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Art Book Camp Quarantine Sleep Apnea writing

Book Camp 2020, Day 4

If you have followed the blog for a little while, you may be wondering how my sleepiness works with Book Camp, particularly with early starts and late stops each day. It’s a bit of worthwhile struggle. Yesterday I experienced high-sleep-pressure that hit suddenly in the early afternoon. My blood felt like glue. My brain felt like mud. My limbs and eyes felt too heavy to manage.

Per my work arrangement, I contacted my manager and let them know the situation. They allowed me to take immediate leave. I then slept for two hours and forty-five minutes, after which I arose (with all the same old feelings of guilt and grossness) and put the day back together.

That’s the big difference. Before treatment, I wouldn’t have been working. We would have started camp late morning and I would have napped in the afternoon and all evening would be as vegetative as I could make it. The A.D. really pitched in after work. Now, our first camp event of the day is at 7 am, the kids work while I do, we lunch together, we continue an array of work (theirs being instruments and assignments and group write and then fun like X-Box and anime), we reconvene for a book camp intensive when I get off work, we prepare dinner, and we have an inning before scuttling everyone off to lights out.

All in all, the treatments are making a tremendous difference. So when a sleep attack strikes, as it did yesterday, I feel on the one hand I ought not complain. On the other hand, I also feel like it’s an imposition on my workplace with cascading impacts on the rest of life.

But enough about me and my sleep.

Thursday began with a sleepheaded start for a few campers, but we managed to get in our 7 am time. Today is our last day studying A is for Adapt, and the campers adapted themselves. They used a worksheet to describe their lives as they currently exist and then used the same worksheet to choose a genre, descriptors, and characters for an adaptation of their nonfictional lives into fiction. Next, they each wrote a fictional story that adapted themselves (individually) into a fictional setting or situation.

Day four in B is for Business had the campers learning the roles of literary agents and subsidiary rights agents. Their exercises were to 1) write and email me a query letter based on their own work of fiction or a published work and then 2) evaluate their query letters based on some specific questions. When did you get bored reading the letter? When did you stop or want to stop reading? Why? Was it a typo? An offense? A ludicrous story? Bad grammar? What would compel you to request more material?

As I type, the campers are eking out some last drops of anime watching, their assignments all turned in, while they forage for leftovers to satisfy their gnawing hunger.

After dinner we will play games and eat candy and laugh and probably someone might cry. Five alpha campers plus two competitive directors equals someone might cry on game night. It might be me!

But before I go I must share with you what Cheese Ball did last night. He (with permission) cut apart an old pair of very skinny jeans. Then he hand-sewed them, cut in a thumb hole, and cut holes for laces. He scavenged laces from shoes that no longer fit and laced up these lovely gauntlets modeled for a character in the group write. They are adjustable so all the campers can wear them. How cool is that?

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Anxiety and Depression Sleep Apnea Uncategorized

Wakeful

A while ago I wrote about being sleepy. I now have an answer, a reason for all that sleepiness: sleep apnea. It’s not sexy, but it’s also not conversion disorder, which was my big fear.

So there’s something actually wrong that the data supports, and you cannot imagine how exciting that is to someone who has dealt with conversion disorder. It’s a sort of validation. That my anxiety is not so all-powerful that it is changing the way I sleep or forcing me to sleep throughout the day.

My CPAP machine has not yet been delivered, but I’ve been coping for a little while now on a new medication. In my Sleepy post, I mentioned a sample. I since received a prescription for a medication called Sunosi. I first took a sample dose in late November and began a prescription in December.

I cannot tell you whether anyone else should ever take this medication, but I can tell you my experience. Precious little is written anecdotally about this medication on the internet as of today, as I found when it was first prescribed for me.

If you want to read about Sunosi and its mechanism for working, its risks, and all that, go here. If you want to know what it has been like to take the medication, read on.

The medication begins at a small dose and increases at intervals until the patient is taking the highest indicated dose. During that transitional period, I had my first passes with being awake, really awake, in a long time. But I also experienced crashes. A few to several hours after a dose, I would crash and all my sleep pressure would tumble down on me with force. However, once I settled on my highest dose for a couple of weeks, the crashes disappeared. The medication granted me about nine hours of alert wakefulness, which was amazing, truly, but I thought there might be a way to extend my day.

I asked and was given permission by my doctor to take half of my dose in the morning and the other half six hours later. This was when a switch flipped in my life. I went from sleeping 14-16 hours every day to being awake 13-15 hours. Most days, no naps.

Now when I am awake, I am alert and capable. I don’t see life through a haze. I am engaged with the people in my life and with my work. I arise in the morning and go to bed in the evening, and it feels terrific.

For a long time, sleeping, particularly daytime sleeping, has felt to me like my own moral failure. Now I see that morality has nothing to do with this situation. My depression is in as small a place as it’s been in years, maybe ever. My anxiety doesn’t overwhelm me often; I’ve had one panic attack in two months. Despite feeling like I went to sleep in my thirties and awoke in my forties, I am more positive, motivated, and assured than I have felt in so very long.

I look forward to getting the CPAP machine. I look forward to oxygenating my brain and body throughout a night of sleep. I am eager to see how that impacts my life. (And, yes, I know it may be a bumpy road.)

But, y’all, being awake is nothing short of inspiring. If you’re struggling with oversleeping, see your doctor. See a sleep doctor. Get help, because help exists. You do not have to sleep through all of your life. You can carve out times to be present and available and awake.

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