clear vision

Today I got my first pair of prescription glasses. Apparently I am a little bit short-sighted.

Well, I’ve kind of known for a while, but I’ve just been avoiding seeing an optometrist. No real reason why — just that I was once told to put off getting glasses for as long as possible because once you get them, you kind of rely on them, and your vision will slowly get worse and worse, and you will be more and more dependent on glasses. (The friend who said this to me doesn’t really like having to wear glasses, and was probably being a little bit dramatic, but these things stick with me!)

Anyway, it wasn’t that I had that much trouble with seeing that it affected my life to any significant degree. I just started noticing that it was a bit harder to read street signs and see things far away.

This was last year.

I’ve been pretty good at putting this off.

Continue reading

obscure reviews: Hydralyte

I remember back in my first year of uni (which feels like many years ago), one of the tutors told us they once knew a student who liked to go and try out over-the-counter (OTC) medications so that they would be better able to counsel patients about these. But, of course, it would be irresponsible and going against the “Quality Use of Medicines” principles to use a medication if you didn’t have the condition being treated, so they had to somehow have/get the specific ailments first.

Now, I’m not sure if they went out of their way to get cold sores, diarrhoea, common cold symptoms, heartburn and other conditions treatable with OTC medicines, but they supposedly worked their way through a fair few products (I’m not sure which — I just chose some random examples here).

Anyway… I never took this approach to my learning, but I suppose there are some things that are useful to try in order to make better recommendations to others. I discovered this in this last week when I got food poisoning and became very dehydrated. I’ll spare you the details, but I was quite unwell for several days, and wasn’t eating or drinking much in case it made me throw up. Continue reading


This will not be what kills me.

That’s what I told myself last week, quite possibly after a coughing fit, when I was at the worst of this illness. I’m not 100% sure what I’ve got, but I’m pretty sure it’s just some kind of viral chest infection. It’s been almost two weeks now.

It started with a sore throat, as these things usually do, and my first instinct was to blame it on one of the disinfectants I was using at work that day, as it’s a known irritant. I’m quite lucky in the sense that, despite being around sick people a lot, I don’t get sick very often, so when I got this sore throat, I didn’t think much of it. I had some oatmeal the next morning (it’s my go-to quick-fix for sore throats because it’s worked for me many times before) and carried on with my day. Continue reading

philosophy, kindness and sleep

Last night, in a contemplative and pensive mood, I flicked through my copy of Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations again. In the time between now and when I last picked it up, I’ve tried reading two other philosophical books: Discourses, Fragments, Handbook of Epictetus; and Human, All Too Human by Friedrich Nietzsche. The former I found to be too dry and too much like a lecture; and the latter, although more read-able and understandable, also started going over my head after some time.

So Epictetus and Nietzsche are back on my bookshelf for now, but still with their bookmarks in place, as my promise to return to them eventually. Part of me feels like I don’t really need to read any more philosophy, as Meditations has served me so well, but I’ve been taught not to accept the most immediate and/or convenient text of any kind without doing some sort of cross-referencing and broader reading. Continue reading

the article that could save lives (or at least prevent some pain)

No, this is nothing to do with magic cure-alls, silver bullets or even preventative lifestyle advice. And it’s certainly not an article I wrote, but one I chanced upon.

One morning, a few weeks ago, I went into the staff tea room for my ten-minute morning tea break, and found a print-out copy of this article on the table: When Evidence Says No, but Doctors Say Yes (by David Epstein & Propublica, published by The Atlantic on February 22, 2017). I was intrigued, and started reading.

Continue reading

every night

I had the day off work today (Friday), so I took the opportunity to go to the dentist. I could tell that that was not the answer my colleagues were expecting when they asked me yesterday (or earlier in the week) what I would be doing with my day off. But I was certainly well overdue for another check-up, and I don’t mind dentist visits much. (It probably helps that my dentist is also my sister.)

It was all pretty routine, I suppose – just a check and clean, and she referred me for an x-ray to check the existence (or otherwise) of my wisdom teeth. Supposedly I’d chipped a tooth, but she buffed and polished that. Also seems like I might be grinding my teeth a bit (probably in my sleep – sometimes I have pretty stressful dreams, so I’m not that surprised) but otherwise things seemed ok.

Lying in the dentist’s chair this morning, staring up at the light thing they use, and at the picture of a forest on the ceiling, I thought about how good it feels to be doing something for my health. For that reason, I quite like the idea of regular check-ups, even if they don’t find anything “wrong”. Surely the reassurance and peace of mind is just as valuable as getting an early diagnosis.

It was kind of in this mindset that I was able to create the habit of flossing every day. I will admit that, up until some time earlier this year, I actually did not floss my teeth every day (please don’t tell my sister). I mean, I did floss before then but it was inconsistent – maybe every two days or I’d skip a day here and there.

When I was first introduced to the concept of flossing, I thought it was tedious, time-consuming and mostly not worth the effort. As time went on, and I became more aware of the importance of good oral hygiene, I put a bit more effort into it, and I suppose I got better at it (?) Practice makes perfect, after all.

Eventually, I made a pact with myself. I wasn’t going to self-impose a rule about flossing every night, but I would have to, without fail, floss if I had eaten out and/or eaten lots of sugary treats that day. This, I believed, would have the added benefit of acting as a deterrent against eating out too much and against eating too much sugar. For the most part, I think it worked quite well, except that I didn’t really change my eating out or sugar habits. Instead, I flossed more. (Honestly, though, I don’t go out that much – too hermit-y for that – and I’d like to think I’ve got some measure of self-control when it comes to sugar.)

I also made a pact that if I was going to sleep in the next morning, I should floss the night before so that my teeth are nice and clean for the 9-12 hours of dormancy between going to bed and having breakfast. (Actually, 12 is probably a bit much; I don’t think I ever sleep more than 10 hours at a stretch. Even 9 sounds like a lot. Gosh, I usually only get 6.5-7 hours during the week, so a nice round 8 would generally suffice.)

The over-arching guiding principle in my strategy for making flossing a regular habit was the idea of sustainability. I’ve never been “on a diet” myself, but I know there’s no point “going on a diet” if it’s not a sustainable long-term change. And it’s the same with exercise: if you set out to do exercises you don’t enjoy, you’ll probably give up after a couple of weeks. Of course, this is nothing new – it gets preached every year in the lead up to New Year.

Unfortunately for flossing, there isn’t really an alternative. You have to brush, and you have to floss. But I made time for flossing, integrating it into my routine, and then somewhere along the line, my mentality toward flossing changed. Now it feels weird to go to bed without flossing. Even if it’s late and I’m dead tired, I will floss. It really doesn’t take long (as I said, practice makes perfect).

I realise that this was a rather unusual thing to write a post about, but I figured that if I can write one about the joys of running, or about the joys of eating well (not sure if I’ve ever actually done that – written a post about eating well, that is, not the eating well part itself – but hypothetically I could), then surely I can write this post, which is essentially about the rewarding feeling you get from looking after yourself.