This nursy plays dirty and does it with pain...

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Sleepless at times...

I have been a night shift worker forever.I can tell you that I am a true blue night owl ... my day is most of the people's night and vice versa. I would be vacuuming or baking or doing laundry in the middle of the night when the rest of the family would be asleep. I used to think that I was functioning with only 2 hours of sleep. That was when I was, of course, younger. Thinking back, maybe I just had to make time for everything that was going on in my life. I went back to school and studying full time, raising a young son, managing a spic and span household, "pleasing" a husband and working full time. I guess maybe two hours of sleep was all I can afford and yet I was fine and had enough energy for all of my activities and even managed to maintain a 4.0 GPA. Later on when I went on for my ADN (RN degree) I had to talk to myself and made my self-expectations less than the previous years. Expectations such as: a little dust in the house is okay, take out meals once in a while is okay, B grades are okay, etc... That is another story.

After several years of minimal sleep and excessive physical demands, my body had to pay. I had a big time hormonal discrepancies ... my gynecologist called it "hormonal crisis". She blamed my night shift schedule for breaking my circadian rhythm. My hormones malfunctioned caused not only by sleep deprivation but also by stress and poor diet. That is another story I can go through later on. Anyways, now I require a lot more than two hours of sleep and that is my body's call, not my mental judgment. I am gifted in a way that I can do "power naps". I can program myself to sleep just like that and wake up feeling refreshed.

My issue still is that I sometimes have the difficulties getting the much needed sleep. Mentally, I rather do something else but sleep, but my aging body is fighting that thought thus I get into this chaotic sleep pattern. It is very seldom that I sleep through a long period of time ... 4-6 hours maximum is what I get. I am not into taking medicine but have tried the Tylenol PM. The problem is that I am overly sensitive to drugs ... Benadryl 25 mg will knock me out cold for 2 days. I don't feel safe with that, just because I am by myself, nobody to check me if I am still really asleep or has gone permanently bye-bye. In short nobody is here to listen if I am still snoring... hehehe!!!

S L E E P ... is the time for the physical and mental "recharging" of our bodies. The amazing thing though that I read was that our brain is as active in our sleep as when we are awake. No wonder I still have the mental fatigue when I wake up. AMAZING!!! And yet our bodies go through a general decrease in body temperature, blood pressure, breathing rate, and most other bodily functions.

Most experts say that we need at least 8 hours of sleep to go through the 2 cycles of non-REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep and REM sleep. Non-REM and REM sleep alternate in 90- to 110-minute cycles. A normal sleep pattern has 4-5 cycles. Think of it as going up and down the stairway or a roller coaster ... that is how the cycle goes.

So what is wrong with me??? Maybe as my gynecologist claimed ... my circadian rhythm was and is out of wack. C I R CA D I A N RHYTHM is also known as the biological clock. A cycle that lasts 24 hours is called circadian. Some physiological functions that are circadian include body temperature and certain hormone secretions. Humans have a natural cycle of approximately the length of one day. Small structures in the brain called suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) coordinate circadian rhythms. The SCN is very sensitive to the presence or absence of light. This may explain why daytime sleep has been found to be less restful than nighttime sleep.

Now I get it!!! Circadian rhythm is not night shift worker friendly. My sleep time is when there is abundance of light thus my SCN is not responding.

I always thought SLEEP is a waste of time but I should know better. Sleep enables the body and mind to rejuvenate, reenergize, and restore. As a person sleeps, it is thought that the brain performs vital housekeeping tasks, such as organizing long-term memory, integrating new information, and repairing and renewing tissue, nerve cells and other biochemicals. Sleep allows the body to rest and the mind to sort out past, present, and future activities and feelings.
Some suggestions for a "good night rest": To maintain a routine for bedtime and wake up time even on week-ends. Have a relaxing "unwinding" routines such as warm bath or warm shower, relaxing music, reading a relaxing book. Provide a sleep conducive environment as in making the room dark, cool or warm, quiet and comfortable. Have a comfortable mattress and pillow(s). Use the bed only for sleep and sex . And have a 2-3 hour gap between meal time and bed time, avoiding caffeine. And of course, exercise.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Two of my children ... four-legged that is!!!

I have only one child, a wonderful son. I will probably share all kinds of stories about him later on but this time I am sharing you the stories of my other children... the four-legged ones.

The very first dog that entered in my only child's life was Button, a mutt. She was a combination of a Chihuaua and a poodle and she was just as cute as a button thus named so. We had her for a few years when one night on our way to the store, another four legged creature graced our lives.
My son and I were walking out towards my SUV when down the cul-de-sac was something coming towards us. It was a dog we gathered. So we decided to approach it but then it would run away from us when we were going towards it. But when we would turn our backs to go back to the vehicle, it would walk, almost running towards us. We played this game for a short while then I thought that maybe if I open the vehicle that it would maybe jump in there. And I was right!!! A long haired, smelly, panting doggy jumped right in the vehicle and flopped itself in my son's lap. We looked at each other in amazement. This doggy looked emaciated and so tired and probably so thankful at that moment that finally it found "a place". We went ahead to the store as planned but my son stayed behind in the vehicle with the very still doggy whose only moving body part was the tounge that was panting. When we got back home I carried it in and it basically surrendered itself to us seemingly not caring at what ever happen next as long as it was not out there on the street any longer. I took it straight to the bath tub because I noticed the sand in the vehicle and the trail on the carpet. The dog was covered with not only sand but fleas... from head to paws. I gave it the longest bath ever. When it was all dried and clean, we fed it some chicken and rice and it ate and ate and drunk and drunk. My son made it a bed in the corner of the living room and there it slept the entire night and half of the day after.

While it was asleep that night, we drove over to our public library and research the breed. And she was a Llasa Aphso. We decided to name her Zipper to sort of match Button. As the days go by, we learned how perfect this doggy is ... so unassuming, so calm, so loyal, so devoted, so trained, so loving, so patient and I can go on and on. We wondered how the owner can toss her out on the street. She didn't have any collar and she had some wounds on her that were signs of physical abuse. Shortly after she came into our lives, our Button was failing her health --- CANCER invaded her. It was so heart breaking. My son and I, you could say became selfish at the end of her life because we hung on to her even though she was suffering. Finally, my nurse's heart told me to let go and we did. My son and I cried the minute we came to the decision that she would be put to sleep and all the way down to the animal hospital then back home and many more days after that. Zipper sure had missed her.

On my birthday, I decided to go to the animal shelter and adopt another doggy. I fell in-love with a screwny looking doggy but so so cute --- a peach poodle, a boy. He was found on the street and had been in the pound for quite a while. My son was so happy to see him when I brought him home and he named him Puffy because his hair then or even now would get all puffed up when ungroomed. He is a total opposite of Zipper but loving in his own way as well. As calm, quiet, and patient as Zipper is, Puffy is exactly the wiry, hyper, loud doggy. In a way they compliment each other's personality. Zipper would give Puffy a growl when he gets a little too much of anything. Now, they are inseparable.

Zipper was already four years old when she adopted us and now she is at least 16 years old. Puffy was two years old when I adopted him and now he is 12 years of age. He became Zipper's eyes and ears as Zipper approaches old age. They are my shadows. They pretty much run the household and I became a mere tenant ... hehehe!!!

I take them in my morning walk and that is one big task only because they get all the attention of every walker we come across. We end up stopping many times to get their pats on the heads and whatever other cutesy words awarded to them. And they love all the attentions.

Now, as the human mother, I hate to even think that my doggies are getting to the end of their doggy lives. Both are pretty healthy and yet their ages are in the advanced stage soooo.

One thing I know, whatever happen, I am so thankful they came into my life. They are my companion now that my son is out of my household.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Sssssspring Season!!!

S P R I N G is here, finally!!! My nose says so. I have been sneezing lately because of the increase presence of pollens around me. The ironic thing about me is that I am a gardener who loves to be out in the yard playing with dirt and what have you. I can spend all of my free time out there in the yard but then I am reminded of this chronic disease process that I have. Yes, it is not a serious one, only an annoying one at times. I have an Allergic Rhinitis - "hay fever" or "seasonal allergy". A gardener with the sneezing problem... how ironic!!! Sometimes when I am in "attack" of this, I sort of blurt out, "Why me? Why can't it be someone who does not like to garden?" But having allergic rhinitis/hay fever does not stop me from doing what I love to do so I learned to monitor the pollen count of the day, arm myself with Claritin D, make sure I have my Proventil inhaler, prescription nasal spray and prescription eye drops at hand in case I need them. I am in garden heaven during the full swing of spring when the blooms are in their grandiest display of beauty, armed with my protections...

According to the medical encyclopedia - Allergic rhinitis is a collection of symptoms, predominantly in the nose and eyes, caused by airborne particles of dust, dander, or plant pollens in people who are allergic to these substances. Allergies are caused by an over-sensitive immune response. The immune system normally protects the body against harmful substances such as bacteria and viruses. Allergy symptoms occurs when the immune system reacts to substances (allergens) that are generally harmless and in most people do not cause an immune response. When a person with allergies breathes in an allergen such as pollen or dust, antibodies are produced. When the antibodies are stimulated by pollen and dust, histamine and other chemicals are released. This causes itching, swelling, and mucus production. Symptoms vary from person to person. Very sensitive individuals can experience hives or other rashes. Hay fever involves an allergic reaction to pollen. A similar reaction occurs with allergy to mold, animal dander, dust, and similar inhaled allergens. Symptoms: Coughing, headache, itching nose, mouth, eyes, throat, skin, or any area, runny nose, sneezing, tearing eyes, sore throat and wheezing. Treatments: The goal of treatment is to reduce allergy symptoms caused by the inflammation of affected tissues. The best "treatment" is to avoid what causes your allergic symptoms in the first place. It may be impossible to completely avoid all allergens to which you are sensitive, but you can often take steps to reduce exposure. Medication options: Short-acting antihistamines; longer-acting antihistamines; nasal corticosteroid sprays; decongestants; eye drop versions of cromolyn sodium and antihistamines are available for itchy, bloodshot eyes; and leukotriene inhibitor.

Happy spring season!!! Accccchhhhhhhoooooo...