Friday, July 24, 2009

Mornings Are The Worst

And today's was exceptionally bad. They start with an ugly, conflict ridden, dream, whose details I never remember, retaining only the face of the particular acquaintance I was arguing with.

Then I wake up to the gagging of the c-pap mask and the fact that the sinuses on one side of my head have closed. I turn on the opposite side, which will normally cause gravity to unblock them. If I'm still awake, when both sides of my head are open, I'll return to my back and usually fall asleep for a while longer. If I fall asleep on my side, I'll wake up to find that the sinuses on the other side of my head have blocked and I'll have to start the entire process over.

In the twilight state that follows all this a new kind of dream will emerge. I call it the "voiceover" dream, because it is exclusively auditory. It always takes place in an ambiguous cylinder where the upper half of my body is lying at the bottom, listening. Above me is the Omnicient Narrator.

The voice is my own as I hear it in my ears--less nasal, less penetrating, and deprived of the treble notes that turn my base into a baritone when speaking and vanish when chanting or singing. It will be narrating some story of some reflection on my life, rather like I've always written on blogs.

The contents come from the facts I have in memory, rearranged into plausible patterns that sound very much like new insights. If I come to the end of my knowledge about something, however, it simply degenerates into incoherent blather. I wake up through this feeling the pressure on my bladder, make a real effort to get my 285 lbs vertical, and sit on the edge of the bed.

Then I fall back and forth into sleep bouncing like a yo-yo. The sleep is deep and drug-like, but only lasts a few seconds and then I bounce awake, over and over. I struggle up, go piss, wander to the kitchen, barking my shins on this or that or the other on my way, lurch the refrigerator door open and pull out the big french press full of icy cold black coffee and the milk to turn it into chilled cafe au lait, then stair at the swirling pinch of coarse coffee grounds that float to the top.
There is no caffine, no Welbutrin, no Ibuprofin, no sudaphed, and no Mucinex left in my bloodstream. And there is only the minimum of Lamictal and Prozac left from 12hrs before. I am stiff, I am nasal stuffed, I have a feathery ache in the head from mild caffine withdrawl, I am both hungry and nauseated by food all at once, and I have what would be a crying ache in the mind if the mind could ache.

Only the heart can ache. I think of things, like breakfast or dosing myself with pills, and then forget them, and then think of them again, maybe five or six times before I can actually focus to do them. Then after I do them I wake up and remember that I put the toaster pastries in the microwave, but never zapped them.

At some point, somehow, a pair of glasses ended up on my ears. Surprise! They are the full lens readers I use for the laptop, so I can only see about 20 inches clearly in any direction. But my head was so scattered that 20/200 vision in the kitchen didn't phase me in the least.

There is still no sudaphed, no Muscinex, and no Ibuprofin in my bloodstream. It's the last half of the month, my food stamps vanished in the first week, there is $6.00 in my bank account, and $10.00 in my emergency quarter stash for busfare. So I will be achy and stuffed all day. All week, actually. If I have to go out, the folding cane will be manditory instead of optional, and my mouth will remain slightly open, flashing my yellow teeth coyly through my full grey beard, to keep my wheezing lungs full of air.

What would I go out for? Good question. Certainly not for fun. Going out onto an empty neighborhood street is now like stepping into a traveling carnival most days. The slightest change in stimulation is both magnified and distanced, as if I were still in that same cylinder of my Voiceover Dream.

And I can't even go out to buy a $22 bus pass. In six days my July one will expire and I'll be limping along on emergency quarters until the SSA check deposits on August 3rd.

Even without the food stamps I've done ok, despite the fact that I haven't been able to get around to the local food pantry this month. There are still a week's worth of frozen dinners in the freezer, there are oatmeal raisin cookies when my last toaster pastries are consumed tomorrow, leftover beef broth gaspacho in the fridge, enough coffee [thank God!], and enough real frozen meat, fowl, vegetables and fish for me to cook over the weekend when the Home Health Aide for my companion isn't in my way.....

I sit down at this computer and suddenly I'm crying. The crying is from loss. Lost words, lost moments, lost relatives, lost friends. I went to a website the day before, that, based on personal information provided, predicted the year of my death—2029 at age 77, or twenty years away. My own research into Astrology some years back suggested 2026 in the Spring. And in the context of Buddhist practice, it came to me that I had only ten years of necessary karma to keep me here—2019--and anything else would be sufficient karma to keep me here only if I made a positive effort to stay.

Which is true? Any, all, or none. Time is not fixed. All things are interdependent so the actual permutations of time are indeterminate—trends only, strong and weak, not fixity. My Buddhist teacher believed he would die at 60, and his health did not make that unreasonable. He is 86 today—due to long life rituals and the constant prayers of his many hundreds of students.

How tiring it is to write when bounced back and forth between high and depression. A sentence like this last can put you on an even keel, and with an even keel I finally started my day.

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