I am a happily married woman but have spent the night with another man three times in the last three months. It's true. I have packed an overnight bag in silence, with dark thoughts of the night ahead, and left my house at sunset to meet up with him. I plan ahead, and even wear a hat, just to prepare for the 'walk of shame' when I make the sunrise, or earlier, drive home in the morning.
My other man has a name, Bernard. He has a big smile and beautiful accent, with his deep, soft voice. He cares for me all night, listens for any need and is at my beck and call. He makes me as comfortable as possible for being strapped up with ties and cords.....and no, this is nothing like '50 Shades of Gray'.
This is the Sleep Diagnostics center and I've left my Egyptian cotton sheets, silky pillowcase and the slumbering arms of my husband for THIS???
If you've been following my blog you may remember that I ended up in the ER instead of holiday celebrations at the Special Education center where I work as a psychologist, last December. I couldn't get a breath, felt dizzy, had a weird headache and later found out my blood pressure sky rocketed.
There I was in my suede booties, silky blouse and festive red coat in the ER all day.
To be honest, this event was the start of a pretty rigorous 6 months of health issues and a multitude of tests, a CT scan, chest x-rays, echo cardiogram, stress tests, breathing tests and finally, three night time sleep studies in the diagnostic center. Apparently I have low oxygen in my blood and the cause may be sleep apnea. I don't want to confirm that I have sleep apnea because the final results are not in. There is another factor that I feel has impacted the situation. Shortly after my dad passed away five years ago I was having terrible insomnia. I was prescribed xanax to calm my anxiety during that time of grief and was prescribed hydroxypam, benedryl, to sleep. After months of insomnia the benedryl helped me sleep in a more natural sleep pattern. My physician said it was not addictive, I could take if for as long as I needed, and I was relieved to finally be able to get some decent sleep.
As some of us know insomnia can be a big problem, especially for perimenopausal, and sometimes postmenopausal women, with hormone fluctuations. When we don't get enough sleep it can impact every function in our bodies. The fogginess, lack of energy, word finding difficulties, and moodiness that accompany insomnia can take a serious toll on relationships. The inability to function productively and enjoy life which can lead to depression. Lack of sleep makes it harder for the metabolism to function efficiently and weight gain and other health issues occur. It's basically a never-ending cycle. You find yourself exhausted, depressed, low energy and fat-it's not the best platform for a regular work out regimen.
I have suffered insomnia for years but this little pink pill seemed to help me get decent sleep on most nights for the last five years......until it didn't. What I've discovered, through my sleep studies, is that taking my little sleep buddy may have been depressing my breathing at night. Sleep medication crosses the 'blood brain' barrier and can impact a form of central sleep apnea, where the brain doesn't tell the body to breath.
My study revealed that I stopped breathing multiple times during the night and was functioning on 86% oxygen level. No wonder I've been feeling exhausted to the bone for the last six months. I've had a hard time getting my breath, I wake up incredibly exhausted and feel like I might fall asleep while driving to and from work. More than once I felt like I was going to pass out in an IEP meeting for a student, and I was leading the meeting. Crazy! The thing is, no matter how miserable we women may feel, we keep charging on.
After learning that my pill may impact it I went off it immediately. It was not addictive physically, but perhaps slightly psychologically. I decided I would rather sleep less and not risk my brain being turned off to the normal functioning. The first night I woke up at 1:30 am and had to work the next day. Eventually I was waking up at 3:00 am and today I woke up at 5:00 am, a full eight hours of sleep with no sleep medication. I'm not sure that this will alleviate the whole problem, but I'm trusting my gut that it can't hurt.
Here I am, six months later, and I do not yet have a conclusive diagnosis. With a slight catch in my voice, I'll admit I may be on the path to sleeping with that mask (I call it the hose). I mean I can't imagine how that will be but for now I'm hear to say trust your instinct, do your research and be your own best advocate for your body.
Does a hose go with a black negligee?
Style for your life at my here!