Monday, February 4, 2008

Sleep Matters

From an interminable itch to interminable nights. Life has been upside down.

Thankfully I am relatively Lyrica-free. Tomorrow is the last day of my dose pack of prednisone, and it has helped. But it has interfered with my sleep and turned me into a shattered spirit. A solid hour with my NIP (novel-in-progress) yesterday yielded very little progress. My mind is everywhere and nowhere. I vacillate between a knotted-up freezing, well, knot and a woman who looks to be in the throes of the worst hour of menopause. The sweats mainly happen at night, when I'm trying to rest and get ready for another day of work.

And so the covers go off. And then I freeze. And then I cuddle into the blanket and fall asleep only to repeat it all several more times. It's almost over, though, and the prednisone took away the itch...well, it took it away faster than it would have normally gone away. We tend toward autoimmune diseases in my family, so when an allergic response gets turned on, it's difficult to turn it off.

All of that tossing and turning got me to thinking. Nothing could medically shut off my brain, so I was trying to find a "happy place." I thought, "Why do we have these terrors that strike while we are trying to sleep?" It isn't just me. I know you're out there, all my fellow nocturnal creatures. I know that your heart begins to race just as you're about to drift off. I know that you reach for an Ambien, knowing it probably won't help for long (if at all). The cycle continues.

And then it hit me.

Falling asleep is just like dying. I remember hearing that somewhere, probably a movie line, in which some helpful person, trying to answer the plea of some poor soul who cried, "I don't know how to die!" responded:

"Dying is just like falling asleep, and you know how to fall asleep, right?"

(head nods)

It made me feel better to know that I wasn't likely to die. I was only going to slip into an unconscious state for awhile and then resume my life. At some point, I managed to do just that.

What an odd thought, though. I was clinging to consciousness, much as any of us would do when facing death. Clinging to attachments is one of the causes of suffering, according to Buddhism. Was I causing my own suffering? Well, yes, in a way, if you didn't count the poison I was also taking to counteract another poison.

I found myself doing it again this evening. I started thinking about what book I wanted to read next. I finished The Other Boleyn Girl, and I was exhausted. I gave myself a few days off to cleanse my palate.

I thought, "Wow, I should really start a bibliography." It's one of those things they have you do in college literature courses that demonstrate your accomplishments and your brief criticism of a piece of work. And then it occurred to me, "Don't I have enough to do?"

My tendency is to read a good book and move on, let it go. The ones that are truly enduring stick in my mind in bits and pieces. I don't fully remember them, but then again, with all of the information we each have to process on a daily basis, how could I? Thus, the desire for a bibliography, to hold what my mind could not.

And who would care? Who would benefit from my writing down something about all of the books I've read? Perhaps if I thought I would someday be as famous a soul as Mark Twain (though I don't think he kept a bibliography; he was too busy living his life). I doubt I will have anything like that over which to concern myself.

I think it's enough to occasionally blog about a terrific book I've read or to mention a wonderful movie or some bits of dialogue. My world is full and needs no more clutter. Where there is necessity, I will deliver. Where there is simply desire or clinging, I must hesitate.

Tonight when I try to fall asleep (and I dearly hope that I do), I will try to remind myself again that I probably won't be giving the Lord my soul to keep as I lay me down to sleep if I should die before I wake... I will simply be stepping into another type of consciousness for awhile. Maybe I will rekindle my imagination there so that the next hour I spend with my NIP will not be so fruitless. (And perhaps it will all take place in a land without night sweats!)


Coal Miner's Granddaughter said...

I'm glad the itch is gone, but sorry the prednisone has taken away your sleep.

That prayer always scared me as a child because I was always afraid I would die while asleep. I vowed I would never teach that prayer to my kids.

If you're still in a Tudor kind of mood, the follow-up book to The Other Boleyn Girl is Queen's Fool.

Love ya!

ed said...


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