By:  Jana Greene

                Last night was a  self-choreography of tossing, turning, fitfulness.  Like synchronized swimming in the bed.    

                Yet, the sun still came up this morning, right on time.

                Last night, when I scrootched in bed next to my sleepy husband around 10:00 p.m., the possibility of slumber seemed promising.  I was in peaceful spirits because I had made it through the entire day without any pain medication at all.  For over a month, I had been weaning down to only one-half tablet per day at bedtime for pain due to a surgical procedure.  But not today, I thought, triumphantly.   This pain, I can handle.

                I tried to get comfortable, as the mild throbbing in my leg intensified.  Sleeping in the orthopedic boot is as awkward as sleeping with one of those giant “#1!” foam fingers you see waved around at football games strapped to your leg, if that foam finger were made of brick.  Still, I can usually manage to sleep a little.

                Not tonight.  It is now 1:00 in the morning.

                The pain is spread like a rash in my bones.  I take three Advil, and wait for them to negotiate with the pain.

                Meanwhile, I move my spastic-ness to the living room couch and try to settle in there.  There’s no point in keeping my hubby up as well.  Our dog – an elderly Golden Retriever with a lapdog mentality, tries to jump on the couch next to me.    I scold her.  She slurps me with a kiss to the face anyway, because, honestly, Golden Retrievers don’t know any other way to react except with love.  I could learn a lot from my dog.

                On this night, the Advil is a crappy negotiator.  I take the boot off, but my ankle feels too vulnerable.

                 So, I put the boot back on, and it feels heavy on the hardware in my leg, like there is no flesh between it and the titanium plate.

 I don’t feel like “#1!”

                I start to worry about things, because the peace in my tired mind had vacated hours ago.  One anxious thought leads to another until the soundtrack to my mind goes something like this:  

I wonder if I took enough chicken out to defrost last night. Did I remember to feed the cat?  I wonder if Blues Traveler broke up, or if they might be touring?  I like harmonica music.  Hmmmm…..What bills have I not paid yet?    What if our kids live with us forever and never fly the nest? (this is when the thoughts took a turn for the worse, I think.)   OHNO!  How can Bob and I make them NOT WANT TO live at home forever?  We make things way too easy for these girls…..How much RENT should we charge them?  Oh, no….but I WILL MISS THEM when the nest is EMPTY!  When should I look for another job?  WHAT IF I DON”T FIND ANOTHER JOB???  Why is the economy so bad?  Where will the price of gas level out?  WHAT IF I NEVER WALK ON MY ANKLE NORMALLY AGAIN AND   WHAT IF I CAN”T LOSE THESE FIFTEEN POUNDS AND NEVER BRING MY TRYGLICERIDES DOWN AND OHMYGOSH, I”VE BLOGGED EVERY DETAIL OF MY LIFE AND WHY DID I DO THAT???”……

                You get the idea.

                3:34 in the a.m. now.

                My oldest daughter be-bops out of her room to go to the bathroom down the hall and sees me on the sofa.  I shut my eyes quickly and try to fake sleep (oh how the tables do turn)…..it’s too late. She lights up like a Christmas tree.

                “You have insomnia too, Mom?”  She beams, like we’ve both been invited to a Prince’s ball, instead of sentenced to a night without sleep. 

                Because usually, when neither she nor I  can sleep, we agree to watch a movie, or play Scrabble together, or look at funny pictures of animals saying captioned things on the internet until one of us gets sleepy.  She is young, at that glorious time in life in which she can choose to eat or not eat what she wants.  Sleep or not sleep.  It makes no difference to her body….yet. 

                No, I grouse at her, turning over on the couch.  Not tonight

Then, it comes, the slightest hint of drowsiness, as if someone is pouring sleep over my head.  Ah….sweet, sweet slumber.  Sleepiness is warm, I think, pulling my soft blanket up and smiling a bit.  Really warm.  Whew…..I kick off the blanket, panting.  Dammit!  This is not sleepiness!

                HOT. FLASH. 

                If these villians all formed an alliance to combat the superhero of Sleep…they would be Pain, Anxiety and Menopause. 

And they were attempting to take up headquarters in my body! 

                I start to cry a little now, because I am being slowly drenched in sweat, and I’m already miserably tired.  Sometimes I have to get to the point of crying to remember to pray, and this was one of those times.

                I began to pray for myself.  I asked that God would help me combat the forces keeping me awake.  Ouch, Lord.  Ouch!  And a hot flash, really?   But as I pray, I began thinking about all of the people I am blessed to know who are standing in much bigger need of prayer.  I didn’t really want to , to be truthful.  I wanted to complain and be grumpy.  But….Names and faces, appearing in  my mind, rapid-fire….until there is no room to worry about lesser things.   I lay still (and blanket-less) and try to concentrate. 

I see the face of a friend who is in the intensive care unit in a hospital in Chapel Hill, fighting for her life.  Pray.   I think of my three closest friends, and the battles they are going through right this very minute, real issues with potentially lasting implications, and I ask God’s guidance for each of them by name.  Several long-distance friends from high-school, brought back into my life via the miracle of Facebook, who stand in the need of prayer two-thousand miles away…..please, Lord, hear their cries.

Miles are no hindrance to God.  And neither are units of time….hours, minutes, seconds…time that I’ve designated for sleeping.  Maybe He had designs on my insomnia for other purposes.  Maybe for prayer.  

There was no sleeping last night, and I will stumble around today with Uncle-Fester-esque circles under my eyes.  I will also most likely be a bit ill-tempered with sleep deprivation.   But as I write this, my elderly Golden Retriever is wrapped around my feet, not seeming to mind the awkward orthopedic boot under her head, not seeming to mind that I wouldn’t let her on the couch with me last night.  She is sleeping, not a worry in the world.

I could learn a lot from my dog.

5 thoughts on “Sleepless

  1. Well, on a good note..it may feel like you are alone in the middle of the night. All the while I was on my couch playing pogo games to entertain my mind. This too shall pass but I know all to often not soon enough at times or as an addict/alcoholic (speaking of me) I want instant gratification. Meaning, yea yea I know this too shall pass, but I want it to pass right now!!!!

    If it doesn’t, it’s okay. You woke this morning grumpy or not, put your feet on the ground and got up.

    Love you dear friend,


  2. Girl…you nailed insomnia PERFECTLY and the anxiety it provokes and the pre-fear of exhaustion it leaves in it’s path. Insomina=anxiety=fear of future exhaustion=more insomnia, etc… Bodies too tired or unable to get things done, and minds to BUSY w/a zillion thoughts to rest. It’s the Yin-Yang of the night time world. Look out your window at 1 am. Most bedrooms are pitch dark. But I guarantee, out there in the world, there as other restless souls, who are roaming the darkness, (if only in their minds) grasping at the same futile straws, dreaming of…..well, morning. Wishing you good ZZZZZZs tonight….even if it’s in fits and spurts, I hope the “grand total” of sleep can be assimilated into an amazing day for you tomorrow!! And good hugs to sweet Emmy…..our furry friends get us thru!


  3. Wow! Even though you had a awful night, you still can word it sooo eloquently and I feel inside your mind! You have such a GIFT of expressing yourself beautifully!
    I will definitely keep praying for your ankle. Sounds like bad pain. :o( And I will pray for sound sleeping nights!!
    I am sorry to hear you are suffering so. Hurts my heart for you. You are an angel to us through your words!

    love you!


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