yesterday i went to a well-known sleep doctor. she was recommended to me by my pain doctor because sometimes pain patients have problems sleeping that will exacerbate their symptoms. that is for sure the case with me.
for the many many weeks i have waited to get in to see her, i have nurtured a fantasy that she would have a lot of answers and unique insights for me about how i can sleep better. and if i could sleep better, i just knew i would feel better. (this may or may not be true, but i know that when i sleep worse i feel worse, so i very much wanted the corollary to be true…)
the doctor was very very kind and spent a long time asking lots of great questions and trying to get a thorough understanding of every facet of what contributes to the sad state of my sleep (or lack thereof). and after almost 2 hours of evaluating, she says,
“well it’s pretty clear that medication won’t help you.”
so that was strike one.
because, frankly, i was hoping for a quick fix. i was all about the magic bullet that would just set things right with very little effort on my part. oh well. i was still hopeful.
then she says,
“have you ever considered meditation?”
anyone who knows me in real life knows that i am a walking talking living breathing antithesis of meditation.
which is, perhaps, why i need meditation.
and the answer is, yes. i have considered meditation. i have considered it the way i consider anything else: by doing research and learning about it and intellectualizing it and studying it. in short, i took every approach to meditation that is the opposite of what you want to do when you meditate. i never got to the point of actually being able to meditate, or even being able to relax, because just the sitting down in preparation for any kind of meditation was excruciatingly stressful for me.
we discussed things i have done in the past to be able to get to sleep, like the time a neurologist suggested that if i am laying awake thinking about things i need to get done, i should keep a pad of paper and pen next to my bed. that way, if i had an idea, i could make a note of it and it would be off my mind because i would know it would get taken care of the next day. but clearly this was a neurologist who had never had a patient like me before. i tried his idea, but once my mind clicked into ‘make a list’ mode, i was off and running. my few-item list turned into a multi-page organizer’s dream and that just got my adrenaline flowing until i could barely wait to jump out of bed and embark on a project or two.
so much for sleeping, but wow- how fun! 🙂
there are lots of tricks and tips doctors use to help patients get to sleep, and there is a whole body of wisdom out there collectively referred to as “sleep hygiene” that i can recite chapter and verse.
i feel like an ingrate watching the doctor’s face light up with one new idea after another, only for me to say, “yep, i tried that,” and “yep, that too”, and i wish i could just gush and say, “oooooooooh now that’s original!” and make everyone happy and go home and fall soundly asleep.
as it is, i play chase-the-zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz’s with a cocktail of natural and not-so-natural sleep remedies alternating with taking nothing at all to give my body a chance to figure out how to be exhausted and sleep on its own. i’m kind of like a sleep junky who is mostly full of cravings that never quite get satisfied.
but yet, i still believe.
in the face of much evidence to the contrary, i think that the answers are out there somewhere (or are they inside me all along? a deep but impossible/implausible/immaterial question, at least for the present…). so, i keep reading and asking and searching.
and although it is a method that doesn’t necessarily work for me in terms of sleep, it is glorious for me in my waking hours, so i make lots and lots of lists.
well, it’s quieter than the tuba and cheaper than knitting. and it’s mostly harmless.
unless you’re a disorganized closet 😉