On seeing (and D-ing)

Recently A month ago (!!) I wrote about how well things were going. Pretty much directly after pressing publish, my mood and my house nosedived into a swamp of grey, exhausted ugh.

Like before, I blame the vitamin D. Except in this case more the lack of.

***

Some history:

When my deficiency was first diagnosed (last autumn) I went to the chemist and asked for vitamin D. I didn’t look at the various brightly advertised packages in the main shop, I went straight to the the counter and bought the boring-looking box of tablets I was offered. I figured they were most likely to do the job if they didn’t have to work on convincing you how much they were doing.

I read somewhere that just existing uses up approximately 500-1000 units a day. In summer it’s usually easy to produce enough to live on and have some left over to store for winter. I was outside a lot and it was a very sunny summer, I just seem to have a problem with the production part of the equation. At the end of the summer I had way less than most people have at the end of the winter. Whatever. I’m supposed to be replenishing my stocks so I was told to take 2000 units. The Internet is full of opinions and some people are convinced that I could easily triple the daily dosage or take a lot more once a week. I am very wary of taking too much of anything so I chose to go slowly and steadily, taking them daily and according to the instructions.

I noticed the difference almost immediately. I could pick things up, my cycling speed increased (a bit), I didn’t cry so often. I wasn’t as tired. I was amazed. Life was more lifelike.

<..approx 3 months later..>

I went home (to my parents house) for Christmas and didn’t take enough tablets with me (I had a spare sheet at work but forgot to pack them). I was ok, I’d mostly forgotten what life was like without them and I figured I could take them on alternate days or take less to make them last longer. It wasn’t as if I was going to be there for long, just under 2 weeks.

I got progressively more irritable and a few days after Christmas my brother had the questionable pleasure of an evening in my tearful mope-y company. Not a good use of the available time.

I headed to a supermarket for more tablets. They were much weaker, I think 250 units each, but I took several at a time and they tided me through til I got back. I didn’t want to waste them so I took one strong one instead of two and made up the difference with the weaker ones.

On the recommendation of a friend who swears by them, when I reached the end of the box, I decided to swap the tablets for drops. Since Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, it made sense to buy it ‘pure’ in oil without the chalky tablet material. There are a million options online and unfortunately very little regulation so I bought the sort she uses to reduce the risk of being scammed. The bottle was quite expensive but contained the equivalent of several boxes so each individual dose worked out (insignificantly) cheaper. You can drip it onto food or a spoon or directly onto your tongue. The bottle is glass and there’s no plastic blisterpacks involved. Theoretically they are a good thing.

In practice, and in retrospect, after taking nothing for a couple of days while I waited for them to arrive and using the drops for a month and a bit, I have the feeling that they don’t have the same effect, or possibly have no positive effect at all.

***

March was hard.

Everything hurt, I struggled to pick up my water filter or heave my bike up curbs. I couldn’t make the glass do what I wanted it to do. Getting up was arduous and getting out of the house was a feat. Cycling to work was challenging and slow (for a comparison, I cycled something like 80km over one weekend in February without a problem). I was permanently cold. I stayed at home at weekends, occasionally in bed.

I spent a week or so crying, more or less nonstop, about ridiculous things (like signposts and Google’s inability to direct me to where I want to go), and broken things and things that feel like they matter (even though they partially only exist in my head) and things that aren’t even things, and occasionally I just cried, no reason necessary.

Sometimes crying is/was the only thing that makes/made sense. Even when it doesn’t.

If I cried in the morning I stayed at home until I could stop my eyes leaking long enough to feel safe taking my bike on the roads. If I cried at work I took a break and typed up invoices instead of blindly playing with fire and hot glass. If I cried at home in the evening I took myself to bed with a hot water bottle and a box of tissues. I cooked and ate out of the saucepan or the frying pan, or didn’t cook and ate cereal out of as many bowls as I could without having to wash up. I left everything scattered on the table, worktops or on the floor next to the sofa. I didn’t do anything non-urgent. I made a point of not trying to not cry.

Last week, during a midnight crying attack, I wrote a whole post (in my head) about how everyone tells you to surround yourself with people who are better than you so you improve at whatever you want to be able to do, and how none of them ever tell you how to deal with permanently feeling like you are completely incapable.

From where I am, it doesn’t matter which way I look, everybody I have anything to do with has something they excel at. All around me, nothing but experts and success. PhDs, renovations, world travel, glassblowing masterpieces, speeches, new jobs, new houses, holidays, woodworkers, programmers, telescopes, exhibitions, parties, readers, writers, opening ceremonies, secretaries with neat cupboards of labelled and ordered paperperfection, makers of bread, collectors of overtime, parents of multiple children, runners, cyclists, etc etc etc. People are constantly doing things and doing them well. All the time. (For ever and ever. Amen.)

Faced with and compared to all this genius and talent and knowledge and ability, I failed on all fronts. Unless wallowing counts, and even then I know people who are properly depressed and not just paddling in the shallows where jealousy and “can’t even” and inadequacy and self-deprecation and all kinds of darkness lurk.

When I told her at a check up, my Obgyn said the lack of strength and motivation and excess of tears is probably either Depression or Deficiency and ordered another vitamin D test to see if I’m actually building up a Depot like I’m supposed to, or if I need to up the Dosage (look at all the Ds!). She asked what, if anything, had changed in the last few months and the only halfway relevant thing I could think of was switching to drops. She agreed with the theory that oil is a “better” solution, but suggested I go back to what works. Apparently different people are better able to use vitamins in different forms.

Given the choice, I told her, I’d much (much!) rather take the deficiency – especially when you can get tablets in every chemists and most supermarkets, and therapists are booked out until approximately 2080. She laughed and wished me deficiency (Germans are experts at wishing people things).

***

The other day I was talking to H about various things and he said something along the lines of: “..and you saw me. As a person, not just someone who was doing something. No one else does that..”

Awww ­čÖé

The best thing about it?

He wasn’t “just being nice”. He wasn’t scraping the barrel for things he could cheer me up with, he was genuinely thankful for being seen and was telling me as part of his story. It wasn’t about me.

A couple of days before that, B had a problem with something her husband had said. We talked and wrote and thought and discussed. Once he/they had smoothed things out, she wrote to thank me for taking the time to listen, and for giving her the chance to go through her thoughts before they spoke.

If I rack my brain and trail through my emails/texts/letters I find evidence of other people who have said similar things.

I think I’ve found my super power.

­čÖé

I can’t do all the things but I can see the people who can, and not doing all the things gives me time to be there for people (most of whom are in the middle of doing or about to do great things).

If I can be good at something, I can work on not minding being awful at everything else.

Going back to the crying, maybe I just needed a break to wash my eyes so I could get on with seeing.

(I bought a new box of tablets too – I couldn’t keep up with buying tissues :))

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