Changing sleep

I woke this morning at last without the feeling as though my insides were trying to explode straight out the front, sides and back of me. I am a long way from comfortable, but there is a huge improvement from last night when just taking my meds, followed by 8 olives which I decided firstly to take away the taste and secondly because I love them. I couldn’t believe that withing 20 minutes I was hit by another wave of pain so bad that there was nowhere more comfortable than any other, things may not be perfect, but they are better despite my last hour of sleep being rather fractured and fitful. With my stomach settling, it is always at this point that I become more aware of what it has managed to upset in its zest for making my life hell. I doubt it is any surprise that having managed to make the pain reach higher than ever before, that some of that pain is once again round the side of my breast and up into my right arm pit. I don’t exactly understand it, but it is an area that always flares up when my stomach is bad, the additional fact that pressure reached that far, made it a certainty, just as the a nausea that followed taking my meds this morning. One of the odd things I often find, like right at this second, when I feel nauseous, I often seem to start to yawn, I don’t feel overly tired, yes I would be happy to lie down, but sleep, I doubt it. Even with all that, I still feel better than I did yesterday, which doesn’t mean that I just like yesterday, bed sounds like a wonderful place. I didn’t in fact spend yesterday in my bed, as often happens I started to brighten around lunchtime, although I ate nothing, I did feel that bit better and in the end only had two hours sleep in the afternoon, I just wish that I could actually wake up feeling good one day rather than a slow rise to my best then a downwards fall, from that point on.

Going to bed is often not the relief that I crave as I lie there with these horrid sensations all over my body, many of them are quite upsetting and worrying, but I have learned that they mean nothing and just seem to be something that my body does. I can say without a doubt that the oddest, is the one that takes over the skin on my face. It starts as just a tingling that at first is confined to my nose, slowly spreading from there over my lips then the rest of my face, then suddenly it wipes to a numbness, within which it starts to feel as though the skin is actually sliding of my skull. There have in the past been several times that I have feared that I am having a stroke as it often happens on just one side, the only logical explanation is what we see happening when someone does have a stroke as one side of their face will sag, so the fear is understandable, especially when you add in things like the thumping rushing blood that I can hear inside my head, neck or ear. I can remember years ago actually getting up to look in a mirror and double check that I am in fact, as well as I believe myself to be, after you have checked a few times you learn it is nothing more than just sensations. It also took me a long time to realise that things like my arms and legs vanishing and appearing to be in positions that were impossible was yet another game that my nervous system just liked to play. When you get spasms in a foot that doesn’t appear to be actually connected to you any longer, or you can’t find anything apart from a shallow breath as your rib cage and diaphragm are squeezing the air out harder than you can pull it in, you find yourself fighting a terrifying battle. Terrifying it might be, but don’t forget you are trying to go sleep, all these things have to be either ignored or rationalised if you are going to shut down and disappear for a few hours. It has become quite an art, one that has taken many years of practise, working on finding those muscles that are tensed and letting them relax totally, shutting out or down the pins and needles, using your mind consciously to put your body into a state where sleep will just take over.

On a good night, I can be asleep in seconds, on a bad one it can take time, but it is at night it always seems to happen with a modicum of ease, which when you consider that I often don’t actually feel like sleeping, is kind of odd. I am like every adult on this planet, I don’t always feel tired enough to sleep some nights, or there might be a good program that I have been watching but is ending late that night and I want to see the end off, but every night at 9pm, I head to bed. I do it because I know I have to have at least 10 and a half hours sleep every night, the price of not getting it is huge and not worth it. Somehow though I don’t understand it, it never takes more than minutes and I am asleep, I expect at it’s worst, it might take 20 minutes, but normal nights it is around just 5 possibly 10 minutes, tired or not. Trust me, 10 minutes of fear is long enough for anyone, but it is that fact that I feel fear and still sleep, that totally astounds me. I can honestly lie there convinced that if I go to sleep, I won’t wake again, but that will feel like it was my last thought that night, before sleep sweeps me up and all fear is gone. I remember a couple of years ago writing a post about how I am so sure that I was dying but having a feeling of what will be, will be, then falling into sleep truly not expecting to wake. That feeling is still there, but it has also changed over time, I suppose I have become used to believing it is the end and waking the next day, that I now take that feeling with a pinch of salt. It is no longer a case of just accepting, more a case of expecting to wake, whilst still accepting I might not, then shutting my body down and waiting to see which will happen.

Oddly, it is the afternoons that are often the greatest battle as everything is telling me I need to sleep, but my entire body can work against me. I have found that the longer the time I set the alarm for, the easier I sleep. It is almost as thought if I set it for an hour, then my body goes into this stupid battleground, counting the minutes of sleep lost by not being able to shut down. If one there is one thing that sleeping in the last few years has proved to me, is there is nothing that you can’t in time get used to, or learn a way of handling it. If I were to take a perfectly healthy person, put their upper body in a tight corset that restricts their breathing, then added clamps on different muscles around their body, stuck needles into others and cut the nerve supply totally to the rest, then told them to sleep, they wouldn’t be able to for days and even then it would be broken and difficult. Yet that is how I go to sleep almost every night and then sleep longer than I ever did in my younger life. There is only one conclusion I can take from that, I have become used to what is happening to me, I still don’t like it, but I am used to it. My body has adapted to how it feels and has learned to ignore it for the greater good, without sleep I would be so much worse and my body knows that as well as I do. When I was younger, my way of dealing with everything that happened to me at night was to just give in and get up, surviving on just 4 or 5 hours sleep. As my health got worse and worse and I became too tired to cope with anything, I had to sleep and I stopped getting up. I would just lie there as motionless as possible, pain or not I didn’t allow myself to keep changing position, I persisted until I had clocked up my allotted time in bed. At its worst I got up just as I had gone to bed, at it’s best, I was at least rested physically and that helped me no end. I believe that was the point where my body learned to deal with it all as slowly I did sleep and I slept more and more.

I don’t know if it would work for others and it didn’t happen in just days, it took months, but I know the wonderful benefits of both being more rested and those wonderful hours of escape from all of it has brought. I may still feel tired most of the time, be in as much pain as I ever was, but I also know that all I have to do is reach that point in my routine and sleep will be there. Surely it is worth trying if you’ve never truly tried it before.

Read my blog from 2 years ago today – 4/04/13 – Thinking of nothing > http://bit.ly/YUFKQo

It used to be another day another dollar, oh how I wish it could be! It’s funny how so many people are out there right at this minute doing jobs that I wouldn’t even have considered before but I would be so happy to be able to do right now. I almost guarantee those self same people are probably wishing they didn’t have to go there or …….

2 thoughts on “Changing sleep

  1. I cannot imagine the battles you fight and win every day. As I lay here unable to sleep with mild insomnia I am thinking of you. Best wishes for a pain free day and night.

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