Sleep

Yesterday (1/8) afternoon I had a video appointment with my family doctor, Peter Ro, mostly filled with news of improvements in my condition, but also with plans for the future, many of which we decided to put off, on the grounds that at the moment, the most important thing was to keep me away from other people (since they all represent covid-19 threats to me).

This posting is mostly going to look back to my previous video appointment with Dr. Ro (on Friday 12/18/20) and a set of concerns over sleep.

But first some notes on my coping with life at the moment, which I’m managing with some insouciance despite my extreme isolation — face-to-face interaction almost entirely with just one person, my caregiver Kim Darnell (though in recent weeks I’ve gotten some visits from my daughter in place of Kim).

Coping. First of all, it’s important that I’m feeling physically pretty good: stronger, with better balance (so I can get around within the house with less dependence on my walker, and more use of my cane), and with a recent flare-up of crippling pain from my osteoarthritis largely subsided.

In large part because of my extreme isolation, my alcoholism is virtually a non-issue. That is, I’m never placed in a context where people would be drinking cocktails socially or having wine with meals — I see FB postings from my friends about such occasions all the time, but since I have no social life and eat all my meals alone, I don’t have to think about how I would handle such situations. There might come a time when I have to work that out, but at the moment such a time seems like some unimaginable fantasy.

I do, however, have satisfying interactions with other people. It’s just that they’re all virtual — via responses to my blog postings and via back and forth with friends on FB, both of which I feel I must cultivate with great care. They’re really all I have to sustain me, and so far they have been good to me.  There’s some danger that they might become overwhelming and take away the time I need for creating my blog and for doing physical therapy, but I’ve been pretty protective of my time.

Sleeping like a stone. But now, back to my 12/18/20 video appointment with Dr. Ro. I came with a complaint of severely disordered sleep (featuring terrible nightmares), with resulting exhaustion. Dr. Ro suggested that this might be yet another consequence of my alcohol abuse, appearing well after other consequences have moderated, and he suggested that the exhaustion might get worse as my brain in effect reprogrammed itself to undo the damage from the alcohol.

Prescient indeed. The very next day I fell into an alarming exhaustion, sleeping like a stone (basically unarousable) for 22 hours that day.

I was briefly awake for minimal meals. Otherwise I came to, groggily, for a few moments every so often to attend to an old man’s frequent need to urinate — into a urinal; I now have a sort of army of urinals around the house — and then fell back into profound sleep.

I don’t think I posted about this at the time, because I thought people would be distressed by my sleeping 22 hours a day.

Over the next few days, I continued my profound sleeping, but it was increasingly broken up into blocks, with more and more time between the blocks (at that point, I got to do things like post on this blog). Eventually, I got back to my sleep schedule from before the Days of Profound Sleep; apparently, the reprogramming had finished.

My sleep schedule. The topic of my 12/6/20 posting “It’s always 4 a.m.” From that posting (written when I was still in a rehab center):

For a long time, my “natural” schedule was to go to sleep around 8 p.m. …  and wake around 4 a.m.  I generally awake on my own, within about 15 minutes of 4 a.m. So it’s “always 4 a.m.”

As I emerge from alcohol poisoning and alcohol withdrawal syndrome, a natural schedule has asserted itself very clearly. I become sleepy at about 7 p.m. and doze off then, despite interruptions for medication, checks of vital signs, blood draws, and the like.

I then wake up, on my own, at very close to 3 a.m. on the nose. I am in fact jerked into consciousness suddenly at 3 a.m. And I’m up and into my day. I started writing this piece at just after 3 a.m. in fact.

So: now it’s always 3 a.m.

I puzzled over this for some time, until I realized that 3 a.m. PST is in fact 4 a.m. PDT. My body is still on Daylight time.

Things have loosened up some now. I still go to sleep at around 7 p.m. (after watching Rachel Maddow on MSNBC) and fall soundly asleep within a minute or so. There are urinal breaks throughout the night, on a fairly erratic schedule (whenever my body calls, essentially), but I fall back to sleep almost immediately. I then come to consciousness and get on with the day (moving soon to my computer to plan postings) sometime between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m., standard time (with plenty of variability). I almost always take a nap during the day, but its timing is flexible, so I can work around anything I need to schedule during the day.

An odd schedule. I do get all the daylight hours, so I can enjoy my birds and squirrels (meanwhile cursing the roof rats), but I also get a substantial chunk of time in the dark, when things are quiet (well, these days it’s eerily quiet all the time).

3 Responses to “Sleep”

  1. Robert Coren Says:

    I note that your schedule would sound pretty normal in the Eastern time zone. (Mine runs 1-2 hours later, but I’ve never been a big fan of early rising.)

  2. Deborah Swayne Says:

    Since you might not read FB messages, I’ll repeat myself here: if you have any interest in talking about alcoholism, or investigating on-line AA meetings, I’m more than happy to talk with you. I’ve been sober since 1982. I didn’t go to meetings for over 15 years, but I restarted when the pandemic started, and I’ve been enjoying the company. // There are a lot of agnostic meetings available online these days, and they might appeal to you more than the godly ones.

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      I don’t read FB Messenger. (I do read postings/messages on FB, but FB is very erratic in what it shows me.)

      I’d be happy to talk to you in e-mail. I’m about to investigate some non-AA meetings, but I’d be interested in hearing about your experiences.

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