Anyone who knows me knows that my life is nothing if not a lesson in how to have empathy people I judged or could not empathize with sufficiently in my life up to this point. Current example:
I think I may have mentioned that I have a sleep disorder. It runs in my family. It’s the kind that sleep doctors love, because it’s rare and interesting. Until I was medicated in my early twenties I would act out my dreams with some regularity. The Docs called it a Parasomnia. I used to walk, talk, spit (once recently actually), scream, pee, kick and have vivid waking dreams where I saw insects either dropping from the ceiling, or crawling near my head. When this happened I did everything I could to get away from them as I gradually came to consciousness. It’s a very strange and scary feeling.
The waking nightmares and the bedwetting got to be a bigger deal when I had someone sharing a bed with me. When I became a parent, the fact that I was waking myself up a dozen or more times a night, really wore me thin. I lost weight, and felt sick to my stomach much of the time. It wasn’t until I described some part of this to my wonderful mother-in-law and she said, “Honey, it isn’t normal to see the clock that many times through the night. That’s not normal sleep.” that I thought to go see a doctor. (Thank you Linda)
The doctor first tried hypnosis, which I thought was silly, but figured couldn’t hurt. It didn’t hurt, it didn’t help. The next thing they did is prescribe a very low dose of an old-school anti-depressant; a really old, very cheap drug called Imipramine, which for some reason tended to regulate sleep cycles and with great regularity eliminated bedwetting. After taking it, for the first time I could ever remember, I fell asleep and the night disappeared. I closed my eyes, and when I opened them, it was morning. It was like a miracle. It’s been close to 20 years since I wet the bed.
I would still have the occasional waking nightmre, and act out some of my dreams, especially talking or yelling. But these behaviors decreased greatly. Over the 20 years my dose has been raised 3 or 4 times. When I seem to be having non-restful sleep, or multiple nightmares (I don’t really count super stressful times in my life as a time when I need medical intervention, those sleepless nights go away on their own eventually), I check in with the sleep doctor.
That’s the background.
Recently I’ve been seeing different sleep doctor, and when I complained that I was drowsy during the day (I have had a two hour commute at the classic sleepy time of the day, right around 3-4pm), he said he thought it was the Imipramine. It has a longer half-life, “It’s an old drug. What we call a ‘dirty drug’, with lots of side-effects. There are some newer drugs, ‘cleaner drugs’ which would be out of your system more quickly. I think you should try going off the Imipramine and onto this other, newer and cleaner drug.” Given the choice, who the hell wants a dirty drug over a clean drug? I decided to make the switch.