Tuesday 11 December 2012

To sleep, perchance to dream.

Sleep and I have not been friends for quite some time now. I have forgotten what it's like to simply fall asleep, dream sweet dreams, and wake up refreshed. These days I spend my nights staring at the ceiling and contemplating smothering the happily snoring Mr Grumpy with my pillow as he flaunts his prodigious sleeping skills. (I also fantasise about shaving off one of Mr Grumpy's eyebrows, in my bouts of crazy, sleep-depraved jealousy. You know, just to mix it up a bit). Actually, that's not completely true. In reality I have a persistent, well, persistently crap, sleep cycle  It involves roughly 3 weeks of insomnia, followed by 3-4 days coma sleep, followed by yet more weeks of insomnia,..... repeat ad infinitum.

I simply can't fall asleep. And if I eventually do, I can't stay asleep. Instead, dozing and waking repeatedly, for a few hours. I have tried meditation, sleep hygiene, herbal remedies such as valerian, zizyphus, and camomile  lavender pillows, lavender on my temples, warm baths, warm milk, swearing, begging, crying. None of it seems to work. This old post is still a good reflection of my nights except for the night time pee-fest which the amazing DDAVP has mostly eliminated.

And can I just say that the coma sleep phase is no picnic either. It's not refreshing in the slightest and leaves me just as exhausted as the insomnia, with the fantastic addition of making me even less functional than usual. I'm pretty sure Mr Grumpy is reminded how lucky he was to marry me every time he sees my elegant splayed and comatose form, drooling like a champ onto various pillows. I believe that's what's known in marriage therapy as, keeping the magic alive.

My lack of brain cells and way-to-long list of medical appointments, has meant that this aspect of Bob has been left to languish. I mean how many doctors and ailments can you deal with at one time? It's all about prioritising issues and trying to overcome medical fatigue to drag your arse to yet another appointment. But apparently, it's not that good to ignore insomnia, or so the horrified look on my neurologist's face seemed to say. Rocking up to my appointment pretty incoherent after sleeping less than 2hrs a night for over a week, seemed to alarm her a tad, so she quickly typed out a referral to a local sleep specialist assuring me that he was fantastic. And to my surprise she was right.

How often can you say you see a specialist who is both knowledgeable and friendly? And not fake friendly, genuinely friendly and personable. Even chatting happily to my eldest about Schoolies. To top things off he had recently been to a presentation by my cardiologist on the various forms of Dysautonomia, diagnosis, treatments etc. Jackpot! We discussed tilt tables, clonidine research, alternative and traditional treatments, compounding pharmacies, the works. Whether or not he can help me is almost beside the point, because it is just so refreshing to have a non-stressful medical appointment.

He was thorough and listened. We have a starter plan. I am to have at-home monitoring for a week rather than stay overnight for a sleep study, where as even he acknowledged, I'll likely just stare at the ceiling the whole time and give them little to no information. To make things easier and avoid the travel issue for me, Mr Grumpy can pick up and drop off the gear and he'll even do a phone consult after.

"Whoa!", I hear you say. "A doctor who listens, is thorough, knowledgeable, knows about Dysautonomia, is friendly and wants to make it as easy as possible for me?" Sounds like an urban myth, right? Believe me I was pinching myself just to make sure it wasn't a dream. Day-dream of course, none of that real sleep/dream stuff for me. But it's all true. it was also completely covered, so no out-of-pocket  expense (though the hospital parking which cost me a kidney and the promise of my first born, made up for that). There are some good doctors around, just finding them can be damn difficult at times.

Now as to whether he can help me, I have no clue. But I will bask in the glow of a pleasant medical experience for a change. You really have to appreciate those moments when they happen. After a really dismal and infuriating Dermatology visit a few weeks ago this was just what I needed to renew my faith in the medical system.

Tomorrow Mr Grumpy picks up my snazzy new accessory which will give him a recording of my circadian rhythms, and movements for the week. And from there we will discuss my options.

So a big high five to Professor Snooze, whatever the eventual outcome. Because we need to give a shout out to the good doctors when we find them. And here's hoping that soon I may be able to write a post where all you'll see is a very contented zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.....

Michelle :)

PS. I've been lucky enough to be nominated for Best in Show: Blog and best Humour Blog 2012! in WEGOhealth's Health Activist Awards. 

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This one's for Mr Grumpy. After talking about smothering him in his sleep I kinda owe him. Having said that I do know all the lyrics to this one thanks to it's prevalence in our dating days. Not quite as chipper as my other choice Mr Sandman.


  1. Great to find a health professional you can feel confidant in. Good luck.

    1. Definitely helps Mary. Fingers crossed he can help out with the insomnia. :)

  2. Hi Michelle. Just found your blog and recently started my own in an effort to hang on to what little sanity I have left. I also have a great dane ( my fifth and probably my last ),a degree in psychology and dysautonomia. Love love love your blog, it is my fave.

    1. Oh wow Amy. A Great Dane, a psych degree and dysautonomia, that's a little freaky. ;) Will check out your blog. :)

    2. Oh, yeah and we also seem to have the same taste in tv...supernatural, the walking dead, etc.....weird


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