Monday, January 24, 2022

Fatalism

What with the Omicron variant being apparently so highly transmissible and the number of infected people being at a record high, quite a few people have adopted a fatalist stance of "well, it's only a matter of time until we've all had it, so what". I won't say I disagree with this statement and I don't want to lock myself up at home either, but at the same time I'd rather get the virus later (ideally when it has mutated to an even milder version of itself) than sooner and therefore I'm not quite in the "whatever" camp (yet). I don't want to put other people at risk even if I should be so lucky as to have little to no symptoms myself and I just don't want the inconvenience of self-isolation and cancelled plans. Not sure I can see that promised silver lining on the horizon all that clearly yet, but I continue to watch out for it...
 

Monday, January 17, 2022

(Not Quite) Worst Case Scenario

I am not a sporty person, but skiing I really love and am not bad at. I just took a long winter holiday (last day at the office was December 21, first back January 10) and went skiing both in Carinthia and Tyrol. Highflyer is a passionate (plus very good and very fast) skier and ski days in his native Tyrol are way sportier and longer than my ski adventures in Carinthia. We were skiing the fourth (half) day in a row when my worst case scenario happened. I fell and injured my leg. In general, I almost never fall (on average once or twice per season) and so far, I've never actually hurt myself even if I took a spectacular-looking fall and had snow in my face and down my back. Ever since the pandemic hit, I have had this fear at the back of my mind when skiing that we might injure ourselves and need to visit a hospital, which is a) not exactly the kind of place I would like to end up in the best of days and b) it would definitely be frowned upon now to require the services of doctors who are close to burnout due to the situation and winter sports is not necessarily something you "have" to do.  It's a kind of frivolous and unavoidable accident. Well, the day it happened it was quite warm and the snow was very soft and "mousse-y" like you would expect in spring. It was already almost 4 p.m. and we were skiing down a very steep slope when suddenly, at a rather slow speed, I just slipped and fell. So far, so unremarkable, but like in slow-motion, just before my bum hit the ground, my right ski made an extra twist and I could feel this sharp pain in my right knee. The binding didn't open so both skis were still attached to my boots. Highflyer was way ahead of me and out of sight and the other skiiers, men with kids, obvously decided I looked okay so nobody stopped to ask if I needed help getting up. I took several deep breaths, then attempted to get up and slowly ski downhill. Any time I put pressure on my right leg, there was this horrible pain again. Thankfully, there was only about one third of the distance to go and Highflyer was also waiting for me halfway. He had got worried and assumed I must have had an accident when I didn't show up, but it would have taken him quite some time to walk uphill (I suppose he would have tried to call me on my mobile next). I told him that I had hurt my right knee and would call it a day. My mind was racing. Could I have broken a bone? Torn some ligament? Would my leg be swollen when we got home? Should we better go straight to hospital? In retrospect, I think I was in a state of shock. I was pretty worried as I had never experienced this type of pain before.
Back home, it turned out that my leg looked completely normal and intact so I just sent Highflyer to the pharmacy to ask for their recommendation, which was to rub a certain ointment on the affected part of the leg and see a doctor if the pain doesn't go away after a few days. The first night I had trouble sleeping because of the pain and walking was not the most pleasant experience for 2 or 3 days, but now that more than 10 days have passed, I would say that my leg feels almost 90% normal again and I am confident that I can ski again in two weeks time when I will be in Carinthia again.
I am very glad that it wasn't so dramatic after all and really thankful that the ointment seems to have done its job. Under normal circumstances I might have still visited a doctor right away, but as there was absolutely nothing to see, I would probably have been sent for an x-ray or MRT scan first thing anyway.
I feel that this was some kind of "warning"...perhaps a reminder that I will soon be half a century old? and am now more prone to spraining a muscle or some such? Or that I should not overdo the sporty escapades regardless of my age? Whatever this incident was trying to tell me, I am very grateful that nothing worse happened and that I don't need to spend the rest of winter with my leg in a cast. Fingers crossed.
 

Monday, January 10, 2022

User Manual

 

Back in the pre-Pandemic olden days, you could categorise people into cheek-kissers and hand-shakers. By "people" I mean your average Austria person, not, say French people who are (were?) mostly kissers anyway, or Swiss and Polish people who confuse you by giving three instead of two pecks on the cheeks which inevitably results in an awkward clash of cheeks or worse, lips. The simple rule was more or less: handshakes are for formal settings or casual acquaintances, friends get (air) kisses. These days, it's not so simple. Some people have become kissers again, others have decided to become huggers instead. Others yet prefer to stick to fist-bumps or sheepish waves for the time being. All these exchanges are absolutely fine with me as long as I know the person I'm meeting is not somebody who should be in quarantine because they are super infectious. Unless I can instinctively assess if the encounter in question will become a kiss, hug, handshake or "contactless" greeting scenario, I have taken to openly asking people if they are are the kissing, hugging or handshaking kind to avoid awkwardness and confusion. I have to admit that I am not very consistent myself and often use caution as an excuse for escaping from certain people's wet "suction kisses"...

Monday, January 03, 2022

Unplugged


I am currently enjoying the second week of my long (much needed) winter break. Unlike most of my colleagues, who often use their work phone privately as well, mine will remain in hibernation and my out of office reply therefore also doesn't invite people to "text me if the matter is urgent and I will call you back". My work laptop will likewise remain switched off. My manager has repeatedly complimented (aka actually criticised) me on how admirable it is that I manage to draw borders and to compartmentalise my work and private life, but I honestly need to do this for my own sanity and in order to get the full benefit of time off. I know from discussions with friends and colleagues that some people find the idea stressful that they might come back to an exploding inbox and they have found that they can enjoy their vacation time only if they take an occasional peek at their e-mail, but I belong to the other camp that would find it stressful to switch back and forth, knowing that certain people will absolutely take advantage of seeing your status as "green" and jump at you with requests that "will just take 2 seconds since you're online" just as you are about to close your laptop again. It might seem odd and not in line with company culture, but for me, annual leave is the time when you are supposed to recharge your batteries and think of anything else but work, even if said work is not actually super stressful and you get on well with your colleagues and superior, as is absolutely the case with me. I need to uplug and am happy that when this post goes live I have another week of me-time to look forward to. 

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