Tuesday 8 September 2009

Mucous Monday

Mucous. What a great way to start the week. I was feeling a bit flat over the weekend, then failed to wake up at my usual time on Monday. I have a very accurate alarm clock in my brain - if I tell it to wake me at 0615, I will wake +/- 2 minutes at most. The only reason to have a clock by my bed is to double check that I have not been woken by one of the kids at 0500, thus preventing me from climbing out of bed at an inappropriate time.

I can tell the internal alarm clock to wake me at 0630 one day, 0500 the next and 0615 the day after, and it will be almost bang on the money each time. It's usually a bit early - if I set the physical alarm clock just to be sure, I usually find I wake up 1-2 minutes before it goes off, giving me time to cancel it before waking up the household.

The clock failed on Monday. It usually only does that when I am sick and stuffed - and that was the case. I crawled out of bed, had the morning coffee, and then decided that the day was a write off. I went back to bed for the rest of the day, feeling like lukewarm crap. I slept pretty solidly until about 1600 - whatever ailed me, it laid me out nicely. I was coughing up stuff that looked like thick pea soup, and each cough produced enough goo to almost fill a squash ball.

Proving it was not just a case of Man Flu or Mondayitis, I felt like crap again today, and took the motorised option into work.

That said, it seems to have passed just as quickly as it arrived.

The nice thing about the internal alarm clock is that it usually synchronises my body or sleep rhythms with the time that I want to get up. Instead of waking at a time when the brain or body is at its lowest ebb, I usually wake up feeling pretty fresh - as fresh as you can feel when the knees are wearing out and the lungs and legs are pounded and abused terribly on a daily basis. The body might feel worn out and ragged, and sometimes the eyes are full of puss and grit from a windy day on the road, but the brain is always sharp at wake up time. I don't stagger around the house bumping into furniture and forgetting what day it is.

In short, I'm about as awake as can be expected after a twice daily thrashing of the body and six hours of sleep that will generally be interrupted 3-4 times by kids needing feeding, changing or settling down after a monster has emerged from the bedroom cupboard. That means I am buggered but functioning.

The nice thing at the other end of the night is that I almost never suffer from insomnia. I used to get it occasionally when I was growing up, but then I joined the Infantry. It's getting on 20 years since I last slept in a hootchie, but the trick of falling almost instantly asleep is something that has never left me. I have a short film clip that I replay in my head - the scene where the space shuttles take off in Armageddon is a favourite. By the time they are heading for orbit, I am asleep - which is about the same effect the movie had on me the first time I saw it.

The life of a footslogger is generally so physically and mentally exhausting that you fall asleep at every available opportunity after a while. You might be doing something and be told that you have a 15 minute rest. If you are good with the sleep trick, you might be able to cram 13 minutes of sleep into that short break. The ability to take short cat naps like that can be the difference between clear thinking and sanity; and mental breakdown and complete confusion. You adapt or collapse. Or you collapse and then adapt. I adapted, and it's something that has never left me.

It was a bugger of a way to learn a new skill though.

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