Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Consciously Unconscious.

I didn't always realize I was an insomniac. My parents used to tell people that I "wasn't a good sleeper", but I always thought it was pretty normal to stay up all night. I didn't understand why other teens didn't know all of the names of the family members on 'My Three Sons', or could repeat all of the words of the Danny Bonaduce infomercial. I didn't get why everyone would always say that sunsets were so beautiful- I saw one almost every single morning as I finished the last pages of a novel.

As I rounded out my high school career, things got as bad as they have ever been. It had been days since I had slept, and I could see the walls breathing. Everything was shaded the wrong color, and my brain was basically giving up. Doctors marveled at my ability to stay awake. As it turns out, the human body requires a fair amount of rest, and I was anything but rested.

After a very small stay in hospital, my sleep stabilized for a few years, but since getting back from Mexico in March of last year, my patterns have spiraled wildly out of control. I kept my mouth shut, and struggled for a while, but when I finally came clean, my family doctor wrote me out a prescription for magical blue pills. "These", he said, "are a temporary solution".

After months of waiting, I was connected with a doctor who specializes in sleep disorders. He cut back my medication, which I was honestly popping with reckless abandon, and put me onto a regulated sleep deprivation program. He assured me that he was able to cure the majority of all sleep disorders this way. He told me I would see results in a week.

 Four weeks later, I was back in his office. He nodded sympathetically as I explained that I had extended the program four times longer than I was supposed to, and jotted down some notes that he kept guarded from my eyes. I had not had any success with his program. My body was already used to the cycle of insomnia, and if anything, I thrived with the extra time in the mornings and evenings.

"Sleep testing", he said, "is the only answer". I met with the sleep therapist, who informed me that if I was unable to sleep, I would have to repeat the testing until I had a somewhat successful evening of slumber. No pressure. In a calming tone, she told me that most people have no trouble sleeping attached to a machine. I appreciated her stab at reverse psychology, but nice try, dude- I was sitting inside a sleep clinic, where people who are adaptable sleepers would never, ever go.

Last night, I strapped myself with enough wires to make a suicide bomber jealous. There were tubes around my chest, in my nose, and down my arms. I placed and re-placed the wires, terrified I would have to do the test for another night if anything was out of place. I was supposed to take a half dose of medication, but instead, I doubled up. I propped myself up with pillows and put on the most dry, dull movie about birds. This morning, I dropped the machine off and waited nervously for the sleep therapist to tell me my test was successful. She came out and gave me a thumbs-up, and that's all I got. I will have to see the doctor in a month to go over the results.

Sometimes I wonder what it's like to dream every night, and wake up feeling refreshed. Sometimes I wonder what it's like to take gentle naps and not have to tranquilize myself every fucking night like an angry elephant. Mostly, though, I just wonder what it's like to be consciously unconscious, on purpose, without a fight, beside my loved ones, because I bet it's really, really nice.

~sarah p.


marco said...

i had the misfortune of being hooked up to a sleep test machine at the sleep centre. Like you, under the pressure, I had trouble falling asleep. at one point, I remember the tech saying that if I didn't fall asleep within the hour, the test would be useless and have to be redone. no pressure though, eh?

Hope you manage to find your sleep again. sleeping is awesome.

~sarah p. said...

Thanks, Marco! I hope you're sleeping okay now, too, but as a new dad, I guess that wish is slightly redundant. :)

~sarah p. said...

p.s. Hope everything else is going great! We totally adore hearing you Friday nights- your show starts just as I get off of work, and it is the perfect segway into the weekend.

Raymi Lauren said...

Insomnia is the worst!!