Friday, March 23, 2018
Dream On ~ Chapter 7
Arlyn paid and thanked the delivery man for the Chinese food, giving him a large tip for getting it to her apartment so quickly. As she turned with the giant bag, Cordel let out a low whistle.
“Either you’re feeding a small army of men who will be here shortly to kill me for what I witnessed, you think I’m as hungry as a lumberjack, or you’re as hungry as a lumberjack.”
“I’m as hungry as a lumberjack,” said Arlyn, “and I did order extra because I wasn’t sure how much you’d eat, but I’d hoped you’d eat with me while I explained.”
“Before you explain,” said Cordel, “I need to apologize. I shouldn’t have pushed you like that. Molly said to leave it alone, but I couldn’t. I needed to solve the mystery of you. It was so selfish and I am so sorry.”
“The mystery of me?” Arlyn shook her head as she headed to the coffee table and started to take out all the Chinese food containers. “I’m far from a mystery.”
“Says the woman who just passed out in front of me right after telling me not to call an ambulance,” said Cordel as he grabbed two plates and some serving spoons from the kitchen and brought them to the couch.
“Fair enough,” said Arlyn as she sat. Cordel handed her a plate as she sat beside her. She started to spoon herself out some fried rice. “First, I didn’t pass out. What you saw was called cataplexy.”
“What is that?” asked Cordel as he helped himself to some sweet and sour shrimp.
Arlyn added some sesame chicken and egg rolls to her plate, topping it off with some of the shrimp. Cordel eyed her plate. “You really do eat like a lumberjack and here I thought you ate only carrots.”
“I snack on carrots,” said Arlyn, “even though my body constantly craves carbs. I have narcolepsy, one of the symptoms is cataplexy another is being hungry all the time.”
“So tell me about the cataplexy,” said Cordel before taking a bite. “This really is the best Chinese food I’ve had in town.” He said around his bite.
“I told you,” said Arlyn with a smile. “Cataplexy is the sudden loss of muscle tone, it can look a lot like a seizure, but basically I can’t move my arms and legs or keep my eyes open, but I can hear everything around me, so thank you for not shoving the wooden spoon in my mouth or calling an ambulance.”
Cordel’s cheeks turned red. “So you heard that huh?”
“I did,” she admitted. “Also thank you for the pillow. That was very kind of you, next time though, no need to stare at me.”
“Will there be a next time?” asked Cordel.
“I can’t guarantee there won’t be,” said Arlyn, “but it is usually brought on by sudden, strong emotions, like a laughing fit, fear, anger, or stress.”
“Stress huh?” said Cordel as he poked at his fried rice. “Like someone interrogating you and threatening to hurt your best friend by getting her fired, because he’s a total jackass?”
“Something like that,” said Arlyn, with a forgiving smile. “Yesterday morning I didn’t answer the door because I had overslept and didn’t hear it or my phone. I was stressed from our argument the evening before, and didn’t follow my schedule. I tried to get back on track yesterday after I finally did wake up, but your questions didn’t help and then … bam … cataplexy.”
“So you could just fall asleep while we’re talking?” asked Cordel. “Just at any second, you could be snoring?”
Arlyn shook her head. “No, it’s only like that in the movies. I know when I need to sleep, when an event is coming on. I can usually get to a bed, or the couch in time. It doesn’t happen often because as well as the medicine I take in order to help regulate it, I stick to a schedule.”
“The schedule I agreed to keep when I signed the contract,” admitted Cordel.
“Yes,” said Arlyn, “but this isn’t all your fault. I should have been upfront with you. I just hate sharing my diagnoses with people. Once they know, they start treating me different and it’s like everyone is walking on eggshells around me. No one wants to trigger the narcoleptic girl.”
She piled more fried rice and another egg roll on her plate.
“Well I am sorry I triggered the narcoleptic girl,” said Cordel. “Regardless of your illness, I acted like an entitled turd this morning. I’m sorry.”
Arlyn gave him a smile. “I think you just came up with the name of your book … Entitled Turd.”
Cordel let out a hearty laugh. “Sounds like a best seller to me! I know a lot of entitled turds who will think it’s their autobiography.”
“Oh but there can only be one entitled turd,” said Arlyn.
“I am one of a kind,” confessed Cordel. He sat his plate on the table and leaned back. “I’m a stuffed one of a kind. How are you still eating?”
“As I said earlier, it’s a side effect of the narcolepsy,” explained Arlyn. “The food sensors and sleep sensors in the brain are very close together, so sometimes my brain mistakes being sleepy for being hungry. Since I’m so tired, my body craves carbs for a quick fix. After cataplexy, my brain is not only confused about my food sensors, but since my body has been stressed it thinks I need fuel.” She pointed to the banquet on the table. “So I eat, like a lumberjack.”
“This is all so fascinating,” said Cordel. “I feel I should be writing a book about you, instead of the other way around.”
“You can write?” joked Arlyn.
“Hardy, har har,” said Cordel. “You know this isn’t fair. You can make all the jokes you want to, but if I start to joke, you’re going to go into a cataplexic state again.”
“True,” said Arlyn, matter-of-factly. “You just have to put up with me and my lumberjack appetite. Just be glad you know me now. I used to a mess.”
“Used to be?” Cordel raised an eye brow.
“Hardy, har har,” mocked Arlyn. “In high school I had no idea how to manage my hunger. It controlled me instead of the other way around. I was a big girl due to that lack of control. The lunch lady once found me in the cafeteria eating all the bread rolls that were meant for lunch. They bought them pre-cooked and then just stuck them in the oven to reheat. There I was, eight in the morning, skipping my first period class eating cold rolls. I was so embarrassed.”
“Oh that’s nothing,” said Cordel, “and I don’t even have a medical excuse for my embarrassing story.”
“Do tell,” said Arlyn, “I can’t wait to hear it.”
“Oh there are many,” said Cordel. “In junior high, we were doing sit-ups in gym class. I got partnered up with the prettiest girl in school. She was holding my feet, with her hands. We’d had ham and beans for lunch … and…”
Arlyn gasped. “You didn’t.”
“I did,” said Cordel. “I farted right in her face.”
“What did she do?” asked Arlyn.
“She was totally cool about it,” said Cordel. “She kind of laughed and then stood, so she could hold my feet with her feet. I tried to apologize after and she told me not to worry that things like that happen.”
“Oh that could have been so much worse,” said Arlyn. “I had a huge crush on one of our soccer players, of course he didn’t know I existed. But one day I thought I heard him call my name as I was walking down the hall. I turned, still walking, but didn’t see him, I turned back around and rammed my face right into an open locker door. Made such a racklet that everyone in the hallway turned to see what had happened. Had a goose egg on my head for almost a week.”
“Ouch,” said Cordel, “but that doesn’t beat making out with a tree.”
“I’m sorry what?” asked Arlyn as she cocked her head.
“Senior year, it was one of the last parties and I got totally wasted,” explained Cordel. “It was not a pretty sight and it didn’t help when I was moments away from passing out I found a lovely tree. Seriously, it was love at first sight. She had nice big, spacious roots, and soft moss creating the perfect chair. I sat down and leaned my cheek against the moss that was growing up her roots. I was so thankful for a comfortable place to sit that I started to hug the tree and telling her that I loved her.”
“You did not,” said Arlyn in shock.
“Oh I did,” said Cordel. “I’m just thankful it was a time before everyone could record on their phones or I’m pretty sure the press would’ve gotten their hands on it by now. Definitely not one of my finer moments.”
Arlyn started to gather up the food. “I can’t believe you did that.”
“I can’t believe you used to be a big girl,” said Cordel. “Not that there’s anything wrong with curves, but I can tell you’ve made some really good healthy choices.”
Arlyn couldn’t help but blush at Cordel’s compliment. It had been a long time since anyone had made her blush.
“Thank you,” said Arlyn. “Once I was finally diagnosed with narcolepsy, by a specialist, I was able to realize what was a symptom of the disease and what was actual hunger.”
“Wasn’t that hard though?” asked Cordel as she helped her gather up the Chinese food. “I hate being hungry.”
“That’s where the carrots come in,” said Arlyn. “I’ve always loved carrots, so instead of running for the carbs, I ran for the carrots in-between meals. That being said, I do allow myself to have a meal like this on occasion. Food is very much a comfort to me as much as it is fuel for my body, so I also took up swimming, which I found to be stress reducing, created a schedule that would work for me, and cut out all caffeine.”
“No caffeine, that sounds painful, as a narcoleptic, I figured caffeine would be your go to,” admitted Cordel.
“I have to stick to my schedule, which includes naps,” said Arlyn. “If I’m drinking caffeine, then I risk getting off my schedule because the caffeine is keeping me from having a good rest.”
“Wow,” said Cordel. “I had no idea it was so complicated.”
“Most people don’t,” said Arlyn, as she gather the leftovers and headed to the fridge. “Most people see an exaggerated, stereotype in T.V. and movies and think narcolepsy is just falling asleep in the blink of an eye or used for comedic purposes.”
“Doesn’t that piss you off?” asked Cordel, as he put the plates into the dishwasher.
“It used to,” said Arlyn. “Now I find it annoying and ignorant, so I advocate as much as I can for awareness. But that is enough about me.” She looked at her watch. “We still have two hours of interview time left and we have to get busy talking about you and this book.”Cordel rubbed his hands together and joked, “Well, I am my favorite subject.”