A girlfriend asked me if it felt good to be home in Montana. I said I wasn’t sure as my soul hasn’t landed home yet. I think it might be somewhere over the Arctic at the moment.
She knows, now, absolutely, hearing the white noise that is London, that Damien’s theory of jet lag is correct: that her mortal soul is leagues behind her, being reeled in on some ghostly umbilical down the vanished wake of the plane that brought her here, hundreds of thousands of feet above the Atlantic. Souls can’t move that quickly, and are left behind, and must be awaited, upon arrival, like lost luggage.
Everything physical I do has a cost and nothing is higher cost than travel. I am bearing those costs at the moment. Blessedly the costs feel removed and remote as I am a perhaps disassociated as my soul may or may not be somewhere over Greenland.
So if you’ve not heard from me it’s because I’ve got a bit of soul delay with my jet lag. Or a bit of jet lag with my soul delay. You can expect reintegration soon.
As much as I am looking forward to being home in Montana for our glorious summers, I am leaving behind some pieces of my heart in Europe. I’ll be back soon. But only once the weather has cooled down again. Climate change and chronic illness are not good bedfellows. But in twenty four hours or so I’ll be home. And I hope to recover quickly from the stress of travel.
After I have my set up I try to run with a regular daily routine when I am abroad. Additional stresses like jet lag, heat, new allergies, a suppressed immune system that easily picks up a stray infection (skin is my most common vector not lung these days), and other more quotidian travel stresses all hit me hard.
Our bodies replace many of their nearly 30 trillion human cellsregularly. About 330 billion of those cells are replaced every day — that’s about 1 percent of all our body’s cells. Other cells, like the tiny ones in our gut, renew within a week.
I’m not much for dreams of eternal life. Chronic disease tends to give you a bit of appreciation for Sisyphus and the torture of daily physical embodied indignities. But give me the hope for constant change and you’ve got my attention. And yes I moved a lot as a kid who do you ask?
Doesn’t 1% renewal day seem both manageable and swift at the same time? It’s one of the recommendations I give to folks who are interested in biohacking. Change one variable by a small percentage every single day. Big changes come from compounding over time.
I’m not the same person I was yesterday. I’m not the same person I was a month ago. If I look at how much change I’ve undergone in just the last year it feels dizzying. If I consider how different June of 2023 Julie is from June 2022, I’m barely the same person.
I take solace in the 1% renewal. That even if this version of myself is suffering, I am building a future version of myself that compounds into better versions. Seems like we should be grieving a little every day doesn’t it?
Just in the last two, I’ve had Nigerian, Indian, Albanian, and Russian Jewish founders years find themselves unable to secure visas to visit America, not even for professional conferences or tourism. It is much worse with HB1 or O1 visas. You may not think this problem doesn’t affect you, or may even benefit you, but can I assure you one day it will affect you negatively. American industry was built by immigrants.
At first I thought I could simply work around America’s travel restrictions. Capitalism will overcome the inequalities our states have wrongly thrown up to divide us.
But I am learning that climate change and failures in sustainable energy policy is making it much harder to travel with a disability or chronic medical condition. Heat is a strain some bodies can’t take. And mine is one of those bodies. Migraine sufferers are too. So are the elderly. It’s quite common.
Last year I briefly did that American thing where we pretend we the Mediterranean lifestyle is aspirational by spending two weeks on the Ioan Sea. Utter disaster. I am not calling White Lotus a liar, but I couldn’t possibly imagine how hell could be worse than a heatwave in Sicily in July.
If you paid attention during the pandemic you probably learned a lot about how we treat the sick and weak. Now imagine yourself as an one of them. It’s almost enough to make you consider becoming a reader of Rawls.
The end result for me is that I don’t believe I’ll be traveling to Europe except in the winters going forward. I can’t risk the lost days of productivity to something stupid like a default hotel setting for 72 degrees. I feel a bit robbed by this. Grief even that even late May is too risky to be on the road.
It’s a small thing to have your travel be restricted in a world of bigger sorrows, but the feeling of having your opportunities narrowed hurts. I’m sad because a utilitarian neoliberal wonk decided that most people would be perfectly comfortable with slightly warmer rooms. The finance teams at the hotels agreed. It’s not so bad. It doesn’t bother them. I wonder what other decisions won’t bother them. And whether they will hurt me unintentionally.
I hate when I am made to feel it is embarrassed and ashamed that I have a disability. And German’s current energy policy has me feeling like my medical needs are something of which I should me ashamed. And that’s bullshit. It’s a policy failure.
I have ankylosing spondylitis (an inflammatory condition in my spine) along with a cluster of other autoimmune issues like allergies, migraines and dermatitis. If my symptoms flare I can’t walk and the treatments are unpleasant. Methotrexate, steroids, specialty biologics injections.
I find myself in Frankfurt for a mix of personal and professional reasons. The Airbnb I rented for the month was on of only a handful that offered aid conditioning at all. And one of only three that was a personal apartment and not a hotel service using Airbnb.
So I booked it even though I noticed it was on a main road in the neighborhood of Sachsenhausen. The host assured me it was quiet and most of the apartments looked out on a garden in the back.
Alas the bedroom was on the main road so I was unable to ventilate the apartment by keeping the bedroom windows open as the exhaust and debris from the roadway left my eyes red, itchy and I woke up with hives several times.
I bought a small fan at the local store and kept the bedroom door open and had the fan blow cooler air from the back windows overlooking the garden. I was still struggling with ventilation as the car exhaust and fumes meant the bedroom had to be sealed. Even then I paid $50 for a cleaner weekly to clean up the pollen, debris and dust that would get in from leaving open the window
I’d leave all the windows open on the good side, keep the apartment sealed and dark during the day, and have three weeks of extremely shitty sleep on my Whoop to prove it. But overall this worked well until it got hot enough to warrant air conditioning usage.
Sadly summer is rounding the corner and a few days in the low 80s (or 27-28 C for you Europeans) was too hot for my spine to tolerate comfortably. I was struggling enough with keeping the bedroom cool with the fan and back open window so I decided to run the air conditioner. It was old, noisy and hadn’t had its filters changed in a while. I made do.
The neighbors complained. Twice. Once through the Airbnb owner and the second time by knocking multiple times on my door. I had to explain to them embarrassing levels of medical detail to assure them this wasn’t preferred temperature or taste but a medical necessity. I hadn’t expected to show off my vials of injectables to be taken seriously but thanks guys.
This weekend it is expected to be in the mid eighties so I thought rather than fight off my neighbors and get another bad night of sleep with a dirty air conditioner and noisy roadway I’d check myself into a hotel. I’d been having a significant flare of all my symptoms which had required emergency doses of steroids, two unexpected infections (I take immunosuppressants) with two different antibiotics, and quite a bit of other remedies.
Well I guess the final boss of Europe’s poor energy policy was about to land it’s final blow on me. The hotel I checked into for some relief won’t turn its air conditioning below 72 or 22 C. It has to be much warmer to get it to my preferred temperature of 17 while I was experiencing this flared fever state. That apparently wasn’t an option.
So I guess I’m going to check one more hotel to see if they will allow me to cool my prior to my preferred temperature or I’ll prepare for another fight with my neighbors over running the air conditioning overnight again. Wish me luck. Build more nuclear power. Install solar arrays.
I’ve always been the type of thinker who enjoy playing with differences and similarities. I find it pleasing to see common attributes of humanity. I’m soothed seeing we are more alike than not even across vast genetic & cultural distances.
I equally enjoy spotting games of “one thing is not like the other” as part of the general pattern recognition that evolutionary Darwinism implies. The freaks and mutants are who push us forward. Recognizing the value of positive differentiation is the basis for every job I’ve ever loved from fashion to finance.
This might be why I enjoy tools like timers, trackers, spreadsheets and other measurements of inputs and outputs. I like inferred knowledge and probability. Those goofy old standard test questions “this is to that: as that is to this” were my favorite.
I understand how totalizing using these tools can be. I’m currently experiencing the intense urge to smash my Apple Watch as I am asking it to “set a timer for 45” minutes several times a day. I’m setting shorter timers too.
I am spreading out a biohacking regimen while my body goes through an ugly symptom flare that suggests both allergy issues and a general immune response to what I believe is an infection from some scratching that opened my dermatitis. Fun huh?
The expectation that one’s body is unique and an N of 1 pairs poorly with averages, reversion to the mean, and the persistent beeping tinging ringing reminders of a timer going off telling you to follow the routine. So here I am wishing to some spreadsheet brained hope that my inputs and outputs will balance and I will be fine if we got the dosing right.
Which is the prayer of everyone who has ever experienced a medical malady. Set a timer, wait, and pray to an actual God as the ones in our phones aren’t up to the task of being deities just yet. More like having a troublesome djinn that promises the pain will go away if you do exactly ask it asks.
So I am giving myself permission to take it nice and easy on this blog post today. This morning I ordered an enormous number ($150 or so) of creams, unguents and lotions as well as a number of anti-histamines from a German apothecary in the hopes of gaining some relief.
I take multiple antihistamine already but I got a fourth (it’s Claritin in the US. A got a corticosteroid cream, something called Zugsable or black cream (it smells like tar) and a Linola Fett cream which appears to be like Weleda skin food without the fragrances. Plus some melatonin as I’m not sleeping so great with this itching. They tossed in some cosmetics as well which I will definitely put to use. And that’s all she wrote today.
If I were a betting women, and I am, I’d be placing them on European heating, ventilation, and air conditioning corporations. Yeah, I think HVAC is a growth industry for the continent.
HVAC is use of various technologies to control the temperature, humidity, and purity of the air in an enclosed space. Its goal is to provide thermal comfort and acceptable indoor air quality.
You’d think after the pandemic brought the importance of air quality to everyone’s attention, that decent ventilation would a priority. Add in the increasing frequency of deadly heat waves and you’ve got real tailwinds for HVAC technology being crucial not only for comfort but for life.
So why are European apartments somehow both poorly ventilated and poorly insulated at the same time? Is there even a term for this? Finally I viscerally understand why bad air (mal air) is one of the canonical health problems of the Western Cannon. All those nerdy writers inside were suffering.
I’ll grant 1700 era European cities have more excuses than modern cosmopolitan ones for having stuffy, dusty, stinky, hot and yet somehow also cold and drafty air. They didn’t have electricity so no fans, pumps or air exchanges. But why the fuck haven’t they fixed it yet?
The worst plague of the great indoors is shitty HVAC. We have no excuses for it anymore as it’s an environmental health hazard on its own before we even consider the current energy crisis (don’t even get me started on what counts as being green). Refusing to keep your apartment’s ventilated and insulated is bad for your body and your budget.
So if anyone has suggestions for investing up and down the value chain of improving HVAC systems I think we’ve got a growth industry on our hands. Europe can’t refuse to air condition forever and it sure can’t afford to continue to burn coal and Russian gas to heat drafty apartments either.
I had a flu this time last year. I was in process of closing on our home in Montana. What a week that was for me. The first piece of real land I ever owned. Better late than never.
This May I think I just have plain old hay fever. Blooming trees on Frankfurt city streets combined with a roadside bedroom has me sniffling and itching. I broke out the prednisone. 5mg at first. Then upped to 10mg the next day. I treat prednisone like most people treat opioids. “In case of emergency” would be preferable.
Maybe I simply get spring fever of some sort and I can romanticize it like some British Regency period piece as interpreted by Shonda Rhimes. Ah she had the rheumatic touch when she bought her ancestral home. But then had the vapors when she came to the Hapsburg Court. The deadly poisons of springs first flower has felled her bloom. Spring fever indeed, my pretties.
I didn’t even use ChatGPT for that. My brain can spit back up sick tropes. Nevertheless I do feel a bit felled by this inflammatory cycle that has required a little more attention than preferred.