Sep 6 2016

To shower—or not

Adel Gabot



I’m not ashamed to say it: I don’t shower everyday.

Of course, if I had a particularly strenous day, or I just ran a 21k marathon, or if I crawled through some rubble, or it’s just especially hot that day, I’d shower. Of course.

But ever since I had my stroke (six years ago now), I’ve been taking it pretty easy with my activities, and as a result, I don’t get worked up as much. I began just showering every other day, or sometimes even after three or even four days, on occasion.

I don’t stink, and I don’t feel or look like a hobo. People can never tell (or smell) that I last took a shower a couple of days ago, and that’s just fine. It never gets that far.

I don’t get out as much, and I’m usually ensconsced in comfortable digs so much that I don’t get dirty or dusty and don’t sweat a lot. So I just don’t feel the need to shower as often. I sometimes do take a shower anyway, but just because I feel guilty and polite society tells me that I should, but I don’t feel the need to. Really.

We’ve been conditioned by habit to take a shower every morning, whether or not we really need to. I just broke myself out of that habit. I just keep clean as much as I can: I wash up and brush my teeth as often as I did before, and comb my hair and change my clothes periodically. And apply deodorant liberally when I do get out of the shower. And I’ve been doing this for the past few years, and no one’s the wiser.

And I just came across a web post on Esquire that vindicates my habit:

How Often You’re Actually Supposed to Shower

by Olivia Ovenden, written and posted on April 11, 2016

Cleanliness is next to Godliness, or so the saying goes. But if you’re someone who finds their morning scrub unnecessary, new findings suggest it may well be.

Whilst we were all brought up to believe that washing daily is just common decency, experts are now suggesting you may only need to do so once or twice a week.

Dr. Elaine Larson, infectious disease expert at Columbia University School of Nursing told Time: “I think showering is mostly for aesthetic reasons. People think they’re showering for hygiene or to be cleaner, but bacteriologically, that’s not the case.”

She also said that while washing is necessary to remove odors after exercise or perspiring in heat, it won’t necessarily help with protecting from illness. Her advice? Making sure you wash your hands, which should be enough. Unless you’re regularly rolling around in mud.

Further evidence damning regular bathing suggests that it in fact dries up your skin, opening gaps for germs to enter your pores.

Your body is naturally a well-oiled machine. A daily shower isn’t necessary,” said Dr. C. Brandon Mitchell, assistant professor of Dermatology at George Washington University. He found in studies that washing too frequently disrupted the skin’s process of fighting bacteria and stripped away natural oils.

That said, to the guy on the subway who everyone can smell two cars away: Deodorant is still not optional.

From: Esquire UK

So there.

Jun 21 2016


Adel Gabot



Aromatherapy. I’m getting into it. God help me, I’m actually getting into it.

Although in a roundabout way, really. Let me tell you the story.

As I work on my computer at home, I’m constantly bothered by frigging mosquitoes. They bite my arms, my thighs, any exposed area through the course of a workday (which is anytime, really), and I find myself constantly scratching. Scratching, scratching. It’s irritating in a way that’s unrivalled by anything else I know. Dammit.

I can’t imagine how they get to me, there aren’t any stagnant sources of water around for them to breed in. It only started when the rainy season began, so I guess there must be at least one place near, although I haven’t discovered it yet.

So I went about seaching for mosquito-killing solutions, and trawled the net for them.

The cream-based repellants are out; they’re really a bother to put on and reapply during the day. So are the spray insecticides. Aside from being a health hazard, they don’t really last long, and pretty soon the pesky insects are there to feed again.

I researched the electrified traps, but quickly found out that was a scam. Those things are for other, bigger insects. The mosquitoes aren’t attracted to the UV light at all, so those that are caught are just statistical anomalies and are dead because of the luck of the draw: just 5% of those trapped and caught are mosquitoes. Even if they say “mosquito killer” on their ads don’t ever believe it.

There are those expensive ones that expel CO2 and a bit of heat that really attracts them, and even has a suction thing that pulls the mosquitoes in, but they’re expensive as hell if they’re even available at all. So that’s out.

But I also found out that citronella oil is a good insect repellant, particularly for mosquitoes, and if you burn some of that oil in an oil burner, that would do it. And it smells good too.

Which bring me to aromatherapy.

My wife is a firm believer, and she used to burn oil in our bedroom before, but she used those obscenely fragrant exotic oils that used to just give me fragrance headaches, so I never really got into it.

I went and reseached online a bit more, and found sources for citronella oil, and I even found an electronic oil burner that would simplify the process. But I wanted to try it out again first. Although I didn’t have the first idea where to buy the oil and the damn oil burners.

As luck would have it, I found a new and unused oil burner in the house (imagine that), plus a small bottle of sunflower oil. So I tried it out and lit a votive candle in there and mixed a small amount of water and sunflower oil to burn and put the whole thing in my room, and voila—I liked it!

I loved the subtle aroma, and it made me feel lighter and better about my work. Apparently I preferred the simpler scents; the more exotic, the bigger the headaches.

Putting aside the electronic burner for the meantime, I just ordered online a test bottle of citronella oil, and I’m waiting for it to arrive. While I’m waiting, I keep burning some of the sunflower oil and bathing myself in the comforting scent.

And that’s how I got into aromatherapy.


May 6 2016


Adel Gabot


This morning in the shower, apropos of nothing, I shaved my face clean.

For the first time in what, over two decades, I shaved off my Van Dyke beard, and became clean shaven for the first time in a long time.

I don’t know what possessed me to do it.

I just thought it might be time for a slight change. Just like that fateful day a long time ago when I decided it might be good to grow a beard and have a slight change in the way I look.

A totally random, arbitrary decision. Both times. Although that first one stayed with me for over 20 years. Christ, I have good, longtime friends who have never known me not to have a beard. It’s been that long.

I call it a beard, but that’s really stretching the definition, I think, especially in the beginning.

It was, to use a word, sparse. I had an adequate mustache, but the rest of it proved wanting. I could grow a workable chin, but the sides barely grew and didn’t connect to the temples. I had to cultivate and encourage it for months before it became passable. In time I had a Van Dyke, that type of beard that grew around the mouth area—because that was the only thing I could grow.

And so it went. I had to trim it often, first every two weeks, then every week, and when it finally got growing, every couple of days. But that happened in the space of a couple of years in the beginning.

There were times I would trim it neatly and assiduously, and other times I would let it grow wild and free. But I had to keep it as neat as I could, otherwise I looked like a homeless bum.

In the later years, the beard would have its share of gray hairs, much more than my head, which had practically none. The last couple of years it would take on a salt-and-pepper look that betrayed my actual age. If I didn’t have the Van Dyke, I could pass for someone in my late thirties, instead of a ripe old 54.

So this morning, I figured, why not shave it off, and in the process look a lot younger. So I did.

And I needn’t have worried about how different I looked now. My brother and father didn’t even notice anything had changed at breakfast. Karla, the manager at Starbucks where I was at this morning, gave me her usual cheery hello and didn’t even bat an eyelash.

I thought I’d have a reverse 5 o’clock shadow for a while, because the sun-deprived skin under the beard wouldn’t have the color of the rest of my face, but apparently I looked exactly the same as before.


I’ll try out this new look for a week or so, and if it doesn’t pan out, well, I’ll just grow it back.

Mar 15 2016

Seeing auras

Adel Gabot



I just had another visual aura episode.

It usually lasts for ten to 15 minutes. It starts at a small spot in my field of vision, anywhere there, and it slowly develops and expands, a shimmering ring or aura that soon covers my entire field of sight. It obscures my vision, and I usually have trouble seeing clearly when it starts covering a significant portion of what I can see. And I can’t do anything about it—I can’t see people’s faces, can’t read, can’t drive.

Mercifully, the episode is usually short. about a quarter of an hour, before it disappears completely and my sight is restored.

Then follows a bad migraine attack.

A visual aura is what precedes a migraine, so I know an attack is coming.

Anyone who experiences migraines report some sort of visual aura phenomenon. Some are weak, some really bad, but they’re there. The aura announces the arrival of his boss, the bad headache. They come as a matching pair, an aura and a migraine, a diabolical duet concocted by whatever force creates these debilitating headaches.

This is what an aura looks like:


It used to happen once a week or so, ever since I can remember, and I got kinda used to it. There is no real trigger as far as I could see, it would happen at any time, in any situation, whether I was stressed or not, even when I was resting and completely at ease. The aura would come, and soon after, the inevitable migraine.

It became routine to me, although the migraines really, truly sucked balls. It was hell on earth. The slightest movement, the slightest noise would send me into paroxysms of pain, and I’d bang my head against the wall if it wouldn’t make it worse.

I would have to retire to a cool, quiet, dark room and wait it out, and it would usually last several hours or so, sometimes a day if I was really unlucky. One time a really bad one lasted three whole days, and I thought I was going to die.

The migraines began back when I was a teen, around 14 or 15, and lasted well into my adulthood, into my late 40s. An average of a migraine a week, for 30 years or so. I tried all sorts of remedies and medicines, but none really worked.

I learned to live with it. You learn to live with anything, if there’s nothing else you can do.

But the migraines disappeared after I had my stroke.

That was what, six years ago? At least some good came out of it. The migraines just… stopped, and I haven’t had one since November 2009, knock on wood.

But the visual auras are still here.

It comes usually every week or two, at random intervals, and last for ten to 15 minutes, visually incapacitating me as it usually did. I would feel like my head was stuffed full of cotton, that I was on the verge of getting a bad headache again. But it wouldn’t ever get that far.

No accompanying migraines.

After half an hour, I’d go back to normal and become my usual self.

I just had an aura episode, and now everything’s fine again.

It’s still a nuisance, but I’d gladly take it over a migraine any day.

Jan 12 2016

My left foot—Epilogue

Adel Gabot

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You remember me writing about something wrong with my left foot at the end of last year? Well. you probably don’t, or you did but don’t care. Whatever the case, it’s been troubling me mightily ever since.

I did see a doctor for it, and she told me I had a case of cellulitis, which is a non-contagious bacterial infection which has absolutely nothing to do with cellulite, and which was probably caused by my over-eager and energetic cleaning and trimming of my toenails the day before it first appeared.

It’s an extremely painful condition, and I actually had to stay bedridden for a couple of days, it was so damned painful. Anything touching my big toe sent me into paroxysms of incredible agony.

The doctor prescribed me an antibiotic whose commercial name was Sumapen, a penicillin variant made for these things, and thank God I wasn’t allergic to any antibiotic, as far as I knew. I took the medicine, and the pain and swelling receded to a dull ache over the few days I took them. By the time I had run out, my foot was still mildly painful, but at least I could hobble around again.

A few days later, the pain was still there, and I was considering going back to my doctor and asking for more Sumapen, but thought better of it and just waited it out. This week, it’s almost disappeared, and things have sort of gone back to normal.

I told my brother about my foot this weekend, and aside from reaming me out for not telling him about it right away, he reminded me that he also had the same exact case some years ago, and had to be laid up in a hospital for a few days because it was so painful. Didn’t I remember? Cellulitis?

Of course! I even had to watch over him as his companion/guard/yaya during that time. And didn’t it happen over the New Year too? That we had to forego the celebration because of it? Damn. I’d forgotten about that. Although I guess this says a lot more about my constitution than his, the fact that he had to go to a hospital to deal with it while I just had to grit my teeth and weather it at home.

Anyway, it’s all better now, and I promise that’s the last you’ll ever hear of my foot ever again. Sheesh.