14 May, 2015

Insomnia is Hell

If this blog is incoherent, blame lack of sleep.

I haven't been this sleepless since first year university, when somebody bet me I couldn't drink 24 cans of Jolt Cola in 24 hours. I won that bet...and wish I hadn't. Advice: don't do this. I was dizzy and lightheaded and puking, my heart was doing things it shouldn't, I got to thinking I was going to die, then got to hoping I would....and I didn't really sleep for pretty much five days.
This bout has had much the same set of symptoms now, minus the ticker trouble, and caffeine has nothing to do with it. My problem is sleeping pills, or more specifically the lack of them.

When it first became clear I'd be going on steady nights, I went to my family doctor and begged him for something a little stronger than Nytol. A methodical cuss is Dr. Scott Wright: he diagnoses and treats in stages, starting from the least ugly and moving up the scale. "Okay, this is probably a disease called Nothing To Worry About, but it might be Mildly Concerning, too, and there's an outside chance it could be an early case of Onrushing Nasty Death. I know you're really perturbed about this, so we're going to start with a course of a new Russian drug called Placebo. Yes, that's something like "thank you" in Russian, and you'll thank me for it later. If that doesn't work, we'll try you on horse tranks, and if that doesn't work, we'll have to go full Zombify on your ass."

Okay. he doesn't really talk like that. But the three choices of disease and treatment are a Scott Wright, M.D. trademark.

He gave me three options, of course. The first one was something I forget the name of...Ineffectua? Pointlicillin? He said it didn't work on many people, but it was not in the slightest addictive. The second thing was Imovane, the brand name of Zopliclone, which he called "midly addictive and reasonably effective." The other choice was Valium, which he said would put me out like the trash and turn me into a junkie. Okay..."highly addictive," he said.

Me being the middle of the road person that I am, I opted for the second choice.

Worked like a charm. Imovane dropped me in my tracks within half an hour of swallowing it and better yet it KEPT me asleep for at least seven hours. I'd wake up groggier than a mead hall, but hey! small price to pay for blessed sleep.

One problem: "Not to be taken for more than seven consecutive days." I had thirty pills, and I bloody well needed more than seven of them...it takes me a minimum of two weeks, and usually three, before I can cope with nights. I'd take the seven pills, skip a night (in which I'd get next to no sleep at all), rinse and repeat. I was smart enough to cut my last five pills in half and try and wean myself off. Hypnos only knows what would have become of me had I not halved my dose.

Actually, I should have just foregone the sleeping pills and suffered for a fortnight. Because I'm suffering now, damn it. I've lost track of exactly how much sleep I'm not getting, but I got two hours Monday, four hours Tuesday morning, and then nothing until last night at eight o'clock, when I was supposed to be in class.

I left the house okay, fortified with a very hefty dose of instant coffee. But city busses and I don't get along at the best of times, not since the mid-nineties when they inexplicably sealed all the windows and started pumping synthetic "air" on board. Even without rampant roaring insomnia, I stagger off the bus at Conestoga College--nearly a two hour commute, one way--looking punch drunk.
Yesterday: much worse. Cold, clammy, dizzy, weak as a kitten, absolutely certain I was going to puke, pass out or both. I made it to Fairview Park Mall--two thirds of the way--and could go no further.
After sitting for a few minutes and willing the ground to stop waving hello at me quite so friendlily, I got on the bus to come home. It was standing room only, which actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise: the driver had cranked the emergency exit in the roof open a little bit and a weak but steady stream of actual Earth atmosphere caressed my face like a long-lost love. I stood in the middle of the aisle and drank the offering greedily. But by the time we got to downtown Kitchener, a mere nine minutes later, it became apparent that light kisses of air weren't going to be enough.
I have very little memory of what transpired next. I do know several people helped me up, steadied me, and pointed me in the direction of a drinking fountain. On the way to that I found a bathroom with a convenient toilet I felt a sudden pressing need to un-eat over. In short, I made a spectacle of myself.
After my bout of visual burping, I felt marginally better. Still weaker than exactly seven days, but at least my head had stopped Linda Blairing.  I made it the rest of the way home without incident, although I'm pretty sure I saw a turtle vrooming by me and giggling somewhere between McCormick arena and my house. By eight o'clock--break time, in the class I was missing--I was out cold.

Eva woke me up at midnight. I cursed bitterly at her--I could easily have slept the whole night through--but she was right to get me up. I work tonight, you see.

I think I'm can sleep now. There was a point yesterday morning when I was quite simply beyond tired: my body was yelling at me but my mind had tuned it out. I'm past even that.

You're wondering why I don't take melatonin. I tried that for nearly a month a couple of years back and so far as I could tell, it had absolutely no effect on me. Maybe I didn't take enough, or maybe I didn't take it right. This time I took what I had until it was gone...and then I just took it.

G'night, everyone. I going to go play in the coma for a while.



karen said...

I hope you're able to sleep now. I have the same problem when I'm trying to change my schedule. I know I'm getting close to the point of sleeping when I'm pretty sure I'll die if I don't get a night's sleep.
Have you ever tried a calcium/ magnesium supplement at bed time? I take one when I go to bed, read for 15-20 minutes and am ready to sleep. I find if I try to power past that 20 minute point I'll be awake for hours though.

Anonymous said...

Sweet Jumping Jiminy Crickets. Maybe Eva needs to learn to apply a "sleeper hold" on you.

Aside: Funny you mention Jolt Cola. We used that as a mix once with Rye in College. Good Lord that was a rough ride. The Rye made me sleepy, and then the Jolt Cola kicked in. Worst ride of my life. Of course I was young and stupid, and kept drinking....

Jolt Cola tasted like the bottom of an ashtray (I know this because I tripped and fell face first into one as a kid) How the hell did you drink 24 cans????

Ken Breadner said...

karen, thank you for your suggestion, I will try it. I am sleeping better now, thanks...still not eight hours at a stretch, which is what I am accustomed to, but not two or three anymore either.
Catelli: How did I drink 24 cans? That was my version of getting blackout drunk, I guess. I just did. Somebody bet me fifty bucks. I wanted the fifty bucks. You know how it is.