zeborah: Zebra standing in the middle of the road (urban)
Okay, so this thing with the sore throat and stuffy nose which is totally the air conditioner and not a cold? It might be a cold too. In that I spent all of today's conference raiding their tissues and feeling faintly scatter-brained. However this was all stuff we really need to know at work so I stayed on infecting people for the bulk of the day and just bailed at the start of the wrap-up session.

I wasn't so sick that on the way home I couldn't stop off to do a bit of vital tourist shopping including these loves of my life:

Blue sandals, purple soles

On the rest of my way home I came across an incredible number of police at a couple of intersections, like a dozen per intersection, a pair of whom at each intersection were directing traffic. Possibly some traffic lights were broken, though most of them looked fine? It was a mystery and most of the police were just standing around on the corners in hi-vis vests. Anyway, while I was trying to a) work out what on earth they were doing there but b) not attract attention because law-abiding citizen foreigner or not, that many police in one spot is slightly intimidating especially when one of them gets real mad at a car not paying attention and starts shouting at it -- so anyway, this other car pulls over halfway across the intersection in what seems a really weird way to be behaving when there are all these scary police massed in one location, and then a taxi cab pulled over behind it, and then I remembered that Australia has this weird traffic rule for turning right.

(US folk should here substitute "turning left" for "turning right". It's the turn that goes across the oncoming traffic.)

In the rule I'm familiar with, if you want to turn right and there's only one lane, you pull as far into the intersection and to the right as you can go without getting sideswiped by the oncoming traffic. It's possible that doing this isn't entirely legal, but short of a right-turn arrow it's often the only way to turn right, because as the lights change anyone who's already in the intersection has to complete the turn to get out of it, whereas anyone who follows the rules and waits behind the lines has to just stay there.

In Australia, apparently what you do is you pull as far into the intersection as you can go, except you pull to the left. This seems really counterintuitive to me. At the same time I can see that pulling to the right could cause problems with trams which run in the centre of the road. Is this the reason for it? Or is it to allow the traffic going straight to "pass on the right"? It looks really weird but it seems to work in that everyone other than me knew what was going on and all the traffic present seemed to get where it wanted to get to.

(ETA: explanations in Dreamwidth comments.)

After all this excitement I spent the rest of the afternoon/early evening dozing. With the air conditioner off because air conditioning is still evil and it's a lot cooler today anyway: there was cloud and wind and even spots of something trying to be rain. Currently attempting to eat something despite a complete lack of appetite, and hoping I'm better for tomorrow's conference because I don't have my favourite aloe tissues here.
zeborah: On the shoulders of giants: zebra on a giraffe (science)
So a week or so ago I caught this bug off my mother. (My mother, who's had it for three weeks or so, in turn blames the dust from roadworks repairing sewerage pipes.) For the first week it was rather genteel, involving only a persistent productive cough and no other symptoms. At all. It was actually quite weird, but nice, because I didn't *feel* sick.

On Friday the coughs got too much for me to stay at work; and yesterday I went to the doctor who diagnosed laryngitis by a) the time-honoured method of translating symptoms into Greek and calling it a diagnosis, combined with b) what everyone else has. She wrote me a prescription for antibiotics-if-I-get-desperate, on the grounds that although it's probably not a bacteria I seem like a sensible white middle-class person who didn't walk in demanding antibiotics so can be trusted not to abuse the privilege. Also while it's airborne, as public health menaces go that ship's already sailed so I can go to work as long as I feel well enough and work doesn't mind.

This sounded good to me because while my work sensibly provides infinite sick leave and I'm a fan of sitting on my couch with my cat, there's a meeting I *really really* want to go to this morning.

So of course I spent large proportions of last night:
a) attempting in vain to suppress a persistent, nonproductive, side-splitting, lung-hacking cough;
b) attempting to figure out how to stop this cough in order to sleep and/or survive the night;
c) attempting to find a practical implementation of my solution;

and a regretfully small proportion of the night:
d) sleeping.

Also I eventually woke up this morning with the more classic symptom of laryngitis, to wit, not exactly being able to talk, per se.

Anyway, here are the results of my medical engineering experiments, because while my research was not strictly publicly funded, I'm a firm believer in open access.

Hypothesis A: The cough is induced by irritation in the bronchi, and if I can soothe the irritation with ice water then the cough will be suppressed and I can go to sleep.

Methodology: Subject sucked on and occasionally chewed ice cubes.

Results: Even more coughing, omg, seriously, if you have strong religious beliefs about how the proper place of lungs and stomach contents is inside the body then don't do this. I did actually manage to keep everything in its proper place but it was a near call and I painfully strained a rib muscle of some sort before I managed to stumble hacking out of bed and to the location of my second experiment.

Hypothesis B: Cold bad ergo warmth good.

Methodology: Subject took a hot shower with the fan turned off so that the bathroom steamed up.

Results: Inhaling steam good. The cough mostly went away. The hot water also felt nice on my strained rib muscle. Unfortunately once I came out of the bathroom again the cough resumed.

Hypothesis C: Lungs are clearly super-sensitive so need a constant stream of warm, moist air.

Methodology: Having discarded, for practical reasons, the idea of trying to sleep in the shower, bath, or a hypothetical Linwood all-night sauna, subject boiled the jug and nuked a wheatpack for her ribs. Subject then spent the next six hours working out the best way to sleep safely with a bowl of boiling water in one's bed and periodically waking up (the water having cooled enough to retrigger the hacking cough) and going back to the kitchen to reboil the jug.

Results: I think I got almost four hours of sleep in three batches? Not bad, all considered. Anyway my eventual method was to lie on my side on pillows, with next to the pillows a large plastic bowl containing a smaller metal bowl of boiling water, and my head and the bowl covered with my polar fleece poncho, aka 'blankie'.

At one point I added some eucalyptus oil; I don't think this either helped or hurted.

A damp towel nuked for a minute provided near-instant relief while waiting for water to boil. But it cooled quicker than a bowl of water so wasn't by itself a good solution.

Conclusion: If you see or hear someone coughing, run as fast as you can in the other direction. Apparently this thing is going around.
zeborah: Vuvuzela concert: This is serious art. (art)
Being home sick with a cold seemed a good opportunity to watch the Pirates of Penzance like I've always been meaning to, and so I did. I only fell asleep three times which seemed pretty good going.

It was less of a comedy than I'd been led to believe. With every moment of potential happiness overshadowed by the ruthless Ruth's determination to manipulate her five-year-old charge into marrying her, it struck me as a commentary ahead of its time on female-on-male pedophilia. (It was interesting to note in contrast the conspicuous background detail of the harem the major-general must have kept to produce so many daughters of like age.) By the end, of course, everyone is entangled in the resulting climactic battle. Since the next thing I was aware of was waking up to the title-screen's hauntingly cynical repetition of the leitmotif "I am the very model of a modern major-general", I can only presume that everyone died, including said major-general, leaving his daughters -- ironically -- orphans in truth.

In other news, it's amazing how refreshed one feels on waking up from a good nap, and how little time this lasts upon standing up to pour oneself a fresh drink.
zeborah: Helen Clark telling an MP: Diddums. (diddums)
Have had a bit of a cold - not a horrible one, just a "Yeah, not inflicting this on anyone else" one. Day 3 and I'm much better, just tired in the chest (asthma never helps) and bored.

The choices include: watch DVDs, read books, empty the chemical toilet, maybe do some writing.

I really ought to do some writing sometime. I want to get started soon on my Sky Falling Down story and have been pondering it some more. To the point that last night I woke in a panic because my leadlight windows weren't covered and if the sun rose then I'd die of sunburn. (By contrast, the aftershock that woke me a bit later was rather ho-hum.) On the whole I preferred my Monday night lucid dreams about the Tardis coming to visit.

I've even resorted to poking at Amazon's "Mechanical Turk" which is a highly exploitative scheme in which companies (not all of whom are spammers or plagiarists - there's the occasional charity or website usability test) pay a pittance for you to do tasks for them. Like, US$1 for 20 minutes' work is one of the better deals I found. (Note that the time allotted is the time after which your attempt expires so you can't wander away for a coffee break.) Also if you live outside the US you can only get the money in the form of an Amazon voucher. So if you want to get rich really really slow, or if you're really really bored, then Mechanical Turk is the scheme for you.
zeborah: Helen Clark telling an MP: Diddums. (diddums)
(LJ users will need to click through.)

Poll #3798 We're talking non-serious instances of the common cold here. Serious illness gets serious sympathy.
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 6

What's your favouritest symptom of the common cold ever?

View Answers

Sinus congestion -> headache. Diddums points for hunting down knitting needles to drain the cavities.
2 (33.3%)

Nose congestion, subcategory runny -> using up a box of tissues on abrading your poor snozzle. Diddums points for plugging them with tissue and wandering around like a walrus.
0 (0.0%)

Nose congestion, subcategory blocked -> having to sleep with your mouth open to breathe. Diddums points for dreams in which your mouth is so dry it's set like concrete.
4 (66.7%)

Nose congestion, subcategory sneezing.
0 (0.0%)

Inflamed throat, subcategory ow. Diddums points for developing a loathing for the taste of throat lozenges.
1 (16.7%)

Inflamed throat, subcategory "OMG, since when did my throat have mucus glands?"
1 (16.7%)

Inflamed throat, subcategory can't talk now, vocal cords glued together. Diddums points for teaching a bunch of ESOL classes anyway.
1 (16.7%)

Chest congestion, subcategory productive cough. Diddums points for checking to make sure you're not coughing up blood.
1 (16.7%)

Chest congestion, subcategory nonproductive cough. Diddums points for getting a bowl in case you accidentally cough up your stomach contents instead.
1 (16.7%)

Chest congestion, subcategory asthma. Diddums points for being surprised when the nurse tells you your blood oxygen levels are perfectly normal actually.
0 (0.0%)

Chest congestion, subcategory did we mention coughing? Diddums points for hugging your chest together in case your next cough explodes it.
2 (33.3%)

Fever. Diddums points for plotless nightmares about Bill Clinton trying to murder someone, or the colour yellow.
0 (0.0%)

Malaise. Diddums points for... well, malaise, really. Calling in sick with malaise is just hopeless. "Hi, I can't come in to work today because I feel kinda, um, well... Okay I'll be there soon."
2 (33.3%)

Lethargy. Negative diddums points for the gleeful realisation that, whereas like any other day you're going to read/internet/TV rather than do housework, today you at least have a good excuse.
1 (16.7%)

Photophobia. Diddums points for opening that long-anticipated book/laptop/TV only to shriek "The light! It burns!"
1 (16.7%)

Other (see comments). Diddums points for the most woeful tale!
1 (16.7%)

zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
Working with a mild fever isn't conducive to concentration. Or indeed reliably staying awake. Granted I was attempting to read a chemistry textbook in an attempt to look less-than-stupid when students ask me for enthalpy charts, and... let's just say, what would really be useful would be a book that explains thermodynamics without formulae because I've forgotten large chunks of my high school maths and didn't understand it very well back then either, and also I keep having to flip back to remind myself what U and q and w mean. I just... when it's prose I can follow; when it's formulae, even once I've decoded it, it has no meaning for me.

Random things:
  • Dried strawberries. So awesome.
  • So half the grills around my house's foundations (intended to facilitate airflow while keeping out fauna) are all rusted away, and Dad replaced a bunch with new ones, but we never got around to the rest, so I've just got bricks sitting in them. But recently I've been hearing something under the house and it's kind of obvious because there's plastic down there trying to keep the moisture from rising. Turns out some cat has pushed the bricks inside so it could get in.

    So I arranged the bricks such that they couldn't be pushed in, but a couple of nights later I hear the cat again. Turns out it's levered the bricks out this time. So now I've added a larger heavier brick leaning against the lot, and we'll see how strong the creature is.
  • Boots says, "tgggggggggfmn".
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
I do feel it only fair to say that it wasn't actually my idea for my protagonist to knowingly put himself into serious danger of physical harm. I was as surprised as anyone when events transpired as they did. So really it's not my fault that he ended up with some broken ribs. He could have stayed in the Blue Tower if he'd wanted to. I'm just saying.

It's also not my fault that, as near as I can tell, opiates have fallen into disfavour in the time period he lives in. (Happy to be proved wrong! But I will require citations.)

I haven't deprived him entirely of painkillers. I just haven't been able to figure out what kind of painkillers he'd have, so on the assumption that a) they'd have something and b) it'd taste bitter I've mentioned vaguely that his servant has put something bitter into his wine for him.

Anyway. So then I got onto the next chapter in which he gets tortured a bit more (again, not my fault. He could have fled to Germany. I'm just saying) and... when my characters are tense, I'm tense. It's kind of like method acting sort of; it's partly subconscious and partly my way of remembering that these people aren't just talking heads, they also have body language.

And then on Sunday I discovered I'd pulled an intracostal muscle in my lower back. (And then on Sunday evening my sisters made me laugh. A lot. *Glare*.) And I thought I'd sleep on my back Sunday night, but that made my back go into little spasms which were more funny than painful but still didn't seem conducive to sleep. And I slept restlessly (complete with a dream about climbing up a cliff-face to get away from the tide coming in. Tide coming in = time running out ie no more holidays for me as I was back to work today. Then I got to the top of the cliff to discover that this was one level of Hell down, thousands more to go, and the only advantage of this one over the first was that it had supplies of toilet paper, and getting out of Hell was going to be an infinite slog of climbing, getting whatever supplies this level had, climbing more, etc).

And this morning my back hurt more, and the joggling of the bus on the way to work didn't help, and it was, all in all, really awesome when it turned out that a colleague had a wheat pack in her locker. So I've been heating and using that all day and my back's still tense all over but it'd be a heck of a lot worse if I hadn't been. So, though it's more uncomfortable than painful, as the bus joggles it on the way home I am coming around to the point of view that for actual broken ribs, painkillers would be totally awesome.

(ETA prior to posting: I stopped by the chemist on the way home. "Sure," she says, "we've got anti-inflammatories, but come over here and the pharmacist will give you the good stuff." Which he did along with a disclaimer that if it makes my asthma worse I should, y'know, stop taking them.)

So. Does anyone know what painkillers a Danish nobleman in 1527 might have access to? It'd be handy if they left him a certain degree of lucidity -- putting him to sleep for more than an hour or two would disrupt my plot -- otoh a certain propensity to hallucinate would also have its advantages plotwise so really I'm not overly fussy. I just want to make the pain go away.
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
Not about House, about the vertigo. Although come to think of it, it's thematically appropriate to the "I crowdsource my second opinion on the internet" subplot.

What I forgot to mention was that when I went to the doctor about my mild vertigo, he said that antihistamines could be good for vertigo! (Which he pronounced "ver-TIE-go". I had to look it up in the dictionary when I got back to my laptop to make sure it wasn't another one of those words I've been mispronouncing my entire life, like "segue". (Dear English: "segue" totally rhymes with "intrigue". I'm just saying.)) Anyway, and so I said, "Huh, I was reading about that on Wikipedia! --Uh, not that I consult Wikipedia about my medical problems or anything, I just happened to kind of sort of... Well, look, I'm here now, okay?"

He was very gracious about that, considering.

Anyway, that was what I was going to say. But while I'm here I'll add that the vertigo is occasionally still noticeable, and by some bizarre coincidence it tends to be more noticeable after nights when I haven't had enough sleep. So I should go to sleep now.

Right after adding that my alien aka Bible bump aka ganglionic cyst thingy has receded noticeably recently. I like to think it's the antihistamines. Antihistamines cure everything(1), people!

(1) It's true, I read it on Wikipedia.
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Stressed)
Look, I love apostrophes as much as anyone, but really I think it's time to admit that all this angst and mocking is just a waste of our time.

Does it really, in the greater scheme of things, matter all that much?

So someone says "Fix your stilleto's here" -- we know what they mean. So someone says "Its stupid" -- we know what they mean. We don't actually *need* apostrophes or lack of apostrophes in order to figure out what a sentence means.

So why force people to learn rules in order to write those sentences?

I figure we've got three choices, because this whole "Let's force pointless rules on generations of schoolkids who don't care" is getting old:

1) accept that the apostrophe can be used to signal the plural of nouns. It seems silly, but hey, why not?

2) get rid of all possessive apostrophes. All the other Germanic languages manage fine with "Deborahs book". Then we can teach simply and clearly that we use apostrophes only when letters are missing, as in "it's, that's, don't, can't".

3) get rid of all apostrophes entirely. This has the added bonus of providing a simple solution to a bunch of problems in computer coding.


Nice doctor diagnosed BPV and gave me medicaments for the vertigo symptoms. I thought him a little optimistic about how quickly it was going to go away since it just isn't fading in a nice linear fashion (ie, it was quite a bit worse today) but there's enough pills for a week or so.
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Diddums)
Still sleeping lots. Yay for sleep! Less yay for Monday mornings, but I guess that's a small price to pay for weekends.

Staying away from buses and sudden movements during the weekend didn't help as much as I'd hoped. The vertigo might be fading though. Yesterday it was sort of like the whole world was vibrating slightly in my peripheral vision. Today it's only the inside of my skull that's vibrating, so that's a significant reduction in scope.

OTOH it's really quite disconcerting to have the inside of one's skull vibrating, and it's even more distracting when the kinds of occasions that trigger the vibrating can best be described in the earworm-inspiring phrase "every step I take, every move I make". Seriously, I've never before realised just how jarring it is to move all one's weight from one foot to the other. Or to turn one's head. The human body has some amazingly cunning adaptive technology built in, people!

If only it wouldn't break down so often. So Wednesday morning I'm probably heading to my favourite repair shop to see if they can issue me with a new gyroscope, or at least a new earworm.
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (NZ)
So I went into work today despite feeling like the Earth's centre of mass was constantly shifting under my feet. Fortunately, yesterday's excessive sleeping was successful in preventing my eyes from leaking today. Also, I got an email from a certain library vendor saying I'd won a prize draw at conference, which explained the mysterious arrival of a glossy book of photos in the post yesterday. I must confess I'm still a bit jealous of the person who won the 1-terabyte hard drive.

However, I must not be distracted from my miracle of science!

Today is the last day of the university teaching year before study week and exams begin, and you can guess what that means. Yes, it's the annual Tea Party! (Note that little tea is consumed at the Tea Party. In fact, if any of the liquids consumed at the Tea Party are tea then they almost certainly come from Long Island.) Every year, Central Library closes at 5pm on Tea Party Day because, being the nearest library to the Tea Party, it's the most likely to be disrupted and vomited in by Tea Partygoers.

The Tea Party officially begins on the Friday afternoon, but in practice people begin consuming appropriate liquids on Thursday evening, and continue consuming them through the morning. Thus it was that at about 10:30 this morning, several women wandered past Engineering Library with bottles in their hands and pink and white tights and tutus on their cheerfully swaying bodies.

It is this swayingness to which I wish to draw my readers' discerning attention. For, sometime in the late morning / early noon region of the day, my own propensity to sway began fading away. It is my hypothesis, therefore, that the presence of so many, so very inebriated, young people in one location caused a singularity to form in the sway-time continuum, attracting all symptoms reminiscent of inebriation towards the centre of mass of the Tea Partygoers.(1) Never let it be said that young people today bring no benefit to their community!

As the bus drove me home this evening, a little swayingness returned to me (see, my hypothesis could have predicted that swayingness would increase according to the square of the distance from the Tea Party, so it must be true!) but all in all, I feel approximately 82.3% better than I did this morning. My colleagues have made me promise not to make any sudden movements this weekend; but I feel this is excellent advice in general, which is bound to stand me in good stead for all sorts of situations, such as if I should come face to face with a rhinoceros, an avalanche, or a certain felis catus(2) staring intently at my hand as her tail switches back and forth.

(1) Do I have the coolest medical hypotheses since germ theory or what?
(2) I've decided to name her Scruffles for the rest of the day. Until she annoys me, and then it's back to "Ts!"
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Diddums)
As I mentioned last week, moving too many books gave me balance issues. I figured it'd go away; it didn't; I figured this was because I spent all weekend working on presentations and the next three days being at a typically exhausting conference. I was going to take Thursday morning off until I remembered I'd promised to show some visitors around the library on Thursday morning.

So I arrived at work on Thursday and immediately startled my colleagues by leaking-at-the-eyes while talking about how great conference is. (When tired, I leak. It's frustrating because it makes people think there's been a death in the family or something.) I managed to tough it out until lunch-time, when our visitors had gone and more staff arrived; at which point I popped into my manager's office and startled her by announcing I was going home. In retrospect I think she hadn't been there for the leaking incidents, but I made up for this by leaking while talking to her, so she didn't argue.

Then I slept from 2-5.30, and then I watched Criminal Minds, and then I went to bed at 9:30 and slept until 6. So I can't really say I'm tired anymore. I didn't even feel wobbly, until I walked to the supermarket to get something to eat for breakfast, at which point, joy! the vertigo has returned full force.

This appears to be what Wikipedia describes thus: "Vertigo can also occur after long flights or boat journeys where the mind gets used to turbulence, resulting in a person's feeling as if he or she is moving up and down. This usually subsides after a few days," except that this is now almost exactly a week. Also it's side-to-side, because I wasn't on a boat, I was moving books.

On the plus side, I've got an old trick that helps a bit: find a vertical line somewhere and move my head up and down in line with it while reciting, "Dear Brain, this is up. This is down. See the difference?" My brain then emits a thoughtful, "Huh," and remembers the difference for, oh, several minutes thereafter.

Wikipedia also mentions that antihistamines is one of various treatments, though it doesn't mention which cause of vertigo they actually help with. But I have antihistamines! I got them for my hayfever. I should start taking them again. They mightn't help with the vertigo, but they'll definitely help with the hayfever.
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
(*) Some details of this LJ post may be heavily fictionalised.

First of all you have to understand that New Zealand is one of those countries where we get our health insurance from the government (boo hiss) instead of from our employers (all hail!) This dangerous state of affairs, in which we rely on a bunch of people who we could vote out of power every three years rather than on a bunch of people who could make us redundant for all sorts of reasons, plays heavily into the following story.

So a month ago I got possibly-swine-flu, and then I got better, and then on Tuesday night I came down with something else, and then yesterday afternoon I was having all sorts of trouble breathing which my regular asthma medication wasn't really helping. I was starting to think that if it was still this way the next day, or if it got worse, I should seek medical attention. And then I was chatting on irc with [livejournal.com profile] painoarvokas who said something like "...Or you get medical attention *now*," and I thought "...Huh. I have noticed before in myself the tendency to fail at higher reasoning powers when suffering from oxygen deprivation. Maybe I should indeed borrow those of a more lucid friend."

Now, in New Zealand, the Death Panel, euphemistically known as "the health system", is administered by various branches. There's the "emergency department" if you're keeling over, and it's free. If you can't get there yourself you can call for an "ambulance", which is like a bookmobile except with medicine instead of books; they'll later bill you for $50, or about 5kg of cheap beef mince, but you get a while to pay and also I'm pretty sure if you actually need the money for mince instead then they cut you a deal. If you're not keeling over then you can see your "general practitioner" during office hours, or after-hours you can go to an "after-hours clinic". All the people working at these places are bound by the Hypocritical Oath (or something like that - I'm not a doctor, what would I know?) which they have to follow in order to decide who will live and who will die.

I couldn't get myself anywhere by myself but it didn't quite feel like a 111 thing, so I called my family instead. Dad prescribed decongestants and Mum brought me back to their place so I wouldn't be alone. The decongestants didn't help and after dinner I was feeling bad enough that I got Mum to drive me to the after-hours place. Due to my flu-like symptoms I had to wear a mask and use antiseptic hand goop, and I have to say that masks don't actually make it any easier to breathe!

So I went to the Death Panel reception desk where they asked my name and address. This is so they can dig up my records from last time I was here to help them make their fatal decision. Then they got me to stand waiting for a nurse. I divined that this was a test and that if I proved unable to stand for long enough then they'd just euthanise me (or possibly save my life - it's hard to tell the difference as both procedures involve a gas mask). In any case I didn't have sufficient oxygen in my brain to seriously consider disobeying and when I didn't collapse a Death Panel nurse came along and asked about my symptoms. Then I got to sit down and wait for another Death Panel nurse.

(At this point I brought out my laptop as it's my experience that things always happen much faster if I have my laptop open. A bus that would otherwise take 15 minutes to arrive is guaranteed to pull up immediately, for example. This time I wasn't thinking well enough to be interested in any of my stories, but while I was looking for mindless computer games the second Death Panel nurse came along anyway.)

So we went to their flu bay. She determined that I had no fever and that my blood oxygen levels were normal (could have fooled my brain!) but my peak flow was low. Then I got to go to another place to wait for a Death Panel doctor. I got out my laptop again and discovered that in fact I'd uninstalled all my mindless computer games in an attempt to actually do some writing. Mental note: must remedy this! Fortunately the laptop ploy did the trick and the Death Panel doctor arrived pretty promptly. She listened to my lungs and decided it was in fact asthma. Also she made the official decision that I should live, yay!

(She spent a bit of time asking if I'd had prednisone before, and I said yes, and she said "20 mg?" and I said "... Er, if that's the normal dosage then I guess that's what I've had before, I dunno." And she said, "Okay, I can tell you're not thinking clearly at the moment," and I wanted to say that it wasn't so much that I wasn't thinking clearly as that I really had no idea, but I wasn't thinking clearly enough to be able to explain this, so I decided to just go with the flow.)

At this point there was a little confusion because she couldn't find the spacer for giving me my salbutamol, so she had to consult with the rest of the Death Panel on that. And when they found it I kept breathing in when I pushed the inhaler down, like I do at home, instead of pushing it down and then breathing normally, like I was supposed to, and that gave me a fit of the giggles. But after six doses of salbutamol I was high as a kite and then the Death Panel sent me out with a prescription for prednisone and antibiotics in case of infection.

Oh, first I presented my credit card at the desk and they deducted NZ$72 from it. (This is about the price of 7kg of cheap cheddar cheese so you can see why poorer people would go to emergency even if it's not an emergency and they have to wait for hours. Because mm, cheese!) Then I went to the pharmacy and got my prednisone and antibiotics for $7 (or about the price of 5 cheap loaves of sliced bread at today's inflated prices).

Then I went home and took my medicine and went to bed. I was still shorter of breath than usual and also it took me about an hour to relax enough from the high-as-a-kite effects that I could sleep. But while I slept, nanites emerged from the prednisone and went to work building me new bionic lungs! Seriously, it was quite disconcerting when I woke up a few hours later and discovered that my lungs were just breathing all by themselves. But then I reconcerted myself, because if the Death Panel has seen fit to give me bionic lungs, what can I do about it? That's just how oppressive my government is!
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
Chicken soup is awesomesauce. It's easy to make from a can, it's full of protein-y goodness, and it makes that really stale bread edible again.

Funny story! When I was sick once in Korea I thought I'd order chicken soup. But when it arrived it turned out to be a chicken. In soup. It was surprisingly difficult to eat with chopsticks, and I hadn't even expected it to be that easy.

After that whenever I was sick I'd order bean paste soup instead.


Someone wrote: "When I think of Wild Wild West, I'll always remember the moment when Branaugh's 'evil plan' was revealed - part of it involved returning California and Texas to Mexican control. Myself and 3/4 of the audience cheered."

And I immediately thought, what would happen if, when the Evil Overperson revealed their dastardly plan, Our Protagonist said, "...Your ideas intrigue me and I'd like to subscribe to your newsletter"?

Awesomesauce, that's what!


After my comment to chuk_g, I got to thinking about all the other ways New Zealand is totally cooler than anywhere else in the world, and I decided a list was called for!

Top reasons why New Zealand is more awesome than Your Country

1. As I was saying, we bring our DIY attitude to interspecies biological warfare.

2. We can spot a capital "Z" on a page faster than anyone else in the world.

3. Our prime ministers guest star on the national soap opera.

4. We got new copyright legislation changed because of our online protest.

5. We contain Ancient Greece, Middle Earth, and Narnia. Trufax: when I was a kid, me and my family orienteered where the Pevensies fought the White Witch.

6. We invented jet boats, bungy jumping, zorbing, and even weirder extreme sports.

7. The populace regularly infiltrates our secret spy base.

8. Pineapple lumps.

9. Native birds attack invaders such as sheep, cars, and the Scottish.

Hmm, my fever seems to have fizzled out. I'll continue the list if and when it returns.
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Stressed)
Third time this winter. So not cool.

Working theory:
  • immune system still borked from last time
  • job stress from being only 90% sure I'll still have a job in six months' time(1)
  • immune system further made unhappy by the vast amounts of dust I've been inhaling at work(2)
  • heavy contact with student engineers who like to carry their library cards in their mouths, and also, perhaps more relevantly in this case, with a coworker who went home sick yesterday only when her sore throat overcame her normal determination to soldier on and infect the rest of us.

My alternative theory is that it was orange juice. Immediately prior to getting sick the last two times I've squeezed myself a whole heap of orange juice with my neato Kenwood food processor. Common knowledge says that orange juice is good for one's immune system but my anecdata clearly prove this idea highly suspect.

(1) Did I mention that? I mightn't have mentioned it because 90% is pretty high, all things considered. What's happening is that for budget reasons they're merging two of our library branches, and naturally they won't need as many staff once they're done. (In fact I think getting rid of some staff is also necessary for the budget to balance, but they've been coy on that thus far.) We guesstimate, pending actual word from real live management, that they'll need about 80% of those of us at my position; the other 10% is because the union will pursue various options for getting anyone made redundant a job elsewhere in the library system or university. Anyway, standard practice here for culling one's staff is to make everyone redundant and then make them all apply for their old jobs back. I suppose I should get my CV up-to-date, though what the point of "Same as last time you hired me but with the addition of the work I've done for you" is I really don't know.

(2) In order to fit two libraries' worth of books into one, we have to move piles of the stuff into storage. This is the older stuff that no-one uses, and you can tell that no-one uses because after you've worked with it for half an hour your hands are black.
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (NZ)
Since I whined so much about being sick I suppose I ought to let everyone know that I went back to work Monday and didn't fall down. Actually I felt pretty darn good. So I must be better!

Of course I've still got a snuffly nose and occasional empty cough (this is a technical term I invented just now for a cough that erupts despite the fact that there's nothing in your lungs but air, because your diaphragm is manifesting a sudden and intense desire to rupture itself). Also my brother informs me that, statistically speaking, what I had was probably swine flu, and as I was only off work for four working days instead of the recommended five, I may now have infected all my family, colleagues and library users with it, so that's quite exciting.

But, the most exciting thing of all is that last night I could breathe through my nose again! It may have had something to do with drowning my pillow in eucalyptus oil. It was great: I got to sleep and everything. (By "everything" I mean "continue breathing".)

I've decided that there's a mistranslation in the Bible. Apart from all the other ones, I mean. What it should say is that "On the seventh day, God created sleep. And first he tested it out on the cats, and they slept, and God died of teh cuteness. But when he resurrected himself he gave sleep to everything, and there was evening, and there was morning, and everything woke up and agreed that it was good but did it really have to be Monday morning now?"
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Diddums)
I'm now going to whine about a universal human experience as if it were mine, mine alone, and far more important than anything else in the world. Because that's what LiveJournal is for, right? Right.

tl;dr: Lack of water -> lack of oxygen -> lack of sleep -> Zeborah is a cranky bunny )
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Stressed)
The first time was on March 31st. I was sitting at my desk at work and I chanced to bend my left wrist, and I said "Oh hey, why do I have something protruding from my wrist? That looks like the end of a bone. I didn't accidentally dislocate my wrist without noticing, did I?" After a little more thought I concluded that this was unlikely, so I started wandering around the workroom showing off my wrist to colleagues. One of them diagnosed an Alien, another diagnosed a ganglion cyst.

(Any stories about how you or a friend of a friend once had a ganglion cyst, aka Bible bump, and it never hurt and it went away all by itself within a decent time period are hereby solicited. Horror stories about aspirations after which the cyst grew back or about excisions gone painfully wrong may kindly go somewhere else. Moreover, that website which reassuringly says "[...] Removing a volar ganglion has a greater risk of nerve and blood vessel damage. However, the vast majority of people have two arteries that travel into the hand. If one is injured, the other is sufficient to provide and adequate blood supply to the hand."? Not that reassuring akshually.)


Google tried to April Fool me but its link was broken. ...There's really nothing I can say to emphasize quite how pathetic that is.


This morning (ie April 2nd) I received an email that had arrived just after midnight (ie quite a lot after noon April 1st). It said I was a Slideshare Rockstar! Suddenly one of my presentations was getting a bazillion hits! I should immediately tweet about this with a particular hashtag!

I'd forgotten this was still April 1st to some timezone-n00bs but being curious I went to check the viewcounts and concluded that 10044 and 10037 seemed unlikely. I was trying to find a way to let them know they had a bug in their software when I came across a bazillion Slideshare users expressing extreme dismay at having been convinced to publicly demonstrate their April-Fooledness, particularly since they're professionals (hence the having presentations to be uploaded to Slideshare to start with) with reputations to maintain. Also I found Slideshare running around like crazy saying various versions of "Sorry!" and "We didn't think about it like that!" and "We didn't realise that would happen!" and "Please let us make it up to you!" and "We'll do better next time!" on quite a lot of angry blogs. So that was quite amusing, though, er, clearly not quite how they envisaged the joke playing out.


Really this cartoon seems to express the modern spirit of April Fools' Day quite well.
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
I can cope with sniffles, though I may need to put aloe tissues on my shopping list again.

In other breaking news, my electricity bill is half that of last month: last month was an estimated meter reading and this month an actual reading. Of course my heating and cooking is mostly by gas...
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Diddums)
Do. Not. Want.

(OTOH I do get an excuse to use my Helen Clark icon. I'm not actually totally fangirl over our PM, just when she gets snarky at people being silly.)


zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)

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