WHAT’S WORSE THAN BEING PARALYZED? Sleep Deprivation – Millions Sharing a collective pain together
I’ve commented before that paralysis itself is not innately the biggest challenge with living a life in a wheelchair. It’s the secondary complications associated with it. This is true for many complex diagnoses.
For example, being paralyzed is quite easy, all I have to do is sit there. The biggest challenges include things such as urinary tract infections, sensitive skin leading to pressure sores, respiratory infections, etc. These sneaky complications can knock you out for the count if you are not careful.
For me, the mind numbing, consistent, unrelenting, and burning pins & needles on 80% my body 24/7 occupy many of my daily thoughts. Chronic pain is no joke and it’s tricky. You know it’s there, we cannot measure it or see it, doctors throw meds at us, and it appears never-ending. From a medical standpoint, you cannot see chronic pain on any kind of medical imaging.
Many doctors just try to prescribe me narcotics even though they know they do not act on the same pain receptors and will only make me feel stoned, but not help the actual pain. There are a handful prescription medications that do help some, but do not work for me.
It took many years after trying many alternative therapies from acupuncture to homeopathy and even many prescription drugs to finally study and implement the concept of Neuroplasticity in my life. The basic concept is this – neurons that wire together fire together. Each of us essentially has the ability to restructure our brains, not just in the way we think, but physiologically.
Through a variety of techniques, I have learned to dampen the pain just a little bit at times by rewiring my own brain. I have personally accomplished this through years and years of self-guided visualizations with self-hypnosis, but everyone has their own techniques. I still have pain every day that I live with though. I certainly don’t have it figured out and I would probably have to go live solo for the rest of my life in the mountains of Tibet with some monks to eliminate pain altogether.
After all, what is pain? Pain is just a signal from the brain. Your body can’t feel if you were stabbed in the leg, but your brain will send the signals to tell it that it is in pain. The brain is a powerful – destructive and/or positively life-changing if treated properly.
The first time I felt nerve pain I screamed for nearly 2 weeks and was put on morphine. A nurse explained to me how I was going to have to learn to deal with this pain. It was in that very moment the pain reduced a few decibels. I instantly came to the realization I was going to have to find my own ways of coping each day. My brain instantly translated with that lovely nurse was telling me. My brain said “okay kid, this is a permanent thing, we’re going to have to adjust otherwise you are not going to make it very far in this life. Let’s work together!”
What is one of the most challenging things to deal with pain in my life, not including the pain itself, but affects every hour of my day?
My pain wakes me up most nights around 2 AM and I struggle to get back to sleep because of the involuntary muscle spasms, which then trigger the pain again, and around we go. If I get 5 hours of sleep a night I’m lucky. I work hard at sleep.
Years back I developed a very large pressure sore and I had to turn in bed every 2 hours for 9 straight months. At month 3 I felt like I was starting to lose my mind. It was literally as if I was in a Chinese prison being tortured through sleep deprivation.
If you do not sleep for 3 or more nights, chronic sleep deprivation can lead to death and at the very least, full-blown psychosis. I experienced this. I was quite literally hallucinating.
Think about when you don’t get a good night sleep for 2 to 3 nights and you’re just dragging your feet throughout the entire day. There are millions of folks globally suffering from sleep deprivation for one reason or another.
Sometimes I come across very rude people in my life and I have to wonder if they had a good night sleep? I’m extra nice to rude people, although some people don’t necessarily agree with this tactic, it’s what keeps me humble and kind each day.
Life is certainly not sunshine and roses for me, but if I do not operate under extreme positivity and optimism each day, just for me, I will lose sight of those small moments in life each day that keep me going. Life is not about those giant moments and life altering events – it’s about harnessing those small unproduced moments to create a pattern for yourself each day in order to keep an outlook on life that will hopefully allow you to find just a little bit of good each day. Not every day will be great, some days will be terrible, but when you create a consistent pattern of thought for yourself it really does help.
Just as unseen disabilities leave many feeling isolated within their own community or within society, sleep deprivation can lead to the onset of disabilities and also an extreme feeling of being alone. You are not alone.
Each day I am the scientist in my own life – when I come up against a hurdle, professional or personal or medical, and I’m not quite sure how to work through – I experiment on myself.
It will never stop. For whatever time I have left I’m going to make each moment count and spend my life helping others embrace the moments in life that bring them the most joy. What are those small unproduced moments that bring you joy? Relaxation? Mental ease?
Write them down and put them on a Post-it and look at them each day. Start small. Start very small. Small incremental changes in your daily habits, and there are thousands of books written on this, will assist you in re-framing the way you look at each moment on a daily basis.