The pain of an uncomfortable bed
Is a thing that fills me with dread
Trying to make do
Is like an ill-fitting shoe.
Get something better instead.
Synopsis: I’m a family practitioner from Sioux City, Iowa. On sabbatical to avoid burnout, while my non-compete clause ticks away I’m having adventures, visiting family and friends, and working in out-of-the-way places. On assignment on the North Island of New Zealand, I’m living in an apartment attached to the clinic where I work in Matakana, north of Auckland.
When we arrived at the doctor’s residence in Matakana, a simple flat attached to the clinic, we became aware of the mattress’s deficiencies. Still, looking ahead to a couple of weeks, we figured we could live with it or make do with improvisations.
First we bought a sheet of plywood at the lumber yard (here called a timber yard) next door, and had it cut to 140×200 cm. We carried it on our heads, but when we arrived we became aware of a strong chemical stink. Not a problem, we thought, if we just leave the board outside till the smell evaporates.
We moved the mattress off the box spring and tried sleeping on the box spring, which constituted a slow torture. Neither of us could stay asleep more than six hours. Three nights later we moved the mattress out to the living room (here called the lounge); the speed of the torture increased.
No matter what we did, every spring poked at me through inadequate padding. My trochanteric bursitis, quiescent since I stopped marathoning in the early ‘80’s, reawakened.
At about the same time we realized the hopelessness of trying to continue with the mattress, we decided to extend our stay in Matakana. By then we hadn’t slept well in a couple of weeks, and my back, bad to start with, had me walking like a pretzel in the morning.
I emailed the office manager, saying that Bethany and I had decided to buy a new mattress. As we couldn’t take it with us in our carry-on, we planned to leave it, and would the practice pay for half?
Bethany handled the matter with a quick trip to Beds R Us in Warkworth, Coast to Coast Medical Care refused to let us pay anything, and when I made the seven step commute home from the clinic that afternoon, the goods had been ordered and finances arranged.
When we went to bed Thursday evening, ecstatic waves of relief washed over us.
While one night on a bad mattress can be shaken off like a pebble can be shaken out of a shoe, after two weeks an uncomfortable bed becomes a parasite on the daylight hours, draining energy and sapping resilience.
I’ve written a lot about the importance of good sleep in this blog. Bethany and I tried to remember a worse mattress, and we couldn’t. But we still appreciate the quality of the new mattress every time we lay down. In the long run, everything else an accomodation has to offer becomes irrelevant in the presence of an uncomfortable bed, but a person doesn’t realize that without experiencing a bad one.
Contrast is the essence of meaning.