Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Day 170: Ambien, Take Me Away

On Day 170, I was tired.

Thanks to my ambition (who did I think I was trying to run a biathlon?), and working the overnights for a few days, my body and my sleep patterns were completely out of whack.

Monday night I expected I'd have no trouble going back to sleeping during the night. A hard work out and a couple of beers to celebrate the hard work out would certainly be all the sleep aid I would need to get me back to living like a normal person.

Or so I thought.

Instead, I was up at 2am, wide awake, alternating between "True Life" and "The Real Housewives of New York," both disgustingly awesome reality shows that I love, but that I'd also prefer to enjoy at a more reasonable hour.

I eventually drifted off to sleep sometime after 4am, and just like I do everyday, woke up before 8am unable to go back to sleep.

Tuesday, Day 170, was, therefore, painful. I felt physically sick from exhaustion, but couldn't enjoy loafing on the couch like I normally do when I'm tired. I had stuff to do, and I had blogging to catch up on.

I also had to get back on a regular schedule and couldn't afford to be so tired on Wednesday. Desperate for sleep, I took Ambien as Day 170's thing I've never done before.

For those of you wondering how I just happened to stumble into some prescription medication that I've never taken before, give me a break. Ambien is as easy to come by as Coca-Cola these days. Before I left to go to Asia a few years ago, my mom was quick to offer up her prescription and nearly everyone I told I was going to be on a plane for 13 hours said, "Ugh, that sucks. Do you need sleeping pills?"

Honestly, though, I'm weird about pills, and usually only take them as an absolute last resort. I don't know why I'm this way, I guess in the midst of a drug-addicted society, I still think I can solve my ailments the old fashioned way: with diet and exercise.

But I'm also not stupid and I had been given some Ambien, so why not put it to good use?

I had been told explicitly by all of my friends who either have sleeping problems that I was unaware of, or who have also been blessed by their own pill pusher, that Ambien works pretty quickly, so when I was ready to take it, I'd need be at home, ready for bed, with at least 8 hours to devote to sleep.

At 9pm, I swallowed one of the pills. I don't know for sure, but the last time I remember looking at the clock it was no later than 9:30pm. I didn't wake up until 9am, feeling back to normal and more well rested than I had in months. So I'd say I passed my little Ambien test.

I was so happy to feel somewhat back to normal, but truthfully, I wasn't that surprised. Everyone I knew who had ever taken Ambien never stopped singing the drug's praises.

Everyone, except for my mother.

I emailed her on Day 171 to tell her I was off the overnight shift, back to the land of the living, all thanks to my little friend named Ambien.

My mom fired off an email right back that said, "You need to be careful with that stuff, Stephanie. Last year when I had surgery on my arm, I was taking it to help me sleep at night. And then one day while I was driving home from work, I burst into tears for no apparent reason. I went home and looked up all of the side effects of Ambien and sure enough, I had every one of them."

Clearly I need no help in the "crying for no reason" category, so I listened to her warning.

She continued, in her next email, "And when Patty (our neighbor) was taking it, she forgot to raise the garage door one morning and backed her car right into it. Then she couldn't get the garage door open because it was so bent from where she hit it that she somehow turned the car around in the garage to come out the other side."

I was hoping for a third Ambien horror story just to ensure that once again, my mom could get full credit for helping me take an entry about something lame (sleeping pills) and turn it into something far more interesting. But unfortunately, she only had these two.

"Be careful, Stephanie," were her parting words.

I knew she was in South Carolina thinking about me holed up in my house with black curtains on my windows, popping Ambien round the clock and crying in my bed. I tried to ensure her that my Ambien habit was hardly a habit at all, but just a one-time thing to help get me back on a normal sleep schedule.

On the other hand, maybe I will start taking Ambien so that I will have something to blame when my behavior appears irrational.

"I'm sorry I cussed you out in front of your friends, Grandma, I think it was the Ambien talking."

"Sorry for eating all of the food in your fridge in the middle of the night, Mr. Boyfriend, I guess the Ambien really kicked in."

"My bad for showing up late to work and drooling all over my computer keyboard, Boss Man, it's likely just the Ambien."

I'm probably not going to make Ambien a regular thing. Not because I'm against it, but because most of the time, I'm sleeping just fine. But ever I need it, I know where to go.

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