The other day I found myself stirring in my lovely bed, cat by my side obviously, and the sun was streaming through my window. How odd, I remember thinking. It's not light early these days...
Then I hear the radio trickle through my muddled consciousness from the next room. That'll be a good indicator of the time! I smile smugly at my brilliance. I don't even have to reach over (and risk a snooty glare from the cat) to grab my phone from the bedside table and see what time it is!
I strain and hear an old-school Scottish accent – forever reminding me of a budget edition of Terry Wogan – oh, Ken! Right so that means it's after 9:30...then I hear a female recorded voice shout 'THREE in TEN!!' and I spring up in bed. That's the final part of Popmaster! It must be 10:45 or 10:50! Shit! How did I sleep in this late?!
Somnolence Syndrome. That's my lot, that's what I got. I'm so happy there's a legitimate-sounding name for my current condition. Just saying 'tiredness' seems lame, or worse, fake. Saying 'radiotherapy-induced tiredness' sounds a little serious, and yet at the same time silly...? I've said 'the radio sleeps' a few times, that seems cool and offhand enough while at the same time oddly legit...
Basically, I'm mega tired and constantly sleeping, and it's down to my radiotherapy. Yes, I am aware that my radiotherapy ended 8 weeks ago (wait, that's 2 months!? Holy sh--) and that I was supposed to expect the tiredness kicking in as the treatment went on; literally every consultation with a specialist during the treatment they'd say 'You will lose hair soon/you will get tired soon/you will get SICK SO VERY SICK SO SOON BE AFRAID GRACIE' and yet nothing was happening for the first five weeks. In fact, it wasn't until the car journey home after my last complete week (with only two little days left the following week) that I found some hair was coming out in my hands as I ran my fingers through. I actually thought oh, FINALLY. Same when I started sleeping more heavily at night – 10 hours errrry night! – and even when I started getting sad. When The Sads returned, I worked up the courage to mention it to the radiographers and they were delighted almost to tell me that it's normal and not nice but totally expected...the nicer cells get a whack from the radiation too, and all that.
The one thing I didn't get, however, was the tiredness. Like, not just the heavy night-time sleeping, no the actual overwhelming tiredness day-to-day. It never happened. I couldn't help but think 'Well, my surgeon said I'd sail through this, so...'
I was duly warned that sometimes symptoms take a while to catch up with you, that often patients would find they'd get the tiredness up to 10 weeks down the line. That sounded horrific – I'd hate to have things catch up with me! No, thank you. I banished that thought and for the last few weeks (as y'all may know) I've been planning the future and generally getting my shit together. Booking events, arranging meetings with the manager at work, writing more and more...also I am currently looking into travel insurance so I can fly (the consultant the other day told me I could fly and I legit freaked out with happiness) out with some pals on another magical Euro expedition. It's all go.
So obviously, this is when it hits me.
I can't remember when exactly it struck, but I do remember having action-packed days one week, back and forth from London, walking anywhere and everywhere, seeing theatrical marvels, getting drunk and disorderly in my precious little town, and meeting up with old friends, new friends, all of the friends...I'm not scientifically sure, but I'm fairly suspicious that my extra activities were what brought it on all the more. Like y'know, girls, how extra exercising brings on the periods? Just like that!
One day I napped unexpectedly in the afternoon for three hours solid – no waking up and rolling over, even, I'm talking hardcore heavy sleeping. I woke up for dinner and panicked that I'd be up half the night having napped...nope. I slept the whole night through as well. Then the next day I had real trouble getting out of bed in the morning. The cat came in and snuggled with me – as he's been doing constantly lately, because I maintain he is psychic – and I fell back to sleep. I got out of bed around midday. Then the next day, which I recall was a Sunday, I stayed in bed all day. Almost. I got out once, to make myself some sandwiches despite not being hungry, and I fell over onto the kitchen floor. I was so weak and wobbly, I had to crawl back upstairs with my plate. The parents were out, in case you were wondering – they've been rocks, as per, since this started. I have food made for me and baths run for me; I get walked up and down the stairs, tucked in on the sofa, and I'm never urged to get up and out because they know the feels are real.
It's overwhelming. I really mean that. It's like a magical spell – like I've been cursed to sleep forever! I can't explain it, really...it's like if I laid down on the sofa right now and shut my eyes, I'd be out in minutes. I am never not tired. My legs are jelly, my head is heavy and my yawning is constant and eternal. I yawn for actual minutes, now. Also my dreams are the most vivid they've ever been, which would be cool if they weren't also the most realistic they've ever been...eeek.
A lot of the time I keep dreaming that I just...get up in the morning. Seriously. I am constantly dreaming that my sunny alarm tune (Bill Withers, obvs) kicks in, I sit up and get out of bed, go down the hall and shower, then crack on with my day. These dreams are so freakishly spot-on for my routines and movements when I'm not flat on my back trapped in sleepiness, I do wonder why they're popping into my head. Is it my brain torturing me even further? Is it normal for somnolence sufferers? I wonder.
The specialist tells me it should last 2-3 weeks. That's fine, it's already been just shy of 2, and I do have days now when I can stay awake and sit up more, so it must be getting better...maybe.
I made it to an event in Tottenham Court Road last night, so that's definite progress! (to be fair, I was never going to miss out on that exciting event for the new non-fiction Mind Your Head at a brand new Waterstones, oh no!)
Next week I have a lot more on, and the week after even more...so it's like I'm expecting to be better by then! Like I know somehow that I'll be waking up next Wednesday morning and skipping out the front door. I admire my idiotic optimism, sometimes. Or is it body intuition?! Let's hope so...