Saturday, March 7, 2009

Wasted Days and Sleepless Nights

I couldn’t sleep. I had racing thoughts and a list of things that needed to get done. I couldn’t shut it off. I went nights with very little to no sleep. I was a single mother trying to make a living and raise my daughter. I was tired all of the time. I finally gave up and went the doctor.
Dr. Patel was a wonderful man even though we didn’t understand each other very well we got by. I sat on the paper covered exam table in my paper gown crinkling this way and that. Dr. Patel knocked and opened the door. He looked at me from the door frame and asked “It is okay that now I come?” I processed the sentence and rearranged the wording mentally and nodded in affirmation that it was indeed okay for him to enter the exam room. He walked over put one hand on my shoulder took my other in his hand and looked at me. He didn’t just glance he really looked at me. He looked in my eyes, my hair all the way down to my toes that were turning blue from the coldness in the room. “You would like for me to cover your toes?” he asked. I smiled and appreciated once again this man from another country who took such care and time with his patients. He moved me up on the exam table and covered my feet with a blanket as well as the rest of me. He looked at his nurse and said “Please up the heat for this room, thank you.” She turned and adjusted the thermostat and smiled in my direction. Dr. Patel inquired as to my ailment and then did a thorough exam. He felt and poked and prodded and shined lights in orifices to see if there was some physical reason for my insomnia.

“You tired” he said as he shined the light in my eyes and poked in my ears “You have circles and luggage under eyes.” I giggled and said in return “Yes I have a whole set of Louis Vouitton under each eye complete with steamer trunks.” Now it was Dr. Patel’s turn to process what I had said and turn it around in his mind to make sense. He giggled back and said “I think I aide you in slumber, yes?” Relieved that I was finally going to get to sleep I answered “yes you help me slumber.” He wrote out a prescription for a new drug. He assured me this would help me slumber. He advised me to take it early in the evening so I wouldn’t suffer the only side-effect listed in the pamphlet his drug detail man had given him.

I was ready for a night of solid sleep and most importantly rest. I went home early that day. Ate a light supper drank plenty of water and took my new medication. I had the temperature perfect for sleeping not too hot and not too cold. The room was dark and quiet and I settled down for slumber. Then I passed out cold. I didn’t have any racing thoughts or drawn out to do list. I was asleep. I was blissfully, graciously and gratefully asleep.

I awoke the next morning little groggy and a little late but it was Saturday so no harm, no foul. I threw back the covers and felt something odd on the sheets around my feet. I looked and there in the bed was mud on the sheets. My feet were filthy and somehow I had lost my night dress. I racked my brain trying to remember what might have happened. Had I gotten up in the middle of the night to take my little dog out? That had to be it. She must have roused me from my slumber needing to do her business and I walked her outside. The missing night gown could have been that I had gotten it wet or dirty and just tossed it aside too sleepy to get another. Yes that was it I was sure.

I continued to take this new miracle sleep aide for several weeks. I noticed some strange things upon my waking. Sometimes I would have dirty feet or my hair would be wet but always sometime during the night I would have lost my night clothes. Then one night I awoke under a full moon. I was standing in the middle of my back yard when I awoke. I was also completely naked and eating an apple. I did not remember shedding my clothes. I did not remember getting out of bed. Heck I didn’t remember getting into bed. Yet here I was wandering around my yard au natural.

I went back for my check up with Dr. Patel. I told him about the odd things I would find upon my awakenings. He listened intently then invited me into his office where he took extensive notes of my nightly excursions. “Should I stop taking the medication” I asked? He pulled out his Physicians Desk Reference and looked up the drug Zolipem. “No, no, I dink you have effects of the side. Just take it like usual and come back and see me in a couple of weeks or sooner if things changes, okay?”

Home I went and continued my drug induced sleep. Each night I would perform my ritual of cleansing my face, putting on my night clothes turning off all the lights and letting Sydney, the ferocious Yorkie, out to do her business before 9:00 p.m. I would then lock the door to my bedroom and crawl in bed to a restful slumber. You see I had an hour commute to work and had to be dressed and out the door at 5:00 a.m. in order to get to work on time. I continued to find oddities upon the dawning of my new day. Sometimes it would be a sink full of dirty dishes and a freshly baked cake. Sometimes it was as before muddy footprints through the house. Since Dr. Patel felt this was not anything to be alarmed about I wrote it off as normal side effects of the drug. Even with this assurance I refused to take the drug every night even though I had been assured it was not habit forming.

I had a particularly hard week at work as well as a hectic one with my teenaged daughter. She was in rehearsals for her dance troop which kept us running. It was finally Friday and I decided that I needed a little extra help sleeping. So I decided this would be an Ambien evening. My daughter was off at a slumber party and it was a quiet evening. I made sure all the doors were locked and fell into my drug induced slumber. I remember nothing. I only know that when I went to sleep I was dressed in pajamas and I was locked in my house.

I stood there my hand on the door to my office fumbling for the keys. I was intent on entering my office even though the alarm was going off. I knew if I could get the door open I could turn off the system and turn off that horrible noise. Then it hit me. I realized that I was at my office 60 miles from my home when just minutes prior I had been in my bed. I turned and looked and there sat my car in the empty dark parking lot and here I stood trying to open the door to the office with a butter knife. Then an even more horrific realization dawned on me. I was naked as a Jay Bird. Now I’m not sure what a Jay Bird is other than I have always heard they are naked. I ran to my car scrounging for something with which to cover my body. I was in a panic as I needed to cover myself and then try to turn off the alarm before the police decided I was a burglar and hauled me off to the pokey. I was able to piece together a pair of workout shorts and a sweatshirt. Thank goodness I had my gym bag still in my car even though I hadn’t worked out in weeks. Then barefoot and cold I ran back to the office and shut off the alarm.
I went back and sat in my car for a little while trying to figure out what had happened. I was groggy and confused and decided the best thing for me to do was to drive home and go back to bed. I decided I was going to keep a sleep diary.

I went to visit Dr. Patel a couple of days later and showed him my diary and the events that had taken place when I took the sleep aide. He again pulled out his PDR and looked up the drug. Then he picked up the phone and made a call. He spoke in his native tongue and then looked at me. “Do you have dry mouth” he asked. “Do you have headache?” he continued. “Do you wake up with crumbs in your bed or food missing from your keeper?” I answered affirmative to all of the questions then he said something else into the phone and hung up. “Well it is confirmed. Do not take these medicines” he declared. He looked at me his face very grim “this is verdy, verdy, badly” he said. My mind of course went immediately to the fact that I must be dying or worse. I cautiously asked “why? Dr. Patel what is it?” He looked at me with a warm and concerned look and said “in some peoples dis drug makes you sleep drive. It sounds like it makes you sleep live. It could be dangerous.”

“Really? You think so? You think it “might” be dangerous that I drove 60 miles while I was asleep? You think it “might” be dangerous that I drove it at 2:00 in the morning and I was naked when I did it? You think it might be dangerous that I was eating myself out of house and home and cooking elaborate deserts while I was asleep?” I said back to him. Dr. Patel looked me at me with great concerned and then we both started laughing.

That was the last time I took any type of sleep aide besides a glass of warm milk.


Cher said...

Gosh, I wish I could sleep while cleaning house or baking! You're lucky you didn't rob Stop and Gos in the your naked sleep!

I bet Dr. Patel lived down the street and had binoculars!

The Texas Woman

terri said...

Oh my gosh! I can't believe it took him so long to agree maybe you should stop taking it! On the other hand, if there weren't the possibility of getting into dangerous situations, I could use something like that. Think how productive I might be if I could get things done while simultaneously sleeping!

Mrs4444 said...

WOW, Gladys! Wow. Hilarious, though. Scary and hilarious. I was thinking the same thing; that the doctor parked outside your house every night, heehee.

Jaime said...

wow! i can't believe you would do all that stuff in your sleep. i won't take sleeping meds either - but the worst thing that happens to me is that i feel totally hung over the next day.

Tee said...

Now I love that Ambien. It gives me the most restful sleep I've ever had, fortunately, I don't have all the "side" effects, just wonderful sleep.

cndymkr / jean said...

I take Ambien and while I don't walk around naked I do eat - alot, while under the influence. I get up in the morning and except for the dirty pots and pans, I have no recollection of eating. But without the meds I don't sleep, so I put up with it.

Great blog, I found you from CDW.

msmartyr said...

Gosh, wouldn't it have been embarrassing if Trooper Bob had responded to the alarm where you worked? I've heard of eating binges on Ambien but you're the first I've heard of that could drive.

Girly Stuff said...

That is the craziest thing I ever heard!

I am now positive Ambien would have the exact same effect on me! You just saved me from some embarassing/dangerous situations!

When I am put under sedation, or fall into a heavy sleep, I become more active and talkative. The more they crank it up to get me to shut up, the worse it gets. And my husband has some crazy stories about me sleepwalking/fighting/talking!

Gladys said...

Girly Stuff don't even get me started on them putting me under. Or morphine. I've got all kind of stories about that!