Friday, October 17, 2008

"Short and Shit"

This was how my neuropsychiatrist/sleep specialist described the state of my sleep, as indicated by the last sleep study I had done. Apparently my brain is in a state of hyper-arousal, even while I sleep, which interferes with the ole sleep cycle. Quantity and quality both get affected making my sleep experience "short and shit."

Doc regularly works in the U.S. with war vets suffering from PTSD and says my sleep patterns are similar to theirs. He figures that the traumas this mind/body have dealt with have landed me with a system that is hardwired for hyper-arousal. I've blogged about the sensory overwhelm I often feel while awake and how easily I enter that state of hyper-arousal; it would seem that the brain never quite winds down. Even when I'm sleeping, it's frantically processing both my internal and external environments, leaving me chronically sleep-deprived. It's also likely to be the greatest contributing factor to the chronic Fibromyalgia pain and fatigue. As it turns out, my joke about having an ADD mind in a Chronic Fatigue body is probably pretty accurate. No wonder it has always felt as if I have my foot on the brake and the gas at the same time.

The greatest part of all this? (Aside from getting to try yet another sleep med... cause the last one made me crave all things fried and fatty...geez I may as well have been smoking pot...all I wanted to do was eat...ALL THE TIME. When I wasn't eating, I was thinking about eating. Even when I was eating, I was still thinking about eating. All I could think was "What can I eat next?" Note to the world: At low doses, Remeron will help you sleep, but dammit, when you're awake, you'll eat yourself out of house and home. You've been warned. Okay, I digress.)

The greatest part of all this? Emotionally, I've never felt better in my life. Ya, I'm sleep-deprived. Ya, I experience chronic pain; it's the low-level hum in the background of my life. And ya, I have a sore throat, swollen lymph glands and general fatigue most of the time. But, for the first time in my life, none of these symptoms have me. I'm alive people; not just breathing alive, but alive alive. I want to be here. I want to live. And dammit, I'm having a jolly good time in this crazy thing called life.

As I walked out of the doctor's office and down the street, I found myself laughing out loud and then tears appeared from out of nowhere. I was laughing and smiling and crying, so completely delighted with myself, delighted with life, delighted with the fact that I'm here each day in spite of this mind/body and its particular challenges. I've done pretty damn good with the hand I've been dealt. And for the first time, I was thankful for everything--all of it. It's all okay.

As I was leaving the doc's office, he said, "It's great to see you doing so well." Yup. Me. Doing well. Or rather, me being well. Actually, it's just me being. Finally, just me being me and that being enough. Isn't this what I wished for a year ago? Remember this? I blogged there about what I wanted. My long wish list. Well, at the end, it all came down to:

"I want to know that even if I don’t accomplish any of these things, that I’m okay, that I’m loved and that my life is worth living."

A year. I can't believe it's only been a year since I wrote that. A year of presence. A year of love. A year of life. I have arrived. Everything else from here on out is gravy my friends. And I'm looking forward to every tasty bit of it.

tall penguin

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