Medical Mondays: Dancing Monkey Heads and a Sleeping Pill

I thought I'd found the magic solution. Not without trepidation, mind you. I've resisted taking a prescription sleeping pill for years, knowing the tendencies toward addiction and depression.

However, it's been years since I've slept well. Really, years. I have this cyst on my brain that squishes the part that makes melatonin, which regulates the sleep-wake cycle. My sleep-wake cycle seems to be on a stay-up-till-3 with lots of energy then be groggy through the normal day cycle. Great if you're a writer; not so great if you're the mom of 2 young kids who need breakfast in the morning.

"Feed Me!" =)
So I finally gave in and, for the good of my family, I asked the doctor about a sleeping pill. She prescribed me Ambien. For once, I didn't look up all the possible side effects. I didn't want to know. Maybe, just maybe, this once I wouldn't be among the few that had the weirdest ones.

I took a pill, prayed that nothing bad would happen, and went to sleep.

I actually went to sleep. Hallelujah! This was fantastic! Why hadn't I done it sooner?

Getting to sleep at night made me feel like a totally different person. Literally. I was sleeping when I normally would sit at my computer for hours trying to fill up the time with something useful. During the day I was actually awake and could function. I didn't quite know what to do with myself, but it was wonderful.

In the meantime, I've been tapering on my steroids, trying to get back down to my regular dosage after being up over Christmastime due to sickness. Thanks to getting decent sleep, I was able to taper faster than I ever have before. I had the headaches and nausea and stomach issues from drug withdrawals, but I could handle that. They'd go away as I stabilized.

Only they didn't. They got worse. And worse. And then weird things started happening. I was having trouble waking up terrified. I was forgetting things. (One night at church, I left the car running the entire service and didn't notice till I couldn't find my keys afterward!) I felt like I was going a little crazy.

Uh-oh. Finally, I got out my computer and looked up Ambien side effects. Sure enough, I found all kinds of people who were having the same trouble, or worse. Lots of people called people or texted them in the middle of the night and never remembered it the next morning (hope I didn't do that!). Others gained 20 pounds before they realized they were getting up and eating in the middle of the night. One lady actually got arrested--she'd been driving and I'm not sure if she was actually drunk or it was just the medicine. Imagine waking up in jail and not having any idea why!

My favorite was this one guy who hallucinated about monkeys whose heads were spinning around and other weird things. He told his mother and she threw the pills down the toilet.

Sorta cute.

Totally creepy
And just weird.


So I suppose it could be worse. I could have been dreaming of dancing monkey heads instead of just terrifying things like being trafficked.

Going off the pills was nearly as bad as being on them. I think all the side effects are gone now, but if I do something weird...sorry.

Sigh. I hated giving up the surety of a good night's sleep, but I have to say I'm glad to not be taking a hypnotic narcotic. I really don't need dancing monkey heads added to my life.

The lesson to be learned in all this? I'm not sure yet. If you got one out of the above, could you please let me know what it is? I'm feeling discouraged--don't you just hate it when you try to do something good and it backfires on you? So today instead of me telling you what good you can get out of a lousy situation, maybe you can tell me?


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  1. Sweet Kimberly,

    I'm so sorry you are dealing with weirdness. I seem to have your same sleep(less) malady. You know, I think about all the artistic geniuses throughout history (Mozart, for instance). One thing they all had in common was "weirdness." I guess it's the price we have to pay for the special gift from God. I've had some really strange reactions to drugs, including nightmares I couldn't tell were real or just dreams. Depression is a constant battle. I have to remind myself "you are wonderfully and fearfully made." I have to trust that whatever it is God wants me to accomplish on this earth, this is my "thorn in the flesh." It's not easy. But then, who said it was supposed to be easy. I think we must trust that God loves us and wants to do amazing things with us. If we were perfect, we might think that WE were responsible for all the good we do in life instead of Him.

    I pray for you each day to have peace, trust, and rest for the journey.

    1. Karen, you are such a precious friend. Your insights are a gift.
      I think there is something about being limited and broken that keeps us clinging to joy because we know how empty and dark life is without the joy of the Lord. So in the end, our trials are a gift. As Paul says, we can glory in our infirmities, because somehow, maybe like the blank lifelessness of the moon still shines because it reflects the light of the sun, we bring Him more glory in our weakness than we could have in strength.
      Thank you so much for your words and your prayers. I needed them today.

  2. Dancing monkey heads...nope, never had that one.

    I keep reading about people who "lost weight when they started eating gluten-free!" I got a Celiac dx and now weigh 25 lbs more.

    "Eating gluten-free helps your eyesight!" Nope, eyes worse for close up.

    "Eating gluten-free gives you more energy!" Uhhh, nope. Have to sit in the chair for 1-2 hours at a clip (2, maybe 3 x a day)with the massaging stockings on so my ankles don't explode. The massaging things make my legs cold, so out comes the heated throw. Gee, it's nice and cozy here....zzzzzzzz.

    Isn't it nice to know you have company being that 1% of the population stuff happens to??

    Praying for you today Kimberly!

    1. It is nice to know, though I wish you weren't in it! =) Sometimes I'd like to be a little less unique! Sorry about your gluten free mis-adventures. Uugh. Though the nap idea sounds nice. =) Yeah, I've learned to not look on the typical medical sites for info much. They give all the usual stuff. But if I go on yahoo answers or forums, I find all the people like us who don't fit the standard. Nice to know I'm not the only one who has things exactly opposite what the medical sites say! It's so funny to me when doctors say "you can't have ______" because of something opposite. Well....

  3. Hi! I take a boatload of narcs for pain, and amitriptyline to help me sleep. The amitriptyline does help some. 30mg at 6pm or so and I'm ready for bed by 9:30. I don't always stay asleep, though, welcome to menopause. I'm 48 and have had fibro and lupus for 18+ years.

    1. I've never heard of amitriptyline. I'll have to look that up. So sorry for all your suffering!


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