Saturday, 5 November 2011

Night Owl

Although writing is virtually the most important thing in the world to me these days, and I have stories queuing up waiting to be told, I’ve slowed down a bit.  The next story in the pipeline is the unusual tale of Clorinda Sarracán, an Argentine woman who may or may not have murdered her husband in 1856.  But it’s taking me longer than it used to some months back, as did the research and writing up of “A Foreign Field”, the World War I story I told you a couple of weeks ago. 
The reason is because I’m not getting enough sleep.  These days when I get home I don’t always have the energy to spread my books about me and select the lined notebook, fountain pen and ink colour of my liking (the planning stage) or sit at the computer and tap out the story and hunt for pictures (the final stage).  Recently I have been known to get home at 6 p.m. and sleep for 2 hours, then cook dinner, or sit with John watching something on TV and fall asleep in the chair.   I’ve only got to see an advertisement for beds or a scene in a film with someone’s plush bedroom with plumped up pillows and bedclothes folded back, and I’m fantasizing about being there, inside the telly… and zonk, I’ve nodded off.
Fridays are happy happy evenings because I’m going to have 2 days when I can let rip and sleep for as long as I want.  On Fridays and Saturdays I’ve been known to sleep for 9-11 hours, and even have siestas in between.  Invitations or suggestions which involve rising before 11 a.m. on weekends make me feel murderous, likewise weekday evenings which mean I go to bed later than usual – not because I’m home late (if you’re British and middle-aged you’re home by 10.30…), but because after the adrenalin rush of being out with friends I need time to wind down and get sleepy. 
Part of the reason is that there are times when I’m less in control of my diabetes than I should be.  If for example I’ve had more sugary or oily foods than usual over a couple of days, the normal insulin doses aren’t sufficient, and I’m always scared of giving myself too much insulin, so I wait a bit.  If I overdo the insulin I could lower my glucose levels too much and bring on a hypoglycaemic event, when I feel I’m under water and can’t move without a great effort of will, which scares the hell out of me.  It takes a few days to catch up because I increase the insulin gradually and bring the glucose back down again – the process of several days.  In the meantime, high levels of glucose in the blood make me feel very tired and sleepy.
The second reason is that I have to rise at 6.30 a.m. for work.  I’m 58, and throughout my working life have never had to rise before 7.15.  This agony has been going on for about 18 months now, because the hospital where I work is being re-built around us (see my irritable report on "How I earn my Crust", Part 2, here) and the parking areas have gradually taken on the characteristics of an African waterhole, which gradually dries up in the summer and the animals fight each other for the right to drink.  (Not a fair comparison, but you know what I mean). 

A multi-storey car park has been built, but employees are only permitted to park on two floors out of 5, consequently unless you’re actually parked by 8 a.m. (or earlier if possible) you won’t get in.  People do come in later, because they’re more relaxed about cruising around for 20 minutes looking at all the mini car parks around to see if there are any spaces left, and if they can’t find any then they don’t mind driving slowly up and down the main road looking for a space, then walking for half an hour to get to their desks.  But I get anxious and force myself to be in the car park by 8 (and still worry about it).  In these 18 months I’ve changed departments, from urology to orthopaedics, and people in both places have been as understanding and supportive as they can be – no pressure there at all as to my starting time.  But I still need to park, since I’m not near enough to cycle to work.
I suppose the main reason my tiredness levels have accumulated over the months is that I’m a night owl.  I’ve never worried about working late, staying up late, and I don’t consider myself to be lazy (except, ahem, where exercise is concerned).  I may be half asleep during the day, but from 7 p.m. onwards I’m on fire, inspired to write, full of curiosity and Google-searching, impatient when John understandably wants dinner and to go to bed at a reasonable hour, keen to reply to e-mails from people I haven’t written to for a while, read blogs, leave comments, in between playing the odd computer card game…  Suddenly it’s 11 p.m. and I’m nowhere near finished, but I know I need a proper night’s sleep. 
In addition the ritual of putting the cats to bed can take an age, because we like them to be indoors after dark (mainly because of foxes and a bully tomcat which patrols at night) and we alarm the front of the house.  There are evenings when they’re feeling mischievous and lead me a merry dance down our road, as I call out in babycat language to entice them in, and wonder what the neighbours think as they hear me.
We’ve tried to bring the whole process forward but it’s so difficult.  We’ve only managed to gain half an hour…
But I must try.  When I’m writing I’m way up in the air cruising on a thermal, detached from everything below, loving the breeze in my hair, my fingers flying across the keys as I live and breathe what I’m writing about.  I’m up on high, somewhere else.  So I must control the diabetes properly, get enough sleep and put aside being a night owl for the day I retire.

Photo Finish -
from Lonicera's non-digital archive

St Ives, Cornwall
and Bonfire Night

Look carefully - I only noticed it when I uploaded the picture -
that's John in the shadows front left holding the sparkler...



Tina said...

We are having similar sleeping problems here...I hate getting up in the morning.

I love love love the picture of John and the sparkler.


Joyful said...

Lovely photos, Caroline. I could so relate to your wish to stay up late and yet have to retire so you can get up for work. That is something I really struggle(d) with. I hope you can get your blood sugars stablized and have a little more energy. Hugs. xx

Lonicera said...

Thank you both - my power supply gave up the ghost some days ago and I've been without a computer. Quite bereft... Now all OK again. Glad you liked the pics!

Joyful said...

These technological things can really throw everything off can't they? I've been dealing with a few glitches of my own so am a bit slow to get to things right now. I'm glad you're OK. Yes the photos are great by the way. I meant to mention that ;-)

Lawrance said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Lonicera said...

I've just deleted this comment. Sorry but I don't hold with using my blog for advertising without my explicit permission.

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