For as long as I can remember, I have had insomnia to some extent. It is very hard for me to fall asleep, and I struggle to stay asleep. It’s not uncommon for me to wake up four or five times a night.
Because that doesn’t make existing in the world difficult enough, my natural Circadian rhythm wants to stay awake until 2 or 3 in the morning, and it doesn’t want to get out of bed until 10 or 11. I have *always* been like this, and no amount of exercise, natural or prescription drugs, meditations or pacts with the devil have been able to change it. If I get into bed at what I think of as the time normal people go to bed, like between 9 and 11, say, I will stare at the ceiling, toss and turn, and get frustrated until sometime after midnight, when my brain finally gets on board and lets me fall into my version of what passes for restful sleep.
It’s frustrating and has been demoralizing for pretty much my entire life. Thanks, anxiety!
Well, about two years ago, I started using a cannabis tincture before bed. It’s 3:1 CBD:THC, and it’s been a h*cking miracle. I still stay awake until after midnight, but rarely am I awake past 2am, and I almost always stay asleep for a full 8 hours. It’s been such a life-changing experience for me, I’ve struggled to avoid becoming an obnoxious evangelist about it.
I wondered if I was developing a tolerance, or if, with my history of alcohol dependence, I was engaging in risky behaviour, so earlier this week, I decided to take a break and see what my physical and emotional response was.
I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I did not experience a single physical or emotional withdrawal symptom. This is in sharp contrast to when I quit alcohol, which featured about two weeks of really tough days and nights (that I am so proud of myself for getting through! Coming up on four years! Go me!)
But a couple days ago, on the same day I had my time collapse thing, the insomnia came back as hard and as relentless as ever. It came out of nowhere, and it was like HEY MAN I AM HERE AND I AM GONNA MAKE THE MOST OF IT! YEAAAHHH!!
It was a rough night, and by the time I gave up and got out of bed at 5am, I had only managed to struggle through about two hours of fitful sleep.
And because that wasn’t annoying enough, during the brief time I was asleep, something happened in my neck, and when I got out of bed, I was in excruciating pain. I could hardly hold my head up, and turning it to either side wasn’t going to happen.
I reacted to this in a mature and adult way: I got really, really mad about it. What the fuck, Wil’s Body?!
Around 630, I texted my chiropractor, and asked her if she had any appointments to help me. Around 8, she said she could see me at 930. I put myself together as best as I could, and dragged my exhausted, miserable, wrecked-neck self to see her.
Anne does Pilates in the same building, and when I got there, I saw her instructor, who looked at me like, “Why are you here? You don’t do Pilates and even when you did, you were never here in the morning because you suck at mornings.”
“I’m here to see [my chiropractor],” I told her, “because I wrecked my neck when I engaged in the extreme sport known as ‘sleeping’.”
We laughed about that, because I am a goddamn delight, even when I feel like a hot wet bag of crap that’s ten months past its sell date.
My doctor came out of her office then. “What did you do?” She asked me, “your neck is … kind of bent to the side.”
“Well,” I said, “Let me tell you all about it.” I stood up. “I went to sleep last night.”
She waited for me to continue.
“That’s it. I went to bed, and when I got out of bed, this happened. Because middle age is AWESOME.”
We all laughed about that, because it’s true. I went into her office, she worked on me for a little bit, and I went from a 9 on the pain scale to about a 5. “So there’s this thing that can happen,” she told me, “where we go to sleep, and our head ends up in a strange position for some reason, and a disc in our necks can just slowly slip out of alignment.”
“That’s bullshit,” I said.
“It is, but it happens. And it’ll probably take about two full days for it to unwind itself.”
I thanked her, and on my way home, I stopped at a cannabis dispensary to get something to help with the pain. The woman who helped me suggested I use the same tincture I use for sleep, because the high CBD is good for reducing inflammation, and recommended this topical spray that’s kind of like if Biofreeze had some cannabis and arnica in it.
I wanted to give my body a full six days to reset my endocannabinoid system, but I also didn’t want to take prescription painkillers, so I used a a 25mg dropperful under my tongue as soon as I got home. I also sprayed the topical stuff (apothecanna, if you care) on my neck and shoulder. Within about twenty minutes, my pain was reduced to about a 3 on the pain scale.
I’m telling ya’ll, this stuff is a goshdarn miracle.
My pain abated enough to let me go to sleep, and for once my wonky brain was a team player. I think I slept for close to an hour, and woke up feeling not great, but not awful.
I took it easy for the rest of the day, and by the time the evening came around, I felt good enough to go to the Kings game with Anne.
Sidebar: I love hockey and I love the Kings, even when they’re terrible. We are lucky to afford season tickets, and I cherish going on hockey dates with Anne. I honestly don’t care if they win or lose, because the game isn’t what’s awesome about going to the game together.
So we were creeping down the goddamn 110 with everyone else in the world (who, incidentally, don’t know how to drive), and we were catching each other up on our day.
“Did T tell you I saw her this morning when I went to see N?” I asked her.
“Yeah,” Anne said.
I related my conversation with the chiropractor. Anne laughed and said, “I told T almost the exact same thing. I think we may have used close to the same words, even, and she says, ‘you know, I just love how you and Wil are totally buddies. All of us who have been around you both can tell that you hang out, that you are best friends, and we can see how much you love each other. There are, like, married couples who are partners and who love each other, but they aren’t exactly friends like you two are.’”
I felt my heart grow three sizes. “Oh my god,” I said, “We are TOTALLY buddies! You’re my buddy! You’re my best friend! I love that so much!”
“I know we talk about it from time to time, but I want to say it out loud again: I love that you are my best friend, my partner in crime, my co-conspirator, and my favorite person in all of the universes. And I love it so much that people who know us both can see that.”
“Yeah, we don’t suck,” Anne said.
“We totally don’t suck,” I said. “And I love you the most.”
“I love you, too.” She reached over and put her hand over mine.
I never would have thought it could feel romantic to sit in traffic … and yet.
Have a great weekend, nerds. I hope you get to spend it with your buddy, like I do.