Wednesday 10 June 2015

Once Upon a Time, in a Land Far Far Away, There was a Girl who still Believed in Restorative Sleep.

Restorative sleep. Yeah. Sure. I had it once. Maybe. Back when Shakira's hips didn't lie. Back when Dexter was putting up his first piece of plastic sheeting. Back when standing in line at the post office wasn't a death defying act.

Slowly open my eyes in the darkened bedroom and the oppressive weight of my body falls. Coma sleep, followed by feeling completely trashed. Three days of migraine, meds and darkness equals an unavoidable deep sleep as exhaustion finally claims it's due. No restoration. Just the emergency breaker in my body's fuse box. A flick of the switch as muscle, bone and viscera are overloaded once more.

Joints protest and muscle screams. Post-flare sleeps are motionless. Motionless equals pain. From hips to back to....

Slow movements. Sharp intake of breath. No choice but to move. Like the inevitable ripping off of a bandaid, joints must bend and rotate. A full bladder doesn't allow for denial and avoidance. Get it over quickly. Well as quickly as my slackened limbs will move. The two for one special. Weakness born of immobility, drags out the pain. Slow. Slower. Snail's pace.

Upright. Breathe. Wait while the screaming visceral reaction to sitting up passes. Rub my feet on the mat. Bright pieces of sari bound and stitched to make a rag rug. An impulse buy on one of my rare outings. An eye roll from Mr Grumpy, but resignation that the rainbow colours and the Come in Michelle, sale sign, already had me planning its placement in our house. The texture under my feet is soothing. Rough enough that the spotty sensation of my soles can feel it roll and compress. Breathe and roll. Rub and breath. Push and squish. And breath. Just breathe.

Weary and maudlin. Repeat the process to stand.

Boy and Bear fills the air as the shower starts

Whoa, and I've been through Your garden
And I've been to Your grave
Lordy may
When I come to my end some day
Will I find myself sitting at some golden gate
Or will it all just float away
Yeah, my end some day

The melody fills in the aching cavern of my skull. Mumble and slur. A word here a word there. A syllable maybe mixed with a half-hearted hum.

garden….float away....someday.

The blast of the shower muffles all.

Slough it off. Slough it all off. Three days of pain and sweat. Rancid, to float down the drain.

Sitting on the floor of the shower is the safe option. Even the chair not worth the risk. Sit on the tiles and let the water fall. Watch it bounce and shatter where it hits pale skin and ceramic floor. Different sound on different texture. Turn my wrist and watch the change of the flow. The rivers of hot water pouring. First this way then that. Minute ripples of muscle and tendon that flex under the skin move the the water sharply left and right. Course altered courtesy of the smallest movement. Or shudder. Or convulse.

Trace the song words on the glass. Rest my head on my knees. The song of the water changes as wet hair covers ears. Wisps of oats and soap rise from warm skin. Wash it off. Wash it all off, to just float away.

Time passes in the white noise of the shower. Songs pass as thought is replaced wholly by the sensation of water on skin. Focus on the water. To the exclusion of all. Stir. Unfold just enough to turn of the water and pour my body onto the bath mat. Cleansed. The sour smell of pain and pharmaceuticals gone. Soft cold breezes rise from the tiles. Sharpening dulled brain and body.

No restoration. But a MacGyvering.

A piece of gaffer tape. A wad of chewing gum and a paper clip. Clean skin and soft clothes. To patch me up enough to function. To hold the pieces together. The funk of illness finally removed allowing me to pretend for a while.

The pain, the nausea, the ugh,
                                                     all dulled.

Open the door. Squint against the sharp morning light. The familiar buzz of the coffee machine. Breath in the caffeine as it pours. Fill the lungs. Let the mug warm my hands. A grey furred head rests on my hip. A green blanket and velvet pillows piled high, await on the couch. Silence and soft song.

This is how restoration finally begins.



  1. Hello again, dear friend! Glad that you are emerging from the grip of that migraine. Where would we be without a bit of Macgyvering ;-)
    You've had a huge year so far. Just wanted to tell you that I am spectating with a big grin on my face at all you are achieving and with so much grace. Even the sloughing off of all that pain and funk is done with the perfect words. Love your words. From your number one fan across the ditch. X

    1. Thank you dear Rach. I am glad to slowly re-enter the world of the living, though it's a slow business. It's been a big year alright. Strange how my body keeps throwing curve balls but the world has been kinda cool xx

  2. "Rancid" is exactly the adjective that pops into my mind when I catch a whiff of my own pain-soaked self. No matter how often I soak in hot, scented water, or even put forth the exertion and actually scrub and shampoo and soap all over… it seems that the very next time a hot flash or a soaking of sweat from pain or any slight exertion hits me, I stink again, instantly. How can this be?!

    1. It's a smell like no other. I don't know what it is exactly but it only happens when I have a bad patch of either pain or other symptom flare. I do wonder if it is ketosis or something similar. But it goes into everything, my pjs, sheets and doona cover all absorb it and only a long hot wash gets rid of it. It's a good indicator to those around me that it is a really bad time. Sorry you are dealing with it too xx


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