I Have Forgotten How To Sleep

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I Have Forgotten How to Sleep

Panel 1

[Image] A woman in bed, sleeping at night.

[SFX] Beep beep beep beep beep

Panel 2

[Image] The woman pulls up her shirt a little bit to expose a wound on her side

Woman: “No, not again!”

[SFX] Beep beep beep beep beep

Panel 3

[Image] The woman inspects her wound, which is now much more open and bleeding profusely.

[SFX] Creak

[SFX] Beep beep beep beep beep

Panel 4

[Image] a long snakelike creature with large teeth springs forth in a violent manner from the woman’s wound. The background is black with white illustrations on top.

Woman: AHH!
[SFX] Beep beep beep beep!

Panel 5

[Image] The black background from the previous panel bleeds into this panel as a cloud shape, indicating previous panels were a dream. Cloud tapers off by the woman’s head ,who is now shown with a device on her abdomen.

She is still asleep, and looks distressed

Woman: “ah…ah….”
[SFX] “Beep Beep”

Panel 6

[Image] The woman is now awake. Her hands are on the device

[Caption] Dreaming with an insulin pump.

Woman: “ah….oh….”.
[SFX] “Beep Click.”

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Full story

I have forgotten how to sleep.

I have forgotten how to sleep, not in the wide-eyed, red-rimmed way of insomniacs and new mothers, but in the way of an anthropologist studying an ancient culture or a lost ritual. I watch people on the bus fall asleep, falling drowsy, slumping towards the window, then jerking awake with rigid limbs and wide eyes. I watch the cherubic, content faces of people in the throes of deep sleep, and want to shout at them in frustration for the thing they call so easily.

I’m a Type One diabetic, with an insulin pump perpetually clipped like a wannabe pager. The insulin pump is like a mechanical pancreas, dispensing insulin at regular intervals and eliminating the injections I have taken three or more times a day since I was six years old. It is a wonder of modern science that I adopted at twenty years old, a godsend in diabetic insulin therapy. But with it clipped to my side twenty-four hours a day, humming with technological innovation, I have forgotten how to sleep.

I roll over to feel the boxy plastic dig painfully into my side.

Wake up.

The pump beeps at me like a bawling baby, with calls to refill the insulin reservoir, change the battery, unkink the insulin delivery line.

Wake up.

I roll over in bed. The length of thin tubing that connects the pump to a site in my stomach rips out, leaving me in a puddle of dripping insulin and spots of blood.

Wake up.

Even the dreams pull me from sleep: dreams of aliens jumping from my stomach a la Sigourney Weaver, dreams of twisting vines pulling at my stomach and growing out through my bellybutton to pin down my arms and legs. This tug of insulin pump tubing startles me awake, grasping at the soft white skin of my belly to sweep for lingering foliage or extraterrestrials until my mind catches up with my body.

Wake up.

I’ve since learned tricks to sleep with my boxy friend to avoid relationship complications like seizures and hospitalizations. But I still catch myself sometimes watching the sleeping figures on public transit, the friend sleeping over on my spare bed, my brother falling asleep on the couch before the static of the TV, and I’m fascinated.

I’m captivated by sleep, this innate survival mechanism I’ve had to relearn in order to accommodate another survival mechanism. And I wonder what it’s like to sleep so freely and at peace, so unencumbered by the long, unbroken space between sleeping and waking. In that still-twilit murk, I stare at the ceiling and listen to the tiny hum and click of my insulin pump.

And I wonder who else is awake out there in the hazy murk, and why. Whether they’re staring at the dark ceiling too, listening to the hum of streetlights and technology.

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1 response to “I Have Forgotten How To Sleep”

  1. Dean says: |
    May 23, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    I don’t have diabetes, so this was an eye opener for me. Thank you for sharing your story.

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