When I was growing up, I had no trouble sleeping. I learned to fall asleep at a moment’s notice. I had to. Living with my mother taught me that I had to get sleep when I could because I might not be allowed to sleep for a few days at a time. She would often drink and then keep me up to keep her company, make me watch something on tv, or just to do all the things that an abussive parent does. One of the more memorable times that I had to stay up for days on end was during Desert Storm. Sounds crazy right? My mother would start drinking and then make me stay up to watch TV with her because she thought that it was important that I know, as a 16 year old, what was going on in the world. I didn’t dare fall asleep because then it would turn into something ugly and I knew better than to even try. So I would struggle to stay awake every night, struggle to stay awake in school during the day, and usually fail miserably at one or both of them eventually. It was a no win situation…and I knew it. Because of this, I learned to sleep whenever I could safely do so. The bus ride home, before my mother got home from work (though I had to be awake before she got home or else I was being lazy etc), any time I could really. I had a friend named Breland and used to go to his house. I loved it because his family let him collect mattresses. Looking back on it, it was really strange. He would stack them up and we’d climb up so high you could reach up laying down and touch the ceiling. I used to go “play” over there but in reality, I’d just nap for a little bit before going home. We were all very poor and living in a very run down neighborhood in run down apartments. We didn’t have much and little food. To this day, I absolutely -hate- peanut butter. I think for about three years growing up, that’s all we had to eat and now even the smell of it makes me sick. I know now that most of her money went to alcohol. Those moments though, that I could get away, were treasured beyond belief.
As I grew up and moved in with my grandparents, I was able to sleep normally. The only thing I did was horde food. My family would kind of make fun of me a little because I would take bologna and cheese into my room at all hours and hide the bologna and American cheese wrappings in my room, like I was afraid to get caught eating. My Memaw had to stop buying bacon because I would sneak out and steal bacon and eat it raw. True story. I still don’t know how I never got sick from it, but I never did.
About ten years ago, I started to change. I would stay up all night, not able to sleep. I would ( and still can) stay awake until all hours of the morning and then go to work with as little as 1-3 hours sleep if I was lucky. After I had the littles, it kinda worked out because they were always waking up and I would be able to just hop in there and do what I needed to do. Finally this year, I reached out to my doctor for help. With everything that was going on, I just couldn’t do it any more. I wanted to sleep. I tried to sleep. I just couldn’t. People would tell me it was stress, or Katie-Anne’s diagnosis, or work. It wasn’t though. Theres a meme going around that has says “My brain during the day: potato, potato, Ching Chong tomato. My brain at night: I wonder why the earth was placed exactly here and allowed us to provide a perfect climate to sustain human life”. This is me. I don’t lay awake every night thinking about Katie-Anne’s cancer, or money issues, or work stress. My mind can’t shut down and it wonders from Disney to cleaning out my car to why the moons that revolve around Neptune have such dramatic volcanic activity. I got to the point that I was a zombie. I want to put “literally” a zombie because I’m pretty sure brains were starting to sound tasty. I was short tempered, tired, forgetful, and just generally not in a good place. When I talked to my doctor and told him all of this, I even said I don’t want the “drive to McDonalds kind of medicine” and he laughed and told me thats what I was getting. Ambien. Sweet sweet Ambien. I think it has restored my sanity. I’m sure it’s not for everyone… I’m looking at you cake baking at 3am ambien takers. For me though, it’s a life saver. I haven’t had any side effects except one. I’m a sleep shopper. I seriously will browse Facebook while falling asleep and I have bought stuff that I don’t remember buying until I see a charge on my account. Nothing big, but funny stuff like charcoal toothpaste, those feet peeling things, and and couple of outfits for the kids. I’ve had to learn that as soon as I take a pill, I have to put my phone down. The down side to ambien is that I wake up at about 4am, or about 6 hours from when I take the pill. It’s as if its done and my body is like, “sorry about your luck lady, get up!”
The whole reason I am talking about it tonight is that I can’t take one. I’m at home alone with Cooper while Aaron is at the hospital with Pooters. It knocks me out so I don’t take one if I’m home alone with the kids or in the hospital and may be needed for care. It just knocks me out! Last night I was with Katie-Anne and tonight I’m with Cooper so it’s going to be two nights with little sleep. Maybe I’d drink a glass of wine if I could but I’m seriously intolerant of alcohol so I just don’t drink. Also, lets be honest, alcohol has never been kind to me.
Oh and I’ve tried calming teas, music, white noise, melatonin, and just about every other thing you can think of to fall asleep so no worries on that end.
I’ll get some sleep tomorrow night I’m sure. Hospital weeks are hard for many reasons, this being one, but thats just how it is when cancer happens.