I spent the night from December 30th to December 31st in hospital, most of New Year’s dozing and reading, and the past few days gradually recovering–although slowly and somewhat grumpily.
Coincidence or not, ever since I had COVID I’ve been feeling more tired than usual, and that eventually turned into a mix of digestive issues and a recurring cough that just wouldn’t go away until after Xmas it became a full blown upper airway infection–easily treatable with antibiotics, but which made things worse.
That combination made for a bunch of sleepless nights (alternately coughing or not breathing properly) and kept me sick over most of the holiday break, which I, as usual, tried spending doing as much as I possibly could to catch up on my hobbies, further bludgeoning any chances of getting any rest.
Toss in what in retrospect seems like a bout of indigestion and trapped gas, and there I was in the ER at 1AM, about as cold, sweaty and exhausted as a beached salmon after over three hours of increasingly severe pain in my diaphragm–on top of a weeks’ worth of not sleeping properly in the first place.
The pain was almost instantly relieved by Butylscopolamine (which we didn’t have at home, since it has been out of stock everywhere for months–thank you dime-pinching pharmaceutical supply chain!), but my overall exhaustion was somewhat alarming to the doctors.
And ER doctors, in particular, focus on manifest symptoms and will only fully listen to your story after they eliminate all the short term risks, so even as a horse-grade variant of C21H30NO4+ was drip-feeding into my veins I was wheeled with great alacrity into a CAT scan and a bunch of other exams right there and then (praised be non-US health services1).
Results came back OK (zero physical issues, and blood work just a little off-kilter), but the way I came in (extreme pain, almost as extreme cold, high heart rate with the occasional extrasystole, etc.) was worrisome enough for a sleepover and a drip feed of magnesium and assorted ions.
I walked out the next day without any extra medication but with a little more sleep deprivation and a set of follow-up exam prescriptions–some of which I was already planning on doing to check if I have irritable bowel syndrome, or something along those lines that might explain the long-lasting digestive issues.
So far, exams have turned up nothing.
For the past few years I’ve had this pattern of increasing stress during Winter time I used to jokingly call “seasonal professional disorder”, because part of the reason it comes about is due to it’s mid-fiscal and all sorts of corporate machinations that peak around this time.
That, coupled with my birthday (in November) and the holidays, just keeps piling on. Both occasions are times when I reflect deeply on what I’ve accomplished so far and whether I’m spending my time wisely, which makes up for a fair amount of subdued stress–and the seasons’ ailments only add to it.
I feel “fine”, but just can’t rest. And my mind keeps wandering towards engineering and technical stuff I want to do, but can’t.
So I end up getting sick one way or another, usually amid mild digestive issues and lack of restful sleep–which I managed to avert last year, but which my US-centric schedule has compounded somewhat by my constantly trying to do interesting stuff to unwind in the late evenings2.
And this year, with a looming recession and the realization that I am most happy building things and perhaps too much time spent after work trying to make up, there just was no relief.
I guess trying to keep my hobbies going while sick during holiday break just made things come to a head of sorts.
The Past Few Days
After spending New Year’s weekend dozing, I thought to myself frak this and decided to just stop everything I was doing, start keeping a food diary (for which, incidentally, Apple Health is completely and utterly useless3) and generally cut down on anything that does not make me feel better, accomplished or both.
Not building stuff and spending most of my time in meetings or crafting and reviewing Office documents is, quite literally, killing me, so I am trying to focus on any form of achievement I can.
As a morale raising tactic, I started keeping a small text file of anti-TODOs, or “daily achievements” (clearing my desk, fixing the odd project, building a prototype of something during my lunch break, etc.) because otherwise it feels like I’m not getting anything of consequence done.
The Next Few Weeks
For starters, slower business is sure to increase the amount of ineffective outcomes from meetings and e-mail threads, and since I am someone who’s always been (perhaps too much) driven to achieve and build things, I am wary of the psychological effects of being unable to do much of consequence either way.
As to my personal endeavors, I’ve just finished a set of minor changes to the site engine and will start publishing daily or weekly short-form notes regarding those minor achievements. I think some of them will be interesting.
I also expect to distract myself by booking a couple more follow-up exams, traveling the city by bus4 to visit one or two specialists (maybe they can spot something general practitioners can’t) and marveling at how inadequate medicine can be at treating ailments of the soul that just happen to have bodily manifestations.
The closest hospital is private, and I do have insurance, but believe me, it is a much more civilized system that cost me a grand total of 40 Euro. ↩︎
I am one of those people who are on the clock both physically and mentally and who just can’t seem to goof off (it was drilled into me very early on). I don’t even turn on my Mac or personal laptop during working hours, and with a worldwide role, well… working hours are all the time now. ↩︎
I have, of all things, resorted to using a form in Numbers, because it is the simplest thing that makes it possible to do quick data entry (tapping or via speech), lets me manage the data myself and mostly syncs via iCloud. ↩︎
I stepped on a bus for the first time since the pandemic this week, and found the “home tourism” experience so cathartic I am inclined to do so again at the earliest opportunity. ↩︎