The one sure-fire way I know I’m not only doing something wrong but have been for way too long is when sleep, that haven from reality, turns on me. When my legs and hips hurt too much for too long, I have dreams that I can’t walk. One night I spent several hours trying to climb a flight of stairs. Every step I took, I sunk down to the ground and had to pull myself back up again. I never made it to the top of the stairs and woke up unable to move my legs without my hips popping. Needless to say, I didn’t have a terribly productive day after that one.
One night was spent trying to catch up with friends and family who were just out of reach and having a great time. I was left behind trying to stand up straight.
And then there are the opposite effects of pain in my legs and hips. There are nights when I run and run and run. I don’t want to stop running. I’m not running from something – I’m running because I can. Because my joints feel smooth, I’m not stumbling, I’m not wheezing from the effort. It’s a joy. Until I stop. And wake up. And I realize I have never been able to run like that even when I was thin and limber and young.
Of course, then there’s the dreams of running that aren’t a joy. I’ve been in more battles than a seasoned marine, dodged more bullets than James Bond. When the bullets hit their mark, it’s usually my back or abdomen, and when I wake up, that’s where the pain is centered. There have been a few head shots. Those I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.
Not all dreams are disturbing. Some just focus on my insecurities as they relate to my physical self. There was the dream that I was at a cocktail party, and while I was speaking to very important people, I would snort uncontrollably. Yep, my apnea was interrupting. I just excused myself and chuckled a little in my dream and woke up laughing. Last night I dreamed that I hadn’t done my requisite middle-aged-woman plucking and had some massive hair growth on my neck. It was okay, though, because I could hide the hair on my neck with my sideburns…
Everyone has dreams like this at some point. My slumber struggles are not unique. They are a reminder to me, however, that self-care is required. Right now. Self-care needs to start. Now.