Saturday, September 11, 2010

Snappy September - Day Eleven - Sleep Snatchers

I've talked many times before about suffering from insomnia and how, at 2am, it can make you feel like you're the only person alive - and certainly the only person who has 'Shoop Shoop Diddy Whap Cumma Cumma Wang Dang' by 1982's Monte Video and the Cassettes on replay in your brain.

What makes it worse is that everyone around me has that natural ability to fall asleep at a moment's notice. An ability that seems to have entirely evaded me no matter how strong my desire. Envy doesn't remotely cover how jealous I am of their skill. Dad used to claim that he was merely 'resting his eyes' when he'd doze off in front of the cricket only to wake instantly the second someone dared switch the channel and he was famous for nodding off during school staff meetings, at church and the second he was no longer the driver on long trips.

Milly, like all dogs, treats sleep as an extra curricular activity.

If there are no pats, walks or meals to be had, then she might as well enjoy a nap. Anywhere, any place, any time.

Her 'bedroom' is our lounge room, her 'bed' a beanbag situated directly in front of our entertainment unit with the big woofer speaker (how appropriate) in the corner closest to her head. Despite being assailed nightly with surround sound via Lord of the Rings, AFL games and DVD series such as Entourage, Frasier, Seinfeld and 30 Rock, she's out to it all.

Look at her little smile of utter contentment...!

Love Chunks is also a master and he's passed this skill onto Sapphire. From birth I was able to vacuum around her cot during a sleep and not wake her and she's become quite the entertaining sleep chatterer as well, calling out all sorts of things from "No, not the blue pants, how is the creepy clown supposed to run in them?" to "Who annoyed the ferret? Come on, own up!"

But my insomnia is my own problem. An inability to stop completely; to ease my mind into a gentle awareness instead of an all-encompassing sideshow featuring pointless reminiscences, replays of the days' events, incomprehensible worries about tomorrow and several songs I'd prefer to forget forever. Multiply that by five when depression kicks in and perhaps a mere triple-strength when Love Chunks' sinus and respiratory system decides it needs to resume snoring again.

The poor old sod has already endured throat surgery to eradicate his snoring and I'll never forget the two weeks of utter agony he suffered when even breathing in air was excruciating. The process involved cutting out the flappy bits at the side of the throat/top of the oesophagus - the fleshy curtains on the side of the stage, if you like. Now fluids gush down his throat like a raging stormwater drain instead of gulping in stages like you and I and .....

..... five years on, the snoring has returned. Not just when he's on his back after a few glasses of red but regularly. On his left side, his right side, on 'dry' days, 'wine' days, busy days, relaxed days, early days, late nights.

It is unpredictable too, so that some nights we turn out the light and I tense up, expecting the pitch-perfect imitation of a bellowing elephant stranded in the bog to emerge to instead hear shallow, soft breathing that eventually means I can drift off to sleep.

Other nights - now more often than not - it's like sharing a bed with a full-strength whipper snipper. Because I've kicked the sleeping pills and haven't taken anything for the past six months, I use relaxation exercises, meditation, stretching, breathing techniques (had to add 'techniques' there in case you thought, 'Silly old bag; everyone has to breathe') and visualisation to quieten the mind and get around four or five hours a night.

But if the outboard motor is at full throttle none of that works and after a couple of hours, I give up and creep into Sapphire's bed. There the volume is far lower, but there's quite a few 'Pudda pudda pudda pudda' farts that make me flatten the doona against my chest to seal the gas in and sometimes a carelessly flung hand to the face but sleep is eventually achieved.

Love Chunks feels bad about this and apologises every morning that he wakes up and finds my lump not next to his. His bedside table has become a mini over-the-counter chemist as he sprays, snorts, swallows and blows his airways clear before flicking out the light.

A day after taking this snap, he went to the GP and has another box to add to his sad little collection - antibiotics, as a last resort before seeing an Ear-Nose-and-Throat guy in Yarraville and Sapphire's Allergy Chappy in East Melbourne.

Time will soon tell - allergies? A set of regrown throat curtains or something unforeseen?


Elisabeth said...

Snoring is a shocker.

My sister the other day remarked on the number of couples she knows post fifty who now choose to sleep in separate beds because of the snoring problem.

I too know that horrible feeling of waiting for the onset of the 'deep breathing' just as I'm trying to settle into sleep.

I also know the grief it causes my husband, who would do anything to avoid it.

In the daytime it becomes something you can think about and write about but in the depths of the night it almost becomes a provocation to commit murder.

nuttynoton said...

My sympathies, I hate disturbed sleep and get very grumpy, Mrs NN can be a bit of a snorer as can I especially after a few drinks. Have you tried ear plugs?? My dad used to be great at turning deaf and dozing until money was mentioned. Good luck and hope you get some sleep

Deep Kick Girl said...

You're not alone in insomnia world. I used to be a reasonably good sleeper until the children came along. Which is when I started getting up through the night to check that they were still breathing.

Now that they are 11 and 5 they don't directly wake me up through the night (though M does still come into our bed sometime between midnight and 4 am most nights) but I still either can't get to sleep (no matter how tired I am) or wake up regularly throughout the night.

This has become worse since I hit menopause (after my hysterectomy) 2 years ago. Now I wake up hot and sweaty and anxious throughout the night.

I tried a Restavit tablet last week (after the recommendation of my boss) but felt groggy and awful the next morning though it did help me sleep better (though not really well). So I'll need to be really desperate before I take another one.

Oh woe!

Kath Lockett said...

I know a few couples too that sleep in separate rooms but in our 2br house that's not really an option and, long term, I don't want to end up like that. It feels weird not lying next to LC but yes, there's a burning hatred on the nights that the decibel level is 80 and over.

Nutty I have tried ear plugs but they either pop out (and then get lost in the sheets) or end up hurting after a while. And, as with the sleeping separately business, I then tend to think that I don't want to shove in plugs every night as a long term solution.

That's awful, DK Girl - I don't want to tell you how to suck eggs but are there books or websites on how to sleep better with the menopause sweat issue? As for kids, I don't know if that one will ever get resolved because my Dad reckons he still has the odd sleepless night thinking about at least one of his fully-grown three!

River said...

My hubby is a snorer, unfortunately for him, he's also the insomniac, up and down all night, going out for a smoke. So we slept in separate rooms for 5 years because he didn't want to disturb my sleep.

Helen said...

Insomnia is the worst... I find running right before bed helps a lot.

franzy said...

I often wonder how much snore-related insomnia is linked to not wanting to disturb the snorer? You know, out of politeness because you don't want two people not getting sleep, etc.

When Mele occasionally starts snoring I used to bear it, but nowI have no qualms about giving her a big shake and telling her to roll over because she's snoring.
She never wakes up and always stops snoring.

Why don't you give LC a big old shake, since he can fall asleep so damn easily?

Kath Lockett said...

River, the only separate room we have is Sapphire's and thankfully she's got a double bed or I'd be out on the lounge (or falling off the lounge, as is more likely).

Helen I'm a morning runner because if I do it at night it revs me up too much - get another burst of energy etc. These days I just make sure that I've done enough to be physically tired and then read for a while to ensure the eyes start to droop.

Franzy, shaking LC is a regular occurence! It's required at least twice a night on 'normal' nights and usually he'll roll over and be quiet without actually waking up. No, on real full-blown SNORING nights no matter what position or poking he receives, the volume level is stuck on the 'eleven' knob.