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Reminded: A family anecdote of Drugs Are Weird (Even Legal Ones) Feb. 14th, 2013 @ 07:49 am
So, antihistamines. Generally perceived as pretty harmless, used to treat allergies, right?

My dad gets terrible hayfever. He hasn't found an antihistamine that works. Except one, which helped his allergies, I think, but he doesn't take it, even though Dad's hayfever is the "it doesn't kill you, you just wish it would" kind.

Because this antihistamine is my dad's very own Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde serum, somehow.

When he took it, Dad became a hateful, horrible, nasty jerk. Horrible! And he has no memory of this. I don't think he even remembers taking the pill, but he definitely doesn't remember being mean to his family afterwards.

Fortunately, he takes my mother's word for it that no, he shouldn't ever take that tablet again. My mother is not a controlling person, or a shrewish wife, or anything like that. Dad is his own person, a grown man who is allowed to make his own choices.

It's just that she has, quite mildly, even cheerfully, observed that while he totally gets to make his own choices, the choice, in this case, is between taking that antihistamine and remaining married.

It is, for the record, the only situation regarding which my mother has ever even hinted at that kind of ultimatum. It makes sense, though. She married Jekyll; if he were to choose to live a life of Hyde, it's a fair call for him to ditch the bastard.

It's just so odd. An over-the-counter anti-histamine, one I *take*. (I think. I'm not naming the brand in part because I'm not 100% confident in my recall of precisely which one he was taking.) And it turns my dad, a loving husband and father who would, I swear, quite literally die before deliberately hurting his wife or children, into a spiteful jerk.

Drugs are weird.

... Jun. 13th, 2010 @ 05:23 pm
So I haven't been working on my painting for the month since I got really sick. (Before that, I was working on an oil painting.) I decided today I'd get back to readiness for it - step one, cleaning all the dried paint off all my palette-type stuff.

Doing that, I just managed to get a blister on my thumb rubbing at the paint.

W.T.F. Shovels, axes, and metalworking equipment, I have never, ever had a blister. Blacksmithing, no blisters.

Other than burns, the only things in my life that have ever caused my hands to blister are these:

1) a walking stick

2) cleaning up paint.

Apparently the gentle life is the one thing my skin can't handle.

This is going to be irritating.

In other news of my health: Friday morning saw an amazing turnaround. Pretty much first thing, I saw my doctor, who remarked on how much better I was looking.

Less than an hour later, on the bus home, I was in a cold sweat, throwing up into a hastily-repurposed paper shopping bag, ready to spend two days feeling like I'd been hit by a car. (A feeling with which I am literally familiar.)

The trigger for the change: I decided, sadly, to buy a couple of books, and while I was at the register, a dude came up to buy a pen. Dude reeked heavily of marijuana; apparently I got enough exposure to set off my allergies.

Some people can get a contact high; I get contact severely ill.

Chas and Dean both commented that at least we can all be confident I won't turn to drugs.

I bitterly replied that I wasn't going to anyway. I would not be tempted by marijuana if I weren't allergic to it, I really wouldn't. I don't need to get violently ill if I pass too close to a stoner to maintain that aversion...

Miscellaneous Sep. 18th, 2009 @ 09:51 am
I just watched How Not To Write About Africa. A couple of things leapt out at me:

1) "Make sure you show that Africans have music and rhythm deep in their souls." My thought process: I wouldn't say that about Africans, specifically, but I do kind of believe it about all humanity. Especially rhythm. Rhythm is one of the deepest things in the brain - by which I mean it's something that it's almost impossible to lose, through brain injury and the like. It's also one of the things that makes us stand out. Most animals have no sense of rhythm.

And rhythm is part of the general human tendency to perceive patterns - which, to me, is what's behind an awful lot of what takes us to the place of being human - to crib from Terry Pratchett (in Soul Music), to being the point where the falling angel meets the rising ape. Science, art, literature - our most rigorous critical analysis and our wildest and greatest creativity (and sometimes those are the same thing) all, ultimately, start with the rhythm and music that are deep in our souls.

Obviously, though, the comment people make about Africans is patronising, racist crap.

2) "You also need a nightclub called Tropicana..." I've been to a place in Africa called Tropicana. It was a restaurant. A nice one.

3) I am realising that I have a curious confluence of capacity for travel. I can enter the United Kingdom on United Kingdom ancestry, if I go to the trouble of application; I have not one but two grandparents born there. Australia is reasonably well-liked in Europe; I don't have to get special visas to go anywhere I'm planning to visit.

In that video, Binyavanga Wainaina talks about a stereotype of Westerners on their way to trying to Save Africa being denied visas - but if I wanted to go to any part of Africa, I suspect I could do it easily, because I could just get a South African passport. I was born in South Africa and left it as a young child; as of a couple of years ago, this meant that I retain the right to citizenship under South African law.

I don't have a South African passport, because I have yet to plan travel anywhere where I won't be far more welcome on an Australian one, but I could get one.

4) I have long known that I am somewhat chemically sensitive. Today this came to a head when I discovered that my recent mild vertigo isn't as much a byproduct of poor sleep in the course of switching antidepressants as an adverse reaction to fluoxetine.

According to my psychiatrist this is incredibly rare.

This morning, though, I woke up feeling pretty much fine. I had breakfast. I had my medication. A little while later, I headed out towards my appointment at the Perth office of Passports Australia (a division of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade), and found myself feeling fairly profound vertigo and mild nausea.

I tried to call my psychiatrist's office, but there was no answer, so I called Dean, because, apart from being, you know, my best friend and all, she works in a hospital, and has access to doctors, and even if she didn't, she has about as much medical knowledge as it's possible to get without actually having a degree in Medicine.

I got her voicemail, left a message, and by the time she called me back, mere minutes later, I could barely tell up from down and was in a cold sweat. She assured me that this was an adverse reaction to medication, her office deals with them all the time, and promised to chase up my psych's office for me.

It was established before long that my psychiatrist was to be having lunch between 1 and 2 this afternoon and I could speak to him directly then.

I staggered in to the Passports office, only to discover that in my state of wrecked physical wellbeing I was a few minutes late and had missed my appointment. I was advised to go to the counter and see what they could do.

However, I was feeling so intensely miserable that this was the last straw, and I started crying uncontrollably in the line.

So the woman at the main counter excused herself from the people she was dealing with then, and came out and around to see if I was okay. Through my sobs and apologies I explained that I was having a bad reaction to medication, and I was feeling very sick, and I'd missed my appointment.

They took me into a meeting room where I could sit down (I think I was swaying a little), where I was supplied with cold water and tissues, and someone came and did do my passport application for me.

By then more contact had been made, and Chas was on his way to meet me at the passport office, because I was very very sick. This was fortunate for everyone when I collapsed in the office - not quite unconscious, but unable to stand unassisted, barely able to sit.

A woman who'd just been going up to the counter herself interrupted her own dealings to come and make sure I was okay. She was very nice - and will return to this tale.

Chas arrived to find me lying on the floor of the office of Passports Australia - where the staff had fetched pillows for my head and someone with a managerial air about him to try and look after me and make sure I was okay.

I was turned over to Chas's custody, and, leaning heavily on him and my walking stick, made it to the lifts. There we encountered the woman who'd been concerned before. She asked if we were driving back, and, learning Chas and I were planning to bus home, offered us a lift, as she was going back to Campbell Barracks anyway. (Which is a fair way off, and it's not a huge detour.)

I remain desperately grateful to her, because I was still sick as a dog. We talked a bit on the way - she's military, in logistics and deployment - she spends a lot of time dealing with the passports office on behalf of our soldiers. (She's heading back to the Middle East herself soonish, where, she says, the boys are doing a lot of good that's just not reported in the media - I can believe it.)

She deposited us in our driveway, where Chas helped me to the couch, where I've remained since, drinking diluted juice and playing Yes Minister DVDs to pass the time. I'm feeling much better, comparitively, though still pretty terrible. Chas has been very good to me - fetched me my arrangement of bottles of drinks, made me lunch, even helped me to get to the loo and back.

It's a terrible thing to lose the ability to get from one room to another without someone else's assistance, it really is.

I've cancelled my appointment for a haircut this afternoon, declined an invitation for this evening, and am now planning to spend the rest of the day keeping my fluids up, keeping warm, and avoiding collapsing. It does mean I have to let people take care of me more-or-less completely today, which sucks. Chas and Dean are going out tonight, but our friend Oliver is coming over in the evening and can keep an eye on me then.

Current Mood: sick

Fun times with brain chemistry Sep. 11th, 2009 @ 04:59 am
So, I'm currently in the process of washing out (most of) my current antidepressants, in order to switch to a different one - under the instructions and guidance of my psychiatrist, mind you. This is, of course, the express ticket to Fucked In The Head you might imagine, and the sad thing is I didn't realise that was what was screwing with my brain yesterday until Dean was like, "Dude, I totally saw this coming, relax."

The next week or two should be Interesting Times.

... huh. Dreamwidth just gave me a "Restored Draft" of the post I was working on about twelve hours ago on a different computer and never finished.

Anyway, it's now 5am, and despite only getting about three hours' sleep last night, I can't sleep, at all. Hooray, fucked-up brain chemistry!

The best part is my supposedly-joyful trip out earlier this evening to go see Up! with [personal profile] elaran earlier this evening.

Without wanting to give spoilers, a few minutes into the movie I started crying uncontrollably, and thereafter everything that happened just seemed drenched in pathos and woe. It got so I couldn't stand it, and - for the first time in my life - I left the film early. (Early enough, mind you, to get a ticket refund, which was nice.)

Someone laughed at me, and I was deeply hurt by that - but at the same time, hey, I'm sitting there sobbing real tears at a Pixar movie.

On the bright side: planning for my trip to Britain continues apace. Travel arrangements are getting booked by travel agent. To my astonishment, I shall apparently be driving a Mercedes B 180 SE (something like that) or similar, for 78 days, for AU$1200.

My mind, it is somewhat boggled.

Some exploration of accommodation options in various areas suggests that B&Bs are really not that expensive, which is good.

Since I'm going to be over there longer than I was originally vaguely theorising - shall, by current travel arrangements, be arriving at Heathrow on the 6th of October and departing on the 22nd of December - I'm looking at going into Western Europe, too. Check out some major historical sites, maybe go to Legoland in Denmark... then, maybe, catch the Oslo ferry, and scoot up a ways through Scandinavia and, as well as taking some potentially gorgeous photographs, see if I can catch the Northern Lights.

I would love to see the Northern Lights, and in October, it's nominally pretty feasible.

Still working on a rough itinerary plan. Currently, my rough idea is: from London, go to Uncle Ian's to recover from the flight, depending on whether that's going to be feasible for him and his family, then head north. Edinburgh and Mary, then Aberdeenshire and Great-Uncle Ian and his family, ferry from Aberdeen to Orkney, ferry from Orkney to Caithness, south again, stop at Worcester and Great-Aunt Eleanor, onward to... Dover? to get the ferry across the Channel to France, then head north towards Scandinavia.

It might marginally increase my chances of seeing the Northern Lights if I aim for Norway first, but I'd rather go see my kin first. I could also skip Orkney entirely.

I did buy a GPS device, which came with maps for Australia, and I bought maps for the United Kingdom, Western and Central Europe.

The problem is, as it turns out, the otherwise-totally-pleasing GPS device doesn't quite have data storage space available for Australia *and* the UK/Western/Central Europe. (The problem here is largely Europe, which is almost 2GB of maps, where Australia is 100MB. There's less to map.)

However, it's not like I'm going to want both at the same time, and swapping them by connecting to my computer is trivial. (Somehow, I find it hard to envisage circumstances in which I would urgently need GPS driving navigation assistance for Europe and Australia in quick succession.)

I'm glad GPSes exist, because driving around foreign countries should be a lot less stressful when I have a little device to feed me directions, rather than having to mess around trying to work with maps. I'm used to using Perth street directories, but even that can be stressful finding thoroughly unfamiliar places, and this is my home town, and Australia is very, very different, in terms of geographical layout kind of stuff, from Britain and Europe.

Britain, at least, is so very densely occupied. I'm from Perth. The nearest major city to mine is halfway across the continent. Far further than, say, London to Edinburgh.

But my GPS includes things like petrol stations and Points Of Interest, which I think is pretty awesome, and, you know. Directions. "Where the hell am I going? Oh, right, thattaway."
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