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Archive for February 7th, 2007

My latest malady

So, that last bit of navel-gazing was all just a lead-in to this post: I was diagnosed today with central serous retinopathy. Practically speaking, I’m suffering from blurring in the central vision of my right eye. The vision distortion is fairly mild, but my ability to read text on a computer screen is severely hampered if I cover my left eye. The condition is supposed to be temporary, lasting only a month or two.

I noticed it for the first time this weekend. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t happening when I left work on Friday, given the difficulty I have focusing on text now. There’s no actual discomfort or any outward sign that my vision is impaired. CSR is characterized by fluid leakage in the central macula, but thankfully that leakage hasn’t made its way outside my actual eyeball.

What’s most frustrating about this malady is that it’s almost certainly stress-induced. While I fret about global warming and the trade deficit as much as the next man, I’m pretty sure my job is the high-order bit in my stress stack these days. And problematic vision isn’t going to make dealing with that stress any easier.

There’s no real treatment for the disease. I’m supposed to just wait it out. I’ve been reading up on others’ experiences with CSR on the web, and there’s plenty of folks advocating cutting out caffeine in all its forms to help reduce both the longevity and recurrence of the symptoms. I’ve never tried writing code without a constant flow of caffeine to my system, so that will be an interesting endeavor to undertake. However, I value my sight more than I do heightened alertness, at least at this stage of my life.

I grow weary of my health being compromised because I take my work too seriously. I mean, I know I have a pretty sweet gig compared to most. My hours are flexible, my pay is good, I can wear shorts year round, I like who I work with, and I like the technology I’m working on. But what’s that all worth if I keep getting sick?

[tags]health, csr, work[/tags]

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5 Years of Breathing 2.0

5 years ago this month I endured one of the more dramatic events in my life. I came down with pneumonia in both lungs, and was thisclose to being on a respirator. My doctor at the time said, aside from the elderly folks he sees, I was the sickest patient he ever had. I spent a week in the ICU, a week in “regular” hospital, then two more weeks at home recuperating. During this ordeal, I dropped down in weight such that I was the thinnest I had ever been in my adult life (195 lbs), and I looked positively skeletal.

During that week in the ICU, I was doped up on so much morphine (good stuff!), I can recall only a scant few details of my time in the hospital. I am told I was pretty hi-larious, all things considered. When my nurse told me her name was Glenda, I apparently asked her if she was a good witch or a bad witch. When asked by a rather assertive nurse to move out of my bed into a chair so she could change the sheets, I serenaded her with “I’d Do Anything” from the musical “Oliver!”. I’m told I even wondered aloud who owned the pumpkin, without ever clarifying which pumpkin.

Despite my chipper attitude towards this grave situation, Cheryl could find no such levity, at least not at the time. She rarely left my side during the whole endeavor. While I was riding the morphine high, she was crashing hard with the realization that I was likely going to get worse before I got better. This strain was only amplified by the fact that my time in the hospital spanned two normally very festive days for us: her birthday and Valentine’s day. Time and hindsight have lessened the memory of the agony she went through during this time, but I try hard not to forget all that she did for me then (and to this day).

I don’t mark this anniversary out of idle remembrance. I got sick then because I was choosing to live a poor lifestyle. I was working too many hours, eating a poor diet, struggling with an awful commute, not exercising, and generally stressing about a project that was all but dead anyway. When a bug made its way through the office, my immune system was too compromised to put up much of a fight. I vowed afterwards that I would not let this experience be for naught, and I’ve worked hard to not work so hard. And while I’ve been able to keep up a healthier lifestyle in general (I joined a gym, I try to eat better, I’m never at work after 6PM, etc), I still find myself allowing the stress of my job to dominate my thoughts. Jobster’s recent woes certainly haven’t helped matters, but that’s still no reason I should allow it to affect my physical and mental health.

I have this crazy theory that writing about these issues will help reduce their pressure on my life. Let’s hope it’s not too late.

Good Lord! What a cheesy, melodramatic way to end a blog post. My apologies.

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