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. 

On legroom

When I was living in York I went to see a neurologist for one of my semi-regular check-ups. Being a new hospital for me, they lacked all my records, so I had to go through my full medical history and while I was running through my various other collected complaints and conditions I told the consultant that I have essential hypertension. “Essential” here is medical speak for “just very high, but we don’t really know why.” I mentioned that it was clearly genetic, however, because my twin brother has it too.

“Oh,” he piped up, suddenly alert, “you have a twin brother. Are you identical?”

Indeed we are: we have actually had our zygosity tested as we were once used as subjects for narcolepsy research.

“That’s very interesting,” he commented, and paused a little. “So does he have very short upper arms too?”

Genetics is a complex affair. You don’t, really, have a “gene for blue eyes” or a “gene for chiselled good looks”—I certainly don’t. A gene is just a recipe for a protein, and it’s quite common that one single gene can have multiple and phenotypically unconnected effects. So I presumed this was a possible pleiotropic correlation. “Well, yes, he does,” I replied. “Is that often associated with narcolepsy?”

Mr Duffey gazed at me thoughtfully. “Not that I know of,” he mused, “but they are very short.”

Yes, once again we’re back to my stubby appendages. I don’t want to give the impression that I am some kind of a grotesque, a sort of human Dachshund or maybe a two-legged Barquentine, dragging my withered, useless limbs around behind me. And these diminutive appendages come with a few benefits: when necessary, they provide a decent pushing capacity, and I’ve already written about how I think they have granted me a surprising talent for staying on a stand-up board, but they also carry another great advantage.

Trains, planes, the back seats of cars: none of these hold great fear for me. The flight to Brazil is a minimum of a little over ten hours, and though those ten hours are not the most exciting in the world, I never have to contort myself into strange and uncomfortable shapes simply to fit in my allocated space. There are few transport seats in which I cannot fit with reasonable ease which, given a taste for travel, is an undoubted boon. The obvious ability to sleep in pretty much any position means that, all in all, I can get pretty much anywhere I want in if not comfort, at least a notable absence of discomfort.

Elegance and svelteness in personal style may be ruled out for me: I have a great liking for the mod rocker look, but have long since realised that skinny cut suits are not for me. But the truth is, of the quiet little boons that life hands you, I kinda dig my stumps. In an over-populated, crushed-up world, I never want for legroom.