Thursday, 5 September 2013

It's a jungle

Ocean waves or tropical rainforest?

And no, this is not the first question asked by the family to help triage potential holiday destinations. Nor is it the kind of fanciful name popular with shampoo manufacturers. Nor even one of those "if you can only save one of these, which would it be?" questions so popular with bearded environmentalists. Having said that, I should tread carefully since many of my friends are indeed bearded environmentalists. And that's just the girls.

Joking! You know I'm joking -- don't give me that look.

Anyway, having managed to alienate half my friends within the first paragraph, let me try to entertain those that still tarry. Eventually of course I shall find there is nobody left to offend. Will the last reader to leave please switch off the lights.

I sleep very badly. This has been a problem for nigh on a year now. Without bandying needless statistics, it's estimated that perhaps three quarters of all people with Parkinson's have disrupted sleep in some form or another. So I'm not alone. Nor am I alone in seeking nonpharmacological solutions to the problem (nonpharmacological just means no drugs, but why use two syllables when seven will do).

My friend Cloud had an idea. And no, that's not her given name in case you were wondering. Were she born in the 60s, such a thing would be understandable. This after all was a time when every other child was called Butterfly, Pixie, Moon Shadow, or Unicorn Tears. Cloud was born three decades later, when girls were Jessica, Ashley, Brittany, Kayla or Courtney. But I digress.

Cloud suggested something called an iPillow or similar. Now I've tried all sorts of pillows beneath the Stamford bonce -- neck support, orthopaedic, memory foam, etc. None work for me. But the iPillow is different. It has a speaker and plays subliminal environmental sounds while you rest. These sounds, Cloud told me earnestly and with a much straighter face than I expected, could be waves crashing on the beach or the sound of birds in a tropical rainforest.

As regular readers will know, this is exactly the kind of product that raises my hackles. Normally I would have dismissed it out of hand with a withering arch of the eyebrow. But on this occasion, and it is probably a mark of my desperation, I decided to look into it. When I found one on Amazon, reduced by 60% but accompanied by five-star reviews, I took the plunge.

The said iPillow arrived yesterday afternoon. The thing is easy enough to use and with the investment of a further 69 pence on a CD of restful sounds that I could loop all night, I went to bed in optimistic mood.

"What exactly is that, Dad?" asked Alice with the same arched eyebrow. I explained the theory about restful sleep as the eyebrow headed further north.

"Okay" I said "which should I play -- waves on the shore or tropical rainforest noises?"

"Well if you play the rainforest stuff, you'll spend the whole night listening out for jaguars and anacondas...." she said.

"Then beach sounds it is" I said.

"As long as you're not afraid of sharks" she smiled

I checked the label on the Tranquil Nature Sounds for Meditation CD. It said nothing about listeners being crushed to death by snakes or devoured by sharks. I decided to chance it with the "Bird Calls in the Jungle" track. After first checking under the bed for predatory wildlife....

I woke up this morning at my usual hour -- around 4:30 am. But this time I managed to get back to sleep to add a further two and a half hours to my tally. I was impressed by how realistic the sounds were. And somehow transmitted through the depths of the pillow, they were softened too. The soundtrack itself had everything -- parrots, monkeys, and any number of insects. The mosquitoes were particularly realistic. They could have been in the room with me.

Only as I pulled on my pants did I realise that the mozzies were more than just realistic. A long trail of reddened blotches bore witness to their presence.

I counted the bites. Seventeen.

I've been eaten alive..

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