Talk of Circadian Rhythms…

I’m kind of sorry I used lyrics from this song already for a title, because I don’t like repeats (most of my titles are song lyrics. Not all. But most. If you’re bored, try to identify them without Googling. Of course you’re bored, you’re reading this!).
So, as many of my past entries have made abundantly clear, I have persistent insomnia. Not just a little, a lot. I’ve been this way since I was a wee little tot (a comment in my baby book reads “Kelly always wants to play when we’re ready to go to bed”), and I’ve never shaken it. I am a vampire bat, a night owl, whatever.  The last few years, though, it’s gotten progressively worse. I’ve tried just about all the prescription and non-prescription sleep aids available (I almost needed more lines to write them down on the questionnaire from the sleep specialist, and I was writing SMALL). I have tried bed being ONLY FOR TEH SLEEPING (no reading blah blah blah GOD get your minds out of the gutter), I’ve tried hot tea (gag), hot milk (ok, not really, the thought of drinking milk at all and especially warm makes me throw up in my mouth a little), beer, wine, hard liquor, weed, painkillers, benzodiazepines, decongestants, antihistamines, old-school antidepressants, natural remedies, dark, light, pets, no pets, it doesn’t fucking matter. All that changes is (a) what room of the house I stay awake in and (b) level of morning hangover.

I had a sleep study. The only good thing about it was that it was scheduled the week we had all the stupid carpet fans and it was a night of quiet. So at least I didn’t need noise-canceling headphones to hear myself think too much. However, these sleep study people needed to get their shit together. Apparently, this is a $10K test.  Their deal with the insurance company means they write off about $8K. But they expect you to pay…UP FRONT…the remaining $2K because who has met their deductible by the beginning of February? Right. They break this news to me about 8 hours before I’m supposed to show up. I can’t remember if I actually said on the phone out loud “what do you expect me to do, just shit 2 grand?” I might have. Anyway, I had to call my dad and ask for help, which I fucking hate doing and which I especially hate doing when I really need it right then. Because no matter how much he says he is willing to help out with the medical bills, you can still hear the sphincter puckering when you say “hey I need money right now.” (My dad has plenty of money, because he was a stingy bastard while I was growing up. I think he’s only spending it now because he doesn’t want my stepmother to get any. They hate each other but he won’t get divorced because then he would have to pay her a lot. I guess the pre-nup vested or maybe I missed the part about he has to pay if it’s his idea. I mean, he left it sitting out in the open on his desk, of course I fucking read it. I was 19 at the time but I’d still do the same thing. I didn’t look for it, it was really just stuck in this pencil holder/light thingy on his desk with “PRENUPTIAL AGREEMENT” in big letters at the top. But I digress.)

So I report to the sleep center at 8:15 p.m. One of the pieces of paper from them said 8:00 p.m. check in, one said 8:30, so I just showed up in the middle. In case anyone ever has to do this, yes, you can bring your own pillows and pajamas and whatever you want, really. (Well, maybe not a bong. I didn’t ask.)  I had to have it done at a hospital, because my insurance requires that an actual doctor be present and not just a tech. Ok, I don’t die in my sleep every night, so why the shit do I need a doctor on site? Ugh. The room was pretty tiny. It had cinderblock walls painted this gross pastel yellow, ugly non-matching sheets, flat-ass pillows (I was glad I brought a couple of mine), an ancient TV which may have really been a surveillance camera, and a nightstand mostly taken up by a CPAP machine and some other random medical equipment. The bed was ok, I guess, and they did manage to find at least one fluffier pillow. They adjusted the temperature to your liking, there was a bathroom outside the door, and it was super-dark with the lights out.

After I checked in, the tech explained what they would be doing, and then started hooking me up to about 80000 wires. There is one big wire coming out of your head, which they glue on there with some Vaseline-type goop that takes a LONG TIME to wash out. Then he starts with some peel-and-stick electrodes. I told him that I’m a little sensitive to adhesives (by which I mean welts and itching and the worst scar from having my gallbladder removed came from a bandaid covering one of the incisions), and asked if these were going to irritate my skin. My concern stemmed largely from the fact that he was gluing this shit to my FACE. He swore that no one ever had a bad reaction. I noticed irritation the next morning, but it wasn’t that bad. The oxygen sensor under my nose wouldn’t stay put. The wires kind of wrap around your head, and I was pretty sure it was going to be like being garroted, because they attach them to this power strip thing that they drape over the headboard. They also attach wires to your legs and arms and put some straps on either side of your boobs. I think I need a bra made out of those. After all this stuff is hooked all over you, they’re like, “Okay, now just go to sleep!”


I am here for insomnia and I am not in my own bed and there’s no kitty and I am seriously going to choke on these motherfucking wires.

It took me 158 minutes to fall asleep from the time they turned out the lights (which was around 10 p.m.). There is deliberately no clock, but I had my Kindle and my iPod and my phone. 158 minutes = almost 3 hours…and this is after I took an Ambien. Then apparently they said I quit breathing a few times and had almost no deep sleep and my oxygen saturation was low. I’m not entirely sure it’s as low as they proclaim, because those sensors were fucked up and not attached right. So I go into the clinic with the nurse practitioner to go over the results. I deliberately made an EARLY appointment. I ended up being a few minutes late (like 5) because I forgot that the building was past the second stoplight and drove around a few times looking for it. Then I’m sitting there. WAITING. And I mention to the receptionist that I said I’d make this appointment but only if I didn’t have to wait very long because I’ve missed enough work already.  I’m sure the nurse practitioner was mad about having to actually start her job on time. Then she starts with this “you need a CPAP (oxygen) mask” routine, and I start crying. First of all, there is not one thing attractive about the mask. It looks like Darth Vader has middle school orthodontic headgear. Second, I have to have everything JUST SO to even consider sleeping, which includes the pillows being in a certain order and the sheets tucked a certain way and no socks and almost no light and my favorite blanket, and even then it takes me hours to sleep, and she wants me to add some suffocating-looking robot mask to this? I explained to her that the reason I even HAD the study done in the first place was because I CANNOT GO TO FUCKING SLEEP AND FOUR HOURS ISN’T CUTTING IT ANYMORE.

Then they finally decide to refer me to an actual doctor.

The actual doctor was wonderful. He read (and even highlighted) the questionnaire I filled out (which was at least the third such document). He asked how long the problem had been going on (my whole life) and which one of my parents was the night owl (my dad, but the real one is my gramma – my mom’s mother – I loved going to visit her, she let me stay up all night watching Benny Hill and Charles and Diana and eating junk food). He said that what I have is a circadian rhythm disorder, and that unless I want to get a graveyard-shift job, I had to follow some steps.  Step One: Cut a hole in a box…kidding. He has prescribed a regimen that involves melatonin (which he says people mostly are doing it wrong…you need to take it 2 hours before bedtime, or you are fucking up your clock). I am supposed to take it at 8:30 pm (that’s SO EARLY), then no more bright lights until I go to bed.  Bright lights include the TV, my Kindle, the computer, overhead lights, etc. If I can’t dim the lights, I have to wear sunglasses at night. (So I can, so I can keep track of visions in my mind….ok fine he didn’t sing the song.) Then, when I get up, I either have to go outside for 30 minutes or use a special sun-light for 30 minutes. Regular overhead lights aren’t adequate. Allegedly, if I do this for a few months (!!!), I will be able to reset my internal clock.

I really hope he’s right. I mean, I’m ok with midnight to 6:45. I’m just not functioning well with 2:45 to 6:45. My happy light and melatonin and Kindle Paperwhite arrive tomorrow. So fingers crossed that this is the last midnight-not-a-sound-from-the-pavement entry for a while.

PS – Maybe I don’t really need the Kindle Paperwhite but I like new gadgets.

PPS – Maybe I also ordered some shoes. I’m just REPLACING the ones that the broken pipe ruined. PINKY SWEARS.

PPPS – Amazon is pissing me off lately, or maybe it’s UPS, but my two-day-shipped replacement boots were supposed to be here last Wednesday and finally arrived today. Weather delays my ass.

Song of the Day: “Bravado” – Lorde
Today’s Time Waster: Need to post this on the fridge or something.
What I’m Craving: Marshmallow Peeps. I have only eaten ONE package of green bunnies. I believe this shows remarkable self control and also does not mention the micro Reese’s cups. Feelings are hungry. Insomnia is hungry. Depression wants to live at Golden Corral with its mouth under the chocolate fountain.


3 comments on “Talk of Circadian Rhythms…

  1. THANK YOU for this post. I have been dealing with the same crap for the last couple of years. Barely getting through work; everything else is suffering badly – school, home, social life. It’s 2 AM now (wide fucking awake) and I have to get up in 4 hours and go to work and then straight to school until 9 PM. Epic fail much? I’ve been saying that my circadian rhythm must be based on a 30-hour day, so utterly frustrating. Can’t sleep when I need to, nodding off when I need to be awake. Aarrrghhh!

    I haven’t done a sleep test, because I don’t want the mask. Scared to try sleep aids (pills), but I have considered trying melatonin. What is your dosage?

    I hope to god your doctor’s prescribed treatment works. Any tips you can pass along would be so appreciated.

    Sleep well.

  2. If your circadian rhythms are fucked, none of the sleeping pills will work worth a shit. I’ve tried almost all of them. Ambien was the most effective, but not infallible. Dr. said to take 3-5 mg 2 hours before bed, no bright lights (HI I AM A GREMLIN, also should stop eating after midnight, lawl), then natural light or light box in the morning. Should start this in the next few days, and I’ll definitely post an update.


  3. I like how you interject the songs in your tale. I caught myself singing them. I’m sure you have tried everything, but have you had all the thyroid panels ran (including the TPO Antibody test and the test for Graves disease) and tested your adrenals? That is my two cents. Have you had any luck with the melatonin? It worked for me for a little bit and then I didn’t think it worked at all.
    Thankfully my insomnia has gotten a lot better, except being here in the Plastic Palace and sleeping on this sucky air mattress, freezing, is not conducive to sleep. So I watched Veronica Mars episodes until 4 AM and then get mad at myself when I find it impossible to get up at 8. oy vey!

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