You know I make all this stuff up, don’t you?

As regular readers (hello? taps microphone) will know, almost everything I bang on about here is made up, largely for my own amusement, and one of the little fictions that I like to maintain in order to bring some levity to this vale of woes is the claim that I have “narcolepsy,” a wholly implausible condition causing excessive sleeping and sudden loss of muscle tone with consequent full or partial collapse, both of which I have to fake on a regular basis to keep my fiction alive.

Of late, one strand of this little tale has oriented around the possibility of getting a new, rather successful but rarely authorised treatment for it: obviously this will alleviate the need to fake the symptoms so much, but will come with the problems of having to pretend to take a highly controlled substance. I have decided to spin this out a while longer, so at my “appointment” with my “neurologist” on Friday I decided that he would tell me that the application was still in the works, but be somewhat more downbeat than he has been previously about the chances of success. This is, fictionally, a bit of a bummer: especially since the stopgap drug I am fictionally trying in the meantime, whilst no longer making me hideously and entirely fictionally sick due to equally fictional anti-nausea tablets, I have decided will start to give me other side-effects which, though relatively minor, are not worth the reduction in faked falling-over that I get from it.

At the recent appointment my invented neurologist (who I feel a bit sorry for, having had to go through many years of imaginary medical training in order to play his part in this whimsical drama) asked me if I’d be happy to get involved in a bit more research: sequencing my DNA for certain fictional genes, and even taking a look to see if they can see any of the fictional antibodies which cause this ludicrously made-up condition in the first place. Comparison with my antipodeanly-resident twin will be desirable if this goes ahead, but as I’m disinclined to fork out the hundreds of pounds necessary for the artifice that he be brought over here for it, I’ve decided that he’ll just give some blood at a research centre local to him.

You may also recall that I gave myself the opportunity of another strand of this tale by making the neurologist hint at the previous appointment that he had a Plan B. I am wondering whether I could make this associated with the Plan B: it could be that by my helping the research a kind of quid pro quo gets me the invented drug. But this is speculation on my part; I have yet to decide how to develop this strand of the narrative.

All this is not so great; my story-telling has definitely taken a more pessimistic turn. As many of you know, though faking this silly disease has caused me and others great amusement over the years, nearly thirty years of doing so has started to get a bit much for me, and I was really hoping I could at least substantially reduce the need to put on all these symptoms—the fragmented night-time sleep in particular seems a wholly redundant artifice as there’s very, very rarely anyone else to actually see my pretence.

But it looks like I’ve decided to spin out this entertaining nonsense of mine for at least a few months more. I hope it continues to amuse, though frankly I kinda regret having dreamt it up—largely as an excuse to sleep through boring classes—all those years ago. 

Schoolboy narcolepsy error, #256

Eating rather delicious Chrimbo left-over soup whilst listening to Scriabin’s Poem of Ecstasy. It’s basically a fifteen minute crescendo and, despite my rants against romanticism, I sometimes get carried away: my face is now slightly scalded, and I reckon I’ve got a couple of lentils and piece of turkey stuck under my eyelid.

Sigh. HashtagAtLeastIWasn’tUsingAKnife.

Brown, S. & Brown, G. (2015) A preliminary investigation into the gustatory pleasures of the “Tim‎‑‎Tam Slam”

Abstract

Anecdotal data suggest that the “Tim-Tam Slam,” a novel consumption method combining confection and heated beverages originating in the southern hemisphere, may be efficacious in bringing about a positive sensory response. Tests were conducted and recorded to assess these anecdotal claims.

Subjects

Subjects (n = 2) were matched for age (40;0), height (169±0.5cm), and DNA overlap (100%). Subjects originated from the northern hemisphere; one had been tranposed to the Tim-Tam’s native environment for a preliminary period of six months, and was undergoing habituation. The latter was transposed to the field specifically for the purposes of this experiment.

Materials

The materials used were:

  1. two Tim-Tam biscuits (variety: original); and
  2. a freshly-made cup of tea (variety: English Breakfast).

Some preliminary notes upon materials are required.

Tim-Tams

Tim-Tams are a biscuit confection originating in the southern hemisphere, though closely related to the northern hemisphere product Penguins. Both comprise a binary biscuitty structure (BBS), with the separate sections conjoined via a gooey inner bit (GIB). The gooey–biscuitty core is then entirely encased in a caramel exoskeleton.

Subjects independently assessed Tim-Tams prior to the experiment. They were found to compare favourably with their northern hemisphere relative, with the following noticeable differences:

  1. the Tim-Tam was observed to possess a pleasanter crunch in the BBS;
  2. the Tim-Tam additionally presented a higher caramelly quotient (CQ) than the Penguin, rendering initial appreciation higher, though leading to potential sickliness upon repeated consumption; and
  3. the Tim-Tam packaging was noted to be absent in euphonic verbal humour.

Tea

Tea is a hot infusion comprising “the taste of dried leaves in boiled water […] with milk squirted out of a cow” (Adams, 1980).

Subjects, though of English heritage, were correctly disposed to consider tea to be the very piss of the Devil.

Method

The method of performing the Tim-Tam Slam is widely attested in the grey literature. Opposing corners are exscinded from the exoskeletal portion to expose a small amount of the GIB. The subject places one amputated corner within the beverage and uses the Tim-Tam in the manner of a straw, drawing fluid up through the GIB until it is felt to enter the oral cavity. At this point, the subject withdraws the Tim-Tam, inverts it, and ingests it.

Results

Discussion

Subject 1 clearly demonstrated a conventional, though extreme, adverse response to the process. Subject reported that “It just takes like tea. Warm, mushy tea.”

Subject 2 demonstrated an equally adverse response, though somewhat less conventional as his neurons freaked the fuck out and put him into a state referred to in less rigorous literature than this as “cataplexy.” Whilst the cataplectic response may be triggered by pleasure, in this instance subject reported the trigger to be “mingingness.”

At this stage, both participants exercised their right to withdraw from the trial.

On non-narcoleptics

I am narcoleptic. I am also an identical twin. Other than having earnt me some awesome sci-fi credentials, these two facts about me are linked in another way: they both lead to the same painfully frequently asked question:

“What’s it like?”

Grimace. Bite tongue. Unbite tongue. I don’t know. What’s it like not being a dozy bugger? What’s it like not having a free kidney-donor wandering around the world? Similarly, when I started this blogging challenge and requested suggestions for themes, a distressing number of people who should have known better suggested narcolepsy. It’s not like I don’t sometimes write about it already, but is this really the most interesting thing about me?

Don’t get me wrong: I know my condition is rare, freakish, silly, often hilarious, medically fascinating, and open to spectacular, awesomely awful Freudian interpretations If you’ve never followed one of my links, make that the one you do.. I’m happy to dispense the odd nugget about it, or to relate the more amusing incidents it has lead to (cat-fart: still gotta do the cat-fart). But you, my strangely consistently-sleeping friends, should know by now that—though I will not pretend it is not a buggeration of the first order, and that it affects almost everything I do and every decision I make—it is a triviality as far as I view myself.

So, for you weird non-narcoleptics, just to keep you happy, some questions and a few notes:

  • What do you do when you’re bored? Seriously? Why don’t you just put your head down and nap through the rest of that boring lecture or crappy film? I thoroughly recommend it.
  • When do you get your pulp reading done? Personally, I feel guilty reading enjoyable trash during daylight hours, but I’ve worked my way through most of Kurt Vonnegut’s canon during the fragmentary sleepless periods of the night.
  • Do you really have to drive everywhere? (The environmentalist in me seconds that question.)
  • When you use the expression “Only seven more sleeps till Christmas,” you do realize that that means it’s gonna start later this afternoon, don’t you?
  • If we’ve just met, and I have to tell you that I have a condition that makes me fall asleep a lot, laughing and saying “Oh, I think I must have that,” is, umm, probably best avoided unless you want to see me fall over with irritation.
  • If you’ve known me for a while and haven’t yet worked out that, though cataplexy may be triggered by laughter, the severity and length of the consequent attack is unconnected to the level of amusement, you really need to. Telling me to “Get a grip,” or chiding me that “It wasn’t even that funny,” whilst I am struggling to control my breathing and worrying about whether my head is about to bounce off the floor a few times is somewhat lacking in sensitivity, to put it mildly.
  • I wasn’t drunk when I fell over.
  • Oh, um, …
  • I wasn’t that drunk when I fell over.

A to Z blogging challenge: N

Whilst we’re on the topic of narcolepsy…

I have the most misnamed illness in history of medicine. Falling asleep a lot is the least of my problems. To be honest I think you’re all damn weird being able to get by in a 24-hour period with just one doze. What the hell do you do in a boring lecture (regrettably in most of the interesting ones too), or on the train (if, of course, you can get a seat)? How do you know that you put in a decent gym session if you don’t fall asleep the minute your arse hits a chair afterwards? (Okay, so the times I fall asleep actually walking away from the gym aren’t so good.)

But it’s the sleep paralysis, the cataplexy, the bizarre semiconscious states I often find myself in when I’m sure sooner or later I will blurt out my most heinous, shameful secrets (I once said no to a gin and tonic, but there may be some even worse than that), and the gosh darned inability to sleep more than an hour at a time at nights that really infuriate me. Seriously, it’s 1.30 in the morning on a school night, I’ve already slept twice, and just spent the last 20 minutes thinking about perception, consciousness, and false positives. Not even from any kind of existential despair (I dealt with all that many years ago, through the regular and enthusiastic application of the aforementioned G&T), but because it’s interesting and my brain has decided to enter fully awake, morning mode. In fact, I was going to be writing a post on that topic, but then I realised would in all likelihood be up all night. You have no idea how many half-finished drafts I already have saved on my various half-arsed philosophical ruminations.

This is in danger of looking like a whinge. It’s not. There will be no whinges on this blog: they are forbidden along with credulousness, discrimination, flaccid thinking, and photographs of dogs (those slobbering bundles of hair, saliva, and affirmation-begging neediness). It’s a rant against a poorly-named disease, and a warning to the next person who upon hearing that I have it says, “Oh is that the one where you fall asleep all the time?” I’m not sure how I will punish you (it will almost certainly involve sarcasm and a few choice words such as would make your silvery-haired old mam’s ears melt off), and if I spend time working it out then I really will be up all night. Just consider yourself warned.