I have the endoscopy next week. It’s funny; I knew before I initially went to the doctor that it was going to happen, and my reaction was “OK, let’s get on with it”. Now that I have a definite date for it, suddenly I’m much less enthusiastic. Even though it only takes a few minutes it seems like a proper, serious procedure. I’m not allowed to eat anything 6 hours before, drink non-clear liquids 4 hours before, drink clear liquids 2 hours before… and I should expect to be there for up to 4 hours, so in reality I might not eat anything that day until about 3PM and might go up to six hours without liquid, which I’m fairly sure is going to be terrible. I can choose between a numbing throat spray or being sedated, in the latter case I need someone to come with me. It’ll be a full day off work.

The MRI is quite a few weeks away but also has similar instructions.

This is my first personal foray into the serious end of the medical profession and overall it seems a bit intimidating.

Other… things… are going a bit differently. In work news… On Thursday she was a bit irritable and seemed a bit… wired. Since then she’s been quite subdued. I expect she’s a bit nervous because tomorrow she’s going on a trip with the boss to the other office and she’d previously made a remark about not looking forward to spending 3 hours in a car with him. As she left I said to her “I hope your big day out goes well” and she turned away and said “huh!”. But maybe she was just nonplussed by my phrasing and she’s been quiet because of other reasons. I don’t know. She’s not always easy to read, or at least, she is easy to read once you know how, but it’s not easy to see the reasons behind how she’s feeling. I feel like I’ve spent less time with her lately. She left early on Thursday, had a half day Friday, another half day today, and won’t be in tomorrow. And of course I won’t be in one day next week. So I’ve only walked up to the station with her one day lately and she seemed unusually quiet then. When she thinks I’m quiet she asks if I’m feeling OK, which I haven’t directly reciprocated because I’ve only just noticed the lesson in there; i.e. when she’s just making conversation she’ll ask “how are you?” which encourages a superficial polite reply, when she thinks there might be something wrong she asks “are you feeling OK?” because it signals that she’s looking for a genuine answer. But she asks that because she knows that I have felt quite bad in the recent past, whereas I feel like I have less justification for prying.

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Life and Gastroenterology

The gastro appointment was not very insightful but I’ve now definitely in the queue for an endoscopy and an MRI. I’m not sure what the MRI might show. Apparently both of these should happen in the next four weeks and I should be getting a letter in the next couple of days.

I’ve not lost any more blood since about three weeks ago. Running is going reasonably well and I’m back to where I was when all this started. I’m thinking of adding in an extra run per week starting next week to prepare for the half marathon training which will hopefully be commencing next month. I’m generally feeling OK, maybe a bit tired… But I think I’m still losing weight slowly, which isn’t good.

I actually went to the appointment after work one day after meeting my mum, who has been worried sick about me and wanted to come along. Recently I have more often than not been leaving work and walking to the station with a certain lady who we’ll call E. It just so happened that mum and E very briefly met.

In the waiting room at the hospital mum admitted that I’ve looked ill at times (which she’d not told me before). I said “you’re not the only person to have noticed that…” and left it at that, expecting a follow-up question, but as we were waiting for a taxi later she said “it was E, wasn’t it?”. I’ve since heard such phrases as “you didn’t tell me that… but I bet you told E didn’t you?”, “it sounds like E knows more than I do!”, and even the big question: “is it like having a second mother?”. But I think she’s also quite relieved to know there’s a responsible adult at work who seems to be keeping an eye on me in the event that I do happen to keel over.

Of course I find all this hilarious so I’ve relayed it to E, who finds it slightly less funny because she also feels like she’s being judged by my mother. It’s made funnier by the fact she predicted this exact situation. E and I seemed to get closer shortly after I first told her about my possible health issues. She realised one day that I was feeling ill and fussed over me a bit. Apparently I looked very pale, which certainly matched how I was feeling. Before that I was feeling sometimes she was a bit short with me, but afterwards, for whatever reason, it seemed like we suddenly became a lot more comfortable with each other. She was fussing a little bit and I said “now you’re sounding like my mum” and she got excited and said “well, I’ll be your work-mum!” while giggling. I said “I’m not sure how she’d take that” and E speculated that she’d probably be a bit upset but also reassured someone was looking out for me. Of course, E is actually closer to my age than my mother’s, but let’s not let that get in the way of things.

So… back on the E topic, I’ve tried twice now to make her a cup of tea.

We don’t have a culture of making each other drinks in our office, which I think is a good thing because it gives me an excuse to get up and wander around more often. E and I have an ongoing disagreement over whether it’s OK to pour the milk in before removing the bag (she thinks yes, I think no). Apparently I’ve made a big thing over this. Occasionally we are in there together and she starts laughing as soon as she pours her milk as she thinks I’m silently (or not so silently) judging her.

She accidentally poured me a cup using her method a few weeks ago (my cup was in the kitchen, next to hers) and she couldn’t stop giggling when she realised what she’d done. So last week I walked into the kitchen, her mug was in there, the kettle had just boiled and I saw my chance… unfortunately she got distracted and never returned, so it just sat there, which is a shame, because I was really looking forward to seeing her coming down the corridor holding it and looking utterly confused. This morning she came in while I was in there, put her mug down, went off to the toilet and again I saw my chance… I realised I should have checked before she left the room, but I know she usually switches from coffee to tea around mid morning, she’s told me several times she prefers tea to coffee, she told me yesterday “I don’t know why I drink coffee here, I don’t drink it at home”, I knew that she’d already bought a big coffee first thing, I knew she’d made herself a cup of instant after that, and it was only 11 o clock by this time, so I thought “no, I’m safe, she won’t want more coffee…”. Then she came back and it turns out she wanted more coffee. She’d been a bit irritable and was getting snappy with the person who sits next to me, so, frankly, I thought she’d had enough coffee for one morning anyway. She seemed to have mixed feelings of being flattered I’d made a cup of tea for her and, well, being annoyed I’d made a cup of tea for her, so she begrudgingly accepted it at the time. She did say thank you in the afternoon though (when she was making ANOTHER cup of coffee).

But I’m going to keep trying. One day I will make her a cup of tea and she will want to drink it. It’s a small thing but I don’t really know how I feel that we have one woman in the office full time and she’s expected to make drinks for the boss and huge rounds of drinks for visitors and do the washing up… or rather, I do know how I feel and it seems a little bit antiquated. There’s no hierarchy between us and therefore no expectation or obligation so it’s good if I can do it for her occasionally.

In some ways she’s not as exciting as she was but she’s still fun to be around, so I’m still drawn to her I suppose.

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Some short thoughts about some films I’ve watched recently:

Sergio Leone:
Fistful of Dollars is incredibly dated and seems quite silly, really.
For A Few Dollars More is superior in every way but still quite dated
The Good, The Bad and the Ugly (TGTBATU) is actually really good! It’s a bit dated but it mostly holds up and is miles ahead of the other two. I really enjoyed it. Leone has a habit of holding scenes for longer than you expect because he lets the music play out, and in this film, it really pays off.

Once Upon a Time In the West is probably equally as good as TGTBATU, though it’s much slower.
Duck, You Sucker! is OK, but it’s nowhere near as good as TGTBATU or OUATITW. This film suffers from a similar problem as the next in that there’s an extra dimension added in the form of flashbacks, but they don’t really add anything other than a bit of artificial ambiguity.
Once Upon a Time in America is… well it’s four hours long. If your film is four hours long it had better be amazing, and OUATIA is not amazing. There’s probably an interesting story in here somewhere but the film doesn’t tell it. Paradoxically, it seems like the film needs to be longer to explain all the scenes that don’t really go anywhere. The way the narrative is focused around the 1960s looking back into the past doesn’t really make a lot of sense to me as the 1960s story is really weak in that it tries to be mysterious and ambiguous, but the more you think about it the less sense it makes and the less believable it gets.

The Sergio Leone films deserve a special note for their bizarre portrayal of women and sex. There are so many scenes of sexual coercion, abuse and straight up rape in these six films; by the time I got to OUATIA my reaction to such scenes had become “oh god, not another one”.

Arrival (2016, not the mid 90s one) is a highly original film about an alien first contact on earth. I’ll understand anyone who says it goes nowhere or it’s not as clever as it tries to be, but I found it enjoyable because it approached the subject carefully and didn’t devolve into an action film.

Passengers is… I don’t know really. It’s a romance film pretending to be sci-fi. The first half slows to a crawl, but when Laurence Fishburne appears the pace suddenly picks up. I want to say the first half bored me and the rest of the film is a bit tragic, but the second half was quite engaging and I did enjoy it. That doesn’t change the fact I was feeling bored around the 1 hour mark though. Plus, the whole film is a bit ridiculous and it’s best you don’t think about it too deeply.

Blade Runner (the original) is a strange one. I wanted to like it but I found it a bit underwhelming. The world seems interesting but the story is quite lacking. The long ‘action’ sequence towards the end is tedious and out of place. SPOILER ALERT the main character lacks depth but that’s probably OK because he’s probably a replicant, a fact which is hinted at but is actually completely irrelevant to the story. This would have probably made a better sub-plot than running around a dark apartment for 20 minutes while the antagonist delivers a philosophy lecture. Also deserves a special note for instigating a romance sub-plot by having the main character sexually assault his love interest. Really?

The Disaster Artist is absolutely fascinating. I don’t know how else to describe it.

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Life updates

The general health was improving but I had a setback last week with some more bleeding which I triggered by running Tuesday evening. As before it took about 48 hours before evidence of bleeding stopped so I guess my haemoglobin levels are going to be quite a way down again. I felt OK until Friday afternoon when I started to feel quite tired and spaced out. It’s been a few weeks since I’ve had the weird spaced-out/light-headedness feelings, so I was definitely improving. I’m not that surprised it happened because I felt some discomfort in my upper left abdominal area (i.e. my stomach) while I was running. I hoped it was just stitch, but clearly not. Morning runs have still been fine so far, so I need to just accept I can’t run later in the day until this is resolved. The initial gastro appointment is in two and a half weeks, but what it will entail I don’t know; I wouldn’t be surprised if it takes another appointment before there is any actual treatment. I was starting to feel good about the half marathon, but it has knocked my confidence back again to discover that I am still quite fragile.

THE OTHER THING that I left hanging a before is that after a certain someone poured her heart out to me she seems to have become a lot happier. She has told me a few times in the last couple of weeks that she’s handling it better now. I’m sure she’d told non-work people of her frustrations, but I expect it helped more to tell someone who could relate more personally to what she was saying. Also, I think it probably helped that she told someone and it went well and they (me) were supportive and understood what she was feeling. She could easily have opened up to someone who would reply with “oh really” and been more guarded about expressing much opinion, and then she’d have felt even more unsure of things. I had told her a few weeks earlier about my health concerns and she probably found it a bit disarming that I was open with her about that, so maybe that’s why she felt OK being open me. I have since sort of drip-fed her a few boss-management-lessons I’ve learned, and at the end of this week she said to me, after telling me again it was going better now, “you know, I’ve realised there’s a lot of truth in what you were saying” (and then apologised because she felt she’d implied that she hadn’t believed that when I said it).

But I think the more interesting thing from my perspective is that I have suddenly found her a little bit less exciting. I have spent quite a lot of time with her lately. The mystery is disappearing and as she seems to like and trust me I don’t feel like she’s a challenge anymore. I don’t quite know how I feel about her now; I think the answer is ‘the same, but less’. But it has made life a lot easier.

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So the medical update is…

I have a specialist appointment in four weeks, but in the meantime:

Haemoglobin has moved up from 13.2 to 13.4 in two weeks. The healthy range starts at 13.5, so I’m not far off.
Whatever was wrong with my white blood cell count has corrected itself.

I am still finding running pretty tough so I think my haemoglobin is probably down quite a long way versus what it used to be, but every week I do a little bit more than the previous.

I am mildly concerned that I am losing weight. I knew I had lost weight but only in the last three weeks or so have I become convinced I’m still losing it. So I need to make more of an effort to reverse this.

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Life moves on

It’s time for another Office Crush post.

I feel like I have so much to write about and I have to get it out to stop it buzzing around my head. The last three or four weeks have been really good. I made a conscious effort to stop crowding her and it may be coincidence but it seems like things started going a lot more smoothly at that point. It really MIGHT be coincidence because it coincides with Easter school holidays ending and I think she finds the childcare arrangements stressful, but I’m sure it helped a bit.

Since then she’s been much more chatty with me, very open, a little bit gossipy sometimes and apparently quite caring – as previously noted she knows about my anaemia problems and has seemed quite concerned about me on a few occasions.

I was worried before that I was crowding her too much. That she would eventually realise that our accidentally-on-purpose kitchen meetings were in fact not always so accidental. It’s easier to talk in the kitchen because it’s more private. It’s hard to read some things with her though. Occasionally she seemed a bit terse with me and I took it as being a “oh really, you again, what a coincidence”, but she’s since shed a bit of insight that she often feels pressured by our boss and feels like she doesn’t have enough time to find things out before she has to get back to him, which could explain her being quick to try to get back to her desk sometimes. But lately she’s often seemed happy to see me. I even sometimes get a little smile out of her when she first sees me in a morning especially if she’s in before me and she’s settled at her desk as I walk in. When she washed my mug the other morning and I said “thank you but I don’t mind if you don’t do mine you know”… then a few minutes later added “I do appreciate it though” as we passed each other in the corridor, she beamed and very enthusiastically exclaimed “I know you do!”.

So maybe I was crowding her, but she seems relaxed with me. And then she opened up with me in a surprising way this week.

This week we ended up walking up to the station together on two separate days. This has never happened before and it’s probably pure fluke that it happened twice. She is a bit unpredictable in her arrival times but originally she was arriving and leaving about 20 minutes before me, and then about 20 minutes after me. Now she’s back to 20 minutes before. So it could happen again when one of our trains is disrupted, but it won’t happen often. On the first day, she opened up to me a lot about finding the job difficult because of not knowing how to handle our boss. She was very trusting and said a lot of things she wouldn’t have said within the building. She’s his (first ever) PA and he’s not a man who is easily PAed. He’s always run his own companies so he’s always been in charge, he’s quite headstrong, he’s very intelligent but he doesn’t always take on board what other people are saying, sometimes he will listen but other times he wants to do things his way for no clear reason, and combined with his own strong opinions, he can be very hard to predict so it can be hard to know if you’re doing something that he’ll be happy with. He’s not so hard to deal with once you’ve known him for a while, but as his PA she is in a very unique place where he is her boss but she is trying to manage him day to day. That’s definitely a challenge and one of the reasons I made an effort with her to start with is because I thought she might feel isolated with her being the only woman in the office, one of few staff in a non-technical role, and then on top of that having to deal with a potentially very difficult boss.

She gives the impression she knows exactly what she’s doing, that she’s very self confident and can handle these things easily. I’d twigged a while ago that nobody could possibly be this confident and it was almost certainly how she acts regardless of how she is really feeling. Turns out I was right, she told me she finds him intimidating and still often almost expects him to fire her. I’m not surprised she finds him intimidating but I am surprised she feels quite so… insecure. She doesn’t give that appearance at all. I should add that I’m sure she is in absolutely no danger whatsoever of being fired. I tried to be supportive, but walking, crossing roads, talking and thinking of this stuff is a bit hard, so the morning I managed to get her privately in the kitchen and gave her some more carefully thought through reassurance. It was funny really, we started chatting and when I saw my opportunity to move onto the serious subject she repositioned herself into the corridor and kept looking up and down sheepishly as if she was worried someone would walk past and hear us. I don’t know if it was what I said or just that she saw I was trying to make her feel better, but it seemed to make her happy and she was chatty with me all day.

That afternoon we walked up together again and she seemed a lot happier and a bit embarrassed she’d been so negative before, but then the following day she got off the phone with our boss and had a bit of a grumble that she’d tried to use her initiative on something and got told off. The person she sits next to, whom she has taken some responsibilities off (so they tend to discuss work a lot), replied with a slightly sarcastic “what have you done now?” which probably wasn’t what she wanted to hear, so I jumped in and tried to reassure her that he’s a hard man to predict and you will get things wrong sometimes, but it doesn’t actually matter. I felt like I had to say something because she’d have felt let down if I hadn’t, but you can’t say too much in the office because I presume she has not confided in anyone else and wouldn’t appreciate me revealing that she feels unsure of herself, so I don’t know how she really felt or how well it landed. I strongly suspect she felt quite defeated, and the fact she had three cigarette breaks that day might not be coincidental (she usually just has one). But I didn’t get the chance to say anything else to her or learn any more. So I’m not really sure what to do with this – should I bring it up next time? I guess the answer is yes as long as I’m very delicate about it and lead in with something a bit more subtle and let her set it up if she wants to talk about it more.

So it’s a bit mixed. Things aren’t going as well for her as they could be, but she seems to trust me a lot. I feel like we have a good relationship. I feel content with it even though it’s not going to go further. I think about this and I still don’t really understand it. I’ve had no real desires towards her physically, so maybe it’s a platonic crush if such things exist and all I really wanted was a close relationship with her. Or maybe I’ve just accepted that it won’t go any further. Or maybe deep down I know that she has a lot of baggage I wouldn’t really want to take on… like children and cigarettes and commitments from a much more outgoing personality than mine. I don’t know, I’ve never done this before, but everything seems OK. And I do know that if I saw other people having good relationships with her and I was intentionally holding back then I’d feel frustrated, so this is the best option.

I am sure she’ll learn to deal with our boss a bit better in time because I recognised most of the things she was saying as experiences I had in my first year or two here. I just hope she stays long enough to realise it.

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Despite deciding to the contrary until after I have my next blood test, I went for a short run yesterday after all. I did a few walks this weekend and they went much better than the walks I had last weekend. Last weekend I felt light headed after only about a mile and a half and needed a while to recover after I got home, this weekend I did more like 4 miles and felt only slightly light headed at times. So with it being a bank holiday and the weather being beautiful, I really wanted a run…

It was terrible. I aimed to do 5k. A few weeks ago I was doing 10-12k regularly but let’s ease back into it. The first 3k were fine but I flopped pretty hard towards the end. I’m not sure if this is the anaemia or just the weather being 10 degrees C hotter than I’m used to.

Something weird happened around 4.5k. I looked over my shoulder before I moved into a narrow footpath next to a busy road and I saw another runner very close, maybe a metre or so behind me, like he was going to overtake me right there. I thought it was strange he’d got so close to me without me being aware of him. It was just a glance, I didn’t see his face, I just saw his red technical shirt with some kind of logo across the middle and I remember seeing his arms held quite high at the side of his chest like he was hitting a serious pace. I interpreted the situation that he was sprinting to try to pass me before we got onto the narrow section…

but he never did. So I looked back a few seconds later, just as I was entering the narrow bit, and he wasn’t there. I looked back again when I exited the narrow bit and there was still no sign of him. There was no other way he could have gone except for stopping, turning around and going back in the opposite direction.

And, hey, maybe he did. But I don’t really believe that, so it was at that point I thought “I really need to stop at 5k”.

What I do know is I suddenly feel a lot better mentally for having done some exercise.

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