Insomnia Busters Part XVIII

If you've read this blog once or forty-seven times, you might recall that occasionally I've engaged in battle with the insomnia. Well, now I think I've got it beaten, or beaten back, at least. Would you like to hear my cure? Results may vary, consult your doctor to find out if stuff you read on the Internet is right for you.

Right. So a couple of months ago we all got some sort of awful bug. I think Jack got it first, and it was bad. I knew it was bad because Jack can power through almost anything and this had him staggering. He immediately went to the urgent care walk-in place and demanded antibiotics. Naturally I was all, "La la la, if it's viral antibiotics won't work, you just have to let it run its course," to which Jack responded with a steely glare and retired to the bedroom to shiver and sweat all over the sheets. That's when I started sleeping on the couch.

We have an L-shaped couch, so Jackson joined me: I took the leg part of the L and he took the foot and we had sleepover parties for a week because Jackson soon came down with the plague, too, and when Jackson's sick I like to keep him with me so I can keep an eye on him. (Of course then, when he's well, he doesn't want to go back to sleeping in his own bed, but that's another story for another day.)

So Jackson was sick now, and Jack was actually getting worse, so he went back to the clinic and demanded better drugs. The doctor, no doubt intimidated by Jack's sweaty black look, gave him the next level of antibiotic, this stuff called Avalox. I remember the name still because it reminded me of that song "Avalon" that Natalie Cole did, when she did that album of duets with her dead dad, remember that? So every time Jack took his pill I'd sing, "So I think I'll travel on . . . to Av-a-lon!" But only in my head. Because I didn't want Jack to punch me.

Inevitably, just as Jack and Jackson were getting better, I got sick. Jack wasted no time in badgering me into going to the clinic and getting the Avalox. I didn't even have the strength to argue, I went in and sat down in the waiting room and nearly passed out. Then I farted. When I started sweating and moaning a nurse came and made me put on one of those masks you see on bicycle riders in China, so they don't have to breathe the exhaust fumes. Except this in this case the mask was meant to contain the horror that was emanating from me.

I laid down on the exam table and didn't even bother sitting up when the doctor came in. I asked him if he remembered Jack. He did. I told him that Jack said I should get the same drugs that he got, the Avalox. The doctor thought about that for a minute. He said, "Avalox is usually the second line of defense, we don't normally prescribe it first unless it's clear that pneumonia is present blah blah . . ." I looked at him with a sweaty, steely gaze. "Okay, I'll give it to you," he said, "because I don't want your husband to come in here and punch me."

The thing about extra-strength drugs and me is that I don't normally react very well to them. I'm honestly good with the weaker, lower-dose, first-line-of-defense drugs. But I'd been frightened into the Avalox, so by god, Avalox it was. The first night was fine, and I immediately began to feel better, but by the third night I was having a horrible time with that thing where the only thing I can think of to call it is Restless Leg Syndrome.

It was awful. I'd be just about asleep when I'd feel this overwhelming urge to stretch my legs out as far as I could and squeeze the muscles. I'd have to do this every minute or so. Fortunately, I remembered once researching some of the snake oil that was on the market to allegedly combat restless leg and I remembered that one thing that could genuinely help was calcium. So I got up and went to the kitchen and opened up a bottle of supplements I have where the ratio of calcium to magnesium is like 1:2, which is supped to be good for muscles and which I take after yoga. I also took a couple of expired potassiums for good measure. Then I went back to bed and slept like a drunk, exhausted baby.

I woke up feeling GREAT. The next night, more calcium/magnesium. Same thing, slept beautifully. Got through all the Avalox, kept taking the calcium/magnesium, kept sleeping better than ever. Felt good enough to start drinking again: stopped sleeping so well. Ah ha. Cut back to one glass of wine or less with dinner, then cal/mag at bedtime: slept perfectly.

So that's my insomnia cure: little or no alcohol before bed, 1,000 mgs of calcium, 2,000 mags of magnesium, a little lavender on the feet = achieve deeper, more prosperous sleep. (I should add: no caffeine after 1:00 p.m., that's my sort of arbitrary cut-off time. If you're going to be really strict about it, no chocolate either.) The added benefit of all this vigilance being that I'm also getting by on less sleep, like seven hours or so, I guess because I'm sleeping more deeply? Theoretically.

Be sure to join us next time on Fussy for Grandma Eden's cure for constipation and the joys of NyQuil!