Thursday, August 23, 2012

Testimony, or The Doctor Was Right

My wrinkles are almost all gone. My skin has this--healthy--radiance. My eyes sparkle with life.

Do I sound like I'm having a late-in-life baby? Has the GNC guy finally sold me something worth the $20 for 30 pills he's always trying to talk me into? After ten years of reading Prevention magazine, did I say Yes and jump on the drink eight glasses of water a day bandwagon?

Wait. It gets better.

3 p.m. no longer finds me drooling and head bobbing, begging for a nap. My mind is now quick, nimble, sharp. When I hold my arms up over my head during my 30 minutes of Body by Bethenny, my hands no longer feel like they're made out of 25 pounds of red clay. Each.

Is it a new drug?

Yes it is. And it's called SLEEP. Sleep is the drug and I need some more.

For about 17 years now; coincidentally since the time my first baby was born, I have been falling asleep at the proverbial wheel. No place is off-limits; anywhere, in any body pose - I can do it. I can even fall asleep while you're talking to me and you'd never know I was grabbing a power-nap.

"... and so then I said to him Zzzzzzzz ..."

Finally, during my last physical exam, I begged my M.D. to please do some blood work, because for months now, I have been feeling more tired than Rip Van Winkle. Tired like I'm sledging through knee-deep mud in a celebrity boot camp training exercise. I knew there must be some thyroid/cholesterol/red blood cells/glycohemoglobin/iron stores thing going on inside my body. Something must be at the root of my mid-sentence segueing into a snore.

My Doctor's response was one I loved, "Well, you appear to be a healthy, well nourished female younger than your stated years (that was my favorite part). Your nail beds are pink and so are your inner eyelids. However, based on the look of concern you have on your face, I'll order some tests."

Yee-haw. I grinned - positive that there must be an organic cause to my fatigue, something beyond the surprise baby at age 42. I offered my hand up to my M.D. in a high-five. Or at least I wanted to. In actuality, I was too tired to do it live, so I just gave her one in my mind, feeling much too listless to raise my hand up off my paper-gowned lap.

My Doctor promised to call me as soon as the preliminary lab work was ready, which would be two to three days. Soon oh soon, I'd have that prescription of something that would give me back the pre-baby days of tireless, enthusiastic possibility. I couldn't wait and began taking notes for my eager beaver list of all that I knew I was going to get done: closet de-cluttering, yard weeding, photo organization, sparkling tile grout! Oh! the places I'll clean!

The bloodwork was drawn on Monday, and three days after that would be Thursday. I circled Thursday on my calendar in red crayon. The Big Day.

Thursday finally arrives, and my Doctor calls as promised:

Awesome M.D.: Good morning! I've got your blood results here. I can tell you pretty quickly what's going on.

Me::yawn:: Hi, Doctor. Thanks so much for calling. I've been waiting to find out.

Awesome M.D.:   Everything looks great. All readings within normal ranges. You are very healthy and the lab findings are right where they should be for your age.

Me:  Huh. Really. That's good news. Um ... I ... I just can't believe that everything looks so good and I'm dying here.

Awesome M.D.: Well, are you tired right now?

Me: Dead tired.

Awesome M.D.: How much sleep do you get a night?

Me: Like, all the time? Or, on average?

Awesome M.D.: Tell me how much sleep you get a night on average.

Me: It's not a good answer so I don't want to say it.

Awesome M.D. It's Okay. You can say it. No lectures.

Me: About five hours.

Awesome M.D.: Oh.

Me:  ::silence::  (He who speaks first loses. I learned this when I was working and I know it doesn't apply in this case but it's where my mind goes whenever there's silence.)

Awesome MD: Yeah. You need to get a lot more sleep than you do. You're tired because you're tired. Try seven or eight hours, and let's see how you feel. It'll make a big difference.

Me: (so red-faced you can hear it) Will do, Doc. Thank you.


I tried it.

And I liked it.

In bed by midnight, up by 7 a.m. Seven hours of sleep a night and I have less anxiety. I have enlightenment and vitality. I have energy.

I have awakened reserves in myself that I had forgotten I was capable of.

I have become considerate and kind toward others and my relationships have improved due to this limitless amount of patience I've found.

I handle conflicts constructively rather than the pre-sleeping response of and so what are you going to do about it?

I have become tranquil, tolerant, relaxed.

Naaah. I haven't. DNA is DNA.

But I can promise you this--I look a heck of a lot better now than any jar of $50 eye cream could ever make me. No more do mornings find me packing the only Coach bags I'll ever be able to afford--the ones under my eyes.  

Image via Flickr

--Thrilled to be featured on mamapedia today, with a post where my pain will hopefully be the source of a smile for you today. Read about what happens when the cutest boy I'd ever seen in college tries to convince me to fall in love with him. Painful, but not too painful. I hope you stop by!


  1. I can definitely relate. Exhaustion and fatigue have plagued me since 1981!

  2. It is amazing what a couple more hours can do! I sleep during the day and my eye baggage is getting pretty heavy, need to get some more hours myself :)


    If I meet Sleep again, I am so making out with it.

  4. sleep is def important...finding that out all the more now that i am in the makes sure i am tired enough...haha

    1. Isn't being tired so hard, B?

      I can't stand it.

      How is school going? How very exciting, and how blessed your students are. Congratulations.

  5. Oh how I love this. There's never enough time in the day and we sacrifice sleep to 'do it all'..I am also guilty of this ailment and made a promise to myself that starting in August it would be lights out for me at 10:30(right after the evening news because I'm old and cannot miss the evening news). I feel so much better!! xoxo

  6. I absolutely require a minimum of 7 hours. Ideally 9. I honestly don't care that I've got other things to do because if I don't get my sleep I'm a mess in the morning. This might also be a contributor to the fact that my blog is a disaster.

  7. Five hours a night? Gesh. I'd be a zombie. Don't think of sleep as losing hours of productivity — think of it as making your awake hours 10x more productive and pleasant.

    Sleep is a miracle drug. Glad to read you are finally getting your fix. Hopefully it will lead to a beneficial addiction.

    1. You know what? I LOVE thinking of it that way. It's not time lot, it's making my awake time more productive.

      THANK YOU.

      On my way to catch up.


  8. Ack! You've just diagnosed me too, Dr. Empress! I slept nearly all day yesterday, and wow did I need it! Today I have to go be with my mom, but I vow to get to bed by midnight. 5 hours just isn't enough.

    By the way, readers, don't be fooled - Alexandra looked lovely when we hung out at BlogHer this year. She does NOT have giant bags under her eyes. Maybe just little change purses, and it's impossible to get enough sleep there. And as she was my BlogHer roommate last year, I can testify that she even wakes up beautiful (inside & out).

    1. Oh, Varda. I am stealing that.

      Little change make me laugh.

      How is your mother? So sorry about her fall. I worry about that every day with mine.

  9. Suffering from the same ailment here...

    When I complained about it to my doctor, she told me that eventually my twins will start sleeping in later than 5:30am. I am waiting for that day... ;)

  10. I clicked on this because I needed to find out what sleep is. I haven't gotten it in nine years. I'd love to be more pleasant, have more beautiful skin, and all the things you described. I thought I was headed there, then at 41 I had a surprise baby. Sigh. I guess I will be almost 60 by the time I get any sleep again.

  11. Yes! This! I'm so glad you're sleeping. Isn't it wonderful? Sometimes that sick, masochistic part of me admires people who burn the midnight oil in order to "do it all"...but then I remember how miserable I feel when I don't get enough sleep. It's just not worth it.

  12. Isn't it amazing when "easy" solutions provide big payoffs? I'm glad you're getting more rest and that you aren't suffering from self diagnosed chronic fatigue.

  13. Sleep is amazing. My wife has a really hard time sleeping because of some chronic illnesses, and so we work really hard to nurture her sleep. Everything in our household goes a million times better when she has the rest she needs.

    Our toddler is 2.5, and we're getting more regular sleep's going to be hard to give it up if/when we decide to add any more little ones. But clearly, "deciding" sometimes gets trumped by just "happening."

  14. A, the lack of sleep undoes me. I cannot cope with anything. I am over emotional, and I have no patience. Five hours of sleep makes me absolutely miserable, and the circles under my eyes look like black eyes. I slept 7 glorious hours last night, and I feel great.

  15. Just buy the fake coach bags in the Chinese area of wherever you live. It's close enough.

    1. But Mr Handsome, then I WOULD know they're fake.

      Homie don't play that.

      Off to visit you...

  16. I just started grad school and I feel your pain. I forgot over the summer what it was like to be tired when all I had to do was work and then come home and do whatever I wanted. Last night when my husband asked what was wrong I was too tired to answer, so I just left the room and went to bed. I think I'm losing my glow. Any recommendations for someone who can't sleep like normal people?

  17. Ugh. Sleeeeeeeeeeeeep.I don't understand how my teens can willingly sacrifice it for videogames and tv! I want as much of it as I can possibly get!

  18. Yes and yes! Going through a stressful phase (aka, divorce) reminded me that sufficient sleep is as essential as food. Sometimes stress will rob of us this, but there are ways to deal with it.

  19. Because of his work schedule, my husband needs to go to bed early (like, early for grown-ups).

    He aims for 10:00 and he also aims for me to join him every night.

    (Not in a controlling way, in a "I like your company" kind of way which is sweet so I go with it.)

    This means that pretty much every evening, we get in bed by 10:00 and read until he falls asleep (five minutes) and then I do (anywhere from five minutes to an hour or more depending on the book I'm reading).

    I don't bring my computer to bed so it's just me and my pillow and book and sleeping husband. Can you imagine an aspiring writer/blogger who isn't up until midnight or later?

    I know. It's a big limitation. But I do get good sleep.
    And my husband gets good companionship.

    It works for us. And if I'm never a famous author or big blogger, I'll still be okay.

  20. niiice. except. what happens if i just don't have time to sleep? glad you're looking better.

  21. Oh how I love my sleep. I prefer 9 hours, but only get it occasionally. 8-8.5 will suffice most days. 7 in a pinch, but only occasionally. Anything less than that and I might as well just give up. Glad you got a good prescription!

  22. Wow does this "hit home". I'm a 5 average hours a night gal too. Staying up late at night is the only alone time I get. I must change my ways...

  23. Hmmmm....I keep trying, but it is the staying asleep that I am unsuccessful with. I already have allergy black eyes (that is what the doctor referred to them as when assessing allergies versus sinusitis...yeah, thanks), so the tired bags are in good company!

  24. Ah, first love! I do that Body By Bethenny too and the arm stretch is fantastic! I felt like a million bucks after I did that the first time. Who knew that stretching actually made the pain go away. Huh. There may actually be something to this exercise thing.

  25. Sleep is my favorite. That is my one faithful commitment to good health - getting enough sleep. (Can you tell I don't have kids?)

  26. I'm sure you're ecstatic about all the cleaning you're going to get done. Your sparkling grout will be the talk of the neighborhood!

  27. I always choose sleep over sex until the husband pulls the Marital Obligation Contract out from underneath his pillow and points to my signature.

  28. I know this is true...and I try, but it's the only time of day when it's quiet and I can get things done!

  29. But...but...I DO get 7 hours of sleep at night, and I cant keep my eyeballs open past 6 pm without divine intervention. What is my problem???



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