Greater Water Boatman Notonecta glauca
Image credit: Holger Gröschl 2003
Don’t you just love those impromptu days, when a flying visit to a friend turns into a delightful few hours of laughter and good company? This is what yesterday afternoon was like; however, the morning and night before did their utmost to convince me that I was in for a rough day, so ‘Ha ha, that’ll teach ‘em’!
One of the less obvious symptoms of Narcolepsy is insomnia. In fact, the common assumption that Narcolepsy means that a person with the condition sleeps excessively is, in reality, a misconception. Rather, in the simplest of terms, Narcolepsy is a disruption of the sleep-wake cycle, meaning that whilst a person is prone to falling asleep at inappropriate times or in unusual situations, a person is also likely to be awake at ‘inappropriate’ times. My personal experience of this aspect seems to be an out-of-sync circadian rhythm, whereby every once in a while, I will be wide awake until the small hours, only to be woken two hours later by the Small Person, who keeps more conventional hours. On other nights, it’s not unusual to be forced into bed by overwhelming sleepiness at only 8pm!
Well, the night before was one of my insomniac nights - the upside of this being that during which I achieved a massive amount of long-overdue household admin! After completing my mission (3am), I was still not ready to sleep, so decided to do some light reading before finally going to sleep at about 4am, only to dream of lying in a tent over and over again watching camels and capybaras loom nearer and nearer until vanishing into nothingness the moment they were upon me.
As predicted, at 6am, it was, ‘Mum, can we get up?’, ‘Mum, can I have breakfast?’, ‘Mum...’. Eventually, my grunted and/or monosyllabic responses convinced the Small Person that if she wanted to get up, she would to have to do so by herself, and I was left to return to my slumbers. All was going well, until the desire to empty my bladder became overwhelming, and I knew that any attempt at further sleeping would be fruitless.
So, I roused myself and took myself downstairs to the bathroom, which overnight seemed to have been filled with all of the painting equipment (including a small wardrobe) from the Small Person’s new bedroom. Used to my Other Half’s strange behaviours by now, I thought nothing of it, and simply squeezed my bum onto the toilet. Frustratingly, despite being desperate, I couldn’t go to the toilet, but instead found myself calmly thinking, ‘Oh, that’s because my brain thinks that I’m still asleep and that this is a hallucination… never mind, I’ll try again later’. So, off I went, back upstairs and back into bed. Only then did I realise that I hadn’t actually left my bed, and that all this really was a hallucination - to be specific, a ‘hypnopompic hallucination’ referring to a hallucination that occurs upon waking, the other being ‘hypnagogic’ (upon falling asleep) - or, as I like to collectively call them, the HH’s.
I took a deep breath and willed myself to wake up, using all the strength I could muster to force my eyes to open and my brain to function normally in the ‘real’ world. Eventually it worked, and I lay blinking away, determined not to let my eyelids close for more than a second, knowing that if I did, I’d be straight back in Weirdo La La Land (another term of affection). It took some effort, believe me, but eventually I made it off the bed, disorientated and with a fuzzy head. Anyone would think I’d had a good old night on the town - if only!
Usually when I’ve had a night/morning like that described above, for the remainder of the following day, I’m of use to neither man nor beast, and my inner recluse will come to the fore. But yesterday was different. The Small Person’s company had been requested by a lovely neighbour whose daughter and her young family were visiting, and mid-afternoon, off we traipsed (rather excitedly) to the house over the road for a ‘play date’. After a few tentative moments, the Small Person was off happily being a train, running around and around the garden, in and out of tunnels, over piles of slate, before resting to paddle in the pond and to investigate the resident bugs (Greater Waterboatmen (aka ‘Backswimmers’) Notonecta glauca), then ultimately eating beans on toast and a strawberry fromage frais. Meanwhile, the so-called ‘Grown Ups’ chilled out with some basking in the greenhouse (accompanied by some staring in awe at the super-huge tomatoes), a recline in the summerhouse, and a cup of (peppermint for me) tea in the kitchen. A bug hunt behind the village hall is scheduled for today or tomorrow, and magnifying glasses are at the ready!
My neighbour is a horticulturist, and as such, her garden is a plantsman’s delight. In addition to the Water Boatmen, our leisurely afternoon was accompanied by bees, bees and more bees, butterflies (Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) and Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae), black ants (Lasius niger) and all manner of flies.