Saturday, May 20, 2006

Green Tongue and Bright Pink Faces

Despite a late night, I was awake at 430am today. On awakening I wondered if the central heating thermostat was broken - I was roasting.

The bright pink face that looked back at me from the bathroom mirror suggested I had a temperature. After a weeklong headache, the headache has finally cleared and I’m bright pink. Ok, all very interesting, but here’s the weird thing – my tongue is bright green and all furry.

I’ve been used to my camel-clumps white tongue for some time now, but bright green? Snot green at that!

So, at about 5am and fully armed with a nice big cup of tea and digestive biscuit, I Googled “Green Tongue” – here is what I learned…

“Green Tongue” is a clothing brand.

“Your tongue is the color of spring, all cool and friendly-like. Believe me, it's not so easy having your tongue this color. You feel more attuned to the natural world, as well as slightly sick from eating so much corn syrup.”

The Ayurveda Institute advise: “A discoloration and /or sensitivity of a particular area of the tongue indicates a disorder in the organ corresponding to that area. A whitish tongue indicates a kapha derangement and mucus accumulation; a red or yellow-green tongue indicates a pitta derangement; and a black to brown coloration indicates a vata derangement. A dehydrated tongue is symptomatic of a decrease in the rasa dhatu (plasma), while a pale tongue indicates a decrease in the rakta dhatu (red blood cells).”

The Sacred Lotus (TCM) site advises:

· A green tongue body usually indicates Excess Yin Cold or the presence of a strong Excess evil with weak Zheng Qi. The Yang is not properly moving Blood and Fluids and there is Stagnation in the body.
· Internal Wind may also present with a green tongue body

So, I'm stagnant. All very well and good, but dissatisfied with these results, I Googled “green tongue” on Google image search. Click this:

It gets worse. I don't know why, but I typed "passport" into Google images search. Faster than you can splutter "identity theft" you find 306,000 happy google returns of passport scans.


I then found this:

It is a soap for smelly dogs.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

More Anxious Moments...

When working with patient’s with anxiety or self-esteem issues it always interests me how it is rarely it is the big stuff that is troublesome. Many people report what I call the “5am Horrors” – the early morning wakening where the brain replays over and over in every tiny and painful detail each social faux-pas from the night before. The alleged social faux-pas, of course, went unnoticed by everyone except for the wide-awake perpetrator themselves.

When I was a casualty nurse, we’d regularly be faced with high-stress, high-risk scenarios that would result in something heroic, something horrific, something miraculous or something that was just fucking horrible. I remember one situation in particular with a horrifically injured victim from a traffic accident – chances of survival were small, but our experienced and highly trained team did our best. It strikes me as funny how people watch these scenarios played out on TV shows, and enjoy watching that.

We did it for real.

So, it was a tense, and admittedly exciting, 45 minutes that proved futile and the patient died. The team quickly moved on to the next scenario, whilst a colleague and myself cleared up the body and the mess and quickly prepared the trauma room for the next patient.

As we cleaned up, I could see that my colleague was upset and so I enquired what was wrong. “I think John [one of the doctors] thinks I am no good.” She told me. I enquired further as I knew for certain that this wasn’t the case at all (actually, the previous day he had been telling me how much he fancied her). “It was a look he gave me…”

So despite the blood, the screaming and the gore, the horror of the situation and the fatality of a young woman, it was none of this that affected my colleague. This stuff rarely did affect any of us. No. What affected her was a “look” that may have lasted just a fraction of a moment from one of the doctors. It went on to bug her for days.

Sometimes staff would berate themselves or give themselves a really hard time because in the pressure they’d opened the wrong ampoule, reached for the wrong bit of kit, or fumbled something – all inconsequential stuff – but these were the things that played on people’s minds.

It was during this time in my life that I’d started training as a psychotherapist and so had started noticing this stuff. In one of my own sessions of introspection, I realised one of the most defining moments in my emotional life – I was 7-years-old and something happened that had so emotionally traumatised me, I was still significantly affected as an adult.

It was lunchtime and I was playing marbles in the playground with my friend, Paul Waterman. Then the whistle blew and it was our turn to queue up to go into the dining hall to eat our packed lunch. As we were filing in and being directed to our seats, I realised that I didn’t actually have my lunch. In fact, as I struggled to remember where it was, I couldn’t recall even having seen it at all that day. I grew into a panic, and was trying to work out what to do before I sat down…I couldn’t come up with anything and my panic grew and grew until I exploded into a blubbing and hysterical wreck.

I can imagine now that those dinner ladies were trying their best to work out what could possibly have happened for a child to have such an emotional eruption in the dinner queue. One of the girls explained that I didn’t have my lunch and so I was picked up from the “packed lunch table” and put into the queue for the school dinners.

Now, this was even worse as I didn’t do school dinners, this just wasn’t what I did, and so my freak-out grew far, far worse.

Eventually, one of the teachers came and got me to remove me from the hall. It was at that moment when every kid and adult in the place is staring at me that I realised...

…I was carrying my packed lunch in my hand.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Anxious Moments

I’ve been thinking about anxiety recently. As a former anxiety-monkey who’d get palpitations just picking up the phone or going to the post box, I thought I’d re-examine modern anxious moments. It’s not whether our leaders will lead us unto a nuclear exchange with Iran, the icecaps will melt or whether the sun will explode that causes us anxiety.

I think it is the other unavoidable and tiny little things that cause the problems. And these tiny little things all add up. For example, on entering a public convenience and there is only the middle urinal that is available.

Ladies, despite the issues you have with queuing, at least you don’t have to dangle your undersized/oversized/oddly-shaped bits merely inches away from other men doing the same. There is also the issue of shaking off the drips – a quick and vigorous shake risks flinging drop of urine dangerously into the face of the guy stood inches away – whilst a slower, but more thorough shake risks arrest. The average guy has to pee 3-12 times a day. This is 3-12 times a day whereby he has to expose himself to this petty anxiety inducing trauma.

And what about the toilet cubicle? Sound proofed? Of course not. What is worse is that just when you have managed to relax sufficiantly to drop the motherload without risking, (i) splashback, (ii) letting rip a thunderous gas escape or (iii) managing to pee accidently through the gap between the seat and the rim, thus down the back of your dropped trousers, some bastard comes and sits in the cubicle next to you. The anxious moment? Try to continue silently, quit losses and leave, or hope that he is quick.

But of course, the third option doesn't happen, because you just know that it will take him half-an-hour to relax enough to drop the motherload without risking, (i) splashback, (ii) letting rip a thunderous gas escape or (iii) managing to pee accidently through the gap between the seat and the rim, thus down the back of his dropped trousers. He might, of course, require that you vacate the premises in order that he can do this. The risk is that you end up with two guys in a cubicle, patiently waiting for the other to hurry up and leave.

There are worse things too. When I was 19, I was in an empty motorway service station toilet – there were about 20 urinals. I thought I was safe. But no, some guy in a suit came in and took the urinal right next to mine. Odd behaviour and a scary moment indeed. So I fled with a small, but noticeable dribble down the front of my khaki jeans because I didn't get time to shake off the drips.

Another common anxious moment is the “two-seats-left-on-a-bus” scenario. Everyone seems to prefer to find a totally empty seat, not just a seat with a person already sat in it.

Anxious moment: “Do-I-look-harder-for-an-empty-seat-and-risk-not-finding-one-and-then-having-to-sit-next-to-that-strange-looking-man-to-whom-I-have-already-given-a-clear-indication-to-him-and-to-everyone-else-that-I-initially-preferred-not-to....oh-God-I-do-hope-I-haven’t-offended-him-now-that-I-have-to-sit-next-to-him!”

Versus the alternative...


It gets worse of course – substitute: “strange-looking-man” for “very-attractive-girl-who-has-suddenly-looked-uncomfortable-because-she-thinks-I’m-going-to-have-to-sit-next-to-her” and you begin to get the picture.

More anxious moments to follow…tell me yours.