Sleepless

Zebra

My joints were so swollen and painful last night that I got little to no sleep. No matter what position I tried and how many pillows and blankets I used to bolster my limbs, I could not find relief or comfort. Joint pain attributable to Elhers-Danlos Syndrome does not always adhere to a predictable pattern; rather, it flares up and subsides somewhat randomly both in its chronic course and its acute bouts. My fall on Monday certainly didn’t help anything, but it also isn’t the sole culprit. Some of the pain experienced during exacerbations is idiopathic.

In addition to pain, I was wound up last night: My mom had come in the early afternoon to spend time with me and also bring me to the DMV to renew my license prior to my birthday. While my license was still active and I could have driven myself, given my challenges with driving lately, and the stress and waiting at the DMV is notorious for, I gladly took my mom up on her offer for the ride and company. I’ve been procrastinating on going and reluctant to take the requisite time off of work.

The visit was well worth the compromise on my routine. Spending time with my mom always invigorates and recharges my spirit, even if half of it involves navigating to a crowded DMV in a run-down and unfamiliar area and waiting in a nonsensical line together. I’m relieved my mom was there, both because I don’t think I could have made that unknown drive alone with all of the detours and road work areas we encountered, but also because once my number was called and we were up at the counter, the guy instructed each step of the process so quickly and briefly that I found myself instantly overwhelmed. Mom’s company kept my anxiety down and helped prevent any miscommunications or missteps that might have landed me back at the end of the line to redo my mistakes. In the end, we got the license renewed relatively easily and left with a temporary one with a new photo that finally will replace the flushed, football linebacker-like mug I carried around for ten years. I think most adults regret the changes that aging brings to their once-per-decade photos, but I’m glad. Mom’s comment in response to seeing my old photo was, “wow! You must have been overwhelmed by the whole DMV experience when they took this shot!”

Despite the DMV success, whenever I spend time in a car lately, regardless as to whether I’m the driver or passenger, my brain can’t calm down at night. The underside of my closed eyelids is a constant barrage of rapidly-flickering images and “movie reels” from the road earlier. I see cars whizzing by, roadways, license plates, guard rails, and red lights. I can’t rid the motions and swirling images from my mind, even with my most concerted efforts to relax, meditate, watch TV, read, etc. As mentioned, I feel completely wired and wound up once I try to sleep. I tossed hour upon hour, attempting to ignore the dwindling time before I’d be up in the morning while I begged my brain to just turn off and yield to the rest.

These efforts were fruitless until around 2:10am, yet I was wide awake again at 3:08, ready to begin the day. Today has the makings of a tough and tired day! At least it is Friday and I won’t feel the full magnitude of the resultant fatigue until later this afternoon. When I see the doctor on Monday, I’m going to remember to bring up the recent car issue and see if he can make any sense of what’s going on or what I can do about it. My attitude adjustment for today needs to shift from “I’m exhausted because I had too much pain and sensory overload to sleep” to “at least it’s daytime, so it’s normal that I’m awake and my brain is kicking!”

 

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