I have finally got myself comfortable. Sitting on the sofa. Feet up resting on a stool. Legs and upper body covered by blankets. Laptop plugged in to counteract the low power warning.

This is my second attempt. The first ended when I tried to pull the power cable closer, and disconnected the transformer. Displeased by this turn of events, I unravel myself and put the laptop to one side. I stand and move forward. Trip on another cable, pulling a headset aside and unsettle the side table next to me. I tell myself. Relax. Take your time. You can do this. And carefully in a measured pace, do a sequence of events. That leads to where I am now.

Table moved. Cable tucked away. Power brick plugged back in. Pick laptop plug up. Sit down. Feet up. Legs covered. Shoulders covered. Pull hood up. Move laptop onto lap. Plug cable in. Log in start up Word. Open blank document. Change background to black. Adjust lighting of screen.

I have finally got myself comfortable.

And that is important. It has been a tough week. I am stretched thin. Fragile. On edge. Unable to process more than one complex notion at a time.

Flashback ten minutes. There has been a data breach at work. This is what we think needs to be done. These are the complications that need solving. Be prepared. By the way, you missed the time off the poster. Probably best to fix and reissue. I listen but it is too much information. One thing at a time.

Flashback 24 hours. Five people playing music. Sight reading. I tell myself this is good for me. I have spent too much time in my head. And I cope. But it is hard to forgive the mistakes. Hard to know I am not at my best. Was I right in coming here. I leave. Cooking dinner tonight. What shall I do? Pop into supermarket. Soup and tortilla. At the checkout. I consider the hangover I feel. It isn’t from alcohol though. Home now. Do I sleep or get on and cook?

Flashback 48 hours. Team meeting. I need to check in. I need to be truthful. But I am fragile. I tell them that. Tell them about Monday’s discovery. Tuesday’s pain. But I don’t disclose everything. I am constipated today. A large lump of clay. Shoved up my arse. It shifts up and down but not out. Uncomfortable to sit down. Hours on the toilet. Pain to endure. Success nine hours later though. Bruised, stretched and sore. Every fart a potential mishap. Was it the painkillers? Keep drinking the water.

Flashback 66 hours. Pick up my wife from work. Drive to Edinburgh to meet kids for dinner. When can we talk? How about now? I switch the radio off. At some point the questions get too much. We discuss how to share the car. All practical. Not acknowledging the emotions unmet. We argue. Have a break at a service station. How do I stop this happening again? No questions in the car. Ok. It is not enough. I cannot work out how to stop this. It is completely nuts. I cannot flee. We fight. With words. With tone. With volume. No control. I need this to stop. It doesn’t. Stop talking. Not a pleading request. A unreasonable shout. A scream. A primeval scream. I have never in my life heard something so raw. The agony. The release. Silence. Just the road noise now. I have shut down to everything but the driving. I have merged with the car. I am anchored by the driving. Am I stimming then?

Flashback 96 hours. I am watching TV. Double dosage pain killers have helped. It has been a long night. At 2.30am I was awoken. My right foot big toe is in agony. A pee and some pain killers. It is like a burning cramp. I lie there for an hour. Hoping to sleep. Tossing and turning. Not giving in to the need to shout out. I accept sleep is not coming. Search for things on the internet. Is this a drug reaction? From the migraine analgesics? Can’t lie here anymore. I decide to walk the streets. Pacing my “Couch to 5K” route. It is cold and clear. Nope that hasn’t helped. Video games then. Switch to Sabrina. Wow, I dozed off for some of episode 2.

Back to now. After some joking about drinking too much from friends, I look into what gout is. It seems waking up in the middle of the night in agony is a classic symptom. Further information shows it initially affects the small joints of the feet and hands. Over time it can affect the large joints. On reflection I tick off the times I have had what I thought of as tendon inflammation in my feet, hands and wrist. The times I have put my arm in a sling because it was too painful to move my hand. The times when I couldn’t do tumble turns in the pool without thinking about the impact on my big toe. The painful walking. I wonder too if the near constant pain in my right knee is gout, the ache in my hips. I have an appointment with GP to discuss this.

But gout is on my mind. The pain is always with me and I am more aware of it than ever. This bout has called a suspension to cycling with friends, to running with my family. Things which support both my physical and mental health. The disruption is almost certainly a contributing cause to my meltdown. Both meltdown and gout continue to haunt me if you like. I don’t know how to deal with that anger but hope that that scream, that primeval howl released the pain. I certainly feel empty. And fragile.