Sunday, April 3, 2011

Sleepless Nights

This morning I am up at the unbelievably early hour of 6AM. I know that 6 AM used to feel late, I was usually at work by this time. But here it feels like the middle of the night. There is not another light on that I can see, there is no traffic, not even the birds have really started to sing yet. Just so no one thinks I am a total wimp, we didn’t finish eating dinner until 9:30PM.

Why am I up this early? Well, being the supportive girlfriend that I am, I am up to make coffee for Leif, who is riding in a practice cycle race today. I will have my breakfast later, but it would be just mean to make him drink his coffee alone. I decided to write this while the sun came up. I didn’t write yesterday because it was just too, too beautiful to be inside. OK, except for the nap, which was necessary because I spent all morning out in the sunshine.

Two nights ago I was sleeping soundly when I jumped about a foot off the bed. I felt a pain in my shoulder that woke me up, and by the time I hit the bed again I was wide awake. I know something bit me, but I am not sure yet what that “something” might be. But when you are suddenly awakened in the middle of the night it is pretty hard to get right back to sleep. So you lie there and think. Never a good thing.

I was trying to figure out what had bit me. We had our first mosquitoes as we fell asleep that night. But I have never had a mosquito bite that felt like that. I am pretty sure it was either a vampire bat or a the mamma spider from the movie Arachnophobia. As I said, when you can’t sleep all you can do is think, and this can often lead to unnecessary panic.

I remembered my friend Mia talking about checking her boots (in Minnesota for gosh sakes) for brown recluse spiders. I am pretty sure they are poisonous and I was also pretty sure that I could feel the bite growing hotter, with little tentacles of pain starting to shoot down my arm. Poison travels fast, you know. I couldn’t remember anything about these spiders, but was pretty convinced that I would have to have some kind of amputation, either of the left arm, no great loss as I am right handed, or possible everything from the waist up. This might prove a little more challenging, but I am from Minnesota. It will be fine.

Then of course you start to wonder if whatever bit you has left the building, left the room, or died. Died, preferably in some distant location, is of course the best that you can hope for. Left the building would be good too, but simply left the room, maybe for a drink of water before coming back and finishing me off? Every little sound became the stealthy footsteps of a giant insect returning for a snack. I didn’t get a lot of sleep after that.

I did get up to check the bite in the bathroom mirror. I couldn’t see anything, but I blamed that on the early/late hour, the difficult location of the bite, and the crappy lighting in the bathroom. I am sure I was too distraught to see clearly. OR, the poison had reached my brain and I couldn‘t see at all anymore.

I went back to bed and watched the room grow lighter. When he finally woke up (I know, you would think that all the biting and tossing and turning would have woken him up) I asked him to look at the bite. At first he couldn’t seem to find it, which I could hardly believe. How can you miss an angry red, probably bleeding bite with red lines of poison radiating out from it? Hmmph. He looked around a bit and said it looked like a mosquito bite. What? No, I tell him, he must be mistaken. Ah, he says, it might be bigger than a mosquito bite. I am blaming the language barrier for our inability to agree on the seriousness of this bite.

Well, it took a day, but he is finally willing to concede that it might be something other than a mosquito bite. I am willing to throw the giant spider theory away, but am still holding strong to the idea that it must be something other than a mosquito bite. All I know is that if the mosquitoes in Italy bite like that, something will need to be done. There are no screens on the windows here in Florence. Bugs can come and go as they please. We may have to get one of those nets that drape around the bed. They look terribly romantic, but I am pretty sure that I will spend most of my time getting tangled up in it trying to get into or out of bed. It’s gonna be an exciting summer.

PS Last night I saw bats flying around outside our terrace. I am happy about the drop in the mosquito population, but rethinking my position on the vampire bat bite theory…

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