White Coat Underground

Sleepless

It’s really early, but I’ve been up for a while. The leg pain caused by the disk pushing into my L5 nerve root is turning me into a cranky insomniac. So this morning I’m giving in. I’m giving up on tossing and turning, grinding some good coffee beans, boiling some water, combining them in a coffee press, and sitting by the computer. My wife’s office downstairs is a peaceful room. (Hold on, time to press the coffee—that reminds me. A couple of years ago, I was pressing the coffee and I accidentally sent the press flying, coffee and grounds painting the family room. My 4 year old still remembers it. OK, done.)

My wife’s office is sort of isolated from the rest of the house, so it’s a good place to do a little writing without bothering anyone, or being bothered in turn. And of course, early mornings are a time of forced introspection and contemplation. You see, it’s been a helluva winter here at Casa Pal, so sleep doesn’t always come easy. (Damn, that’s some good coffee. Yes, I know, there is irony in my complaining about insomnia while drinking coffee—deal with it.)

Anyone who lives in the midwest knows it’s been a long, cold, dark winter (oh, and to you global warming denialists—please remember that weather does not equal climate, idiot). Back around Thanksgiving, my father-in-law developed severe weakness, and was found to have a cervical spinal cord compression. He was not a well man, spent several weeks in the hospital, and finally died. As anyone who has ever lost someone knows, even when you’re feeling a little better, it can come back to overwhelm you. My wife called her mom’s cell phone the other day, and it went to voice mail. Her dad’s voice asked her to leave a message. She called back about five more times.

His death has really been the dominating color this winter, but other crises have arisen. I’ve lost several of my oldest patients. Ice damming caused flooding in our house (you know something isn’t right when you hear running water in a room without a sink), my computer died (horror to a writer, but they’re sending me a new one), and my own back is becoming a real problem. As I hobble down the hall at the hospital, the House jokes are becoming more frequent.

But of course, it’s hard not to realize how good I really have it. My wife is a remarkable woman, and my daughter is my heart. When I came home last night from work, I lay next to her for a few minutes just to watch her sleep. My wife says that when she sleeps, she looks exactly like me, but to me she is joy incarnate. (And smart—did I mention she’s smart? Apparently, one of the kids at her preschool told his mom, “I want to be able to read like PalKid.”)

And of course, I have a job. Back in December, I received a nice pay cut due to the economy, but compared to most Michiganders, I’m doing great. The pervading sense of doom is hard to convey to anyone who doesn’t live here. People aren’t just hurting a little; they are losing their homes, their cars, their jobs, their marriages, their lives.

So I’ve got it pretty damned good. Still, it would be just that much better if I could get a little sleep.

Comments

  1. #1 Dianne
    February 26, 2009

    Pal, have you considered some narcotic analagesics and maybe a pain management consult? Or a neurosurgeon with a horrid personality and excellent surgical skills? In short, are you taking as good care of yourself as you would take of a patient with your problem?

  2. #2 Blake Stacey
    February 26, 2009

    As I hobble down the hall at the hospital, the House jokes are becoming more frequent.

    Sounds like it’s about time to assemble a crackerjack team of assistants, most of whom are attractive enough to be models instead of doctors, and conduct each differential diagnosis session in metaphors.

    On the plus side, you’ll have a pretty bitchin’ soundtrack.

    And smart—did I mention she’s smart? Apparently, one of the kids at her preschool told his mom, “I want to be able to read like PalKid.”

    Ah, preschool. When kids are envied for being smart.

  3. #3 Denice Walter
    February 26, 2009

    Hope you feel better soon.Yeah, all of the separate worries seem to coalesce.My own sleeping- which has never been good-is slightly better now that I usually stop the caffeine(in my case, tea) by 6 p.m., which I started to do around mid-September last.Because I spend more time monitoring the markets whenever there is major catastrophy, those extra hours watching the “screens” and the frightened faces of business news reporters certainly led to sleepless nights. Yesterday, Bernanke informed us that it was *even worse* than I thought.(Glad I didn’t know that*then*.)

  4. #4 khan
    February 26, 2009

    Crappy winter here in Ohio too. Ice and more ice, ice dams, 6 and 10 foot icicles pulling off gutters. I slipped on the ice and landed on my wrist.

    Get well soon.

  5. #5 Stephanie Z
    February 26, 2009

    I’ve had plenty of trouble falling asleep even when truly sleep deprived. It’s…well, I’ll settle for annoying. But waking up early in the middle of sleep I really, really need–that feels so much more personal. Cranky sounds about right.

  6. #6 DLC
    February 26, 2009

    I’m in Arizona, it’s still been cold (for Arizona)
    and damp. You aren’t the only one who doesn’t sleep, I feel your pain. Err, no, really… I have leg pain at night because I’m too old and too long for the bed.
    When you’re 15, having the legs hang off the end of the bed is a nuisance — when you add 30 years to that it can be a painful way to not-sleep .

    And I’m glad PalKid is something to make you happy.
    Look in on her for a few the next time you can’t rest.

  7. #7 Cat Faber
    February 28, 2009

    I feel for you. I had a herniated disc that pressed on the nerve to my leg a number of years ago.

    I ended up being seven days post-op at my wedding. Which was great, because I could actually stand up for it. I was still on the pain pills, so it was a lovely, happy, floaty day–quite carefree, :-) aside from having to move with caution.

    Now my husband and I sometimes joke that I was on drugs when I married him.

  8. #8 The Blind Watchmaker
    March 1, 2009

    I hope that you and the local economy recover.

    Keep drinking the coffee. I hear it is good for non-melanoma skin cancer now (as well as diabetes and stroke).

    All my best to you and fellow sufferers of medical and other problems.

  9. #9 The Perky Skeptic
    March 2, 2009

    :hugs:

    You’ve got such a great attitude! And it’s true, things will get better, but please do take good care of yourself.