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Saturday, May 28, 2011

And at Night

I occupy myself as long as I can manage, which often isn't long, before I head for the bathroom to take some acetaminophen p.m.. I have tried different combinations of drugs at different times. Mostly, now, I take the sleep pills at eight or eight-thirty at night, and wait, if I can, for at least an hour before I head for bed. Sometimes I take Vicodin at the same time. Sometimes I wait. Always I am wanting to not take any pain pills at all, and so far always I have failed. I always take some, lately two earlier, two later, total four.

I try to find a comfortable position in bed, and sometimes I can do so right away. I read but am not sleepy. Finally, after reading a while and adjusting my position several times, I do start feeling a little sleepy. I put the book on the table and switch off the light.

The demons in my leg will often surface at this time. It's something like "restless legs", a discomfort that I cannot ignore. I try different positions again, slow down my breathing, try to let go of thoughts. It doesn't work. I switch on the light and sit up, turning my body to the edge of the bed, letting my legs fall over the side, hang there a while. I may just sit there a while or I may pick up a book again, read some. Then I may try to find a good position to sleep again, may turn off the light again, but more likely I will pull my leg up onto the bed and stretch it, pushing the knee into the soft blankets and sheet beneath it.

I look at the clock. It might be ten now, it might even be eleven or a little later. I may take more Vicodin, two more tablets. Deep breathing. A shower. Most nights I eventually get up and take a hot shower, letting the hot water cascade over my knee, over my shoulders, onto my back, then over my front, back to the leg. Sometimes I will sit and let it pour down over me, a waterfall of heat.  When I leave the shower I quickly dry off and put my nightgown back on. It is usually not too cold and I do feel some relief from the discomfort.

I sit on the edge of the bed again. I pick up a book and read some. I try getting under the covers again, place a pillow there between my legs or under the left leg. I turn to the opposite side, adjust the pillow again. I pull out the pillow and put one leg, bent, ahead of the other, both on the sheet. Then the other side, same thing. I take deep breaths, sit up again on the side of the bed, read more. Lie down, read on my side, read on my back, read on the other side.

Sometimes I am able to doze for a little while. Next thing I know it is one o'clock. Then one-fifteen. If I did not take some before I may now take more Vicodin because my legs are calling to me again, my left leg, not the right. Some time around two or later I will fall, unaware, into sleep, and not wake again until it is almost five in the morning.

The cats are bothering me. Knowing that one of them in particular will not let up, I finally get up and stumble down the hall, trying to hold myself upright, pull in my stomach, walk on the inside of my feet: in other words, trying to maintain alignment and proper posture. Rarely do I achieve it at this early time. I  dig into the cat food container with the cup measure, filling it, and then pour a third of a cup into each of three cat food dishes, each in its own special location. I return the cup to the cat food bin, close it, return to bed, turning out the lights on the way and shutting my bedroom door to prevent any further cat interruptions.

Again, more arranging under the covers. Sometimes I am able to get back to sleep after a while. Other times I lie there restlessly until the hour is more decent, and then I pull myself up, slide my feet over the edge, sit there a while, finally get up.  I pull the covers up, roughly making the bed. Go to my closet to grab some clothes, lay them on the bed.  I might take another shower or I might just get dressed. Before dressing, though, I sit on the end of the bed and massage the knee scar, then work the patella back and forth, and up and down, trying to loosen it. I may do some of my regular exercises then, or not. Once I am dressed I open the bedroom door and head for the office to check email.

It should not be surprising that I will sometimes feel an overwhelming sleepiness once, twice, even three times during the day. I know that if I ignore it and try not to nap I may have a better chance at night. But I rarely can ignore it, and I often will take short naps, on the couch or on my bed, trying to get warm, and again trying to get comfortable. It seems like I can get comfortable more easily at these times than I could earlier.  Yet in the in-between times I feel awake, not deprived of sleep. I manage to take my little walk, go to the gym, do various errands. Some days I go for physical therapy in the afternoon. I hope to wear myself out enough to fall dead asleep right away and stay there. So far it has not happened.

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