Fighting the Pain

Thursday, October 27, 2016 by Anna Leida

The pain is gone. Tjohoo! Well, not gone, but the pain in the left foot is now starting to bother me, and that must mean that the hip-pain, which used to outweigh the footpain by about a factor 10, must be diminishing. Yesterday I walked around pretty much all day without feeling more than slight cause of annoyance. Great! The foot is definitely stress fracture though, considering where it is and how long its been going on, so lets keep walking on hands for yet some time...

For the Health of Current Generations

Thursday, October 13, 2016 by Anna Leida

Two years ago I was hired for my dream job. It nearly killed me. And the prospect of dying that was not the worst - I also had to quit. After two years of ups-and-downs in depression alternatingly thinking "Oh, my god I am going to die" and "Crap, that sort of chance only comes around once in a lifetime" - I am there again. I got hired for my dream job. Again. Same country, same city, same employer, same type of work. Just a different project. And now I am alternating thinking "Am I REALLY doing this again?" and "There HAS to be some way of doing it better this time".

I don't want to die because of a job.

I would prefer not dying at all, but if that's not an option, I'll go for dying from something I can not avoid by being just a little bit smarter. So what's the story?

In 2014 I was working the last year of my doctoral thesis on remote from another country. The commute was a bit of a nuisance. So I started applying for a side job. And got the best job you could ever imagine - building computer systems for the largest biobank project in the world. Patient privacy, top level data security, the very highest demands for accuracy and a great vision. Enough to make a Life Science Computer Nerd drool. Granted, all the money in the project went to the voluntary participants and the data analysis, so the work environment for personel was not exactly top notch. The IT team worked out of a bunker with no windows and more or less antique furniture. But the computers where the latest model, and for a computer nerd, that's what counts. So I limited myself to pointing out the dangers of ill fitting desks and chairs in writing upon employment, thinking I would carefully raise the subject later, when I had established my position as a brilliant yet engaged and approachable programmer. I never got the chance.

Three weeks into the employment I went home from work one day and found myself unusually tired and having trouble breathing, as if after a cold. In the middle of a hot summer with high humudity this didn't really raise an alarm at first. But after a few days I started realizing that something was wrong. After a few days more I tracked down an infirmary.
- Hi, I seem to be having trouble breathing, I said, covering up the panic.
- Mhm, said the nurse. Are you registered here?
- No, I said.
- Ok, she said. Then fill out this form and return it.
- And then can I see a doctor?
- No, she said. When we receive the filled out form we will shedule you for an appointemnt with a nurse who will take your details and discuss you general health with you. After that we can make an appointment to see a doctor.
- How long will that take, I asked.
- It will probably take about a week to get the appointment with the nurse, she said. After that there's no tell. There's a lot of people now.
- But this not being able to breath thing is really starting to become a nuissance, I tried.
- Mhm, she said, looking down at her papers.

I never had time to go see the nurse. A couple of days later I was rushed to the infirmary by a family member. A both side pulmonary embolism was detected, grown into 3/4 of both lungs during the long wait before treatment. I was on blood thinners for a year, continuous examinations of various kinds for almost as long, and the panic attacks induced by the slightest cold or change in the air still linguers. The most common reason for an embolism is long haul flights, injury or surgery and genetics. I had none. The explanation was simple: Sitting still for too long at work, wrapped up in one or another fascinating computing task. I had been on the way to work myself to death, helped along by the ill fitting work equipment of a project whose slogan is "For the Health of Future Generations". The irony mixed very well with my blackened sense of humour during the first few months groveling in bed and swimming in an ocean of uncertainty and insecurity. And a nagging question of how much my employers actually knew of the risks they were exposing us to. A question I have not yet received an answer to, because I have yet been to afraid to ask the question.

I survived it. No more medicine, but for the rest of my life a higher risk of having another one. And now I am back again. The doctoral thesis is again coming to an end, and I started applying for work again, thinking I will never get the same chance again. And so I did. But this time, I do things differently:

- I will no longer spend all my energy at work, thinking I can live life later. There will be no later, and Now is all we have.
- I will no longer spend even a day at a job in which I can find no meaning. Begging in the street of your own choice and under your own conditions is better than dying knowing you spent all your time achieving nothing. Remember that time is the currency of life - not the shiny kind.
- I will never work a full day without a break anymore, and I will go exercising in my beloved swimming pool as many days of the week as I can spare.
- If presented with a working space where I cannot adjust the equipment to allow for a decent working position, I will be sure to raise the issue immiditately - even if it gets me fired on the spot.
- Whenever I can I will ask the question: Elevatable tables is standard equipment in close to every country by now. Why should the UK be any different? An easy, relatively cheap way to reduce the risk not only of lethal conditions such as embolisms, but also of cardiac conditions, back pain and repetitive strain injury. How much can it cost to make a difference - for the Health of Current Generations?

The Airport

Tuesday, September 20, 2016 by Anna Leida

An airport is a great allegory for life. You land somewhere unfamiliar, unknown and try to follow some signs around which may or may not lead you in the right direction. at last you end up in what you think is the right place and you settle down to wait. Wati to take off to another unknown. The rest of the time you spend trying to figure out how to pass the time while you wait.

Too Long

Saturday, April 30, 2016 by Anna Leida

PoopOnGod on Reddit

- When do you know you have been swimming for too long?

- When you have a hard time finding your way into the office, because there are no tiled lines in the floor.

The Explanation

Friday, April 8, 2016 by Anna Leida

Nightmares by Henry Fuseli

So here we go again. Previously I have written about my post-PE-developed sleep disorder, with attached nightmares and senses of strangulation. Last time I visited my doctor, I asked about this as well as a bunch of other things. This professor was probably proficient enough in his field, but displayed a frightening ignorance about anything else, including any bedside manner. He smiled, shrugged and said

"I don't know."

to any of my questions. But his tone of voice said

"I don't care."

It shut me up, and I regret it now. A year of anxiey, and yesterday I found the explanation. On the internet.

The condition is an uncurable, but supposedly harmless form of sleep deprivation, called sleep paralysis. The cause is unknown, but it appears as if the process of falling asleep or waking up occurs at different paces in different parts of the body. It can result in a feeling of dreaming and being awake at the same time, halucinations, a feeling of not being able to move, and also by the feeling of not being able to breath. The state can linger anything from a few seconds to minutes. It can occur either while falling asleep, in which case it is called hypnagogic, or when waking up, in which case it is called hypnopompic.

Thank You, Internet.

F**k you, Whitecoats.

Do Doctors never learn how to use Google during their half-decade-long education?

The New Friend

Tuesday, April 5, 2016 by Anna Leida

A New Friend

March clocked in a new record of just under 320 km, mostly thanks to a new Friend and a nice and warm spring weather. The swimming distance has been consistent (despite the Swimathon), and so has the walking. The jogging increased somewhat towards the end of the month, when some of the walking was replaced by slow jogging-with-dog. The cycling distance however, increased to a whoopping 159 km. The Physiotherapist is very fond of this form of exercise. My thighs do not agree, at least not so far. On the plus-side, it allows for trips to the store now, and a method to get around Manchester again, so the friendship may be here to stay!

The Swimathon

Friday, March 18, 2016 by Anna Leida

The 5 big Don't:s in long distance swimming are, in order of decreasing difficulty:

  • 1 - Don't loose count
  • 2 - Don't collide with others (especially hard when you are a -5.5 sight impairment with no glasses)
  • 3 - Don't get bbbooooooooooooorrrred (more noticed towards the end)
  • 4 - Don't get the cramps
  • 5 - Don't pee in the pool

Todays goal is to avoid all of the above to the ability of clocking 5 km swim in under 2 hours. Since I have never before swam longer than 3.5 km, the number one task is to complete the distance.

Failing #1 sets in almost immidiately. I am no longer sure if I made 700 m or 750. To be sure, I make an extra 50 m. The same thing happens two more times.

Failing #2 comes not long after. The pool is not very crowded, but when you for once don't want to pay any attention too them, even a few in the way are in the way. Allready at 2 km I find myself switching lanes, abandonning my improvised lane counters in the form of a vaseline jar and a water bottle. The rest of the way I will have to count the old fashioned way - up the rainbow. Suddenly, and maybe not so surprisingly I make a lot better times. No more stops to move the vaseline jar! But soon this lane is filling up with energetic students, and I migrate back to my line counters not long after 3.5 km. Just as well, because I just lost count again and had to make an extra lap.

#3 sets in shortly after 1.5 km, as usual. But the last kilometer, is as usual, pure adrenaline.

The first cramp sets in shortly after 3 km, in the left foot and it takes 100 m before it relaxes.

At 4km, a check of the time. 12:38. If I go full speed the rest of the way, I can still make it. No more looking at the clock, just swimming. Splash is raining. Fellow swimmers scurrying out of the way. A final cramp in the right foot is completely ignored. At 300 m left I can't help myself, and check the time again. 2 minutes left. Not a chance. Now it's all about make the best possible time. Finally I clock in at 2 hours and 4 minutes. Out of the pool a bit heavy, but overall a good feeling :)

When I failed #5? I keep that to myself ...

The Rainbow

Thursday, March 10, 2016 by Anna Leida

One of the tricks in long distance training is to keep track of how far you actually get. Training for a specific time, not counting the distance is one way to avoid this problem. Another is to go running or walking or cycling a know track. In lane swim, this is not an option, and if you want to know how far you get, you need a system. My system is swimming up a Rainbow.

My brain is capable of keeping in mind approximately two laps at once, which in a 25m pool is 100m. by making a Rainbow of 5 colors; red, orange, yellow and blue, I can do half a kilometer. Three basic colors, two mixed. For a normal total swim distance of 1.5-3 km, the number of Rainbows are easily counted.

To further spice up the day, one can invent swim-patterns following the colors. One way is to swim fast for each basic color, and slow for each mixed. Or to swim the last lane of each color in a diffenrent technique. Enjoy!

The New Goal

Wednsday, February 17, 2016 by Anna Leida

I have a new Cat.


This usually means that something has happened in life which calls for an action of acknowledgement. For the very few years I have been involved with them, cats have begun to have a spiritual significance in my life. It started when my first came to me as a present after my dearly mist companion left me after far too few years together. The passing was expected, an amidst all the grieving, I somewhere made the decision to continue living. As a consequence, the Cat in his memory was named Viva.

The second companion came into our lives shortly after I met a new V.I.P. in life, and felt it was time to stop grieving and start something new. Logically, she was named Nova. It turned out to be one of those shorter-than-you-want-them-to-be kind of relationships. I made the mistake of leaving her a little too long with my cat watchers, they fell in love, decided to keep her and suddenly she had both a new home and a new name. However, I cannot really blame her for her decision to stay. Apparently, she have had a bit of an argument with the caretakers over the selection of food, as she recently grew tired of the liver paté and prawns, and is now on a strict diet of only first class cod filet, cut in small pieces. Other than that she is very content. With me she would have had to catch her own dinner under the outhouse.

So, when number three came along, the New was already over, and of course, you can not give the same name twice anyway, so now we have a bit of a dilemma: What to name her? Whatever Significant Change she is supposed to represent, it should be elegantly reflected in that name. No pressure. Right now I feel very much like doing little more that idling in a sofa corner, awaiting spring. Can she be called Idle? Or would that be considered Animal Cruelty? Probably not far from it.

There WAS a New Goal actually, after all this running started. To do a Swedish Classic. Or a very short variety of one. A Swedish Classic is four races during the course of one year; one running, one swimming, one cycling and one skiing. Chosen at the appropriate distance (about 1/5 or the REAL Swedish Classic...) it seemed like a nice goal to work for, not demanding too much, since all the necessary activities are already on the agenda. I even spent an afternoon browsing the internet for good venue candidates. Unfortunately, the short winter has moved the finish line before the race has even started. The intended ski race was canceled this weekend. And on top of that we have the constant aching in the lower extremities and the never-ending shortness of breath, effectively cancelling all serious running around for more than three months now.

So no, the inspiration to name the newly arrived four-legs to something positive and inspiring is definitely lacking. With the upcoming vaccination coming up, the name issue has quickly become more pressing. I start to feel a hint of the pressure on a couple of new parents, when contemplating the naming of their first child. It must be something useful at present day, yet appropriately reflect history and tradition. It must recall something from the mothers side of the family, and from the fathers (watch out for disappointed grand mothers). It must be something that says something about the hopes and fears of the parents, representing the same Change of Direction their lives took with the arrival of the baby. At the same time the name must be unique and something which is the childs very own.

So today I want to post an alert: Wanted urgently! Intelligent, sage, witty and inspiring suggestion for a name, together with a neatly wrapped up Meaning of Life attached. If the reader has any suggestions, they would be much appreciated. Otherwise, I fear she will just end up being named Null.