Saturday, July 25, 2009

Living with Sleep Disorder

A couple of years ago, I went in to have a knee replacement. When I went in, I had always been a night owl, but could get enough sleep to get by on. When I came out however, I had a sleep disorder of major magnitude. Extra work on that knee because of an old accident may have resulted in altered blood flow which led to the condition. Who knows?

Whatever it was, when I came off the meds, I entered virtual hell. Finally, into my fifth day with absolutely no sleep, restless leg twitches that literally ripped the covers off our bed as I thrashed violently, experiencing waking dreams and mild psychosis like symptoms, we explored a medication regime that would work.

Let me describe how it felt. No sleep the night before. The sun is up and it hurts my eyes. I lie down, but then a creepy tingling begins in my leg. I try to ignore it, but ultimately my leg ignores my brain. The feeling intensifies and releases an involuntary shutter. Focus I think. But now it's the other leg. I sort of relax a few minutes, hoping and praying this will work. But then a feeling comes over me and I turn this way and that, and then the inevitable thrashing of legs. The entire bed shakes. I get up and sit at the couch uttering gibberish. That night I come to bed. The process continues. Poor Robin is not getting any sleep, so I get up, pacing the floor, then sitting at the couch, tv on but without meaning and another day passes.

The creative mind is dead. I mumble to myself. Then there is a nightmare. But my eyes are open. Will the rest of my life be like this? I go for a long walk, even though I just had knee surgery. Then lying down, everything repeats. At times panic sweeps over me. This just cannot be happening. The greatest hell I have ever experienced was the death of my creative mind. Without it, life seemed not only painful, but a complete waste. Finally on the fifth day, the doctor gave me a scrip for 3 hydrocodone tablets to hold me over until I could come in. I took one and slept 14 hours without waking. What a blessed relief. The creative mind did not return at once. But I was aware that it was still there.

Fast forward to today. I now take .25 mg of mirapex, normally a drug for Parkinsons to control the restless leg syndrome. In addition, I have to take 200 mg of Trazodone each night just to get to sleep. Even with this, some nights I wake up at 3 or 4 AM, while other days I crash out until 10 or 11 AM.

So Jessica, quite whining about your ailments. But this is all to explain what I find incredibly frustrating. Some days I get up, but my brain remains in a fog for much of the day. I become unproductive and might I mention it can be so frustrating! Well this is where this blog comes in. I'm finding if I can exercise my brain when I do get up, often the fog goes away.

Actually that is what happened this morning. For the second day in a row I'm up around 8 AM, allowing something like a full day before me. Good thing too, because today is my queer fiction class plus I'm on a roll in my novel and want to get some more writing done. The next two weeks I will be immersed in the Church History project, so I want to get some more done before that becomes my focus. Reflecting on this, my logical side says, of course, exercise is always good for waking up the body. How much truer it can be for the brain as well.

I'm writing now around 10 AM. the sun is shining and it is a beautiful day. I feel a quiet peace. Serenity really is such an awesome thing. I have today, and with some luck and a prayer, it will be a good day.

Blessings be.


  1. If insomnia is wreaking havoc in your life and in spite of your consistent efforts you are unable to sleep at night, you should soon approach a doctor. After a thorough examination, your physician may prescribe sleep inducing medicines such as ambien or sonata. However these medicines should never be taken without a proper prescription from a doctor as they tend to yield side-effects which at times can be serious.

  2. Thanks Frost. I am on physician-prescribed meds now which do work. The Trazodone I take in larger doses is a commonly prescribed medication for severe insomnia. The additional benefit is that it is not addictive in the way that ambien might be. Trazodone does cause intense dreams, but they are good ones, so I don't mind too much:-) For some sleep walking or compulsive behaviors can occur, but that has not been the case for me.