Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Fright Morning

I just survived a harrowing ordeal.  It has nothing to do with Halloween or the various seasonal pranks or visions of ghosts or demons or anything like that.  I just experienced an awful episode of sleep paralysis.

The Real World:
Here's what happened.  I got up just before 6am today to go to the bathroom.  This is not unusual for me, but getting up does frequently interrupt some of the best possible sleep I get, which occurs in the morning hours.  This is why I tend to get up for work around 8am and usually still feel a bit like a zombie for several hours while my stiff muscles thaw out a bit.  

Anyway, after the pee break, I got back into bed and tried to get comfortable.  It has been raining all night, but softly.  The wind, however, was still howling wildly outside in frequent gusts.  Today is also garbage day in my neighborhood, so the trucks' brakes can be heard in the distance.  

I woke Don up with my pee break, so he decided to start his day.  After a half-hour or so, I finally fell into a very light sleep, waking up periodically with Don's moving around the house and showering and such.  At 7:30, Don gave me a kiss good-bye and went off to work.

My World:
Sometime after the kiss, I fell asleep again, knowing that I only had a few minutes before having to get up for work myself.  I dreamt some usual nonsense, then "awoke" to realize I was in bed, looking at the door, the ceiling, my own outstretched arm.  

I tried to move but noticed that I was not only numb, but tingling.  My ears picked up sounds that I knew couldn't be Don's voice, but somehow sounded a bit like it - like he was talking to someone on the phone, from another room.  I tried to call out to him to help me and heard myself struggle to get sounds out.  I recognized this as sleep paralysis, but felt unable to shake free of it.  I fought and fought to move my arm, only to see it lying there in its original position, despite my firm belief that I had managed to move it just a bit.  My ears screamed with tinnitus and I felt the cold numbness and tingling in my entire body.  I looked around the room, seeing changing spots on the walls, shapes that weren't what they should be, and knew these were signs that I was not fully conscious.  Nonetheless, I fought and fought to move and scream.  

The strong winds worried me, as I thought our patio furniture might break a window.   I worried that I would not wake up in time to go to work or at least notify someone that I'd be late.  I worried that I might choke myself on a heating pad cord that was not even in the bed, but that I "saw" and "grabbed" with my hand.  I tried using the smell of a hallucinated lotion bottle to wake me up.  I tried waiting patiently for the paralysis to end while my ears and eyes experienced things I knew to be false.  I kept drifting off and coming back into what I thought was consciousness, only to realize each time that I was still trapped in my own corpse-like body .  

My patience wore out after a few times and I struggled again, determined to break through the paralysis and get myself out of bed, to no avail.  This went on for what seemed like ages, but could not have been more than an hour, as my release finally arrived at 8:20am.  There was no mistaking this for paralysis.  The tinnitus was gone, the tingling, cold numbness was gone, and the room looked a lot less surprising.  It was almost like the end of a violent storm.  I was finally awake.  What a relief!  If there was a way to kiss the ground of consciousness, I am going to be doing that soon.

Have you dealt with episodes like this?  What do you think is the cause of it?  I was sleeping on my back at the time.  The amount and quality of my sleep varies from night to night, and I have plenty of stress with all the pains, fatigue, responsibilities at work and home, weight gain struggles, and new, yet-undiagnosed symptoms for which I will soon have more "fun" tests to go through.  I've had a concussion, too.  I'm also on plenty of prescriptions to try to treat my many symptoms of Fibromyalgia.  

Some or all of these could be contributing to this.  Or it could just be a fluke thing.  Whatever it is, I'm not looking forward to the next one.