Chicago yesterday (with sion_a, lnr, ewx and dreamingchristi) was good, but unfortunately I think two hours in the cinema has finally done for my back. I am not a happy bunny today.
Had to go to the doctor's at 8:30 this morning for a load of blood tests ("We don't think there's anything wrong with you, it's perfectly normal to be tired ALL THE TIME for over 6 years, but we'll humour you and steal some more of your life-force."). Unfortunately the alarm didn't go off, so after a night of very patchy sleep I finally woke up at 8am, at which point there was Considerable Panic as we tried to get ready in negative amounts of time.
Blood tests were fine -- though it did briefly occur to me as I was lying on the couch (last time I had lots of blood taken at once, I fainted, so I figured better safe than sorry) that if my blood is such a hideous risk (because of sleeping with men who sleep with men) then maybe I should warn them every time I have a blood test, so that they can take my oh-my-god-it-might-have-GAY-COOTIES blood out with their toxic-waste-proof suits on.
My back's been getting steadily worse over the last few days, so (since I was getting in early enough to get an appointment on the day) I asked to see a doctor as well. They said they could give me an appointment at 9am, but when it got to 9:30 and I still hadn't been called I went to check at reception, to find that they hadn't actually booked my appointment in properly. Gah. Anyway, finally saw the doctor, and she prodded my back all over (*ouch*, *ouch*) and pronounced it "very tense and highly-strung". No shit, Sherlock. Didn't really seem to know what had caused it, though agreed that my posture at work could be a cause, or at least making it worse. She was helpful, though, suggesting exercises I could do to loosen the muscles up gently; and she prescribed me co-codamol for the pain (hey, I didn't want sion_a to feel like the odd one out being on painkillers) and diazepam (Valium) as a muscle relaxant (with the useful side-effect that it might actually let me get some goddess-blessed SLEEP for a change).
Had to go to Boots to pick up the prescription, and they told me it would be 15 minutes, only the head pharmacist spent 20 minutes talking to a pretty sales rep about some magic new inhaler for asthma medicine, so it was actually more like 30 minutes. By which time I was leaning against the wall feeling greyed-out and on the verge of just leaning over the counter and yelling "WILL YOU GIVE ME MY GODDAMNED PAINKILLERS BEFORE I PASS OUT FROM PAIN!!!"
Then, I had to go into work to a) explain why I was so late in (10:30!) and that in fact I wasn't coming in at all, but would take some stuff home and try to work on it there with long breaks for resting my back. Richard (my boss) was understanding, and told me to take it easy, but I still feel guilty about being so persistently useless at work. Starting to wonder if all these illnesses -- back pains included -- are purely psychosomatic, and my body's way of telling me "Get out of this job! It does you HARM!". Put a load of stuff on a floppy to take home, shut down the computer, left the building... realised I hadn't taken the floppy out of the computer. No, no, I'm totally fine, awake, and lively. Honest. Not losing all short-term memory at all.
Oh, and in addition to the persistent backache and the queasiness that results from ongoing pain, I'm having some really peculiar reactions to the new higher dose of Lustral. In addition to all the side effects I had before when I started taking it, I'm getting a strange tingling effect all over my body, as though all my nerves are jangling all the time. It's slightly like having sunburn all over my body -- the skin feels tight and tingly and slightly raw. It means that when I lie down to rest my back, it feels like I'm lying on scalded skin at every point where my body touches whatever I'm lying on. As you can imagine it's making me feel very on edge.
Anyway, have spent the rest of the day up to my eyes in codeine with hot water bottle on my back (heat is supposed to help), and occasionally pottering about to relieve the boredom -- alternating between walking and sitting seemed to help a bit. During one of the pottering sessions I managed to phone Cambridge Kitchens (and have arranged a measuring-up session for Thursday), and also to phone 24/7 and TXU Energi.
The combination of 24/7 and TXU nearly had me screaming and banging my head against the wall. Okay, so I'm more short-tempered than usual because I'm aching so much, but they really are a farcical excuse for an electricity service. The deal is: we have a second electricity supply which we don't need any more, left over from when the house was two flats. We want this (potentially live!) supply removed. Easy, huh? Oh no. We've already phoned TXU several times, only to be told "The supply cables etc. belong to 24/7, you have to phone them & ask them to remove them." Fair enough. Phone 24/7, and they tell us "Oh, we can't do anything about it without word from TXU, you have to phone them." You get the picture. So when I started trying to phone today, we'd already been round this loop several times -- including me having phoned TXU only a week or so ago and been told that it's "definitely" 24/7's problem -- so I was determined to get it sorted out this time. Phoned 24/7, and they (predictably) tell me "Oh no, you have to phone TXU." I tell them "No, we've done this, they say it's your problem." They insist, so I phone TXU. I navigate through the keypad menu system, then stay on hold for what seems like a lifetime, and finally get through to somebody. They start sorting out my problem, put me on hold while they "ask someone else" ... and then I get cut off. So I phone back, navigate the menus the same way as before, and get through to... the wrong department. There ensues a confused conversation where the girl can't work out what I'm talking about, because it's not her department. Halfway through a sentence, I get cut off. By this time I'm losing the will to live, but try again anyway. Third try lucky? I phone again, navigate the menu as before, get through to the wrong department again. Tell them which menu options I selected, and point out that their menu system Doesn't Work, which they at least apologise for. This one is also clueful enough to put me through to the right department, so after another lifetime of cheesy hold music, I finally get through to somebody who knows what the hell I'm talking about. And doesn't tell me to phone 24/7. And knows which form to send to 24/7. Hallebloodylujah!
I'm now wondering if it's worth writing to them to point out what a steaming pile of crap most of their customer services department appears to be, but I can't help feeling that it's not worth it -- incompetence is limitless, and my energy to write this kind of letter is severely limited. <sigh>
Sometimes I wonder if all this incompetence in public services, in organisations in general, is part of a government scheme to keep the masses demoralised and stressed. By maintaining high ambient levels of low-grade stupidity, incompetence, unhelpfulness, brokenness, etc., they maintain dissatisfaction but also resignation and lethargy. "It's rubbish, but there's nothing we can do about it," we say. It's a triumph of psychological manipulation. We're dissatisfied enough to keep on searching for something to help, something to make us happy, something to dull the pain -- in other words, to keep on consuming -- but not energetic enough (because of all the minor irritation we have to put up with, which slowly wears us down like a rock of good intentions in a river of apathy) to do anything lasting. Escapism. The quick fix. The cheap hit.
But of course, there's probably nothing we can do about it....