Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Not "Until Brooklyn" -- Just The "No Sleep" Bit

My name is Parce, and I'm an insomniac.

A lot of people use that term for what CDHSarah would call "Dark Time" people, people who simply prefer to stay up until dawn and sleep through the day. I must admit, I do enjoy a little of that; some of the best conversations I've ever had have occured in the dead time between two and five A.M., as well as some of the most creative time I've ever experienced.

But when that propensity to get work done after the sun goes down moves into true insomnia, it's no longer cool, or even what I consider to be "living".

We're not sure precisely what cog in the old brain has slipped, my medical professionals and I. Could be a medication side effect. Could be caused by the fact that we've been switching said medications around, especially those I take at night, in the past two months. Could be stress. Could even be some of the spiritual practices. All I know is that I went from being a person who would gladly spend eleven hours of an off-day sleeping (get in a good seven or eight, wake up, read for a while, drop off with my hand still marking the page, wake back up, go back to sleep, lather, rinse, repeat) to a person who is slobberingly grateful to get six or eight hours. Not at a stretch, either; these days, those hours inevitably have one or two interruptions caused by nothing that we've yet been able to determine.

You don't know what you have until you lose it, and that goes double for the primary needs. When the RenReb was talking about the fast day she just passed, I pointed out that my own experience with fasting is something I wish everyone had on a semiregular basis, so that they could understand what it is to be hungry. Not "I missed lunch" hungry, but "I have a headache and can't think about anything but the knot in my stomach" hungry. Would give people more compassion. But I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy. I know now why sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture; it doesn't leave bruises or scars, but it makes life barely worth the effort it takes to keep breathing.

It hasn't been a particularly bad stretch recently, except the horrible 72 hours where I only got 6 hours of sleep cumulative. I seriously thought I was going to lose my mind. When I lose my ability to sleep, the rest of my body's systems go into shock. If I'm not sleeping, after a point, I'm not eating either, or at least not enough to sustain myself. (A funsize bag of Doritos and two big pieces of chicken cho cho does not count as a day's nourishment, especially when said "day" is 22 hours long.) Because the act of getting food requires too much effort, and because once I have the food it's kind of sickening, because my whole system wants nothing more than to lie down for the next two days and start working off the sleep debt, I end up only eating enough that my stomach doesn't cramp hard enough to hurt. My eyes dry out because my blink response slows down. It gets to the point where I don't feel safe to drive, because I can start having surface hallucinations, which at least make the staring-out-the-window-waiting-for-dawn times more interesting, but don't make the process of getting food any easier.

So I'm hungry and tired, and next I inevitably get sick. It's been a billion degrees outside since June, but I just spent 4 days with an upper respiratory infection that I'm sure I got because my immune system looked at the parts of my brain that were supposed to be making me sleep and eat at proper intervals (but were instead playing a high-stakes game of Texas Hold'Em), said, "Oh, fuck it," and bought in, leaving the keys in the door and the WELCOME mat out for those hardy germs that had withstood temperatures that should properly be measured in Kelvin to get across how high they were. Those types of germs are not quitters. Do you have any idea what a lame excuse it sounds like when the Red Cross calls you for a phaeresis and you tell them you have a URI? In July? They think you're just being a sissy, but the truth is, I needed every platelet I had last week, plus a few.

So then I'm sick AND hungry AND tired. And the "sick" part serves its purpose, in that it starts whipping Sleep Need and taking all its chips, so that eventually Sleep Need has to go back to work. So I get well, sort of, and I start sleeping again, sort of, until the least little thing happens and I don't go to bed concomitant with the first yawn of the evening, and then it's on again.

It's 4 A.M. in the Music City. I have a doctor's appointment in seven hours. The only choice I have at this point (since I have stuff to do tomorrow afternoon) is to go lie in bed, listening to my eyeballs clicking, and hoping that my getting down to sleep comes before the sun gets up. (Sri Leela gave me a breath mantra and taught me pranayama breathing that she said might help, so I suppose I'm off to give that a shot.)

Today is CDHSarah's birthday. As of four hours ago, she's legal to drink in the U.S., and a good thing too, since I was there when she got her first bottle of liquor and that was some time ago. Seriously, go wish her the best. Then pray for Gefilte and GetUpGrrl, and go read the new reviews. Before you're done with all that, I should (with luck) be asleep. I hope.


At 9:08 AM, Blogger GoddessAradia said...

I hope bunches that u got good sleep! See you soon!

At 3:18 PM, Anonymous lady alambil said...

Oh, wow. all hopes for sleep for you...*hugs* see you soon!

At 7:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

there were a few years when i was eight until about thirteen when i didn't sleep at night. i made myself sick worrying about not sleeping at night, and i got anxious, nauseous, all kinds of good stuff.
i don't know what it's like to have it as an adult, thank G-d, with all the additional responsibilities. but you have my sympathies...and, G-d willing, you will get past it.

At 10:32 PM, Blogger Irina Tsukerman said...

Sweet dreams! ; )

At 4:23 AM, Blogger parcequilfaut said...

I got some sleep, about 6 hours worth after the post in question. Still not sleeping through (and as is obvious by the post time, still not getting there before sunrise) but it's tolerable at the very least.

Anon, welcome! Thank you for your kind words. It is harder as an adult, but luckily I have great doctors who are more than willing to get me FMLA leave for what seems (to someone who's never gone through it) like a minor problem at most. (Being doctors, they understand that the loss of sleep is an immediate detriment to holistic health, thank G-d.) Hope we see you again!

At 10:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Try some melatonin or some Sleepytime Extra Herbal tea.

At 3:05 AM, Blogger parcequilfaut said...

Done, been doing since high school, no dice, anonymous. Thanks though! (I guess Uncle Steve was right when he said in his eponymously named Insomnia that everyone has a home remedy for that particular affliction.) ;)


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