg instead of 50mg tablets, so I could experiment with taking two or one at each dose, seems to have made them think my overall dosage had been reduced to 25mg, and so the repeat prescription my local pharmacy gave me just before Christmas effectively included two months of “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Keppra!”, but what amounted to only one month of lamotrigine, and this has just run out.

Don’t you just love it when you need something important, but just can’t get a sensible update on its progress?  I asked for a repeat prescription at my pharmacy after work last Wednesday (couldn’t go to the quackery as they close early on Wednesdays), this time for 50mg tablets, and they seemed to be fine with it — but they said it’d take three working days… and though they told me nothing out of the ordinary when I chased up on Saturday (just that it hadn’t arrived), it was only today, when I rushed home early from work, that they said my doc hadn’t approved it, and I’d have to go visit the quackery!

Fortunately (a) the pharmacy were able to give me a week’s supply of 50mg tablets, and (b) the receptionist at the quackery was able to arrange a proper repeat prescription (with a doc who was offscreen for the entire scene), so hopefully I’ll have enough at least to last me until the second half of February, when (after my first MRI scan of 2019) I’ll be meeting another quack for what I hope will be a discussion of medicine, and how I should proceed on that topic.  Assuming it doesn’t get put back suddenly (and that Southern Rail don’t have any of their usual problems), I’ll have my mother there to support and guide me…

However, different brands of lamotrigine can also have different effects upon me.  The ones I had over Christmas (and for which I’ve been given another week’s supply today) weren’t bad, but as a stop-gap solution I’ve briefly switched over to the leftovers of the different brand I got in late 2018, and which may well have been in no small way responsible for strange feelings of déjà vu I’ve had at times.  For example, the play I saw with “Polish female best friend” just before Christmas seemed oddly familiar, despite A Very Very Very Dark Matter having only started showing in 2018, and at the weekend I finally began playing Batman: Arkham Knight for the first time, only to think I’d experienced cremating the Joker’s corpse before, realising it wasn’t a passive cutscene and that I had to actually press something on my joypad to make it proceed!

(And I’ve been listening to Gwar again lately… well, I’d listened to them so many times in the past, it could hardly be unfamiliar and brand new to me, could it?  I practically sing along, at least inside my head!)

Well, if it’s snotty, at least I’m past the coughing stage

I’d love to get off all that stuff sooner rather than later, since it’ll be three years before I can give blood again, and I feel like I owe the world such a donation (it’s not enough having done it around 25 times before 2018) — but it’s worth noting that I’m getting cold symptoms again, almost as though I’m returning to normal (for a given definition of “normal”).  Thus, Lemsip is one of the other major drugs I’m on at the moment, and I’m also popping vitamin pills at dinner times, in the hope of making up for whatever nutrients I’m lacking and thus getting sick.

The cold January weather isn’t helping: aside from wondering whether my hat-with-flaps is putting extra pressure on my skull (!), I’m finding it increasingly difficult to keep my room warm without resorting to turning on my wasteful electric heater; somehow I’ll have to persuade my female housemate to let me keep the heating on all day, every day this week (especially if we get snowed in and I have to work from home, not an entirely unpleasant prospect), and to turn off her own damn radiator if her room gets “too hot” in winter, of all seasons.

Plus, after meeting up with her for a visit to Freud’s museum, “Polish female best friend” has left the country once again (hopefully Brexit won’t stop her return in April), and “best mate” is stuck working outside London for another week, leaving me with virtually no-one to hang out with, especially since I can’t go climbing in this condition. Worse, I couldn’t visit my folks at the weekend because (a) they’re doin’ up the house, and (b) the trains were in a state once again and it’d have taken me at least two changes each way (Southern Rail get their second negative citation in this blog post).

Perhaps it was lucky, as I might have spread this phlegmy cold to my mother and/or grandmother, and they’ve suffered enough lately… but maybe the cold itself is a refreshing change: could I be entitled to take my first proper, non-surgery-related sick day in years?  I think the last bad cold I had was in August 2016 (shortly followed by a worse condition), so it’s about time, isn’t it…

Feeling down

Well, at least I’ve spread my germs to all the selfish jerks who want to use the Tube every morning

Much like last year, I wish I could start by saying I’d had a good Christmas, but three things have conspired to make me feel down.  Not, for a change, public transport or things going wrong at my job (no four-year cycle repeating early 2015… though I am replaying Batman: Arkham Origins!), and although one of the things is a health matter, it’s nothing to do with “mind static” or brain tumours.

Having said that, I can’t help but wonder if the reason I had almost no colds after the beginning of the real series of partial seizures wasn’t that I was somehow super-healthy (or that $DEITY was giving me good luck in infection terms to counterbalance the bad luck in other health terms), but rather that the condition was somehow repressing illness symptoms, and I was actually getting colds just as much as ever?  Did I mention having a cold in early 2017, only for it to last a couple of days instead of weeks?  Yes I did, there’s a good Dave-ros — and although I had another cold the following year, which lingered a lot longer, more recently I’ve had a mild one (around my 41st 29th birthday in October), and while it was short-lived, I went through all the traditional symptoms, including copious amounts of snot.

(Oh, that third cold-related post had a similar title to one five years earlier — am I running out of material?)

And in December, just before I went down to visit my folks in Worthing for Christmas, I started getting a sore throat, although for once my journey on Southern was entirely untroubled (well, except having to start at a completely different station, and travel on Christmas Eve because the entire south coast railway was closed between Littlehampton and Brighton over the weekend).  My folks were happy with their presents, and I was happy with mine, and it looked like it’d be a nice break from London…

But then my sore throat kept getting worse, affecting my ability to even speak, and a cough began, which also got worse as the days went by.  I ended up retreating into my room and hardly interacting with my folks at all (other than the occasional walk to meet local friendly dogs), and I stupidly upset my mother by being impatient with her, perhaps even more than last Christmas, and making her feel unappreciated.  I’d been planning to play Wii Sports Resort and Nidhogg 2 with her during my break (and let her win at marble soldiers), but hiding in my room just seemed so much easier… and little things, like knocking on my door when I was doing something, could make me angry and unwilling to even try to talk.

(I hope it’s not a return of anxiety at sudden loud noises, though my team getting rowdy at work can certainly drive me into my shell, and make me put my headphones on… at least I don’t work with that woman any more!)

It’s not just my folks that I’ve disappointed, though: my American friend wanted to send me another package (most likely a third set of Transformers he’d bought for me), and though he got my address wrong in October, when it was eventually returned to him, he put my right address on and re-sent it, just in time for Christmas.  Indeed, it came so quickly that I got the card in time to pick it up from the depot on the weekend before Christmas, and open it on Skype in order to bring a smile to his face…

Nope, the local post office depot (let’s name and shame, like I first officially did in 2016: Finchley Church End Delivery Office) seem to have lost my “birthmas” present entirely — despite the postman having ticked the box to say it would be back at the depot for pickup, they couldn’t find it there when I came in with my card and passport, and they later admitted it was never checked back in after the attempted delivery before Christmas, so its location is now completely unknown.  Our neighbour on one side denies receiving it (we often take in packages for each other), and the house on the other side is vacant (the nice old Irishman sadly died a year or so ago), and no-one else in our street has tried to bring it to us.

They’ve even suggested it went to that flat up the street with the same number and postcode as our non-flat house (which I told you about in code here), but if that’s the case, why was the card put through our letterbox, and why didn’t the resident of “Flat 7, Yorkshire Works” bring the parcel to our house when they realised it wasn’t for them?

(Unless someone with my name lives there, of course, but how many Dave-roses are there in the entire world, let alone in this nice bit of London?)

Hey, what if the deliveryman put it in one of our bins, without actually telling us, and it’s thus been thrown away (or recycled, which would probably mean stolen and given to the thief’s children)?  If it does get returned to my Michigan friend a second time, I’ll ask him to change my address again — this time, to my family home in Worthing (still the destination for post relating to my student loans), so I can pick it up from somewhere it’s more likely to actually be delivered.  And if our local post here gets any worse, I’ll get my NHS letters redirected there as well (I’ve got more tests coming up in February, and naturally want to ensure I attend them).

Of course, it might not be our local post office that’s responsible for one final concern I have, but you never know: our energy company (name and shame: Eon) have now twice sent us not quarterly bills, but angry chasers for unpaid quarterly bills (August thus paid in early October, and November in early January).  Since the account is in our landlord’s name (not our landlady, but her dearly-departed husband, who we lost in 2013), it’ll be difficult getting through to them, but nonetheless I’ve been advised to ditch them entirely.  Perhaps it’s worth noting they also screwed over my folks, arbitrarily increasing their bills simply because they could…

I certainly can’t help but ponder the thought that they’re “accidentally” doing this at their end, to increase the chance of us running up a fine… wouldn’t be an isolated example of a private business trying to trick people into getting penalised as a revenue stream, judging from Mr. Mustard’s blog about parking/traffic fines, would it?

Well, I’ll just have to hope I get over this damn cough, patch things up with my mother and grandmother, and cope with the dreadful postal service… well, at least my cough’s lightening up a bit today, so that’s a good start — but last night it was so bad, my hacking actually made me feel like I pulled a muscle!  Indeed, senpai wanted me to go home from work early, despite the important stuff that needed doing, and it was only thanks to luck (and bumpers) that I beat four other people, including “best mate” and “drummer-trucker”, at bowling.

(Yes, lucky: my first bowl was a strike, straight down the middle of the lane — that hadn’t happened since my very first bowl ever, in October 1992!)

I’ll continue resting this weekend, hoping it’s just a cold my folks inadvertently brought back from the Canaries in November, but if I’m still feeling horrible on Monday morning, I’ll take a sick day so I can see the quack, in case it’s a throat infection (not for the first time, and neither was that, as I had one instead of “Fresher’s Flu” back in 1996).  This isn’t impossble, as I’ve had very little nasal activity so far, whereas at times my ear canals seem to ache, as though my Eustachian tubes are infected with the same bacteria.

I don’t want to be taking antibiotics at the same time as my anti-epilepsy medication, but hey, what choice would I have?

As one illness leaves…

Yes, it’s that time of year again!

Don’t worry, I’m not reverting to my old “mind static” condition: despite some recent minor bouts, it’s clear that, thanks to medication, I’m doing fine now in that aspect of my life, and my healing process is effectively complete.  Although I’ve got a “second opinion” coming up, I hope no further treatment will be necessary any time soon!

But I can’t help wondering whether the elimination (or at least effective control) of that form of epilepsy is what’s brought back a couple of older problems, which I haven’t really experienced in any significant way since the end of 2016, when “mind static” erupted in force — indeed, it’s like I’m back in mid-2016 again, when I had similar issues

A couple of weeks ago, for example, I came down with a familiar old feeling: depression.  It actually reminded me a bit of 2011, at least around the same time of year: not the full-blown suicidal despair I felt on “Twelve-Twelve”, but I felt miserable.  It may have been at least triggered by “boss lady” moving me and a teammate who isn’t my senpai across the office to empty seats, so that the rest of my team (including senpai) could train up two developers joining us, without having to walk over to their distant seats — not only am I now away from the lads, but I’m sitting in the path of TWO aircon units, just when the weather gets colder!

I spoke to an HR lady at work, who tried to help me with advice and reassurance, but perhaps I also felt a certain despair regarding my love life, or eternal lack thereof.  Although I still occasionally get dates through a smartphone app, still I seem to be getting nowhere.  If I had more money and didn’t feel like I should be saving up for emergencies (medical, familial, Brexit-related etc.), I’d have paid my dating coach for a proper set of online classes, to build up my confidence…

But even then, I wonder if I’d have the energy and enthusiasm, as I seem to be enjoying my nights in all over again — even though I’ve resumed climbing, I seem to be only going once in a while, preferring to stay home for dinner, TV and video games.  Last week I was out three nights (once to help the homeless, once for a date that didn’t work out, and once for personal training), and since I’m back to full-time at work, but have an hour’s commute each way (well, 45 minutes, but close enough), I worry I won’t have any time to myself, to relax!

Snot stage coming soon… uh huh huh huh, “coming”!

Still, my room’s getting cold again at this time of year (maybe I should move my computer desk away from the window, since it’s not summer any more?), and that’s not the only cold I’m currently suffering from.  Yes, that old viral condition has returned with a vengeance — just a sore throat for now, but it’s very likely to be in the “three days coming” stage, and so will get worse before it gets better, no matter how much water (and Lemsip!) I drink.

It’s worth noting that, after my serious brain condition started at the end of 2016, I seemed to become almost immune to colds — aside from a very short-lived one in January 2017 (I’ve never gone through the stages so quickly before!), and a lingering cough at the start of this year, I seem to have been entirely free from the symptoms.  Was the cranial situation suppressing them, I wonder?

I’ll just have to hope that the coming week is an improvement — which it may be, as we’re apparently escaping the cold weather for a while — but I’ll have to be careful: “boss lady” had a word with me about being too “abrupt” with people, and while she’s sympathetic when it comes to my medical situation, I’ve certainly had trouble in the past when suffering from cold symptoms (it may be one of the reasons she told me off in January 2016, and I nearly failed my probation!).

Being afraid of losing my job, and livelihood, is something I definitely don’t want to experience all over again, even if it demonstrates that I’m over “mind static” for the foreseeable future.  However, I have to go back to living with my folks in Worthing (again), at least it’ll mean we can finally get a dog… and they certainly cheer me up when I’m down!

And if I do have a cold, I’ll have an excuse not to see my personal trainer TWICE in one week (having just seen him on Friday), and can stay home every evening, playing video games (including a couple of sequels I’ve never played before — Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and, thanks to my mother, StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void)!  That’s if I can even make it into work, of course, but I’ll have no sick leave (until November, my third anniversary), so here’s hoping it won’t be necessary — I want to be helping my colleagues out full-time, not convalescing all over again.

Most hopefully of all, “best mate” will be back from his current job in Luton on Tuesday, and will take me to dinner at Nando’s — some spicy food would certainly help with my cold symptoms!

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!

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)…

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…