Monday, September 19, 2011

Counting Sheep

Connor's in another major run of insomnia right now (a side effect of his seizure medication), so my brain isn't really firing on all cylinders at the moment.  I've reached the point where I start forgetting words; I'll know exactly what it is that I want to say but I won't be able to put together a sentence coherent enough to actually get my point across.  So I find myself saying things like "Put Connor on that, um, that thing you sit down on over there" instead of using large vocabulary words like "couch."

Usually the little guy doesn't go for more than four or five days in a row before he crashes and sleeps for sixteen or seventeen hours straight.  I've learned to take advantage of those days and get as much catching up done on my sleep too, as he's usually back to being up all hours within three or four days.  We've been dealing with this issue for a couple of years now, but it's only been really constant for the last six months or so.

While Connor is able to stay up until two in the morning three or four nights in a row and then suddenly start going to bed at eight, my body doesn't adjust to bedtime changes quite so quickly any more-- I find myself lying in bed staring at the ceiling long past midnight while my child happily snoozes away.  And as much as I'd like to, I can't go to bed while he's awake, even if he's just happily cooing away to himself.  Connor only has seizures while he's awake, so that means one of us has to stay up with him.  Since I don't have to drive to work early in the mornings, on weekdays this means me.

I think the insomnia is one of the most difficult things for me to deal with as far as Connor's special needs go, because it really saps my reserves.  It makes everyday tasks just a little bit more difficult than they otherwise would be, and I don't have as much patience when things go wrong.  I find myself phasing out of conversations, or going on "autopilot" and driving home when I was supposed to be going to the grocery store.  There's only so much caffeine I can drink before it doesn't do me any good any more.

It's gotten to the point where sleep is so important for my daily functioning I've started using my respite care time to catch up on it.  Sure, using it that way doesn't help my social life any and it certainly doesn't help my errands get finished or the chores done, but it does help preserve my sanity so that everything else doesn't seem like such a huge task.  I'm amazed at the difference it makes in my mood, productivity, alertness and even my appetite when I get a couple of blissful nights of real shuteye.  Certainly it improves my writing.

And apparently if I didn't take drastic measures to catch up on sleep, I'd be increasing my risk of obesity, colon cancer, breast cancer, heart disease and diabetes in a big way.  Who knew?  Suddenly using my respite care to snooze doesn't seem like such a bad idea after all.  Sleep seems like one of those little things that isn't all that important, but I'm amazed at the difference it can make.  If I don't get my dishwasher loaded, or stop and pick up more eggs, it's not going to potentially ruin my health. 

And if I don't take care of myself, taking care of Connor is going to become a whole lot more difficult.



You can find Jess daily at her blog, Connor's Song.



  1. I think this is a huge issue for many families -- and sleep is so critical to being able to function and support our kids.
    We did an interesting interview with the mom of a child who is up every night for 4-5 hours in the middle of the night.
    I hope you are able to get more relief soon! Using respite hours is good, but it's not enough!

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