Extreme fatigue

When a twelve-year-old wakes up at 5:22 a.m., she sneaks downstairs and, with well-honed stealth shared only by jungle-cat predators, she quietly proceeds to adorn the kitchen with dirty dishes and spilled pancake batter.

However, Little Lady is just two years old. She does not do anything quietly – especially not waking up at 5:22 a.m. Which she did this morning … again.

Right now, spilled pancake batter would almost be a welcome surprise.

I take some comfort in knowing that I share the most common disease in the modern world: extreme fatigue perpetuitis. The symptoms are easy to spot.

Grumpiness. Let’s face it, after several nights of minimum sleep, people really get on edge. Extreme fatigue perpetuitis sufferers are like Tasmanian devils. Don’t put two of them in the same cage together. Before you know it, they revert to such sophisticated dialogues as:

Extreme fatigue“Are, too.”

“Am not”

“Are, too.”

“Am not.”

“Says who?”

“Says me.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah.”

“Bhrhrthrpt.”

Clumsiness. Which means it is probably unwise to stand at the top of the stairs while distracted by an argument or … or … oh no, waa-aah … boom … ouch! … bump … yikes! … crash.

Well, at least I’m not at the top of the stairs any longer. I suppose it could have been worse. I could have been carrying a bucket of razor blades soaking in nitric acid.

Poor judgment. Which often can lead to really, really, really bad decisions. The kind of really bad decisions that keep you up all night worrying if a banker will come along to hitch your house up to the back of a moving van and haul it away.

The kind that keeps you up all night worrying if the King of Muck Street will pop by for a friendly “chat” about the slow progress of your debt reduction program.

The kind that keeps you up all night worrying if you should have hired an electrician to wire the new addition instead of asking advice from your accident-prone neighbor. All this staying up all night worrying is perfectly in sync with the extreme fatigue perpetuitis lifestyle.

Extreme Fatigue: a cause to crash?

In my former life as a traffic safety advocate, I would often compare fatigued driving to drunk driving as a cause of crashes.

Have you ever left your house in the morning, climbed into your car, drove out the driveway, merged onto the highway … and the next thing you know you are exiting the highway twenty minutes later? Where did those twenty minutes go? Lost in the morning time warp.

Fatigue behind the wheel often plays out like this:

Level one, grumpiness. “Hey. Who do you think you are? You don’t own the road. My car got here first. Get outta my way!”

Level two, poor judgment. “Oops. Maybe I shouldn’t have pulled so tight in front of that eighteen wheeler. Hey! Why’s that guy hitting the brakes so hard?”

Level three, clumsiness. “Yikes! I’m gonna hit that telephone pole.”

Level four, more poor judgment. “Yes! I missed the pole. I missed the pole. I missed the …” CRASH!

Level five, more grumpiness. “Hey. Who do you think you are? You don’t own this living room window. My car got here first. Get outta my way!”

Level six, a black eye and many broken bones.

Sleep is important. We all know that, but too many of us figure we’ll catch up on our sleep sometime in the future. In the meantime, there are alternatives. Don’t drive. Move into a house with no stairs. Sell your toddler. And above all, don’t carry a bucket of razor blades soaking in nitric acid.

Yawn. I think it’s time for a nap.

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