Hamster in the Wheel

It’s close to midnight on a Sunday when I fluff up the blankets in my bed, and slip into the comfort of my heated mattress pad. I am sleepy, and although my mind is always whirling, I endeavour to catch some winks to revive myself for the busy week ahead. I recalled my head sinking into the pillow, my body burrowed into the comfort of my blankets; sometime later, my sleepy eyes popped open. I blinked, scrutinising the darkness, puzzled by the lack of morning’s glow through my window. I looked at the clock on my bedside table – 3:00 am.

Five nights became two weeks, repeating the same baffling cycle. I read articles that hinted there might be a connection between RA and insomnia; several opinions presented themselves, ranging from medication side effects and burning inflammation, to stress and chronic pain; and while I can recognise why some of these attributes might disrupt sleep, there are times when I can’t correlate my insomnia to RA, and it becomes a perplexing puzzle wrapped in obscurity. Is it the relentless stiffness demanding movement from my joints that wakes me; is it the fiery pain of inflammation; has the old lady embedded something anonymous in my system, perhaps a nocturnal microchip revving up her disease activity like a hamster running in its wheel? Or could it be a new malady joining forces with the old lady? What is this mystifying cause that stirs me at the same time each night, pervading my body with a fretful energy?

I may never know what caused my errant sleeplessness; it may disappear as quickly as it arrived or it may stick around and plague me some more, but I can’t help wondering if old lady RA is up to some new tricks. When did I become the hamster in her wheel?

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  1. Irma on February 24, 2014 at 10:55 am

    I have this happen to me often. Usually it’s at 2 a.m. I read until it goes away. What else can you do? I could get up, go in my office and write, but I’m too lazy to do so! One thing I do do, is take a muscle relaxer at bedtime. My rheumy prescribed it for sleep. It helps. Sometimes. Wishing you lots of ZZZZZZ’s!

    • J.G. Chayko on February 24, 2014 at 1:29 pm

      I’m just like you, I always think since I’m awake, I should get up and write, but I just don’t want to leave the comfort and warmth of my bed 😉

  2. Wren on February 24, 2014 at 6:26 pm

    Hard to say what’s causing your insomnia, JG. When this sort of thing happens to me, I do my “so-hahs,” something I learned years back from Deepak Chopra’s website. It’s a very simple form of meditation. As you inhale, think to yourself the word “so.” As you exhale, think “hah.” Don’t try to take deep breaths, just breathe normally. When your monkey-mind flits off to some other subject, just gently bring it back to “so” and “hah.” After a while, you’ll be breathing more deeply without trying.

    The trick to this, for me, is that doing “so-hahs” almost always just knocks me out. 😉 It’s like a new-age form of counting sheep…

    I hope it helps. Insomnia is nothing to make fun of. And when you’re not sleeping well, RA tends to hurt more. Maybe because you don’t have the energy to fight it so hard?

    Wishing you the best… 🙂

    • J.G. Chayko on February 24, 2014 at 8:04 pm

      Thank you Wren, I will try that… I’ve tried the yoga breathing I’m used to doing – sometimes it works, other times, I’m just not focussed enough. Hope you are doing well 🙂

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J.G. Chayko is a writer, actress, and international arthritis advocate who’s been involved in theatre for more than 30 years and has published poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction.