What was I thinking?

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Sing me a lullaby


Need Sleep.

Want Sleep Badly!

I finally got my referral from the health insurance company in the mail, and called the sleep study clinic and they said they could see me this coming Monday at 11:00. The problem with that was that I have my annual GYN appointment Monday at 11:00 and it takes 3 months to get in to see that doctor for the annual exams. And, since it's been 3½ months since my little red-headed cousin last visited, and the Dr. told me if I missed it for 3 months to come in and see her, I'm not willing to postpone that appointment for another 3 months. So, the soonest they can get me into the sleep clinic after Monday is January 16th.

I've had tremendous difficulty finding simple, everyday words. I lose my train of thought mid-sentence, and don't remember what I was talking about. Apparently these are classic symptoms of sleep deprivation.

I've had RLS (Restless Leg Syndrome) for as long as I can remember. I can remember being a small child and having this huge energy buildup in my legs that got to where I had to move them in order to find any relief. However, Lisa often comments that my arms jerk around at night just as much as my legs, and often in rhythmic fashion. Through my online research, I've discovered that there is, in fact, a "partner" condition called PLMD (Periodic Limb Movement Disorder) in which other parts of the body move and jerk around during sleep. While I've always been aware of the RLS, I'd never been aware of any other body movements when I slept. (But then gain, I've never stayed awake at night to see if I jerk and lurch around in my sleep, either.) Lisa described one night's movements as those like you would use to dig a hole. I had surmised that this phenomenon was more likely due to a pinched or over-pressured nerve while I slept with my arm over her. Apparently not.

Monday, I was exhausted at work. I ended up leaving at 2:30 because it was too much of an effort to keep my head from just falling on the keyboard and just passing out right there. With enormous difficulty, I fought to stay up until 8:30, when I couldn't stand it any more. I went to bed, and Lisa went with me. I remember watching the opening kickoff of Monday night football at 9:00, but don't remember anything else. Yesterday morning I told Lisa "I passed out last night!" and she said "Yep, you did, almost immediately. And you sawed wood and ran marathons all night long."

That explains why I felt so frickin' tired when I got up yesterday morning.

Lately I've been wondering if a mild sleep aid would help. I knew a woman whose husband took Ambien and she said that it was very mild and apparently non-habit forming. Most importantly, it apparently is mild enough that you don't wake up feeling groggy or hung over in the morning. I told Lisa that if I only took it once or twice a week, I think that would be an enormous improvement, if it helps me get rest while I sleep.

The treatment modalities for PLMD and RLS are usually benzodiazepenes, Parkinsons' meds (which typically contain dopamine), or narcotics. The benzodiazepenes are noted for causing aggressiveness, irritability, argumentative behavior, forgetfulness and confusion. I'm already forgetful and confused, and I'm taking Prozac for the other side-effects that can be experienced with the benzodiazepenes. So, they seem pointless.

The anti-Parkinson's meds are just about the same, causing psychiatric side-effects, as well as other undesired physical ones.

All that's left, then, are narcotics. Codeine, oxycodone, methadone, and propoxyphene seem to be the most common ones used for PLMD and RLS. Codeine in any of its forms makes me yak. And yak. And yak. The oxycodone *might* be a suitable drug that I can tolerate, but who the hell wants to take a fistful of pills in the morning, anyway?

I guess, in a perfect world, what I'd like is some sort of physical therapy, physical activity, exercise, something that I can do to lessen the severity of the RLS and PLMD so that I can sleep better. I'd also like to know why, all of a sudden, it's gotten this bad. I've had it from time to time throughout my life, and would have only needed one finger to count the number of episodes I had each month. Now, nary a night goes by that I'm not jerking and lurching around, either before I sleep, or during my sleep.

Stress. Yeah, that's probably a big part of it. I joke about the mice, the bees, the rainwater seeping in, no heat, no help, stuff like that, but clearly it's gotten to me to the point where it's exacerbated the condition(s). On the up side is the fact that I can sleep as much as I want on the weekends, and lately, that's exactly what I do. I stay in bed until I feel rested enough to get up, and I feel rested for the remainder of the day because I allow myself to do that -- not a luxury I can afford during the course of the work day.

So, what am I supposed to do between now and January 16th? At what point does this affect my health severely enough that something bad happens?

This past weekend, they tore apart the air conditioning handlers (big metal "box-like" units running the length/width of the office) and found some spots where they thought I might be leaking rain. It's possible I was leaking mice through those spots, too because, now that they've caulked and sealed them up, I've not seen hide nor hair (or, in this case, droppings) of the little varmints. The weather is turning colder and the bees in the bathroom are now so lethargic that they're staying in the same spot for more than 24 hours. Nature will resolve that issue, I suppose. I've got heat, finally, today. Now all I need is help in the office.

Perhaps just getting my work environment back on track will be all that I need -- until the next stressful time, that is.


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