Posts Tagged With: sleep

Surprising Saturday . . . Sleep and Goals

Somehow I missed yesterday altogether.  Though I woke up and dressed and pulled the covers up on my bed, I then lay down to read.  I was expecting a text from the guy who works on my house, but didn’t get any messages.  I did get one from a friend who was coming over to work on jewelry.  She wasn’t able to come.

Other than that, my day was spent sleeping.  I mean all day.  At noon, I made a peanut butter sandwich.  I remember lying back down afterwards, reading a bit.  Periodically I’d awaken, check email and FB, and then simply blink back down to sleep.

And then it was 11 at night.  I woke up, checked the time, put on my nightgown, and settled down for more sleep.  I’d been drowsy all week, not able to sleep well, and without energy.

Thus the necessary day after — the day when my body simply shut down to recover.

At no time did I even get up to work on the blog.  I have no real memory of even thinking about it.

Once in a while, one of these days hits me.  Only on Wednesday night did I realize that my chronic sinusitis had clicked in and that the histamine build-up was overwhelming me.  Since my doctor is out on Thursdays, I had to wait until Friday to see his P.A.  That visit, complete with cortocosteroid shot, made my day complete in that I knew I would soon have the boost of energy I needed, the medicines for combating the infection and cough, and would thus be back on my feet.  I forgot, though, what usually follows such a shot — the inability to sleep, the consequent sleepless night.    By Saturday, I guess, my body was just reacting to the jolt of sleeplessness that always accompanies those shots.  I didn’t even get out of bed when the pharmacy called yesterday to tell me that my medicines were ready.  I slept.

So today, reluctantly, I have finally awakened to the world again.  Reading the newspapers in bed — always one of my daily enjoyments — is mostly over.  I haven’t finished reading The Sunday Times, but that will be my treat for later.

Despite my disappointment over failing to post a blog post yesterday, I guess it was bound to happen.  I’d miss a post.  My goal is to write and post daily, yet I have already broken that goal.  I’ll live, but I’m not letting myself get away with this.  I am more determined than ever to keep my goal as much as possible.

Why?  Well, there’s no real “need,” is there?  No paycheck depending upon it.  No being written up for failing to meet class.

There’s just the desire — perhaps even the need — to establish a routine of sorts for myself in retirement.  I don’t want to be one of those lost pensioners who simply sit and do nothing.  For many years I’ve planned on an active retirement — traveling and writing and visiting friends, puttering around my house more.  Having freedom to set my own schedule and projects rather than having them set for me.

So my failure isn’t something others have defined — it’s something I perceive and regret.

At the same time, it makes me remember the realities of life — those times when illness or something else interrupts our schedules.  While goals are fine, I have to accept that they are self-imposed.  And that there will occasionally be hiccups.  As in yesterday.

Today, then, I awoke to realize my Saturday lost to sleep and recovery, while enjoyable and necessary, also left a hole in my life.  I’ve come to enjoy the daily writing routine, and I missed it yesterday.

A new discovery in the ongoing adventures of post-retirement life, certainly.  While I certainly have more freedom in setting my schedule and projects now, I am still dependent on others’ schedules — as with my friend who had problems and couldn’t get here, and with the guy working on my house.  I no longer have to set an alarm clock and be out of the house every day to meet classes and office hours and committee meetings, but I do have appointments and coffee-shop visits, shopping and errands, and out-of-town responsibilities.  The alarm clock is still necessary.

Those appointments and meetings and visits are just spread out and no longer confined to hurried weekends and afternoons after work.  They’re interspersed with my own daily routines.

How to balance it all now in this new time of life — and that I’m still exploring and discovering just what my life is to be — that is my continuing challenge.  Yesterday just made me conscious that “the routine” is flexible, constantly in flux, that once “discovered” won’t be set in stone either.

Discovery, recognition, goals made and goals not met — balance.  Shaking off disappointment and getting on with my life.

Saturday was surprising, but necessary.  Not just in terms of needed sleep and recovery from the sinus infection and shot, but also in time for me to face a reality about post-retirement, about goal-setting and failure to meet goals.

With some goals, you can’t necessary make up what’s not met.  With writing, though, I can figure out ways to cope.  I’m sure I’ll face more challenges about meeting the daily writing goals as I start to work on other projects — the short writing project I have a meeting for tomorrow, the planning of a syllabus for a three-week library program I’ll be conducting in November, and writing in other on-going pieces and poems.

But regarding the blog, I’ve got it figured out already — I’ll write a couple of posts at a time, simply creating a small bank.  For now though –I’ll just write a second post tonight!

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The Joys of Sleep

When I was still working, sometimes it seemed that the only time I could really sleep was on weekends, or at least one day of the weekend, the one where I wasn’t running errands all the time.  Otherwise, I awoke to an alarm clock that went off far too early to suit me.  Of course, I stayed up quite late, often till past midnight.

But then, I am a night owl.  I think I always have been.  It’s not just that I enjoy staying up late, but that I really function best late at night.  But the world runs on a different schedule, and as a working member of society, I had to comply and fit in.  Of course, as an academic, I found a schedule that was more flexible.  I rarely had 8 a.m. classes — 9 a.m., perhaps, but not earlier, not if I could help it.  It would take me forever to wake up.  But then I was managing on 6 hours of sleep at best, and only during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina did I finally get a sleep study which established that I did indeed have sleep apnea, a rather severe case.   I’d get 6 hours, but I awoke constantly,and I rarely achieved REM sleep (I averaged about 5% per night).  Then came the CPAP machine, which provided me the REM sleep I was deprived of.  What a difference that machine has made!  Within days, I felt refreshed and clear-headed.  How I’d managed to function still astonishes me.

Adapting first to sleeping with a full mask that covered my nose, and then to a different mask with nose pillows, I began to refer to my nighttime gear as my Frankenmask.  When my sister and one of my cousins and I are all together, we can compare our CPAPs.  Clearly the literature is accurate when it recognizes that sleep apnea often “runs in the family.”

Now I sleep through the night.

Just how valuable sleep was became so clear to me while I was living with Dad.  During the last 6 months or so of his life, I rarely got more than 2 hours of sleep at a time if I were with him.  I really used weekends, when my sister Kay came in, to sleep.  A lot.  And for months after his death, I slept often and long and late.  I’d spend entire days sleeping and reading and sleeping more.  As though I could make up for all the hours lost, I took advantage of the opportunity to sleep whenever I felt like it.  That was, I’ve come to believe, not just for the physical loss of sleep but for the emotional losses of months.  Healing takes a long time and comes in many different guises.

And in retirement, I don’t have to set the alarm clock if I don’t want to.  I can simply stay up until I’m ready to sleep, and wake when I want to.

Sometimes that’s exactly what I do.  Of course, that means that I might not get up until 10 a.m.  But unless I have a meeting or an appointment, I can set my own schedule.  Just what schedule works for me is something I’m still exploring.

If I simply stay up and read until I fall asleep, that might be 2 or 3 a.m.  Then I sleep for 7 hours or so, rise and dress and go about my day.  The problem is that sometimes I don’t want to get up at all, and simply decide to make a really lazy day of it and stay in bed, read, and sleep in a cycle that owes nothing to the clock.  That’s okay, too, but not for too long.  I could easily become a hermit, following such a non-schedule schedule.  My own body-clock seems to revert quite easily — and quickly — to this pattern.

Instead, I have decided perhaps it’s best to get up by 8 a.m. and spend an hour or so reading the papers, then spend some time writing.  This still surprises me, and I’ve yet to see if it works, but I’m going to give this semi-schedule a shot.

Even so, the seduction of sleep is often difficult to resist.

Naps were not things I usually took, not during the school term.  Maybe occasionally, maybe during semester breaks, but not usually on a work day unless I was really, really tired.  In summers, though, which I spent in Greece, I quickly adapted to the daily afternoon nap.  And now I find myself napping if I want to.  When I was a child, certainly before I entered school, my mother made me take naps.  Why do we stop that lovely habit?  Just because of work.

Some days, naps are absolutely necessary. Some days, they’re not.  Today was one of the days when one was necessary.  For whatever reason, I felt tired and drifted off while I was reading.  Of course, I did get up for an 8 a.m. meeting, and then had coffee with a friend after that.

Sleep, though, has become such a pleasure.  With the CPAP and REM sleep, I dream often.  Spectacularly, at times.  Vivid colors, wild plots.  Sometimes the dreams are so real I awaken and am not quite sure where I am or what’s going on.  Sometimes the dreams are science-fiction wild.  At times I keep a dream journal to record them.

I don’t have to wait for weekends to indulge an all-night reading orgy followed by an all-day lie in.

But tonight?  It’s only about 10 p.m. and despite a lovely nap this afternoon, I am yawning and feeling the need to crawl into bed.

My dogs are sitting at my feet as I type this.  But the minute I get up, they’ll be right at my heels, following me.  They’ll jump into bed when I get in, curl up on either side of me, and drift off as I read a bit.

Shakespeare has Macbeth speak of sleep as

“the innocent sleep,
Sleep that knits up the ravel’d sleave of care,
The death of each day’s life, sore labor’s bath,
Balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course,
Chief nourisher in life’s feast-”  (Macbeth, Act II, Scene 2, lines 36-40)

And that’s just what sleep does — daily it is the “death” of each day, resting us from “sore labor’s bath.”  It is balm to hurt minds.  I love that it is “great nature’s second course,  /Chief nourisher in life’s feast.”  This really emphasizes the vital role sleep plays in our lives.  It is not time wasted, not at all.  It’s when we recover so that we are ready for the next day.  When we’ve suffered through great physical strain and emotional turmoil and loss, it provides a depth of healing and restoration that sometimes we think we’ll never truly get.

So even though my day hasn’t been especially difficult or even full, I am ready for a new night’s feast, for my second course.  My Frankenmask awaits.

As my mother used to say to me, “Good night.  Sleep tight.”

Dream well.

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New Week, New Directions

Today Dad has been home for two weeks, and his third week begins.  Yesterday after the difficulties with his dialysis shunt bleeding, we decided to stop dialysis and call in hospice.  At some point, I asked Dad what he thought about dialysis — he said he was tired of it and didn’t want to go back.  Decision clinched.

The home health nurse came; we initiated the shift to hospice.  She did her usual visit as well as make the appropriate phone calls.

Kay went to Natchitoches for the day by midmorning — she needed to do some paperwork and make sure a file was ready at her office.  By 6 p.m. or so, she was back here in Egan.

Just after 1 p.m., the hospice nurse came for the evaluation.  She was here for over three hours, and she and I had much to talk about.  BY the time she left, I had a much shorter medication list.  I also had Ativan gel, morphine to give under the tongue, and medicine for nausea should that be needed.  I had signed who knows how many pieces of paper.  I had a new folder, with new papers and a new pamphlet to read. I had a new medicine schedule and new things to watch for.  Hospice is about palliative care, and medicine is a tool to achieve that.

Dad rested well last night with the morphine.  Kay and I were less rested — we kept popping in to check on him.  I slept a few hours.

This morning was busy — I called Dad’s primary physician, the dialysis clinic social worker, and the ambulance company regarding the changes, and then I went to Crowley to run a couple of errands.  When I got back, the house was filled with lots of new hospice people — a social worker, an aide, a nurse, and the volunteer coordinator.

Dad had more trouble with pain and with restlessness.  After his bath and the dressing change, everyone left.  Kay and our friend Billie left to go to Lake Charles to take care of some errands.  I stayed here.  Within an hour and a half, it was clear that the pain wasn’t diminishing, that the meds weren’t working.  I called hospice and within minutes had a new routine:  more morphine, more often, then more morphine at a slightly longer interval, then that same larger dose of morphine with the Ativan gel.  Moving the morphine to every 30 minutes and then every hour, then adding the Ativan gel with one dose of the morphine — that was the routine.  One dose of morphine after the combined dose and finally he was resting well.  Now I’m shifting to two hours between morphine, with the Ativan added at 4 hour intervals.  Fingers crossed that this works tonight.

Tomorrow is another day, as Scarlett O’Hara reminds me every time I think of one of Mother’s favorite films.

Now he is resting.  I’ve made a few necessary phone calls, talking to family.  More to come.   Business to take care of tomorrow.  Photos to select and scan.  Arrangements to make — though we’ve talked through and know what we’re going to do.

Tonight, after I finish my grilled cheese sandwich and milk (thank you, little sister), I will shower and pull on new pajamas and crawl into bed.

Shakespeare’s right in Hamlet: sleep does knit the raveled sleeve of care — and so I hope to find soon, that my raveled sleeve of care is eased with some quiet time, some reading, and some sleep.



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