All this time

A few months ago I reached a relatively low point in my life. I wasn’t dying, starving, lonely, unemployed, or bankrupt so I use the word low lightly.

I visited my psychiatrist six weeks ago. (I’m not ashamed to admit it, I have one of those.) After the last few years chatting with me, even she was a little concerned by my appearance.

My sleep situation was worse than ever. I was sleeping between 10 – 13 hours a night with naps in between, possibly 15 hours a day all told, yet I felt like I’d got none (or very little). Efforts to slowly start exercising again left me in much worse shape. My blood pressure was inexplicably low. I was suffering from pretty bad reflux/heartburn, confirmed by a tube they stuck down my throat – despite a relatively good diet and avoiding the common triggers. This came after a brief ECG scare, suggesting irregular heart behavior, which turned out to be a false alarm. Leukemia hung in the background, never affecting my health, but seemingly biding it’s time for the best time to strike. I set a personal record for body mass. Since I didn’t get any more dense (Cheryl might argue the point), I set a similar record for volume. My natural tendency to slip towards depression made it all seem worse.

I couldn’t stay awake – anywhere. One of my doctors said I shouldn’t be driving. Cheryl became the designated driver in the family. I couldn’t focus at work for more than a few moments at a time, despite lists I made for myself to put me back on track. Trips to the printer left me week in the knees, my legs trembling, like I was going to collapse in exhaustion. Any sound reaching my cube was a distraction, pulling me from my work. Fighting these distractions made the headache gods VERY angry. Folks whispered about the time I spent working from home. For the first time in my life I was told my work was slipping. My daily routine shrunk to working, getting ready for work, and sleeping.

Many doctors, bad guessing, and failed treatments leached away my one remaining defense – hope. Even though poor sleep was clouding my judgment and slowing every step, I felt like there was no “big thing” to point at and say, “that’s what is wrong with me.” However, it felt like I was nearing my 990th paper cut.

Three months ago, I went to see my primary doctor. She ordered blood tests and a follow-up.

Two months ago, shortly after seeing the psychiatrist, she said my thyroid numbers had more than doubled in less than a year, suggesting hypothyroidism. She ordered more blood tests and another follow-up.

Three weeks ago the new, more extensive tests came back the same. I started taking thyroid hormones.

Things haven’t changed a lot, but they have changed. I’m sleeping a bit better. Work has been easier. Exercise doesn’t seem impossible. Cheryl signed me up at the Y so I could work out with everyone else (the whole family goes). My energy level remains low over all, but I have bursts where I feel more like my old self – like right now. Maybe best of all, I have something to point at.

I have hope.

– – –

Even though I’ve gone silent for quite some time, I know a few folks I consider friends have had tough times: tumors, hospital stays, and worse. On the off chance one of you stop by (you know who you are), you’ve been in my thoughts.

1 Comment


It’s not the kind of vindication I wanted.

Some of us go through life deluding ourselves that our experiences are wholly unique. We experience an accident or fall victim to illness and we believe we are alone. We are not alone, but we don’t know it. Maybe it’s because we’re unique among our peers, where our physical and mental injuries are concerned. The internet makes the world a little smaller but it doesn’t necessarily change the way we feel about ourselves, or how others feel about us.

Cheryl is often tired. I don’t deny it. She has a hard job and she doesn’t stop when she gets home. Still, as much as I love her, I don’t think she really understood how tired I am. All the time. A persistent state of exhaustion.

I knew from a sleep study I did several years ago that I suffered from abnormally frequent limb movements in my sleep, but the quality of my sleep got progressively worse. I’ve danced around the issue for a couple years, taking half measures with this doctor or that, but earlier this year I reached my breaking point. My doctor referred me to a wonderful pulmonologist specializing in sleep medicine. The first thing she wanted to do was go over the data from my last sleep test. She said she didn’t trust the folks who often interpret the data – she likes to draw her own conclusions. Then she wanted me to have another sleep test.

That was last night.

I’m normally tired, but a short, bad night of sleep with more wires than a late 80s sedan and tubes up my nose is not a recipe for a good mood. However, even with all those distractions, I felt like I slept a little better than usual. It would have been great if it lasted more than four hours.

I was surprised when my doctor called me this afternoon with the results. The tech said it would be a week or two. The good news is I don’t have sleep apnea, so I don’t have to wear one of those God awful looking masks plugged in to a cpap machine. The not so good news is my limbs still move around a lot, though that’s not exactly news. I also snore a lot – as in all night. That’s not exactly news either. My wife sleeps MUCH better when I retreat to the other room to sleep on my g-g-grandfather’s bed. The bad news is the quality of my sleep has gotten worse. According to my doctor, a guy my age should spend somewhere in the ballpark of half the night in deep sleep or REM sleep. I spend a whopping 2-3 percent.

And here’s the best part: it’s probably all in my head – or the drugs I put there. The drugs that help quell the dark beast of depression can also be responsible for a decrease in deep sleep and REM sleep. Then again poor sleep can lead to depression.

Chicken, meet your egg.

Wether it can result in such a stunning drop is another question, but it’s a conversation I’m about to have with another doctor – next week in fact.

In the mean time, I really freaking tired. Napping half the day didn’t do the trick, so it’s time to go back to bed and get my 2-3 percent. It feels like it’s better than nothing – if only marginally.

Forward thinking

It would be a pain in the ass, but I think it just might save my sanity.

Imagine if you will: the twelve days of time change.

Everyone agrees leaping backward is a breeze. I’m a backwards kind of guy anyway, so I’d be willing to soar backwards. But forward? Losing an hour of sleep in one cruel cut? It’s insanity. Why don’t we walk forward instead, in twelve manageable chunks of five minutes a clip? Like I said, it would be a pain in the ass, but in the spirit of saving daylight, how about we save a little sleep too?

Plus, even if you do forget to set your clock forward for a day or two, you’re only throwing yourself off five or ten minutes instead of a day destroying hour. We could even make it into a celebration – a nearly two week holiday celebrating the proximity of spring, and the sun hanging out with us a little longer each day. Instead of the time changing in the middle of the night, we could do it in prime-time. Times Square could drop a ball twelve nights in a row when we all step back from nine o’clock to eight fifty-five. Liquor stores would make a killing. Productivity in every other industry would see a lull, but surely it takes time for the workers of America to recover from the trauma of losing an HOUR all at once. I know I’m usually in a funk until at least July.

Call your representatives in congress fellow Americans! It’s time for change!


Don’t mess with time

The clock is cruel.

3:41 a.m.

Apparently it’s never heard of the saying, “if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all.

I am awake, craving a protein bar of all things.

However, just when I think I’m too alert to sleep, I look at the screen and find three pages of the letter n. Why n? It’s not even on the home row of keys. I fear the world will never know.

A protein bar waits.

Betrayed by circadian rythm

I really wanted to sleep in this morning, mostly because I was up rather late last night. Trouble is, my body has developed this nasty habit of following a set schedule, regardless of context.

As troubling as this sounds, it pales in comparison to a dream and my reaction to it. In my dream it was Monday morning and I was at my office. I was looking through my desk to see if I’d left my torx screwdriver there. I had and I found it.

Then I woke up.

I had one of those moments of disorientation following a vivid dream. Still not thinking clearly, enough of the fog lifted to realize it wasn’t Monday after all… but Sunday, and I was disappointed.

That’s right friends, half asleep in a warm bed, I was disappointed it wasn’t Monday.

I’m more convinced than ever that something is terribly wrong with me.