After the house and the wedding rings the bed (incl. mattress) is the most expensive thing my wife and I own – it cost more than the pretty much all the rest of the furniture put together – it is a comfortable bed. So why the hell can’t I find a way to lie that doesn’t hurt?
When my shoulder is hurting during the day I can rest it or stretch it or even distract myself and basically ignore it- its only pain after all.
But at night when what I want is to sleep..have I mentioned I like sleeping? hell that I need to sleep quite a lot or else my psychological grip on myself vanishes… when I want to sleep the pain becomes almost unbearable.
I like to sleep on my side, curled semi-foetal safe, or alternatively to lie half on my fron with my arms under my pillow supporting my head, stretched out recovery-position style – but both are impossible for more than a few minutes. I love to lie spooning with my darling wife, arm draped over her body protectively or vice-versa – forget it.
Lying flat on my back is the only option. And woe betide if the pillows aren’t even because that way a crick in the neck shooting down arm and spine follows. Trouble is I find it uncomfortable in my head, it seems somehow wrong to lie flat like a corpse; plus if I put my hands on my belly they go numb and before the night is out my knees will start to hurt..
So first I toss and turn, determined tonight will be different and I will find a new position or perhaps that old favourites will have somehow ceased to be a problem. Eventually I settle on my back and begin the mindfulness exercises that help me breathe through the pain and accept it. I drift off. For a couple of hours, maybe a full 4 hour cycle, before bam! awake in pain and now stiff from lying still. I get up, go for a pee, stretch, lie down and try the same process as before. Usually I drift off faster and wake up faster this time before repeating (although usually without another pee) so that I barely notice that I have slept and it feels like one long stretch of not quite dozing. Around this time I start to think about whether fetching painkillers is a good idea but I don’t want to be codeine dependent and I usually reject the plan. Finally my wife’s alarm goes off and for half an hour nothing matters more than feeling her body next to mine as we doze. Then she gets up, we chat for quarter to half an hour (depending on how grumpy I feel) and she leaves the house. If I am not also due to head to work I contemplate the options..
If it has been a good night 2 uninterrupted hours at this point should be enough to face the day; I probably don’t fetch painkillers but might pee again and move around to stretch. If on the other hand I have woken not twice but 3 or 4 or 5 times it might be four hours before I can face getting out of bed and pain-relief is a must.
So what helps?
The most important is warmth. It sems daft to me, I’m usually pretty toasty in bed I even get night sweats when I have PMT but the shoulder is one of those regions that is often exposed outside the comfort of both duvet and basic core body temp regulation which means if you keep the room cool (as I and all anti-insomnia recommendations suggest) it can get cold and stiff fast.
Second for me is anti-inflammatory gel which is safe for use at night, non-addictive and not (to the best of my knowledge and GPs comments) contraindicated with my meds.
Finally not pressuring myself, especially to either stay in bed or to get up at a set time and therefore fretting if I can’t face it, but also really working on the mind stilling and meditative practices that stop the whirring thoughts.
I really like sleeping but..