Styes, sleepless nights and swear words

These last few weeks have mostly been centred around two things:  the plague in my eyes (aka styes of doom) and insomnia.  I apologise if most of this entry is babble, but I’m working on a sleep debt of 500 hours now (or so it feels like) so even breathing is an arduous task.  Ever since we got a load of new housemates, I’ve found it really hard to sleep: our walls are so thin that I get woken up whenever anyone unlocks a door, opens the door, closes the door, goes to the bathroom, etc. etc., so because the five people I live with all go to bed at different times, I basically have to wait until the last person goes to bed (around midnight) only to get woken up when the first person gets up (around 6 am).  What makes things worse is that usually I’m so frustrated by midnight that I haven’t been able to sleep, that I find it really hard to get to sleep, so am not usually asleep until around 2 am.  And then of course people get up in the middle of the night to go to the toilet a few times, which wakes me up, and takes me about 30 mins to get back to sleep again.  So right now I feel like killing everyone.

And of course to make matters even worse I had a stye in my eye (the first one I’ve ever had) a few weeks ago.  It was so bad that I couldn’t sleep on that side of my face because the whole of my right side of my head hurt from it.  Blinking felt like someone was stabbing me with a knife into my eye.  I decided to self-medicate myself by squeezing the pus out after a few days of agony.  Fortunately it seemed to work pretty well and by the next day it was almost back to normal. 

Then, no less than a week later, I got another one in my left eye (maybe the other eye was feeling left out from all this attention my right eye was getting?!).  This other one is however a behemoth of a stye and is swelling to the point that I think it looks like my brain is trying to escape from one tiny opening from my eyelash pore.    Again, I got annoyed with it hurting so much, so asked our resident vet for some advice.  She said if I lanced it with a needle it would let out the pus and would get better, so she sent me home with two sterile veterinary needles.  That night, I stood in front of the bathroom mirror, 2” needle in one hand, tissue in the other, staring at the offending eye.  It took a couple of minutes to pluck up the courage to do what seems so entirely against all instinct – sticking a sharp, sharp instrument straight into the flesh around the eye.  Because it was already inflamed due to the infection, it was super sore around the area, so it felt like someone was ripping away my flesh when I was sticking the thing in.  It’s surprising how much eyes bleed when you poke them:  after sticking the needle into the eyelid and pushing it through to the other side, blood started to gush out into my eye and made it look like I was crying blood.  As much as it hurt, I’ve gotta say, looking like you’re crying blood does actually look pretty fucking cool, so, despite the pain, I decided to get a camera and take a photo!  Haha, whoever said I was normal?  J  In any case, the procedure did not result in any pus coming out, and rather just a lot of blood.  I went to bed dissatisfied with my lack of medical skill.  When I awoke the next day, the whole left side of my face was swollen, sore, red and extremely painful.  Not good!  I looked like I’d gotten into a fight (which, by all accounts, I guess I had to some sorts – just with myself.  Tyler Durden, eat your heart out).  I texted our manager straight away to ask if I could take a trip to the doctor, as this did NOT look healthy.  Fortunately a car was going into town in 30 mins so I wolfed down my breakfast and made a dash for the car.   Once in town, we went to the docs only to find that you need to call in advance for an appointment otherwise you have to just sit around and wait for hours until someone doesn’t show up for theirs.  Screw that!  I decided to just go to the pharmacy instead and hope they could help.  I showed the pharmacist my battle wounds and she gave me some antibiotic eye cream and an eye drop for the irritation.  Fortunately the swelling and redness went down after a couple of hours.  However, the stye was still very much present and painful.  I’ve now been using the treatment for 2 days with no result, so I have decided to start taking some oral antibiotics that I’ve had left over from one of my numerous other doctor appointments.  Fingers crossed this bloody plague in my eye will go away soon!
I’ve been told that some of the main causes of styes are stress, lack of sleep and a bad diet.  Well, I can safely say that I probably have all three of those here!  Not being able to control what I eat due to having a chef (who knows nothing about a vegan diet or what nutrients I need) does not help with boosting my immunity, neither does lack of sleep causing a mass amount of stress.  I think I must currently look like the grim reaper at the moment, as about 6 people have now told me to take some time off to de-stress and try to rest.  What is the point in taking time off though if I’m just going to lie in bed staring at the ceiling being frustrated about not getting to sleep!?   The only thing that’s helped me to get a good night’s rest over the last few weeks is an Ambien pill that a friend gave me, which is apparently a hardcore prescription drug that can cause hallucinations if you take two.  If only I drank or smoked weed I’m sure they would help to get me to sleep!

A few weeks ago, Laurie our director was in the US to do some media campaigns.  She got invited to the Clinton Global Initiative, run by Bill and Hilary Clinton who are trying to find organisations to back financially.  Apparently she met Bill, who was entirely charmed by her and didn’t want to leave!  Here’s hoping that Laurie convinced him that cheetahs are awesome and deserve lots of money to be saved.

I had one of the most surreal conversations ever with the assistant director the other day, who is half-German, half-French and rather timid in nature.  We were having a conversation when I used the word “prat”, and she’d never heard of this word before.  She asked if it was like the word “brat”, and I said “no, more like the word ‘idiot’”. She said “so it’s a bit like the word ‘twat’?”.  Shocked, I replied “yes, although slightly less offensive than that word”, in which she replied “how about the word ‘cunt’?”.  Utterly stunned face, with my jaw to the floor, unable to comprehend that my shy assistant director is asking me what the word ‘cunt’ means!  I replied “errr well I guess so, but that word is probably the most offensive in the whole of the English vocabulary!”.

Last week I went into town to get a present for my grandmother’s birthday.  I found a lovely wood carving of a rhino and decided to buy this for her.  I had brought along a used (but perfectly fine) large envelope to put it in and some selotape to seal it up.  I went to the post office, but was told by the clerk that there would be no way that they would accept a second-hand envelope to send something to Europe as it won’t get there without being damaged.  I told her I’d had a lot of experience sending things abroad as I’ve sold loads of things on eBay and I always use second-hand envelopes as, hello, it helps save the environment, durr!  She would not take any of this and told me to go over the road to the stationary shop to get a box.  Begrudgingly I went and found a nice little cardboard box to put the item in.  I went back and selotaped it all up, stood in line again and finally got to the same clerk.  She looked at my little box, back at me, at the box, then back at me again.  “Oh no, there is no way you can send that!  Look at the tape, it’s so flimsy!”.  “But I have no other tape” I reply with a deadpan face.  “Well that just won’t do, I’m sorry”.  “So you expect me to also buy some packaging tape?” I ask.  “Hang on, let me go see if we have any out back”.  She walks away, I stand there stunned at how difficult it is to post a bloody parcel back to the UK.  After a few minutes she comes back with some hardcore heavy-duty tape and proceeds to make artwork out of the tape on my box, making sure it is all in line and sealed.  I wait, and wait and wait.  Finally, she’s done.  She looks up and me and say “you can’t send the parcel with the address just written on the box like that, you’ll have to get a nice new label”.  By this time, I’m just thinking “POST THE GODDAMN PARCEL GODDAMN YOU, I DON’T CARE!!!!!!!!!!!!!”.  However, as I’d come this far, I might as well get a label.  Fortunately I had a blank sheet of white paper in my bag and I wrote a nice address label for it.  She stuck it on and put it on the scales.  “Now you’ll have to send this registered mail otherwise it’s unlikely to get back to Europe and because it is a parcel and not a letter, this will cost you more”.  “Hang on, it was previously in an envelope and you told me to put it in a box”, I reply.  “Yes but now it’s a parcel so it costs more, that’s just how it is.”  She types into the computer and comes up with a price of approximately 13 GBP to send a small, light parcel.  I look at her stunned.  “Sorry, HOW much?”.  I’ve sent a number of other parcels abroad from Namibia and never once did it cost that much.  “So how much will it cost if I send it unregistered”, I ask.  She said there was no point in sending it unregistered as it won’t get there without being damaged – “trust me, I’ve been working here for years and I know how it goes” she says, bored.  I sigh, take a deep breath, and ask if there is any way she can send it cheaper, as the price of sending it cost more than the price of the bloody gift.  She said I could send it surface mail.  Now, I sent my skulls back from South Africa surface mail and that took about 2 months.  She told me that sometimes it takes a few days though and sometimes you’re lucky.  By this point, I am so frustrated at how difficult it is to send this bloody parcel, that I give in and tell her that it’s fine to send it registered surface mail (after all, it’s still over a month until my grandmother’s birthday).  I just hope it finally does reach her at some point, after all that effort!!!  Phew!

We have a lot of wildlife here on CCF property, as you may have noticed from my tales of animal sightings in my previous blog posts.  However, there are a number of species we just don’t have here, like lions, wild dogs, spotted hyenas, white rhinos and elephants.  Last weekend a friend cycled from town to CCF and, along the way, saw some odd tracks on the road that were very large, round and oval and with wrinkles on them.  Now, instantly I thought it was elephant, but my common sense told me that it would be ridiculous to have elephants here as we’ve not had them here for decades, and the nearest place that does have them is Etosha, which is a 3-hour drive away.  However, later on that day, some staff members were driving into CCF and saw some large piles of dung on the road.  They got out to inspect them and it looked very much like either rhino or elephant dung.  We do have black rhino in the area, so it was possible that it could have been this, but the tracks around it indicated it to be elephant.  They got back in the car, baffled, and drove on.  A few minutes later they came across a lone sub-adult male elephant in the middle of the road!  Apparently it had broken out from a game reserve a few hours from here and had been wandering around the local area.  We tried to go out to find it, but by the time we got there, it was long gone, sadly.  I wonder where it is now!

Lastly, I have had some very, very good news.  I was feeling like death yesterday morning after another night with no sleep.  I got to the office to do my morning ritual of reading the news and drinking a mocha before going to breakfast. I checked my emails and had 3 new ones. Two were junk and I deleted right away, but the other was from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), which is a grant-giving body that I had applied to for funding for my PhD.  I was expecting to open it to find another rejection letter  - “Great proposal, but not good enough, sorry” type of thing.  However, much to my extreme shock, they have given me full funding for my 3-year PhD project!!!  How exciting!!  This now means I will leave CCF at the end of August to return to the UK in order to start my PhD back at the University of Kent in September.  I am thrilled that this is going ahead, as I wasn’t quite sure what I would do if I didn’t get funding.  I’ve had my heart set on doing this for a long time and have been planning how to go about doing this for approximately 4 years – in fact, going to do my Masters, working in South Africa, Zim and Namibia were all in the game plan to get accepted onto a PhD programme.  And now I’m in!  :-D  I am really looking forward to going back to the UK, surprisingly, as it would be really nice to catch up with everyone again.  I should hopefully be there until March/April 2013, and then will head back to Namibia to carry out my field research for approximately a year.  Wow, Dr Niki Rust here I come!


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