When Sleep Cancels Sleep!
I know, I know! We live in a time of cancel culture. So why am I complaining about this particular cancellation? Well, it’s the painful—and I mean painful—irony of it all. So, consider this scenario. You are sound asleep, aided by the heating blanket you wife thoughtfully bought for you so you wouldn’t wake her up at night to warm yourself up. You see, she is generally warm when she’s sleeping, no doubt because of being five years younger than me and blessed with better circulation, while I become cold, especially when I get up in the middle of the night to go to the . . . well, you can guess where. Anyway, her strategic generosity worked, and when I keep the blanket on #1 or #2, I manage to stay on my side of our king-sized bed most of the time, at least statistically better than in the bad old heat-blanket-less past...
But to reverse the optimistic saying, when God opens a door, the devil slams and locks it shut along with all the windows. So, with both our sleep patterns improved thanks to that inexpensive heating blanket, I’ve developed a condition in my left hand called paresthesia. It tends to come on when I’m lying in bed and minding my own business, which is to say, when I’m fast asleep. In this particular syndrome, the hand—and it is generally one of our hands—falls asleep. Now usually if a part of our body falls asleep, it’s a mild, tingling sensation which one can ignore, and it generally goes away by itself. At most you shake it a little, et voilà—pouffe, it’s gone. Not in this case. It quickly becomes painful—a paralysis of the nerves which has the nerve not to block the nerve which conveys feeling. It ramps up and entraps you in its unbreakable grip, like a gorilla in a horror movie. In the process of waking up, you are already massaging and slapping your painful dead hand like crazy, all to no avail. It’s as scary as it’s disorienting. Online you learn that a warm washcloth wrapped around the offending hand can help. It does, for an hour or two. But dare to go back to bed, and before you know it, the gorilla is back at it.
Generally, at least in my case, it gets better once you stand up. Apparently, when gravity forces the blood into the offending hand, the tingling pain gradually stops. So, daytimes are for the most part better; but typing will enable you to, ahem, recapture the rapture. Oh, and try googling “treatments for paresthesia.” Beyond warm washcloths, you won’t find much. According to a retired physician friend, neurologists can at least pinpoint where the nerves in question are pinched, but as for treatment, well, spinal surgery anyone?! I just turned 82 and am grateful for a long, mainly healthy life. But experiencing a painfully sleeping hand that is consistently cancelling my nightly sleep is an ironic birthday present I can’t appreciate. In the words of my people, OY!
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