- It's been a long couple of weeks.
- The most significant event, for me at least, was having a day of significant worry about the correct functioning of my heart, which has since retreated into being a mild-to-moderate worry.
- Friday before last, we were in Coventry for a funeral. The night before I'd had palpitations which were bad enough to interrupt my sleep, but I was eventually able to drift off, and felt fine when I woke up in the morning. Then when we got to the church and we were doing a lot of stand-up-sit-down (Catholic funeral, so there was a lot of it) the palpitations returned in full force, accompanied by a light-headedness and a feeling of cold spreading across my torso. Uh-oh.
- (Being suddenly confronted with your own mortality is, to say the least, sobering: when it's because of an issue with an vital organ you become keenly aware that you're dependent on this thing keeping going to live; you start to think what if I actually die? Did I send that email? Wait, no, this is more serious, why am I thinking about work stuff? It's interesting to note that when I was worried about Lola I stopped caring about anything else, but when I was worried about myself I didn't so much (though I did eventually). Might be something to chew on there. It also made me realise–not that I hadn't before, but probably in the most concrete way ever—that if I'm very lucky I'm about a third of the way through. The end of the tunnel is a pinprick but it has definitely, irrevocably been brought into view. I don't even turn 30 for another few months ffs.)
- I was concerned it would look bad to leave the funeral, but I thought it would probably be worse to keel over in the middle of it, and fortunately CM's mum knew the layout and told me we were sat by a side exit, so I ducked out, went through 111 who suggested I get to A&E with all haste and I got a taxi, which arrived just after the funeral started letting out, several attendees very kindly coming over to ask me how I was while I waited.
- (The most sympathy in this whole story should be reserved for CM who at this point was torn between wanting to make sure I was OK and wanting to go and bury a beloved relative. I (thankfully correctly) made the call that if I was going to fall over I would've done it by now, and by that point I'd checked heart attack symptoms and I definitely didn't have the kinds of pain that typified it, so she was able to make the burial and then head over to the hospital.)
- I ended up at UCHW, the entrance of which reminded me of nothing more than an airport with a little overpass and a drop-off zone (very sensible design, frankly!). I was processed very quickly through A&E (relatively speaking for A&E, anyway—only about an hour and a half!)—once they were satisfied I wasn't going to drop dead there and then, they moved me to the Medical Decisions Unit, which some people behind me seemed to think was a nifty gimmick for getting A&E waiting times down. There was another few-hour wait, first for a blood test, then to see a doctor, who checked me over and seemed to find no obvious mechanical defects, so we were waiting on the blood test. Once we hit 8 hours in hospital, we were starting to be in danger of missing our train back to Brighton, so we made the decision that a blood test could be got back home, and left. (I missed a call from the hospital which came in an hour after we arrived back from our three-hour journey home, so had we stuck around we definitely would've missed it.)
- (I was forced to jettison my afore-made plan of going to Dorset to visit the family, which would've added substantial stress to an already pretty stressful day—and Lola was and is responding very well to her treatment so that made me feel a lot better about the decision.)
- Now booked in for a blood test next week, and while the palpitations have continued on and off, no more lightheadedness or weird cold feelings, which is good. Still no idea what it is—could be long Covid, could be stress—but I am trying to take it as easy as humanly possible for the next little while.
- So, uh, that's why there were no weeknotes last weekend! Some other things have happened, but none of them were really quite as significant. Pancake Day was nice?
I have given up podcasts for Lent (though I'm currently smashing through my week's backlog today—Lent doesn't include Sundays, let's go) so I've come up with a workaround: audiobooks. Took advantage of a free Audible signup to listen to Adrian Tchaikovsky's Shards Of Earth. I loved Children of Time, but Children Of Ruin lowkey fell off, as the kids say, and I was interested to see what he'd do with a fresh premise.
See if this sounds familiar: a book about a ragtag group of spacers who encounter a wrecked ship, adrift, bearing a terrible secret, end up running around in a small warship from a highly militarised offshoot from mainstream humanity along with one of their soldiers, followed by a cop investigating something that turns out to be way bigger and involve Precursor Aliens somehow... I dunno, I can't help shake the feeling that after doing Peter Watts in the Children Of series—an A+ first book with some really imaginative applications of science and explorations of alien consciousnesses; a really mid second book with space zombies that really felt like a waste of potential—he's now doing The Expanse. It's good, I enjoyed it, but that's the vibe here. It was A Romp, lots of cool weird aliens, galactic politics, a particularly fun variation on the 40k "warpspace is haunted" thing. On the sci-fi Mohs scale it cares enough to worry about shipboard gravity but still has FTL travel, which is an enjoyable spot for it to sit in. Not as capital-g Good as Children Of Time (which isn't quite as good as Blindsight but is still a capital-b Banger) but thoroughly enjoyable, and I have already started on the next one.
Narration is by Sophie Aldred, which was a really pleasant surprise. However, she did one of the voices in a manner that sounded very similar to Matt Holness' Garth Marenghi voice—which I had actually heard earlier in the week when I started listening to the Terrortome audiobook. I thought there would probably be lots of "bits of businesses" in that version and was not disappointed; a presumably-not-in-the-paper-book joke about podcasting "not being an art form" really got me. Unfortunately, when it hit the content of the book itself, it was a bit underwhelming. Darkplace gains a lot from the visuals and extended cast—absent that, you're really just stretching out the cold open reading gags from the show to the length of a book, which I don't think it actually sustains. I will still go to see him when his tour loops back to Brighton.
A few bits Online (more than usual as there's two weeks worth!)
- Adam Mastroianni has a really excellent account of what having crippling anxiety feels like (more fun to read than that makes it sound).
- Jeremy Keith reminded me of the existene of This Is My Jam, a really good and therefore non-commercially-viable website, which I still miss.
- Sasha Chapin write about the experience of having aphantasia, which I also have to some degree. It's always interesting hearing people talk about this stuff as either everyone experiences it differently, or everyone talks about it differently.
- In "people always think the new thing being bad is Different This Time": article on Aeon about how people have always worried that they're too distractable.
- Maciej Cegłowski on why we probably shouldn't send manned missions to Mars.
- Rani Baker asks: Did the 80s video game crash actually happen?
- I found Steel Snowflake's discussion of William Golding's Pincher Martin to be very compelling despite not having read it myself. The image of 'the black lightning' is one that will stay with me, I think.
- While he goes to lengths far greater than I have the juice for, Andy Matuschak's attempts to work out how he can best work have inspired some lowkey experimentation of my own.
- Finally: another Aeon article about pets and death, which I actually found quite comforting to read when thinking about Lola, once the worst of the worry had passed.
Mostly been comfort-listening but really enjoyed Lisel's Patterns for Auto-Tuned Voices and Delay:
Keep it real, stay safe, over and out.