Heaving breathing, flashing lights

So I had my sleep-deprived EEG this morning. I fell asleep after about 1am (after staying awake by catching up on the massive backlog of comics I haven’t read) and my alarm went off at 5:30am.

Groan.

I freely admit it was tough to get myself out of bed. Harder still to avoid the coffee machine. I was under strict orders to avoid caffeine before the test. So I woke up at the kitchen table, sipping sparkling water and wishing I was somewhere – anywhere – else.

The test went fine, but was pretty unpleasant. Firstly, you get a load of electrodes glued to your scalp. Then I had to complete a series of exercises, while my brain activity was monitored, including:

  • Hyperventilating, until I got pins and needles in my face and my hands
  • Staring into a strobe light, going against every natural instinct to look away

Ugh. Nothing painful, but unpleasant all the same. I also had to work from my laptop while being monitored, to see the impact a computer screen has on me. I also had to sleep, but – wouldn’t you know it – it took me over an hour to nod off. And then it was in a strange position, so I woke up with an s-shaped neck.

The clinical physiologist that took care of me was brilliant. Very professional,  but also very friendly. We bonded over our shared love of travel while she attached the electrodes to my head.

(A sentence I never in my wildest dreams thought I’d type).

I’m now back at home, shoving coffee into my face and working on staying awake for the next few hours. I’m not sure I’ll manage without a short nap, but I’m determined to catch up on my sleep tonight. Big work day tomorrow.

And now, for your delectation, a selfie of me – complete with electrodes. A valuable lesson in why you should never take a selfie while lying down.

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I’ll get my results in a few weeks, after I get back from South Beach. Fingers crossed for a helpful result. Whatever that is…

Mission impossible

 

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My last EEG test – aren’t those electrodes just the most attractive thing ever?

I’m going into hospital for a sleep-deprived EEG test tomorrow morning. I’ve had a few EEGs on my long journey through the world of epilepsy, including being monitored all night while I slept.

 

Tomorrow, I need to go in having had about half the sleep I normally get.

Oh.

The letter I received recommends going to bed two hours later than usual and getting up too hours earlier than usual. That is, by definition, the worst of both worlds. And to cap it all, I’m not allowed to have any coffee tomorrow until after the tests are complete.

No coffee?!
Tomorrow is going to hit over 30C  in London and I have to brave rush hour public transport short on both sleep and caffeine.

I can tell you one thing: it won’t be pretty.

The sole upside is the possibility of spending a few hours in the afternoon sunshine in our garden by way of recovery. After which I’ll spend far too much time trying to scrape the disgusting electrode glue off my bald head, inevitably leaving some somewhere…

Ironically, my sleep has been pretty good over the last week. Just when I could do with some insomnia, I’m sleeping like a baby.

See you on the other side.

HyperJapan 2016: cosplay and food galore!

We spent a few delightful hours at HyperJapan in London this afternoon. A flurry of cosplay, Japanese music, Japanese food, more cosplay and some more food. Pretty much like every visit to HyperJapan ever.

Highlights for me were the delicious Takoyaki (octopus balls), despite almost burning my mouth off when trying to stuff them down my throat. Punishment for my gluttony, no doubt. This was followed in short order by a half-gallon (or so it seemed) of matcha tea latte with tapioca pearls and then a superb portion of matcha ice-cream.

The latter came from Softserve Society, who I was delighted to find out are opening an outlet at BoxPark in Shoreditch. I’ll definitely be paying them a visit in the near future – the ice-cream was fantastic.

Here’s a short video walk-through I took while wandering about. Apologies in advance for the quality – I was walking, while trying to avoid tripping over the many cosplayers who were lying around on the floor.

 

Prepping for Japan, 2016 edition

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We’re once again making our ‘annual pilgrimage’ to Japan later this year. It was inevitable, given how much we’ve enjoyed our previous visits. Japan has quickly become our shared favourite travel destination, for so many reasons.

With a country as diverse and spread out as Japan, it can be tough to decide where you’ll visit and what you’ll do. But this year (expecting that we’ll return again in the future), we’re going to visit Nagano and Kanazawa, finishing up in Tokyo again. This will include visits to onsens, going to see some ‘snow monkeys’ and a considerable amount of eating, drinking, walking and laughing.

And probably some more eating. Excellent food is both inevitable and avoidable in Japan. Thankfully.

This weekend, we’re getting into the mood with a trip to ‘Hyper Japan‘ this evening. I can’t wait to get my hands on some Japanese ‘street food’ and to watch the cosplay. To basically soak up some Japanese culture and pretend, for a couple of hours, that we’re wandering through a Japanese neighbourhood.

And while I definitely don’t want to wish the year away, I’m really looking forward to October, when we fly to Tokyo and start our visit.

The fragile body

Last weekend, I hit the streets of London hard. Literally. Falling while out running, I took a lump out of my right elbow, badly hurt my right root and knee and (it turns out) twisted my ankle in the process.

This wouldn’t have been so bad – I’m a big boy, after all – except I had to pack for a week-long business trip to Bristol. I then had to haul my suitcase full of clothes and training/coaching materials across London to Paddington Station, deal with crowds, navigate Bristol Temple Meads Station and unpack in the hotel at the other end.

I have to admit, it got me down. It reminded me of how helpless I was after my knee operation a few years back. I had to do quite a few things with just my left arm, as my right elbow was swollen and had a tendency to bleed if bent.

It ached to pick up and put down my backpack. Stairs were a nuisance. Rolling over in bed resulted in flashes of white-hot pain that regularly woke me up through the week.

A week later and I’m in much better shape. My elbow still looks like a wild animal has tried to chew it off, but it’s clean and continues to heal up. Yesterday night’s return journey from Bristol was awkward in that I had to navigate rush-hour crowds with same (slightly lighter) suitcase and backpack as soon as I got off the train in Paddington. Cue lots of people banging into my elbow and knee.

But a nice meal out with @FrankDJS and a spot of comedy on TV improved my mood considerably.

It was weird though. I’m used to some limitations on what I can do, due to epilepsy. Not many, but enough to remind me I’m living with it. But add in a few external injuries and it’s tiresome. Maybe more than tiresome.

During the week, I ended up thinking about what it would be like to live with more limitations on my physical ability, or indeed live with constant pain. (Working with a constant throbbing in my elbow, that painkillers weren’t touching, was tiresome to say the least) wasn’t a happy thought.

But on the flip side, I quickly adapted and was supported by other people as soon as they realised I was slightly and temporarily ‘broken’.

We’re adaptable, us humans. 😜 Attitude and mindset are key!

I’m not going running today, as it’s a pretty busy day (good busy) and I’m not feeling 100%. I might go tomorrow afternoon, after my MRI. Yes, the start of the tests. An MRI tomorrow and a sleep-deprived EEG on Tuesday morning.

All combining to remind me that my body doesn’t work as well as it might.

On the other hand, and in the big scheme of things, it’s relatively minor. I have access to a great neurologist, he’s keen to get to the bottom of my recent epilepsy issues and I have the flexibility and support in my life to get through this.

And the absolutely horrific events in Nice, followed by last night’s attempted coup in Turkey gave me pause for thought.

I’m alive, for god’s sake. I’m not exposed to daily risk of death. I’ve not been attacked, bereaved, deprived of my liberty. I don’t live under the petty whims of a dictator.

Time to suck it up, MacPsych. Your brain occasionally reboots, unexpectedly. Get on with it.

Life’s far too fragile and short for navel-gazing and self-pity.

The morning after

After my epic fall while running yesterday, I had to deal with the fallout last night and this morning. Last night, my elbow kept me awake – I kept rolling over on it, movements which were quickly followed by eye-opening pain. So, not much sleep.

This morning, my alarm went off and I eased myself up into a sitting position, using my ‘working’ elbow. The injured one looks appalling – bruised to hell and missing a significant amount of skin. No photos to share – it’s too gross. I kept it super clean yesterday, cleaning it again before going to bed. The pain from the wound has been joined by a muscular / joint stiffness. There’s just no way of sitting comfortably with it.

Today’s train journey to Bristol is going to be a joy!

Thankfully, my knees are okay – despite the clattering they received from the pavement. Slightly bruised, but not too painful. But my big toe has started to bruise and stiffen up. I’m hoping it’s not broken, but to be fair, I don’t think there’s much you can do with a broken toe away. It’s not like it’s my arm.

I actually feel like I’ve overdone it in the gym – lots of muscle aches all over, but nothing too serious. I discover new pains every time I reach for something or bend over. Painkillers and slow, gentle movement will be my friends today.

So I’m moving gingerly, careful to avoid banging into anything even remotely firm in the apartment. I’d love to be back up and running later this week, but will listen to my body before hitting the streets.

Right now, I’m concentrating on finishing my coffee and bracing myself for the inevitable pain of the shower! Though nothing – absolutely nothing – can compare to the pain I felt when cleaning my elbow wound with some antiseptic wipes.

What is it about the sharp sting from antiseptic that hurts so much?!

I’m still thanking my lucky stars I didn’t bang my head or damage my face in the fall. I know just how susceptible the brain is to damage from even middling trauma to the head. And my brain is dysfunctional enough as it is! And as for my face, while I’m not a model or particularly vain, I didn’t fancy having to explain very obvious facial injuries to a group of clients all week!

Anyway, if this tale of woe has dredged up any sympathy for me, you can make yourself feel better by throwing a couple of pounds towards my fundraising target for this year’s Royal Parks half-marathon. It’s the reason I was out running yesterday in the first place!

I’m running to raise money for Epilepsy Action. As someone living with epilepsy, I can attest to the great work they do. So, if you’re feeling generous – or even sympathetic –  click here to sponsor my run and donate some much-needed cash to this worthwhile charity.

People are assholes, Part 467

So I went out for a long overdue training run this morning. Managing a decent pace, I was hoping to do about 15km. I’d had a great night’s sleep, was full of the requisite amount of coffee and raring to go.

All went well until I got to Commercial Road. I was busy avoiding the copious amounts of dog shit and abandoned pizza boxes on the pavement when I tripped on a loose paving stone. I was going at a fair speed, so staying upright was a real challenge.

I threw my arms out in front of me and hit the ground with an audible “thwack!”, skidding along on my right side. I managed to prevent my head (and face!) making contact with the pavement, but took a lump out of my right elbow doing so. I also skinned my right knee, hurt both my wrists from the impact and have really hurt the big toe on my right foot.  Continue reading “People are assholes, Part 467”

What a mess

I watched coverage of the EU Referendum until 4am on Friday morning, sitting on my couch and blinking in disbelief. In the last few months, the campaign to leave the EU has been characterised by hatred, xenophobia and some outright lies about both the EU and what life outside of the EU would be like.

Despite the volume and frequency of the “Leave” campaign’s propaganda, I had hoped that common sense would prevail and the “Remain” vote would win – securing the UK’s place in the union.

It turns out that common sense was sorely lacking the day the UK went to vote on this enormous topic. The fact that “What is the EU?” was the second-most searched topic online a day later illustrates to me that people had no idea what they were doing. Continue reading “What a mess”