Thursday, July 7, 2016

The Time I Cried in the Waiting Room of the Doctor's Office Because I am Just. So. Tired.


I went to the doctor.

I went to the doctor to talk to her about how I can't seem to sleep, how I only fall into REM sleep circa  5am, which is the worst time for REM sleep, because then I also can't wake up in the morning.  It's the worst of both worlds, insomnia & oversleeping all wrapped up in one.

I went to the doctor to tell her that I am so exhausted that I sneak naps during my lunch hour, that I dozed off on a conference call, that I slept well into the evening on a recent Saturday & woke up & cried because I felt so guilty about it. My inability to sleep at night - & to only sleep during the day, apparently - is ruining my life.

I want people to stop telling me that I "don't know tired" until I have kids. I don't doubt that parents are exhausted, but so am I, & it doesn't make me any less exhausted to be told I'm not exhausted enough. I want to tell these people that science says operating on five hours of sleep or less per night is equivalent to being drunk, which means I've been showing up hammered to work - nay, to life - every day for the last two months.

I went to the doctor & showed up on time, but the woman at the front desk looked at me quizzically & said, "Your appointment is tomorrow." My doctor wasn't even in the office that day, she told me. And as she started to reschedule my appointment for sometime late next week, I started to cry. I tried to keep it quiet, but when she looked up at me to confirm next Friday as my new appointment date, the floodgates opened. "Oh, no," she said, alarmed, "What's wrong?!" & I blubbered, "I just can't sleep!" & then all I could do was cry, humiliating myself in the doctor's office waiting room. I guess I'm probably not the first.

I must've looked pathetic as hell, because she rescheduled me immediately, for later that day, with a different doctor - & then she looked at me, sniveling & wiping rivers of mascara off my cheeks, & she said, "Actually, why don't you sit down? I'm going to see if the doctor can just squeeze you in this morning."

And he did. This kind, charismatic, thirtysomething doctor, who is probably younger than me (not that I checked Facebook or anything) came in & sat down & talked to me for 20 whole minutes. He listened while I rattled off the list I'd written in my phone, telling him about how I can't sleep except in the morning, how my anxiety is back, how I'm awake so much that I can do is worry, & now I worry so much that I can't sleep. How it's all a vicious cycle. How I used to sleep for 12 hours at a time. How I never imagined I'd become the kind of person who lies awake at night.

He printed out a resource called "Sleep Hygiene," which is full of tips I've already read online but will continue to try. He recommended a deep breathing app. He ever-so-slightly increased my low dosage of anxiety medicine. He prescribed a temporary, non-habit-forming sleep aid meant to "get me back on track." He told me to come back in two weeks - sooner, if I'm still not sleeping. And if nothing works, he said, we'll run tests - more blood tests, a sleep test, whatever.

Afterward, I went back to work, & just like every day as of late, I yawned all through my afternoon meetings - but today, finally, armed with a prescription & a plan & a doctor who seems to actually really care about me as a human being & not just a health insurance plan, I feel a little bit more hopeful. For once, I'm actually excited to go to sleep. For once, I think maybe it'll work out in my favor before 5am rolls around.

So... is it bedtime yet? Because I'm ready.
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