Around and Around We Go

Ugh. I think I am suffering from lack-of-sleep-whiplash . . . if such a thing exists. This state is defined by how one feels when you go to bed very late and get only a few hours sleep. Going to bed really late isn’t pleasent, but the next day feels even worse–that’s the whiplash. The condition is marked by lack of energy, lack of motivation, and severe lack of concentration. Doing the most mundane chores seems to require supreme effort. Any kind of productive or thought intensive activity feels beyond the pale.

So, Grandma’s blood pressure has not become better. It went so high in the past few days that she had me take her to the emergency room twice. Both times her blood pressure peaked out at around 240 (for the top number–whatever the technical term is for it). Grandma and her doctor are trying to re-jig her medication, trying different things in different doses to get things under control again.

The first of the recent two trips to the emergency room was Saturday night. We went in around 8:30 and got out at about 2:45 AM. About six hours in the emergency room. End result: One pill. They gave Grandma one pill that took her blood pressure back down for the night.

I got to sleep that night (morning) by 4:00 AM and slept until 8:00 AM. Four hours of sleep. I went home on Sunday feeling the lack. Got approximately (but probably not quite) eight hours of sleep Sunday night. Then Monday we went into the emergency room again.

We reached the emergency room at 6:20 PM on Monday and were not released until around 1:20 AM. Seven hours in the emergency room. End result: Nothing. Grandma took enough various medications before we left that it eventually came down all by itself. (However, when we were first admitted to the emergency room it was still running over 240.)

I got to sleep at about 3:00 AM and woke up at 8:30 AM. It is at times like these I wish I had the unfailing ability of my siblings to sleep in til noon when the situation requires. But no. I wake up to the sound of Grandpa making noise in the kitchen and I know that even if I wanted to go back to sleep I probably couldn’t, and in any case my conscience won’t allow me, as I will lay in bed wondering if someone is taking care of him properly. So I get up. Five and a half hours of sleep.

I feel really weird the rest of the day. When you get that behind on sleep you can tell there is a chemical imbalance in your body. It manifests in a complete lack of energy and ability to think, but also the sensation that it would feel really good to simply pass out about right now.

So far in this stint as care-giver I have avoided propping myself up with coffee except on vital occasions such as a long drive when I must not fall asleep. I have avoided caffeine because I don’t want to become completely dependent on it to function. But if this kind of sleep deprivation continues I might crack.

The first nearly all-nighter at the emergency room didn’t hit too bad the same night. I got my second wind and survived through it all without feeling too tired. All reserves were depleted the second time. By midnight on the second visit I ran out of steam. I slumped down in my chair and for about the last half hour and dozed unpleasantly amidst all the noise and lights.

Waiting in an emergency room is a particular form of torture. If you knew that your situation is being tended to and that you are waiting while something is actually being done the waiting can be bearable. But when you sit there waiting for hours at a time without anyone telling you what is going on, or giving any indication that they are working on your situation . . . it begins to feel like a very cruel farce.

I try to pick up normal life immediately after events like this. It never works perfectly, but sometimes you just have to let go entirely. Trying to will yourself to work normally on a very large deficit of sleep becomes an impossibility that only breeds frustration. Past a certain point you can’t sit at your keyboard and work–you end up sitting at your keyboard and falling asleep. Rather than becoming frustrated I have to remind myself to just let go. It can all wait. Things don’t have to get done on my time line.

Which means that instead of trying to do something this evening I should go to my bedroom immediately after supper and try to take a nap until Grandpa is ready to go to bed.


In other news Grandpa managed to injure is back a week or so ago. The pain has been bad enough that he has been willing to take pain medication. Which is saying something for Grandpa. The worst times the pain can just about leave him breathless.

I think it’s a pinched nerve, which he brought about by twisting his torso to reach for something. It effects him worst sitting down and getting up and lifting his feet. He has got a little better recently. On his worst night he couldn’t make it back to bed every time he came from the bathroom and I had to help him. I have taken the habit of sometimes walking behind him with my hands in his armpits to guide and stabilize him him, and, if necessary, take some of the weight off his feet if his back seizes up. I just about had to carry him to bed this way on the worst night.

Grandpa appreciates the support, though he is a bit nervous at the same time that somehow the assistance might hurt his back more. Even when his back is not bothering him in particular the action is both helpful and supportive when he is simply having a hard time moving his feet and gets “stuck.” If I pick up removing some of the weight from his own feet and then propel him forward he can get unstuck and half walk while I half carry him.

So now he has asked when he gets stuck on the way to the couch, “Will somebody come over here and give me a push.”

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