View From Below
by Elliott Bell
On the morning of my twenty second day straight of lying down at a six degree angle, i began to doubt my decision. It wasn’t so much the physical effects – the odd sense of disorientation passed after the first week, the dizziness and the lightheadness returned only rarely now. But psychologically it was hard to not get up, to just lie there like a fish, staring up at the ceiling. Of course I still had my scheduled exercises, but thirty minutes of lying-down at six degree resistance training every other day wasn’t exactly enough to keep me from getting bored. I honestly thought coming into this that having three months of lying down would be kind of restful, that I could get so far in Skyrim, read a couple good books and maybe write some poetry, compose a goddamn symphony – something.
You don’t realize how long the day is when you’re busy. When your occupation is lying down at a six-degree angle and giving occasional biometric data, the day looks different. For one, everyone is always hovering above you, and often upside down. I had a nightmare last night that my wife, who comes and visits nearly every day, was walking around with her face on upside down and I couldn’t get her to look at me properly. She just kept on staring with her eyes flipped over, a horrible grimace that certainly was supposed to be a smile… it was disgusting. I didn’t tell her about it, no reason to hurt her feelings over a dream. But still, I had to shake the disquiet off during our lunch together today.
The problem is, all the things I thought I didn’t need to be upright to do – turns out everything is awkward and difficult when lying down at a six degree angle. Even lunch and a conversation with your wife can be a challenge. No soup, that’s for sure. All liquids from a straw, only space-proof freeze-dried finger food to keep the variables to a minimum. Nothing slippery like pudding, and you can forget about trying to cut up a steak from this angle. Cookies are okay. Sandwiches too.
Handwriting turned out to be nearly impossible – I’d have to hold my arm up in front of me for far too long, the blood draining down out of it within ten or fifteen minutes. But I could write on my lap without looking, turns out, and they gave me a an adjustable screen that with some assistance from my wife hooked up well to my laptop, and so I can sit here and type out my thoughts, such as they are in this blood-bag that’s become my brain. There will be a two week recovery period after my 70th day lying down at a six degree angle. I’m beginning to wonder if it will be enough.
I just hope the boredom doesn’t kill me first.