The Art of Nodding Off

old guyI had a doctor’s appointment yesterday.  It was one of those follow up appointments to go over a recent series of blood tests I have to take every three to six months to check glucose levels and triglycerides and cholesterol and blood pressure.   Yeah I know you don’t check blood pressure with a blood test.  Just put it in there because it was one of the things we went over.

I just found out that my “doctor” is not even a doctor, but a PA.  A Physician’s Assistant, or professionally known as a Professional Assistant, I guess.  A PA goes through a shorter program of schooling than a full MD, something like 8 years instead of the 12 and an internship that an MD does.  Basically they can diagnose and prescribe medication, but they defer to a full MD or a specialist for the bigger problems.  Because they can take most of the work load off the doctors in the office handling normal patient maladies, the doctors can spend more time treating the really sick people.  Not the ones like me whose wife wants to know if they’re dying because they nod off while watching TV.

mona lisaWhen posed with the question, my PA asked me two things:  Did I have restless leg syndrome, and did I snore?  I said no to the first, and told her I’ve been told that I snore but I have no proof and if asked, like I just was, I would deny it.  At any rate it doesn’t keep me up.  She laughed.  Yeah, I have a female doctor, uh PA.  Have a problem with it from time to time, but we have yet to forage into those uber personal procedures like, anal inspections, or “turn to the right and cough” while she’s pressing into my privates.  We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it or maybe not, because maybe a PA can’t do that.  My last doctor seemed to want to do that anal inspection thing a lot, and now, thinking back, I worry about that.  I can still hear the snap as the rubber glove was being pulled on, me bent over and clutching the ends of the examination table I would rather be sitting on, pants around my ankles.  Yeah, granted, not a pretty sight.

I’m relatively sure I don’t have restless leg syndrome, or RLS.  It’s generally numbness in your arms or legs.  Don’t know why arms are included, but they are.  Shouldn’t it be restless arm or leg syndrome, or RAOLS?  It keeps you from sleeping I guess.  I don’t have it, yet, so RLS, or RAOLS is not keeping me from sleeping and causing me to nod off during the day. 

I’ve been known to snore, but like I said, it doesn’t keep me up.  The full on right cross to the chest from the person I’m sleeping with, does wake me up though.  So this could be a contributing factor to the nodding off, but doesn’t sound like a major issue.  I don’t have any currently bruised ribs.  And it seems like the person I am keeping up should be nodding off too, right?

I have always been under the impression that as you got older you needed more sleep, which is why I saw old people nod off at all hours of the day while I was growing up.  My grandfather actually took a nap every day.  He would retire to his bedroom just after “As the World Turns” or the “Guiding Light.”  I can’t remember which one he watched religiously, but he would get up in mid-conversation, after looking at the pocket watch he kept in his vest pocket, if it were time for the soaps.

But I guess it’s not true that older people need more sleep.  In fact, the older you get the less sleep you actually need.  But as we get older we don’t get enough of that REM sleep.  That stage of sleep that puts you in the deepest of slumbers.  We older people have too many issues that keep us from reaching that plateau.  Old people conditions that can affect sleep include arthritis, menopause, Alzheimer’s, heartburn and heart failure to name a few.  That last one hopefully will make you bolt upright from that REM-less sleep.  And we old people start building a cocktail of medications that we take on a daily basis to keep those triglycerides, cholesterol, blood pressure and glucose within acceptable levels that can affect sleep.  My cocktail only numbers 5 pills, but I’ve seen some bedside tables covered with the opaque orange plastic bottles with the infuriating white tops that are impossible to easily remove without sending the contents flying. 

Rx bottleYou ever wonder why prescription bottles are orange.  The same reason a beer bottle is usually a dark amber color.  The dark amber reduces the UV light, thus preventing it from degrading the fine liquid inside.   Medication is affected in the same manner, so the amber colored bottles that medicines used to come in, morphed into the round plastic orange containers with the old-people-proof caps.  Most of us look at that common container and know immediately that it is a medication of some sort with the patient, unpronounceable prescription in milligrams, and complete dosage directions on the label.  Sometimes a few extra stickers are affixed to the bottle warning not to take while driving or operating machinery, or on an empty stomach.

Drinking alcohol daily around bedtime can cause a problem with sleep, or so I’m told.  I find that, as I’ve gotten older, the imbibing of a drink at any time will most assuredly cause me to nod off.  It happens pretty much any time of day, and pretty much within an hour of the imbibing.

Other mind altering worries like; will you find another job at your age after you get laid off from this one in less than two weeks, and looking for refrigerator boxes and vacant spots under the nearest underpass, will also tend to cause you to sleep irregularly.  Which will make you tired; keep you from obtaining REM level sleep.  And it will then cause you to nod off during the last half hour of “Elementary” or “Person of Interest,” shows you don’t really like anyway.  And it will make your wife think there is something wrong with you and you need to tell the PA about it.

Personally, I think I just nod off because I can.  I didn’t used to be able to sleep sitting up, or even in a recliner.  Now I can accomplish it standing up leaning against a wall while I’m in line at the bank.  I’m just tired.  I think it has more to do with getting up every morning at 4:30.  No one should have to be up at that hour.  I’ll be glad when I can sleep in to 5:30 at least.  Just another 7 days.

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “The Art of Nodding Off

  1. Hilary

    No one deserves it more than you! Nod off- just don’t stay nodded!!!

  2. “My last doctor seemed to want to do that anal inspection thing a lot, and now, thinking back, I worry about that.” Haha!

    Hey, 8 years is still a lot of training you know.

    I’m always tired too, and I can happily take a daily nap, mostly it’s not possible because I’m at work, but any days where I’m not at work, and don’t have to be out anywhere, I will generally take a nap. Now I’m worrying that’s not normal at my age! (43).

    I always wonder how people keep their medication doses straight when there are so many – 2 of this one 3 times a day, 1 of these after your main meal of the day, 6 of these spread equally throughout the day. Seriously, how do people not get it all wrong? Especially elderly people who are starting to lose some of the mental faculties (I’m not including you in that by the way!).

    • You’re tired all the time because you’re so busy. I’d have to take three naps a day to keep up with your schedule. LOL

      I don’t know how anyone doesn’t get the medication dosages wrong. I only have three medications and thankfully take them all at the same time and I still use one of the weekly pill boxes. If had to take medication at different times of the day, I would never manage it.

      Thanks for stopping by, and keep an eye out for those doctors that want to do anal inspections.

      • I find it muddling just dealing with the occasional medication. When my daughter was little she was prescribed a liquid antihistamine for possible hay fever type allergies. The dose on the bottle said 2.5ml, but I read it as 2x5ml, so I effectively gave her a dose that was four times what it was meant to be! I panicked and phoned the poison hotline, but they reassured me that it would be ok. It made me realise though how easy it is to make a mistake with medication, and that was just one bottle!

      • Although that probably wasn’t funny, I found myself laughing out loud about that. Seems like one of those blonde moments. But then I can see how that might have looked like 2 X 5ml. I’m going to give you that. Then again, after you gave her 10ml there must not have been much left in the bottle. That should have given you pause for thought?

      • No there was still loads in the bottle, it was quite a big bottle, like you’d get cough syrup in, and 2 x 5ml is only 2 teaspoons, so it didn’t seem an extortionate amount! It kind of was a blonde moment, although in fairness to me (!), the writing was pretty small, and I actually have really good eyesight, so that’s another aspect that makes me wonder how the elderly manage!

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