Apr. 11th, 2013 10:59 pm
davidn: (skull)
I had an MRI today. It wasn't for anything serious - it had just been ordered as a reassurance for me, something to close off a few more of the seemingly endless avenues that I seem to find of worrying about things being seriously wrong inside my head.

I hadn't been scared of the procedure until the day it happened - it didn't sound that bad to me when it was suggested, but it's difficult not to feel that you're doing something very serious when you have to tick through the list of precautionary questions that they give you. And when you see the machine itself, which is a mighty circular device that takes up an entire room and has a tube in the middle that looks only just about large enough to fit a small badger, you realize exactly why they ask you repeatedly if you have claustrophobia.

The door to the scanner room had a huge and unfortunately comical warning about taking any sort of ferrous metal into the room, showing airborne canisters, wheelchairs, pots, pans and other miscellany being attracted to the machine like someone had swallowed a magnet on Tom and Jerry. I had emptied my pockets, but I realized once I was in there that I had forgotten to take my rings off - despite the warning I was told that it was safe to just leave them on a shelf next to the darkened observation window.

I was worried that any sort of metal anywhere in the room would instantly fly at the speed of sound towards the machine and into my face, but this turned out to be a non-issue because during the procedure your head is put in a safe. You lie with your head cradled in the bottom half of a plastic device which is closed over you, and you are then fed gradually into the machine on a conveyor belt. From here on, the nurse communicated with me via a speaker somewhere in the head-safe, and I was given a bulb to squeeze to signal if things got too much.

The actual procedure isn't too bad if you close your eyes and do your best to think about something else, though - the worst part of it is concentrating on keeping perfectly still for spans of a few minutes at a time while the machine vibrates and plays a sort of post-neo-electro-trance remix of the Doctor Who music around you. I had earplugs in and I didn't think they were doing much until the end when I was slid out again and realized I could barely hear anything at all - this thing really is massively loud, and the vibrations you feel are the sound it makes rather than it actually moving.

And now it's a couple of days before the results come back. Nothing is expected to be special about them, but they will indicate once again that my head issues have been caused entirely by anxiety and are controllable. In fact, I have been very hesitant to say this out loud for fear of cursing it, but I've been feeling a lot better since Monday - I've had occasional pangs of fogginess this week, but it's no longer a constant, inescapable, distressing feeling of being out of balance. I just need to keep believing that I can get out of it.
davidn: (skull)
Once again I found myself in the doctor's office today, through no fault of my own. Yesterday, I had been feeling dizzy from when I got up - the kind of feeling you get when you haven't had enough sleep, but it stayed through most of the day. At about four o'clock, it became really bad, as if the entire room was spinning, and I had to stumble outside, trying to compensate for the way that gravity now seemed to be sliding sharply forwards and to the left.

I called the medical advice line, who thought that without any other symptoms, it was probably an ear infection called labyrinthitis - which in terms of names of diseases to get is pretty impressive, up beside thegooniesnia and Dark Crystal syndrome. I spent the rest of the evening in bed, just trying not to move and wondering if I could have got some sort of bacteria or virus from going somewhere new and insecty like the cornfield maze last weekend.

This morning I felt a lot better - I'm still very aware of my head movements while walking and don't really like moving around too much, but the doctor had me do various balance and awareness exercises and couldn't find any long-term warning signs. So the self-treatment I've been advised to perform is of staying hydrated, sitting for a couple of minutes before getting up from lying down, and just generally moving in slow-motion like the Six Million Dollar Man - humming the Chariots of Fire music constantly helps limit my speed. Whatever small infection it was, I'm told I'm already recovering well from it.

Which is just as well, because if I had gone to a maze and come back with labyrinthitis, nobody would ever stop laughing at me for the rest of time.


Jan. 21st, 2011 02:11 pm
davidn: (Jam)
In the past, I might well have been one of those people who joked inappropriately about mental issues, with the thought that they were somehow less real than physical afflictions because of being invisible to the outside world, and that a lot of the treatment for them might be better replaced with telling those affected to get over it and cheer up a bit. But finding myself starting treatment for anxiety issues, I will now do my utmost to handle these things with the greatest of tact and sensitivity.

My first trip to the nutbag department, then, was something that I had been ironically anxious about in the days leading up to it. Most of it was that I honestly felt a bit short of material - that I was going there for lesser problems than other people, because it was so easy to forget the severity of the event that made me seek help. This was especially true because with the holidays over, repeating a journey like that is not something that's likely to come up again in the near future - indeed, though, I'm basing my calmness of thinking about it on the theory that I will never have to do it again, and I believe the point of all this is to allow me to do so.

After I sat down in one of the two identical chairs in the office, suddenly wondering if which one I chose was a subtle psychological test in itself, most of the appointment was a sort of This Is Your Life interview, where the doctor asked me about what I did at home, at work, if I had had issues growing up, how I felt about my day to day life and if I had noticed any differences when I moved to America (which I summarized quickly to prevent the appointment going on for more than eight hours). Then there was suddenly a part where she asked me various mental problems like subtracting 7 from 100 and keeping going, or going through the calendar in reverse from a certain month. I was sort of hoping to be asked to recite the alphabet backwards because I learned how to do it rapidly by heart when I was in school, but if that had come up I may now as a result be under treatment for autism.

The other part was what I had been sort of fearing throughout my presence in the euphemistically-named Behavioural Health department, related to the thought that people around you are continually watching to make sure you don't suddenly whip out a chainsaw. She asked me if I had ever considered suicide, if I had access to firearms or if I had ever had any homicidal thoughts - all of which I calmly denied, because I felt that "Apart from for Piers Morgan" would not have been an acceptable answer.

In the end, she concluded that my anxiety is situational and not constant, so recommended that I keep the lorazepam on hand for a crutch if I ever find myself going into something that I find stressful, and I've been given the name of a book to read through and an appointment for cognitive behavioural therapy in a couple of months. So we'll see where it goes from there.

It's worth mentioning that yesterday morning I lost my iPhone by putting it down on the coffee table on top of the development book with a picture of an iPhone on the front and then being unable to see it while looking around the living room. I wonder if they have anything to cure silliness.
davidn: (Jam)
It occurred to me this morning just what incredible new depths of patheticness I am plumbing with my life at the moment. I am the only person in the world who has attempted to go on holiday, found that too stressful and gone back to work instead. Yesterday, I attended my most tragic birthday celebration ever, on the other end of a Skype call to my family-in-law who had gone to the trouble of organizing a cake for me with the Scottish flag on it, from a Mexican-run bakery called The Taste of Denmark.

But talking to them made me feel slightly better, and I feel that at least having a plan to fix this is a start. I am sort of adverse to medication, not in a Christian Scientist/Delphi kind of way, but... well, I remember when I was in third year of university the first years who moved up all sounded like so many chapters from a self-help book and were on medication for things that I would have thought were better just toughening up and getting over, but having gone through such an episode... I can understand it's because I never wanted to admit to it. Shame and disgrace over mental unrest, and... etcetera.

Anyway. Good things to occupy myself with during my unexpected week alone - guess who's in the latest of these Click community casts (at about 10:40 in this video):

Apart from anything else, I am frankly amazed at how offensively appalling my graphics were six years ago. J Freude's graphics really help the game (and there are some from a couple of other artists in the community there as well), and it's thanks to their lead that the game looks so dramatically different now. Now to get it finished by the date promised in the video...

And tonight at 10pm on the History Channel for some reason, the Americans are going to try their hand at Top Gear. That's going to be good, isn't it.


Jul. 31st, 2009 02:18 pm
davidn: (skull)
As I'm sure you're keen to be updated on my constantly poor health as my conditions and cures continue to suck all the possible enjoyment out of life from every available angle, I've just been told that I should try to limit my intake of oxalates to hopefully prevent a repeat occurrence of last month. Even though I attempted a chemistry degree for two years I didn't know what exactly these were before yesterday, but they're found mostly in plants and berries, and other things virtually at random.

Most of the things on ze list aren't things that I'm going to have a lot of difficulty avoiding - indeed, I'm very pleased that I now have a legitimate reason to refuse my mother-in-law's tofu nut balls, and also to avoid brown bread. But there are a couple of pretty big ones hidden in there... chocolate is dangerously high in oxalates and has to be avoided. Who (except [ profile] quadralien) survives without chocolate? At least it's only a component of a few of Britain's best biscuits (others being Jammie Dodgers and Fox's Crunch Creams).

Virtually all kinds of nuts are bad, and even though that wouldn't normally bother me, there's a certain cereal that I have eight boxes of in the cupboard (having received a new shipment from my brother just the other day) that I now have to severely limit my intake of. Breaking the rule against the foods on the red list won't instantly kill me but is just generally a bad idea - maybe if I'm strict with other yellow-classified foods I can work them in occasionally.

Soy sauce is on the red list as well. That was something that I'd never had before coming to America - it's very nice indeed, as long as you get the kind that's not just salt water with some caramel food colouring in it. Though that's the only variety I'll be having from now on.

So that's a brief overview of the refreshed dullness of the future of my natural lifespan, but to look on the bright side, without the power of Crunchy Nut that time's probably going to be significantly reduced.
davidn: (Jam)

When Harry Mason and James Sunderland found these things they somehow managed to instantly heal bites and scratches from creatures from the pits of the otherworld with them. (While I'm on the subject, Silent Hill's pulsing life force display is the most useless indicator of health to me ever - is it orange? Is it green? Am I about to die? Who knows.)

I haven't exactly seen that sudden an improvement, but even though it's an uncomfortable claim that drinking these means you're swallowing several million living organisms, I think they're slowly helping me get back to what passes for normal health for me. I've been slowly moving up from eating bread and yoghurt exclusively, and I haven't felt the need to take any more pills for quite a while now.

With sleeping having risen above everything else as my favourite activity over the last month, sometimes staying awake for a reasonable number of hours is more of an effort than normal, but it always seems that once I've actually extracted myself from bed, the world doesn't seem so bad. Cows in the morning, one-two-three - up and at 'em with a pick.
davidn: (skull)
Have you ever gone to the supermarket while on a clear liquid diet? It's a torturous experience. Even things that you don't normally like seem to be taunting you as part of the enormous display of things that you can't eat. The only source of refuge is the juice aisle, and even then there's only a select section that you can look at without feeling the urge to attack the shelf face first like a tyrannosaurus. You don't absolutely have to go without food on a clear liquid diet - the sheet says that you're allowed jelly, but unlike the Germans I've always found that an abomination unto mankind. Jam without seeds is also permissible. No, no bread - just jam. Or you can drink syrup.

My strict Russian doctor put me on this most depressing diet in the world for 48 hours over the weekend again, but after deciding that I'd technically been on it for that amount of time on Sunday morning (only having had a cereal bar on Friday), I started the process of gradually attempting food. I've self-diagnosed that the antibiotics I was on just obliterated my entire system so I'm experimenting with yoghurt (combined with more jam) which is apparently meant to work miracles. This stage is appropriately called the "bland diet", and Whitney has made some very nice matzoh ball soup to see me through it, as you really can't get much blander than matzoh. I might even try some bread today with butter on it, if that doesn't sound too ambitious at lunchtime.

In the meantime I'm just generally pathetic - I accidentally fell asleep for the morning today even though I'd meant to haul myself into work and reclaim my desk. And yesterday I somehow managed to nearly pull my entire head off while drying my hair (or more accurately for me, drying my head) and need to remember to swivel myself entirely round instead of ever looking to the left. So if I die from anything now it's going to be from crossing the road.


Jun. 28th, 2009 03:08 pm
davidn: (skull)

Well, I'm glad that's over. I was getting so sick of Gatorade.

Now that the complete run of consequences are over I think I can now conclude, though you probably worked this out yourself already, that that lunch at the start of the month was a total fucking disaster.
davidn: (skull)
Masterfully, now that I'm on the bumpy road to recovering from last week's disaster, a case of swine flu has been discovered in the building where I work.

It's just as well I've been too sickly to actually get there for the last couple of working weeks. I imagine it's going to be pretty deserted for a while.
davidn: (skull)
I was sent to the emergency room at a nearby hospital after my appointment at the doctor yesterday. I was phenomenally frightened at the idea, not only because my only experience of the inside of hospitals has been things like this - but it wasn't for anything life-threatening. My doctor just thought that it would be better for me to be properly observed that day rather than stewing at home again and worrying about having to go to hospital later.

I have to admit that in the lobby area the pace of everything seemed remarkably non-frantic for anything that dealt with emergencies. But eventually I was sent through to the patient area and shown into a private curtained compartment. This had a thin folding chair/bed thing that I was to be attached to for the next few hours, connected up with an intravenous drip needled into my right arm and a pulse monitor sellotaped to my left hand, strung up like a demented marionette. It certainly made getting up to use the toilet without breaking anything a puzzle of Crystal Maze-like proportions.

I was left alone for a while, listening to the beeping of the heart and blood pressure monitors from above my head as well as in other compartments around me, and just trying to imagine for my own comfort that I was lying next to the checkouts at Tesco. After a while watching the clock going around I was seen by the doctor, poked and prodded a bit, had a painkiller added to the tube stuck into my arm and was then wheeled down to radiology to be fed through a CAT scan machine that looked like a giant metallic doughnut with the voice of a Dalek that kept telling me to BREATHE IN. HOLD YOUR BREATH. BREAAATTHHHHHEEE.

On the way back I realized the narcotic painkiller was beginning to take effect, which made things just fantastic. I had declined to have the TV on when I was first waiting, which had made things quiet but more bearable, but suddenly, staring at the notches on the ceiling seemed like the greatest entertainment ever. It was at this point that Whitney arrived, having got out of a meeting that she had had in the morning and finally found the pained phone message that I had left her. I was expecting a tearful reunion when she saw my state, but as the painkiller was flowing all around and through me by then I couldn't stop laughing at the walls and clock. I phoned my boss at this point, too, and I can't remember what it was I said but it resulted in Whitney wresting the phone from me and leaving her own message for him instead.

Time flies when you're on drugs, it seems, and after being given the result of my scan and asking the doctor a lot of questions I was disconnected from everything and let go. (I asked the nurse if it was going to hurt. She said "I won't feel a thing".) I've been given a heap of painkillers, and have to just... drink a lot and wait for things to sort themselves out. Not knowing when I'll be OK again is the worst part.

The theory was also put forward that my entire sickness over the last week had been caused by this condition that had been waiting to happen for some time, and that there wasn't actually anything wrong with the sushi that I ate after all. But I doubt it.
davidn: (skull)
Medication: One antibiotic pill (roughly the size of a coaster) every 12 hours

Milk and milk products: NONE

Vegetables: NONE

Breads: NONE

Wheat/grains: NONE

Fruits: Fruit juices without pulp. Avoid all fresh, canned, and frozen fruits

Meat and substitutes: NONE

Fats and oils: NONE

Sweets and desserts: Gelatin, fruit ice, popsicle without pulp, clear hard candy

Beverages: Coffee, tea, soft drinks, water. Avoid all others

Soups: Bouillon. Avoid all others

What a phenomenally depressing life.

After one day on this I'm actually starting to get that thing in cartoons where Whitney's beginning to look like a giant sausage.
davidn: (skull)
Now I have a kidney infection.

davidn: (skull)
Well, after all that, I have a new-found appreciation for days for which I can function relatively normally. After feeling no effects for the duration of the day after my ill-advised lunch, the problems only began in the evening when I found myself unable to ignore the iron fist that had penetrated my stomach and was slowly strangling it.

Unable to find a position in which it was comfortable to sleep, I took to moaning a lot and wandering through to the sofa and back, mostly going via the bathroom and giving a performance that would have placed me fairly high in the Distance, Intensity and Volume categories of the World Vomiting Championships. Doing that alleviated the pain for a few minutes, but it wasn't long before it came back again and the whole cycle restarted. I even tried getting out the Mebeverine that was prescribed to me in 2006 for horrible stomach issues, but nothing seemed to make much difference as I couldn't keep anything down for more than a few minutes.

At 3am I couldn't take it any more and asked Whitney for a doctor, and we looked up a medical advice line at the health centre I used to work above. The nurse on the other end listened to my pained attempts to explain the symptoms (and the likely reason for them) and suggested antacids and flat ginger ale. So Whitney found me some absolutely revolting fruit flavoured Tums and conveniently flat Sprite, which calmed things down for a while before I got up again to throw them up, then went back to bed with the pain still raging, and suddenly - finally - found myself waking up at 10am with the truly unusual feeling of not being in intense agony.

Whitney kept me lying down on the sofa that day, eating the saddest meals in the world (dry crackers, toast which I sneaked butter on to, and plain white rice) accompanied by ginger ale. A duller version of the pain came and went throughout the day, only to come back again with a remarkable sense of timing just as I was trying to get to sleep, so I went back through to the sofa where I could toss and turn without disturbing anyone else's sleep. That night was nowhere near as bad as the first even though I had to just learn to ignore the signals coming from my stomach (which were something rather like "I'm being chainsawed up from the inside"), and though I still feel fragile, I think I might yet live to fight another day.

So, my advice to everyone from all this is... don't eat four day old raw fish, even if it's been in the fridge. But you probably already knew that, because unlike me you're not a flaming moron.
davidn: (skull)
oh god it hurts
davidn: (Jam)
As I've touched on before, I'm very bad at telling whether food is all right to eat or not. Years of growing up in a country where we eat pie made out of kidneys and feed cows their own brains probably gave me a fair amount of resistance anyway, but it's compounded by the way that I have very little sense of smell after having been in chemistry for two years, and am colourblind so often can't tell whether I have green eggs or ham until they start growing cotton wool.

With that in mind, this is an accidentally rather artsy picture of my lunch today.

This collection of raw fish (and a squid), left over from an extremely overambitious visit to Fugakyu with Whitney's parents on Friday, has been transferred between the fridge and the freezer since we brought it home with us. The rice accompanying two of them had gone hard from the freezing, so I threw that out - otherwise it looks and smells all right. It certainly tastes fine, but after four days, behind that deliciousness might be death. We'll see.

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