I had a little cold last week, with cough and sniffles and sinus headache. I don’t get sick often, and I’m not very good at it. Don’t get me wrong, I like laying around doing nothing just fine if I’m feeling well. Laziness is one of my strongest personality traits. I just hate feeling lousy. And if I feel too rotten to write, read, draw, play word games or watch movies, I’d might as well get off the couch and do something productive.
So, my strategy, when I’m sick, is to plod through it as well as I can. It usually involves drugs: a non-drowsy capsule to eliminate the symptoms during the daytime, and a heavy-duty night-time cold medicine at bedtime. Add to that lots of hand-washing, hot tea and cough drops, and my life goes on pretty much like normal. Until the virus goes away, and I have no reason to continue to take the night-time cold medicine, and I discover that I have forgotten how to fall asleep without it.
I know…it’s scary that I could become dependent on a simple over-the-counter medicine in five days. Six, because that last night I convinced myself, after lying awake for two hours, that I still had enough of a sniffle to warrant it. But enough is enough. If I had the inclination (or the income!) to live my life in an altered state, I bet I could find something that would bring me better results than just a drug-induced sleep! And the fact is, I’m not crazy about drugs of any kind.
I take two prescribed medicines daily. When I feel my back going into spasm, I am quick to take ibuprofen. I don’t hesitate to grab the aspirin for a headache. If necessary, I take stronger, prescription medicines when my back goes out, or when other ailments demand it. That’s it, though: what I need, only when I need it. I know that all drugs have side effects, and they often out-weigh the benefits. If it alters my state of being, I don’t trust it.
I don’t like being in an altered state. Well, a glass of wine now and then, with dinner, sure. A beer, when I’m doing yard work. I’ll even have a cocktail or two, occasionally, with friends. Never, though, to the point of intoxication. I don’t like that feeling of being out-of-control. I hate it when my back gets to the point – not often – when I have to take the strong, prescription pain medicine and muscle relaxers. They keep me groggy when I’m awake, and make me sleep most of the time. I think any sleep that is brought on by drugs or alcohol is not a truly restful sleep.
So, now that I’m over my cold, I am determined to get back to a “normal” sleep routine. Which involves enough middle-of-the-night work and worry sessions already, thank you. Now, added to my usual restlessness, I am fighting the difficulty of not being able to fall asleep without my nightly dose of cold medicine.
I go to bed at my regular time. I force myself to stay there. If I must do something, I turn on the lamp and read for a bit, before going back to tossing and turning. I am thrilled if the dogs need to go outside, as it gives me an excuse to get up and pace for a few minutes, to try to quiet my mind. Usually, in the early morning hours, I finally fall into a deep sleep. I wake up reluctantly when the alarm goes off, and plod through another day, tired from lack of sleep. It’s just a matter of time, I know. Eventually, my body will readjust, and I’ll be able to get some good rest!