When doctors began studying the leprous population they all had the same question.
“Where do their fingers keep going?”
People had long assumed that leprosy caused body parts to drop off, and indeed the leprous in the study were all missing fingers, toes, tips of noses, bits of ear. Yet none of these things were anywhere in evidence. There were no grisly piles of discarded digits in sight. That’s when the medical staff got the idea to watch their patients sleep. And that’s when they saw that the rats were eating the hands and feet of the leprous during the night. The loss of nerves in their extremities meant that the afflicted weren’t able to feel the rats and were therefore unable to brush them off.
From that point onward, the leprous began sleeping with cats. And they stopped losing fingers.
I’ve been awake every night this week–and most nights of most other weeks–because the pain keeps me awake. I move to the couch where I distract myself with Netflix and word games and self-hypnosis. Since the pain is worse at night that means that I can usually eke out 2-3 hours of sleep during the day, which means that I’m not entirely sleep-deprived.
I’ve decided that I’m not really up all night in pain. I’m actually sleeping with cats. The hot needles and cold shards of glass that pulse in my hands and feet are better than the alternative. Better than being eaten alive and not knowing it.
Really, though, the sleeping with cats is just about the things we do to cope with what seems unthinkable. Things get bad. They get worse than you could ever expect them to get. But you always have the option of sleeping with cats. As long as you find a cat to sleep with you can keep your fingers and your wits about you.