I heard about something interesting today.


It’s called fatal familial insomnia. Excerpts:

“Sleep, blood pressure, heart rate, body core temperature and hormone flow are all affected by the interruption of the body’s circadian rhythms which is a direct result of the degeneration of the thalamus in this disease. Other symptoms of this disease include the inability to produce tears or feel pain as well as poor reflexes and dementia. The lack of sleep leads to other problems such as hallucinations and coma.”

It’s a genetic disease that destorys the part of the brain that puts you to sleep. Without the thalamus to carry you over to the divine peace of slumber, you’re pretty much fucked.

“There are four stages of the disease before an individual’s life ends. The first stage is progressive insomnia, the trade mark of fatal familial insomnia.

The first stage develops over approximately four months and includes a collection of psychiatric problems such as panic attacks and bizarre phobias.

The second stage includes hallucinations, panic, agitation and sweating and lasts about five months.

The third stage lasts about three months and is total insomnia with weight loss. The individual at this point looks much older and may experience incontinence.

The fourth stage is around six months long and is recognized as dementia, total insomnia and sudden death after becoming mute.”

It centers around a single Italian family. 29 members out of 288 (over six generations) have been affected so far. Doctors cut open some of their heads to learn more about this diease. The brains looked like swiss cheese. Full of holes. Eaten through by tiny, starving brain worms.

I’m supposed to be writing news. Two stories on the editor’s desk for tomorrow. I’ve got a few scraps of paper and a mangled audio tape to work from. Nothing yet.

I haven’t slept properly in days.


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