Okay – fibromyalgia, lesson 2. One of the things about fibromyalgia is that is a syndrome, and not a specific disease. It is a collection of symptoms that are “mix & match” rather than set in stone. Pain is a symptom for all of us, as is fatigue, though the balance or “mix” of those 2 can vary from person to person. There are a bunch of other symptoms that many but not all of us have.
One of the others in that “bunch” is a sleep disorder. It’s a bit like some Chinese menus, even among the various items in that “bunch.” For example, it isn’t necessarily a single sleep disorder, but a choice of 1 or 2 out of several. I seem to have at least 2. The primary one, in terms of other health issues associated with it, is sleep apnea. That’s where you stop breathing when you sleep. As it sounds, it’s not a good thing to do. Breathing is essential to life, so I’ve been led to believe. A lot of times you don’t even know it until you do something like I did. I married a man who actually pays attention to me. After only a few nights together, he asked me with concern whether I knew I stopped breathing when I slept. It was news to me. After numerous doctor’s appointments and tests, the fact was confirmed. I only thought I was sleeping through the night, but I was actually stopping breathing and almost waking up about 200 times an hour. Yikes!! I now have a little breathing apparatus called a CPAP (continuous positive air pressure) machine which pushes air in if I decide to stop. It has made for real sleep for 10 years now.
But there are other types of sleep problems that can also keep a body that needs all the good rest it can get (to ward off pain) from accomplishing that goal. I personally would have a lot of trouble falling asleep (now that I really sleep and don’t just “fake it”). It isn’t a matter of thinking about things and worrying on a conscious level. I don’t worry. It’s more like channel surfing. A few seconds here, a few seconds there, sometimes a break with what we 50-somethings used to know as static and snow on our TV’s. But no drifting into that deeper level that you need to sleep. It’s really frustrating. Once I got to sleep, I usually slept through the night, more or less. So I agreed to medication to help with this problem. But … the problem I have with the medication is that if I take it too close to having eaten anything, it takes a long time to “kick in.” I started out taking it at 10 PM for an 11 PM bedtime. I’d be up until at least 1 AM. So I moved that up to 9 PM – that’s an improvement, usually. But don’t have a late supper or bedtime snack. Otherwise, you might as well forget you even too the pill. But with a lot of effort (almost said a little effort, but that would have been an outright lie), I seem to have gotten it down to a science. There are always those exceptions to the rule, those nights when it seems to take forever for the medication to take effect even though I haven’t eaten since 4 in the afternoon.
And then there are days like this one! The medication seemed to work all right. Got to sleep about midnight. Woke up feeling totally awake and ready to go, too. The problem: it’s 3 AM!!! If I stayed in bed just waiting to fall asleep again, I would toss and turn for hours. That would only serve to wake my husband (a man with normal sleep patterns) and increase the likelihood of more pain tomorrow. The pain I could cope with. But I couldn’t cope with the guilt of ruining the sleep of the man I love, who would tell me it’s no problem because he can sleep the next night.
So here I am at 3 AM, talking to you. Complaining rather coherently about the fact that I’m more awake and alert now than I am most days at 3 PM. Trying to work my brain into enough fatigue that the medication will “kick back in.” Actually, it was 3 AM when I started. It’s closer to 4:15 AM now. I have to get up at 8 AM for church. I have to be awake enough to read the lessons (out loud, in front of the congregation). If I could tape them right now and send them in with another family member, I be golden. They would be perfect, with no stumbles or mispronounced words. Lots of feeling, too. Alas, it doesn’t work that way. So I guess I’ll go play some of the more mind-numbing computer games in a last effort to get back to sleep. Otherwise, it will be another “fibro fog” day with plenty of aches and pains to share – if I could.
So … good night … uh, I guess that’s actually good morning.