So, now it appears that I have to fear for my life because I sit too much. I saw an ad the other day for one of those treadmill desks, so you can walk and work at the same time. I’m sure that’s a great thing, but whoever invented that probably never gave a medical transcriptionist being paid on production a second (or even a first) thought. I type for a living, therefore, I sit. Deal with it. Enough about that, except that sitting in pretty much one position for a long time exacerbates my cold feet problem. Now, I know a lot of you are going to say it’s age, it’s creeping deconditioning, it’s incipient diabetic neuropathy or PAD, or PVD, or the latest popular diagnosis, but I can assure you it’s none of those. The fact is that I’ve suffered from cold feet all of my life. As a teenager, I remember nights having to get up and run hot water over my feet in the sink before I could go to sleep. I cannot fall asleep when my feet are cold. Given that, I think that the dual-controlled heated mattress pad is one of the best inventions ever. Also space heaters under the desk. Let me tell you, those are two things worthy of a lot of gratitude. These last few months have been a real challenge, because the last thing I want to do at 5 a.m. when I get off work is to be kept up even later by cold feel that won’t let me fall asleep. When your feet are really chilled, it takes a while for them to re-warm, and that means time awake that I would really prefer to spend sleeping. Sleep has become quite valuable to me in recent months. More about that in a moment.
In addition to cold feet, I’m also apparently prone to pinkeye. I don’t get colds, haven’t had the flu in years, stave off most other transient illnesses that drop people for days at a time, but pinkeye…wow. I guess everyone has their Achilles’ heel, and that’s mine. For the past few weeks, I’ve felt like I was just on the verge of getting it–that itchy, gritty feeling, eyes runny in the morning–and most of the day, just an all around “muzzy” feeling when I tried to focus on anything. A few weeks ago, I had a pretty comprehensive eye exam from my favorite optometrist, and I finally splurged out on new everyday glasses (after 10 years). I got my computer glasses (that I now refer to as my indoor glasses) a couple of years ago, and they’re still great, but I knew my old glasses were actually too strong, as I could not focus my left eye on anything closer than nearly a football field away. Sure enough, my left eye had “improved” yet again, by nearly a diopter in power (whatever that is). I mean, given my uncorrected vision is 20/400, it’s not huge, but it is noticeable. Basically, it meant that my right eye had been doing all the work because my glasses were simply too strong to allow my left eye to focus on anything. So, now I have a bright new shiny pair of outdoor glasses, and a clean bill of health on my eyes. No glaucoma, no retinal problems, the tiniest bit of a cataract, but per the doc, nothing to be concerned about at the moment.
Given that, when all this other stuff started happening, I figured pinkeye, so I went to the eye doctor I’ve been to in the past (an MD) in case I needed a prescription. Well, turns out it was just environmental irritation, for lack of a better term. It’s been massively windy here for weeks, with dust and anything else you could imagine in the air. Plus the trees are starting to bud, and the elm trees really set me off. I was happy to hear that, but not so happy that the doctor wanted to prescribe me some $100 antihistamine eye drops (“my favorite”–I bet). I politely declined. I’ve been using a couple of different OTC drops, alternating between the two and they did all right, but weren’t really cutting it this time. So, I was at the grocery store the other day and stopped at the pharmacy counter to see if they had anything different. After looking at the various selections, I took a chance on a brand I had not heard of before, Similisan Allergy Eye Relief. It’s a homeopathic formula and the bottle was about $6.00. It does say to discard after 30 days, but it’s not a large bottle, so it will probably be done by then. Let me tell you, these are by far the best eye drops I’ve ever used for this type of problem. These things work! I’ve been putting them in every day, usually just once a day, but maybe twice if it’s really windy, and I have had almost 100% relief from the itching, burning and watering. I was flat out amazed the first time I used them. First, I don’t like putting stuff in my eyes. It’s a quirk. I can’t even look at someone putting in eye drops or contacts without my eyes starting to twitch and water. I don’t know why, it’s just a reflex I guess. These drops do not sting, in fact, feel very cool and soothing as soon as they’re in. If you’ve got those spring (or other seasonal) “allergy eyes” I can’t recommend them enough. They also have a dry-eye formula and even one for “computer eyes.” So if you’re having trouble, check out the site above and give one of them a try. At under $10.00, even if they don’t work, you won’t have lost much.
And now, to sleep, perchance to dream. Aye, there’s the rub, all right. Sleeping has been problematic for me over the last several years anyway. Call it aging, call it menopause, call it whatever you want, but sleep and I have had a rocky relationship that was just starting to settle down when this new job came along. Man. I am pretty much useless to anyone for the four days that I’m working. I think I’m finally getting into a routine, and learning to sleep when I must, which I guess is a good thing. Working 10 hours out of 12 is kind of weird anyway, but especially challenging doing it overnight. I’ve got a pretty good routine going by now, but it involved me learning how to snooze on cue, which isn’t the easiest thing to learn, especially if your body is resistant to sleep anyway. I work from 5 pm till midnight, not all that different from my old schedule. The trick now is, that I have to keep working until 5 am, but get a break in there somewhere. At least my boss and coworkers understand that working overnight IS a bit different. So, I take my break at midnight and try to sleep until 2 am. At first it was hard because I just went into my meditation room, lay down on my makeshift bed and tried to close my eyes. Didn’t work very well. One, the room was cold, two, my feet were cold, three, I was too hyped up from trying to be on top of everything with this new job.
Then, I changed it around a bit. I started coming up to the bed in G’s computer room (I’m afraid to go to our bed because I worry that I’ll fall asleep TOO soundly and not wake up). It’s just a twin bed that we picked up at a garage sale for a day bed/guest bed. That was pretty good. Then, I realized I wasn’t going to just fall asleep in a snap, so using the timer on my phone, I now read for 15 minutes, which gets my mind off work and usually gets my eyelids drifting in the right direction–down over my eyes. Then, I set the timer for an hour and 15 minutes to an hour and a half, and firmly close my eyes and do my best to blank out my mind. Now that I’m getting a bit more familiar with the job, it’s easier. I set the phone alarm and put it up by the pillow so it only wakes me and no one else. I use eye shades to block out the light (that room doesn’t have the light-blocking shades our bedroom does) and so far, so good. I’m still worthless on Tuesdays, when I transition from nights to days, but I’m getting better.
And now, my feet are warm, my eyes are clear, and while the sleep situation isn’t ideal, at least I AM sleeping, and managing to remain more or less coherent during the day. I guess you’d call that a win/win all the way ’round.