On making time to be ill

It’s Friday.

I’m supposed to be in the middle of a two day committee meeting. Instead I am lying on a towel looking at this:

rejoicing at the slight breeze and listening to the birdsong and the buzzing of a million insects.

Yesterday I looked up at the sky through the branches for the first time in too long. As I lay there, I couldn’t actually remember the last time I’d done that. It’s amazing how seldom I lie on my back outside.

The day before that I lay beside a lake and looked at the reeds and listened to the frogs:

***

I have been neglecting myself recently, or at least not paying attention properly.

I’ve been working long hours during the day and watching the stars at night and not sleeping enough in between. I’ve been talking too much and not listening to my body enough. I’ve been eating beans and pancakes and m├╝sli and chocolate and not nearly enough fruit and veg. I’ve been cycling and rowing (on the machine) but not stretching or actively relaxing. I’ve been trying to get things done, but not standing back to see which things are actually important. I’ve been spending a lot of time dithering and rushing about (mostly in circles) inside and not so much just existing outside.

All this is probably why I was the perfect victim for a passing virus. And also why I found myself spending the last few days in an exhausted heap observing the greenery and assorted wildlife.

As they say,

“If you won’t take time to be healthy, you’ll have to make time to be ill”

There’s a lot of truth in that.

Unfortunately.

On the other hand, even though being ill is no fun, there’s a lot to be said for lying on the ground under a tree, just recuperating. I might have to come here more often, even when I’m well again. Also, having a sore throat is the perfect excuse to up my icecream consumption :p.

***

I was invited to a party on Saturday. I had to turn it down because I wouldn’t be back from the committee meeting in time. That meant I was free to go to my AuPair kid’s birthday on Sunday, seeing as I was in Southern Germany anyway (and once I found out that I wouldn’t make it back for the party). Now, I’m not going anywhere. Hmph.

Not travelling means not needing train tickets. I was so chuffed about booking them in advance (and thereby saving money) but it seems that even if I am organised it doesn’t work out.. Very miffed about that – I thought I was doing so well! Luckily the train company refunds tickets up to the day they’re valid so I only “lost” the cancellation fee.

***

The next bit’s boring, mostly just for my memory in case I need to be reminded later.

I was tired and unmotivated for most of the weekend. Things that should have taken a few minutes took several hours. I started things and left them on the floor. I couldn’t decide what I wanted to buy when I went shopping and spent ages dithering between this one and that one, walking back to the shelves and putting things back, only to turn round when I reached the end of the isle and pick it up again, having changed my mind (this is a semi-normal thing when I go shopping, I’m just not usually quite as dithery as this weekend).

I had a dry throat and unquenchable thirst, along with a headache for most of Monday and Tuesday. Drinking 3L of water in less than 6 hours is possibly a little excessive, but it’s been 30+ degrees C in Berlin for a while, and 34+ in the workshop, so I assumed it was due to a combination of heat, dehydration and potentially a slight lack of salt.

Then I dropped my bike while getting off it at the crossroads on the way to work on Tuesday. Who’s that weak?! I put that, too, down to the heat and made a point of drinking even more, this time alternating water with squash, briefly thinking about adding some kind of strength training into my already largely unsuccessful mornings.

Swallowing started to hurt (rather than scratch) about mid afternoon. I waited until no one else was using the loos at work and looked at the back of my throat in the mirror (my mirror at home is waiting for me to finish its new frame). My tonsils were swollen and had white patches. Ewww.

That night I tossed and turned, froze, boiled, fought with the duvet, staggered back and forth to the bathroom and was generally not particularly rested when the alarm went off in the morning. I fought my way out of bed and towards the end of the road. I wanted to stop at the doctor’s before work and ask what to do about of the white splotches.

Turns out working isn’t good for healing. It’s also not good for other people if you work while you’re contagious.. Who knew. ­čśë

She stole some blood and wrote me off work for 3(+x) days and told me to get lots of rest and to avoid other people and talking. (She also recommended medicinal throat sweets, but they made my mouth hurt, so I gave up after the 4th).

The chemist suggested vitamin C crystals with added Zink. Taking that as she recommended.

Slept well and often for most of the rest of the day.

On the [evening after the] morning after the ride before

Apart from sleeping through my alarm (s) I felt ok when I woke up. I even stretched without too much of a problem.

Then I stood up to walk to the toilet.

FUdge!

My feet, my knees, my legs, my shoulders, my elbows – all the moving parts – hurt. A lot. If that’s what getting old feels like, I don’t want to.

A little while later, after quarter of an hour on the erg (ouch!), and breakfast, and my usual faffing about, I could walk again, mostly without wincing.

Then I had to get back on the bike and cycle to work again..

..at this point I didn’t even bother trying to rename my expletives.

I am told that the second day is the worst.

I hope that’s true.

***

In other news, I now have a mattress! Whee!

(I also have a better pillow but the pillow case is in the wash)

***

The neighbour with a car helped me carry it up the stairs and into my flat.

The seller had rolled it up and tied it with string like a roly-poly pudding*.

I have never seen such knots!

I set to work undoing the strings, and getting the mattress into place on the bed while the-neighbour-with-a-car talked (and talked and talked).

It seems he’s capable of multitasking though, because I’ve just found this:

I don’t know anyone who ties string so neatly…

***

Goodnight people!

Zzzzzzzzzzzz

* Tom Kitten

On not being a sword

I swung my legs over the side of the bed and sat on the edge while she waved her hands about.

“…your body wants to flow, you see,” she said, “it’s being held in place at the moment, but it isn’t happy. That’s why you have so many stressed and tightened muscles. You’re more like water. Water’s powerful, but it’s not a sword. You aren’t a sword….”

I expect she had more to say, my osteopath, but I don’t remember what; I was trying to work out what to do with those ideas.

***

Since then, my thoughts keep wandering back to the image of water trying to fight like a sword, or trying to be a sword.

***

The way I see it, water tends to flow round or over the things that get in its way. It doesn’t fight everything, at least not immediately. I have the feeling that when it does fight, water tends to fight more slowly than swords do.

It’s not weak though, even if it is slow. All the ravines and canyons, all the hilly landscapes, all the washed-away sea breakers and man-made constructs, all the round stones on the riverbed/at the beach, prove that. And the amazing lack of unrounded shards of glass on the beach show that it doesn’t always take as much time as one thinks.

The rain falls drop by drop. Even tsunamis and floods take their time to build up to the finale. But when they go, they go. When they’re ready, they make themselves known, often with catastrophic results.

There are very few ways to permanently keep water from going where it wants to go. Dams break, pipes burst, riverbanks overflow, the tide comes in, regardless who commands it to stay away.

Pretty much eveything natural shows how much water can achieve, given enough time. Not only in big crashy ways, but also in small, hidden ways.

All things need water. Nothing survives long without water. In fact, there’d be no life at all without water. The whole planet only exists the way it does because there’s water on it. The blue planet. our blue planet. The only one I want to live on, even if they reckon they’ve found another 10 out there in space. (But I digress)

Swords, on the other hand, aren’t known for their life-giving properties. l suspect lots of people could imagine the benefits of the public still having swords and swordfights but I don’t know anyone who can’t live without one.

***

When someone tells me I’m not something, I immediately wonder why not, and whether they meant that in a good way (or not), and whether they were hoping I was or are happy that I’m not, and whether I was aiming to be that thing at all and whether I should have been…. (etc etc etc ad infinitum).

In this case, after quite a lot of thought, I think I’m pleased to not be a sword. And if I’m not a sword, water’s not a bad thing to be instead.

­čÖé

On therapy

The first session starts in 14 minutes.

I feel totally unprepared, but I hope it won’t matter.

I am also quite sweaty, which is worse than unprepared. The 18 degrees they promised us this morning when I put jeans on, have turned into at least 25, probably closer to 28, and the leisurely walk  I meant to have via the bank to the station, turned into a rush to get there before being late, and included locking my card because I couldn’t remember the pin number.

The reason I was rushing in the first place, is that I couldn’t work out how to get the printer to print my health and illness history onto a single page of A4 (or 2) as opposed to spread over 9.
Theoretically, I could have written it on paper, by hand. Or into word, where I can see the edges of the paper. Instead, I wanted to use excel. Theoretically, even that would have been a good idea, if properly executed. Which it wasn’t.

Instead, it was fussed over, in tremendous detail, until I realised I had to leave a couple of minutes ago, then rushed, without formatting or spellchecking, to get it at least printed, in whatever form possible. 

I am trying, by way of writing this out, to bring myself back out of panic mode, and into, ‘try and get a grip’ mode.

If not quite succeeding counts as preparation for therapy, then I guess I am prepared after all….
Wish me luck, or good questions, or whatever you feel is appropriate…

On manflu and my inability to concentrate (although they’re probably not at all connected)

Hello people,

I’m still alive, but I might not write for a while. Not that I’ve written in ages anyway.

I can’t concentrate on anything long enough to write a post that makes sense. My mind jumps continuously from project to project to project: the garden, my work, school, the house, the committee I’m on, the committee I’m almost on, revsion, the company I almost no longer work for, the dog, the aquariums, the plans for the new pond, the plans for a porch, catching trains, eating, cleaning up, tidying up, going out, (not) going swimming, getting home in the dark, spring, bulbs which need planting yesterday, garden, …

On top of, or maybe next to, all those thoughts, I have manflu*, for the second time this year. The first time, I was off work for almost a month. This time I’m working through it, at least so far, which I suppose makes it less manflu-y, and more normal cold. Much as I would love to hide under the duvet, I can hardly phone in sick again! I’ve only been back at work for, what, 5 weeks? 6 weeks? Especially when a colleague is already off work with his own manflu. Maybe someone will send me home if I cough at them long enough.

I’ll leave you with a picture of spring:

* legitimately, if my latest hormone test is anything to go by. I figure if I have to have crazily high levels of testosterone, I might as well be entitled to manflu instead of normal colds…

On failure and other misfortunes

(Warning: contains a small amount of blood and a great deal of frustration)

***

On Sunday I admitted failure. 

I had failed to finish the book in time to send it to the printers before leaving to catch the plane, despite staying up all night to work on it.

I was quite miffed (ok, a lot miffed)..

There’s not a lot of point being miffed if you aren’t in a position to change anything. I decided to look up instead.

On Monday I was so busy looking up, that I didn’t notice the small piece of volcano sticking up in the middle of the otherwise even path.

..and that dear readers, is why looking down isn’t always a bad thing…

Luckily I was equipped with water and tissues and DB had a plaster with him.

Onwards and upwards!

That evening, on the way to get dinner, I missed the step onto the pavement and stubbed the same toe, removing the plaster and the flap of skin I’d created earlier.

Back to the apartment for a new plaster.

I don’t particularly appreciate losing skin, so I gave up on looking up, and decided to look down, and watch what my feet are doing instead. 

That worked well for a day or so – until I went to the toilet while the window was open. And even that was fine until I stood up…

An almighty yell and a lump on my head later, and I was convinced that looking down doesn’t help much either.

***

I think I’m going to keep my feet up and my head down, and get on with my revision. Maybe I should even look forward to the exams?!

On writing my fingers to the boneskin

I have “Daumenknochenhautentz├╝ndung”.

“Thumb bone skin inflammation” sounds pretty impressive, but German is a whole lot cooler :). I think the Latin is periostitis but I may well be wrong.

I didn’t know that was even a thing until yesterday, I just knew my thumb hurt.

Apparently, all bones are covered with a very thin, very delicate layer of “skin” responsible for connecting them to the ligaments and nerves and blood supply and who knows what (ask someone medical). If you repeatedly bash a part of your body where the bone is close to the surface (like your shin, or your fingers) there’s not enough flesh to cushion the impact, and you run the risk of damaging the aforementioned boneskin (which presumeably has a fancy Latin name like periost).

According to the internet, this kind of damage is generally caused by running in the wrong shoes.

According to my doctor, it can also be caused by writing too much. The repeated pressure of holding a pen, when you aren’t used to it, is enough to disturb the boneskin. Seems there was a reason behind my year 2 teacher’s constant critisism of how tightly I held (and still hold) “writing implements”.

My thumb, the one that hurt when I wrote all those revision cards, is suffering from accute Daumenknochenhautentz├╝ndung. That basically means it really hurts and I shouldn’t use it for a week or so.

Be warned.

­čÖé

 

On eyesight and hindsight

My brother says hindsight is a wonderful thing. I think eyesight is better. Which doesn’t at all negate the wonderfulness of hindsight..

I am currently in the joyous position of having both.

The hole in my eye has healed itself (with help from the drops and gel), and I have survived the exams. Both of which are Good Things, even if the waiting, both for the check up and the results was and is (respectively) a nuisance.

In future, I will aim (as I routinely promise myself after almost every exam) to start revising earlier, and to actually learn the parts I want to (and unfortunately usually do) flip past, dismissing as, “not exam-worthy”.

I will also orientate myself around the questions we work on in class. I don’t appreciate rote learning, but it seems thats what’s expected here. When in Rome and all that…
Here’s to 4 schoolfree weeks! ­čÖé

On “re: vision”

I have an exam on Saturday.

Actually. That’s not true.

I have 2 exams* on Saturday.

The date’s been set for several months, but somehow I managed to ignore how fast time slips away when you’re not looking properly.

A month ago I made a list of topics we’d covered, and topics we still needed to cover in class.

A couple of weeks ago I started going over my notes and flicking through the text books.

At some point last week I realised I hadn’t really got a clue about any of the things that were going to come up in the exam. A mild panic later, and I made up my mind to get down to revising “properly”.

I revise best when people ask me to tell them about whatever I’m learning. People ask better questions (and can check if I’m talking rubbish) when they can read them off revision cards. As a bonus, writing things down helps me remember them too.

It seems revision in general, and writing cards in particular, is something that needs practising. ­čśŤ

I’ve written masses of notes in class without any problems, but writing revision cards seems to be a different kind of stress. My hands ache. My wrists are sore. My fingers are tired. My thumb’s so tired it’s almost gone to sleep completely (I hope it wakes up soon – I need them both!).

Today is the umpteenth day of staring at the heap of ex-forest on my desk (and ignoring the heaps invading the surrounding vicinity, and the dining room table, and the sofa ….). I am thoroughly bored of writing revision cards. I can’t stop though, because I have no time. I don’t remember ever starting to revise this late before, and I can’t remember it taking so much time up, but I think that’s just selective memory loss ;).

***

I was originally planning to write a post about how it must be a sign you’ve done too much revison when getting-up-to-clean-the-toilet-because-the-cleaner’s-been-on-for-10-minutes becomes a highlight of the afternoon. Then I thought about writing about how tragic it is to run out of whichever coloured cards you were using for Topic A and have to use Topic B’s colour, just when you were starting to think you were actually the slightest little bit organised. Then I thought about how dangerous coffee is, and how fizzy you get when you drink the first full cups ever, and how I am going to have to stop as soon as the exams are over before I can’t imagine a life without it.

I say “planning”, but I really mean the ideas were swirling around the back of my head because I wasn’t going to give myself time away from the revision cards to write any of them down.

This is what you’re getting instead.

***

This morning I got up with DB, prepared to sit at my desk and inflict more pain on my writing-thumb.

And then I had to go to the doctor’s.

Nothing like a good adrenalin kick first thing in the morning.

***

I am a glassblower. I am trained to look at reflections in shiny objects. Especially round shiny objects. You can tell a lot about how round things are when you look at the patterns the reflections make.

This morning, once DB had roared off on his motorbike (leaving me in a bleary sleepy haze, to have a bath and get dressed and write lots) I innocently looked in the mirror.

I shall have to make a mental note not to do that anymore. It’s dangerous.

You know why?

I don’t either.

***

My eye had a dent in it.

<insert silent swearing here>

After blinking and looking again didn’t make it go away, I put eyedrops in and phoned my optician. She said I was welcome to come in and see her, but that she’d rather I went to see a doctor.

So I did.

I sat in the overcroweded waiting rooom and wrote revision cards in front of shuffly old people and loud, wriggly, small children. It’s got to be good for me though – Kate says one should learn in as many places as possible….

***

It seems there’s a hole in my <insert germanised latin name for front-of-eye here>.

Apparently it’s not visible unless you dye the surface yellow and shine very bright lights at it.

Maybe eyedoctors should do glassblowing training before going to doctor-school? ­čśë

Anyway. I don’t know how it got there, and neither does the doctor, but at least when you know it’s there you can do something about it. I have a new sort of eyedrops and a gel. WHOO!

***

And now, after a very pleasant interlude I’m going to get back to those revision cards – I have an exam to learn for afterall!

 

*on the content of 4 Textbooks