The bubbles have fizzled out of my champagne

I’m feeling beaten down by everything — chronic pain wears one out, and also wreaks havoc on sleep — so I’m just sort of withdrawing from everything for a day or two.

Last night while I was dragging around the edges of sleep my brain kept going around and around in obsessive circles over my fall term teaching (No! Not now! It’s only mid-June! The end of summer is rushing at me.) So this morning, to be somewhat productive, I started mapping out and scheduling my intro biology course, dividing up the readings and figuring out what I’ll do each week. Maybe I can at least get my syllabus done while I’m malingering about, whining.

You don’t need to tell me, I’m godawfully boring. It’s a good thing that nothing really matters right now.

See? All I have to do is fill in little boxes, a step at a time. I can do that.


  1. ionprof says

    Hey PZ: Sorry to hear that. You’re always my second click of the day (after Atrios). I’m in a similar position (old science prof). I should have retired years ago but I keep having these “bucket list” ideas pop up. My chronic health issues so far are milder than yours. I hope you get some resolution very soon. Hang in there!
    All the best, PW

  2. blf says

    The mildly deranged penguin points out that Champagne is carbonated “wine”.
    I explain to her that’s not exactly true, albeit I do share her dislikes (plural) of Champagne, albeit I’ve recently discovered most of my hatred for the gunk is perhaps due to the sweetness — I do seem to tolerate so-called Zéro-style Champagnes (essentially no added sugar, less than 3 grams per litre (total?), whilst some non-Zero Champagne can be more than 50 grams per litre).

  3. nomdeplume says

    Oh PZ, getting old is not for the faint-hearted. Just remember though, it is always darkest before the dawn…

    Hang in there my friend.

  4. says

    Being forced online by the pandemic nearly broke my spirit (How much do I hate Zoom? Let me count the ways: Aleph-null.), but I pulled up short of retiring in disgust and instead signed up for five years of pre-retirement reduced load. I’m now only two-thirds of a professor and carry only a 10-unit load. This means I’m now able to fulfill my teaching duties with a pair of 5-unit classes, and (with a little luck) get them scheduled back to back on MWF. Tiny problems like gout and shingles (OMG, the pain!) slow me down a bit as I lumber toward the end of the line. I really appreciate being a math teacher (no labs! no term papers!), but even easy duty like mine can get tedious. I’m also already working on my fall syllabi! Be well, PZ!

  5. birgerjohansson says

    Get well. And keep chopping up the daily work load in small, manageable pieces.

  6. wajim says

    As a former adjunct instructor at a 4 year institution, I wonder what this thing is called “time off.” I taught 9 Lit and Comp courses per year for six years, then moved on so I could get some sleep and “free time.” Power to ya, professor; perhaps retirement is in your cards. Yeah, I know

  7. chesapeake says

    If it comes down to needing opiates, there are worse things. I’ve been on them for 23 years along with PT and lots of aerobic exercise and weight training and life is pretty good. It was awful in the beginning with much higher pain levels. Being physically dependent on opiates is not the same as being addicted.

  8. John Morales says

    I’m not fooled, PZ. I recognise your stoicism.

    If only you were in a position from which to be able to ease your workload…

  9. donn says

    For whatever encouragement ot might be, I was pretty immobile for the last couple years due to constant lower back pain very similar to what you describe. A mri diagnosis of spinal stenosis followed by the appropriate medical treatment and I’ve close to zero lingering pain at this point. It really gave me a big chunk of my life back. I hope you have a similar outcome.
    Don N.

  10. Louis says

    PZ, I’m genuinely sorry you’re having so much grief with your health. I have to admit I’m seriously impressed by your productivity and conscientiousness even under these trying circumstances.

    Hope the bad stuff attenuates and the good stuff fills the gap!


  11. Pierce R. Butler says

    The two illustrations shown above indicate that our esteemed host’s ordeal has already resulted in one breakthrough: he has, if not squared, at least rectangularized the circle.

  12. Tethys says

    Pain that prevents you from sleeping does become depressing, and increases your pain and frustration.

    I hope your Drs come up with an effective treatment plan, but so far it seems that you are getting sent through the regimen of worthless treatments that put lots of money in their pockets.

    These have helped many chronic pain patients, and it is stupid that they aren’t routinely prescribed by medical Drs in the US, (but they will happily prescribe dangerous shit like Vicodin). You have to sleep. It’s not optional.

    There is also a version that does have narcotic thc, but cbd alone is excellent for reducing the irritated nerves, muscle spasms and inflammation which are the cause of the pain cycle. Advil and a gummy at bedtime will definitely help you sleep.

  13. wzrd1 says

    I’m reminded of studies on chronic pain and its effects upon the CNS. One takeaway is, the entire brain beings processing the noxious stimuli, resulting in slowed and at times, confused thinking to the point where impairment is considered on par with ethanol intoxication.
    I then consider that PZ said he can easily enough prepare his syllabus, so one can reasonably infer that one could easily prepare a syllabus while drunk.
    Which explains the behavior of many department heads and deans… ;)

    Still, I know the feeling. Posterior superior iliac spine is angry on one side, spasm in one buttock is present as usual, the usual intermittent small group spasms in one calf and for fun, my knees are raising merry hell again.

  14. StevoR says

    @3 blf : Yes but only from a cerytain very specific regiuon legally speakin..