The Usual Time Compression

Time compresses into an invisible blur. Hours become single-digit minutes. Minutes become seconds. Seconds become fractional measures of experience; they are so brief one hundred thousand units equates to the measure of moments required for a single beat of a hummingbird’s wing. All of these hyper-compressed experiences exceed the ability of my brain to process them. A week has gone by in half the blink of an eye. Yet recollections of those hyper-condensed seven days are excruciatingly long; they take form at the speed of ice-cold molasses flowing down a one-degree slope.

In my mind, the realities and the recollections behave like atmospheric barometric pressure disturbances, one very high and one very low. Thick clouds emerge and crooked fingers of lightning form a web around my brain as the highs and lows dance together, spinning and swirling into tornadic chaos. Pandemonium washes over me like a tidal surge. Then, suddenly, calm envelopes me like a blanket, urging me to relax.  I feel the words, rather than hear them: “You do not have control of this. Your emotions contribute nothing, so release them.”

For a moment, the world is tranquil and I am, strangely, at peace. Suddenly, though, I feel as though an enormous hand has reached through my body and wrapped its fingers around my spine, pulling me backward. It yanks me back into the cyclone and unleashes wave upon wave of turbulent bedlam.

These cyclic experiences take place at velocities exceeding the speed of light, yet their memories replay in ultra slow motion. One week jammed with experiences more numerous than a lifetime of all the moments that preceded them. One week remembered as if every breath took a day and every heartbeat took an hour.

This diatribe does not constitute a complaint in any way. I mean it simply to capture what is happening in my brain. I count on the fingers of one hand, with one left over, how many times my wife has eaten dinner in the past week. I count on the fingers of one hand the number of times she has eaten lunch or breakfast. And she sleeps and sleeps and sleeps and sleeps. I am at a loss as to how to get her to eat more. She complains of gut pains and has signs of illness. Tomorrow, when the nurse comes again, I will ask her many questions; she will give me answers without sugar-coating them.

I have more help now. A helper checked her every three hours last night and did what had to be done when necessary. I slept in the same twin bed I’ve slept in for a week, but move away from the side of the hospital bed so the helper could get to my wife without disturbing me; except for turning on the light, which woke me up each time. I opted to spend the money for 24/7 help for two weeks while I explore options available to us.

I wonder whether the upcoming two week stretch will feel both compressed and extended? Weekends get in the way of exploration; people I want to talk to tend not to work on weekends. I can’t change that. My frustration does not good and has no external effect; it only throws a log onto an internal flame, which will turn me to ash if I let it. I will not. I will relax.


I received a long, thoughtful, reply to an email I sent to new follower of my blog. I was curious about how she stumbled upon this blog. She explained and gave me a bit of her background, by way of explanation (I believe) for why she found some of my posts interesting. In her reply, I learned that we both have lived in or around Chicago and Houston, the latter perhaps overlapping a bit. Reading about her experiences allowed me to escape, for a time, and to imagine engaging in long conversations with her about philosophies and experiences and how embracing them molds us as we mature. Escape. I keep talking about escape. It’s not escape; it’s respite. There is a vast difference between the two.


Last night’s all-night care worker gave me the luxury of watching two more episodes of Bordertown. I am utterly enamored with the series. I can imagine binge-watching the remainder of the series in an all-day and all-night Netflix marathon. I won’t do that, though. But I will continue to watch it, as I can, until I can return to Deadwind. I have not checked to see whether Netflix has fixed the problem that made it impossible for me to watch a subsequent episode, but even if not, I think I can watch on my computer. One way or the other, I will.


My neck and shoulders are complaining bitterly about the abuse they are taking as I life turn my wife to get the Hoyer lift sling under her or to turn her from one side to the other. I may engage a masseuse, if I can find one practicing sufficient care to come to my home, but I doubt it. I just need to let the helpers do the bulk of the work; they are used to lifting and stretching, while I am not.


I am amazed that it’s already almost 11:30. I thought when I got up this morning that I could write and enjoy a little solitude. The blur of time compression erased that thought without even acknowledging it. Tasks and duties and responsibilities began the moment I awakened. If I had not taken a shower and shaved I could have had another 30-40 minutes, but that’s not enough. Scrambling to find shards of free time for solitude and serenity is a useless, self-defeating exercise. I’ve written enough now, even though it’s much later than “usual.” What does “usual” mean, now?

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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