Tag Archives: sick

Living in a chemical world, plus dream sequences

Cat with head deep in coffee mug “iz not addicted to caffeine, i juz need it to function”
(click to embiggen)
Every time I have my annual wellness exam, my doctor gets a little carried away on the prescription renewals so that when I show up at the pharmacy to pick up the meds I expect, there is often extra things like the codeine cough syrup he’s prescribed when I last had bronchitis, or the inhaler he prescribed one time when I got bronchitis and it didn’t respond to the first antibiotic, or the corticosteroid nasal spray he keeps recommending for my allergies or when I get a sinus infection. So I wind up telling them I don’t actually need several of them, but I have kept one unopened bottle of the nasal spray, just in case. I don’t like using it because when I have done so in the past I got very vivid and disturbing dreams for several days after. And by disturbing I don’t mean that they are bloody or horrific (usually) it’s just that they are so vivid that it takes many minutes after waking up in a panic before I can convince myself they aren’t real.

So the other night, when I conked out after dinner unexpectedly, I woke up to find the apartment full of smoke and my Mom was standing at the door, calling to me to come help her open it because and we needed to get out and where is Michael? And I jumped up from the recliner, stumbled over a filebox on the floor trying to get to my mom and the door and just as I’m opening my mouth to yell for Michael the smoke had vanished. Also, Mom (who hasn’t visited us in over 20 years because travel is difficult for her for various health reasons) had vanished. There was no smoke. There was no fire. There had been no Mom.

And the dream was so vivid that I went to the bathroom and dug out the box with the unopened bottle of the nasal spray just to confirm that I hadn’t opened it and used it when the sinus headache had been real bad the night before. I didn’t remember using it, but the dream really felt like one of those, so I thought maybe in the middle of the night, when I was half asleep and had been tossing and turning because of the headache I had given in and added the spray to the mix of allergy pills and over the counter cold medications I’d already taken.

And that was only the first day of the fever.

I haven’t used the spray, but I keep having the weird dreams. The next morning my alarm watch went off a few hours after my husband left for work (he leaves much earlier than I even want to wake up). I often wake up briefly while he is getting ready for work. I may mumble, “I love you” or “Good morning” to him as I stumble to the bathroom and then back to bed. Sometimes I just try to wake up enough to say something to him and don’t succeed. Also I often wake up briefly once or twice before my alarm goes off, note that I still have more time to sleep, and roll over. But back to the alarm: The alarm was ringing and Michael is calling from the next room that I should turn off the alarm and asking if I’m going to try to go into the office or call in sick. And I get up and stumble out to the room where my Apple watch is on its charger to turn it off and I ask Michael, “What are you doing here? Did you get to work, decide you were too sick, and come back home?”

And Michael didn’t answer. But now that I’d spoken aloud, that was enough to completely wake me up, and I’m standing in front of the watch in its charger. Its face is lit up showing me that there are still two minutes until the alarm will actually go off.

There have also been two dreams where I was somewhere in the city trying to remember where I had parked the car because I either needed to pick up Michael somewhere or I was trying to get away from someone who was trying to hurt us. And both of those ended with me awake, standing in front of the phone charger, trying to find the app on the phone that will help me find the car. One of the mornings I wasn’t actually holding my phone, I was holding the TV remote (which is normally on the shelf above the phone charger), but I swear a few seconds before it had been my phone. And yes, it was as if I watched it morph from phone to remote as I finished waking up.

The fact that when I’m having a nightmare I will get up, walk around, talk (sometimes yell), and so forth is one of the reasons that normally I don’t watch scary movies, by the way.

So I still haven’t actually used the spray. I’m of two minds: since I seem to already be having the side effect I least like, maybe I should go ahead. On the other hand, the spray might just make the weird dreams even worse.

And this gets me to two reasons why I shy away from writing dream sequences in my fiction. When I have tried to write them like the dreams I remember, the reaction from readers (at least the ones I hear from) is that the dream was more confusing than enlightening. When I tried to write them to have a bit more narrative flow, readers say they went on too long. Having had these reactions, I am not enthused when someone suggests that a dream sequence would better explain a particular mystical thing happening in one of my stories.

Besides trying to get work done while juggling regular meds, symptoms of this cold thing, extra meds, it’s been a bit of a struggle to remember to keep hydrated and get enough caffeine in me so that I don’t wind up with a caffeine-deprivation headache on top of everything else. You would think that coffee, of all things, would be something I didn’t have to remind myself to drink, but you would be wrong.

I hope I’m well sooner rather than later.

More adventures in managing light

“Somedays you just have to create your own sunshine.”
(click to embiggen)

I’m continuing to never quite having the time or energy to finish more serious posts. This week one complication is that what seemed to be several worse-than-usual hay fever days in a row turned into a full-blown cold with fever, body aches, sore throat, and significant loss of energy. One of those symptoms that can be either bad hay fever or signs of an actual viral infection is red, swollen eyes. They can be bad enough that it hurts to be in a well-lit room—let alone in a brightly lit room where I’m required to stare at a computer screen for hours. On such days, whether it turns out to be a cold or not, I’m grateful for the option to work from home. I can make progress toward my work deadlines while sitting in a dark room with the laptop screen brightness turned way down.

That’s not the only light management I do.

Work from home days have been different in that regard since moving to the new place. At our previous residence, because all the windows had heavy, lined curtains, and because almost every window was in a location where random passersby could see everything if the curtains were open, the curtains stayed closed in most of the rooms all the time. No matter how bright the sunlight was outside, the living room tended to be the same level of dimness.

The new place has an open floor plan, and more windows that shed light into the living room/kitchen/dining room space, And since all the windows are equipped with white vinyl blinds rather than the thick curtains, if the sun is out, a lot of light gets into the room. There’s a point some mornings when for about 15-20 minutes the sun lights up perfectly with a gap in the trees east of the house, and the closed blinds are almost like a bright spotlight. When those sunny days coincide with bad hay fever days, I have a considerably more difficult time avoiding pain in the eyes.

On overcast or rainy days the amount of light from outside is considerably less, making it easier to manage light.

When it is sunny outside, people often suggest that I should go out and enjoy the sunlight. When I explain that even if I’m not having a bad hay fever day that bright sunlight hurts my eyes1, people express skepticism. Plus a tendency to skin cancer also runs on one side of my family4, and since I have now had one small tumor that had to be removed from my forehead, I am under additional medical orders to never go outside without wearing a hat with a broad enough brim to fully shade my face and neck.

And it’s not just the doctor’s orders. That lack of pigment in the retinas? If I get more than brief bits of sunlight without UV sunglasses, my eyes start hurting because of the burnt retinas. And when the retina burns, it kicks off the release of mneurochemicals which make me drowsy, but it I need to stay wake, that means that I just get that “I should have gone to bed hours ago” headache along with the crankiness and decreased ability to concentrate.

Explaining this to someone who has never experienced it almost always turns into an adventure of, “but what about? And what about?” Not to mention the expressions of pity—it’s not sympathy about my medical issues, it is definitely pity that I don’t enjoy sunlight the same way they do. And there’s frequently a hint of disbelief. As if I could tolerate sunlight if only a wanted to.

Which isn’t to say I don’t enjoy sunlight, I just have to have it filtered. I’m perfectly happy outside if I have my hat and my UV-blocking sunglasses that wrap around the sides, and can get into shade when I want. I just don’t look forward to it the same way that other people do. Think of it as the intense cold winter of places like Manitoba or north Wisconsin. As pretty as snow is to look it, needing to take all those precautions to avoid frostbite can dampen one’s enthusiasm for the weather.

Days like today when I have a fever, my eyes are red, and my sinuses are congested and sore, I like sitting in a dark room. I’m happy. It isn’t gloomy in here, it is pain-free.


1. I have no pigment in my retinas2 and am actually under medical orders never to go out in the daytime, even on overcast days, without UV blocking sunglasses, because your retinas can get sunburnt3.

2. A not uncommon thing in blue-eyed people.

3. The first time an opthamologist told me that I was surprised as can be! “Your retinas are sunburnt right now,” she said, peering into my eyes during the exam.

4. Also not that uncommon in those of us whose most recent ancestors came from northern Europe and thus whose natural skin color is pasty pale5.

5. I have been known to point out that my skin isn’t actually white, it’s very pale pink with blue highlights6.

6. Unless I have been out in the sun at all lately, at which point my skin will be either bright pink or very red. After which it will fade back to the pale bluish pink but with more freckles. My skin appears to be utterly incapable of tanning.

I hate feeling yucky

Watch Eli Manning throw the ghost football again and again and again...
Watch Eli Manning throw the ghost football again and again and again…
I woke up Friday morning with all the toes in my right foot having that pre-gout feeling. For me, it feels much that same as a toe feels a day or two after you stub it really bad. It’s not really hurting, but tender and stiff. Except it’s in all five toes at once.

I’ve experienced this enough that I know the drill. I make an effort to drink about twice as much water over the course of the day as usual. In the evening, I elevate it and put a heating pad on it for a while. I get out a pair of my extra long fuzzy socks and wear those to keep my feet and ankles warm. About two-thirds of the time, doing this entire routine for a few days prevents a full-fledged gout attack hitting.

This time? Well… Continue reading I hate feeling yucky

Oh, no, not again

Except I’m too grumpy to remember to say please.
I was a little worried last Thursday, because my hay fever symptoms were pretty severe, but when I went to record them in an app on my phone that I use for tracking my allergies, I saw that the pollen count that day was significantly lower than it had been the day before. But my symptoms weren’t any worse Friday morning, so I was ready to just chalk it up to random chance.

Then I logged into the work network (Friday being my usual work-from-home day), and there was a message from my boss asking everyone to sign time sheets early because he was very sick and was heading home.

But, again, my symptoms didn’t get any worse that day. And I didn’t feel any different Saturday morning. Until a few hours after I got up, when for no apparent reason I suddenly felt super tired and absolutely had to sit down right now… I conked out for a bit more than an hour. When I woke up, my throat was a little scratchy.

I kept running out of energy and being attacked by naps the rest of the day. The pollen count was pretty high, so I kept telling myself it was only hay fever.

Sunday morning I woke up with super bad headache, really sore throat, and body cramps. So, I cancelled our plans for the day.

I continued to have the random nap attacks. I’d developed a fever by Sunday night.

I stayed home from work on Monday, though I logged in and got more than half a day’s worth of work done. When I called in for one of my meetings that day, I learned that several co-workers were working from home because they were sick, and at least a couple had just called in sick and weren’t working at all.

I still had a sore throat and a mild fever Tuesday morning, so I worked from home again. I didn’t have any nap attacks, and by evening the sore throat was merely a scratchy throat. I’m hoping this means I’m getting over the cold.

Despite all of that, I managed to get a decent amount of writing done. I signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo as an incentive to finish off the first draft of my current novel in progress. I was very close to the end, and figured it could be done in a month. I completed the climactic battle, and am now writing denouement scenes. So while I may miss the midnight deadline, I’ve probably wrapped the draft.

Knock wood.

Focus, what’s that?

Kitten falling asleep on an Apply keyboard.
I nap a lot…
Almost all the writing I’ve gotten done in the last 7 weeks (outside of work) has been posting for this blog. On my novel, I’ve done some revision, spelling clean-ups, sorted out some of the scene- and chapter-order issues I ignored during NaNoWriMo, and have managed to write only one actual new scene. Since between us, we’ve been sick pretty much continuously since late December, maybe I shouldn’t feel so bad about how little I’ve actually finished.

The last 7 to 9 days have been particularly bad. Those days that I’ve worked, pretty much every bit of energy I had has gone into trying to make deadlines there.

Last night was the first commute home from work since February 6 that I didn’t feel it was a struggle to walk the last block (or more) to the house. Even the day I drove in, I had to sit in the car for a few minutes after I parked to work up the energy to pick up my laptop bag and walk into the house.

And what did I wind up doing? I read, finishing off the book that I’ve been reading on my morning bus rides the last few weeks.

Maybe I needed a recharge before I can get writing again.