Saturday, April 08, 2006

When the adrenalin cuts out 

I must have been more tired than I thought, or less able to cope with a short but uninterrupted spell of intense activity, or both. Only now, a week after it’s over, am I getting back onto anything approaching an even keel.

Starting Saturday a fortnight ago, my diary went like this:

Saturday – Drive to Nottingham to collect my son and his belongings, home from university for Easter.

Sunday – Usual weekend chores, plus 5 hours of rehearsal for the show for which I’m playing bass guitar. Twenty-something song and dance numbers from musicals ranging from South Pacific to Chicago.

Monday – A normal work day, but filled with last-minute preparations for the week ahead.

Tuesday – Take the train to Cardiff, work from midday to midnight running engineering tests, then crash out in a hotel bed, too tired to sleep, and end up watching Star Trek until gone 1am

Wednesday – Home again, work in the afternoon, show dress rehearsal in the evening, bed at midnight.

Thursday – a re-run of Tuesday, only this time at Bristol, and with some glitches which mean we don’t finish until half past midnight. No Star Trek this time round though.

Friday – Train home, more work, and the show in the evening.

Saturday – Drive to Leeds (taking great pleasure in Radio 4’s Saturday morning schedule) to collect my daughter, also home for the Easter break. A 360 mile round trip, with the show again in the evening.

Sunday – No memory of Sunday whatsoever. I believe it may have involved sleeping late and moping zombie-like around the house.

Monday – Decide that it’s been far too long since I cycled to work, so pedal the 30 mile round trip. Lycra-clad legs cause raised eyebrows in the lift…

Wednesday – Bike again, with the added delight of a puncture. Eventually give in to tiredness – in bed at 9.30pm and again on Thursday and Friday.

Today – go shopping for a few things in addition to the normal groceries; must have spent 45 minutes dithering over the choice of a new notebook, totally incapable of weighing up even those trivial options and coming to a decision. [Aside: decided eventually to treat myself to a rather nice leather-bound book with, believe it or not, pastel rainbow-coloured pages!]

It sounds innocuous enough; I’d have shrugged it off easily twenty years ago. This time though, I hadn’t bargained for the level of mental and emotional exhaustion. Everything seemed fine until after the show; I guess I’d been running on pure adrenalin or some such. Whilst the pressure was on I seemed to be functioning okay, but once the pressure was off, I just folded into an amoeba-like blob of invertebrate jelly, with about the same degree of mental functionality.

It probably didn’t help that proper meals were few and far between that week. All in all, the lesson is clear – mind and spirit need proper rest, care and maintenance just as much as body does.

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