Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Feeling Lame

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, yet again, but despite my best efforts, my sleep has been ridiculously scant and superficial for the past month, even when I use the new ear plugs.  I still like them for tuning out the noise, but apparently noise is not the only trigger that wakes me. 

For instance, the other night, I slept and dreamt, but woke up suddenly in the middle - well, at the apparent sudden END, I guess - of each dream, for no apparent reason.  No noise, no gasping for air, no falling or startle dream, nothing.  One second, in a creative story of my mind, next minute wide, fucking awake.  This must have happened about a hundred times that night. 

Each night is different, too.  Last night, for instance, I don't remember dreaming, but I slept for a few hours before my brain decided I shouldn't sleep for the rest of the night.  I woke up around 3am and finally got up after 4am to address some of the things popping into my mind.  I'm tired as all hell at the moment.  In fact, I left work early today because I couldn't function.  It's unseasonably warm today (60 degrees F for January in Chicagoland is very unusual) and that may or may not have anything to do with the fact that today my asthma has been the worst it's been in months, that I can recall.  I have been coughing and trying to breathe for hours, then noticed I was feeling faint, probably from the lack of oxygen getting to my brain. 

On top of that my face flushed up and felt like it was burning up (this is still about a daily occurrence) AND my nose started bleeding, right there in the office (another daily occurrence).  It was too much and I was starting to sense microsleeps occurring due to my sleep deficit.  I carefully drove home and I'm about to try and nap some of this crap away.  Savella is already making my heart beat way too fast and hard (100+ beats per minute at rest is not normal) but the rescue inhaler also makes me shakey and screw it up even more. 

In addition to the above, my lower back is having spasms for the past few days, despite my increased muscle relaxants, stretching, and a great massage treatment just yesterday.  However, the pain from that pales next to the nerve pain jolts I've been getting in the back of my right thigh for the past several days.  It's maddeningly sudden and severe every time. It makes me jump and/or gasp involuntarily, and I'm pretty good and not bringing attention to my pains in front of others.  I've been calling this sciatica, but really I don't know what it is.  I've been told my piriformis muscle is likely impinging on it, so I stretch when it occurs, to try to prevent further jolts.  It's difficult to say whether anything helps this - as it's so intermittent.  I get a similar pain in my forearm as well, and that's been acting up lately, too.

I wanted to write this all down while I'm feeling it so I can give my future self an accurate description of what went on today.  This is about all I can handle at the moment.  Stay tuned for an update of how great I'm feeling later (hopefully).  I will have better days.  I will have better days.  I will have better days...

Sunday, January 8, 2012

I Don't Mind the Snormy Nights Anymore

The last few weeks have been interesting for me.  Don and I took the last two weeks of the year off work.  The first week, we traveled to Michigan for a short beercation, visiting Dark Horse, Arcadia Ales, and Three Floyds in Indiana, while on the way back to Illinois.  It was a great time, but I started having some trouble sleeping.

The week after that, I caught some sort of mild cold and continued to have increasingly more difficulty getting and staying asleep each night.

Just this week, a day after returning to work, I came down with some sort of stomach virus that had me weak, in pain, and exhausted from being awake for several hours each night.

What's worse, Don is a snorer.  There is a running joke at our house that, whenever I hear him snoring a lot during the previous night, the next day I complain that last night was very "snormy".

He seems to sleep pretty well, despite his snoring, but I certainly don't, especially when flare ups or other things are keeping me awake.  As a fibromite, I am never fully rested, even if I manage to stay asleep all night, as there is something in my body that is unbalanced and prevents me from reaching the deepest stages of sleep.  It is a common symptom of Fibromyalgia and I definitely suffer from it.

The worst part of Don's snoring, as I realized while listening to and studied the sound for many hours on end very recently, is that it's not a nice, rhythmic pattern of sound that I can get used to hearing and still drift off to sleep despite the volume.  Rather, the sounds vary in type, volume, and timing.  At times, I'd manage to drift into that pre-sleep stage, only to be startled back awake by that all too familiar chainsaw in the bed, next to me.  I must admit, there were times when I felt so frustrated I almost wanted to smother him with my pillow... but I didn't.  I cannot punish him for something he cannot help or even realize he is doing.  He's sound asleep, dreaming.  He might as well get a good night's rest, even if I can't.

Anyway, in the mornings, after Don was up for work, I mentioned my lack of sleep and my frustration with the snorminess.  He wanted to help, but wasn't sure what he could do.  He even offered to try those BreatheRight nasal strips that are supposed to help reduce snoring, but he has his own health problems and I didn't want to hurt his fragile skin with the adhesive.  I asked for ear plugs.

My little foam ear plugs, after several uses
Since I saw Breakfast at Tiffany's a couple weeks ago and saw Holly's fancy little tasseled ear plugs, I wondered if I should be sleeping with ear plugs, too.  Not tasseled ones, of course - I'd never be able to sleep comfortably with those.  But I knew we had foam ear plugs in the house, because we have gone target shooting and have proper ear protection for that activity.  So, Don dug them up for me and I tried them several nights ago, for the first time (for sleep).

The nice thing about these ear plugs is that they are like memory foam: they are small, and soft.  You roll the little cylinders into skinny little things that you can quickly cram into your ears, then they expand back as much as they can to fill your ear canal and block as much sound as they can.   They don't block it all - in fact, I can still hear the snores through them, but they definitely dampen a lot of the noise, so it's a lot easier to ignore.  They also block out all those little bump-in-the-night noises that can wake a light sleeper.

When I first put them in, I get to hear the ringing in my head a bit louder for a while, but I seem to get used to it soon enough and then drift off to slumber pretty easily.  I have used them now for three nights and I have slept WELL for a change!  I only remember waking up maybe once each night, to turn over and get comfortable.  I fell back asleep quickly and slept until a reasonable morning hour.  These little things have made a huge difference in my ability to sleep, stay asleep, and all the cascading symptoms that occur when I don't get enough z's.

If you're a light sleeper who gets awakened by any little noise or slight disturbance during the night, or if you are lucky enough to have a snoring bed mate and it's affecting your sleep, these are cheap and comfortable and worth a try.  Of course, if you have someone who depends on you to wake up at night, like a baby or other dependent, you may not want to reduce your chances of hearing them, but otherwise, go for it!

Here is a quick start to finding some foam ear plugs online, but you can probably find at least one brand at your local general store as well.  The larger packs might be better worth the price or/and shipping, since I'm sure they can only be reused so many times before they break down and get nasty from ear wax and sweat and stuff.  Invest in a few.

I hope this helps someone out there.  I wish I'd tried this earlier!