Friday, January 27, 2012

Pain + Insomnia = Painsomnia

I take pain meds as rarely as I can manage.

And much of the time, I can manage my days without pain meds, relying mostly on distraction (even when the pain is bad enough that I can't concentrate on reading a book, I can watch a movie from a DVD borrowed from the library or find something on cable's On Demand menu to get outside of my own head for awhile) and/or ice. (Heat just makes my joints achier so I'm not a fan of it. But oh, how I love my ice packs!!)

Nights are harder, because once the lights are off and Scott is asleep (I so envy his ability to fall asleep quickly!), there's nothing to distract myself from the pain. And oh, does it make itself known. And that makes it hard to fall asleep, as I toss and turn trying to find a position that doesn't make my body complain loudly.

I guess it's a pretty common phenomenon. I mean, I know it wasn't unique to me, but I was surprised to learn on Twitter recently that there's even a name for it: Painsomnia. No, it's not a real medical term -- although I bet there is one for it -- but it's something that patients have nicknamed. 

More often than I wish, I end up getting out of bed, where I sleep with five pillows helping to support various body parts on top of a four-inch-thick memory foam mattress pad, and heading downstairs to sleep on the couch that replaced my literally falling-to-pieces recliner. (The couch is awesome and reclines electronically at the push of a button!) Sleeping on the couch lets me avoid hip and shoulder pain from lying on my side in bed.

Sometimes, like tonight, even that doesn't work. So I do the internal debate on whether to take a pain pill or not. I'm not sure why I torture myself over it, other than a belief that pain meds work best when taken infrequently to keep my tolerance levels down. Then when I do take a pain pill, it reminds me of Ellie's birth, when I finally opted for an epidural after 16 hours of Pitocin and 36 hours after my water broke and I wondered aloud why I'd thought it was so important not to have one. (And about 8 hours after the epidural, Ellie was finally born!)

The other problem is that pain meds seem to act as a sort of stimulant for me; it's not that they make me feel full of energy so much as I just can't fall asleep. Which means I get to appreciate how well my pain levels are being controlled by the meds but I don't get the sleep that I want. (Which, oddly enough, also mimics my childbirth experience since I opted for the epidural mostly in hopes of getting a nap since Ellie was taking her sweet time in making an appearance. It didn't actually work for what I sought, which was sleep, but it sure made the labor/Pitocin pain disappear for awhile.)

So if I do take a pain pill late at night for the Painsomnia, then I end up contemplating taking an Ambien. But even though I've had both administered together while hospitalized, I'm too afraid of mixing those meds at home. Too many celebrity deaths where they point to the mix of prescription and non-prescription drugs as the cause add to my leeriness of taking a sleep aid and a pain pill at the same time.

Well, I'm definitely rambling here. Mostly my point was to share what I thought was a really cool word for a situation I've struggled to describe and explain. Thanks for letting me ramble. :) 


Penelope said...

Are you able to take something over the counter for pain along with Ambien?

I was thinking of Ambien + Aleve. They are a good combination for me.

Maybe you could ask your doctor or pharmacist exactly how much you can safely mix?

babyfeat said...

I do the same thing - debating if I should take a med. to help me sleep. Sometimes I debate in my head so long that the night is half over, and by the time I take the med I'll be too groggy to get up.
Never heard the word before, but it's a perfectly descriptive word! Thanks