Through the confusion of my dreams, I’m just about aware of things happening around me. A bouncing cat; shrieking alarms; the bed half-empty; lights on and off; someone sitting on my foot; something sitting on my head.
“I’ve got to go. I love you”
I wake up enough to demand a goodbye kiss, but I’m already dozing off as I listen to his footsteps get further away. The cat, displaced from my head by my movement, re-settles ontop of the duvet and we dream together. We’re briefly awoken by the unwelcome sound of drills and hammers from outside, but it startles me enough that I can plug my ears, and we drift back to sleep. My dreams are vivid and intense, obscure details impressed on my mind even after I wake up. Did you know, studies show that most dreams we have are unpleasant? I don’t know if I’d have believed that if I didn’t experience so many, so strongly.
Around three, I suddenly wake up. The bed is soaked in sweat and I’m desperate for the toilet. I achingly swing my legs out of bed, and they tremble under my weight as I stand. When I take a step, they collapse under me; dead weight. I need to pee so bad. I pull myself onto my hands and knees, and drag myself through to the hallway. The kitten follows, likewise. When I push the bathroom door open, he scurries in and slips on the smooth lino, sliding along with his legs splayed out. I giggle at him as he goes, though it means stopping for a rest. The light in here is burning my eyes. I finally make it to the toilet, and drag myself up to sit on it. I can hardly keep myself sitting up. Afterwards, I crawl to the sink and pull myself onto the chair next to it to wash my hands too. Pressed against my head, the cold glass of water feels amazing. Drink; rest; back into the hallway.
The cat runs into the living room, then pokes his head round the door (I think he’s squeaking, but my earplugs muffle everything): Oh human, I am so sad! I have not been fed for daaays. I am the saddest kitten evaaar. My tumbly is all rumbly and I has no foood. Pleeease feed me, pleeeease. I tell the cat I know fine well that he was fed this morning, but crawl on to the kitchen anyway. Oh, and Tibby, I can see that you have a bowl of biscuits right there! The fusspot ignores said biscuits, and paws at the fridge. Arms trembling, I pull myself up and grab a food sachet and the bread bag – you learn to keep what you need in places you can reach. Half the sachet goes into his bowl, the rest into the fridge before he can leap in to investigate the ham. He tears into his delicious minimum-4%-chicken; I lie on the floor and try to stop my heart racing. When he starts pawing at my face, I get up again and we crawl back to the blissful darkness.
I can barely lift the bread up to eat it now, my arms are so weak. Lie down. Heart racing, head pounding, I try to focus on part of my body that doesn’t ache, but I can’t find one. The cat curls up beside me – I want to stroke him but I can’t even lift my arm anymore. He’s soft against my cheek, so I think about that. Thank you God for Tibby. My head is full of poison. I can’t focus on praying, so I focus on breathing… in… out… …in… out… …the pain in my head is excruciating. I consider paracetamol, but it will barely take the edge off. Emergencies and outings only. Breathe in… breathe out… I feel like I’ll never fall asleep again, but then the cat jumps up and runs to the door. It’s already 8pm.
G makes so much noise when he comes home. Footsteps, key scratching the lock, doors opening and closing, the rustling of a bag: It gets past the plugs like nails through my skull. I try to tell him I don’t feel well, but the words don’t come out properly. He gets the gist.
“I’m going to use the computer – do you want to go through to the living room?”
I know he’s whispering, but the words singe my mind and I grimace and nod. I try to get out of bed but I just fall to the floor again. He helps me to the toilet first; when I can stand his voice again he’ll tell me I have the bladder of a baby bird, and I’ll call him a freakish camel. I’m laid on the sofa and tucked in, then fetched a huge glass of water. He feeds the cat and makes me some dinner, then sits with me in the dark and quiet as I eat it. Then he leaves, shutting the door to protect me from the victory cries naturally associated with landing a tank ontop of a building. My phone is next to me, incase I need something. I wish Tibby were here to cuddle, but he’s off attacking inanimate objects in the other room.
I focus on my breathing again… in… …out… but the sleep won’t come. The vice around my head is squeezing tighter, and every breath fills my chest with stabbing pains. Exhaustion is much easier when you can fall asleep. I try to go through my prayer list for the day, but I can barely even focus on that. The names slip from my mind, and holding onto them just makes the pain in my head worse. I let my mind wander, idly wondering if my skull is really going to crack open; remembering we need more toilet roll. I’m not cold, but my hands and feet have gone numb and I can feel it spread up my legs. Eventually it’s just me and the pain, floating in a sea of darkness, breathing in and out. I doze, and wake, and doze some more. I’ve lost track of time, thank you God. Occasionally, my mind becomes clearer and I try to pray, but I can still only hold a thought for a few seconds before it stabs at me and I need to drift on.
G comes to collect me after midnight: Toilet. Bed. I sink blissfully back into the mattress, thank you God. He’s excited about his game, and I want to listen. Once we would have been playing it together. He whispers as quietly as he can, but it’s still agony and anyway, I can’t hear him properly past the earplugs. I take them out (you reach a point when they hurt more than sound does) and he puts them away for me; quiet as can be, but still too loud. We kiss silently, a glimmer of romance in my otherwise dark evening.
All I can hear now is his breathing; it assaults my ears but still makes me smile. Thank you God for G. I doze; I wake. By 2am, I’ve managed to feel prayery feelings for everyone on my list. For today, I call that victory. By 3am, I’m asleep.