take one woman with low self esteem, but quite good hair
add one moronic illness
stir in some medication which causes hair to fall out
mix it all up and this is what you get...

Sunday, May 13, 2007

A long night 


"Could you put your bedside lamp on?"
"What's wrong with yours?"
[a pause]
"Hmmm, didn't think of that..."

Big switches on his bedside lamp and turns onto his back.

"Are you alright, love?" I ask, wondering why he needs the light on.
"I feel a bit funny," he mutters.
"Oh great..." I think. Just recovering from a stomach bug myself, I wonder whether I've passed it onto him.

Within seconds, though, he appears to be sound asleep. The lamp is still on. I then realise that he has probably been asleep throughout this entire exchange. He does have a habit of talking nonsense in his sleep and, given his confusion over the lamp and his slightly slurred delivery, I conclude that if I were to question him about our conversation in the morning, he would surely deny all knowledge. This happens on a regular basis.

So that leaves me, awake at 1am. I consider getting up to turn off Big's lamp, but I decide against it as it would mean leaving the bed. And like Big, I feel a bit funny. After my stomach bug, I'd stuck to bland food for a couple of days but the previous night, I'd been brave and tried some pizza. It was a decision I was now regretting as I felt its rich, gooey cheesiness sitting heavily in my stomach, reminding me of its presence there with a series of gurglings, churnings and internal machinations, the precise nature of which I was not keen to know. Previously of a very strong constitution, rarely afflicted by stomach problems, I am given a stern reminder of how recent events have affected my body's ability both to resist and to deal with infection.

"Just turn over, shut your eyes and relax, it'll be fine," I tell myself in my most soothing voice, concentrating on my breathing. Deep down, though, I'm not convinced of my own reassurances and worry that the pizza will have turned out to be a bad decision.

There are few things I find harder to cope with than insomnia. One of those things, however, is feeling sick. The combination of both, then, makes for a truly terrible night. I just didn't know what to do with myself in those dark, slow-moving minutes.

I try reading. Reading at any other time is almost guaranteed to leave my head a-bobbing and eyelids a-drooping within a few minutes but that night, nah-ah. Wide awake.

I try my anti-anxiety breathing exercises, but when these are constantly interrupted by pizza-flavoured belches, it's hard to relax.

I try sucking a polo mint but this makes me feel sicker.

I get up a few times and walk around, wondering if it would just be better to throw up and get rid of the pizza once and for all rather than waiting for my body to deal with it in its rather long-winded way. This, despite my morbid fear of vomit, such is my desperation for sleep.

I end up grabbing a spare duvet, going downstairs and setting up camp on the sofa with the television on a low volume. Somehow, with the background burbling of whatever happens to be on, I feel less alone and more able to cope. But, despite the soothing tones of the looping news stories on BBC News 24, no sleep is forthcoming. I return glumly upstairs to bed a couple of hours later and Big stirs.

"You okay, love?"
"No, I haven't slept, I feel sick..."

We have a cuddle, he strokes (what's left of) my hair and before long, I hear his deep, steady breathing, his ease in returning to the land of nod reminding me painfully of my own inability to perform this most basic function. Big always tells me to wake him up if I can't sleep, but I just can't do it to him. Aside from the fact that after a no-doubt reassuring cuddle, he'd be asleep again within seconds and I'd be back to square one.

By this time, the dawn chorus has begun, it is light and there is no hope for me.

Attempted digestion of pizza by put-upon stomach and related anxiety - 1
Sleep - 0

Back to the bland food for a while I think...

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