In the 1980s, Howard Bloom was a fast-talking, headline-making music publicist. But in 1988, he hit a wall. For 15 years, he suffered from chronic fatigue syndrome so severe that he barely got out of bed. “And for five of those years I was too weak to speak and too weak to have another person in the room with me,” Mr. Bloom, now 74, said. Nonetheless, he managed to write three science-related books during those years, and recently published his seventh, “How I Accidentally Started the Sixties,” a memoir of chemical and spiritual experimentation that begins in 1962. Mr. Bloom lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn, where he runs several online discussion groups.
SLEEP SOLUTION When I was fighting chronic fatigue syndrome, one of the first symptoms was insomnia. Eventually it occurred to me that my body was trying to tell me something. It didn’t want to sleep the normal routine eight hours. So I broke the eight hours into two four-hour shifts, and started to do one of the four-hour shifts from 11 o’clock in the morning to 3 o’clock in the afternoon, and the other one from 4 o’clock in the morning until 8 o’clock in the morning. And it was one of those tiny incremental things that helped me get out of the bedroom.
TAKE IT EASY Sunday is a day I don’t force myself to do any exercises, any push-ups, or take a bath, because I’m taking it easy.
DO’S AND DOSE I take 30 pills. It’s a lot of pills, but remember, I thought I’d be in a bedroom for the rest of my life. Over the course of a long time, I accumulated a list of these 30 drugs that worked and this one injection that works, and they are the reasons I’m stronger today than when I was 19 years old. It takes 20 to 25 minutes.
SWEET STUFF I’m normally on a very rigid diet, but I break from the diet for a morning of splurge. So I layer the bottom of a bowl with brown sugar and dump eight ounces of sour cream on it and slice up a banana or put in some raisins, and I’m back in bed again by 9:20 or 9:30.
WORDS AND IDEAS While I’m eating breakfast I watch C-SPAN “Book TV.” I just love to hear other authors speak and give a condensed version of the ideas in their books. It’s totally addictive.
DAY SHIFT And then I go to sleep. Then at three o’clock I wake up again. I take all these horrendous pills again.
ON THE MOVE I take normally a 2.73 mile walk up to Prospect Park and around the meadow, and I walk down the hill to a cafe called Chocolateria, and I settle myself in and do as much work as I can until 8 o’clock at night, and then I run one of my groups.
THE ROUNDS I’m sort of the mayor of Chocolateria. I know the names of more of the people than anyone else in there, and I try to introduce people to each other. And this results in a community. It’s a little crew of dedicated workaholics, so to have someone in there setting the tone for workaholism is very affirming for them.
SEEING STARS That takes me to 10:30 when the place closes down. Then I take another 2.73 mile walk through the park, which is astonishing. It’s magic to be out in the middle of the meadow and to discover that your feet can feel their way across the meadow while you look up at the sky. And I’m listening to books while I’m doing my walking. I carry two Kindles in a holster on my right hip. And one of those Kindles reads magazines out loud to me while I’m bathing or shaving. And the other one, when I’m walking, reads books to me.
CHICKEN DELUXE I start making dinner at about 1:45. Dinner is always the same thing. It is half a pound of ground chicken, a pound of vegetables, an apple, an orange and a banana. I had to maximize the energy my diet gives me and minimize the food allergies.
RECENT EVENTS Dinner is ready to come out of the microwave at about 2:15 if I’m lucky. And from 2:30 until four o’clock in the morning it’s dinner while catching up on the news.
NIGHT SHIFT I try to get to bed a little before 4 o’clock if I can. Then it’s four o’clock to eight o’clock, and we go through the routine all over again, except it’s Monday.