Thursday, November 5, 2009

To sleep, perchance to heal

I've had insomnia for as along as I can remember. If I didn't need to sleep to heal, I just say "who cares" and stay up all night watching Law and Order reruns, or tackle that mountain of paper in my office that needs filing. Or clean out my sock drawer. Well, that would probably wake up my husband. But I'd just get out of bed and do something productive with the lost sleep time. But I need to sleep to heal, or at least to keep from sliding downhill into a hospital bed.

But once I put that pressure on myself to that *must* sleep, now I have performance anxiety added to the mix- what if i can't sleep? Oh god, there's the paper delivery guy. Oh now I hear the trash trucks. it's getting light outside. crap.

I've been on bunches of sleep meds. Ambien just made my face puffy, still couldn't sleep. Rozaren has great commercials with Abe LIncoln and beavers, but my dreams were still missing me, even with a double dose. Attivan actually works for me, but it erases my memory and makes me tired (how can you tell - lupus makes you tired! OK, even more tired).

A great deal of the reason I can't sleep is that I can't shut off my brain. i worry about stupid crap that probably won't happen, or stupid stuff that already happened and I should have handled better, or stupid stuff that will happen but doesn't matter, or I can't do anything about... or, best of all, i worry about not getting enough sleep, causing me to not be able to fall asleep. Anti-anxiety meds work great for this, but for every drug there is a price to pay, and i don't just mean $, because attivan generic is cheap. Having no short-term memory is actually getting to be a problem. Thankfully, my husband is very trustworthy. Because when people tell me I said on Monday "I'd like to go to a 5-hour play about ringworms this weekend," i just have to take their word for it that I did indeed say that. CLearly it's time to get off the attivan. it's been 3 years.

I started taking it in the hospital when I was almost literally climbing the walls because 1) i hate being in the hospital 2) they pout me on a high dose of prednisone. I was about to check out A.M.A (funny how "American Medical Association" and "Against medical advice" have the same acronym) and they gave me some attivan to calm me down. Meanwhile I already had plans to sneak out that night for dinner with my fiance and my mom so get some real food. I took the attivan first. I remember getting the menu, and I remember signing the hospital log on the way back in as a "visitor" (I signed in as my sister coming to visit myself). The rest I have to take my fiance's word on.

Anyway, it's time to deal with this monster. So i bought this guided imagery cassette (yes a cassette) and listened to it on my walkman (yes a walkman) and listened to it with my pet rock (no, not really) as i lay in bed, and after 4 straight nights of lousy/ no sleep, I finally relaxed and fell asleep. I often use CNN when I can't sleep, but the content on CNN can't possibly be what I really want in my subconscious: political fighting, rape, murder, balloon boy. I need something more healing (which would be just about anything else short of Nightmare on Elm Street).

The cassette was so good I went looking to see if it had been re-released on CD, and it has, so I repurchased it. (Just like the good old days when I bought an album on LP, then cassette, then CD... then mp3). It's called "Health Journeys: A Guided Meditation to Help You with Rheumatoid Arthritis or Lupus" by
Belleruth Naparstek

The meditations are specifically for someone with RA or lupus. it's so nice not to be borrowing something from cancer and trying to adapt it. It is specifically for us, and right on target, and I've used it 4 nights in a row. Not only am I actually falling asleep, it's to something not just non-toxic, but actually healing. I also feel more relaxed during the day.

This same author also has a CD specifically for sleep: