Saturday, July 24

Return of the Narcoleptic Nightmare

Image courtesy of chrisroll/
Last night was not a good one for my husband. He tossed and turned so much that I wondered if he was getting any actual sleep. Finally, he cried out several times - no actual words, but he sounded terrified. I called to him to tell him he was dreaming and to "Wake up! WAKE UP!" It took a little while, but he finally gave me a groggy acknowledgment and promptly fell back to sleep.

Later, when I asked him what had terrified him so, he couldn't even remember. Maybe that was a good thing, because he sure sounded scared out of his wits that night. My husband hasn't had night terrors in awhile, but they do still crop up every now and then.

Night terrors and horrific nightmares are another scary, debilitating symptom of Narcolepsy that my husband has long suffered through. His nightmares and hallucinations are fascinating, frightening, and sometimes (but rarely) funny. He often reacts to whatever is happening to him in his nightmare - talking, yelling, thrashing...

There have been times when my husband's actions while he slept were intimidating. In fact, I was fascinated by the story of a British man, Brian Thomas, who murdered his wife in his sleep. It's a bizarre experience, but I totally understood it. You can read the full story here: CNN Story. The article doesn't say that the man suffered from Narcolepsy, but he suffered from "night terrors" and other "sleep disturbances" for many years without being treated. His experience did make me think - have I ever been afraid my husband would actually harm me in his sleep?

The truth is yes, but I've never actually feared for my life. Things have happened before, but never to such an extreme that I was afraid. Mostly, it's just been annoying. Rarely I'll be awakened by a jab or hit as a result of him flailing or hitting out in his sleep. That's not a fun way to be awakened, but it definitely isn't life-threatening.

For that reason, although we go to bed together, we usually end up sleeping separately about half the time. We both seem to get more rest that way. Plus, I admit, I relax a bit more when I'm sleeping alone.

Sunday, July 18

The Narcolepsy, Not the Man

So I had a conversation with my mother today that left me feeling pretty guilty. Although we only spoke for a few minutes, by the time we hung up, I felt as if I'd spent hours railing against my husband. In retrospect, maybe I did. I often think that I confuse the two: my husband and Narcolepsy. Over the years, I've come to think of myself as being married to two different people: my husband - whom I chose to marry, and Narcolepsy - who tricked me into marriage.

It's the Narcolepsy that I think is lazy and unmotivated, careless and forgetful, annoying and dull. My husband is none of those things. Instead, he's funny and interesting, smart and resourceful, motivated and hard-working. Those are some of the reasons why I fell in love with him.

Narcolepsy is such a betrayal of who you really are. It literally transforms my husband into a different person - a person that I sometimes don't recognize, and sometimes barely tolerate.

But I don't think I conveyed any of that to my mother. That's what left me feeling guilty. I am just barely beginning to understand this illness, so I'm pretty sure my mother doesn't fully comprehend it. I think that I will make a vow: I will only vent about my husband's condition to those I'm confident will understand the extenuating circumstances.