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 müsli 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. 😉

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 being woken up by strangers

I fell asleep on the train, only to wake up when an unknown passenger walked past, saw me sleeping and knocked on the window to let me know that we’d arrived at the end of the line. Luckily that was the stop I’d been aiming for.

Thank you, kind stranger, I would have hated waking up at the train depot.

On curious cats

Curiosity probably didn’t directly kill the cat. It probably just kept it up so late it was too tired to avoid the things that could kill it.

Finding things out has to be worth a bit of sleep loss though, right?

🙂

Zzzzzzz

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 making ones bed (but not lying on it)

I’ve mostly slept on an airbed since moving into my flat. The first one died, despite the stars, and I replaced it with a second of the same sort. I love airbeds, especially the deep ones, but since winter arrived it’d started to get damp underneath and I really really don’t want the floor to go mouldy. Time for a proper bed.

***

Before Christmas I saw a nearly new mattress advertised in the small ads by someone who was planning on moving soon. My car went on strike on the day I wanted to pick it up but the seller said he’d keep it for me.

I also saw a bed for sale (different seller) and asked if I could collect it after Christmas. The lady said she wouldn’t reserve it for me but she’d let me know if it was still there in the new year.

It turns out that the bed was still available when I got back from England and now it’s mine!

***

I’m still car-less, so yesterday I walked the mile or so each way to the bed-lady and back multiple times, carrying pieces of bed.

The slats were awkward but not excessively heavy.

The sides and middle bar were by contrast enough to make me stop every few minutes to get my breath back. Luckily they were all taped together. Even more luckily, I didn’t knock anyone out with it on the way home, though I did come quite close a couple of times when I turned round…

One of my new neighbours (lives in the same house, don’t really know him all that well though) came home as I’d manouvered the beast up the stairs to my landing. I leant against the door holding the beast upright and trying to catch my breath and gather enough energy to find my key and open the door without knocking it over.

He laughed, “how come you sound so close to death, just from a couple of flights of stairs?” I nodded at the metal bundle, “The stairs would’ve probably been ok if I hadn’t carried it a mile first…” He picked it up and put it down again pretty quickly.. “must be close to 30kg!” he said. I nodded. “Yeah, could be. Certainly unwieldy”.

We talked for a while about cars and furniture and the state of his work project, (but not about cabbages or kings) and when the landing light starting getting annoying (it turns itself off after a minute or two) I opened my front door, took the beast into the sitting room, and came back out to the landing, leaving my hall light on. We chatted for another couple of minutes before he headed upstairs and I closed and started re-locking my door.

He stopped on the stairs and turned round, “Going back out again?!”

“Na klar, got to get the next bits of the bed”

“Bits? As in more than one? How many are there?”

“Two. The bedsteads”

“Wait a minute, you can’t carry them both at once and it’s already dark. I’ll come with you, it can be my good deed for the day”.

So that saved me a trip.

“If you need anything else carrying, let me know..” *

“Rolled up mattress? Tomorrow evening? By car?”

“Yup – can do”

“Brilliant. Until tomorrow then”

“Until tomorrow.”

No one should say things as open-ended as this to me without really meaning it. I am liable to take the 63359 inches they weren’t offering as well as the one they were.. 😉

***

Today (an extra day off work – whee!!) I packed up the air bed and assembled my new bed, washing all the pieces as I went.

It is a lot bigger than it looked in the pictures, much taller than my windowsill, and it took me a while to figure out where to put it so that it didn’t waste too much space or look too much like a cage. It meant rearranging almost all the other furniture in the room, but I think it’s the best place for it, even if I’m not happy with the placement of the cupboards yet.

Now all I need is the mattress!

***

Later:

The neighbour who promised to pick up the mattress with me didn’t. He wasn’t at home when I knocked and I don’t have his number. I will try asking again tomorrow, otherwise I will have to find another willing victim.

Argh.

Looks like I won’t be sleeping in my new bed tonight after all.

On naked v. knackered

For various reasons I am down to one pair of trousers which fits.

I took said pair of trousers off and left them on the bathroom floor while I had a shower. It was already late and I was already sleepy, but sometimes needs must. 

I got out of the shower, looking forward to going to bed and being horizontal. I leaned across the washing rack to open the window to let the steam out…and stepped backwards into a puddle.

That’s odd I thought.. but whatever. I don’t have a shower curtain and sometimes the water runs down my arms and off my elbows onto the floor while I’m washing my hair.

Then I wrapped myself in a towel and picked my clothes up… and dropped them again. They were sopping wet. And smelly.

It seems a stinky puddle of drain water had come back up through the hole in the floor and soaked everything. Eww.

***

The trousers went into the washing machine and I sat and waited for the peep peep peep to tell me I could hang them up and finally go to bed…

***

Radiator’s on, hopefully they’ll be dry by tomorrow. If not, I’ll have to find something else to wear… and I’m not sure I have anything that can cope with winter temperatures…

Argh.

On having a day off

Sometimes I realise just how much I need to charge my batteries.

Today was such a day.

Today, I slept late, slept through the afternoon and am going to bed fairly early.

I feel this is a good way to spend a day. Not every day, but once in a while.

I hope tomorrow will be more energetic. I want to do a million things (more or less) before Christmas…but I need to be awake for them to go well so I see surrendering one day (today) as a necessary means to an end (or lots of ends).

🙂

zzzzzzzzzzzz

(Just so I can say I didn’t sleep through the entire day, I also sat on my rowing machine, went for an interview (maths help for a kid in the neighbourhood) and started sorting out (=facing) my finances :P)

On sleeping in 7 beds in 7 days

Lying here in bed, I realised that I’m in the same bed as I was in yesterday. That hasn’t happened for a while. A whole week in fact.

I left my house on Friday morning last week and slept in a different bed each night until I got back home on Thursday evening. I love that my friends and my family have room for me. I love that I have the means to travel. I love that it’s all possible.

And yet..

..I am glad to stop spinning for a bit.. even if it’s just a couple of days before I set off again.

On self-sabotage and sandwiches

[Mostly written on] Friday morning, 7:00 ish – on a train. 

*Yawn*

I’m driving a friend across Germany today. (Friday). She’s moving house and I offered to drive the moving van for her.

I’m setting out from Berlin (North East Germany). Her new house is near Essen (West Germany), I am going to a party (the late-night/early-morning kind) in Stuttgart (South Germany) on Saturday evening and I need to be in England on Monday evening. There’s no realistically viable way to go from Stuttgart to Berlin before I fly towards England, so I’m flying directly from Stuttgart. That means packing everything for all 3 trips into one small suitcase. The kind you can take on a plane as handluggage. The kind that takes more thought to pack than the kind you put in the hold.

I have been known to enter my house, pack a suitcase and leave within half an hour. That was a long time ago and I am quite out of practice. I am also exhausted from everything else going on. I decided last week (/whenever I got back and booked the new flights, I have no track of time at the moment) I needed to leave myself longer than usual to pack and get myself ready and to sleep. The sleep part was especially important because I’ve never driven a removal van before.

That was the plan. The reality was a little bit different.

***

Yesterday evening (Thursday) I worked later than planned because I got in to work later than planned. I got there so late because I woke up so late, and I woke up so late because I was up so late the night before (Wednesday), working on a present for one of the people I’m going to see in Stuttgart. I didn’t get it finished because I ran out of time and so won’t be able to give it to her this visit. That means the evening wasn’t used effectively. Or at least not in the most effective way.

Whatever.

Back to yesterday evening.

I worked until I’d clocked up the minimum hours needed to count as a day.

Just as I wanted to go home I remembered that I hadn’t printed my boarding card(s) yet so I stopped to do that.

Just as I was finally locking up the workshop, my friend (the one who’s moving) phoned to ask if I could make her some lunch for the journey because she’d left later than planned and wasn’t going to get to a shop before they all shut.

Ok. No problem – I was going to make myself lunch anyway. She doesn’t eat what I’d been thinking of taking, so I went shopping on the way home.

Once I got home (several € later – shopping hungry is never really recommended..) I did the following:

  • Washing – all the things from my last trip which I needed for the next one (had to run the machine twice because I forgot the washing powder the first time). Hung it all out, rethought and draped some of the thicker clothing on the radiators to dry
  • Reheated/finished baking breadbuns (you can buy them half baked. That way they’re fresh when you want to eat then) and made sarnies (posh ones with ham and cheese and tomato puree and miniature bell peppers and basil leaves)
  • Decorated and cooked 2 [frozen] pizzas, ate 1, chopped and packed the other one
  • Washed and/or chopped and packed many carrots, apples, tomatoes, peppers, a kohl rabi, and a fennel (given the choice, S eats more like a rabbit than any other person I know ;))
  • Packed my suitcase (except for the clothes which were still drying)
  • Packed all the lunch things (fruit&veg box, sandwiches, pizza, apples, satsumas, bananas, biscuits, chocolate raisins, …) plus 4 bottles of water into a huge carrier bag. It was a picnic to do Ratty proud*
  • Did the washing up
  • Tidied the kitchen so I wouldn’t be embarrassed by my landlord feeding my fish.

I got loads done, but it took longer than I expected (quelle surprise) so I went to bed later than expected (not late by my standards, but not nearly as early as intended). And even though I was exhausted, it took me ages to get to sleep. That really was surprising – usually I sleep as soon as I’m horizontal.. like one of those dolls with the weighted eyes.

***

My colleague says there are days when gravity is stronger than other days. Today is one of those days: First I couldn’t get out of bed. Second I couldn’t carry the lunch bag.

I found a backpack for the water bottles and waddled down the stairs, laden much like a Sherpa, only much less fit/strong/capable. I dragged and lugged my suitcase and picnic bag towards the train station, stopping every few hundred metres to change hands.

***

The first train I managed to catch left almost 20 minutes later than the one I intended to catch. That coincides almost exactly with the 20 minutes I spent lying in bed not getting up. Funny really.

***

I’m now tireder than I ought to be for a drive across the country, despite the fact that I’ve known about it for a while and also aimed to get enough sleep. It seems I’m my own best saboteur…

..but at least we have a good packed lunch! 🙂



* see: Wind-in-the-Willows

Quote: on coming alive

“Don’t ask what the world needs, ask what makes you come alive, and go do it.

Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

– Howard Thurman
***

One of my favourite people told me today that she sees me as a “PowerFrau”. That translates literally as “power woman”, but kind of loses something in the translation. She means she thinks I’m always doing/achieving something. She occasionally has a point. In the last 6 months I have, among other less noteworthy things, dug a pond, been to evening classes, survived a breakup, sat exams, moved house, set up a 350l aquarium, written and presented a dissertation, driven across Germany, visited my family in England twice, produced the prizes for a chemistry competition, helped a friend pack the contents of her house ready to move and worked more or less full time.

I don’t feel like a PowerFrau at the moment though. I feel like someone’s stolen my batteries, and maybe filled the space with lead. There are some days where life is just hard. Everything seems heavier than normal and it counts as an achievement to survive the entire day intact. It doesn’t help that it’s damp and dark for most of my non-working hours.

What I need to do to feel alive is probably sleep more. My sleep dept might not be as obviously well-recorded as my sister’s, but it’s still made it’s mark and left rainbow-coloured suitcases under my eyes. I look forward to a time where I’m not dragging myself to work, where I feel up to cooking, where I can imagine going anywhere non-urgent, for pleasure, instead of curling up on my sofa. Where watching the fish is something I do between activities instead of the main attraction. Where washing my hair isn’t a hassle and going shopping is something I can be excited about.

That’s a vision for a future in which I am slightly more alive than I am now. The future beyond that will hopefully be even better, I just can’t picture it yet.

Baby steps.

And sleep.

Lots of sleep.