The working title for this item was "Is this the last Vent?" It's not like I'm looking forward to ditching this series, which is, after all, one of the oldest continuing features on the Web. But the onset of serious sleep difficulties has made me wonder, sometimes out loud, if maybe this is it for me.

I've had some problems along these lines for many years. Sometimes the brain just refused to shut down despite my best efforts — I strongly suspect that best efforts by definition are inimical to proper sleep — and I'd lie there for hours, occasionally still, occasionally thrashing, waiting for the tumult to quiet. Eventually it did, though I'd be thoroughly befogged the next day. What's different today is that "eventually it did" no longer applies: starting on the 15th of this cruel month, the quiet was conspicuous by its absence, into a second day and then into a third. Never before had there been a third.

I should note here that for about a decade I've been popping a daily Ativan, supplementing it with your basic drug-store sleep aids as needed. Two of the latter would normally suffice. But they no longer have any effect on me: one night I polished off half a dozen of them, and washed them down with a swig of NyQuil, to no avail.

The result of this failure was nothing less than sheer terror. I'd lie there for whatever time period, and suddenly it would dawn on me: This isn't going to work, is it? My heart raced, pounded, eventually subsided, but there would be no rest for me that night.

Friday night I got a reprieve. It didn't last. Saturday night, despite above-average physical activity for the day, found me up almost until dawn. I managed a couple of brief catnaps Sunday afternoon, then, a dose of Ambien notwithstanding, betook myself to the emergency room.

My own doctor was brought into the discussion Monday. His recommendation was basically the same as the ER's: an anti-psychotic drug that just happens to pack a sedative. The prescription came with a whole sheaf of paperwork. One two-page handout had four sections, three of which were devoted to the possibility of suicide. Great, I thought, I'm already just about ready to pack it in, and they're giving me something to encourage me. I took the pill at around 8:30. Somewhere just shy of 11 I finally nodded off, waking around three. Evidently I have some major resistance to being knocked out, which is probably a good thing if ever I'm faced with the sort of thing that induces a persistent vegetative state, but it's not helping me get any sleep.

Still, what else can I do? I have thirty days' worth of this drug. If I am fortunate beyond my expectations, I will be back on a relatively regular sleep pattern by then. And then I'll have to figure out how to get off the drug. Few circles are this vicious.

The Vent

#578
  23 April 2008

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