Nights had become full of turmoil, left abandoned with my own thoughts. Well, let’s not say thoughts – more like wakeful anxieties. What used to be my most precious time of day in the sleeping hours had become a battleground. I mention feeling abandoned because the sense of being cast adrift returns every night as I am put to bed. Once the nightly ceremony of grappling, tugging and entombing is completed I’m on my own. If it’s not in reach, it means a long wait until morning. All the essentials, a mobile phone; a pee bottle; a pair of glasses – all of these now feel like lifelines. Then of course I do battle with my body. No longer casual unconscious turns in the night, but struggles prompted by prolonged pressure and consequent aches.
I thought my problems were solved with the arrival of a new mattress: not just any mattress, but a pressure relieving mattress. The name is quite enticing; I like the idea of anything that relieves stress. In reality, it seemed to do anything but. Had it really come to this: a night imprisoned in a horizontal vending machine. A haunting cacophony of sounds emanated from this mattress. How could such a seemingly innocuous piece of bedroom furniture come to terrorise me from dawn till dusk. The first of the sounds was a monotonous drone emanating from a pump to which it was attached at the bottom of the bed. It produced a continual hum that decimated any silence (silence which at this point had become a distant memory). It appeared that the mattress had to remain inflated 24 hours a day so this sound pervaded every part of the ground floor, constantly reminding my family of my disability. The second more sinister sound was a spasmodic ‘gasping’ rather like the death throes of a poltergeist: one that has the uncanny ability to die repeatedly. This accompanied every twist and turn during slumber.
The upshot of this was a night of broken dreams and uninvited awakenings.
It seems that this new mattress is designed to remedy this night time tussle- but comfort has come at a cost. No longer, it seems, do I have the privilege of an insouciant night.
“You get used to it”, that’s what the installer said about the noise, that’s what the nurse said. I suppose you do: just like you get used to world poverty; global injustice and having a progressive illness. But in this case I didn’t have to put up with it. The next day I was on the phone to arrange the removal of this disharmony. Its removal was accompanied by veiled fanfares. Don’t intrude on my family again. I don’t want to be ‘comfortable ‘, I want to be vital. Silence is a human entitlement which I cherish and no longer take for granted. In the words of our great Dylan Thomas
“Do not go gentle into that good night but rage, rage against the dying of the light.”