Sunday, October 9, 2011

Lunesta for Life

Okay, so I was kidding in that title.

I am really not one of those people that thinks prescription drugs are the "magic" answer to society's problems. And to tell you the truth, I really don't like taking them, but I will if absolutely all other avenues have been exhausted.

Well, last night was that night. I caved. I took a Lunesta - for the first time in nearly two years.

And I slept like a baby. All night long.

And although I hope someday to ditch Lunesta for life, I don't regret it right now. Those of us who can't sleep know just how devastating the lack of sleep can be ... in every aspect of your life.

I go through phases with sleep. I can't explain it very well, except that it runs in my family. My family on my dad's side have similar difficulties sleeping.

It's something I've dealt with my whole life. And it comes and goes. Like a sneaky little devil interfering in my normal life cycle.

I will sleep just fine for months and then, one day, something happens. My sleep schedule gets off-kilter. And it doesn't seem to come back for a very long time.

Sometimes it's work stress, sometimes it is personal stress. Or maybe I got off schedule because I was off work or something of that nature. Sometimes I can pinpoint the reason (like one time I realized the "women's active vitamins" I bought actually had caffeine and other energy herbs in them), but other times I can't.

The only thing I can poinpoint this time is my trip to Tahiti. I took two red-eye flights - there and back - and then had to adjust to a six-hour time difference, twice. All in ten days.

Let's just say I didn't adjust very well. Three weeks later, I'm still not sleeping. It's been so long that I have had this problem, I was really surprised by it.

I try to do everything "they" say to do: No caffeine past noon, workout, keep a schedule, turn off TV's or anything else distracting in the bedroom, meditate, pray, take over the counter sleeping meds, try Melatonin, drink sleepytime tea, get up periodically to walk around, get a snack, etc. etc. My old doctor actually told me a few years ago that it's okay to take sleeping pills every night if I have to (Really? That's your cure? Tylenol PM every night?).

 My current doc is the one who gave me the Lunesta, but only a few. It's a serious drug and not meant for long-term use.

When I try to avoid the Lunesta and take Tylenol PM's, often I find myself groggy and staring at the ceiling, wide awake, jealously listening to Kyle and the dog and cat drifting away to sleep-land just fine. Next thing I know, I'm all by myself with just heavy breathing and the creaking of the house for company

I find myself laying there in the wee hours of the morning, those times when no corner of the bed is cold or comfortable enough, asking myself:

"Should I take another pill? Four hours before the alarm rings? What will feel worse when that alarm rings: one hour of sleep on one Tylenol PM, or three hours of sleep on two, or no sleep at all?"

It's a horrible thing to weigh. After several nights like that, If I'm still not sleeping, I will usually resort to a Lunesta.

When you are the only one awake that late at night, I swear every sense in your body is magnified.

I can hear every car drive by, see every little light ray from outside, and suddenly even the water softener in the basement is making deafening noises (Is it always that loud??)

It seems like someone is trying to break into the house once an hour. My mind starts to play tricks with me (Did I just hear glass cracking? Why isn't the alarm going off?) Those kind of nights I just usually get up, turn the lights on, eat a bowl of cereal and read a book or something. Funny how things feel so different with the lights on.

Inevitably, after hours of tossing and turning and getting up and back into bed again, I will end up falling asleep for a couple of hours. Before I know it, my alarm is ringing and I've had only two hours of restless sleep.

And believe me, two hours is NOT enough. Especially if it lasts consecutive days.

I wake up for work with a Tylenol PM hangover, or, feeling horrible from weird Melatonin dreams.

I start my day feeling completely moody and lethargic. Sometimes even dizzy and shaky. I get so exhausted throughout the day that I feel sick, and I think:

"Tonight's definitely the night .... I'm so tired since I didn't sleep last night, I've GOT to fall asleep tonight. The body can only take so much, right?"

Then I get in bed, and I notice my heart is beating fast and my mind is racing. My mind creeps into dark corners and dredges up things it shouldn't, the moment I start trying to relax. Sometimes I even suspect that the FEAR of not sleeping itself is enough to keep me awake again.

Nope, I soon realize ... Sleep won't grace me with its presence tonight either.

I always wonder why I have to have this particular ailment. It's such a tormenting thing to have. And people who don't have it just don't understand how tormenting it is. I think they often think it's petty - like "what's your problem? Just go to sleep."

You know those people. They are the people who can fall asleep sitting up in a chair in five seconds.

Oh how I envy those people.

You try to explain it, and they try to understand, but you can tell they really can't, if they haven't been there.

Anyway...this week has been a little better. Tonight I'm going to take a night run to see if I can wear myself out!

Wish me luck....zzzzzz

The Walk

Kyle and I went to St. Pat's park for a walk with the dog enjoy this beautiful Indian summer for a bit longer....

We had fun blowing the cotton seed plants we found, and scattering them into the wind...

And checking out the bright, colorful leaves peppered throughout dead flowers and other fall sticks and grass...

Enjoying the crisp smell of fall air, the quietness and stillness of the forest.

It was a good day.

And yet, two roads diverged in a yellow wood...