My eyes shot open and, at once, I knew the awful truth. It was still dark, but I was again awake. I laid there for a few moments before I rolled over to look at the clock, knowing it must be about 2:30. Yup. It was 2:38 am, my usual menopausal waking time. If I wake around that time, I’m doomed to lay awake for the next several hours. I began my usual routine.
I rolled to my other side and smoothed out the covers. I snuggled deeper into my pillow, determined not to let my mind start to race, but I was too late. Just that thought alone ensured that something would come to mind that I couldn’t possibly wait until morning to think about, like the litter box I forgot to empty the day before or my grocery list. Yeah! Let’s lay awake and think about what’s missing from the cupboards. Kind of a mental treasure hunt! That’s worth losing a few hours sleep over, isn’t it?
I’m now aware of my husband’s breathing. He uses a bi-pap machine due to apnea and snoring. While it has helped tremendously with these problems, he’s now the purveyor of some amazing, expiratory noises. He can go from cheek puffs to lip plops. Some nights, for my amusement and torture, he even creates words. Word Nights leave me terrified of the hidden meanings. My imagination has him possessed or even worse, running for public office. Whatever sound he unconsciously chooses, it’s repetitious until he changes position. I reach over to my nightstand and grab an earplug, to block the night’s “plurp plurp plurp plurp” ‘s. I can only use one at a time, because two make my head feel like it’s in a vacuum and about to explode. I then turn my own head so that my exposed ear is in the pillow. Anytime I roll over, I have to move the earplug to the other ear. If he rolls onto his side, the expiratory noises end and I take the earplug out, else I wake up to a vacuum sealed ear canal. This routine continues all night.
After about an hour of this nonsense, I decide that emptying my bladder might help me get back to sleep. A trip to the bathroom ensues and then it’s back under the covers. Determined to get at least a few more hours of sleep, I repeat my mantra in my mind. I drift off into a thin and fitful sleep that’s dotted with nightmares. I snort myself awake with my own fat induced snoring episodes. A position change allows me to doze for a few more minutes of uneasy dreams until a hot flash becomes my next alarm clock. I’m grateful, because my sleep wasn’t restful and the nightmares were disturbing. I kick off the covers and grab a tissue off of the nightstand to blot the sweat from my face. I look at the clock and see that it’s 4:11. I’m now going between hot flashes and cold flashes. The covers are off, then on, then off, then on. Take out the earplug and put it in the other ear as I roll over to find the cool spot on the bed, then look for the blankets when the chills overtake me. I notice my husband is on his side and take the earplug out and put it in the little earplug dish on my nightstand. It’s now time to kick the covers off and blot my face again.
My body temperature settles down and I’m able to pull the covers up and settle down a bit. It’s at this point that it happens. The Dreaded Nose Whistle. Every time I breathe in, I hear the high-pitched squeal of my own dry, nasal passages. Whistle in, breathe out. Whistle in, breathe out. After attempting to relieve myself of this new malady for a few minutes with some hefty inhalations, I get up and go back into the bathroom and give it a few mighty honks, even though it’s so dry there’s nothing to release.
Back in bed, I’m relieved to find out the Nose Whistle is gone. The hot and cold flashes are over. I can deal with the earplug utilization, as that’s something that just has to be done. I finally drop off to sleep again, around 5:30.
At 5:49, my phone rings. “Hello, Ina? This is June at work. Would you like to come in and work extra today?”
And once again, I’m awake.