I should never have said in my last blog entry about successfully banishing the insomnia demon; because I didn't. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
I got the lurgy, remember? But by Friday evening, I figured I had it whipped. Yes, my throat was still bad, but the lurgy didn't seem to be going anywhere apart from out of me. Sunday morning rolled around and I started to feel the tickle in my chest, but I dismissed it - after all, I'd just stopped smoking, surely it was just my chest readjusting to the change.
Sunday night was horrendous. I couldn't sleep. I couldn't sleep because I was hacking away like a 90-year-old 40 a day smoker and because I didn't feel tired. In fact, I felt a mixture of shit and wired - which, trust me, is as weird as it sounds.
The doctor gave me some antibiotics for the mild chest infection (mild?) and tried to persuade me to have some transdermal patches - he didn't like the idea of me going cold turkey. When I explained to him that over 70% of people who opt for the slow nicotine withdrawal method end up smoking again - and I'm one of that statistic - I'd rather go the cold turkey route. Plus, I was now into day 4 and was over the worst.
Anyhow, I spent most of Monday listening to the radio and biting my nails at the conclusion of the Ryder Cup. Twice I had to stop myself from falling asleep - I figured any sleep I got during the day would make it more difficult for me to sleep at night. I'm not stupid, despite having a chest infection, that wasn't what was preventing me from sleeping - in fact, when a person is unwell, it normally helps with their sleep.
The added wrinkle to this horrid day was that in my attempts to get to sleep, get comfortable and get the shit out of my system, I really managed to screw my back up. The specialist I saw last Thursday had said that while stress is not a factor in ankylosing spondylitis, things such as sciatica and muscle spasms were - which explains why I've also suffered from sciatica over the last 20 years - the two go together like idiots and nicotine! By the time I got to the doc's, my back was raging at me. I mean REALLY raging. I could not get comfortable nor could I get any pain relief. The doc was honest with me, but I knew full well already - when your back is in spasm there's bugger all you can do unless you want to inject morphine directly into the area in spasm.
So, I've got a nasty cough, a bad back, insomnia and withdrawal symptoms - that is making me into an angry son of a bitch.
Last night, we sat and watched some TV and on a number of occasions I felt myself nodding off. So I shook myself (as best I could) awake, knowing that the longer I put it off the better chance I had of sleeping Monday night. By 11 o'clock last night I was fit to drop, but I figured I'd wait a bit longer, make sure that when I did get into bed I went out like a light...
At 11.45 last night, I went to bed. I was exhausted. I'd had about 20 minutes sleep in the last 36 hours, I figured I was ready for a big sleep...
At 3am this morning, I got up. I was almost distraught; almost on the verge of tears. The moment I got into bed I became wide awake. Literally just like that. One minute knackered, the next minute eyes wide open and all the weariness had gone. I wish I could say I couldn't believe it, but I could. I've been here before, after all.
I sat downstairs, wrapped up in one of the dog blankets, staring at the street and waiting for the sun to come up. At 5.40, I started to feel drowsy again, so I took the plunge and went back to bed and the next thing I knew it was 7.20am and the fucking telephone was ringing.
The wife had already gone to work, in my car - I'd already figured that one more day off work wasn't going to hurt anyone; it's not like I'm doing anything at the moment. Of course, the first thing that went through my mind was who would be calling me at 7.20 in the morning unless it was an emergency. I'd like to say bolted out of bed, but my back prevented me from doing much more than a hobble. Suffice it to say, by the time I got to the phone, whoever it was had rung off. So I 1471'd it and didn't recognise the number, which worried me even more. so I rang the number and got... a redirected answer machine. I left a simple message - who are you and why are you ringing me at 7.20am? I've not heard back and now presume it was a wrong number.
Thank you God! Thank you so much!
I managed to slip back into a doze for about an hour, but that was it - less than two hours sleep in 48 hours and still I feel wide awake. In fact, at 3am this morning I was all set to go and find a 24 hour garage and buy some fags, until I realised that all the insomnia is just another insidious way that your rewired nicotine addled brain tries to trick you into getting its fix. I'm also slowly pooh-poohing the idea that nicotine is only a 3 day addiction; the cravings have been worse the longer I'm going without... But then again, this is the first time I've really analysed quitting smoking in this way.
It's nearly midday; I have a splitting headache, a sore chest, a really bad back and I feel exhausted. One of my buddies recently commented, "Good God man, you're falling apart" and at this moment in time I couldn't agree with him more. I feel as though this week is slowly turning into one of the worst of my life and all because of good intentions. No wonder people would rather gamble with emphysema, lung cancer and heart disease, when the combination of a virus, lack of nicotine and a fucking stupid sounding back complaint can have you wishing you were dead...
Over the weekend, something good happened. I watched How to Train Your Dragon a CGI film about a bunch of Scottish sounding Vikings who go dragonslaying. I'd originally downloaded this film a couple of months ago, but the quality wasn't up to much and to be honest the first two minutes I saw I wasn't terribly impressed. It seemed like one of those crappy Americanisation of the rest of the world and its mythology things.
However, I decided to download it again when the DVD came out. I've been praising Up all year as one of the best films I've seen for a long time; but HTTYD is head and shoulders better. The premise has been done a 100 times before, but there was just something slightly mad about the whole film. If you get the chance to see it, you won't be disappointed.
The New Fascists or Conservative Party as we like to call them, are calling time on benefits. The first two to be really hit are going to be child benefit and housing benefit. Already the proposed child benefit changes have led to even the Daily Mail and Express - normally the staunchest of Fascist supporters - to question just what the hell is Lord Snooty Osborne thinking.
It seems arbitrary and totally unfair to those poor buggers who earn more than £43K a year, but not to a family where both parents earn £42k each. Yep, if you live in a family with a joint income of over £80k a year, your child benefit will not stop. However, if you earn £45k a year and your partner stays at home to look after the kids, you'll lose your benefits. Go figure that one out, rich boys!
Or how about this - putting a cap on Housing Benefit. A family that lives in London where both parents are on low income jobs get Housing Benefit to allow them to continue living where they live and doing their menial jobs. When Peter Allen on 5Live asked an MP how this family was supposed to continue surviving or to the point, living in their current house and continuing to do their menial jobs; the MP steadfastly refused to answer the question, preferring instead to emphasise the point that benefits needed to be cut to help cut the budget deficit. If Allen had been Paxman, he wouldn't have let her off so lightly; she never did say how this family was going to be able to manage.
The Department of Fiscal Studies was adamant that the ConDem cuts were going to hit the poorest the worst; the joke coalition argued it wouldn't. The first announcements seem to be targeting the middle class, but in reality any cuts that target anyone other than the poorest will only end up affecting the poorest in the long run. The Tories want to save £1.25billion on child and housing benefit cuts; they could instead try to get some of the £4billion tax shortfall back from the richest bastards in the country who avoid paying tax, or would rather pay an accountant to make sure they don't pay that much tax, rather than pay the country what they owe.
The Tories could also make sure that the people who earn over £100k a year pay a 50p in the £ tax rate. I mean, these people earn more than the PM and I (and millions of others) don't care how good a job they do, they should not be earning that kind of money when some of their employees are facing redundancies, wage cuts and the humiliation of not being able to provide for their children the way their parents provided for them.
Frankly, I don't give a shit how much money we owe the IMF, we should be looking after our people, not expecting them to constantly pay for the mistakes made by repeated governments or greedy bankers. Experts now reckon this austerity age could last 10 years, possibly longer, by which time we won't have any infrastructure left in the country, most of the poor will be in workhouses or debtors prison and you can bet David fucking Cameron will still be living in affluent Witney and not giving a shit about the worse mess his party made of the country. One ray of hope though, with a bit of luck this will finally see the back of a Tory government in this country until long after I'm dead and gone.
I just hope you remember this when its time to vote again. I will.
Have I mentioned at some point how much I hate my new keyboard?
1:00pm: I'm shattered. I just want to curl up in a ball (Ha! Chance would be a fine thing!) and go to sleep; but I also don't want to be spending another night like last. I'd rather take the gamble and drink gallons of cups of coffee today, rather than get some sleep and face another long dark night of the soul. The wife reckons I ought to go back to the doctor's, but I already feel like I own a season ticket for the place and each time I go there I feel less and less satisfied with the outcome. Besides, what's the point of getting sleeping tablets; they don't actually put you to sleep, they just knock you out. I might as well drink half a bottle of scotch a night - at least I'd get something of a buzz!