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The Chronicles of the Weezie and the inflatable turtle
Weezie's random ramblings!!! Wahaaa!!
Earthquakes and headaches...
Today is a Friday. Not a day I would normally be at home, but I took the day off sick today. I have a cold, nothing major, but lately my sinuses have been causing endless trouble, severe headaches on a relatively regular basis, and now that I have a cold the extra sinus congestion has made my headaches worse.

In saying that, I actually feel okay at the moment. Yesterday my headache was really bad, I couldn't even really concentrate properly when I was trying to talk to customers. Today I woke up feeling better, but decided to take the day off to be on the safe side. After all, yesterday I was fine in the morning, it was only the rushing around at work that made it bad because I didn't have a free moment to drink some more water or have some more Paracetamol. I figured, I feel okay to be at work, but, chances are it'll get busy and everyone will be all, "Louise, serve this customer" and "Louise, show me how to do such and such" and next thing I'll feel crap again. A rest might make this cold go away faster.

I've had a few visits to the doctor this year about my continuous sinus problems actually. I've been getting bad hayfever for the last few years, but this year the sinus headaches keep coming, all year round, every couple of days or so. Talking to Dad I found out that he used to have problems with nasal congestion and bad headaches too. I remembered he had to have some operation on his nose when I was young, but I never knew at the time what it was for. Turns out he saw an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist about sinus headaches and being unable to breathe through his nose very well, and they did an operation to widen his nasal passages and sinus areas.

So a couple of months ago I went to see the doctor, to tell them I was still getting a lot of headaches, and the hayfever medications weren't helping much, and to ask if it might be something like what Dad had all those years ago.

When I tried to make an appointment though, they were really booked up, I guess because it was Winter and everyone gets sick a lot over Winter. But in order to get an appointment on a Monday when I have the day off, I had to book like three or four weeks in advance, and even then had to see a different doctor to the one I usually see for everything.

When I got to this appointment I met this different doctor, Dr Jessop. And, well, all I can say is he's a real douchebag. He didn't seem to believe that my headaches were caused by sinus problems, despite the fact the pain often is also in my nose and behind my eyes (where the sinus passages are). He thought the main problem was that I was on the pill, and the pill wasn't good, because a) I'd been on the pill for like four years now, and b) I am overweight, and apparently it's not that safe to be on the pill if you are overweight.

He weighed me, and asked how long I'd been overweight. I said that I'd been overweight for the vast majority of my life, since I was about nine or ten. Then he asked me why that was.

I couldn't believe that. Why was I overweight? What kind of question is that? If I knew why, then I would have done something about it, wouldn't I? His response was, "Well, there must be some reason."

You think? Nice deduction, Sherlock. How about, you're a doctor, you tell me why I'm overweight?

He asked me if I exercised. I told him I went to the gym five nights a week, after work. He asked me if I snack between meals. I said sometimes. Because everyone does from time to time. But I hardly think eating a banana at 3.30 in the afternoon to tie me over till dinner is going to make me overweight, do you? Then he scribbled some notes down on the computer, and said he would take my blood pressure, because overweight people, especially those on the pill, often have high blood pressure.

He took my blood pressure. It was towards the low end, although within the healthy range. Which is what I expected, because in the past whenever I'd had a blood pressure test, it's always been a bit low. But I really wanted to laugh, because I felt it completely proved that this doctor had no clue what he was talking about, and seemed to be disregarding the issue I was paying for him to check up on, that I was getting far too many sinus headaches.

Anyway, I mentioned what Dad had told me about his past sinus problems and how he had had surgery to widen his nasal passages. To which this silly doctor just laughed, "Well, I don't think we need to resort to surgery just yet."

Excuse me, but I wasn't saying I wanted surgery, I was enquiring whether it was possible for me to have inherited naturally small nasal passages from my Dad, and there's really no need to laugh at me like I'm an idiot.

Finally, the guy said he would prescribe me a slightly stronger nasal spray than the one my normal doctor had previously prescribed for me. I got this spray from the pharmacy, but when I actually compared it to my previous nasal spray, it actually contained the same quantity of the same active ingredient, so it wasn't any stronger. It was just a different brand. Although I will admit I prefer the smell of this new one. The old one smelled kinda gross whenever I sprayed it in my nose.

Anyway, other the next few days I used the new nasal spray, and kept getting more headaches, and I vented and complained about the doctor to Taina and to Victoria at work. And eventually I came to the conclusion that the only thing to do was to go back. But this time, I'd make sure I saw my usual doctor, Dr Kljakovic.

So a few weeks later I went back to see Dr Kljakovic. Wow. Such a different result, seeing two different doctors. Dr Kljakovic, unlike Dr Jessop, actually felt that what I said about Dad's past sinus problem was relevant, and asked questions about exactly where the headaches were, how often, how intense on a scale of 1-10, as well as other relevant questions like whether I can breathe through my nose very well, which I can't really, and whether I snore, which although I don't know for sure, I have been told by those who have shared a bed with me that I snore sometimes.

She prescribed me more of the usual nasal spray and such, but she also prescribed a course of antibiotics for two weeks to see if it was a sinus infection. And finally she gave me a referral letter, and said once I'd finished the antibiotics to go and get a CT scan done of my sinuses, and depending on the results of that I may be sent to see a specialist.

Yay. A result at last.

The antibiotics weren't much fun though. I had to take three a day, one with every meal. I've taken antibiotics in the past and never had a problem, but for some reason throughout the two weeks I was taking these I had bouts of nausea and really bad itchiness. I thought I had just got a stomach bug at first, but then I googled about side effects of penicillin and discovered that, sure enough, nausea and being really itchy are both common side effects. And sure enough, once I finished the antibiotics, I was back to normal within a couple of days.

Except the sinus headaches. They, unfortunately, continued as per usual. So now I have my CT scan booked for this coming Monday. I know I should hope for a positive result. But really, I hope for a negative result, that something is wrong, so that it means something can be done to treat it. Nothing worse than being told you have to put up with something because the doctors haven't found anything wrong.

Anyway, what am I doing? Spending all this time just talking about health problems? Sheesh, I'm turning into my mother. And that's really not a good thing at all.

In my last entry, I was talking about the big earthquake we had that one particular weekend. Well, about a month later, in August, we had another one.

This time I was at work. It was my lunch break, and I decided to go out and buy lunch. Not sure why, maybe I hadn't gotten around to doing the supermarket shopping and stocking up on stuff at home that week yet, or maybe I just felt like splurging that day. But anyway, I walked down to the nearest McDonalds, in Manners Street for my lunch that day.

I got a double cheese burger combo, Sprite zero for the drink, and I had a chocolate craving, so I treated myself to a chocolate fudge McFlurry.

Sat down, got through the burger and fries, had had a few sips of my drink and was about to start on the sundae. Suddenly, everything started shaking. I looked across at the people in the tables nearby. Everyone just kinda froze for a few seconds, trying to decide I guess whether or not the earthquake was big enough to be concerned about. Then one person got under his table.

I quickly decided to get under my table too. I felt fairly safe, although it was shaking a lot and it went on for a while, it wasn't quite a sharp a shake as there had been during the one that Sunday in July. And I felt the McDonalds tables felt quite strong and sturdy.

Some people went outside though. I really don't know why. That seems like the last place you should go in a big earthquake in Wellington, outside into the street where old high rise buildings could crumble onto you.

After a few minutes it stopped. Everything was fine, and I felt sure everything would be fine at work and at home too. I wasn't scared, but for some reason I had this strong feeling that I really didn't want to be around strangers right then. I wanted to be around the people I know and care about. And so, I left my sundae and my drink, and powerwalked back around the corner to work, or at least tried to, although heaps of people were milling around on the footpaths, staring at each other nervously as if unsure what to do and thinking that standing in the street would be a good idea.

Back at work, everything was okay. Some people were still busy with customers, as if nothing had happened. I sat in the office area and tried to text Taina, but the network was clogged up so my texts wouldn't go through. He texted me though, asked if I was okay. Eventually I managed to call him from the office phone, and talked to him and he was fine.

I got back to work soon after, but I still felt jittery. I could feel aftershocks every few minutes and I was constantly looking around, thinking about what to do and where to go if another big one hit. Mischa and Abi were scared and nervous too, and wanted to go home as they heard some other places in the CBD were closing for the rest of the day.

Then there was quite a sharp aftershock that made everything jolt really suddenly. I instinctively yelled out a particular swear word without thinking. At that time, Claire wisely decided that seeing as there weren't many customers coming in now anyway that the best thing to do might be to send me, Abi and Mischa home, even though the three of us were the ones who were supposed to be closing the store that night at 7.

I offered Abi and Mischa both a ride home to Karori, because they were nervous about staying in town to wait for a bus. It was a slow journey, because the roads were packed, everyone was trying to get out of town. But I didn't mind the detour, I just felt like I didn't want to be alone right then.

That night when I got home, our friend T was there. We had a nice night actually, had fish and chips and sat around watching funny stuff on YouTube, which helped me to keep from getting nervous during all the aftershocks that continued through the evening. At one point T actually said that at if something bad happened right then, at least he would die in the company of good friends. Me and Taina thought that was quite sweet.

We found out later the main earthquake that day was 6.7 on the Richter scale, slightly more than the one in July, but it was slightly different, so it felt less severe because the shaking was slower, more of a rolling sensation. We've had tons of aftershocks and minor earthquakes over the last few weeks since then, but no more major ones thankfully. But even now a small part of my mind is always on guard, half expecting another one to happen. I just really hope it doesn't.

So, in other news, I'm still working a lot. Still doing my Dispensing Optician course for work, which work pays for, and I get one paid study day a month to work on it, which is great. My next one is rostered for next week.

I have a long way to go with it, which is a little stressful, because I have to finish the course by the end of next year, otherwise the company won't pay for me to do it for any longer. I got the results of an assignment back last week though, and I got 94%, which I'm happy about.

As well as all the written assignments and tests I have to do, I also have had two practical learning sessions so far. Because the course is actually by correspondence online through an Australian University, they only hold one session for the New Zealand students for each practical, and it's always in Gisborne, because an Optician in Gisborne sponsors the course and provides a venue for it.

Practical 1 was in June. It was three days long, so I flew up to Gisborne on a Wednesday night, went to the practical for three days and then flew home on Sunday morning in time for my usual weekend. It was nice, because I still get paid because it counts as a work thing, but I got to get away from work and have a change of scenery.

The plane up to Gisborne was tiny, only seated maybe 20 people at the most, and so I got a bit nervous with that. I don't really like turbulence on planes, and those little planes feel the turbulence really badly. I also didn't really like being away from Taina for like three and a bit days. But, Gisborne was nice.

The company paid for me to stay in a nice hotel, I had the room to myself, a big double bed, Sky TV, free wireless internet for the ipad, and free breakfast every morning. And the sorta had a gym. Not very big, just a room with a treadmill, an exercycle, a rowing machine and a few hand weights, and the rowing machine was kinda broken even, but still.

Despite being a course for anyone studying Optics across all Optometrists and Optical companies, most of the students were from Specsavers. I guess it's true, Specsavers really has swooped in and completely dominated the Optics world, to the point of even sending some of the private Optometrists out of business. But hey, to a certain extent, I'm proud of the company I work for. I mean, in the past buying glasses and contact lenses was this kind of elitist thing. Eye tests at many places cost over $100, and then frames for glasses can cost a fortune, especially as many places only stock fancy designer brands. And it seems silly, seeing as people who have bad eye sight have no choice in the matter. If you need glasses, you need glasses.

Whereas Specsavers came in, offered all these cheap deals on tests, glasses and contact lenses, and now people who struggled to afford it can get what they need now. I saw a man come in once, middle aged Pacific Island guy, never had a sight test in his life because he couldn't afford it, but knew there was something wrong with his vision. Specsavers had a half price eye test deal, only $30, so his family pitched in, got the $30 together and he finally got a sight test. Turned out he had severe cataracts in both eyes and was almost completely blind. Our Optometrist Defini referred him to the hospital who took her results seriously and operated on his cataracts quite soon after. Finally, he could see properly again for the first time in many years. All because Specsavers could give him a full test for $30 instead of charging an arm and a leg like most places.

Jeepers, did I just write that? Sheesh, I should get a promotion. Working in the marketing department. I'm practically a walking advertisement for the company already.

Okay, anyway, no more sidetracking. So I had a second Practical course in August as well. This time it was four days rather than three. Had to do a bunch of tests on the last day which was Saturday. But it was cool. I learned to how to measure and cut lenses to fit different types of frames. I got to make one set of progressive lenses to go into a metal frame, and one set of single vision lenses to go into a semi-rimless nylon frame. I also learned how to solder broken frames back together. Got 98% in the soldering test. Learned about tinting baths, to put tinting colours onto lenses, like for sunglasses and such. And learned how to use an old fashioned focimeter for measuring the prescription on a pair of glasses. And all in all, got over 86% in all the tests, so the Australian tutor guy said that was a distinction. So was really happy about that.

And yeah. So that's my life right now. There's been a few dramas with the flat next door to us. The tenants that had been there since we moved in two and a half years ago moved out about four or five months ago. We had this new lady move in, middle aged lady, living on her own. Seemed nice, I really only met her once or twice. Had a cat, seemed to maybe have a boyfriend or some guy who came around sometimes.

Anyway, the weekend of the second practical course last month, I came home on a Sunday morning. We spent some time at home, me and Taina, discussing what we'd been up to over the last few days etc, and then we decided to go out and see a movie. I didn't notice, when we went out, whether our neighbour was home or not, because well, that didn't really seem important.

After the movie we saw we went straight to Mum and Dad's for dinner, as we often go visit them and have dinner on Sunday nights. We came home, maybe ten o'clock or a bit later, and Taina commented that the neighbour was out, but the curtains were still open. I didn't think much of it, simply that she must have gone out before it got dark, and I wasn't sure what drew Taina's attention to it either.

We started getting ready for bed, and were about to get into bed at about 11, when there was a knock on the door. I could see through our glass front door that it was the police, because I could see the reflective vests. So I figured it was best that I answer, late though it was. There were two police officers, and they asked me when I had last seen the next door neighbour. I told them I had been away and just got back so didn't really know, but Taina said he was sure she had been home earlier in the day but had noticed her being out when we got home. They also asked if we knew if she had a boyfriend, and I said I thought she did, because I'd seen a guy come around sometimes.

They didn't really tell us anything else, just took our names and left. But I couldn't help speculating after that. What did they think had happened to her? It would have to be serious, to be asking all the neighbours about it when she'd only been gone for less than a day.

The next morning, I heard them knocking on her door and calling through the windows of her flat, trying to make sure she wasn't inside. They came around to ask us again, checking if we knew anything. I felt kinda bad that I didn't know much about her. As a neighbour, I kinda wish I'd talked to her, at least found out her name.

But, she never came back. For a few weeks, the curtains stayed open, the driveway stayed empty. We didn't see the police again, but we didn't see her again either.

One day an older couple came around, with a car and a trailer. They seemed to be loading all the things from the flat into the car and trailer. I wanted to ask what was happening. But I also felt if something bad had happened, it might be rude to ask. But after that, the flat seemed to be empty.

Today, a couple of weeks since the flat was emptied, I just had a knock at the door about ten minutes ago. I answered in my pyjamas, because being sick at home today, I haven't bothered getting dressed yet. It was a girl, a young lady about my age who answered, she said her name is Donna and she's moving into the flat today. She seemed nice, although I felt embarrassed talking to her in my pyjamas, with my voice all croaky. Said she has a young daughter, and said sometimes when she has playdates she can be noisy but they'll try not to disrupt us too much. I said it was fine. After all, we can be noisy sometimes too. To be honest, I think living next to people our age, and a cute little kid will be great.

Yet I'm still puzzled about what happened to that lady. No matter how I look at the situation, it definitely seems as though something bad happened to her. But, I may never know.

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