Using self-experiments as a method for dialing in better performance is a key concept here at SEE. This post describes recent experiments and presents my anecdotal findings.
From the apartment to my office is roughly a forty minute walk. In the evening, I walk home, usually alone, but occasionally a friend will join me. I don’t do these walks everyday, but I do them most days.
The most interesting result has been that I find myself craving these walks. I have turned down rides offered by friends, so that I can enjoy my walk. If I can’t walk on a day that I was planning to walk home, I am bummed…I miss my walk. And, this has been a cold winter. Doesn’t matter, if I need a sweater, scarf, gloves, coat, and hat, so be it, I want my walk.
On the other hand, leaving early enough to accommodate the morning walk can be a drag. I often find myself thinking what an unnatural thing a clock is. It would be so much easier if I could just leave when I was ready and enjoy an unhurried walk to work. This is the area that requires the most adjusting. I am still fiddling with a morning routine that takes the pressure off.
Swimmer’s Ear: Here is where things start to get weird. I mentioned in a past post that I had been suffering from a terrible case of swimmer’s ear…not those minor earaches you get when water is trapped in your ear canal…the itchy, flaky, makes you want to scratch your ear like a dog kind of swimmer’s ear.
Swimmer’s ear can be caused by either a bacterial infection or a fungal infection. My research revealed that a recommended treatment is a broad spectrum oral antibiotic and/or prednisone. This was not appealing, for two reasons, one it only works on the bacterial form of swimmer’s ear and two it would wipe out all of the good bacteria that helps your body with key functions like digestion. Note, I was not ruling out seeking medical advice, I had just heard so many lifeguards and swimmer’s talk about treating swimmer’s ear at home, that I thought I could try a few things before heading to the doctor.
First, I was very careful to make sure that I dried my ears after taking a shower, often using a blow dryer for this job. Then, I tried applying various medicine cabinet items. I swabbed my ears with hydrogen peroxide. This had some positive short term effects. Next, I tried alcohol, with similar results. But, if I stopped these treatments even for a day,the condition flared up again.
I was becoming convinced that I had a fungal infection, rather than a bacterial infection. I read that apple cider vinegar worked as an anti-fungal. I tried swabbing my ears with apple cider vinegar and the relief was immediate. The itching and burning stopped and I noticed that the flaking started receding away from my ear canal and toward the folds of my ear (something that had not happened with prior treatments). But, when I took a trip and did not swab for a week, I noticed that the flaking was coming back.
Next, I came across an article that discussed using Vicks VapoRub to treat toe nail fungus. The thymol found in Vicks is an anti-fungal. So, I gave it a try.
Vicks is an ointment. This is a benefit over vinegar, because I can rub it into the affected area. This treatment has been the most effective. There is minimal flaking and that comes from behind one of the folds of skin (may have always been that way or could be the result of dry winter weather. Another positive sign is that when I stop the treatment for a day or two, the flaking does not return or spread from that single spot. I will continue to apply the Vicks, until I am certain that my swimmer’s ear is gone.
This has been a long fought battle. An ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of cure, so make sure that you dry the outside of your ears thoroughly after showers, swimming, etc.
Hair: It just gets weirder. Welcome to the next stop on the freak show. A few weeks ago, I read this post over at Free the Animal. Giving up the use of shampoo and other hair care products seemed unorthodox, to say the least. I tend to be particular about my hair. Yet, I was intrigued.
My biggest concern was getting through the two week greasy period described in the post. I caught a couple of breaks. One, it is winter and it is dry. A little extra oil was good for my hair. Two, we had a couple of snow days and a holiday, which allowed me to keep away from work during the transition period. In the end, my hair never really got greasy.
To be clear, I thoroughly rinse my hair. I use a warm water rinse, run my hands through my hair several times, then follow that with a cold water rinse. When I get out of the shower, I towel dry my hair, then do a quick blow dry. I comb it out, fluff it a little with my hands and I am done.
This is a weird one, but I am glad that I tried it. The results have been impressive. Without shampoo, my hair has been healthy and manageable. Honestly, it has felt better, not as dry, in the winter air. I have gotten several compliments on my hair since trying this experiment and I intend to leave the shampoo and conditioner out of the mix for the foreseeable future.
Working Nights: Here is an experiment that I have been observing (not participating in) and do not recommend that anyone try on their own. Eileen has been assigned to work night shifts for two weeks to help out with scheduling at the hospital. From my observations, working nights is a disaster on many different levels.
Image by: YassineMrabet
Short term: It takes a lot of effort to sleep during the day…blinds drawn, eye shade, headphones, and no one around to disturb you.
—There is a definite impact on mood. No real surprise here.
—Disrupted social / familial interaction. There is only a short period in the late afternoon / early evening, where there is family interaction. Meanwhile, meals at home do not include Eileen. Generally we are together during breakfast, even if we do not always sit at the table at the same time. Dinner is a sit down meal. In both instances, Eileen is not able to participate. If she comes home at breakfast time, it is a short conversation, then off to bed. At dinner time, she is already at work.
—Also, breaks in the schedule, lead to a strong response by the body to revert back to a diurnal pattern. Having a day off between shifts leads to a very difficult choice of whether to maintain the unnatural schedule necessary for night work or to try to enjoy a normal day off.
Conclusions: Walking is as good as they say it is. Swimmer’s ear is no fun, but I am hopeful that I am on the right track. The hair thing is almost too weird to talk about. If the results weren’t so good in such a short period of time, I would never have mentioned it. Those that work night shifts have my sympathy, take care of yourselves.
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