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Thursday, April 25, 2024

Talking In Your Sleep

This song by The Romantics was popular in the 1980s:

When you close your eyes and go to sleep
And it's down to the sound of your heartbeat
I can hear the things that you're dreaming about
When you open up your heart and the truth comes out   ......

I hear the secrets that you keep
When you're talking in your sleep

What does this have to do with Parkinson's disease? And why am I quoting song lyrics in a humor blog? Please read on. 

I think it's fair to say that all of us have a fear of finding something in our bedroom when we are asleep. For me, it's stinging critters because I have had bad allergic reactions. For Wonderful Husband, it's rodents, of any kind.

I used to "sleep-walk" as a child. Once, I showed up at my elementary school, FIVE blocks from home, early in the morning, still in my pajamas and freezing cold. Luckily, the principal was there, recognized me and got me back home safely. I had no memory of this event the next day, other than thinking it was a dream. 

Fast forward about 25 years and Wonderful and I are traveling around the USA in our camper. I woke up yelling that there was a rat running along the wall on my side of the bed. Wonderful was wide awake immediately and turned on every light looking for the rat. It seemed so very real and neither of us got back to sleep. Rat traps were purchased and set nightly for at least a week and we slept with the lights on. We never caught the rat. Had we been thinking rational, as dark as it was in our bedroom, there was no way I could have seen a white tiger, much less a dark colored rat. It was a dream. 

Over the years, I would often talk, or squeal in my sleep. Wonderful would nudge me, tell me it was okay and we'd both go back to sleep. 

And then I got diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson's and learned about REM Sleep Behavior Disorder. Instead of experiencing the normal paralysis of your arms and legs during REM sleep, you end up physically acting out your dreams. Lots of things from my childhood began to make sense. 

About ten years ago, I was turning over in bed and felt a stinging sensation on my left side of my face. I sleepily brushed something off my pillow and immediately woke up yelling and threw the pillow across the room. We now lived in Yuma, Arizona where there are scorpions that can crawl into bed and their sting can cause problems for people who are allergic. People like ME! 

Wonderful was wide awake, trying to calm me down, looking to see if I'd been stung, and also looking for whatever was in bed with us. I took a benadryl and we stripped the bed, looked everywhere, and were awake the rest of the night. Well, he was awake. The benadryl knocked me out and I slept on the couch. We never knew whether it was real or another dream.

In the years since, I am acting out dreams more and more. Often it's the same dream; I'm being chased by a dog and I'm running away. I'm sure this has to do with my childhood encounter with a German shepherd, who jumped on me and knocked me down. So far, I haven't hurt Wonderful with my flailing limbs. 

But in the last year or two, I've been ending up on the floor. The first time, I was dreaming of pleasantly sliding down a hill on a cardboard box. I ended up scraping my back on the mattress platform and needed help getting up off the floor. 

Then I was dreaming of scuba diving and I rolled off the edge of the 'boat' and landed with a loud thud on my knees next to the bed. I blame this one on my Medtronic friend Joey, who had recently posted vacation pics online.

Another time, I dreamed that I had forgotten to say my prayers and again ended up on my knees on the floor. 

One time, I was hitting Wonderful with my pillow, I don't remember why, and he wasn't too happy. Maybe I was just having a pillow fight?

I've been lucky that I seem to be acting out pleasant dreams. Let's hope it stays that way.

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