iSmart and falling apart

I grew up thinking that, if I routinely took my car in to get the oil changed and tires rotated, my car could last forever. Or if not forever, for a very, very long time without any hassle.

It did not take too many years as a car owner to realize that WHOA! Mayhem and foolishness abound in cars! Factory-installed tires suck after 20,000 miles, check engine lights don’t go off when they’re supposed to, strange noises start, and, sadly, I even had the transmission fail in a legendary, all-hail-the-Subaru before its 5th birthday.

I should’ve known better, especially after catching a few broadcasts of Car Talk on the radio!

I don’t know why, then, I thought about my body in the same way:  get a flu shot, floss your teeth, go for check-ups, follow the doc’s orders (usually), eat (mostly) right (most of the time), and VOILA! My body will keep humming along for decades to come. No muss, no fuss.

Er, not so much. While nothing is seriously wrong, thankfully, I’ve spent the last six weeks juggling appointments for MRIs, X-rays, an overnight sleep study and PT with the rest of life.

Turns out 1) my wonky, wobbly knee issue, which cropped up 6 months ago, is due to “significant arthritic changes,” bone spurs, cartilage and such stuff that I imagined only was of concern to anyone over the age of 60.

And, 2) my home sleep study revealed I have mild, maybe mild to moderate, sleep apnea, which would explain why I don’t feel rested when I do get 7-8 hours of sleep. It isn’t good sleep; it’s bad!

I’m doing physical therapy for my knee, which has taken away the discomfort and is strengthening muscles that have gone kapooey in the last few years. I’m also lining up a CPAP to wear at night. Tres sexy! However, I’m excited – yes, excited – to start using any sleep appliance that may take the years off my face and bloodshot from my eyes.

I’ll stop before delving more into my aches and pains, which is only a step or two from graduating to the “death and dying report” that I get whenever I visit my 80+-year-old mother-in-law. Suffice it to say, I’m striving to be like my vehicles:  a little scratched and dinged on the outside, but generally working ok on the inside.

On a separate note, I graduated to a smartphone in October, months after writing about it. Hard to believe! However, I’ve only downloaded a solitaire and flashlight app. (I know, me so crazy.) What do you recommend for free fun?



Hot mess

Wishful thinking:  I am attractive and ladylike while I sleep.

Reality:  No, I’m not. I’ve discovered I clench my teeth, furrow my brows, get distracted by every sound and movement and, for extra insult, I snore. Most nights of the week you’ll find me with cotton balls in my ears, a dental grinding guard in my mouth, some Frownies pasted to my forehead — all with my trusty and awesome Marpac sleep machine whirring in the background.

Sexy, no?

That’s a whole lotta craziness, if you ask me — and much of it is due to my struggles with falling asleep. The experts call it sleep-onset insomnia, but we in the club like to call it, “Why the hell can’t I shut my mind off and fall asleep like everyone else? Why? WHY?!”

It doesn’t happen every night, but it’s definitely increased over the years. Now that I have a partner sleeping beside me, it’s a pattern I can no longer ignore. (Ironically, he’s the best guy a gal could ever ask for except that he has a gift I do not — and one he cannot give me. He can fall asleep in 30 seconds or less. Literally. Me? 30, 40, 60 minutes, etc. Fortunately, he sleeps right through the craziness.)

Once I’m asleep I’m golden – I LOVE sleep when I’m actually doing it — it’s just getting there. So, that combined with knowing a family member has serious sleep apnea and chronic insomnia, I decided to take the pillow in hand and take back control. I’ve done much reading (recommend Dreamland: Adventures in Strange Science of Sleep by David Randall for an interesting take on the subject), talked to my primary care physician and recently consulted with a sleep doc. Best decision ever!

One of the things he wanted to confirm was that I do not also have sleep apnea. For that, a home sleep test.

I took the test last night:  airflow hose in my nostrils and taped in place to my cheeks, a heart rate monitor clipped to my finger and CPU pack strapped to my middle. I looked like a female version of this guy. Except I was wearing PJs. And my eyes were closed. And I was wearing the cotton balls, mouth guard and Frownie, because at that point, why not?

I hope I “passed” the test and am hopeful my sleep habits will normalize more than the accessories I wear to bed.

How about you? Do you have sleep problems? How do you deal?

Post St. Paddy’s Day Reflections

Good:  Yummy slow-cooked corned beef, potatoes, carrots, cabbage, wedges of homemade irish soda bread and a bit o’ stout to wash it down.

Not so good:  Corned beef, potatoes, carrots, cabbage, wedges of homemade irish soda bread and a bit o’ stout…processed by a rather inefficient middle-age digestive system.

The foreboding voice of Ned Stark popped into my head as I laid on my bed last night like an overstuffed, oversalted blob, but instead of warning me that “winter is coming” it said “swimsuit season is coming.”

God help us all.