At two a.m., excruciating pain in my big toe startled me awake. I lay there, half-asleep and thought, “Toe cancer. I’ve got toe cancer.” The pain lingered. Sleep would not return. My brain turned, “…toe pain = what?…toe pain = what?…toe pain = gout. Gout! GOUT!” I was fully awake then.
I immediately recalled a recent conversation with my friend Patricia. High protein diets like Aitkin’s can cause gout. I waited ten more minutes in bed, hoping the pain would diminish, thinking, “Gout…gout…gout… I have been eating lots of meat. ….Gout, gout, gout. This really hurts. Gout…” I hobbled to the library and consulted the Readers Digest Book of Illustrated Illnesses. After perusing it and the rest of our health books, I decided I was not afflicted with gout (or even pseudo-gout). I certainly suffered from some sort of horrible cancer.
Only incredible self-restraint prevented me from going online to google “toe pain.” From past experience, I know that searching the Internet at three a.m. will guarantee me more than a sleepless night. I’ll be awake and tormented by visions of my own impending and agonizing death (Visit Wrongdiagnosis.com!).
Why do I ponder my mortality so morbidly at night, when at noon I feel immortal? Does the sun have rationality rays intermixed with UVA and UVB? Can I buy a reality screen with SPF 15?
Perhaps this is a valid theory. Consider the effects of lengthening nights on our population’s holidays. Halloween celebrates the longer days with an innocent festival that only the sensitive embrace with frenzied abandon. The derangement culminates around the solstice celebrations (Christmas!), when people collectively lose their minds–the traffic, the tension, the potpourri at Dillard’s—horrors! New Year’s drunken revelry and unrealistic resolutions echo the relief everyone feels when the days begin to lengthen again.
Whew. Someone else has certainly made this connection. Is it paranoid to wonder why the government isn’t doing something? I wonder if the government offed them. Will they off me too? Hmm. I think I’ll buy a full-spectrum bulb sometime soon.