Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy

It’s like I flew to the Caribbean over night. I just sat in the sun for an hour, wearing only a tank top and shorts. I had to come inside in case I was in jeopardy of getting a sunburn. Sunburn?! A few days ago, it was snowing! And it is only meant to get hotter through the weekend. It definitely lifts my spirits. Although, you know how odd it is when you have a cold during the summer? That’s how I feel. I took my bad turn for the worse at the end of last summer, so it feels all wrong to be sick in the heat. Intense spring sun is meant to energize and bring a low hum of excitement and vibrancy. Instead, my head is full of cotton balls, my body is swollen, throat is scratchy and my muscles are extremely stiff. But, it’s warm out… focus on the positive!

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And, speaking of positive moments, I thought I should let you all know that I felt good yesterday. Yesiree, I said GOOD. I drove myself to an appointment that was only about ten minutes from my house. I stopped at a store and got lunch from the deli (this is the first time I have walked into any building but a clinic or hospital in months). I walked around the garden with my dogs. I stayed awake until 11pm and actually felt okay after 6pm ~ able to watch a movie, able to laugh.

There always has to be an unfortunately and, unfortunately, my night was quite tortured. I stopped wearing the cpap about a week ago as an experiment. My allergies flared up and I was too stuffy and inflamed in my sinuses to use the nasal masks (the alternative is a full-face mask, but mine is extremely bulky and wakes me up as I thrash around). My brain during sleep fascinates me. I would love to see an fMRI of the whole night. I would love to do a sleep study in my own bed and really see what happens from minute to minute. My brain is on fire. It is infected by unease. In the brief moments of waking ~ like surfacing periodically from quicksand ~ before the incubus’s long fingers push me down into unconsciousness again, I feel somehow crazed, like the mental version of wild-eyed. I am tensed against the cold or curled on the edge of the mattress, trying to avoid the heat. I am clawing my way out of nightmares that are always about running from whatever is trying to kill me or desperately needing a rescue, with no hope of help.

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If I had to objectively interpret what is going on beyond the obvious fear/loss of control dreaming, I would say perhaps I do need a prescription remedy to calm whatever chemicals are misfiring or maybe I am low on some neurotransmitters and, just like I take thyroid hormones everyday, I should be taking something to regulate brain chemicals… But that’s just it: they’re BRAIN chemicals. That’s scary. And it’s such a crap shoot. What Rx to choose?

So, I am at peace with my current stubborn obstinacy to sleep meds and maybe, if I ever take that step, I will wish that I had done it sooner, but I refuse to regret my choices.

As if to reinforce my thoughts, when I called the closest hearing aid store to inquire about custom-fitted earplugs, the lady that answered the phone told me she had taken half an Ambien and wound up in an ambulance to the ER, with doctors thinking she had had a stroke.

Anyway, I don’t know what the no-cpap experiment shows. I feel like I’m sleeping a little better and I think my Zeo graphs show slightly better sleep cycles, but I feel worse when I wake up and during the day. More tired and stiff and groggy and beaten up. Maybe it’s just allergies. My husband is watching tv with tissues shoved up his nose, so I know it’s definitely in the air.

let’s just take it slow in this home on ice

I’ve been cold my whole life and I I’ve never made any great effort to help my situation. Even now, at the age of 39, I have to remind myself that there are options and I’m a big girl – I can buy thicker socks and not keep wearing the ones I got from the dollar store 15 years ago. Like the aforementioned heated vest for the motorbike that my husband bought me. I told him I was going to return it — I probably wouldn’t wear it often enough to justify the cost. I not only wore it every day during the winter, I wore it in the summer, I wore it to the dog park, I wore it going out to eat, I wore it in the house, watching tv. I never, ever would have thought of purchasing something like that. I like thin, tight material, tshirts, layering. I’m short, so never wanted to bulk myself up. There’s a photo somewhere of me skiing as a teenager. I am wearing black jeans and a pretty light-weight jacket. I basically look like I could have been walking down the street in, say, the autumn. All the other we-ski-every-year types are wearing the puffy snow pants and fancy hats and goggles. I went to college in Wisconsin, but can’t remember wearing any shoes other than Vans and Adidas. No snow boots? Seriously? If I weren’t sick, always had warm feet, had endless money and didn’t have a skeleton to worry about, I would wear very high heels every day. I love being 5’5″. I love strutting and sashaying.

My best friend and I used to get dressed for school under the covers while still in bed. We’d dash across the room to grab any article of clothing that wasn’t within reach and dive back under the duvet, artfully swapping our sleepwear for our school clothes while lying down. There was never enough hot water in anyone’s house in Ireland for multiple people to bathe and you certainly wouldn’t luxuriate under a scalding shower for 15 minutes to get your core temperature up. We were both diagnosed with Raynaud’s, too. My Mother used to say “Che gelida manina!” whenever she took my hand. To this day, I relate cold hands with jellyfish because my childhood brain latched on to the “geli-” part.

I’ll never forget going to Edinburgh with my husband in the infancy of our relationship. I never made an effort to get good socks or invest in warm, practical boots or a proper winter coat or hat or gloves… I dressed the same way in winter and summer, I just took off a few layers. Walking around Edinburgh castle, my toes were bloodless greyish-white blocks of ice. We stopped every so often so he could put my feet under his shirt on his stomach, rubbing them gently in the hopes that they wouldn’t fall off. It was useless. Nothing can really bring back the blood except hot water. And then the blood pools in my feet until they’re hot and swollen and fit to explode.

A few years ago, I bought Uggs, not caring anymore that I’m 5 feet tall and they have no heel. I started wearing wooly tights under my jeans, remembering that’s what we used to do when we were kids. Then I bought a hat with fuzzy ear flaps because, if Frances McDormand could pull it off, so could I.

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And last week, I got my first heated blanket. Well, heated mattress pad. I only turn the heat on on one side so I can move to different areas of the bed depending on whether I am in fever or chill mode. My Mother has always had an electric blanket, I’m not sure why it took me so long to decide to get one. For Christmas, I want one of these:

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I am grateful for hot water and my bath tub.

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