Tuesday, August 19, 2008

How Not To Work Mornings

I have mentioned in passing that last week I worked the 4:30 am to 1 pm shift at the Skunk Works. The shift itself is, well, just another Engineering shift, albeit one with several hours of live news (meaning the occasional hurried duct-tape repair) and a lot less adult supervision. I've worked it before and as long as you don't mind being up and about while others are snug abed, it hadn't been especially dreadful.

I even started with sufficient sleep.

What I didn't start with was.... Oh, not much. I was out of oatmeal. I was out of B-complex vitamins -- I don't take massive amounts but what I do take makes a difference. And at the Skunk Works, we'd just received a remarkably complex device with two (count 'em) two befuddlingly complex manuals (hardware and software) of the sort that tell everything except how to make The Widget actually do anything.

In the back of the cupboard, I had some time-release 500-mg niacin and to what I use instead of a mind at 0300, that was just as good as the B-100 pills, right?* Ate something, not much, scrubbed up, got on the scooter and off I went.

Took about three hours before I ran outta steam, badly, and spent the next five fighting to stay awake and make coherent notes anent The Widget, In the interim and entirely unbeknownst to me, the "time release" had behaved more like a slow fuse than an hourglass: about an hour into the day, my ears lit up, I began to itch all over and my temper, usually mild-to-quietly-snarky, went very short indeed.

I didn't associate the symptoms with the pill, just gulped my coffee, seethed and kept on beating my soft, fluffy head against the gritty brick wall of Systemic Documentation Failures: How To Hide The Forest In The Trees.

At the end of my day, I was in no shape to ride but it's something of a long walk even not pushing a small, heavy motorized vehicle, sooo... Did well enough, if the near-miss at a huge steel plate laid across the width of one lane counts. At least it was a nice adrenaline hit!

Once back home, I decided I'd better stick the car for the rest of the week. And I realized I was too sleepy to go hit the market.

Next day, same thing, different vehicle. Right down to the hot flash and itchiness and lousy temper. Still didn't put it together.

By Friday, my mood was abysmal, the flushing and itching was hittin' each and every morning, and I had developed a couple of disturbingly sizeable mouth sores. It was at that point that a light clicked on and I typed "symptoms niacin overdose" into Google.

Yep. A week it took. And the symptoms are a more than close match for mine.

...Though I did sleep most of Saturday away, droppin' the not-exactly-time-release overdose was all it took. No more red-hot ears and face, no more crawling skin, and the delightful other problems were gone.

Now, if I can just get The Widget working (couple'a teensy little issues to resolve), things will be back as normal as they ever are!
* Not even hardly.


Drang said...

Ahh, yes, better living through chemistry. Always love the folks who figure if it worked for them it'll work for you.
Sounds like you actually got it worked out quicker than most would have. (Especially when you factor in the 0h-dark-thirty aspect.) I myself went without any sleep whatsoever for almost a week before I figured out that whatever antihistamine they gave me at sick call was making me even more insomniac than usual.
Word: jrrypiig. "Jerry Pig"?

Arthur said...

I OD'd on cold pills -the box of "one every 24 hours" looked remarkably similar to the "two every four hours" - and spent the next few hours at work in a black, seething rage. Luckily I actually read the box before taking a second dose.

Anonymous said...

Damn, girl, be careful.

LabRat said...

Ah, niacin. Fun fact: one of the symptoms of deficiency is an intolerance to cold.

Funny how one minor chemical can do so many different complex things in the body....

Also, I'm sure I don't have to tell you this, but always be careful when taking vitamins to check which are water-soluble and which are fat-soluble; with the latter, it's possible to give yourself a nasty time-delayed overdose if you get too enthusiastic.

Anonymous said...

Ah, the joys of Niacin. Us heart patients take it to raise our HDL (the good cholesterol). My dosage is 2,000mg x 2 daily. Symptoms like flushing, sweats, prickly heat, turning your entire body lobster red, feeling like your clothing has turned into 60-grit sandpaper, etc., these are the signs that I'm taking the CORRECT dosage (according to my which?-Doctor).

Keep your hearts healthy kids. It's hard to get another one, and keeping a bad one running is far worse than keeping a good one healthy.


Roberta X said...

Yeah, what he said. High-dose niacin effects are No Darn Fun.

...And, for whatever it's worth to my heart, I restocked on oatmeal yesterday, too. Ahhh, the good stuff: cook five muntes and enjoy!

Anonymous said...

Take 1 aspirin 30 min. to an hour before each dose of niacin.
Greatly diminishes the adverse effects.