Thursday 26 March 2015

Me vs Overly Realistic Dreams

Pretty much everyone dreams. I mean, don’t quote me on that. I didn’t fact check or anything, but I’m guessing it’s mostly true.

Husband rarely remembers his dreams, while I have them pretty much every night and can remember them, for the most part, in more detail than I usually care to. I can’t always coherently articulate them, but I know what happened.

Sometimes this is good….I learned to fly and some hot famous guy was offering me ice cream and other euphemisms for sex, and other times it isn’t…..I’m trapped in a small cabin in the woods surrounded by bears my only means of escape is through a maze full of dinosaurs. True story.

Unfortunately, the latter seems to be more often the case. 

As far as I’m concerned, I have more than my fair share of nightmares that wake me up in a panic, end in a murder, involve alien takeovers of the world, or have me discovering severed heads in a fridge in the basement of a haunted house where I’m being chased by all manner of unpleasantness. I usually don’t sleep well.

There have even been a few dreams that would have made amazing story lines for a book or movie….now if I only had the patience to write more than a few hundred words at a time. And dialogue. I suck at dialogue.

All this said, the real pain in the ass dreams are the ones where you’re not really sure if you’re awake or not. Where you can’t be 100% sure if you are driving a rally car or if what you’re driving is actually your unimpressed cat, who is being used as a makeshift steering wheel. It’s the dreams where you are just asleep enough to be nonsensical, but still be fully committed to whatever it is you’re doing.

To date, I don’t think I have ventured so far down this path as to enter the hazy world of sleepwalking, but regrettably, this doesn’t mean that my own sleep difficulties haven’t impacted Husband to some degree.  And while driving the cat was the first recorded incident of my acting out while being only sort of awake, it was by no means the most dramatic, although I imagine that cat would have disagreed with me.

There have been a number of nights where I’ve woken up and been convinced something has happened that hasn’t. For example Husband  did not actually take up smoking or move in with a gay dance instructor, so it probably wasn’t necessary to yell at him first thing in the morning. I see that now.

And then there was the night a few years ago when I woke up, started screaming at the top of my lungs (I’m sure the landlord living upstairs LOVED that), threw all the blankets off the bed and sat on my pillow shrieking incoherently.

Husband, who at the time was sleeping like a normal person, jumped out of bed looking thoroughly confused and tried to get me to use real words to describe what had happened. All I could manage at the time was to screech and point at the jumbled pile of our blankets at on the floor at the end of the bed.

Being the remarkable (and extremely tolerant) man that he is, he began shifting through the mess of sheets looking for….what? Finally he looked at me (I was still curled up on my pillow stammering and pointing like a fool) and said “I can’t find the spider. It’s probably gone now anyway”

Small cat, big spiders
Back story…..our basement suite where we lived at that time had HUGE fucking spiders. Big like small cats. I put one through the washing machine once and was a bit concerned that it wouldn’t die. It did, but that’s beside the point.

I stopped dead and looked at him like he was the crazy one in this situation. “Spiders? No. There were snakes coming up the bed. I threw the blankets off so they wouldn’t get us.”

Yeah. Snakes. A fuck ton of them.

The weird part for me is that and as soon as I said it out loud to him, I knew it was insane, but at the time it was incredibly real. It’s like my brain had temporarily forgotten the part where I woke up. My brain is an asshole.

The next time this happened I was ready for it. There I was lying in bed and one of those big ass spiders came crawling out from under my pillow and went right under Husband’s.

I think the rational response to this would have been to scream at the top of my lungs again, wake Husband, and let him deal with it….I will take care of normal spiders, but these things were more like 8 legged tanks on methamphetamines, and no thank you.

But no. I’d been here before, and there was at least a 50% chance that I was imagining this, and the hulk-spider wasn’t real. But could I take that chance? 
Maybe. It was going AWAY from me after all. And who knows, maybe it wasn’t real. Or it was and it was plotting to eat me and my cat. You can't just go to sleep after that…what if it comes back. But I didn't want to wake Husband for no reason….

And on and on this internal struggle went.

Finally I arrived at what I determined was a perfectly sound and logical solution. 

I got out of bed, got a pair of socks, and shoved them under his pillow.
I have no idea what I thought this would accomplish. I’m guessing my sleep-addled brain determined that I would take away the spider’s little spider highway, and it wouldn’t come back. The socks would stop it. It never once occurred to me that a single pair of socks shoved under a pillow was in no way a foolproof spider trap, especially when it only blocked one direction, but fuck it, I went back to sleep.

The next morning Husband was rather confused as to why there was a pair of socks under his pillow. My explanation did nothing to alleviate that confusion, and there was no spider to confirm my sighting. To this day I truly don’t know if I dreamed it or if the spider was there and simply outwitted my one way sock trap.  Creepy.

Happily to date there have been no more of the uber-realistic dreams where you are fully convinced that there is a flesh-eating wombat crawling towards you dripping in unicorn tears, and the only reasonable response is to yell at it in broken Japanese. I still have incredibly weird and scary dreams, but at least I wake up….and know I’m awake.

Thursday 19 March 2015

Me vs Online Self-Diagnosing

I tend to be a bit of a hypochondriac. I get the flu, and I’m probably dying of consumption. So I’m not coughing blood yet, but I’m convinced it’s coming. I get a cramp, well that probably means a hernia and will likely result in a trip to the doctor (which is surprisingly difficult to do in a small town) and a terribly painful procedure to fix it, and then I’ll probably get an infection which will eventually lead to my untimely death. Or it’s cancer. Or I didn’t drink enough water today. 

Suffice to say, it’s possible that I jump - just a teensy bit - to the worst possible conclusions about my family’s health. Unfortunately this doesn’t stop me from eating terribly, getting too little sleep, and 
getting less exercise that I should, but nobody’s perfect. Don’t judge me.

The difficulty that I’ve faced in the past is that while I become ridiculously paranoid about non-existent ailments (no, you’re right, I probably don’t have leprosy), I don’t relish going to the doctor on a regular basis. I don’t want to be THAT person. And while I know it’s unlikely that I have encephalitis, some part of me just wants a more qualified person to tell me that.

~Enter the enchanting world of online self-diagnosis websites~

At first glance, these seem like a great idea. You have a concern? Look it up and the sites will tell you if it’s benign or something that you should probably see a professional about. Great!

The reality: Oh, you have a stomach ache? It could be overeating, constipation, gas, or you might have STOMACH CANCER. You have a headache? Might be stress, you need to get more sleep, but it’s more likely a BRAIN TUMOR!!!!

Stub your fucking toe? Yeah, you have toe cancer now.

It’s pretty much reached the point where Husband has vetoed my use of these websites if I’m ever, you know, curious about a lingering cough or what a possible case of the plague might look like. This prohibition includes my health, my kids, and the pets.

Did you know that a change in your cat's appetite can mean they’re dying of kidney failure? You do now. Or they're full. But it's probably kidney failure.

The tipping point came when I totally convinced myself that our baby had cystic fibrosis.  Why? Because he wasn’t gaining weight and I made the critical error of looking that up online.

Failure to thrive is an actual problem, and he actually did have that. He didn’t gain any weight to speak of for the better part of 2 months, and his hands turned a creepy colour blue at random intervals. This was legitimately concerning. That said, there are a multitude of non-CF-related reasons why this could have been happening.

If you start at the beginning of the list of causes for lack of weight gain in infants, what you get is that your baby may be tired and is falling asleep before he gets enough milk( 

This is perfectly reasonable and completely straightforward. 

This same list follows with reasons like incorrect formula preparation (I may be paranoid, but I can read), a cleft palette (pretty obviously wasn’t the problem), and not enough milk production on the mother’s part (yeah, that’s never been my issue).

Nearer the bottom of the list is where they keep the stuff of nightmares….cerebral palsy, lung problems, heart defects, and good ol’ cystic fibrosis.

I have no idea why I decided he had cystic fibrosis (perhaps it was that the cleft palate and illiteracy reasons were obviously not applicable). He was otherwise healthy and thriving in every way…just really, really small for his age.

Now to be fair to my fixation, we did get him tested for a number of health issues, as a child that doesn’t gain weight is having some sort of problem. The paediatrician, however, did look at me like I was touched in the head when I mentioned my fear of cystic fibrosis.  

This was....messy
In the end it turned out that he just wasn’t eating as much as he needed to. We figured this out by increasing his caloric intake and literally feeding him butter. Yes, our doctor recommended butter. Once we started him on more solids and he decided that was better than breastfeeding, he put on the pounds. Well, ounces.

Basically, the online pseudo-doctor is now totally off limits for me. If I am really desperate, I can apply to Husband to do the online research for me and weed out the parts that are totally insane and completely unrelated to what is actually the problem. He provides a rational set of eyes, as compared to my worst case scenario goggles. It means I’m less panicked, and he doesn’t have to talk me down off the proverbial ledge. He alone likely saves our health care system thousands of dollars in unnecessary doctor visits.

So to summarize, I am no longer allowed to use the internet to look up anything that could be in any way related to the health of any member of my family, human or otherwise, because if you read far enough down the page, everything is cancer.

My guess is that if I had a fish I wasn’t particularly attached to, Husband may make an exception to this rule, but that hasn’t happened yet. Probably for the best.

Sunday 8 March 2015

Me vs The Blanket

My son has a blankie. Actually it’s a faded pink floral sleep sack, which is distinctly green because it was washed with something that should never have been washed. On a related note, I now have greenish socks that were once white. Also underwear, and a shirt, and at least one dish towel. All green.

This blanket scares me. Actually it terrifies me. It's insane that my child's happiness is held within the confines of an off-colour piece of floral fabric.

My kid loves this stupid sack. I have no idea what started it, but one moment it was his sleep sack (read: baby sleeping bag) and the next moment I wasn’t allowed to put him in it at night anymore, leaving me without a way to keep him warm at night, and with an additional item to keep track of on a daily basis.

He drags it everywhere he goes, and is inconsolable if he realizes he wants it and it isn’t at his fingertips. I’ve even had to leave work, drive home, and bring this blankie to daycare because he spent the entire morning losing his shit. As soon as the blanket showed up, the world was right again. I, on the other hand, was hangry because my lunch break was spent on a blankie-retrieval mission.

This was the day that I first realized how much the blanket had taken over my life. I now effectively took orders from a glorified rag.

And there rests my panic. I can’t get a duplicate of this bloody thing. If it ever goes missing, I’m pretty much up shit creek without the proverbial paddle.

I have friends who were really smart and bought 3 or 4 of the same blanket that their kids attached to, so they could swap them out. If one goes missing, bam, here’s another one. Need a third. Done! I, on the other hand, have to plan ahead 3 days in advance to a time where I can get the blanket away from him just to wash it. 

If this one gets lost, I can’t replace it. I have no idea where it came from in the first place, and I doubt I could ever find another one and then recreate the hideous grey-green colour that it has become.

And so I hate it. And I’m afraid of it. Or more specifically, of losing it.

But watching him drag it around while sucking his thumb is pretty much the definition of cute. 

And so I soldier on, ever vigilant to the blanket’s continued survival.