sleep wanted me to lie down, on my side, either side, not be sitting up

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image of a man sleeping on a log
Image by Roy Buri from Pixabay

“He can sleep on a log.”

You must have heard of someone described in that way, where they seem to be able to sleep absolutely anywhere. My own father was very much like that. I sometimes wish I was more like him in respect of sleep. Sleep is not something humans can do without, at least not for very long. I’m a light sleeper yet even I was prone to getting a bit ratty during my 10 day hospital stay when I broke 7 ribs.

Every few hours, on a 24 hour cycle my liquid pain killer was being changed as was the liquid anti-biotics. On top of that I was having my pulse checked, blood pressure, oxygen levels and blood sugar checked as well. In other words two nurses would enter my room every couple of hours and start some procedure or other. Consequently I didn’t get much sleep. But couple that with the need to sleep sitting up in bed to allow the ribs to heal themselves and you may understand my patience was wearing a little thin toward the end of my stay.

It didn’t get much better at home. I still had to sleep sitting up. All in all I did 10 weeks sitting in one position to sleep. But sleep wanted me to lie down, on my side, either side, not be sitting up. It was pretty hard.

Then came the glorious day a week ago when I realised I had woken up lying on my back with my neck out of the brace. I thought that it must be a sign that I should attempt to lie down to sleep. Good idea, I told myself. Not realising how hard and painful it was going to be getting myself from lying on my back to sitting on the edge of the bed. I tried sitting up from a flat on my back position. That hurt, a lot. I tried pushing myself up on my elbows. That got me so far, but with no further leverage I was going nowhere rapidly… or slowly for that matter. Next came the rolling log approach. I rocked left, then right, until I was lying on my left arm, staring at the edge of the bed but unable to do anything let alone move. The thing that worked in the end was the rolling log with tucked knees and that worked a treat if I added a quick twist at the end so my legs flopped over the edge of the bed. It was at this point I realised I had invented competition diving without the need for a pool or diving board. I briefly wondered what the judges would score me. I also realised at this point that sleeping sat up over 10 weeks turns your brain to mush and you start to fantasize. Time to move on.

Now, a week later, I can go to sleep on either side. But turning over in the night is still difficult and painful. Lying fully on my back is just painful. But I’m getting there.

Sleep is a human necessity. But how we achieve it can be something of an art-form involving the human body’s ability to contort itself into a position that is both sleep inducing and pain free. Sometimes these are mutually exclusive, but I’m still learning.

Copyright © Tom Kane 2020

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