Flu shmu

The past week I’ve been on this weird up and down thing with the flu. Normally when I catch a bug it takes a predictable course. For the first couple of days I feel progressively worse, then I start to steadily improve after.

This particular bug started last weekend, when I just generally felt tired for no apparent reason. I skipped my run and generally didn’t do much. I went to work on Monday and again felt tired. I woke up around 1 a.m. Monday night to find myself shivering, even though I was tucked under the blankets and felt warm. Later I did feel warm, as in sweating profusely. I was officially sick.

I stayed home the next two days, then returned to work on Thursday, feeling better, but not great. Strangely, on Friday, I felt a lot worse again and once more stayed home. Saturday was worse, still, and I didn’t go outside the condo the entire day. I ended the evening sitting here with a desk fan blowing air at my face to keep me cool. Finally, we come to today, which started much the same, with naps, followed by tea, followed by more laying down and doing very little. I finally went out, to the store, and by the time dinner was over I began to feel a tiny bit like my normal self. It’s almost 9 p.m. as I type this and I once again sip in tea. I’ve turned the fan off now because I no longer feel like I’m broiling in my own skin.

I am hoping I finally have a little energy tomorrow.

Tonight, I look at my output for the weekend re: NaNoWriMo and the word count is easy: zero. I wrote nothing, because every time I sat to write, I was too tired to muster anything before going back to laying down some more. I also left almost all of my usual weekend chores undone. Still, cleaning the toilets can wait until I feel better. I would be more alarmed at the lack of writing output for NaNo, but I have an actual outline this year, and a bit of a buffer, so I should be able to get back on track fairly quickly (ho ho).

Anyway, my only real wish for myself for 2019 is to have good health, because this year has been rather the opposite. It seems a reasonable thing to wish for. I hope it is!

November, shmovember

I am starting the month with the flu, which is sub-optimal for my health and for National Novel Writing Month, which began yesterday.

Last night I attempted to write after revising the earlier work I’d done on what is now going by the bland working title of The Journal, but by 9 o’ clock I had written nothing, had no energy, then went to bed, where I burned up and had literal fever dreams.

Today–or tonight, to be more precise, I have a little more energy and a new thermometer confirmed I only have a mild fever, but I am still lacking the energy to really put out words. Tomorrow’s weather is The Rains, so I’m thinking I’ll have a good go then, especially if I’m over the hump of this latest beating to my health that is the year 2018. Not that I’m complaining! It’s been, uh, interesting. Yes. Interesting. Grist for the mill, fodder for my writing. Or something.

Anyway, on with November and the official start of the two month Christmas blitz. Ho ho ho.

October 2018 weight loss report: Up 0.4 pounds

I started the month with a bit of a bump over September and by the end of the month was very nearly in the same place, though the trend for the last week is at least in the right direction–down (helped by a few days with the flu).

For the year to date my weight is virtually unchanged. This is good in one sense, as it’s better than ballooning up beyond all reason, but it’s also depressing. In 10 months I have achieved no actual weight loss. Ten months!

So in November I’m cutting out snacking that isn’t offset by exercise on the same day and I’m not eating after dinner. If I stick to this, my weight should drop, even without actual exercise (which I still plan on doing).

And I am still sticking with the no-donuts, so a small glimmer of light in a dark tunnel of stubborn fat.

The stats for October and the year to date:

October 1: 164.3 pounds
October 31: 164.7 pounds (up 0.4 pounds–basically a [generous] rounding error)

Year to date: From 162.3 to 164.7 pounds (up 2.4 pounds)

And the body fat:

January 1: 18.5% (30.2 pounds of fat)
September 30:
18.3% (30.2 pounds of fat (unchanged)

September 2018 weight loss report: No weight loss (or gain) to report

My quest to get below 160 pounds remains elusively out of reach, with my weight in a holding pattern, completely unchanged from August and barely changed for the year to date. I am really good at neither gaining nor losing weight, it seems.

Several times I started getting close, dipping down to 161.5 pounds, but my weight trend ticked upward in the second half of the month, due to less exercise and unchanged snacking.

I did continue to stay donut-free, so yay for that.

Last October I was 153 pounds. It was then I began to gain weight, bloating up past 170 pounds. My main goal is still to get below 160 first, then down to 150, but my super-secret goal is to not see my weight start getting out of hand and into fat as it did one year ago.

To quote Dan Rather, Excelsior! (I think he actually said that once or twice. Maybe.)

September 1: 162.9 pounds
September 30: 162.8 pounds (down 0.1 pounds–basically a rounding error)

Year to date: From 162.3 to 162.8 pounds (up 0.5 pounds–unchanged from August)

And the body fat:

January 1: 18.5% (30.2 pounds of fat)
September 30:
17.9% (29.1 pounds of fat (down 1.1 pounds)

The Float

For my birthday Jeff got me a float and massage at Halsa, which sounds like a brand of Swedish shampoo, but is in fact one of those spas where you can enter a sensory deprivation tank to have an out of body experience or whatever it is that happens when people do these things.

The place was very clean, very white and for the most part, very dark. When I got into my room, Ocean 1, I had to use the flashlight function on my phone to read the instructions on the wall regarding the provided earplugs.

The float was an hour and a half and was a little weird. The first room I entered was a low-lit antechamber with a place to leave your stuff and at the other end a shower, as they ask you to shower first and provide plenty of foamy soap to do so. The shower water took awhile to warm up but once it did it seemed to stay at Very Hot no matter how I adjusted it. I showered and then opened the door to the ocean (room).

This is a chamber that’s tall enough to stand in and large enough that you can lay down without touching any walls. This is important. It’s filled with enough water to get you buoyant, but not enough to drown you to death, should you be inclined to drowning to death. The secret spice is Epsom salt, and enough of it is in the water to keep you floating serenely on top of it, so much so that the top half of your body never gets wet unless you roll around like a panicked dolphin.

Spooky New Age music plays quietly in the background. It fades away when your official start time kicks in.

You are advised to keep your fingers away from your face for obvious reasons. I apparently had a minor abrasion on my inner thigh that I became instantly aware of when it hit the water/salt. It settled down quickly, but I imagine laying down with an open wound would be a great way to achieve immediate agony.

Once in, I had three choices to make:

  • Did I want to kill the lights? There are two soft blue lights embedded in the bottom of the pool, creating a calm but very visible effect. You can’t have proper sensory deprivation if you don’t deprive all your senses!
  • Did I want to use the ear plugs? They’re optional, so it’s up to you.
  • Did I want to use the halo? This is a thin foam ring that you lean your head back into and is recommended for people with neck tension or pain.

I kept the light on at first to get my bearings and skipped everything else. After a few minutes, the spooky New Age music stopped, so my experience was officially on.

My body floated just fine (it normally likes to sink like a very heavy rock), but every time I laid my head back, my neck tensed up. I kept fearing I would dunk my head under water, which would be incredibly unpleasant, uncomfortable and not very sensory-deprivation-y at all.

I got the halo and put it on my head, like an actual halo. This was clearly not the right way to use it, but it amused me. I then used it properly and found if I laced my hands behind my head, with the halo, it seemed to work. Eventually I made it work with my hands hanging at my sides, but it never felt 100% right. I can only conclude that my brain is so densely packed with smarts that my head simply will not float like the rest of my body. But I did get to a point where it felt relaxing and I relaxed.

I closed my eyes and let my thoughts drift. As it turned out, I also drifted, which they warn you about. In the dark this could be disorienting, but I was too relaxed now to get up and hit the light switch, so I could get my bearings by just opening my eyes. Not that it mattered, really. But I drifted a lot, mostly because every time I moved my arms it changed my buoyancy and set me gently off. My head would oh-so-gently thump against the wall of the pool. I’d then course-correct because I had arbitrarily determined I must lay in a specific orientation to the door (I later gave up on this and just drifted like a log down the Fraser).

At one point I had to get up to pee. Hardly surprising for me. When I returned to the pool, I ended up tilting and getting water in one ear, then over-correcting and getting water in the other. This was when I decided to use the earplugs because the water in the ear was very distracting.

The ear plugs both help and hinder the sensory deprivation. On the one hand, they make it much harder to hear anything–though there is really nothing to hear, anyway. On the other hand, your own breathing becomes amplified about a hundred times. The alternative is to not breathe, which isn’t a good idea, so I just got used to it and breathed a lot through my mouth, which was quieter.

They kept the water out, though, so that was aces.

I did try to turn the light out several times by drifting close to the switch, but the force required to push in the big rubber button was too much to manage from a supine position and each time I tried I just pushed myself away from it. I could have stood up, but the pool is kind of slippery and injuring myself would not have enhanced the experience.

I did hit the button hard enough to kill the light one time, though, but the action caused me to both push off from the switch and roll at the same time. This was very disorienting in total blackness, so I scrabbled to turn the light back on and re-orient myself.

I’m not very good at sensory deprivation.

Once everything was in place and I relaxed, though, I didn’t mind the soft light being on. With my eyes closed I couldn’t see anything, anyway, which is my preference for how I not see things. I was surprised when the music started piping in 90 minutes later. The time went quickly.

I showered, put on my bathrobe and went to the lounge to wait for my masseuse. I don’t wear robes much, and struggled to prevent a Basic Instinct/Sharon Stone thing from happening.

The massage was an hour long and very thorough. A few places were tight, but I never experienced any actual pain, only a few moments of discomfort as the knots were beaten about lovingly. My neck was not surprisingly the worst. My mind didn’t drift as much here and you’re unlikely to fall asleep as something pummels your flesh, but it was relaxing in its own way. If I was rich I’d have someone do this every week or something.

Overall, it was a zany, strange but ultimately worthwhile experience. I’d definitely try doing a float again and knowing what I know now, I’d probably have more time to zone out and less given over to flailing.

Also my ears were crusty with salt when I got home. That’s not something you normally expect.

August 2018 weight loss report: Technically unchanged

A strange thing happened in August.

My weight neither went up nor down.

Technically if I go from August 1 to August 31 I was up 0.5 pounds, but my stats for the first and last day of the month are exactly the same as they were for the first and last days in July. On July 31 I weighed 162.8 pounds and on August 31 I weighed…162.8 pounds.

Kind of weird.

I dipped below 161 a few times, hitting a low of 160.4 pounds once, but never quite got to my stated goal of under 160, alas.

It now becomes my September goal.

However, I did run more in August and the nil weight loss may be a result of a little muscle gain. My body fat actually dropped decently over the month and is now at 27.8 pounds, down 2.4 pounds on the year.

And I’ve remained donut-free.

In all, I take these things as signs of a positive trend. Onward and downward! (weight-wise)

August 1: 162.2 pounds
August 31: 162.8 pounds (up 0.6 pounds for the month)

Year to date: From 162.3 to 162.8 pounds (up 0.5 pounds–unchanged from July)

And the body fat:

January 1: 18.5% (30.2 pounds of fat)
August 31:
17.9% (27.8 pounds of fat (down 2.4 pounds)

Ultrasound-off

Yesterday I had my third ultrasound. I have yet to be pregnant.

The first was to nail down what turned out to be a prostate infection. The second was to figure out if the unwelcome lump in my pair of coconuts* was something nasty (it was not).

This time, after a sort-of-diagnosis of possible kidney stone or stones during an Emergency room visit (see the previous entry for the epic tale), I called to arrange the third ultrasound to see if there really might be a kidney stone down there.

My doctor will have the results by the middle of next week. It kind of bugs me that the person doing the ultrasound can see everything plain as day in real-time but can’t say a word while the procedure is being done.

For this one I was given one simple instruction: drink three cups of water an hour before and then don’t pee until after the ultrasound.

I figure this is some kind of test, because while three cups may not sound like a lot, drinking three cups of water in a row is a lot. I felt very bloated. I drank them at work, as I was heading straight to the hospital from there. I made it as far as downtown before I had to pee. This was about twenty minutes. I had a 30+ minute SkyTrain trip ahead of me. By the time I got off at Sapperton station my entire world had been reduced to a mad dash to the nearest toilet.

I went home. I peed. I broke the one ultrasound rule. However, I was running early and still have 45 minutes to go, so I downed another two cups, thinking that would more than compensate, while hoping that I wouldn’t experience the same fierce desire to urinate, having just done so.

On the latter I was wrong.

I needed to pee during the ultrasound, but it wasn’t too bad. The ultrasound was about the same as the others. Well, not quite the same as the second one, as the magic wand was not rubbed all over my testicles in a decidedly non-erotic manner. This time I just had to yank my shirt up a little while the technician pressed (rather firmly at times) the wand into my lower back and adjacent areas. She was very thorough. She mad me take deep breaths and hold them a lot, so it began to take on an almost Zen-like quality. Plus the jelly was nice and warm, unlike the nightmarishly cold stuff of the first ultrasound. What I’m saying is that as hospital experiences go, it was not that bad.

When she completed the ultrasound she said she needed to confirm with the radiologist that the shots were good and this would take a few minutes. By this time I had to pee again very badly. They were a very long few minutes. Fortunately the shots were deemed okay, and the nearest washroom was right outside the ultrasound room. I made liberal use of it.

Ironically, the horrible soreness that caused me to go to the Emergency room has largely disappeared, because my body has decided to be weird and bothersome. But the ultrasound doesn’t lie**, so I should have the results soon.

* clever euphemism
** assuming the foreign object wasn’t some sort of clever alien shapeshifter, of course

That 5+ hour trip to the Emergency room last night

Last night around 6:30 I went to the Emergency room at Royal Columbian. I left shortly before midnight. This might sound like the beginning of a horror story, but it’s actually rather mundane.

I have a cold right now. It started with a tickle in my throat Monday afternoon and evolved into full sore throat/stuffed and/or runny sinuses and coughing since then.

The cold is not why I went to the Emergency room, it was jut an added bonus.

Yesterday morning I awoke to a soreness in my mid-back that felt like I’d been kicked by a horse. Not an accidental kick, either, one where the horse was feeling aggrieved and seeking revenge. I took some Tylenol (and DayQuill for the cold), but by late afternoon it was persisting. I should go to the clinic, I thought. But I delayed, had supper and finally decided I couldn’t ignore it, and by then all of the walk-in clinics were closed, so I had to go to Emergency.

It’s convenient. That’s where the happy part of this ends.

Upon seeing that the check-in area was full, I knew I was not exactly going to be in and out.

Just over half an hour after checking in, I was called to the second station, where I answered a few questions and had my temperature and blood pressure taken. I was not told the results, so I figured they were normal or normal-ish. I sat back down.

The two people I remember most clearly were a man likely in his 50s (not me) with a scruffy beard and one of those always-shouting kind of voices, so whenever he said anything, everyone within a hundred meters could hear. This is how I found out he had some kind of steel in his eye and he wanted to get it out. He chatted with several other people and would sometimes wander off for awhile, then come back and chat some more, his jokes and commentary ringing out like machine gun fire.

He seemed defeated, though, by the barfing girl. An older couple brought in a young girl, perhaps three years old. Cute kid. I looked over and whatever she had eaten earlier began burbling out of her mouth. Then it sluiced out. Then I stopped looking over that way. They got a cute little blue barf pouch for her, but I think it was probably too late. They left for awhile, presumably to clean her up. I didn’t find out why she was throwing up because they spoke in normal tones. The girl herself seemed very chill about the whole thing. I’ve never seen anyone so casually vomit.

Another half hour passed–it was now about 7:41 p.m.–when a nurse came along and took me aside to get a blood sample. This was new, but since I’m fine with blood being taken if I don’t fast for 16 hours first, no big deal. She did a remarkably good job of getting the needle in. Today you can barely see the mark. I was sent back to the check-in area with a taped-down piece of gauze on my right arm.About 40 minutes later I am finally moved to triage, which is as full as check-in. I find a seat near the end and fiddle around on the phone, watching the battery slowly diminish. Most of the people here have no immediately identifiable cause for being here, which is a relief. The girl sitting to my right asks if it’s cold or if she’s dying. That’s not exactly what she said, but she spoke very softly. I told her it sure wasn’t warm, which was true. She talked a bit about why she was there. Something about her eye. I nodded and smiled, hopefully in the right places.

At 9:34 p.m.–almost an hour later– I am finally taken to an exam room, where I am told to take off my shirt and put on a gown. This is later revealed to serve no purpose. The nurse asks some questions, takes my temperature an blood pressure again, but this time she notes that my blood pressure is a little high. I have mystery pain in my back, am suffering from a bad cold and have already been here for three hours, so yes, my blood pressure is a little high. She shrugs it off and laves.

Nearly an hour later, the doctor arrives and after a few questions, gives me a bottle to pee in. As it turns out, I really had to go, so this is convenient.

I have to wait for someone who seems to take a very long time in the one available washroom. I don’t want to know why he is taking so long. I go in, provide a generous sample, put it on a napkin on the sample table, then return to triage. It is now 10:46 p.m.

About 45 minutes later the doctor comes by to tell me the blood test looks fine, and there is no sign of infection in the urine. All good! But there is a tiny bit of blood in the urine (the amount is too small to be visible). He says this could be due to being older (he is a young doctor and at least he says “older” and not “old”) or a sign of a kidney stone. I am told to wait (ho ho) for someone to give me a form for an ultrasound, after which I will consult with my doctor over the results.

I get the form and leave. It is 11:37 p.m. I get home a few minutes before midnight and eat a Clif Bar because I’m hungry and in a bad mood.

Today I schedule an ultrasound for 3:15 p.m. tomorrow. I am told to drink three cups of water an hour before and to not pee them out until after the ultrasound. The test is conveniently at Royal Columbian. Less conveniently I will be at work, so I will have to leave early.

What’s funny in retrospect is how I didn’t flip out or go squirrelly with how long it took. I think I just knew going in and accepted it. Also, there was only one crying baby, briefly, in the background.

But the next time I feel compelled to get a health issue checked out ASAP, I am not waiting until the walk-in clinics have closed. That, or I’m taking a laptop next time and writing half a novel while I wait.

This is post #31 for the month

Once again I have ended a month in proverbial post crunch mode, having to write half a dozen or more posts in one evening to meet my goal of having at least one post per day for the month.

And again I’ve done it, because once a random thought gets into my head, others tend to follow and I write about them here and presto, goal met!

I am going to celebrate this achievement with NyQuill and sleep.

Good night.

July 2018 weight loss report: Up 0.6 pounds

In what basically comes down to a rounding error, I was up 0.6 pounds for the month, missing actual weight loss due to probably nothing more than a single trip to the loo. Still, up is bad and I feel bad.

It was also a weird month, with two weeks of vacation/travel and irregular eating habits, including the consumption of more fudge than I’ve had since, well, ever. Mmm, fudge. Fortunately the fudge is in Barkerville, which is not exactly an easy day trip.

I remain donut-free, though I indulged in a few cookies.

More positively, my body fat is still modestly down for the year and I’m making a bold prediction: I will finally dip under 160 pounds again before the end of August, provided I do not have any donuts.

July 1: 162.2 pounds
July 31: 162.8 pounds (up 0.6 pounds for the month)

Year to date: From 162.3 to 162.8 pounds (up 0.5 pounds)

And the body fat:

January 1: 18.5% (30.2 pounds of fat)
July 31:
17.9% (29.2 pounds of fat (down 0.8 pounds)

June 2018 weight loss report: Down 1.4 pounds

Although I had no infections or other maladies to assist me, I maintained my losing streak and was down for the month, shedding another 1.4 pounds. I benefited from a massive 2.1 pound drop on the last day of the month (today) but would have still been down regardless, so yay for me. I now stand 11.6 pounds from my official™ goal of 150 pounds. With a week and a bit of travel up north to Barkerville, I would expect the hiking and whatnot will at least let me hold the line, even as we indulge in hot dogs and other yummy but perhaps not calorie-wise camping foods.

For the year to date my weight loss is actually, for the first time, an actual loss, down 0.7 pounds. With the body fat also down, it appears I am finally starting to lose weight for real and getting back to the ultra-sexy form of a few years ago.

I will, as always, resist having a donut to celebrate.

June 1: 163 pounds
June 30: 161.6 pounds (-1.4 pounds for the month)

Year to date: From 162.3 to 161.6 pounds (down 0.7 pounds)

And the body fat:

January 1: 18.5% (30.2 pounds of fat)
June 30:
17.5% (28.4 pounds of fat (down 1.8 pounds)

Kidney and stones

Last Friday, June 15, I finally went in and got my blood work done, including the world famous poop on a stick test (which you have to pay for, because people don’t like handling poop or something).

By Monday the results were in and I got a phone call from the doctor’s office. This was disconcerting because I had previously agreed that they would only call me if there was something up, that a negative report would be treated as “no news is good news” in terms of letting me know. The person told me it was “non urgent” but wanted me to come by in two days to discuss these non-urgent results.

And so I made the many-days excursion to the office in Steveston, but I only arrived just in time, so I couldn’t sight-see, despite the spiffy nice weather.

As it turned out, the doctor was behind schedule by a million years. I sat in the waiting area, plinking away on my phone, using the clinic’s spotty but free Wi-Fi for about half an hour before being let into exam room #6, where I sat for about another half hour. With little else to do, I examined the soles of my shoes and discovered they were embedded with thousands of tiny bits of gravel. I plucked them all out, as shown here:

When boredom strikes in the exam room.

I need better shoes. It’s on my agenda for the week.

When the doctor finally arrived, he confirmed all tests were good–except one. My kidney was apparently not quite up to snuff. When I had the kidney infection the clinic that I went to didn’t seem to update my file, as this was news to him. He admitted the infection could be responsible for the current results, though enough time had elapsed to still raise a flag. I am going to take the kidney test again in mid-July to see if things look normal or wacky. Disturbingly, the affected area has been acting up the last few days, making me wonder if the infection may have simply gone dormant. With a vacation to the north in a week and a half, the timing is awkward, to say the least.

But I’ll have some answers soon enough. Also, my poop is fine.

Here’s to the second half of 2018 being pretty please oh pretty pretty please better health-wise than the first half.