The Stomach at 3.00AM

Midway through the first week of 2006 and the New Year’s Eve nausea has not lifted. In fact, I have developed new symptoms. Apart from the temperature fluctuations, headaches, body aches and nausea, I’ve been subject to weird emotional highs-and-lows. One minute I am planning suicide, the next I am buzzing with ideas and enthusiasm.

I stayed home from work today. I tried to do a few minor household chores rather than mope around, but I shouldn’t have bothered. After an unsuccessful attempt at rearranging the kitchen cupboards, I lose my temper with a frying pan and burst into tears. Moments later I am angry and hurl a spatula across the room. The day continues in a similar fashion.

At midday, I eat a small can of pineapple (it’s the only thing that doesn’t make me feel sick) and watch television. My mood is stable. However, when I hear the mid-70s bubblegum tune ‘January’ by Pilot on the neighbour’s radio, I start sobbing. I lay down and fall asleep, but wake screaming only minutes later after a nightmare involving toy soldiers and a giant rabbit. At 3.30pm I am reading a book about hypnosis. At 6.00pm I am having dinner with my daughters, and everything appears normal (except for the fact that they eat schnitzel and I eat pineapple).

I am left alone in the evening and decide to go to bed early, but cannot sleep. I am still awake when my daughters come home, and then go to bed. I am still awake at 1.00am. I get up and work on some images I’ve been preparing for my new website. I spend an hour manipulating an image of Paris Hilton’s left nipple. At 3.00am I read some of ‘The Magician’s Nephew’ by C.S. Lewis. I read the real estate section of last weekend’s newspaper. I decide my next house will have turrets and a moat.

At about 4.30am I attempt to write some poetry. I write random lines about the things I can see and hear.

the wind delights
in the lack of traffic
careers up and down the street

trees, bushes dance in admiration

only the clock and I are awake

the clock beats me with its whip

yesterday’s things are still fast asleep
the clothes are draped across furniture, exhausted
the books are perched on shelves, wings folded

I crawl to the rim of my pillow
poised at the edge of sleep
but unable to jump

When my eyes start to shut involuntarily, I put away the pen and paper and lay down on my bed. But as soon as my head hits the pillow I am fully awake again. At 5.30am I give up all hope of sleep, and eat breakfast. At 7.00am I am reading the morning news on the Internet and getting ready for work.

At 8.15am I sit on the sofa, dressed for work in my suit and tie. I was meant to catch the bus at 8.10am, but feel so sick I can barely walk. My sleepless night has worsened the feeling of nausea. I am now shaking, and feel pale and clammy. I ring the office to tell them I will not be at work again, then I ring the local medical centre to make yet another appointment with the doctor. I decide that I am either allergic to sleep, or suffering from some kind of bizarre as-yet-unnamed syndrome.

Later, while waiting for the doctor, I try and think of a name for my syndrome.


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