Doctor Steven Thompson stared at the screen, the words blurring before him. "There's got to be something here that we've missed," he muttered to himself.
Dr. Thompson and his colleagues had been working on a cure for years now. Every time they seemed to find something promising, some other research put them back. Or the lab animals didn't respond as expected. Or...
It was funny how his outlook on things oscillated from one extreme to the next. Some nights he'd have a dream of seeing his face on People magazine as the "Person of the Year." The next night, he'd have a nightmare of spending the rest of his life in jail for medical malpractice. Actually, that wasn't quite right.... He never had dreams two nights in a row because he never slept for two nights in a row.
Dr. Thompson chuckled. "If someone were to study me right now, no doubt I'd be diagnosed with schizophrenia," He said to himself. "Or maybe bipolar with psychotic features, if they decided to give me the benefit of the doubt." Talking out loud to himself had always been a way that Dr. Thompson processed his thoughts, and he had receive more than one awkward glance in public, as he mumbled about all sorts of medical terms and self-created acronyms.
His body had adjusted amazingly well to the odd sleeping schedule. Between his normal medical practice and his research, he rarely went less than 48 hours between periods of forced unconsciousness. Though he really didn't feel like comparing his concept of "amazingly well" to the actual physical and mental ramifications.
"Maybe my next research topic should be sleep deprivation. I could be my own lab rat, and then sue myself for medical malpractice. Wouldn’t the lawyers have a heyday with that one? And then I could be 'Person of the Year' and be in jail for medical malpractice."
Dr. Thompson pushed away from the computer desk. "Well, I'm not doing anyone any good at this point. I'd best just head home," he said "And if I don't head home soon, there'll be a strong possibility of me falling asleep at the wheel, which definitely won't do anyone any good." He could always sleep in the lab, but that led to a restless sleep, which led to grumpiness, which led to irritability.... it was a vicious cycle.
He secured the lab and got into his car. The roads were nearly empty as he made his way home. He slipped into the house quietly, careful not to wake anyone.
As he walked to his bedroom, he heard the scuffle of little feet. He swooped his sleepy daughter up into his arms. "What are you doing up?"
"I couldn't sleep," she said, rubbing her eyes and dragging her teddy bear on the floor.
"I think I can help with that."
Steven carried Megan to her room and sat in the rocking chair. She was the youngest, and they never got rid of it, so even though she was four, the rocking chair stayed. After a hard day of research, he savored these moments.
As he rocked, he began to sing softly.
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now I'm found
Was blind, but now I see.
Before he finished singing, he felt Megan's breathing change. "My research may not find anything in my lifetime," he said, as he slipped Megan into her bed, "But hopefully it will lay the foundation for future research, and help people just like you." That would make his lifetime commitment worth it.
Amazing Grace, John Newton, 1779. Public Domain.
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