dreams…nightmares

Do you dream? Or have nightmares? I often have both, and at the same time. How’s that possible? I have no idea. While I’m more or less in control of what I do during the day, I have absolutely none when it comes to sleepy time. I’m at the mercy of the fairies or gargoyles, depending upon who decides to mess with my head on any given night.

In the morning my husband chuckles when I explain how I spent the night wrestling imaginary characters…some familiar, some not. He takes no credit for often showing up, usually as a bystander or the root cause of my struggles with the unknown. The man has no clue what goes on inside my head, even though we’ve known each other almost half-a-century. Men.

My mom always attributed fitful sleeping to having eaten too close to bedtime. More so if I ate something spicy. That made sense when I was young. Most things she said made sense then, given the deck was stacked in her favor as THE authority in my life. Now that I’m the authoritarian in my own life, I figure my dreams and nightmares have more to do with psychology.

Issues that remain unresolved in my mind probably find their way into my consciousness as I sleep. There where I have little or no control, I react as best I can to the images I come across. Because I’m a strong person, I find I usually struggle to maintain that strength…even as I lay motionless. That’s probably when my dreams become nightmares. I’m fighting for self-preservation.

It’s been a very long time since I experienced something even more disturbing as I lay sleeping. It would even occur when I napped. Day or night, if I was being threatened in my dreams I would not be able to move or even make a sound. I could feel myself struggling to wake up, or to scream for help from my husband who lay fast asleep alongside me. I imagine that’s what it would be like if I awoke from a coma, and found myself locked in a coffin, buried 6 feet underground.

Scary, right? Thank goodness I’ve outgrown that particular idiosyncrasy. Unfortunately, my daughter may have inherited it. She told me she experienced the exact same feeling. So now she tries to hold her fiancé’s hand before she falls asleep, something she could not do no matter how hard she tried to reach for it while in the throes of a subliminal struggle. I know that feeling. No matter how close my husband lay to me, I could not move an inch to scream for help.

I’m certain my daughter and I aren’t the only ones beset with such goings on inside our heads, as our bodies surrender to deep slumber. We couldn’t be that unique.

…are you…one of us?

………hugmamma.

...zzzzzzzzz...

…zzzzzzzzz…

 

 

 

whatever works…who am i to judge

I reiterated to my husband again last night…”Don’t touch that stack of Wall Street Journal papers!” Never mind that it’s taking up space in his home office.

There are gems to be found in that mountain of treasure. Take for instance the article reprinted in my next post, “Letting Babies Cry a Bit is OK” by Andrea Petersen.

Of tremendous interest to “mwaaa”…me, that is, the information contained in Petersen’s writing reminded me of my husband’s least favorite bedtime story.

Our family had recently returned from visiting relatives in Hawaii. Our daughter, then a toddler, had difficulty returning to her routine of sleeping alone in her crib. Bunking with mom and dad while away from home was probably to blame. We had no choice in the matter since space was scarce in my mother-in-law’s already overcrowded home.

I’d read in a book that was my parenting bible at the time, that I shouldn’t remove my child from her crib when she cried, begging to sleep in mine. Rather, I should return to her side in 20-minute intervals to comfort her until she fell asleep. This had worked before our vacation; I was certain it would continue to work again.

My husband was not as convinced. In fact, he was adamant it wouldn’t.

That was one of the very few times I angered my husband.

In utter disgust and disbelief, he stormed off saying he’d rather sleep downstairs if I didn’t give in to our daughter’s pitiful cries. And they were pitiful. Trust me. They were.

However monstrous I might’ve seemed to my loved ones at the time, I knew the long-term result would benefit our child. And it has.

My daughter has confidently traveled the country and Canada since she was 14, pursuing the dance career she now enjoys. She slept in dorms with strangers as roommates. Since she was 18 she has lived on her own, 3,000 miles separating her from us.

She still dreams of living abroad some day.

And as for our relationship?

Our love for one another has grown exponentially over the years!!!

I don’t suggest it’s my way…or the highway. Parents need to do what feels instinctively right in their guts.

…and my instincts suit my guts…just fine…

………hugmamma.

task-reward…task-reward

My husband’s advice to my blogging addiction is “allocate time and reward myself with blogging.” He, saint that he is, cares not a fig that I haven’t cleaned the bathrooms yet, or pulled out more than a handful of weeds. Yes, I did treat Mocha to a long, long walk to the creek and back, but I got no housework done and didn’t congregate with the birds and the bees in the garden as I promised myself, and you, I’d do. And here it is, 3:36 a.m.

My husband’s a little crazed himself, however. He’s still awake, reading his e-book. But that’s because he already took his long nap, snoring in front of the TV last night. Between snippets of blogging here and there, I was watching “Say Yes to the Dress,” a bride’s reality show, and then HGTV’s “International House Hunters” marathon. Australian real estate was being featured. I couldn’t tear myself away until I’d seen which homes couples on a few of the segments chose to buy. And then, of course, I cleaned up the kitchen. Yes, I am still making dinners. Although tonight hubby picked up Chinese-to-go, Kung Pao Chicken, Fried Rice with Chinese Sausage, and Honey Walnut Prawns. Nothing gets in the way of a meal…not even blogging. It may be late, like breakfast, but skip a meal? Never!

I’m pretty sure our house is the only one in the neighborhood lit up like a Christmas tree all hours of the night. When I crawled under the covers a little while ago, before I turned the computer on again to write this, I told my husband I feel like an entertainer, up late at night, asleep until the sun has already risen to its lofty perch in the sky. No, not quite noon, but close enough to be sacrilegious. Heaven help anyone ringing my doorbell. The only answer they’ll get is barking, barking, barking.

Okay. Now that I’ve emptied my brain, I’m going to go to bed. Tonight I’ll be repeating “allocate time and reward myself with blogging…allocate time and reward myself with blogging…

allocate time and reward myself with…………………………………… ………………………..zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…………………………                                             

god bless the children

god bless the children

for they know not what they do,

bouncing basketballs at 9 on a sunday morning

while i’m trying to sleep in,

bears no weight with them.

god bless the children

for their glorious shouts of joy,

with each “hallellujah”

my brain reaches out anew.

god bless the children

for disturbing the sabbath’s peace,

god created them

so he must’ve had a clue.

god bless the children

they’re just being the little buggers,

god always meant them to be.

god bless the children

now that i’ve dragged myself from bed,

they’ve decided to call it quits.

god bless the children

their antics can make me nuts,

but you know what?

gotta love those kids

…and i do…hugmamma.

cat nap? wish i could

In another post, published on 1/12/11, “solution to insomnia? blogging!” I owned up to the fact that I’m an insomniac, not good for someone with Alzheimer’s in my genes. It’s been proven that 7 to 8 hours of restful night-time sleep is a must in fighting the dreaded disease. Another thing I’m working on, even as I type.

I still struggle to clear my mind as my head tosses and turns on the pillow. Last night it seemed to help that I kept repeating to myself, “melatonin, melatonin, melatonin.” For those of you out of the loop, melatonin is a natural supplement which aids sleeplessness. It’s actually present in us, in varying degrees. I guess those blest with more, sleep better; those like me, registering a deficit, lay awake counting, or not counting, sheep. Too lazy to get my body out of bed, to down the “wonder” pill, I opted for “mind over matter,” and said the word instead. It worked! I think the process is called meditation. Evidently that’s another helpful solution for insomnia. Hey, I’ll do anything, short of hitting myself over the head with a two-by-four!

I wish I could slide into “la, la land” as easily as cats seem to do. While their radars are probably still on “full alert,” their bodies look sublimely relaxed in repose. The following photos are of my ballerina daughter’s, adorably, photogenic, buddy Misha, named after the famous ballet dancer, Mikhail Baryshnikov. It’s hard resisting the urge to snatch him up and cuddle him without end. But as you can see, I resisted long enough to capture these sleeping images.

Too cute!

…too, too cute!!

Beyond cute!!! Absolutely precious!

And the little rascal always knows when we’re talking about him…

now if i could only take after my “grandson,”…hugmamma.

cure for insomnia?, blogging

I knew that once my daughter recovered from her health issues, and I recovered from mine, my brain cells would be on the move once again. At least I hoped. You can imagine how elated I am to be at my keyboard, virtually nonstop within recent, very recent, days. A writer, even one who dabbles like me, never wants to experience “writer’s block,” or worse, come to a virtual standstill. But while my faith might have wavered, I’m certain my family never doubted that I’d be back as “hugmamma.” Correction, let’s just say they were praying for my speedy recovery.

When my daughter was younger, she and my husband teased me about the multi-tome collection of books which I could pen, entitled “Life According to Mom.” That hasn’t happened, YET, but it’s for sure they don’t want to return to the days when they were the sole beneficiaries of my diatribes on life.

But aaahhh, how glorious it is to have my “grey matter” back working at almost tip-top capacity! Words that have been bottled up for too long are happily tumbling over one another, excited to be free, exhilarated to find their voice once more. And I’m only too thrilled to get them out of my overstuffed pantry of a brain. I love the little buggers, but they can be a real pain in the butt when I’m trying to doze off at midnight, 1 a.m., 2 a.m., 3 a.m.

The last words I consciously will myself to think are “Thank you God for all your blessings.” And then I try a few “Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee”s, since I don’t count sheep. But chiseling away at the furthest corners of my mind, with stealth and unrelenting determination are words, words of all sizes and meanings, infiltrating, and ultimately undermining my attempts to sleep. The battle wages on for hours, until exhausted, my brain and body give in to some much-needed “zzzzzzzzzzzsss!”   

but not this morning,… i’ve already posted 4 pieces, this being the 5th…hugmamma. (WRITING AND BLOGGING EMPTIES MY BRAIN OF WORDS, SO I CAN SLEEP AT NIGHT!)

crestor, beware…

For some time now, statins have been touted as an “elixir” for lowering cholesterol. Since February the FDA has also approved their use in helping to “prevent heart disease and stroke in people with normal cholesterol levels.” In a recent AARP article, Dr. Mehmet Oz explains that the decision was a result of a 5-year study of men 50 years and older, and women 60 and older, whose cholesterol was normal but who suffered high levels of C-reactive protein (CRP). “People with high levels of CRP have a greater risk of heart attacks, strokes, autoimmune disorders, and other maladies.” In the study, those taking the statin Crestor for approximately 2 years were 44% less likely to have heart attacks or strokes, than those who didn’t. Based on this finding, the research ended, and the statin was offered to the remainder of eligible adults.

The FDA’s decision isn’t without controversy. While statins can lower the level of LDL, bad cholesterol, they do little to raise the level of HDL, good cholesterol. Meanwhile they could cause “severe muscle pain and a 9 percent increase in the risk of type 2 diabetes.”

About 10 years ago I was put on the statin Lipitor to lower my cholesterol which stood at 195. Moving to another state 4 years later, I saw another doctor who took me off that statin because my liver enzyme count was slightly elevated. He put me on Crestor instead. Subsequently, I began experiencing an increase in muscle pain. I’m unsure when, but after that I heard on the local news that Asian women were at increased risk of severe muscle inflammation when using Crestor. I mentioned this to my doctor who had no measurable reaction, so I didn’t pursue the matter. As the pain became chronic, my doctor prescribed muscle relaxants which I took periodically. Their only benefit for me was that I got a good night’s sleep, but  awoke in the morning to the same pain.

When I moved back to my permanent home state, I started seeing a female, Asian internist. She too kept me on Crestor, despite my information of its debilitating effects on women of our ethnicity. After a couple of years, I switched to a doctor with whom I could communicate more effectively. 

I found such a physician in General Practitioner Dr. Kinnish, and I’m very fortunate to be under his current care. When I expressed concern that Crestor might be to blame for my ongoing muscle pain, he immediately ordered blood work and insisted I stop taking the statin. Surprised, I didn’t realize muscle pain could be analyzed by drawing a blood sample. When the results came back, Dr. Kinnish was astounded. The normal range for the CK, Serum test is 24-173, mine measured 1228!!! Needless to say, he kept me off Crestor and began re-checking my numbers regularly thereafter. In the ensuing months my levels dropped to 497, rose to 738, dropped to 419 then to 330 and finally to 223. I was headed in the right direction, so the doctor recommended I continue my regimen of healthy eating, exercising, and visiting the chiropractor and massage therapist as needed. I’m due for a follow-up next week, and am keeping my fingers crossed for a good report. (xxxxxxxxxxxxx)

Without the help of drugs, I’m working at reducing my cholesterol the old-fashioned way. Like Kinnish, “my other” doctor, Oz, recommends going back to basics. “Many of my patients have reduced their cholesterol levels (and blood-sugar levels) without the use of drugs by adhering to a diet low in saturated fat and by exercising regularly. …Statins remain a good option for people who, despite a sensible diet and ample exercise, can’t lower their LDL. But statins or no, a healthy lifestyle is the best way to fortify your heart.”

can’t go wrong with 2 great doctors…hugmamma.

hugmamma,m.d.

Here’s a bit of medical trivia. Just to set the record straight, I’ve returned to self-diagnosing my condition of a few days ago. Given my very close proximity to the patient, whose symptoms I’ve watched with extreme interest, it seems, in my “expert” opinion that I’ve been suffering from symptoms of “dry mouth.” Referring to my copy of  “The Merck Manual of Patient Symptoms”, it seems likely that my dry eyes, dry skin, rash on my eyelid and neck, and decrease in saliva may be owing to “dry mouth.” In my case it is probably due in large part to Claritin, an antihistamine I’ve been taking for a couple of months to combat allergies. Under GERIATRIC ESSENTIALS, the book claims that “…dry mouth becomes more common among the elderly,…probably due to the…many drugs typically used by the elderly rather than aging itself.” And I am getting elderly.

A walk-in-clinic physician at Philadelphia’s airport had prescribed Claritin. I’d been suffering allergy symptoms for some time, without realizing it. I know I’m affected by seasonal changes, but they seem to occur without my taking notice. Only after I’m forced to see a doctor for relief, am I aware that allergy season is in “full swing.” Not wanting to ruin my trip to Venice, I did as the doctor prescribed. Claritin was added to my daily intake of vitamin supplements. Who could know that it would cause an altogether different ailment, like “dry mouth.”

In the recent visit to my own GP, the symptoms hadn’t yet fully developed. So my doctor felt I was still suffering allergy symptoms and prescribed Benadryl when needed, in addition to continuing the Claritin. So after doing what I was told by 2 physicians, and still not  finding relief from the problem, I’ve decided to follow my own advice for now. I discontinued taking both antihistamines. We’ll see. As of now, my diagnosis and prescription seem to be working. Oh, and I should probably be getting more sleep, according to Merck. Well, that may be a difficult pill to swallow with my recent appetite for blogging. It’s now 2 a.m. 

I don’t take medical conditions lightly, although I address them with “tongue-in-cheek” humor. But I am a proponent of being an active participant in my own well-being. I heed expert advice, but I question it and continually assess my symptoms to make certain that my health is improving. Doctors offer their best-educated opinions in the moment, but they are not experiencing it first-hand. I know what I’m feeling all the time. I wish my medical team lived with me 24/7, but they don’t, so I’m the next best thing.

I can see the next patient now…hugmamma