Friday, June 22, 2012

I Can Say "Choo Choo" Without A Trace Of Irony

   I have had some very interesting add-ons in the House of Many Ills department. As much as I love to complain- and god knows it's like my second favourite thing in the world, right after sleeping (no eating! No, no! Sleeping!)- I really am not so fond as I seem of ticking a few extra boxes every time I go under the knife. My doctor is still just about behind me when I come in with a new laundry list every time, but I swear he's about theeeees close to just tranqing me and sending me off to the taxidermist to have done with it. Then again, maybe that's got more to do with the sheer volume of punnery I manage to work into a visit than the profit margin I've racked up for Pfizer all by my ace.
   So now there's an It. I have no other word for it that I like, but basically it's just a massive lump on my ribs that gives me new incentive to revive the bra-burning movement and motivate a permanent change to lying on my left side when I read and/or watch trash TV. Mostly just the trash TV though- have you people seen Big Fat Gypsy Weddings?! My god it's enough to give me new faith in the LED-lit Pepto-Bismol flavoured wedding dress industry. I digress, where was I? Yes, my It. So Dr. Ever-faithful prods and pokes at my side as I, the Hyper-HypoChondriac, see visions of a bald Snofferol dance before me like so many chemo-induced hallucinations. Huzzah, he declares it benign! But also: makes the mistake of telling me it might need to come out should it be bothersome, and also to look it up anyway so I get all the details, and also it might not be benign but the only way to know is to cut the damn thing out and test it.
   Oh you fool, have you never had a Hyper-HypoChondriac as a patient before? No seriously, if you want me to relax, you tell me it's a subcutaneous extra ear from that time in the womb when I carnivorically ingested my twin. You tell me it's a mole with delusions of grandeur. You tell me, for the love of god, that it's How You Get Ahead In Advertising, you do not add footnotes and asterisks to the declaration that it probably, most likely and almost certainly isn't an issue. You most especially do not tell me that this thing is simply going to get bigger and- for lack of a better superlative here- ouchier over time. Fuck's sakes Doc, I can't scratch my back without going into full-body traction, you want I should suck it up? (I only realised about half-way through typing that sentence that it was meant to be read in a New York second-generation Jewish accent. Oblige me, if you would be so good.)
   The other thing, of course, is that my sainted mother is not a Hyper-HypoChondriac, but in fact what we like to call a Very-Hypo-HypoChondriac. When I mentioned this to her, of course it turned out she had had one just like it and her doctor had insisted it come out. Thusly, for those of you following the logic of overprotective mothering, mine was to be excised on the double. It's too literal a pain in my side, so for once I'll have to agree here. Again, from the way I've managed to harness comedy gold out of my Ills on this blog, you'd be perfectly within your rights to assume that this is simply another entry in my growing archives of siding with the argument that will garner the most sick-points, but really and truthfully, I fight actively against my hypochondriacal tendencies. (As is evidenced by the minimum of two words I've made up in the last few paragraphs, I'm obviously not fighting quite so hard against my tendency for ludicrousness.) It's one of the few things I am willing to own up to in a manner not unlike pride; I cannot, no matter what the circumstance, embarrassment or stupidity, lie to myself about anything. The other little voice- the one that likes to narrate in the second person- will immediately pound the foam out of the first one if it so much as tries to pass an excuse past my nose. Once I notice a cough, that second little voice will jump in with a baseball bat to fend off the wee fellow in the back who so badly wants to pipe in with "strepthroat."
   So come Friday, I shall be going in to see a whole new surgeon to schedule my It-ectomy. I'm thinking it may be marginally less acceptable to ask to keep this one, even if I promise to keep it in a highly sanitary mason jar filled with formaldehyde. I got the weirdest fucking looks after I asked to keep my wisdom teeth (the one with "burn the witch" written all over it came from my mother), and that I would have guessed was a fairly innocuous request. Hell, the surgeon before that one actually sent my gallstones home with me in a pill tube, and I would never even have thought to ask. They look, by the way, like the world's grossest and most necrotic Everlasting Gobstoppers in case you were wondering.

   Then, there was the great sleep drought of '12. Fuck me I was tired for a while there. I've been on sleeping pills (usually something involving letters from the arse-end of the alphabet) since I was 13. The first time I took them it was winter, and I was- as 13-year-olds are wont to do- sitting right up against the TV on the floor, the heater about two whole centimetres from my face. Naturally, when I felt the whoozy-happy feeling kicking in, I assumed heat stroke. (We hypochondriacs start young. Aaaaand I've officially exhausted my daily recommended allowance of the word "hypochondriac.")
   It wasn't heat stroke.
   No, it was something far more sinister even than that. It was the effects of Zolpihexal on a hypnotics-virgin system, and by god was sleeping the last thing on my mind once they moved into top gear. That's the thing no one warns you about when you're prescribed these things- the fact that once you've taken them you may well be able to actually achieve sleep again, but also instantly lose any will you might ever have had to do so. It's not a high-thing, although I will admit the effects are not unlike what I would assume LSD could do to your head. There is a genuine component of this pill that makes you forcibly want to stay as far away from your bed as you possibly can. Of course the ideal would be to take it and immediately lie down, but as bad as my insomnia has always been, and seeing as it takes the damned things a minimum of half an hour to work, that's not my favourite solution.
    That first time, my mother had to practically drag me down the hallway to the bathroom so as to get my teeth brushed and my jammies jammed, or else I probably would still be sitting on that ugly carpet in Amethust (sic) street, staring at the pretty pretty heater lights. I would go do my pre-bed pee like a sensible person, and then sensible would take a massive nose-dive out the window after hour two of simply sitting there on the toilet, staring at the wood grain of the bathroom door as my new friends danced in front of my eyes, playing out comedies and tragedies alike. Flames became properly fascinating, and I once wrote a fucking treatise on the multi-dimensional nature of fire whilst staring at a candle so hard I can still see it when I close my eyes. That particular little part of my life also ended in a fugly burn scar on my hand that I've since prettied up a bit, but that's evidence of lunacy for another day. I still have that treatise, by the way: it's buried in my cupboard, written on something like twelve pages of lined paper. I've tried, but I've never been able to read all the way through it. I was like so fucking high, dude. I would also call people. I don't know if this is among the official side-effects (the munchies are though. Quite seriously, I looked at the package insert once, and suddenly my late-night cravings for Butro on rye made a lot more sense), but I know for a fact that at least one person taking this pill managed to call her friends at 1 AM almost every night, and could never remember the conversations the next day. This is not an effect that lessened over time like the rest- up until very recently, people would show up here telling me I had invited them over the previous evening and I would have had no idea at all.
   Such as it may be, 9 years on the stuff has lessened their efficacy greatly. My dosage has since been upped, which helped for a while. Queue about a month ago: sleep fucking stopped. STOPPED. I don't mean that even the higher dosage gradually lost effect, I mean one night I lay my head down to sleep, AND MOTHERFUCKING NOTHING HAPPENED. My sleeping pattern is such that sometimes the natural time for me to fall asleep just happens to be 2 PM, so from the outside it may be hard to spot what constitutes insomnia for me. I call this Tokyo Time.

   But this was not that. What this was, was a minimum of 3 to 6 hours of just lying in bed, throwing Turkish off my It where she had been sleeping and turning over again and again. Most nights I would just give up and watch Cash In The Attic. This is not a pretty picture, I assure you. Thanks to copious amounts of medication I had not had to experience proper insomnia for years, barring sometimes fairly light or often interrupted sleep. I was not in practice for it. Luckily no one expects any real achievement from me at this particular juncture, so I could get away with essentially being on what you could only call Hadal Zone Time. At least, until such time as someone needs my full faculties at normal human times, like last weekend.
   I was set to visit and spend the night at a friend's house. By this time, we were reaching the apex of the sleep drought, where I would be clocking maybe- maybe- two hours of eventual sleep a night/day. It's risky as shit trying to do the sleepover thing when you know that you might actually be awake and therefore privy to your friend's every night-time grunt, snore and bodily function, but I decided to take an extra pill with me, figuring that would do the job. I remind you, I once spent an entire night composing and making sweet, sweet music with my sister on the ol' Casio, when in fact neither of us could play so much as three blind mice on a piano. The only thing I recall from that evening is rather a painful amount of volume and enthusiasm on my part- so in other words, on my increased dosage, an extra pill should have been enough to take out a fucking army of operatic sopranos.
   It did no such thing. Luckily I neither phoned, Whatsapped nor SMSed a single soul that Saturday, but I did manage to memorise the ceiling. Not one single minute of sleep did I garnish from the chemical pools of resentment that is my brain. Not one. I eventually got up and went to read for a spell in the living room. When I thought I felt like perhaps I could finally eke out a few winks, I returned to bed to find that the subconscious protocol one observes when one knows there is another person in the bed to accommodate had pretty much been nullified once it became clear that there was no longer another person in the bed to accommodate. Not everyone's subconscious even makes room for this provision in the first place (Carla and Andrea, I am looking at you and all of your combined elbows, knees and chins), so I could hardly hold dude accountable for me voiding the "your side, my side" contract, and I decided to squeeze in and make a home out of the three inches left on "my side." Yeah, I got some knuckles to the face and went arse over tit, it was inevitable and I have no one to blame but myself.
   Upshot of a very long story: no sleep at all that night. That's crappy, but still acceptable if I could have returned home and waited until my body gave out to nap a hole into my own bed. What really burns is the fact that I fucking knew I was going to have to spend the whole day riding the steam train with Brenda and Co. into Cullinan, and I had gambled it on an extra sleeping pill. I had really been looking forward to the trip, make no mistake- it was about a 2 1/2 hour ride on the train into Cullinan, a day spent drooling over gorgeous stalls and shops, picnicking, and a trip back. Brenda is obsessed with steam trains like a boy with a locomotor fetish, and she'd been aching to do this trip for ages. I had now passed the Point of No Repose, and thought I could mumble my way through the day if I drew on the energy called up by holding back a monster pee. Or something.

   That's pretty much all I got before my phone died from lack of charge, in a move my dad has now affectionately taken to calling "pulling a Loraine." I don't like that this is catching on. And yes, we all know I love me a filter app and I'm no stranger to the fauz tilt-shift, let's move on and remember to save our ridicule for what counts: my perpetual innate whining superpowers.

   I bumped into people, things, and probably a couple of items that don't know where they fall on the animal/mineral/vegetable scale. While I cannot, upon pain of slow and agonising death, fake courtesy when faced with a personage I do not like, I can at minimum fake a low level of alertness when sleep deprived, and for a little while (sitting down) I held my own. When I realised the lay-over in Cullinan would take like FOUR FUCKING HOURS, my will to live started slowly ebbing away, and with it my acting chops. I fell asleep for not very long on the picnic blanket (I made damn sure to stay awake long enough to have my share of Brenda's home made sushi) bringing home more burrs on my jacket than any one person has a right to, and as we were leaving meandered in after Brenda's sister and her two daughters as they took a last stroll through the old fashioned sweet shop that I had been rather partial to. I decided to buy some red liquorice and espied JAWBREAKERS, MOTHERFUCKER, so I bankrupted myself on as many of those as I could carry. 4. Considering how hard they are to find, I really ought to have seen if there wasn't anyone in the crowded town who was on the market for a quick back-alley kidney, because chances are I'll be old and grey before I find any of those again. Also: I've already eaten all of mine. Through a jaw issue, no less, I'm still on anti-something or anothers for it, but had the damn thing been falling off you would have had a hard time keeping me from my confectionery. I'm saving one for a friend, and it. Is. Fucking. Killing. Me. It's just sitting there, all innocent and pretty in a brown paper bag, right next to my bed, and how hard would it be really to believe if I said one of my cats had found their way into my drawer and licked the thing? I have tons of cats, that could so have happened. And if it had, would it not have been my absolute responsibility as a good friend- and indeed, person- to dispose of the offending candy in any way possible? Goddammit, Loraine, stay strong. Only a few more hours and you can deliver it to its intended master intact, and mop up the accompanying accolades like the hero you are. Just keep telling yourself it's broccoli or somesuch.
   Marika (Brenda's sister) and the kids apparently walked out, never having had an idea that I had been following them in the blind belief that fully-awake people would know where to go better than I. By the time I had finished counting my copper change to ensure maximum jawbreaking, they were long gone into the ether, and I knew the train station was about a ten minute walk in a direction I couldn't possibly guess. And my phone was dead. I am a fucking genius. I pocketed my booty and trudged along in the general direction the crowd was milling in, and eventually met a very worried Brenda coming up the other way. Someone had seen me walk into the shop behind Marika, but she herself had had no idea- and taking into account my zombified state it wouldn't have been an entirely bad guess to think I had simply curled up and fallen asleep somewhere behind a fairly large tree. I assured them I was not yet so far gone, and could find my way back on my own thank-you-very-much, neglecting to mention that me actually having found the station instead of the next town over was due to simple and undeniable luck.

   I also, in all the hubbub and double-visioned phone crises, managed to forget to wish my dad a happy father's day, so

    And now I'm off to try to be marginally funny and at least vaguely pleasant at some new acquaintances whilst playing incubator to a new strain of demon flu. Look, I make no bones about the House of Many Ills, and I can only but do my part to live up to its promise.

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