Monday, November 5, 2007

Adventures in Ambien

I am happy to announce that this weekend, I did not do anything worthwhile! We didn't go anywhere, I didn't work on any big projects. I stayed up too late, ate too much, and yesterday, I watched 3 movies in a row! Woo hoo!

The only drawback is that I also had a headache for most of the weekend. Not the hiding in my room under the covers kind, just the pain in the neck won't let me concentrate on anything kind. And by Sunday there literally was a pain in my neck from all the massaging I did to it on Saturday, so I also had a stiff neck. So I watched movies, since my head didn't hurt as long as I kept it perfectly still.

I say all this, not to collect sympathy votes, because I am lucky enough to get sympathy for the headaches whenever I ask for it. I am saying this to explain why, after two days of doing pretty much nothing, I felt the need to take a sleeping pill last night.

I don't use sleep aids much, but I got prescribed Ambien 2 years ago on the occasion of Jesse's birth. I took one each of my first two nights home from the hospital, since I couldn't bring Jesse home until the third day. I took one a year ago for some reason. From my previous experience, I learned that the appropriate time to take Ambien is when I have exactly 7 1/2 hours to sleep, because it doesn't take long to fall asleep and it wakes me up better than an alarm clock after 7 1/2 hours.

Last night I took the 4th pill of the 5 I was prescribed, hoping that a solid night of sleep might relieve the stiff neck and dull headache. I know from the package not to take one until I am ready to fall asleep. So I did all my goodnight rituals, got in bed, and looked at the clock. 9:57 pm. Guess I'll take it and lay down. Oh, you know, I saw something on TV today about the crazy things people might do when taking sleeping pills. Better move the Ambien bottle out of my own reach in case I decide to take another one during the night.

After snuggling into my pillow, I started thinking of things I might like to do today, mentally sorting out my task list as if on a large worktable. Not so strangely, the worktable dissolved into green fields, and my to-do's became birds and started to float away. Time began to stretch and thin...

Suddenly what was left of my mind panicked and shot adrenaline into my bloodstream. My arms and legs were going numb. I shot straight up in bed. What was happening to me? I wanted to call out to Justin, but my tongue felt like cotton! I felt so hot. Why hadn't I turned on the fan? I could feel the drug taking effect, not just lulling me into slumber but seizing me in its irresistible tractor beam and drowning me. I had a sudden irrational conviction that if I gave in to the drug I might never wake up.

Drunkenly, I threw off the covers and staggered to the door, then the top of the stairs to call to Justin for help. I have no idea what I said but all he did was come help me back into bed and reassure me that it was okay to give in, to fall asleep. I tried to speak coherently with him, to explain my fears, but he just laughed and told me to stop moving my mouth.

The last thing I was able to say as he sat there with me in my waning moments, was to ask the time. 10:07. Whoever suggested "do not take this until you are ready to fall asleep" should have gotten the gold star. Why do my headache pills never work in 10 minutes?!

Justin tells me this morning that I lasted about 30 more seconds after he tucked me in.

This morning I have two new appreciations: First, I would make a bad drug addict, I hate letting go too much. And second, next time I will wait until I am a lot more desperate before taking that 5th Ambien.

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