Fatigue

A new storm rolled in Sunday afternoon. Cold gray mottled sky, and sheets of snow blowing in from a thousand miles away. Listening to the wind whip against the canvas outside at one a.m., mixing with the creak of the old metal J’way frame and the muffled sniffles and snores of my fellow Summer Campers down the hall.

Don’t think I’ve written much about sleep here, but it’s the physiological elephant in the corner for most people at Pole. The altitude, the dryness – affects your body’s ability to get good REM cycles, and out in Summer Camp, you don’t sleep well under the best of circumstances. You end up fatigued, irritable, which throws your next night off even more.

You end up in these weirdly punctuated patterns – I’ve been popping wide awake at 1:00 and tossing/turning in a daze for hours before drifting off again at four or five in the morning. Which, of course does wonders for the next day, and the cycle snowballs.

Fatigue does weird things to the mind and body – faces loom and voices are jarring. Everything has sharp, pointy edges. Magnifies the little things that go wrong into these big, unwieldy things that litter the path of everything you do. It’s Alice in Wonderland, but the sizes are all screwed up in both directions. Stuff doesn’t work, and every glance, every innocent question feels like an accusation. Yes, the satellites are down again; no we don’t know why. And no, I can’t fix it – really. Yes, our Satcom guys are working on it. Really, they’re doing their best. Oh, you just saw them sitting and talking in the galley? I don’t know – I guess they’ve got to eat too. Look, I really don’t know. I’m not even supposed to be in here today – can I get back to my writing?

Past few days have been especially wearing. After the endorphin and adrenaline-charged ordeal of Saturday, I (quite predictably) crashed hard on Sunday. Big open stretch of time for the physiological/psychological plummet, and by Sunday night I was a complete emotional wreck, curled up in a ball in the corner of my J’way. Yeah, it happens to all of us. Sometimes you find someone to talk through it, and sometimes you just ride it out.

You might recall that I’d been using Cargo as a way to work through these bits, but I had to give it up last week. Seems I’d not given that elbow enough time to heal from that incident earlier this month, and Mandy, the physical therapist who rotates around the stations down here told me in no uncertain terms that I was to cut out the heavy lifting and yanking on straps. Can’t really do Cargo any other way. Yeah, very disappointed.

Anyhow. If the blog’s seemed kind of dry, that’s probably a big factor – I’m pretty damned fatigued all around. Redeployment is just around the corner, and perhaps I’m smelling the hay, just trying to make it through that final stretch.

Now? It’s coming up on 2:00 a.m., Tuesday morning. GOES sats should be coming over the horizon in a few minutes, and I’m tempted to just stay up to see if we get that connection. Or maybe I’ll just try to get some more sleep.

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