Adrenaline Nights

Blood sugar

I am up again in the middle of the night. That makes, I don’t know, twenty or so nights in a row. It’s the hypoglycemia, low blood sugar waking me up for a midnight feeding and sometimes again at four AM. Like having a squalling newborn. The exhaustion in between feedings makes it almost impossible not to pass out immediately, and on those nights I get more sleep. Occasionally adrenaline has done some of the work to raise my blood sugar for me, but then it keeps me up like I had done moonlit espresso shots. Tonight is an adrenaline night. The first few adrenaline nights, when I think about it now, astound me. Each time I had thought I had heard one of my children yelling for me, a loud “MOM”, the kind that accompanies a kid who suddenly realizes he is going to throw up right that second. I would jump out of bed, run to the boy’s room and realize that both of them were one hundred percent sound asleep. It happened once after I knew I was waking up with lows, and I marveled at my brain’s ability to jolt me awake for my own good. Pretty clever, if you ask me, using auditory hallucinations to ensure I didn’t just slip into a coma.

Adrenaline nights wake you up with a jittery, nervous stomach that make anxiety unavoidable. The hours before you are able to sleep again double and redouble the anxiety, and now you suddenly have hours of insomniac time to fill. All by your lonesome. In a spooky, silent and dark house. With access to Google. The first few adrenaline nights were filled with research, scouring reputable medical sites and not so reputable message boards for the answer to the questions, “Why is this happening to me?” and “What can I do to fix this?” Once my bloodshot eyes burned out from the glare of the computer screen, I would refresh them with copious tears the result of other questions, “What if?” and “Why me?” This cycle sometimes lasts four or five hours, before the adrenaline that woke me really leaves me be.

Time can make it better, experience with the adrenaline nights makes it better. I don’t research anymore. I cycle through Facebook, then Pinterest, then Buzzfeed, then Instagram, then the miniature food jewelry pages on Etsy. After those run out it becomes time for an old DVR’d CBS Sunday Morning, My Grandmother’s Ravioli or Treehouse Masters. Absolutely no news, no doom and gloom, no medical jargon, no negativity. It helps.

What also helps is just knowing the moment has come when I am no longer the only one awake in the house. Several times I have been able to fall into a deep peaceful sleep the moment my oldest padded downstairs, said hi and then asked to play on the iPad. Or when my youngest has begun to realize that if he wakes up in the middle of the night I am more likely to be downstairs on the couch than I am in bed, and a few times has snuggled up with me and we’ve both been able to fall back asleep.

I don’t think tonight will work out, though. I have to fast for a blood test, one that might give me answers if only I can stick it out through the night without eating anything before eight in the morning. They asked for ten hours without food, when the longest I have managed in months is six. Adrenaline already woke me up at 12:30, and I have only had two hours of interrupted sleep so far this evening. We will see.

5 thoughts on “Adrenaline Nights

  1. The brain is both clever and tricky! It is clever to jolt us awake with adrenaline when something important needs our attention. But when the control system breaks, like with the Dysautonomia I have – then things can go haywire, and the brain isn’t so clever anymore. Suddenly it will signal your body to give you shots of adrenaline for no good reason! So annoying!!

    And I agree. The middle of the night is never the right time for research, especially in the middle of adrenaline-fueled anxiety. That’s the time for comfy slippers and snuggles and old DVDs that make you laugh 🙂

    xx S.

    1. Thanks! Research at 2:00 am rarely turns out well 🙂 I was curious, I don’t know much about dysautonomia so I looked it up. That is a heck of a thing to deal with, and I’m sorry you have to. Not the same, but I have fibromyalgia, and so I get phantom pain signals all the time like a swarm of bees has attacked and it’s just my brain screwing up. You just want your brain to get it together, a figure out how to function properly! Hope you’re having a good day, free from adrenaline boosts out of nowhere!

      1. If you haven’t already read it, I’ve written an easy to understand explanation of Dysautonomia here:

        Don’t feel bad – most people have never heard of it, let alone are familiar with all the ways it can affect the body. That’s part of the reason I started my blog last year – I wanted to give people posts they could share with their friends and family, to help them understand what was going on with their body.

        I have fibro too. Mine manifests mainly in a few spots on my back, about the size of a thumb print, a little bit larger. They’ll just randomly ignite, like I’ve just been tasered there. I’ll jump and gasp, and usually drop whatever I’m doing and scare my husband!

        And yeah, seriously. Get it together brain!


      2. I read your article, there are so many manifestations of your dysautonomia! That must be so challenging. It is wonderful that you are able to explain to, and for, other people so there is greater awareness of what it does and what living with it is like. I’ve jumped up in the air yelling from time to time, usually before a bout of what I call “prickly skin” that can feel like bees, or stabbing, or creepy crawlers, or like you’re getting shocked. My family gets it, strangers-not so much!

      3. Haha, yes, that ‘jump and shriek’ does make for some odd looks from people when you’re grocery shopping!

        Dysautonomia is very challenging, especially since neither of the two “miracle” medications available for it worked for me. But at the same time, since I’ve had it since I was 14, it’s kind of normal for me.

        I had never heard of Dysautonomia before I was diagnosed. And even when I was diagnosed, I found it hard to explain to friends what I had. So I love that blogging gives me the space to use my experience to help others. I want to help them to better understand their illness, to help those around them better understand, and to let the sufferer know they’re not alone.

        I like blogging about chronic illness in general too, because (sadly) chronic, invisible illness in general is totally misunderstood – not just Dysautonomia. (E.g My post on fatigue isn’t Dysautonomia specific, and can be used for all different chronic illnesses).

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