Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Operation: Sandman: Day 1. "Thou hast no figures nor no fantasies Which busy care draws in the brains of men; Therefore thou sleep’st so sound"

Mr F does not sleep.

Mr F has not slept for a long time. I mean almost literally has not slept.

Almost every night, when Mr F goes to bed, we take him for a ride on his 'route.' This is a 4-5 mile drive around Middleton, the same ride every night, to help him calm down. Once home, we take him up to the room he shares with Mr Bunches. Then, as we have had to do every single night since May, 2014, one of us sits in the room until he falls asleep.

That's something that started over 2 years ago when Sweetie and I went and stayed at a hotel as part of our anniversary. Even though his babysitters are his older brother and sisters, Mr F got nervous and after that could not fall asleep unless one of us was sitting in the room with him.

Over the past two years we tried various things to get him out of this habit, but it has never gone away, not a single night. Many nights, it's gotten worse. There have been many many nights in the past six months especially where he hasn't gone to sleep until midnight or later, or where he wakes up at 3.

It used to not be as big a problem though, because at least some nights he would just sit quietly in his room. We could hear him in there, mumbling and tapping his forks, but he didn't wake up Mr Bunches and it didn't cause much trouble other than he was tired the next day. He'd do that four or five days in a row, sometimes, and then, exhausted, sleep soundly the next 2 or 3.

But something changed late in the last school year. Mr F began not sitting quietly any longer, knocking on the door instead. We have to lock Mr F and Mr Bunches in their room at night, with a hook and eye, because if we didn't they would almost certainly come to harm. (In June of this year, a 5-year-old autistic boy piled up two beanbag chairs to stand on, unlocked his front door and left his house in the middle of the night. He had been sleeping in his bed when his mom checked on him, at 2 a.m. He was later found dead.)

If Mr F knocks, on the door, we go see what he wants. He may be thirsty, he may have to use the bathroom or need something else. But this summer he started knocking on the door and then when we opened it -- Sweetie and I trade nights being responsible for Mr F duty -- he would pull us inside and climb back on his bed, and we'd have to sit there again until he fell asleep. Sometimes he never would. On at least 6 occasions this summer, I have sat the whole night in there with Mr F, sometimes laying on the floor and dozing, or trying to read. Sweetie had as many times, if not more.  We took to taking some cushions off an old couch and putting them in there in case that happened.

Even if he does go back to sleep, this might happen 3 or 4 times in a night. Which means that on a good night you might only get woken up once and would get 6 hours of sleep in 3 hour increments. On a bad night, you didn't sleep.

It's left us with times on the weekend or a weeknight where one of us will take the boys out of the house for a few hours so the other one can nap; I did that for Sweetie last night, taking them to swim right after dinner and not coming back until almost 7:30.

Last night wasn't solely Mr F; Mr Bunches was the cause this time: there was lightning and Mr Bunches saw it, around 2 a.m. He got scared because thunderstorms scare him to death. So, it being my turn, I went in there and got Mr Bunches, who wanted to take a ride in the car to calm down. Sweetie slept on while Mr F and Mr Bunches and I took a ride on the regular route, at 2:00 a.m.

When we got back, I sat down in the room to wait for the boys to go back to sleep. Mr F never did. After 45 minutes I figured he was never going to fall asleep -- it was 3:15 a.m. -- so I stretched out on the cushions and tried to get a catnap.

Mr F, though, would talk to himself, or get upset (maybe because he couldn't sleep) or tap his forks, or sometimes just wake me up or try to get out of the room. So from 2 on, I slept hardly at all and when I did it was for only about 10 minutes at a time.

You can imagine what kind of state I'm in today.

Sweetie and I have come up with a plan, though. It'll take about 10 days, to see if it works.  The plan starts tonight. I am going to call it Operation: Sandman.

I'll try to post daily (or nightly) as the case may be, and let you know how it's working.


Andrew Leon said...

Well, whatever it is, I hope it works. I know how that kind of not sleeping can be.
And I don't think I could trust myself to go out for a drive like that being continually sleep deprived.

Briane Pagel said...

The drive is mostly automatic, and you learn to keep music up, or take coffee or a soda. And the plan isn't anything complicated.