What's prompted me to write another post is a recent article I read in a magazine called The Good Weekend which comes with every Saturday Sydney Morning Herald. It's the first article about narcolepsy I've ever seen in mainstream media and it was really good. It gave a really good overview of what narcolepsy is, what it's like to have narcolepsy, and thus what medication and research means to narcolepsy sufferers. It then went on to describe some recent developments in narcolepsy research that I found really interesting.
For one, researchers are now floating the idea that narcolepsy could be related to an autoimmune disease. Autoimmune diseases are basically illnesses characterised by certain elements in the human body turning in on itself and attacking normal human cells/functions/chemicals etc. In this case, they think it may have something to do with a chemical in the brain called orexin, which is thought to be a 'flip switch' operator in the brain, determining when the body is in sleep or awake mode. Apparently, scientists have been testing the blood of narcoleptics, particularly those with cataplexy, and have noted an absence of orexin, meaning that these people have no function that tells the brain when to sleep and when to wake, so it becomes haphazard.
I thought this was really interesting... I've never really thought of narcolepsy as being a 'chemical' illness. Putting it in these terms seems to make it a lot more tangible... rather than being a sleeping sickness, which makes the symptoms sound almost fantastical and lying in the land between awake and asleep, having an 'autoimmune disease' almost gives narcolepsy some medical clout. I'm not just tired all the time, man... there's something missing in my brraaaaaaiiiin....
Anyway. On a personal front, things seemed to be balancing really well. Settling into Term 3 and I'm happy with my private students and my school classes. I don't have so much work that I feel perpetually overloaded, but I also don't feel bored and constantly in search of a purpose. Thursdays are my full teaching day, and I usually come home from that feeling fairly shattered, but I have Wednesdays off, and only half days on Friday, so I've gone back to long afternoon naps on those days. It's very good! It's great to finally have some flexibility in my working and personal life, so if I want to go out to the movies in the middle of the week, I can, without it having a drastic impact on my teaching ability. It's so nice to not have to constantly push myself beyond what my narcolepsy allows me to achieve!