Friday, March 28, 2008

No, that isn't the problem

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Radio 4 afternoon phone in programme about sleep with an expert on hand.

CALLER: Just one query, in these night time hours [when I’m awake] you tend to drink tea or coffee, but I’ve heard that can make your sleeping problem worse. Is that right?

This guy has had sleeping problems since 1968.


Did you know the majority all queries phoned in to computer helplines are solved by switching the computer off and on again?


My father, when he was in the Navy, was an electrician. He said nearly every difficulty he was called out to help with was sorted by first of all checking that the non-functioning item was plugged in, and if so, by then checking it was switched on.


I fully understand that 80% of all problems are explained by the completely bloody obvious happening to be overlooked.

But I get sick and tired of each new professional I meet thinking they’ve seen the obvious with my problems, when I’ve already trodden that ground with every previous professional I’ve seen.

They all seem to leap to the conclusion that my Fatigue is caused by Depression and by a quick look at my circumstances think it’s quite clear.


"No, my daughter’s Down’s Syndrome isn’t the problem. Honestly, she’s a wonderful girl and in some ways is easier than my Übermensch son.

"No, no, my son isn’t the problem either. He’s a great lad and I’m really proud of him. And it’s a hell of a lot easier to cope with only 2 children.

"Oh, yes, there used to be five. Three stepchildren from my wife’s previous marriage. Oh of course there were difficulties; there is in any family. And yes, stepfamilies have their own particular nuances. But no, we worked through them and that isn’t the problem. And now we even have a less intense lifestyle.

"Yes, I sold my business and we moved to another area, but these weren’t stressful things; on the contrary they relieved a great deal of the stresses I’d previously been under, so that’s not the problem.

"Well of course we have less income, and this bloody tiredness isn’t helping, but I’m canny with the cash flow and we’re not in debt. Besides, we’re spending less money on food since I lost weight [laughs], so that’s not the problem.

"Yes, I’ve lost somewhere around a hundred pounds…

"No, no, no, the weight loss was a result of eating more healthily - cutting the crap out of our diet and making healthier choices. Losing it was a good thing, not a dangerous thing. It certainly isn’t the problem. I have a full understanding of why I was overeating to combat Depression.

"Yes, I’ve had an on-off relationship with Depression for most of my adult life and know how it affects me, but the anti-depressants I’m now on have sorted that out but I’m still tired. The Depression followed the Fatigue not the other way round, so that isn’t the problem."

And so on.

And so on.

And so on.


What I don’t understand is why no one thinks I ought to talk to someone who knows something about sleep. If someone is tired all the time, surely that’s the first thing which should be looked at?


Still, earlier this week I finally had an appointment with the local CMHT (Community Mental Health Team), and they’ve agreed I would benefit from CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) for my CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome).

However, the waiting list time is currently unknown but is unlikely to be less than six months and could easily be in excess of nine. Apparently the more acronyms involved, the greater the time span.

So, yyyyaaaawwwWWWWWWwwnnnnnn, in the meantime don’t expec…

ZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzz……………………
.

32 comments:

Mary Witzl said...

Sometimes you almost hate to answer the experts' questions because you know that they're going to get the wrong end of the stick, and if you try to set them straight, you'll get pegged as one of those unfortunate souls who are in denial... It really is wearying having to go through all the rigamarole just to state your case, but I had a friend who was a doctor and some of the things people denied really had to be heard to be believed.

I know that once my husband's sleep issues got sorted out, his life was a lot more bearable, so I hope you do get your CBT appointment soon!

Pendullum said...

Oh Kim....
I have problems sleeping....
My daughter(all of ten) has problems sleeping and so does my husband...
I am up at 2 am... And then up at 3 am... and if I dare open my eyes, the damn dog hears my eyelids opening and then he wakes, thereby waking my half asleep husband who was up at 1 am , and 2;30 am...and so goes the routine until 5 am...when I can bare it no more...
I can feel your pain...
S

Fat Lazy Guy said...

Gah. These specialists can be right eejits sometimes.

Still, I hope the CBT stuff helps (once you're actually able to receive it :D). I believe that's the same stuff I went through, so... I don't know if that's any consolation or cause to worry :D

savannah said...

big studies being done here in the usa re: sleep deprivation. right now, i'm a walking/talking example, but i know this will end on 20april when my son comes and takes his dog back. i wish your solution could be as easy, sugar. xox

Freakazojd said...

That must be so frustrating. I mean, new docs have to cover the bases because you're new to them, but I can only imagine how that must feel like a broken record. Hope you can get that appointment set up soon, at least!

Z said...

My mother lived with us for 15 years and the last 9 were difficult, especially the later ones when, at the same time, I had considerable stress at work. I coped and had (just) enough energy to cope. But after she died (after a positive and loving final 6 months) and the outside stresses were resolved, it took me more than 3 years to get over it. I think it was the release of pressure that allowed my tiredness and melancholy to finally show itself and then I couldn't hurry the recovery - which was complete, I'm glad to say, and I knew I was better when I no longer dreaded the future.

I'm not trying to diagnose or compare, Kim, and I appreciate that you know a lot more than I do about it. This is just a sympathetic comment - and I'm not saying that I know how you feel, either...

angie said...

yes, good luck with the cognitive therapy . . . and the sleep stuff, too.

*i know this sounds a little "out-in-left-field", but has anyone discussed the change in environment (the geographical area, the house you live, the pollutants or natural emissions, etc) as a factor? just wondering . . .

Ubergeek said...

I know what it is, depression!

Sorry, just being like everyone else and seeing only the obvious.

If you'd like something about rational, they ask all the same questions again because a) they want to hear it for themselves (it's not good to always rely on another's opinion) and b) charts aren't the best source of information, people are.

As for why they haven't referred you to a sleep therapist, have you specifically complained of a sleep problem? Snoring? Insomnia? Have you asked? There are so many causes of tiredness (as I'm sure you've been through), and only a few of them that come to the office actually relate to sleep.

Maybe it's because those services aren't available in your area. I don't know what it's like where you live, but around here it isn't so common to have sleep experts. It's only in the big cities, and even then there are only one or two of them.

Since I don't actually have anything useful to add, I wish you the best of luck, in whichever CBT you're attempting (apparently, at least here, there are different forms of it).

Kim Ayres said...

Mary - that's it exactly - as soon as I mntion something I can see them nodding knowingly and I know they've got the wrong end of the stick

Pendullum - you have my sympathies

FLG - I'm looking forward to the CBT. I have half an idea what it is and think it should prove useful. It's just a shame that resources are solimited that the waiting time is so long

Savannah - my parent's dog used to drive me nuts when I was younger - you have my sympathies

Freakazojd - I know they have to do it, but yes, occasionally it gets so frustrating it spills over into a blog post

Z - it's true - how you view the future is a real barometer. But the only real stress I have now is the damn tiredness.

Angie - I appreciate the thought, but I think it's unlikely. I'm now in a more natural, rural area where the quality of life is considerably better

Ubergeek - sleep therapists are very rare and I think the nearest is in Edinburgh, nearly 3 hours away. However, I've been pushing my GP to try and get me to see one as my sleep is so unrefreshing

The Birdwatcher said...

I have not slept properly for ten years and can't understand what people mean when they say they wake feeling refreshed. I am always knackered in the mornings. So I went to my GP, he sent me to the local hospital, they have done a lot of tests and now I am waiting for the results. I can see someone to discuss them in two months apparently. So we will see. Until then its lying awake listening to the World Service.

Carole said...

I suppose it wrong to shoot specialists.

Eryl said...

Good luck with the CBT when you finally get it.

PI said...

Snap! I also have three step- children and know about the nuances. They all visit - with their families regularly (one lot arrive tomorrow)and all- in time - have sent me Mother's Day cards. That has nothing to do with the price of fish I realise and can only hope that your appointment will be sooner rather than later.
I'm sure you have been endlessly told about Yoga and relaxation classes all I have to say is at my first yoga class I had an orgasm.

Kim Ayres said...

Birdwatcher - Keep me updated what they find and we'll compare notes

Carole - only out of season

Eryl - thank you

Pat - well I do Tai Chi, although nothing like as often as I should. But wow, I want to sign up to your Yoga class!

Kanani said...

I'm sorry. Not much more to add.
xx
K

Kim Ayres said...

Thanks for your thoughts Kanani

Naomi said...

Sorry to hear about the lack of sleep. Mark (my other half) has recently been through about 6 months of CBT for depression and anxiety. He managed to get his through his private health insurance and is still awaiting his NHS appointment!!

He didn't really get on with the CBT, the things that really seemed to help were relaxation exercises, yoga, meditation. exercise and more socialisation (he works at home).

Do you sleep but it doesn't feel like you've actually got anything out of it? Have you considered sleep apnea? I've been away from blogs for awhile so you may have already discounted that.

Kim Ayres said...

Naomi - good to hear from you again!

Waking up feeling exhausted and life I've had nothing worthwhile from sleeping happens all the time. In fact, like Birdwatcher above, I've lost any sense of what it means to wake up feeling refreshed. It's not sleep apnea, but I appreciate your thoughts.

I'm glad things are on the mend for Mark - you've both been through major changes and stresses in the last few years, and these things can take their toll

Anonymous said...

Kim, have you been evaluated for sleep apnea yet? Just another idea for the sleeping problem.

Kim Ayres said...

Anonymous - it isn't sleep apnea - my wife would have noticed if I stopped breathing, of that I have no doubt.

amy flege said...

sorry about all that. how about sleep apnea. my father in law was tired all the time and bingo!! now he has a cpap machine and sleeps like a dream.. and gets GOOD sleep!
i hope you find some answers!

Tom said...

Middle age - check.
Depression - check.
Philosophizer - check.
Gloomy weather - check.
Artistic temperament - check.
Prone to listen to Motorhead - check.
Ambivalent universe - check.

Questions?

Canadian Girl said...

It sounds like a sleep study is in order. You may not have sleep apnea, but what if you're not going through all the stages/levels of sleep?

It's been too long since university and I'm too lazy to look it up, but the brain activity is different during different sleep stages (REM, etc.) and perhaps you're not hitting the deep sleep stage necessary for getting refreshed.

Best wishes being sent your way, my cyberfriend.

Kim Ayres said...

Amy - I'm afraid it's not sleep apnea, but thanks for your thoughts

Tom - now you're just stereotyping...

Canadian Girl - I'm quite convinced I'm not getting enough of the restful, deep sleep. I'm currently nagging my doctor to let me see a sleep specialist, but they are a bit thin on the ground in Scotland

SafeTinspector said...

Do they not have sleep doctors there? MY brother went to one and they scooped flesh from the back of his palate(sp?) and gave him a nose job.

Kim Ayres said...

SafeT - they're just hard to find in Rural Scotland. I suspect they hibernate for half the year at least.

Stella said...

I hate bloody experts!

Kim Ayres said...

Especially when they don't appear to be an actual expert in the bit youneed them to be!

Lucy said...

Poor quality (or quantity) sleep will impact nearly every arena of your life, and not in a good way.

I suffered for many years trying to find an answer to constant severe headaches and fatigue. A sleep specialist identified the real problem and offered an effective treatment.

Overnight, my life changed. The specifics of my situation aren't important because each case is individual. However, I feel compelled to urge you to not give up until you have seen a sleep specialist. If it is something else, at least you will have ruled it out.

But if it is a treatable sleep disorder - wow, how much better things could be, and quickly!

A sleep study with a reputable sleep specialist changed my life.

Kim Ayres said...

Hi Lucy, welcome to my ramblings and thank you for taking the time to comment.

I've become pretty much convinced that the sleep (or lack of it) is at the heart of the matter, so am now trying to hassle my GP into getting me to see a specialist.

Charlie said...

I fully understand that 80% of all problems are explained by the completely bloody obvious happening to be overlooked.

Uh, when was the last time (if ever) you had your eyesight checked?

Kim Ayres said...

Last year, Charlie. Although admittedly it was the first time in about 30 years