Saturday, March 07, 2015

Blessed Sleep

Barb Polan
Barb’s Recovery
1st January 2010

Time for today's entry: No going to bed until I've posted this one! I made a serious mistake yesterday and went to bed without posting a blog entry for the day. Since the stroke, I've had a terrible time sleeping, which - needless to say - is aggravating all night long and leaves me exhausted all day. I've had the problem since my first night in the hospital. The first morning after the stroke, everyone (nurses, doctors, family ad friends) would ask how I slept and my answer was "I didn't sleep at all," but everyone thought I was exaggerating and must have dozed at some points during the night. I really thought that I had lied awake all night, not sleeping, but no one thought that was likely. When I told a doctor that, he offered to have me get a sleeping aid that night so that it didn't happen again. The first night, I got Ambian, which seemed to have no effect. The following night, it was Benedryl, which also made no difference. I'm now taking a tablet of something with a name I can't seem to remember; the first night using that,Islept well and woke up convinced that the problem was solved. Then I came home.

My first night home,which you would imagine as a night of blissful sleep - my first night home in five weeks, after five weeks of sleeping in hospital beds without my honey at my side, in a strange place with noises all night long .In fact, a couple of rooms over at the rehab hospital was a stroke patient who was distressed at being there and was vocal about it all night long, waking me up repeatedly at least three different nights with his calls along the lines of: "Help me, help me, Can't someone please help me out of here? "His frail voice would call out repeatedly. Another night, ranted at his daughter on the phone:” No one has ever done this to me before - no one has ever locked me up and thrown away the key." Like that was something that a wing full of stroke patients needed to hear at 2 a.m. Along the same line, there was once a patient in the hall outside my room yelling, "I hate that everyone here treats me like a cripple! I don't want to be treated like a cripple anymore!" Why nobody (his daughter was standing next to him at the time) shushed him is beyond my understanding - certainly no one in the stroke wing needed to hear someone vent about being a cripple. We were all in that boat and not one of us felt any differently.

Back to the subject of sleep: The problem I had sleeping in the hospital and still have now is that I just can't get comfortable - try as I might - and my husband will attest to the fact I change position constantly. After my first night home, my husband was a complete grouch and said, "How is it that they taught you how to walk, but never taught you how to sleep? Can you go back to rehab and learn how to sleep?" Since then, I've taken my sleeping aid every night, except last night, which again, I spent mostly awake, tossing and turning. Tom finally left and went to sleep in Millie's room (she went to Providence to visit a friend for the new year).

Remarkably, since the stroke, I have not dreamed. My dreams used to be a great source of entertainment and enjoyment for me, so it's a great loss in my life. A friend told me that sleeping pills prevent REM sleep, during which we dream, so that, rather than the stroke, could explain my lack of dreams; Tom suggested an experiment last night and, as I said, I didn't take the sleeping pill before bed. I had a terrible night and did remember a dream when I woke up - about some adorable little kid who came to live with us - I don't remember the details. So, my experience supports that the sleeping pills prevent dreams, which makes me sad.

Part of my discomfort is that every square inch of my body is itchy. Yes, I know that it's winter and I should just slather myself with lotion to prevent that, but it doesn't seem to help.

Here's to the first good night's sleep of the new year! And to sweet dreams! I've posted this entry, so that shouldn't bother me and keep me awake like it did last night (which I see now that I never came out and said that my failure to enter yesterday's blog bothered me and kept me from sleeping, but it did - or maybe it was the lack of sleeping pill).

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