If sick days count, then last week. *cough* *cough* aaaaaah-choo!
I’ve been off sick. I finally relented a took a couple sick days and stayed home to nurse myself back to health.
Drum roll… the results of which, after lots of sitting around doing nothing much more than watch television and play video games, drinking hot tea and having long afternoon naps with my Kindle hanging limply from my hands, I am feeling significantly better. Maybe not cured, but better.
Even though I was still a bit tired, I was also going stir crazy. And the snow had started to fall, just lightly though, but with the dude on the radio promising a long bitterly cold weekend full of more snow and more ugly weather, and as he put it “a great weekend to stay indoors and watch a movie.”
So, I tempted fate and went for a short jaunt around the local neighborhood, just enough to get the blood flowing but not enough to crash me on the couch for another two days… at least not because of my health.
a mash-up of radio & food
I spent about twenty minutes this morning looking through various charts and search results and the best I can figure is that there are two types of audio food podcasts that still exist: ones that are not popular enough to crack the top 200 on the charts, and those that haven’t published an episode in at least half a decade. Sometimes they belong to both categories.
My research is hardly complete, of course, but it just strikes me as singularly odd that in a web full of reviews, blog, general information, recipes, and shopping tools, the idea of the food podcast has drifted into the ethereal archives of ancient memory.
There used to be podcasts. I know I used to listen to a short but interesting list of eclectic podcasts that I only discovered because they hovered near the upper levels of the download and popularity charts. I’m not a deep-cuts kind of guy, so they must have been.
a mash-up of medicine & breaking (families)
In this age of digital social media sharing, Tweet’ing every aspect of our lives and Facebook’ing every detail of our day-to-days, is there a realm of personal disclosure that pushes the limits of appropriateness and risks fracturing familiar relationships as a result?
The question emerged recently in a family discussion, and with no intended offense to the parties involved (who may someday read this essay) here is a summary of what happened: Relative A was in the hospital. Relative B went to visit, took a photo on their phone, and posted said photo to the Internet. Relatives C through Z (and likely a few others) viewed the photo.
This is a cross-post from an experiment I’m running. It’s an experiment partially about writing, a little bit about the web, and a lot about people. It’s more complex than it looks, and it’s precisely as good or bad as I intend it to be. And sometimes this experiment generates interesting stuff that I want to share here, such as answering the question…
Why does access to information make us terrible patients?
…or, why we’re now all digital hypochondriacs.
I’ll admit that the first thing I did when I threw out my back last summer –as soon as I could stand it from the pain– was to prop up my laptop computer at the end of my pillow, position myself into the least uncomfortable position I could find that still allowed me to type, and then Googled “back pain.”
Back pain, I learned, is a serious condition (you don’t say?) except when it’s not, and that you can treat it by doing a variety of strengthening and stretching exercises (which I tried) except when you shouldn’t. There are whole lot of medications, painkillers, anti-inflammatories, and topical therapies you can try (which I purchased) except when you shouldn’t do any of those things.
Did I say serious? I meant complicated. And I meant to mean that I probably shouldn’t have been one of those guys who self-diagnosed and self-treated a potentially (or maybe not so potentially) devastating injury.
We all do it, though. I read doctor blogs and listen to call-in radio shows with doctors who are learning about a whole new field of patient treatment: getting past the internet cloud of mis-information that clutters minds with preconceived notions of I’ve-already-diagnosed-this-myself-itis.
And I kick myself (or was that a sciatic nerve stretch?) that I’m the kind of self-crediting rational-thinker who doesn’t do that kind of thing. But I do, too.
I’m not a doctor, but I work in a field where a similar type of problem occurs –albeit one where no lives are on the line and I doubt I’d ever get sued for getting something wrong: web design. And the biggest beef web designers tend to have is that a client either knows (a) nothing whatsoever, not really even the reason they think they want a website other than someone suggested it and now they’ve hired you or (b) nothing but thinks they know everything, and come into the process with an exacting idea of what they think the end product should be and –dammit– you’re going to build this no matter how impossible or unusable or maintenance-resource-intensive it is going to be when it’s done. I prefer the first type, but I’ve been meeting more and more of the latter.
Doctors and web designers, both of us, deal with clients who have figured out a problem on their own and are looking for justification and validation. (Thanks internet.) The problem is that doctors, web designers, and probably a thousand other fields of service, support, or care are based on a problem-solving approach.
This approach is simply that a client has a problem: and an expert is called in to solve that problem.
The new problem is related: the old approach doesn’t work very well when the client thinks that they already have the solution. It’s not good for the expert and it’s not good for the client… but mostly the client, because they’re not getting the best solution they could be.
In web design, a crappy solution give you a crappy website.
In medicine, a crappy solution could leave you dead… all thanks to the internet, and the rise of terrible patients (like me) who vainly try to self-diagnose.
I’ve been sick for a few days. Not bedridden sick, but sick enough to feel it is a good enough excuse to sit around in my pajamas, avoid going outside (in the epic cold, by the way) and play Minecraft on my laptop all weekend. A temporary year-long hiatus from the game has left me rediscovering it over the last weekend. And it’s not just my need to rediscover long-forgotten crafting recipes, either. There have been a number of iterative-yet-big changes to the game since I last played seriously. New critters. New materials. New objectives. But –and I admit I was a little worried as I watched the update notices trickle in over the last year– none of it feels tacked on or crammed between the player and the core gameplay. It’s just as if there are a few new things out there that I’d never noticed before when I played… and I can still burn half a day, sick on the couch, building pointless structures and roads to nowhere.
That there is a direct correlation between my volume of training and my overall fitness level.
If you consider a sports injury “sick” then, just recently. Otherwise months ago.
I know 37 is hardly old. I get it. But apparently it isn’t young anymore, either. After two visits to the doctor, some x-rays, and some other random pokes and prods the diagnosis is — drum roll — I ain’t a spring chicken anymore. That’s right. It’s nothing acute. Nothing traumatic. Nothing broken. Just a sore back because, well, that’s what happens when you start pushing your body to (or apparently past) its limits in your late thirties. I’ll rest and recover. I’ll do some physio. I’ll stretch it out, work it out, walk it off. And then I’ll need to crank up my cross training, strength training, and actually pay attention to things like stretching and flexibility or, y’know, it will happen more and more frequently. Good thing I started this running thing when my body was newer and had a few less miles on it… this kind of set back would have probably permanently benched me five years ago. Now? Now it’s time to crank it up and kick some more ass.
A “reloaded” post is a quick-clipped summary of a bunch of small things from the past few days. I want to write them down, but I am either lacking in (a) details or (b) time. That’s just how it goes sometimes. Enjoy.
The Road to Recovery
Grrr. After nearly three weeks of mild to moderate illness, three weeks of missing work, runs, and a chunk of our vacation, and after three weeks of living in an exhaustion-induced blurry haze, whatever illness struck me down seems to be on the retreat. I’ve consumed copious quantities of tea. I’ve crawled into bed at ridiculously early hours. I’ve personally destroyed a double-digit percentage of a medium-sized rainforest’s worth of tissues whilst blowing my nose. The virus, influenza or whatever it might have been, is still taking a few last pot-shots as it escapes over the hill, making a last-stand for soon-to-be reclaimed sinus-territory. But, health… it is soon to be paying me a visit once again.
Bring Your Daughter to Work Day
The stars aligned on Monday afternoon. Karin had to come downtown to a meeting. I had a meeting and couldn’t sign-off early. And Claire’s pre-school let out in a sort-of awkward timeframe to match up with three people needing to be in different places at the same time. So, Karin dropped Claire off downtown, and for the first time in the fifteen months of my time at this job, she got to see where I work. It was quite awesome, the pure and delicious wonder in her eyes and comments. She tip-toed into the building, whispering as we walked past the call centre and into the back area where my cube resides. She came prepared with her crayons, and dutifully supplied me (and one of my co-workers, too) with some drawings. We paid a visit to the vending machine and I let her pick out a treat. She discovered my thumbtacks and hung up some of her art. And all around she drew the curious conversations of a variety of the folks around my office. I finished up a few things, sent some emails, and then we were off to ride the train back home. “That was fun.” She told me later. “I like your work, but next time I’m going to get candy instead of chips.”
It is, of course, Pi Day today. March Fourteenth. 3-14. 3.14. Pi. Look it up if you don’t understand. Shamefully, despite the abundance of green-hued food and beverages on sale in preparation for another notable day three days from now, retailers haven’t picked up on the obvious — and simple — marketing opportunity that would fall out of today. For dinner we had pizza (pie) and for desert we sliced up a blueberry pie. But, upon visiting the grocery store today, a location you might think would leap at the opportunity to encourage the purchase and consumption of something so obvious as PIE for PI DAY… nada. I had to hunt at the back corner of Safeway for a few less-than-obvious standard-issue boxed pies. It’s really too bad. And, you can keep your green beer. I’ll eat my pi… I mean, pies.
I’m home sick again today. This cold is really kicking my ass. It seems to be one of those really crazy illnesses that creeps up on you out of nowhere every couple of years — or less frequently, if you’re lucky — and sends you into spirals of frustration and guilt for needing to — literally — sit out on life for a couple weeks. Oddly enough, I recovered long enough to enjoy Disneyland for a few days. But the old body is making me pay for it now.
Thanks, body. You’re a real pal.
It has given me ample time to sit around and not only catch up on some television (can you ever really catch up?) but also to think and read and try and come up with some good content for this blog. All sorts of ideas wisp through my congested head and try to find some kind of footing there. For example, I could write about trying to process nearly two hours worth of vacation video clips into something watchable. Or I could write about a new idea for a story that I’ve had rolling around in my head for near-on two weeks now, and which is starting to gel into something interesting. I could also entertain you with some thoughts I’ve had on trying to get my mind around this whole blogging thing itself, an effort I dabbled in with a previous post, but didn’t nearly flesh out as deeply as it deserves.
Of course, what you get instead is a rambling non-post like this one — so that shows you just how truly productive I am when I’m ill.
Having down time is a kind of skill, I figure. Being sick takes effort. It is a force of will to shut yourself off from the duties of life and attend to just plain-and-simple recovery from whatever the ailment happens to be.
I went to work yesterday morning. I struggled through a few hours of answering emails, chatting with co-workers, attending meetings — and all while chugging back so much tea and cough drops that I probably reeked of chamomile and menthol by the time I tucked my tail between my legs and went home for a three hour nap. And I’m sure my co-workers were just being polite by not adamantly insisting I go home earlier and quit infecting our shared recirculated air. Yes, it was a little stubborn and silly — I admit — but there it is: being sick is a skill. It takes work. And I’m not good at down time.
That said, despite my inability to attend properly to my sniffles and scratches, my body has taken over the job quite nicely and I seem to be on the mend. Seem to be. Seem. The volume of various liquids I’ve been putting into my body today has now exceeded the volume escaping from my sinuses, and I can actually complete a full sentence this morning without breaking into hacking coughs. These are all good signs, right?
Yet, here I am, yearning for a day off — a day to do exactly what I want to do — but hating every moment of a sick day. Why is that? Because down time is an art. Down time takes practice, that’s why. And I — thankfully — haven’t had much of that.