Being practically housebound in the aftermath of my heart attack has granted me significantly more time to focus on writing. My cardiologist’s orders to rest providing me with a perfect opportunity to concentrate on the literary job in hand. Negating against having to sneak twenty minutes of penmanship in here and there between everyday tasks, as was the case pre-cardiac arrest.
As much as my current plight frustrates me, this hiatus from being carer, chauffeur, personal shopper, odd-job man, IT help desk, occasional cook and gardener for two family members has been warmly welcomed. Subsequently, I intend utilising not being so heavily relied upon at the moment to compose additional narratives.
Due to the doctor’s lifestyle edict, writing is one of two favoured hobbies in which I can currently partake. My habit of grinding my jaw bone being the only other pastime not frowned upon by my medical team. The latter hasn’t really took off yet as a spectator sport, but give it time and I’m sure it’ll be giving the World Gurning Championship a run for it’s money popularity wise.
The severe fatigue I’ve felt since my ‘medical incident’ isn’t a tiredness I’ve ever experienced before. Well, apart from maybe when I worked nightshifts on a rotating shift pattern in the 1980’s/90’s.
Times when my capricious body-clock only granted me two hours sleep a day. A gruelling experience which by the end of the working week resulted in such extreme tiredness on nightshift it wasn’t uncommon for me to momentarily nod off in my chair.
A problematic condition which led Staines Narcolepsy & Occupational Rehabilitation Executive (SNORE) make me an honorary narcoleptic. Sadly, institutional snobbery within the hallowed halls of the narcolepsy movement barred me from the higher accolade of becoming a full narcoleptic. However, if I’d have worked permanent nightshifts it’s a position I’d no doubt have secured with consummate ease.
I truly hated working nightshifts; my existential nemesis every fourth week between 1983 until 2003. The fatigue levels consequential from the resultant sleep deprivation were such it physically hurt.
On one particular nightshift, during a sleepless week in the 1990’s, a colleague approached me at my workstation and remarked “You look really tired, Gary!”, Feeling utterly shattered and uninterested in engaging in conversation I tetchily responded “I am.”. A rudeness that caused my well-meaning colleague to return to his desk.
It wasn’t the most insightful conversation I ever had with a work colleague, nor is it a tale that’ll secure me the 2019 Raconteur of the Year award. However, I thought I’d include the tale in an attempt to paint a whimsical slant on how sleeplessness affected my work…… If I ever broach this subject again I’ll endeavour to make the next one funny!!
Occasionally, like a few of my more fatigued work colleagues, I’d attempt to steal a few minutes slumber during a overnight ‘lunch’ break. A foolish approach as not only did you feel worse when waking after thirty minutes kip, but you ran the risk of waking with a banana skin on your head, or the victim of a plethora of other pranks.
One night shift twenty plus years ago a colleague who took an opportunity to sleep on nightshift woke to find he’d been wheel-clamped. His point blank refusal to pay £100 for the yellow clamp to be removed from his ankles resulted in him being left on the restroom settee. A makeshift holding area until we could work out how to get a tow truck into the building.
I don’t know what that guy does now, however I’d like to think he undertakes it with a bloody big wheel clamp still attached to his ankles.
Despite my sheer distain for working through the night I stuck them out for twenty years. Although the toll sleep deprivation took on my body would’ve no doubt contributed towards my recent health scare, it’s a strategy that for two decades allowed me to feed, clothe and shelter my family to a decent standard.
Consequently, my sacrifice has to have been worthwhile…… Hasn’t it?!