A quest to make sense of it all. Or a sense to make a quest of it all.

Friday, September 21, 2012

I got my feet on the ground, and I don't go to sleep to dream.

A few nights ago, I dreamt that Brett and I were going on a canoe trip where we were assigned to buddy up with a couple we didn't know. Upon reaching the launching area, we met the other couple. It was my ex boyfriend and his current girlfriend. Awkward City, at first. But everyone was friendly enough, and it seemed things would go well. But part of the deal was that each couple had to bring some food, and I was stressing that the other girl had brought food Brett couldn't eat. I was kicking myself for not mentioning that during the sign up, and sure enough, she brought out a basket full of delectable-looking cheeses and breads. I had no idea how to handle this, because I didn't want to be rude and reject her food, and I knew my ex wouldn't touch anything remotely resembling healthy, but...you know. Politeness vs allergic/clean. I woke up before I had to make any decisions.

The past several months have been a nonstop stream of activity, and it's not slowing down, despite my body flashing big warning signs telling me to cool it. I'm sitting here not even mid-semester, determined to get up and power through. For anyone left in the world to whom I have not yet bitched, I was diagnosed with narcolepsy earlier this year. Narcolepsy. Now, I don't have the kind you see in movies, wherein the narcoleptic falls asleep standing up. Nothing like that. What I have is the kind where I want to fall asleep standing up, or rather, my brain wants to. There's a "sleep" switch in my noggin, and there's a loose wire connected to it, so basically it's flickering on and off constantly. This diagnosis explained a lot of bizarre behavior over the years. Apparently, I've been (and yes, you can become) narcoleptic for a long time, and it's just been getting bad enough to manifest. I thought my only sleep issues were insomnia and sleep paralysis. I finally got fed up enough with the latter to have a sleep study done, and it turns out that chronic sleep paralysis is a red flag for narcolepsy. And that's what showed up. Now during normal sleep cycles, people have roughly 20% REM, or dreaming, time and the rest is deep, restful, slow-wave sleep. I'm the opposite. My brain only rests a little of the time, and the other 80% is filled with vivid dreams. For the past several years, I've been functioning on about 20% of the sleep normal people get. Another tip off for narcolepsy is how quickly you can fall asleep during the day and then how quickly you start dreaming. In 4 out of 5 of my tests, I fell asleep in under three minutes (daytime), and in 5 out of 5 tests, I was also fully dreaming within the first three minutes. Just to make things more interesting, I'm a fairly common breed of narcoleptic: the kind with nighttime insomnia. I suspect this is a learned pattern. For a long time, I've just had a general aversion to sleep because even when I got it, I didn't feel refreshed or anything. What's the point? I'm tired either way. I had gotten used to being tired so it just felt normal and I was able to power through anything. We-he-he-ell.... long term sleep deprivation will turn you into, in clinical terms, a raving batshit lunatic. (I was careful with that phrasing, because I don't want to overstate it.) This nonsense, over time, turns your brain into an eclectic fusion stew of erratic behavior, memory loss, and poor judgment. Yeah. I know. With this diagnosis, everything made sense. And with the necessary medication (a bitchin' nighttime sedative, surprisingly), I was able to start getting the rest I need. And the difference has been...amazing. My overall energy is higher, my dreams are still vivid but not terrifying, and this is going to sound weird, but I'm oddly...grounded. I'm definitely not as impulsive, I'm not as ruled by emotion, and my decision-making is more closely resembling that of a grownass adult. It's so much easier to focus on school work and whatever task is at hand, and so, so much easier to say "no" to superfluous bull that I just don't want or need. That's pretty sweet.

I'm still tired. When I miss a dose, I have brain fog the next day and wonder how the hell I was even functioning before. It takes time to get in a perfect pattern, and I still have days that I'm so sleepy I could just cry. But it's manageable, obviously.

Until two weeks ago, when Brett went to the doctor for a sore throat and found out he had mono. *sigh* When your boyfriend gets mono, it's a pretty sure thing that you've got it too, or are about to have it. I went to my doctor a couple days later, after I started feeling like I had been hit by a truck. Yup. I laughed. Mono on top of narcolepsy, mixed up with full time work and full time college. I am the most tired person you know. I win!...a nap.

I'm not gonna lie. This blows. I'm told I'm no longer contagious, and that's nice, I guess. It's not like I can give it back to the only person getting my smooches. I'm also told that I'm probably going to feel like this for a couple months. Right now, I feel like the morning after the kind of night that inspires Ke$ha songs, so that's not so nice.

But I'ma make it. I think I'm over the worst of it. My schoolwork hasn't suffered for it. Just me.