Monday, 11 October 2010

Brain intransigence

I wake feeling heavy. The vestiges of this week's Black Dog visitation leaving a residue akin to heavy metals in a kidney. A numb mind, insulated from feelings, gradually comes online.

A leaden torpor holds me to the bed and, extending to my eyes, exert a force of reluctance on my eyelids. In my own localised region of gravity, I am heavier than usual and rising from bed is a challenge I feel I may not meet. The temptation to fall back in is almost overwhelming, but I totter to the bathroom on unsteady, unwilling legs.
At breakfast, I sit drinking my tea, hoping that the stimulants and rehydration will perform their magic on my sluggish brain. They do not. The list of tasks i have to accomplish today, in preparation for my trip later this afternoon, swims fuzzily in my mind's eye. Indistinct and blurred, I can see nothing of it, not even how many items, roughly, it comprises. When my mind tries to grasp individual obligations as they swim around in my head like elusive carp, they dodge behind the waving pond weed of distraction. My mental net, wielded by clumsy metaphysical hands, is far too slow to catch even one and thwarted, I give up and eat my porridge.

The inside of my head is filled with some resistant fluid, somehow too viscous to allow the propagation of thought. Attempts to remember my commitments for the day result in confusion and disorientation.

How can I coerce this unreliable organ into cooperating with me?

A second cup of tea yields no more result than the first. I fire up my laptop, peruse some emails, the contents of which I know to be of critical importance to an ongoing issue.
I will be called to account, to explain the situation using the information contained in these missives. But the words skate uselessly off the surface of my eyes and no meaning can be discerned. Oh, this is so frustrating!

Perhaps exercise will help. I pull on my running clothes and shoes and step out into the uncharacteristically gorgeous Autumn sunshine. It is a little windy, but far warmer than it should be for October. And, starting my stopwatch, off i go.

I love "having been for a run", but I hate running. On a bicycle, I am fast, possibly faster than almost anyone apart from club cyclists or those naturally endowed with advantageous muscle composition. I can maintain an easy 20mph for some hours.
But running, I am ponderous.

I do not run fast. I trudge. Like some preposterous human ironclad, my 100kg bulk stumbles along, step after step. The first minute is actually not too difficult, though I pace myself slowly.
The subsequent five minutes are horrible. My breathing increases in depth and speed and my upper ribs feel constrictive like the fingers of Giger's face-hugging creation in Alien. Gradually though, the lungs ease up and an easy rhythm is attained, though my progress is still slow for a runner.
Now, the North Wind picks up, which is good as along the long straight, punishing road up to the scarp, I start to get a little hot. I have overdressed for this unseasonal warmth and the sweat seems to be squirting out of my forehead. I am grateful for the efforts of the North Wind, though it is in my face and impeding me (though probably less than I believe).
Turning left to run along the bottom of the hills, I see how beautiful it looks in the sun. The trees still have most of their leaves and the ramparts of the bronze-age hill fort can be seen a few hundred feet above me. on this lane, about halfway through my run, i usually recite Shakespeare's 18th sonnet as a test of my exertion. If i can do it all the way through without gasping, but without to much ease, i have got it about right. i did have heart rate monitor, but i found it tedious to wear. This is adequate for the purposes of removing the obscuring layer of fat from my belly.
Today though, I am listening to Radio4, "Woman's Hour" about handwashing. It is quite interesting, so no sonnet today.
I really am still feeling rather ungainly though and my legs, used to different rhythm, are starting to complain at the unusual mode of use.
I pass the 5km mark at an embarrassing time: Over four minutes longer than at my best.
At last however, the forcing of heavily oxygenated blood through my reluctant brain, appears to be paying off. Destined for muscles, the oxygen-rich blood pushes through the blockages, flushes away the lethargy and coherence starts to appear.
Thoughts are starting to happen now of their own accord: Snatches of sentences, enjoyable phrases, remembrances of things I have to do.
I arrive at my door and fumble for my key.

Collapsing into a chair, it seems hardly seconds since I strode purposefully down the drive to begin. And yet, in the intervening time, much has happened at the level of sensation and thought. This paradoxical mismatch of chronologies always leaves me uncomfortable. But here I am, somewhere near 100% again. At least, i think so.
I guess you will have to be the judge of that.