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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Sleepless in Chelsea

Insomnia. The bane of my existence. I am not a chronic sufferer but have had serious long-term bouts of it throughout my life. Of course, four infants contributed to the problem. I used to find it odd that a baby, or sometimes more than one child at a time, would waken me many times through the night, leaving me wide-eyed and sleepless rather than comatose. But then during the day, my battle would be to stay awake.

Lately the problem, I believe, is hormonal. My sleep cycle is interrupted several times through the night so my body can turn on its sprinkler system. The hot flash. I wish it were as sexy as it sounds. I wake up, check the clock and think,"This must be the 1 a.m. (or 3 a.m. or 5 a.m.) flash,", then wait for it.  Moments later it's like the tap has been turned on and every pore in my body springs a leak. Wild kicking of duvet ensues and the body is instantly soaked. I have to be careful not to fall back to sleep (even if I could) because our house is very cold at night and as soon as the waterworks are over, evaporative cooling kicks in and I freeze. Very efficient cooling system if that's what you are looking for.

I know all the explanations for this phenomenon but I don't see the purpose in it.  I have great faith that the body knows what it's doing most of the time, and since most menopausal women suffer with this problem - many seek hormone replacement therapy - there must be a grand scheme at play here other than just a big fat cosmic joke at our expense. You can always tell the menopausal women in a crowd. They're the ones repeatedly flinging off clothes only to bundle back up moments later. The desire to leap naked into a snow bank can be overwhelming. I have to say that in our fairly cool house, it is a welcome problem at times.  I'll be sitting knitting in front of the television feeling a bit chilled, then remember that I'm due for a heat wave which takes care of the problem for a while. But then the chill usually returns.

Back to sleeplessness. I'm awake sometimes for long periods of time now because by the third or fourth wake-up my body wants to get up for the day. And I've tried that too but it means I'm a wreck by about ten a.m. I have podcasts and audiobooks to listen to that sometimes lull me back to sleep. If it were true that one can learn things through sleeping osmosis, I'd be one of the most informed people on the planet, but alas, I am not. With that system not working these days, I bought a herbal sleep remedy last week and gave it a try, valerian being the main ingredient and recommended by my menopause bible (yes, such a thing exists).  It didn't work except to leave me feeling foggy and groggy by the second day. I am reluctant to take anything heavier because I need to be able to wake up in case Michael is in trouble.

Which happened last night. All night I was aware that he wasn't sleeping with the usual depth, if at all.  I lay awake at times thinking I should get up and check on him but couldn't quite drag myself out of bed. At 4:31 (I am acutely aware of time through the night) the clanging began.  I have devised a system for Michael. He is unable call out in the night so I have tied a metal whistle to the railing of his hospital bed. My intention was that he would blow it if he needed help but he is not capable of that either.  Instead he bashes is against the metal bed frame. If I'm not already awake I am sure to be instantly with that noise blasting through the baby monitor.  I dread the sound of it but it is extremely effective. Unfortunately last night I had finally dropped off to sleep myself so my reaction time was a bit slow.

When I arrived at his bedside, his eyes were like saucers and ringed with panic. "I haven't slept all night," he was able to whisper, more lucidly than usual. I sat with him for a moment stroking his face then offered him a dose of clonazepam, an anti-anxiety medication that he takes every night before bed and otherwise when needed.  He nodded. When I went into the kitchen to get a pill, then over to the dining room table to retrieve his cup with the straw I noticed his bedtime medication sitting there untouched. DRAT (or unprintable words to that effect). In my exhausted state last night and my haste to shuffle him off to bed, I had completely forgotten to give him his medication which contains two heavy sedatives. That explains everything, the poor guy. So at 4:39 a.m. Michael took his bedtime medication and was asleep within ten minutes.

I, on the other hand, pretty much gave up for the night. It is nearly 9:00 a.m. as I write this and he is still happily and heavily sawing logs. I am on my second large mug of a heavily caffeinated beverage.

1 comment:

  1. I had missed this one somehow. Oh my!I hope you were not too hard on yourself about it.

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