I figure I need a holiday pretty badly. I’m feeling it physically, but more than anything I think I need a mental detox.
I had to leave early yesterday to get a CT scan at Sandringham hospital. Visiting the doc last week about another matter I made mention of an annoying lingering cold I’d had for six months. It hardly bothered me except come bedtime when sometimes my sinus would feel blocked, and I might labour to breathe smoothly. He examined me and said, actually I had something else. I might need to see an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist, and surgery might be required worst-case scenario, but in the meantime, let’s get a CT scan to see how bad it is.
I was taken aback. Good grief, I thought. All that for a little cold – except, of course, it’s not just a little cold.
The ‘other matter’ I was there for is a small patch of red on my calf recently appeared. It might be a melanoma but suspect it isn’t – but we need to find out. He gave me a referral to a dermatologist, whose fees start at around $300 he told me. Think again, Doc, I thought. I can’t afford $300, or even half of that. I’m seeking a second opinion but will need to pay something.
He also gave me a bunch of prescriptions I can’t afford to fill. Situation normal.
Before leaving, he checked my blood pressure and found it was high. My blood pressure has been historically stable and right in the sweet spot. It surprises me when it’s not. He asked a bunch of questions. How’s your diet? How much do you drink? Are you getting exercise? Are you stressed?
I’m on two meat-free days a week, and my diet radically transformed from twenty years ago, and clearly better from even 4-5 years ago. I drink socially, but rarely to excess. I’m not about to run a marathon, but I keep reasonably active and average about 9,000 paces a day – well above the average. That leaves stress.
I had to think about this. I’m not a stress carrier. I’ve endured some tough times, and sometimes it can get to me, but mostly I manage to shrug it off. I’m fortunate to be of pretty phlegmatic disposition.
Fact is, though I have a pretty stressful life. I remember a few years ago sitting down with a doctor and being asked the same question, and I shrugged my shoulders. He then gave me a stress test and found that when factoring in the life events I had to deal with, then I was pretty much off the scale (510-ish).
Some of those things have moderated since, but there’s still a bunch of tough stuff. Money is always tight, but exacerbated when I need to spend money I don’t have on medication, doctors etc. It worries me that I have to forgo these things because I can’t afford them, but what do you do? On top of that Christmas is coming, and ideally, I’d like to buy presents for the kids. I’ll manage that, but it means making a sacrifice elsewhere.
Then there’s work, which is professionally frustrating, on top of everything else. I seem to be always fighting. There was the bitter struggle to get my salary properly reviewed, a struggle I lost. I get frustrated with the outmoded and professional practices. Then there’s the sense that I’m being excluded from some things, and not being told others. I had another example yesterday of how my plans have been subverted and re-branded by others.
Then I’m looking at Christmas alone, which is my choice, but a result of basically being without family – and without the love, affection and support you take for granted.
There’s probably another dozen things on top of that. So, am I stressed? Yeah, probably I am.
I’m trying to do things to make it easier, but without success so far. Ultimately I need a break.
I suspect many of my physical ailments are the result of mental exhaustion and stress. I haven’t had a decent break – as in time off – since I was unemployed; and I haven’t been on holiday for years. I haven’t even been away anywhere. Thinking on it, I’ve been driving myself hard even on my weekends. For the last two years, I’ve been so intent on getting my book written that whenever I have the time I spend it on that.
Not sure how feasible it is – probably very little – but reckon I need time away to relax and unwind truly. A detox, like I said. Have some fun, sleep in, laugh a little, be frivolous, and so on.
I’m considering what I can do. I have leave up my sleeve, and a shitload of frequent flyer points – but then I was saving my leave to cash in because I need the dollars, and anyway though I can fly around the world I don’t have the cash to stop anywhere. To be honest, a shack by the beach would probably do me.
It may not be scientific, but if I got my mind right I reckon many of my present ailments would go away. If I think it, then probably there’s something in it.
Ultimately the solution is a change in circumstances – a different job perhaps, certainly a better salary, some financial security, and perhaps someone to share it with it, as well as to lean on. Working on it.