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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Medical

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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Progress?

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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Officially anaemic

So my haemoglobin is slightly below the threshold for anaemia. Not a long way below, but I am officially anaemic. Unfortunately this is less insightful than I hoped, because I don’t know what my level was a few months ago. If it was slightly above the threshold then I’ve lost very little blood. If it was at the upper end of the healthy range, then I’ve lost quite a bit. It has noticeably affected me in that I often feel a bit ill so I think I’ve probably lost a fair bit really.

They are going to repeat the test again next week because they are concerned my white blood cell count is a bit high and want to see if it’s a temporary effect from e.g. fighting off some infection that I don’t know I have. The reading she gave me was actually within normal range as far as I can tell (albeit at the very top end of it), but it does seem odd that if I’ve lost enough blood for it to show on a haemoglobin test that my white blood cell count is high – you don’t lose them selectively. Unfortunately I was completely unprepared for this revelation so I didn’t think to ask why this is such a concern or what else it might imply, so I’ll have to wait until the results of the second test to get those questions in.

I’m going to stay away from running again until the next test. Obviously when I do start running I will be very careful and if I’m aware of bleeding I’ll stop, but I think it has to be quite heavy for it to be visible to me. I’m concerned that I’ll trigger some lighter bleeding which isn’t detectable to me and then a month later I’ll be feeling terrible. So it’ll be useful to see two weeks of non-running haemoglobin readings in case I have to have another one done after a few weeks of running.

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Continuing to not be dead

So I think hearing that I really have lost blood has made me accept that I am actually feeling a bit ill. On and off anyway.

Tomorrow I find out more. What I need to ask is:

1. Assuming I am not still bleeding, how long will it take to replace the blood I’ve lost
2. How much of a buffer do I have here – i.e. if I caused it to bleed again, how likely am I to find myself in hospital?
3. How long is the gastro referral likely to take
4. Assuming it is a stomach ulcer, then given that 80% of ulcers are caused by a bacterial infection can I just have some antibiotics please (probably not).

I think back to the last time I suspected I had been bleeding. I didn’t know at the time that it was definitely blood and I didn’t connect the dots at all. I felt completely washed out, I had no attention span and I was ravenously hungry despite stuffing myself all day. I remember lying in bed that night (at 10PM because that’s about as late as I can stay up now), about 30 minutes after having a pre-bed sandwich, and thinking “I’m still hungry!”. I didn’t think much of the hunger and the other stuff I put down to being bored at work.

I haven’t felt quite as bad as that again, but there’s been plenty of times I have felt a bit rough. Usually it lasts a few minutes to half an hour, but I felt pretty woozy most of yesterday afternoon. It’s not all bad though. I didn’t say anything to anyone but a certain lady in the office asked me if I was feeling better today because she’d noticed I wasn’t well yesterday, and proceeded to make a bit of a fuss of me. I’m quite flattered/surprised/impressed she noticed. She seemed very concerned and told me that if I didn’t feel well and I was worried about getting home I should tell somebody. I said she sounded like my mother, to which she got quite excited and exclaimed “I’ll be your work mum!”. It’s not quite what I had in mind, but what can I say, I enjoy the attention.

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Picking my battles

I got the blood test result back – sort of – and everything is normal apart from the blood count. Unfortunately the receptionist couldn’t give me any real details so I have to wait until Wednesday for a doctor’s explanation. I was unsure that what I was seeing really was blood, but presumably this does imply that I really have experienced some internal bleeding in my upper digestive tract and that I’ve lost enough blood for it to show up on a blood test. I have only seen visible evidence of bleeding after running, it has only happened twice, and not in the last week. So I’m confident that I’m not in any real danger even though I do feel a bit lightheaded sometimes and even though Dr Google keeps telling me there’s a fine line between having a bit of internal bleeding and urgently needing a blood transfusion.

So I am taking a break from running and exercise in general until I have a clearer picture, which I find annoying, but it’s just not worth the risk.

I’ve been referred to ‘gastro’, who will stick a camera down my throat and figure out what has been bleeding. I’ve no idea how long the referral will take, but it seems to me that I should be regarded as high risk as I’ve lost blood, so I’d like to think it’ll be pretty soon.

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