Not quite wallowing

I'm indulging in a little self-sympathy. Not self-pity; I know a lot of people are dealing with a lot of crap at any given time in the world and my life, from the outside AND the inside, is really quite nice. But I saw the sleep doctor a couple of days ago, and he went over the readout from my overnight sleep study with me, and by all appearances I have gotten very little 'useful' sleep over the past thirty years or so. I stop breathing multiple times a minute. There are four stages of sleep and before they gave me the mask and the CPAP machine I never made it past the second. Even when I feel like asleep, I'm often not, or not in any kind of healthy, meaningful, refreshing way.

So I'm just taking a moment to feel some sympathy for that me that spent so much time wondering why I could never wake up in the morning. Why I couldn't just get up and have breakfast and go about my day normally, rather than sleeping until the last possible second in order to be ready for the first scheduled thing, then rushing around and feeling like a slothful, lazy failure. Why I would sometimes throw up if I had to get up much earlier than usual. Why everyone else, even if they complained about it, seemed not to dread every single morning as if it was a pitched battle.

It's a little shocking, the list of things that are adversely affected by this - then again it's not, because Jesus, it's sleep, sleep is really fucking important. It skyrockets your risk of heart attack, stroke, type 2 diabetes (and not just by adding weight, but in some other mysterious circuitous fashion). It contributes to depression and sexual dysfunction. It can lead to irritability, impaired cognitive function and loss of short-term memory, sometimes to the point where dementia is diagnosed ( and I always blamed the children -- sorry, kids!) The sleep doc (who I now and forever love and honour and adore) made a point of telling me that I didn't have this because I was overweight, but because of the size of my palate and the shape of my throat and airway. Then he said that severe chronic fatigue leads to heightened appetite and that the increased strain at night adds to increased sugar production - are you hearing this? Not only is this not my fault because I'm fat, IT MIGHT BE THE REASON I'M FAT). He looked directly at me and said "You have a severe sleeping problem, and it's not your fault." Then he asked me politely to remove my arms from around his neck and get out of his lap.

I'm still balanced on the double edge. What if I didn't have this, or had addressed it sooner? How different would my life have been? Would I have been a better student? Would I have a better employment history? Would I have been a better mother? Would I have felt less like I was stumbling through the first few years of parenthood, barely conscious? Would I have had more children?

You can't think like that, right? Sure, it would have been nice to have a couple more conscious hours every day. But I was a good student. I am a good mother. And I can't say I would have wanted my life to be materially different. All things considered, I am fortunate and grateful to have ended up with this life, these friends, this husband, these children. Maybe not this ass, but hey, if it goes with the territory.....

So I'm taking a few minutes to sympathize with my past self. And then I'm going to try to move forward. To sleep. Perchance to dream.


Wrath Of Mom said…

Okay. Maybe not. I mean I know it's not great that you've been diagnosed with a life long medical condition, but it is great that you've got a diagnosis, and a treatment plan, and a doctor whose personal space you invaded without being met by a taser and/or a sexual harrassment lawsuit. So...GOOD JOB YOU! Now go have a medicinal nap.

Lynn said…
I felt the same way when my sister was diagnosed with epilepsy when she was like, 35. For years she had been having "blackout" seizures where she just went blank for several minutes. It boggled my mind to think of what she could have accomplished had she been diagnosed as a teenager - all those years of difficulty in school explained! All those times she felt unwell for no good reason! GAH.

I think it's absolutely okay to have a little wallow. But then, it's time for hope! I am super excited that this has been figured out and I have huge, huge hope that a year from now, you will feel like a completely different person. To think of all you have done while on impaired sleep - by this time next year you could be running the world!

I know you are nervous about the machine - is surgery an option? Could they do anything to improve your palette on a permanent basis?
Julie said…
you are allowed one day to wallow. then i come kick your butt. yes, it's easy to think all the what ifs. but how about looking at it this way. if you had been diagnoses, who might not have this life you have now. would you give that up for anything?

wallow now and then sleep and love every last second of it!
StephLove said…
Do you have the machine yet? Is it working? I really hope this turns things around for you.
Nicole said…
Look at it this way: think of how much you accomplished on no sleep for 30 years. It's incredible, really. I mean, if you can be this awesome on essentially no sleep, think of how super-awesome you are going to be WITH sleep!
Hannah said…
You can totally have a day to wallow. Two, even. I can completely understand all the what-ifs.

My dad was diagnosed with ADD shortly before his 50th birthday. Holy god, knowing that made a HUGE difference - with proper support and tools, he's a completely different person now. Do we all wonder what his life would have been like, had he known earlier what was going on? Of course. But we're all so grateful to finally KNOW - and be able to help him finally live his best life.

You'll be all the better for it - like you, only super-charged. I can't wait to hear about all your new adventures once you've gotten some good sleep.
Mary Lynn said…
I am so relieved that you are getting real, concrete feedback about what has been causing all your sleep problems. Yes, it would've been great to know all this sooner, but I think you are focusing on the right things. I do the same when I go down the path of wishing I'd studied something different in University, or made some other decision at a pivotal point in my life. But then I realize that doing something else back then might've led me away from being the person I am now, with this husband, these kids, these friends. It helps me let go of the what-ifs.
Awesome. Awesome news. So unbelievably glad for you that you have figured this out.
Finola said…
Wow. I hope that once you get this all sorted out that you'll feel so much better, and yet I selfishly hope that you don't change too much!
I know a few people with the machine, and it really helped them tons.
I'm happy for you :)
Suniverse said…
Wallow away.

I'm glad you got diagnosed and are finding help. It's got to feel wonderful to know that there's a reason for so much of your misery.

I tend to be a dweller, but am working hard on NOT looking back and instead focusing forward. Hoping you are, too.
Ms. G said…
Very good news! Who you are has turned out fine and maybe now you can be who you are and well rested too. Maybe a dream come true : )
Patti said…
Glad you have answers. The blessing is not mixed because of all the what-ifs. It's positive because you have a solution.

Go forth and be even awesomer.
Kim said…
This post was a little while ago and I know you're past wallowing stage right now, but still--what a relief to know what's been wrong after all this time. I want to come back to Ottawa for a visit and find you so bright-eyed that I can see you from the highway.

Good for you--REALLY, really, good for you--for seeing your doctor and taking charge of this.
clara said…
Oh wow..where have I been. This is such a life-changing moment for you. Well, *was* such a life changing moment as it was almost two weeks ago now but whatever i'm here now aren't I? Hope you're sleeping like a fictional baby by now.

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